Friday, October 30, 2009

Theological Rap?? Word up, yo!!!

Happy Reformation Day (Ok, one day early, but still....)!!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Security of Sound Doctrine Part 2

Paul’s Concern

As Paul writes asking these believers to join with him in rejoicing, he also writes to reaffirm doctrine he has taught them before. With the heart of a true pastor, he writes these believers in verse 1 that “For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.” Paul, in all his epistles, wrote a consistent doctrine as revealed by God through the Holy Spirit. While it is not clear if Paul is referring to another letter he may have written the Philippian church (not a lost book of the Bible, just possibly another letter he wrote) or simply other epistles that he had written that they had obtained copies of, Paul includes doctrine in this epistle that is found in other of his epistles. However, at no time does he feel like “Here we go again. I thought I had already taught you this. Haven’t you already learned your lesson by now?” Paul tells them that writing them about doctrines he has already written about is not “tedious” or tiresome. The word that is translated “tedious” is the Greek word okneros (3636). According to Vincent’s Word Studies, this word reflects “the vexation arising from weary waiting”. When I read that, I got the picture in my head of a person waiting for another person to get ready to go somewhere. Because he loves these people and wants to help them grow and mature in Christ, Paul brings the Word of God to the people of God. To do so is not a source of frustration to him nor is it the feeling of having to wait on somebody to finally catch up.

He brings God’s Word to God’s people because, as a shepherd, he is responsible for the safety of sheep. The surest protection for the flock of God from the deadly poison of false doctrine is to teach God revealed truth. Paul says to the believers in Phillipi that “for you it is safe” when he talks about writing the “same things”. The word translated “safe” is the Greek word asphales (804). This word is translated certain in the book of Acts (21:34, 22:30, and 26:26) and as sure in Hebrews 6:19. Therefore, the idea that Paul is trying to convey seems to be that he writes these same things to provide them security through a solid foundation of doctrine that they can be certain of. The churches Paul wrote to did not have a New Testament, commentaries, or seminary trained pastors. They didn’t the luxury of studying the work of great preachers and teachers of God’s Word throughout the centuries who have taught the true doctrines of our faith. They had the apostles and prophets who had been given to them and God’s Word as revealed in the Old Testament. However, as Paul and others brought new revelation that would become the New Testament that shed light on the Old Testament, believers were learning things about God and salvation that had never been revealed before. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul continually and consistently taught these doctrines in his writings. He didn’t view it as laborious or tedious because of his love for his fellow Christians.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc Used by permission All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

II Peter 2:10-11 Mr. Bigstuff, Who Do You Think You Are?

Bullies are ultimately cowards wrapped up in a blanket made of their own temper. They try to intimidate people into doing what they want and they tend to pick on people who won’t stand up to them. But make no mistake, when someone stands up to them it doesn’t take too long for their inner coward to show up. They act all “big and bad” until someone challenges them at which point they tuck their tail between their legs. In much the same way, the false teachers being described by Peter in this epistle are spiritual bullies who have no respect for those with true spiritual power.

We see Peter in verse 10 describe the attitude of these false teachers about themselves. He describes them as “daring”. Now, it is not necessarily bad or wrong for a person to be daring. In fact, that can be a heroic quality or it might lead someone to take a chance and do something like start a business or rescue a child from a burning building. The idea behind the word is that someone who is daring is bold, fearless, and doesn’t think about the consequences of their actions. Again, in some situations that might very well be a good thing. However, given the context of how Peter is describing these false teachers, this is decidedly not a good thing. Given the context, we can conclude that Peter means daring in the sense of thoughtlessness and unwillingness to be considerate of others. Their attitude, then, conveys the idea that in the end it’s all about them.

This attitude of selfishness also is evident in their priorities. These false teachers think of themselves and what they want first. They claim to be teachers of God’s word but neither God’s word nor God’s will is important to them. Rather, they are “self willed” (authades-829). Basically, they seek their own pleasure first. As one of the characters on South Park used to say “Whatever! I do what I want!!” They don’t take anyone else into account as they live their lives. Like a bull in a china shop, they go where they want and do what they please while leaving a trail of brokenness in their wake. Instead of having their priorities set on God’s will and living in a way that pleases Him, they live to please themselves and serve no God but a god of self. They behave as if they are the center of the universe and fail to have a proper perspective about themselves and their place.

For instance, these people blaspheme (“revile”) the “glorious ones” as the NET bible translates this verse. The Greek word “doxa” is not clear enough that we can be dogmatic as to who Peter was referring to in this verse. He could have meant earthly church leaders, angels (as the NASB translates it “angelic majesties”) or possibly even Christ Himself. However, it’s not really important who these false teachers are blaspheming, but rather we should note the fact that these puny, flesh and blood mortals take it upon themselves to “talk smack” about people or beings to whom they should give reverence. They overestimate themselves and underestimate the ones to whom they should give reverence. Instead of having a holy fear and respect for those who are greater than they are, these false teachers “do not tremble”. Let me tell you something, if you and I were ever to actually encounter an angelic being, we would be scared out of our wits. People in churches talk about spiritual warfare and engaging demons in battles as if they are somehow to be commended for this. I prefer to take the attitude of Martin Luther when he said “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing”. As Peter says in verse 11, even angels know their place better than these clowns.

Peter writes that angels “are greater in might and power”. Make no mistake about it, angels are supernaturally powerful. They have intrinsic power (“might”) like a weight lifter. You don’t have to see a weight lifter pick up a huge bar of weights to know his muscles are powerful. They have the potential to do miraculous, awesome deeds (“power”) that no human could ever do. Even with all their supernatural might, these angels do not go to the Lord with a “reviling judgment”. As we see in the parallel passage in Jude, an archangel would not even rebuke Satan but left that judgment to the Lord. If these angels who see the face of God and are more powerful than any human ever thought about being don’t speak up against Satan or other “doxa”, then what possible justification could these false teachers have for doing so.

There is no justification. That is Peter’s point. Instead of a humble heart that seeks to follow after God, these people have a proud heart that seeks to follow after their own lusts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Security of Sound Doctrine Part 1

Roach poison is made of over 98 % dog food. Less than 2% of the substance used is poison. When I found that out, I was quite surprised. A little bit, so the saying goes, certainly goes a long way. In much the same way, false doctrine, if tolerated in the church, doesn’t have to rise to the level of outright heresy to be deadly. People can mix in a little pop psychology, secular business models, or culturally relevant ideas and create confusion among Christians. In the world today, it is paramount that the Bible be taught as meaning what it means and saying what it says. To fail to do so leaves people vulnerable to the trappings of false teachers who have as their goal to lead people away from the truth to destruction.

Paul’s Celebration

In verse one of chapter 3, we find Paul concluding a thought that he had begun in chapter 2 verse 18. In verse 17, Paul asks the Philippians that even if he was “poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith” to “be glad and rejoice” (v.18) with him. Paul called for the believers to model Christ’s humility in serving (2:5) just as he (2:17) and his companions (2:22, 30) also serve sacrificially. Because of these examples, Paul calls them to “rejoice” with him in verse 18 and again in verse one of chapter 3.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc Used by permission All rights reserved

Monday, October 26, 2009

Matthew 7:1 This Verse Ain’t Just For Libs Part II

I used to love to watch the People’s Court. I think my favorite character on there was Rusty the Bailiff. I always thought Judge Wapner had a real good sense of character and could get at the truth of what happened and make a judgment. The funny thing is, I’ve never once heard a liberal christian complain “Who is he to judge? You know what it says in Matthew 7:1.” In fact, the only time I’ve ever heard a liberal christian use this verse is when a Christian is proclaiming truth from God’s holy word that the liberal christian deems to be unloving. As we looked at this verse last time, we observed that it does not preclude a Christian from any judging given the immediate context. As we will see in I Corinthians 5, neither does the broader context of the New Testament suggest that we should not judge in some instances.

Now, just to sort of remind us here, the word in question that we’re looking at is the Greek word krinete (2919). The word can mean to judge in a positive or negative light and can also mean to evaluate or consider. In other words, it doesn’t just mean to judge in a legal or judicial sense although it is used in that context. Paul is writing in this chapter how he has heard reports of sexual immorality among them that isn’t even heard of outside of the church. Instead of recognizing this behavior as sinful, they were proud of the fact that they were such a loving church that they didn’t judge anyone but instead could love them anyway.

Paul’s response is pretty pointed and he doesn’t mince words here. He says in I Corinthians 5:3 that “I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (kekrika-2919) him who has so committed this, as though I were present.” Now, if Jesus in Matthew 7:1 means that we as Christians are never supposed to judge and that doing so is sin, then why is Paul not repenting of his judgment in the case of this incestuous relationship he has heard about? Why would God allow Paul to include his sinful judgment of this sin in a letter to a church where Paul was having to deal with problems anyway? The only possible reason for Paul to make this statement using the same Greek word (in a different tense) is for him to say he was judging this sin. And, notice, he didn’t just pass judgment and declare the verdict, he in verse 5 gives us his sentence. We read in I Corinthians 5:5 “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” That isn’t the sugar-coated, cotton candy approach we find our liberal christian friends would like us to take. No, no, no, my friends, Paul didn’t say “Go set these people in the Thinking Chair over in the corner. They’ve just earned them selves a time out”. Nope, he said he has delivered them over to Satan. Now, it’s beyond the scope of this blog post to go into exactly what that means but suffice it to say it doesn’t sound pleasant. I would conclude, then, that Paul was judging in this case. But does that make it ok for us to judge?

That is a fair question. I mean, I don’t know, maybe Paul got some sort of special badge that said he could judge so that the liberal christian could say “Woah, now hoss. I’m not like Paul. I can’t go judging. I don’t have any business doing that. He was an apostle. I’m just plain ol’ Joe Schmoe over here.” However, look at what Paul writes just a few verses later.

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.
Paul says for them to separate from someone who, through unrepentant sin, demonstrates that he is not really a Christian. In order to do that, you’re going to have to determine if the behavior is sinful which will involve judging. Then, in verse I Corinthians 5:12, he asks a rhetorical question:

For what have I to do with judging (krinein-2919) outsiders? Do you (his audience) not judge (krinete-2919) those who are within the church?

Folks, there is nothing in the immediate context of Matthew 7:1 nor in the broader biblical context as we seen in I Corinthians 5:1-12 that would preclude our judging in appropriate times and places. Therefore, that verse does not mean that we are NEVER to judge in ANY circumstances. You might ask “Well then, what does it mean?” We’ll get into that next time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

II Peter 2:10 You Ain’t the Boss of Me!

If you’ve watched any TV lately, you’ve seen the commercials for get rich quick schemes using the internet. They show what look like average people who smile as they tell the camera how they made 16 bazzillion dollars last year working 45 minutes a week all from the comfort of their own home. They talk about how nice it is to no longer have to answer to a boss. Many people entertain fantasies of shrugging off the shackles of the workaday work week and finally being able to give their boss a piece of their mind because now they can be their own boss. Unfortunately, this desire doesn’t relegate itself to the workplace but we see in schools, in society, and in our own homes how the human heart rebels against any authority. This sinful attitude is pervasive in all of humanity and, as Peter writes in verse 10 of chapter 2, is a key factor that motivates the sinful false teachers in the church.

Continuing his description of their depraved character, Peter says these false teachers “despise authority”. The word translated “despise” is the Greek word “kataphroneo” (2706) and it means to think contemptuously or to think lowly of something. In other words, in addition to following their fleshly, sinful desires they also see themselves in a sense as being “above the law”. Now, something I’m trying to teach my child is that everyone, no matter who they are, that lives on this earth ultimately answers to someone. The President answers to the people and is checked/balanced in his authority by the legislative and judicial branches of government. A CEO of a company answers to the stockholders and the board of directors. Even within the Godhead, God the Son submitted Himself to God the Father and suffered the agony of Calvary’s cross as He bore the payment for sin. We cannot escape the fact that we are under authority. The only One who is not under authority is God. Therefore, the have an attitude of defiance toward authority is to sin. God instituted government (Romans 13) and other authorities as part of his creative order. However, these false teachers will not submit themselves to any authority.

For instance, in their living they demonstrate they will not submit themselves to the authority of God. As Peter writes in this verse, they follow their own sinful desires in their search for pleasure. While we are not saved by what we do but solely by faith in Christ, we should walk worth of our calling in Christ (Ephesians 4:1). A truly converted person will demonstrate that conversion by bearing spiritual fruit (Matthew 3:8) including a willingness to submit to God in holy living. An absence of holiness in the life of a professing Christian may not prove conclusively that they are not saved but it certainly raises the question of the authenticity of their conversion. If someone does not repent of their sin when they are encouraged to do so, if they defy the authority of God in their lives it may well be that they are not children of God in the first place.

Further, in their teaching they refuse to submit to the authority of God’s word. Rather, they try to deceive people with “cleverly devised tales” (1:16) and “destructive heresies” (2:1) rather than the truth in the word of God. In fact, we see in the ministries of some hucksters today proclamations of new truths that contradict what is found in the Bible (i.e. that Jesus was punished in hell for our sins) to claims that the miracles of Jesus are just fables and that He was not born of a virgin. Bible exposition is hard work but if someone is willing to do the work they can understand God’s word by following a well worn path that has been walked by many men and women over the centuries. These false teachers either ignore the word of God or twist it till it cries “Uncle” to try to make it say what they want it to say. Then if all else fails, they claim that the text is speaking to another time and another culture. The think lowly of the Bible and what it reveals and even now just as they did in Peter’s day suggest that truth must be found somewhere else. They do this because they don’t want to submit to the authority of God’s word.

A rejection of authority is a sure sign of something wrong in a person’s life. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent tempted Eve to question the authority God’s word. Cain was tempted to question God’s authority over life when he killed his brother. Not only should we be mindful of such sinful attitudes in ourselves but we should also be wary if we see these attitudes in other Christians, particularly ones who purport to be teachers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Secret to Happiness pt 4

This is an exposition of Psalm 1 I did a few years ago. I pray that your are encouraged.

I read a bumper sticker one time that said “If you’re living like there is no God, you better be right.” Proclaiming that God is righteous and holy and will judge those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not a popular message. As the book of Proverbs notes, most people are more than happy to proclaim their own goodness. However, regardless of how unpopular it is for us to proclaim that there is judgment for sin, the Bible is as plain and clear about that truth as it can be. People need to realize that there is a judgment day coming and that they don’t have unlimited time to get ready to face that judgment. There will be no grading on the curve. Punishment will be final and terrible. Those who reject Jesus will find that they are both helpless and hopeless before the righteous fury of a holy God.

First of all, they will find that they are helpless. We noted in the last lesson on Psalm 1 that ultimately a righteous person will prosper because he will have a home in heaven with all the saints. He will enter into the joy of fellowship with God’s people for all eternity. However, Psalm 1 verse 4 says “The wicked are not so”. There is no happy ending for them. As bad as trials may have been in their life, they are in no way prepared for the eternity that awaits them. The verse goes on to describe their helplessness. It describes them as “chaff which the wind drives away”. I am from the Gulf Coast originally. I have seen my share of hurricanes. That’s why I no longer live on the Gulf Coast. When the wind of a hurricane starts blowing, it picks up things and throws them willy-nilly. It uprooted a huge tree in the front yard of one of my aunt’s houses. That is why when people know a hurricane is coming, they tie up lawn furniture and pack up kids toys. There is no way to control where that stuff is going to go. In like manner, the ungodly will be scattered before God’s righteous judgment. They will be utterly helpless on that day.

They will also be hopeless. People who choose to reject Biblical truth and the offer of salvation from God through Jesus Christ are proud people. Basically, they are saying “I can handle this on my own” or “I will not submit to the Lord. I will not have Him as God over me.” However, verse 5 of this Psalm records that these proud, haughty people who think that they will stand up to God and show how powerful they are will in fact “not stand in the judgment”. Their defiance will eventually come to an end. They will not have the strength to face God’s judgment. He will overpower them and overcome them. He will also make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked. The wicked will be excluded and will not be found in the “congregation of the righteous”. Obviously, people who believe that everyone will make it to heaven are wrong according to this verse of holy scripture.

Someone reading this might ask “Why? Why is there a difference between the wicked and the righteous?” For all I know, someone reading this blog might have just stumbled on it and not know the reason for the distinction made in the judgment. Notice that verse 6 says that God “knows the way of the righteous but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” The ungodly perish because God does not “know” their way. The Hebrew word translated “know” is the word “yada” and it means to know in a relational sense. It is not the know of someone who knows that 2 times 2 equals 4. It’s the know of me knowing that spending quality time with my wife is one of the most important ways for her to know that I love her. That isn’t something I learned by reading a textbook. I came to know that because of our relationship. As Jesus said in John chapter 10, His sheep know Him and hear His voice. Because we are His sheep, He knows our way. The end for the ungodly, however, is a terrifying picture of judgement.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Matthew 7:1 This Verse Ain’t Just For Libs Part I

One day, while driving to class during my work toward an accounting degree, I was listening to someone on a radio call in show who made the point “Now, I’m a Christian but I can’t go saying that homosexuality is a sin.” I knew what was coming next. I’m sure you do, too. “God tells us not to judge.” Of course, she couldn’t quote the verse or its associated reference, but she was dead certain that God told us in the Bible not to judge. It used to be that it was non-Christians who loved that verse because they could throw it back in the face of some Christian who was calling their behavior sinful as a kind of almighty trump card to whatever theological argument they may have had.

The sad part is, for so long the church has suffered through biblical illiteracy where the average Joe in the pew expects the person in the pulpit to have all the answers rather than being able to give a solid testimony and a defense of his faith. However, as the caller on the radio points out, it’s not just non-Christians who quote or cite that verse. There are Christians, or those who profess to be Christians, who believe that it is not our job to call people to repentance from sin. They use this same verse to justify theological wishy-washiness or to avoid confrontation with those who oppose the Bible and its doctrine. However, if one actually studies what this verse says, it is pretty clear that we don’t have to check our spines at the door when confronting sin from a biblical perspective.

First of all, we need to think carefully about what chapter 7 verse 1 actually says and means. I suggest one way to do that is to examine what the verse does not mean. Let us observe that the word translated “judge” in this verse is the word “krino”(2919). The word means to choose, distinguish, separate between things but does not imply anything about quality. In other words, it’s not necessarily used to describe judging something as bad or wrong although it can be used for that purpose. Now, this word could be used of a judge rendering decisions in a legal matter or someone judging a work of art. It has a fairly wide semantic range. Therefore, it is imperative that we look at the context to help us interpret this correctly and, as I suggested, decide first of all what this does not mean.

Now, let’s look at the immediate context of the verse. In chapter 6, Jesus calls for His audience to judge their own motives when they fast, pray, and give charitably (6:1-18). He calls for them, after they have removed the log in their own eye, to help their brother with the speck in his eye a few verses later in this chapter (vs. 3-6). In a more abstract sense, He calls for them to judge false prophets by their fruits (v 16). Therefore, from the immediate context it seems that Jesus is not forbidding people from making judgments. In fact, in those verses, He is commanding them to do so. Now, granted it’s a different word but they will have to perform the same sort of mental evaluation to discern good from evil as they would to judge it—they would examine the evidence and draw a conclusion. I would say, then, from the immediate context we are given, Jesus is not saying that His followers are forbidden to judge.

However, what about the broader biblical context? Does the bible elsewhere tell us that we as Christians are forbidden from judging? Tune in next time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Secret to Happiness pt 3

This is an exposition of Pslam 1 I did about two years ago, I pray that you are encouraged.

When we look at the life of Joseph, Jacob’s son, we see a man supernaturally blessed by God. He rose from the ranks of slavery to the heights of being the 2nd in command of the nation of Egypt. Likewise, Daniel was extraordinarily successful as an administrator and adviser to the Babylonian and Medo-Persian Empire. Certainly, God allowed these men to succeed and enabled them to perform these great tasks. However, if you were to listen to most ministers on TBN, you would get the impression that success and wealth are results or even proofs of salvation. I’m afraid as much as I would like to be guaranteed success and wealth, the Bible does not promise those things to every believer as the world defines them. As we read this verse, we can get a clearer glimpse of what God does in fact promise those who have saving faith.

As we have read, persons who are true followers of Christ do not associate themselves closely with those who reject the truth. In fact, we have seen that a person who loves God also loves His word. In this verse, we see the result of this relationship. We are told this person “shall be like a tree planted”. Now, trees are completely dependant on someone else for their survival. They don’t, nor can they, work or save or exert effort to take care of themselves. Either they are taken care of by a man or by God. In much the same way, regardless of how we like to think of ourselves as self sufficient, we are totally dependant on God. God chose us before the foundation of the world. God numbered our days before we were even born. Like it or not, we are God’s property. We didn’t just happen to come into existence by chance but we were “planted”. We are where we’re supposed to be. We are tended by a loving Gardener who tirelessly provides for every need. For instance, we are not planted just anywhere. Rather, we are planted by “rivers of water”. Our loving Father wants us to be taken care of so we aren’t just planted near one stream but by “rivers” (plural). There have been times where I haven’t had everything I wanted and there have also been times where I wondered how a need was going to be met. However, my God has never once failed to provide for my or my families needs.

In addition to providing for my needs, He also provides for my growth. A person whom God has planted will, according to this Psalm, “bring forth [his] fruit in season”. Now, the last time I was around a fruit tree was the Bradford pair tree in my mother-in-law’s yard. I have never once heard that tree, or any fruit tree, strain with effort to bring forth fruit. They bear fruit because they are fruit trees. It is a result of their existence. We, as Christians, bear spiritual fruit. As Jesus said in Matthew 7 “No good tree bears bad fruit and no bad tree bears good fruit”. God may at times have to prune us to make us more fruitful, but the fact is that fruit trees bear fruit based on the kind of tree they are. Of course, none of us are on the same level of maturity spiritually. Therefore, we bring forth our fruit “in season” in keeping with the will of the Master Gardener.

Now, some people could read this Psalm and say “Hey, look at these next two verses. See. There’s proof that all Christians will have success.” However, let’s think about what these next two phrases and remember that this is talking about someone who has a right relationship with God. I live in Tennessee and here it is turning fall. Just barely but the leaves are turning none the less. I believe this is my favorite time of year because of the beauty of the falling leaves and the dead grass (I hate cutting grass). When I read this verse, I wasn’t exactly sure what it would mean that the subject of this Psalm had leaves that “shall not whither”. However, when I reflect on the fact that the leaves that are falling have died I remember that I will live forever in heaven with God and my Christian brothers and sisters. I’m going to die (or be raptured) physically but I will never die as far as eternity is concerned. Likewise, I may suffer loss and misfortune in this world. In fact, I have. Some things were due to my stupidity and some were not my fault. However, they were all in the providence of Almighty God. Even though I have had success and failure here in this world, ultimately “whatever [I do] shall proper” because I will eventually shed this mortal body and leave this sinful world for a perfect home in heaven. No matter how ugly things get here, I know that ultimately I will have true joy beyond anything I could ask or imagine when I come to live forever in heaven with Him who “planted” me in His garden not because of my worth but because of His grace and mercy.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bible Scholar says "God did not create Earth"

Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis “in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth” is not a true translation of the Hebrew.

She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world — and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.

She said technically “bara” does mean “create” but added: “Something was wrong with the verb. “God was the subject (God created), followed by two or more objects. Why did God not create just one thing or animal, but always more?”

She concluded that God did not create, he separated: the Earth from the Heaven, the land from the sea, the sea monsters from the birds and the swarming at the ground.

Of course, because God's word can't actually mean what it says. That would be too freaky and out there for me, man.

I'm sure iMonk and the Cooperate-with-anyone Baptist Fellowship will LOVE this.

Obama and "Don't ask/Don't tell"

David over at A Boomer in the Pew writes:

You see, Mr. President, the most difficult task of all is loving the GLBT community enough to tell them the true truth. Looking at their pain is difficult. Looking at the tangled webs woven by the militant in their midst is very disheartening.

But, Mr. President, these are not "outworn arguments". These "outworn arguments", given a most honest look, with an open mind, and no clear agenda, are the holy words of God:

Romans 1:26-27 - For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And all God's people said "Amen"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Secret to Happiness pt 2

This is an exposition of Psalm 1 I did about 2 years ago. I pray that you are encouraged.

Some of the men at a church I attended went through a Bible study called “The Exemplary Husband”. One of the points made by one of the guys was that how we spend our time demonstrates what we value as a priority. I would add to that statement that if we claim to be Christians and to love the Lord but our lives do not reflect that, we are deluding ourselves. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. In this verse, we see a practical observation about the reaction of a godly person to the word of God.

Scripture records in Psalm 1:1 that a godly person wants nothing to do with ungodly people or activities. Verse 2 informs us why a godly person has this mindset. To them, the Bible is not just a book. It doesn’t just sit on the shelf and collect dust or hang around in the car until next time they go to church (unless, of course, they have a copy in the house that they read). The psalmist writes “his delight is in the law of the Lord”. In our society, we are bombarded with a constant barrage of suggestions as to what will make us happy. We are told that more money, more power, or more prestige will bring true satisfaction. However, the Bible here tells us that a godly person’s “delight” should be in the law of the Lord, the Bible. The word “delight” translates the Hebrew word “hepes” which could be used not only as “delight” but also “treasure”. In other words, a godly person finds the Bible to be a treasure. Now, if someone values something, they will treat it as special to them. When I was in school studying music, I had a tenor saxophone that my parents gave me. I polished it regularly. I treated it like a piece of jewelry. The way I treated it was proof of how much it meant to me.

A person who loves the Bible will spend time reading it, as the psalmist notes. “In His law he meditates day and night”. Now, if he is meditating on the Bible day and night, he is meditating on it all the time. There may be times when you cannot actually read through the scripture, but you can still meditate on it. I was the part time pastor of a small church in Northeast Alabama. For a full time day job, I ran a pizza restaurant. Many times, I would have to cover for drivers who didn’t show up to work. I didn’t have unlimited time to study. Most of the time, then, I would be working on a passage 2 or 3 weeks before I would preach it (one of the advantages of sequential exposition). I would be driving around delivering a pizza and thinking about a few verses that I had been studying. The psalmist paints the same sort of pictures here. This person is constantly consumed with God’s word. Now, let us imagine what kind of life this person must live. When someone treats him rudely, what kind of reaction would God’s word lead him to have? When he is fearful, what kind of comfort would it give him? How would our lives be different if we meditated on God’s word day and night?

Observe, however, that he doesn’t simply read the Bible. He “meditates” (haga-Hebrew) on it. The Hebrew word can be used for “study”. We are admonished that as we mature, we should move from spiritual milk (the elementary principals of the faith) to solid food (doctrine). We can’t expect to learn the Bible by simply reading it. When I eat a steak, I don’t just shove the whole thing in my mouth. Well, most of the time. I cut it up. I have to work to prepare my food for consumption. Even when I have a piece of steak in my mouth, I have to chew it before I swallow it or hope for someone to know the Heimlich. Now when I eat cotton candy, it dissolves on contact with my tongue. God’s word is spiritual steak. To study it and learn it is going to take some work. We have to read it, read commentaries about it, go and hear it preached, and study as much as we can of the original languages.

As we read in Hebrews 1, God spoke through the prophets. We know He spoke through the apostles as well. Therefore, when we delight in the law of the Lord and focus on studying it, we grow closer to Him because He is revealed in each and every verse. To study the Bible is to study God. Our love of the Bible demonstrates our love for our Lord who inspired it to be written. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Money Can't Buy Happiness

Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs has written a post titled "Why Slaves to Mamon Cannot Find Peace". You simply must read the whole thing but this line in particular was on the mark.

The key to Jesus' whole point is that last phrase. What you invest in is what you truly love. Where you put your treasure not only reflects where your heart is, but to a very large degree it determines what you think about, what you care about, and whom you serve. Invest your resources in earthly mammon, and you indenture yourself as a slave to a world-system that is hostile to God and exists under His condemnation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Secret to Happiness pt 1

This is an exposition I did of Psalm 1 about 2 years ago. I pray that you are encouraged.

There are few, like less than 3, TV preachers I would ever listen to if I wanted to learn something. Until John MacArthur started his TV ministry last year, that number was less than 2. That one preacher was Ravi Zacharias. However, I do watch TV preachers sometimes. Why, you ask? Because it is so side-splittingly funny. It is literally like watching a comedian. You have people teaching doctrine that is absolutely heretical and some people actually believe what they themselves are saying. “It isn’t God’s will for you to be sick.” “God intends for all believers to live with an abundance of money.” They preach that Christianity exists to make people happy. The pastor of America’s largest church has written a book that appeals to peoples self esteem and greediness. These people purport to tell people how they can be “Happy”. However, what does the Bible say about true happiness and fulfillment? Does it line up with what these used car salesmen who pass themselves off as teachers of God’s word claim? Let’s look at Psalm 1 and find out for ourselves.

Psalm 1 verse one begins by saying “Blessed is the man”. The word translated blessed is the Hebrew word esher and can be taken to mean “how happy”. We will study the specifics of what causes one to be happy according to the verse, but we do notice that the state of being blessed or happy is not the result of having things. People are not happy because of their home, their car, or their job. In fact, true Biblical happiness doesn’t have anything to do with material possessions. It has to do with our relationship with God. Notice, therefore, that this verse also talks about the absence of situations in a person’s life that make a person happy. It doesn’t talk about what a person who is happy has or does but, rather, what they do not do. We should note as Paul teaches in the book of Romans that we, as Christians, were once slaves to sin. Now, in our redeemed state, we are slaves to righteousness. Therefore, we have been set free from sin in order to serve God. Because of that, there are some things that a Christian should not do. This does not mean that we keep a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts but because we have a new nature inside of us we will live differently.

Notice the verse says someone is happy who does not “walk in the council of the ungodly”. Throughout scripture, “walk” is used to describe the course of our life. How we conduct ourselves is a direct reflection of what we think and what we believe. A happy person, in this verse who does not let his actions be controlled by ungodly advice. The world and its wisdom will always be contrary to the wisdom of God. This is because, as Paul notes in Ephesians chapter 4 the ungodly people in this verse have “futile” minds. Therefore, they have an inaccurate view of the world in which they live. In that case, a person is better off not listening to worldly wisdom and ideas but, instead, should turn to God’s perfect holy word and godly preachers/teachers for council. As the apostle notes in Romans 12, we are to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds”. To fail to do so invites folly into one’s life.

Next, the author writes that a person is happy if they do not “stand in the paths of sinners”. It is instructive to note that the action in this verse progresses from walking to standing to sitting. The Hebrew word for path is derek. This word can be used figuratively to mean “course of life” or “mode of action”. As I said earlier, how we live proves what we think or believe. If a person fills his or her mind with the thoughts and teachings of this world, it will show in how they live. They will find themselves standing with those whose mode of life conflicts with the teaching of God’s word. The Bible teaches here that those who are happy do not have the same “course of life” or “mode of action” as those who are unredeemed. Certainly, all of us fall short of the standard that God sets from time to time. However, if a person is truly a Christian they will live differently than the rest of the world because they have been reborn and filled with the Holy Spirit. Happiness, then, is a result of being separated from this evil world system.

Finally, the author says that those who are happy do not “sit in the seat of the scornful”. As the action progresses in this verse, so does the godlessness of the people with whom we should disassociate ourselves. They have gone from ungodly to sinners to people who are scornful. Now, they are pictured not only as ones who sin but who mock the righteousness of God and His holy word. People who live contrary to scripture should be avoided as close companions. However, we should be even more careful to avoid those who speak and teach against the word of God. As this verse notes, those who are happy will not “sit (abide) in the seat (dwelling place)” of those who contradict God’s word. When people disregard and verbally mock God and the Bible, we need to remove ourselves from their influence (council), forsake their behavior (path), and remove ourselves from their abode (seat). When we do that, we can focus on the word of God. The study of the Bible and fellowship with other Christians is what produces true happiness.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

When Should You Leave a Church?

Leaving a church is always painful even if it is for the right reasons. Of course, we all know Church Hoppers who are on the lookout for the Bigger Better Deal and follow fads or let their children decide where they go to church. Most church moves are not for the right reasons. However, sometimes there are good, biblical reasons to leave a church. I recently came across an article by Brian Abshire which contains some great advice. I whole heartedly commend the entire article to you. In the article he says:

Well, let me suggest that it is perfectly appropriate and sometimes even mandatory to leave a church when they have broken covenant with you. Those earlier comments we made about apostasy and heresy fit in here; the church covenanted with you to teach the truth of God’s word. When they no longer teach that word, they have broken covenant with you and therefore you may lawfully and appropriately leave them.

However, there may be other than just outright apostasy involved. Most churches agree that the Bible is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. If the church refuses to abide by the Bible’s standards in say rebuking sin, resolving problems, wisely using the resources God entrusted to it*, etc., then again, it is both lawful and appropriate to leave.

*i.e. A church leadership team that wastes or mismanages the resources it collects in offerings from the congregation. The leadership team might also demonstrate poor stewardship in unwise budget practices (paying an unreasonable salary to pastoral staff--there are IRS laws regarding what a 501(c) 3 can pay in salary--See here and here [pg 5])

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

D. A. Carson on 1 Timothy 2 "Authority"

This is part two of a video where D.A. Carson discusses the prohibitions on women teaching or having authority in a church. Be encouraged.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Video-D.A. Carson on I Timothy 2 "Permit"

A few years ago, I was trial preaching at a church in Smithville, Tennessee. While there, I was talking to a woman who made the comment that when Paul wrote "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man" that he was writing his personal opinion. After all, she reasoned, he said "I do not permit". I was quite proud of myself in my reaction. Instead of going all Wolverine on her, I calmly pointed out that, since God inspired the men who wrote scripture, there are no parts of the bible that we can dismiss as just being someone's personal opinion. With that in mind, let's look at what theologian D.A. Carson has to say about this passage. I'll post part one today and part two tomorrow. I trust you will be as encouraged as I was.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spurgeon and the Downgrade--First steps to heresy.

In 1887, Charles Spurgeon published some articles by a friend of his, Robert Shindler about the theological liberalism that was spreading throughout the churches. Although some pastors today believe that Spurgeon did not handle this issue in a Christian manner, I for one am thankful for a man who had the backbone to stand up for the truths of scripture. You can read an entire excerpt of book written on the subject here. However, I was particularly encouraged by the following quote. Mr. Shindler answers the question "How does one start down a road to heresy?"

The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures. All the while a man bows to the authority of God's Word, he will not entertain any sentiment contrary to its teaching. "To the law and to the testimony," is his appeal concerning every doctrine. He esteems that holy Book, concerning all things, to be right, and therefore he hates every false way. But let a man question, or entertain low views of the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and he is without chart to guide him, and without anchor to hold him.In looking carefully over the history of the times, and the movement of the times, of which we have written briefly, this fact is apparent: that where ministers and Christian churches have held fast to the truth that the Holy Scriptures have been given by God as an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered very seriously out of the right way. But when, on the other hand, reason has been exalted above revelation, and made the exponent of revelation, all kinds of errors and mischiefs have been the result.