Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Exposition of Hebrews Part 5

Doug Searle over at Taking Up Space is teaching through the book of Hebrews and posting the audio from his classes online. Click here for the study notes to lesson 5. Click here for the audio.

Monday, February 22, 2010

II Peter 2 :17 Part III They’ll Get What’s Coming To Them

I knew a pastor of a local church who is paid, for the size of the church, an exorbitant salary and feels that he deserves it. The man literally reeks with greed. Furthermore, recently, a news station in Dallas reported a story which alleged that Ed Young, pastor of Fellowship Church, owned a 10,000 square foot home, was being paid a $1,000,000 salary, and that the church owned, unknown to most church members, a private jet to fly this man around to speaking engagements so that he could sell his materials to other like minded pastors at conferences all over the globe. As it turns out, he announced to the congregation that he did not make one million dollars a year, that his house was “only” 7,800 square feet (which in auditing we would call an immaterial difference), and that the church “leased” the jet it didn’t own it. The only real difference between these two charlatans is the size of the congregation that they are able to bilk out of money. Their heart attitude is the same—they believe they deserve to be wealthy and they will peddle the word of God to do so. These guys are just like the false prophets Peter talked about in the 2nd chapter of his 2nd epistle. One thing is for sure, false teachers may be able to live in comfort by fleecing the Lord’s sheep in this life, but there is a future, terrible judgment that is awaiting them.

Notice that this judgment is personal. When God judges, it will not look like a child pitching a temper tantrum nor will there be collateral damage with God’s children being wounded in friendly fire. The wicked will be signaled out for judgment. These are the people “for whom” God’s wrath is being saved up. Men such as the false teachers in Peter’s day and the false teachers living today may not acknowledge the judgment of God. They may mock it and dismiss it but the fact is this judgment is very real and those who do not know Jesus as their Savior will experience this personal judgment along with the false teachers.

Further, Peter describes a terrifying picture of judgment for these false teachers. All sinners will be punished but as we see in Luke 12:47-48 that punishment will not be equally severe. These, who presumed to speak for God and who led people astray with their empty words, will receive a particularly harsh punishment. In fact, it is referred here as “the black darkness”. The word translated “black” can also be translated “gloom” so, in a sense, the phrase Peter uses here could be understood as “darkness upon darkness” or “the darkest darkness”. Peter was trying to paint a picture of how bleak the picture is for these false teachers. Those who have claimed to speak for God but spoken their own words will suffer a special kind of torment when God pours out His wrath.

Finally, the judgment is assured. This is not just a suggestion of a possible outcome or some sort of idle threat. It is in fact a settled matter that their doom is sure. It’s just a matter of time before they are judged by a righteous and holy God for their sins. This black darkness, Peter writes, “has been reserved”. This phrase in Greek is written in the perfect tense and it is passive. In other words, this is a settled matter—it has been done. The reservation has been made and it didn’t have to be guaranteed with a credit card. Further, the false teachers are not the ones who made it. This judgment is something that is going to be done to them. As Psalm 1 says, they will not stand in defiance before the judgment of a holy God who has been offended and blasphemed by their sin.

False teachers, in their greed and rebellion against God, may appear to escape judgment from God. However, as we read this epistle, as well as the whole Bible, we see that God will be vindicated. Sin will be punished and done away with. Evil will not win the day in the end. God will truly be glorified and worshiped by all the saints but the wicked will perish, particularly those who deceive people in the name of God.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Exposition of Galatians

Mark Mann, pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship in Mt Juliet, Tennessee, recently finished his exposition of Galatians. Having heard the man preach, I highly recommend the series to you. I can't seem to figure a way to link to individual sermons here but you can listen for free and download the sermons here.


Monday, February 15, 2010

So, there were no liberals in the SBC??

Those who decry the Conservative Resurrgence in the Southern Baptist Convention often claim that there were no liberals in the seminaries. Perhaps they forget about someone like Professor John Durham. You see, in the Summer 1984 copy of The Review and Expositor (Vol. LXXXI, No. 3) published by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville there was an article written by John I. Durham who was, at that time, Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina titled "The King as 'Messiah' in the Psalms.".

In the article, the oh so well educated Dr. Durham said "Few biblical concepts have fallen prey to this tendency [the tendency of 'discrediting of an ancient idea by imputing to it a meaning it did not have in its own plane of existence any more frequently than has the Old Testament concept of messiah, particularly in its occurrences in the Psalms...To deal with the most frequent misunderstanding first, the one connected with the 'width' of the concept of messiah in the Psalms, we must first note that messiah in the Psalms refers always and only to the ruling king, the 'Davidic' king who was Yahweh's appointed and so anointed messiah representative. These references are not intended as predictions of Jesus who is the Christ (Cristos, which also means anointed), though they have very often been taken as such, beginning as early as the New Testament period." In other words, Mr. Durham says that when the New Testament writers say that the Psalms are referring to Jesus they are WRONG.

Further, he says that any such intepretations are based on "ignorance, prejudice, eisegesis, undisciplined piety, and over-used imagination, and so are wrong and unjustifiable reasons." In other words, if you believe that the Psalms are talking about Jesus when they mention the Messiah, you're stupid.

Although I no longer go to a Southern Baptist Church, I am thankful as a conservative, Bible believing Christian that there were those in that denomination who were willing to stand up to the liberalism that was running rampant in the seminaries at the time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Different Types of Antinomianism

A friend of mine, Les Puryear, has written a post on his blog titled Different Types of Antinomianism. I think it is in response to different conversations in the blogosphere about the nature and purpose of the Old Testament law in the lives of Christians. In one camp are those who correctly recognize that while dietary law (i.e. don't eat pork or shellfish) and ceremonial law (i.e. the OT sacrifices which Calvary did away with) are no longer in force, the moral law revealed in the Old Testament is still the standard of what is pleasing to God in the life of His children. I humbly suggest that you get over there right now and read this fairly short post which describes several different types of this concept of antinomianism. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sermon-An Introduction to I Corinthians

A friend of mine, Byron Yawn, is the pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville. He started this past Sunday to preach through the book of I Corinthians. Since, as you know, my philosophy on this blog is "You cannot get too much verse by verse Bible exposition", I wanted to post the link to the sermon so you can listen to it. I believe you will be greatly encouraged by this godly preacher.

You can click here to listen to the sermon. If you subscribe by email or RSS you may have to go to the blog to get the link.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

II Peter 2:17 Part II-Empty Words

Have you ever known someone who was all talk and no action? They would sound impressive and make a big spectacle of themselves but they had not the slightest clue how to deliver on their promises. You can apply the same sort of title to false teachers—both in Peter’s day and today. They make nice, pretty, pleasant sounds with their voices. They’re attractive and charismatic. However, they have nothing to offer people who are searching for real answers and real truth.

Peter described these people as “springs without water” in the beginning of this verse. Here, he applies the metaphor that these false teachers are “mists driven by the storm”. Now, these “mists” (or “clouds” depending on the Greek text you use—by the way, if you have the time or inclination to fight about this textual variant, you have way more time on your hands than I do. I’m just saying.) might cloud the sky and make things somewhat grey, but they are void of any real substance. However, they are “driven by a storm”. There is a lot of sound and fury behind them. As J. Vernon McGee writes about these “mists driven by a storm”:

"As a boy I lived in West Texas. We left there in the third year of a three-year drought. I can remember when we would go into the fields and chop cotton—believe me, in those days cotton didn’t grow well in that country even if there was rain. But sometimes late in the afternoon big thunderheads, big clouds, would gather overhead, and there would be lightning. We’d think, My, we are going to have rain —but we didn’t have rain. How dry it was! Many people are following false teachers who are like that. They are “wells without water.” They are like clouds, beautiful clouds. Oh, how tremendous it is to see and hear these folks. They are very impressive, but there is no water in the well, and there is no rain in the clouds. People are thirsting today for the Word of God, and yet it is not being given to them."

These false teachers look impressive. They tout their years of experience, their education, and their spiritual gifts. In fact, there may be evidence of some fruit in their ministry. They may exposit some scriptures, pray great prayers, visit the sick in the hospital, and minister to people in great and wonderful ways. But in the end, they are in the ministry for what they can get out of it—and by golly they deserve what they get as they will be the first to tell you so. They seek power, acclaim, money, possessions and ultimately it is this greed that corrupts their ministry. They have no integrity because they preach truth when it suits them and bend the truth when the situation demands it. Or they may, as is the case with prosperity gospel preachers, completely twist and distort the gospel, promising God’s blessing in exchange for money. In either case, the doctrine of false teachers is ultimately empty and worthless.

These men, driven by immoral lust, reject the truth and sell a perversion of the truth as a commodity. Like Simeon in Act 8:18, they look to use the gospel as a means to an end—that end being the acquisition of wealth. As we will see in the latter part of this verse, what these false teachers will actually obtain is a final doom from which they will never recover.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mathew 7:15 Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

It is important for all Christians to always be on guard for false teaching. We need to be Bereans and constantly test all things against the truth of God’s word. And praise God that He gave us a written word that never changes so that we always have a plumb line to measure what people teach against. As Peter warns us in II Peter chapter 2, false teachers are going to come, not from without the church (which could happen), but from within—from among folks who call themselves Christians. How should believers guard themselves against false teachers and false teaching? Jesus, in this verse, gives us some practical guidance as to what our mindset should be as we interact with people who claim to teach God’s word.

First of all, we need an attitude of vigilance. Jesus tells His audience to “Beware of the false prophets”. The word “beware” was used literally to mean “bring near” and was used to describe anchoring a ship in a harbor. In this sense, it figuratively meant to pay close attention to something or constantly call something to mind. Jesus’ point, then, is that we need to always be watching out for those who claim to be speaking for God but are not in fact speaking for God. As opposed to true prophets, who preach the truth of scripture faithfully, these “false prophets” speak out of their own imaginations. Their words are empty and lead to destruction (II Peter 2:17) as opposed to the words that lead to eternal life that a preached by true prophets, apostles, and, today, preachers of the word of God. In fact, though it is not explicitly stated here, there is a contrast between these “false prophets” and true prophets and we can safely assume that everything that Christ says about false prophets is not true about faithful, honorable prophets who preach the word of God faithfully. In any case, our attitude should be one of constant vigilance. We need to perpetually be being aware.

Christ gives further instructions on how to identify these false prophets in the subsequent verses saying that we will know them by their fruits. However, we will also know them by the disparity between what they profess and what they are. You can take a dog, wash him, put a new collar on him, and get him as clean as fresh snow. However, as soon as you’re done, that dog will invariably go “woller” in some pile of something and get all dirty again. They will not stay clean for long. They can’t hide their true nature forever—eventually it will show. In just the same way, these false teachers, if you look long enough will show their true colors. They will come at first playing the part of a true shepherd wearing “sheep’s clothing”. They will present themselves as a man of God who seeks to faithfully teach God’s word. From the outside, they look innocent and harmless, like a sheep. People will notice their humility and laud their faithfulness in teaching the truth of scripture. However, it’s all an act.

Their inward character will eventually shine through and if you’re looking, you’ll see them for what they are—“ravenous wolves”. The word “ravenous” could also be translated “swindlers” (I Corinthians 5:10) and has the idea of someone who snatches what they want without regard for whether they deserve it or not. Or perhaps it’s better to say they believe they deserve it whether they do or not. They have a mindset that says “If I see it and I want it, by golly gum, I’m going to take it so you better not have your hand in my way or you’re going to pull a bloody stump back”. They have a bottomless pit for a stomach and have an endless appetite for stuff—money, possessions, praise, power. When you see someone like that, no matter how well they may have taught or how orthodox their doctrine is, Christ advises us to beware of them. Ultimately, since their “god” is their stomach (desire), they will eventually abandon the truth for convenience sake when it suits them (i.e. when donations are down). Their convictions are only strong when it is expedient for them to have strong convictions and those shift with the wind. These false prophets are dangerous and greedy, seeking only to fleece the sheep and enrich themselves.

False prophets did come to the early church. False prophets are still among us today. I recently had to pull my family out of a church that we attended for 3 years because I discovered the avarice of the senior pastor and his lack of integrity. It was a hard decision to make but it was the right one. It is important for us to examine the doctrine and the character of teachers in the church. They are to be held to a high standard. True, godly, teachers of the bible should be honored. We should beware of false teachers because of the damage they can do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Exposition of Hebrews-Part 4

A good friend of mine, Doug Searle, has been teaching verse by verse through the book of Hebrews. The notes for the study are on his blog here. I have been greatly encouraged and hope you will be too.

Part four of the lesson was in two parts but only one got recorded. You can get the lesson notes for both parts at the link above and listen to part one of the lesson here.