Tuesday, August 31, 2010

AWANA Sermon Part 4

This is part 4 of a sermon I preached about 2 years ago.  My family and I no longer go to this church, just FYI.  If you subscribe to this blog via email, you will probably need to click the post title and come to the blog to view the video--I don't think it will embed in the email.  Also, if you subscribe to this blog, you will notice that I've put parts one and two up and that this is part four.  You may be asking "Where is part three?"  Well, I'm asking that too.  I think some YouTube gremlins have eaten it.  I'll have to see if I can find the original--if I even still have it. 

I pray that you are encouraged.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Asking Questions--Ananias and Sapphira

I am a volunteer writer for the website GotQuestions. People who come to that website can browse a huge data base of already asked and answered questions or they can submit a question which is assigned to a writer to answer. I thought as I had opportunity to answer some of these questions, I would share them in a series of posts under the label "Asking Questions". Just as an FYI, I present the questions in the form they are asked without correction of spelling or grammar.  I pray that you are encouraged.

Q--Did god kill ananis and his wife in acts 5? And if so were they unbeliever cause I don`t think god kills beliver?

A--Acts 5 does not explicitly mention God causing their deaths. However, Peter says they have not lied to men but to God. Further, in the Psalms we read "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:16)". In other words, God is in control of when we die. This includes believers and unbelievers.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fundemental Friday's--Is Belief in Inerrancy Based on Ignorance

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

The old-fashioned conservative views [about the Bible] are no longer maintained by men with pretension to scholarship. The only people who oppose the Higher Critical views are the ignorant, the prejudiced, and the illiterate. (Briggs' "Bible, Church and Reason," pages 240-247).

This, too, is a matter that needs a little clearing up. In the first place it isnot fair to assert that the upholders of what are called the old-fashioned or traditional views of the Bible are opposed to the pursuit of scientific Biblical investigation. It is equally unfair to imagine that their opposition to the views of the Continental school is based upon ignorance and prejudice.

What the Conservative school oppose is not Biblical criticism, but Biblical criticism by rationalists. They do not oppose the conclusions of Wellhausen and Kuenen because they are experts and scholars; they oppose them because the Biblical criticism of rationalists and unbelievers can be neither expert nor scientific. A criticism that is characterized by the most arbitrary conclusions from the most spurious assumptions has no right to the word scientific. And further. Their adhesion to the traditional views is not only conscientious but intelligent. They believe that the old-fashioned views are as scholarly as they are Scriptural. It is the fashion in some quarters to cite the imposing list of scholars on the side of the German school, and to sneeringly assert that there is not a scholar to stand up for the old views of the Bible.

This is not the case. Hengstenberg of Basle and Berlin, was as profound a scholar as Eichhorn, Vater or De Wette; and Keil or Kurtz, and Zahn and Rupprecht were competent to compete with Reuss and Kuenen. Wilhelm Moller, who confesses that he was once "immovably convinced of the irrefutable correctness of the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis," has revised his former radical conclusions on the ground of reason and deeper research as a Higher Critic; and Professor Winckler, who has of late overturned the assured and settled results of the Higher Critics from the foundations, is, according to Orr, the leading Orientalist in Germany, and a man of enormous learning.

Sayce, the Professor of Assyriology at Oxford, has a right to rank as an expert and scholar with Cheyne, the Oriel Professor of Scripture Interpretation. Margoliouth, the Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford, as far as learning is concerned, is in the same rank with Driver, the Regius Professor of Hebrew, and the conclusion of this great scholar with regard to one of the widely vaunted theories of the radical school, is almost amusing in its terseness.

"Is there then nothing in the splitting theories," he says in summarizing a long line of defense of the unity of the book of Isaiah; "is there then nothing in the splitting theories? To my mind, nothing at all!" ("Lines of Defense," page 136).

Green and Bissell are as able, if not abler, scholars than Robertson Smith and Professor Briggs, and both of these men, as a result of the widest and deepest research, have come to the conclusion that the theories of the Germans are unscientific, unhistorical, and unscholarly. The last words of Professor Green in his very able work on the "Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch" are most suggestive. "Would it not be wiser for them to revise their own ill-judged alliance with the enemies of evangelical truth, and inquire whether Christ's view of the Old Testament may not, after all, be the true view?"

Yes. That, after all, is the great and final question. We trust we are not ignorant. We feel sure we are not malignant. We desire to treat no man unfairly, or set down aught in malice.

But we desire to stand with Christ and His Church. If we have any prejudice, we would rather be prejudiced against rationalism. If we have any bias, it must be against a teaching which unsteadies heart and unsettles faith. Even at the expense of being thought behind the times, we prefer to stand with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in receiving the Scriptures as the Word of God, without objection and without a doubt. A little learning, and a little listening to rationalistic theorizers and sympathizers may incline us to uncertainty; but deeper study and deeper research will incline us as it inclined Hengstenberg and Moller, to the profoundest conviction of the authority and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures, and to cry, "Thy word is very pure; therefore, Thy servant loveth it."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AWANA Sermon--Part II

This is part 2 of a sermon I preached about 2 years ago at a church where I served as AWANA Commander. If you subscribe by email, you may have to click to title and view the video on the blog. In the interest of full disclosure, my family and I no longer attend this church. However, the substance of the sermon really wouldn't change no matter where I had preached it. I pray that you are encouraged.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AWANA Sermon--Part I

This is part one of a sermon I preached about two years ago for AWANA awards night at church that I went to and served as AWANA Commander.  In the interest of full disclosure, my family and I no longer go to that church.  However, the substance of the message wouldn't change regardless of where I had preached it.  I pray that you'll be blessed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Asking Questions--What is Hell Like?

I am a volunteer writer for the website GotQuestions. People who come to that website can browse a huge data base of already asked and answered questions or they can submit a question which is assigned to a writer to answer. I thought as I had opportunity to answer some of these questions, I would share them in a series of posts under the label "Asking Questions". I pray that you are encouraged.

Q-It says that souls currently in Hell are tormented, like the story of the rich man and Lazaraus. Are they tormented because they are in Hell or are they tormented by demons who are there with them?

A-Well, it would appear that they are tormented by fires in hell. Observe with me in Luke 16:24 "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.'" Now, there are no texts that describe any demons tormenting the human souls in hell so of course we can't say definitively. However, if they are in hell they are likewise being tormented so I doubt they have time to pester anyone else.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fundamental Friday's--Who are the "experts"?

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

There is a widespread idea among younger men that the so-called Higher Critics must be followed because their scholarship settles the questions. This is a great mistake. No expert scholarship can settle questions that require a humble heart, a believing mind and a reverent spirit, as well as a knowledge of Hebrew and philology; and no scholarship can be relied upon as expert which is manifestly characterized by a biased judgment, a curious lack of knowledge of human nature, and a still more curious deference to the views of men with a prejudice against the supernatural. No one can read such a suggestive and sometimes even such an inspiring writer as George Adam Smith without a feeling of sorrow that he has allowed this German bias of mind to lead him into such an assumption of infallibility in many of his positions and statements. It is the same with Driver. With a kind of sic volo sic jubeo airy ease he introduces assertions and propositions that would really require chapter after chapter, if not even volume after volume, to substantiate. On page after page his "must be," and "could not possibly be," and "could certainly not," extort from the average reader the natural exclamation: "But why?" "Why not?" "Wherefore?" "On what grounds?" "For what reason?" "Where are the proofs?" But of proofs or reason there is not a trace. The reader must be content with the writer's assertions. It reminds one, in fact, of the "we may well suppose," and "perhaps" of the Darwinian who offers as the sole proof of the origination of a different species his random supposition! ("Modern Ideas of Evolution," Dawson, pages 53-55).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Christian Growth is NOT Optional

Below is a repost of an exposition I did a few years ago out of II Peter chapter 1.  I pray it will encourage you.

If a person is a Christian, they have been made alive spiritually. Until that point, their spirit is dead. Oh, they’re walking, talking, living, breathing being on the outside and every person that knows them or sees them would affirm that they are a living being. Truthfully, they are alive physically but the Bible teaches that they are completely dead spiritually. One of the clearest evidences of life in a person is growth. A baby grows and develops into a toddler and eventually grows into an adult. If you or I met a person that never grew or developed we would probably think that something was wrong. In much the same, a Christian who has not matured beyond spiritual infancy should be unusual. Unfortunately, that is not often the case. In fact, as Peter observes in these verses a lack of spiritual maturity should be a cause for concern.

Peter writes in chapter one verse 8 of II Peter that a Christian should be indentified by godly living. He writes “if these qualities are yours and are increasing”. The qualities he speaks of are the ones listed in verses 5-7 of this chapter. He writes that these qualities “are yours” (Greek hurparcho [5225]-this means to legitimately possess something). Because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we are now enabled to live differently. These qualities are not something that we should hope for or strive for but they are qualities that we now possess in this present reality and we should live them. In fact, not only should we live them but they should be “increasing”. As we exercise these qualities we will see more of them and the more we see of them the more we should exercise them. As an apple tree bears apples a Christian should bear Christian fruit. Our fruit is evidence of being a Christian.

In fact, Peter makes that same point when he says these qualities cause us to be “neither useless or unfruitful” in our Christian lives. The word “useless” translates the Greek word “argos” (692). The word argon, one of the Noble gases on the periodic table, comes from this Greek word. The Noble gases are known as inert—they don’t react with anything. That is the basic idea behind this Greek word. Peter here is saying that a growing, maturing Christian will not be idle or inert. When we see people who need to hear about the love of God we will seek opportunities to share that love. We will want to be involved in ministry. There are no cheerleaders in the Christian faith—we’re all called to “get in the game”. Peter also says a maturing Christian will not be “unfruitful”. Jesus Himself said that if we abide in Him we would bear fruit (John 15:5). It is by exercising the qualities listed in verses 5-7 that we bear fruit. It is simply the natural outgrowth of being a new creature in Jesus Christ. However, Peter says that if someone claims to be a Christian and is not bearing fruit, there are two possibilities.

Peter says in verse 9 that “he who lacks these qualities is blind (Greek tuphlos-5185). This is the same word Jesus used in Matthew 23:16 to describe the Pharisees and as it is used here it also means spiritual blindness. Peter is saying that if a person claims to be a Christian and they lack these qualities in their life one possibility is that they may not be a Christian at all. Perhaps you are reading this and outwardly people see some of these qualities and think you’re a Christian but you know deep in your heart you’re just putting on a show—an academy award performance. Brother or sister, let me exhort you that you might fool some people but you’re not fooling God. Peter declares here that someone who does not exhibit these qualities and is not growing in Christlikenes may, in fact, not be saved at all but they might, in all reality, be spiritually blind and unredeemed.

Peter says the second possibility is that the person is “short-sighted”. They can’t see past the nose on the end of their face. This person is saved but their spiritual growth is stunted. They are not progressing in holiness. They are not being obedient to the commands of the Bible and, quite frankly, are in a position where they are inviting judgment by God. God disciplines His children when they are disobedient. He disciplines them out of love. A Christian who is not growing is one who is not witnessing or studying the Bible. They are not involved in ministry is any substantial way. Their disobedience is a sin and God will judge that sin. However, Peter gives here the root cause of this lackadaisical approach to the Christian life. A person who does not grow in godliness is one who has “forgotten his purification from his former sins”. That is the key. You and I need to remember what God saved us from when He called us to Himself. Now, maybe you weren’t an outlaw and you might not have been that bad, comparatively. However, from God’s perspective you were an outlaw and you were incapable of saving yourself or making yourself right with God. You were doomed. You were helpless. You were God’s enemy. However, because God is so merciful and on account of His Son’s death, burial, and resurrection God saved you when you repented and placed faith in Jesus. If you ever need motivation to serve the Lord, I exhort you to remember what He saved you from. When you meditate on that, I believe you will be motivated to serve Him out of a thankful heart filled with love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jesus Christ--The Source of True Joy

This is a repost of an exposition I did a few years ago from Matthew 2:9-11.  I pray that you are encouraged by it.


There is nothing in the universe that will satisfy the human heart like Jesus. People try to find the ultimate pleasure in success, money, physical relationships, power, possessions, and many other things. However, the only way to truly enjoy life to the fullest and find true, lasting satisfaction is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only when we humble ourselves and worship Him as our God will we ever truly feel lasting joy. In our scripture passage today, the wise men from the east find just that kind of joy when they find and worship the Lord Jesus.

As we read the scripture, we find that after they conversed with Herod the Great as to how long the star had been appearing, they left immediately. Verse 9 records that when they had heard the king, they departed. These guys were on a mission. They were focused and persistent. They had made a long, probably dangerous, journey and they were very close to their goal. As we read earlier in this chapter, these men had come on this journey to worship God. As impressive as Herod’s court likely was to these foreign dignitaries, it was not enough to delay them from their ultimate goal,

We also note in that verse that these men searched persistently. The verse records that the star which they had seen in the east went before them till it came and stood over where the young Child was. These wise men had followed this star all the way from the east and knew it to be a supernatural sign from God that pointed to the birthplace of the Messiah. They persistently followed this sign. This sign was available to all the citizens of Jerusalem and certainly to the religious leaders. However, these Jews were not the ones to go and greet the Messiah. Instead, these Gentile astrologers were the ones followed this star to the King of kings.

Because they had found the One they were looking for, they were overcome with happiness and rejoiced with exceedingly great joy as Matthew records in verse 10. They weren’t just happy to have found Him. They had joy on top of joy. They were ecstatic. We can imagine these men having spent their whole life pursuing meaningless, empty truth. At some point, they must have been able to read and learn the Hebrew Scriptures because they knew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. At some point, they felt a desire to search for the Truth and find the God who would come as Messiah. While we do not have recorded the particulars of how or why they began their search, they must have gone in response to the Word of God. They found the fulfillment of the prophecies they had read and were overjoyed.

Their joy is ultimately expressed in their worship. Worship should be a natural expression of our love for God. These men, upon seeing God in human flesh, fell down and worshipped Him. We see in verse 11 as much as anywhere the true motivation behind the journey of these men. Yes, we had heard them say they were here to worship, but here we see them express their feelings by their actions. I know in churches sometimes people will stand with the congregation during the hymns and not sing. Perhaps they feel that singing is reserved for those who have beautiful voices. I submit to you that after what God has done for us by choosing us and sending His Son to be a sacrifice for our sins, we should sing no matter how we sound. We should worship through our giving, through our service, and through out attention as His Word is preached to us. Praise God for the example of these Gentile men who fell prostrate before our Lord and worshipped Him as God Almighty. We also observe that they gave Him gifts that recognized His Kingship, His Priesthood, and His role as sacrifice by giving him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We should reflect on their sacrificial giving and recognize that worship is only truly worship when it is performed out of love from a heart that is thankful. When we remember the grace of God and how He drew us to Himself, our hearts should rejoice as these men’s hearts did and that joy should overflow into love and praise for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hebrews 7:4-10 The Greatness of Melchezidek

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege to teach from the book of Hebrews.  You can check out the audio from the class here.  Click here for the study notes from the class.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Feel The Need...The Need To READ!!!

If a man is truly called of God to be a preacher, then he is committed to declare "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). He must believe that the Bible, as sovereignly preserved by God throughout the centuries, is inerrant and "(1) infallibly achieves its [intended purpose], (2) gives us reliable testimony to the saving revelation and redemption of God in Christ, (3) provides us with [the] authoritative norm of faith and conduct, and (4) speaks [today] through the infallible Spirit of God by whom it [was inspired]."

"Give attention to reading" (1 Tim. 4:13). This is one of the most neglected areas in the minister's life. The devil sees to this! He knows that if he can distract or divert us from this daily tryst with our Lord, the consequences will be defeat, despair, and disaster.

The private and devotional reading of God's Word must be celebrated at a time and place that distinguishes it from the disciplines of study habits and sermon preparation. The personal attitude and spiritual appetite should accord with the psalmist's heart-cry: "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Ps. 42:2).

The following procedural movements may be found helpful for some:

Wait—Samuel Chadwick warned that "hurry is the death of prayer," and so it is. A few minutes in quiet waiting upon God will yield far more profit than a longer period with an eye on the clock. Wait on God—to sense His presence, to seek His purpose, and to see His power in your life.

Read—At this juncture, reverently open the Bible and read the portion for the day—and we mean the entire portion for the day. System and sequence must be observed. The value of reading the Word of God is often lost with the "lucky dip" method! Therefore, plan your reading passage by passage, or chapter by chapter. Remember that a short portion well read is better than a chapter or more skimmed.

Think—Having read the portion through several times—generally, carefully, then meditatively—ask these personal questions: Is there a promise to claim; a lesson to learn; a blessing to enjoy; a command to obey; a sin to avoid; a new revelation of God in Christ, or the Holy Spirit; a new thought about the devil? What is today's thought? Such prayerful reflection under the control of the Holy Spirit will never fail to reveal a word from the Lord.

Write—Psychologists say that there is no impression without expression; and, conversely, no expression without impression. It is profitable, therefore, to test and confirm God-given impressions on paper. Such a practice must never develop into sermon preparation or essay writing! That would rob the meditation of its true purpose and challenge. What we suggest is that you record briefly the thoughts gleaned, in a devotional form, for personal appropriation and practical application.

Pray—Now turn the meditation into prayer and pray it back to God until your will has been adjusted to His will in terms of all that the Holy Spirit has newly revealed to you. At this point you will have opened heaven to every dimension of prayer, for Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7, emphasis ours).  Exerpts from Chapter Two-Anointed Expository Preaching, Stephen J. Olford.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fundamental Friday's-Did Jesus Believe the Old Testament?

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

The attitude of Christ to the Old Testament Scriptures must determine ours. He is God. He is truth. His is the final voice. He is the Supreme Judge. There is no appeal from that court. Christ Jesus the Lord believed and affirmed the historic veracity of the whole of the Old Testament writings implicitly (Luke 24:44). And the Canon, or collection of Books of the Old Testament, was precisely the same in Christ's time as it is today. And further. Christ Jesus our Lord believed and emphatically affirmed the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch ( Matthew 5:17-18; Mark12:26-36; Luke 16:31; John 5:46-47). That is true, the critics say. But, then, neither Christ nor His Apostles were critical scholars! Perhaps not in the twentieth century sense of the term. But, as a German scholar said, if they were not critici doctores, they were doctores veritatis who did not come into the world to fortify popular errors by their authority. But then they say, Christ's knowledge as man was limited. He grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52). Surely that implies His ignorance. And if His ignorance, why not His ignorance with regard to the science of historical criticism? (Gore, Lux Mundi, page 360; Briggs, H. C. of Hexateuch, page 28). Or even if He did know more than His age, He probably spoke as He did in accommodation with the ideas of His contemporaries! (Briggs, page 29).

In fact, what they mean is practically that Jesus did know perfectly well that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, but allowed His disciples to believe that Moses did, and taught His disciples that Moses did, simply because He did not want to upset their simple faith in the whole of the Old Testament as the actual and authoritative and Divinely revealed Word of God. (See Driver, page 12). Or else, that Jesus imagined, like any other Jew of His day, that Moses wrote the books that bear his name, and believed, with the childlike Jewish belief of His day, the literal inspiration, Divine authority and historic veracity of the Old Testament, and yet was completely mistaken, ignorant of the simplest facts, and wholly in error. In other words, He could not tell a forgery from an original, or a pious fiction from a genuine document. (The analogy of Jesus speaking of the sun rising as an instance of the theory of accommodation is a very different thing).

This, then, is their position: Christ knew the views He taught were false, and yet taught them as truth. Or else, Christ didn't know they were false and believed them to be true when they were not true. In either case the Blessed One is dethroned as True God and True Man. If He did not know the books to be spurious when they were spurious and the fables and myths to be mythical and fabulous; if He accepted legendary tales as trustworthy facts, then He was not and is not omniscient. He was not only intellectually fallible, He was morally fallible; for He was not true enough "to miss the ring of truth" in Deuteronomy and Daniel.

And further. If Jesus did know certain of the books to be lacking in genuineness, if not spurious and pseudonymous; if He did know the stories of the Fall and Lot and Abraham and Jonah and Daniel to be allegorical and imaginary, if not unverifiable and mythical, then He was neither trustworthy nor good. "If it were not so, I would have told you." We feel, those of us who love and trust Him, that if these stories were not true, if these books were a mass of historical unveracities, if Abraham was an eponymous hero, if Joseph was an astral myth, that He would have told us so. It is a matter that concerned His honor as a Teacher as well as His knowledge as our God. As Canon Liddon has conclusively pointed out, if our Lord was unreliable in these historic and documentary matters of inferior value, how can He be followed as the teacher of doctrinal truth and the revealer of God? (John 3:12).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Philippians 3:1-3 The Security of Sound Doctrine Part III

Paul’s Caution

Paul, when writing to these believers, gives them a word of caution in verse 2. Even with the safety provided by his God inspired epistle, Paul instructs the believers to “Beware” three times. As Christians, we should beware of false doctrine. It promotes disunity, causes confusion, and undermines evangelism. Quite frankly, it is a spiritual poison and must be avoided along with anyone who teaches it. The Greek word Paul uses which is translated here as “Beware” is blepo (991), which is translated elsewhere as take heed (Mark 4:24, Luke 21:8). In Greek, the sense of the verb is that the believers should keep being aware. They should be vigilant and always on guard. There is no room for middle ground. False doctrine cannot be tolerated or permitted in the church. Compromise is not an option.

In identifying those who would corrupt the church and lead people astray with false doctrine, Paul uses three different terms. First of all, Paul calls these people “Dogs” which is kind of funny because Jews used this term for Gentiles. Here, Paul takes their own slur and turns it around on them to describe their character. We must remember that these are not cute little furry pets that sleep at your feet at night and play fetch with you when you’re playing in the front yard. These are snarling, vicious, carnivorous, disease ridden, filthy, nasty, mean creatures. They were quite dangerous. In Vincent’s Word Studies, the author writes about these animals that “[t]hey lie about the streets in such numbers as to render it difficult and often dangerous to pick one's way over and amongst them - a lean, hungry, and sinister brood. They have no owners, but upon some principle known only to themselves, they combine into gangs, each of which assumes jurisdiction over a particular street; and they attack with the utmost ferocity all canine intruders into their territory. In those contests, and especially during the night, they keep up an incessant barking and howling, such as is rarely heard in any European city.” They roamed in packs and were guided by their own hungers. In much the same way, a false teacher is more dangerous than any foamy mouthed dog. The false teaching they spread is worse than any disease spread by these mangy mutts, and they also follow their own lusts. As Peter notes in 2 Peter 2:12, these false teachers are “like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption.” These people lead others astray for their own selfish gain. They truly are vicious “dogs”.

Paul also tells these believers to “beware of evil workers”. If you were to look at the website for the National Council of Churches, you would find that they have lots of activities going on. They work to feed starving children. They work to bring disaster relief to storm damaged areas. These are worthwhile activities. Certainly meeting people physical needs is one way to minister to them. I would have to imagine if you asked most of the people involved in these activities why they were doing them, their answer would be something like “For Jesus, of course.” However, the NCC represents churches that deny the virgin birth of our Lord, the inspiration of the Word of God, and they allow homosexuals and women to serve in pastoral roles. These people are doing things that they call ministry. They are quite active and work hard at what they do. However, since their heart is not right with God, they are not good workers but “evil workers”. The word “evil” translates the Greek word kakos (2556) which can mean worthless, injurious, or evil. The Greek word ergates is translated “workers” and literally means a toiler. When Jesus Himself spoke of these people in Matthew 7:22 that “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” In much the same manner, Paul reminds the Philippian church that these people, because of the wrong condition of their heart, are not actually performing good works but evil works. We must remember, as Paul here warns these Christians, that activity is never a substitute for a relationship.

Finally, Paul tells the Philippians to “beware the mutilation”. Jewish people placed great spiritual significance on circumcision. They are even called the Circumcision by Paul in Ephesians 2:11. According to rabbinical tradition, for a Jew to go to hell, his circumcision would have to be undone as John MacArthur notes in his commentary on the book of Romans. Some false teachers taught that a Christian had to convert to Judaism before they could become a Christian. Therefore, these Jewish legalizers taught that Christians had to agree to become circumcised. However, they failed to see that the circumcision that God would perform would be a circumcision of the heart (Deu 30:6). Paul uses a Greek term here katatome (2699) that is translated as mutilation. The same word is used in the Septuagint in Leviticus 21:5 when the nation of Israel is forbidden to make any cuttings in their flesh. Paul was probably using a play on words here by calling them the mutilation (katatome) and in the next verse referring to those who are truly saved as peritome (the circumcision). Paul realized by attempting to require these believers to be circumcised, the false teachers were actually trying to force them to submit to their legalistic observance of Mosaic code and their tradition rather then relying on faith in Jesus Christ to save them and transform them. In Galatians 4:10, Paul writes that those Christians were attempting to follow Jewish law in regards to feasts. Paul admonishes them that they were leaving their faith in Christ to turn to “weak and beggarly elements” in order to be saved (Galatians 4:9). Paul says they should not do this. In fact, in the book of Galatians, Paul goes further and says he wishes that those false teachers who troubled those believers with their insistence on ritual circumcision for salvation would simply go ahead and cut themselves off (Galatians 5:12). These false teachers had completely misrepresented the truth of salvation and were attempting to compel others to follow their legalistic standard of righteousness.

Even as they did in Paul’s day, we still encounter false teaching today. The only sure defense that we have against false teaching and false teachers is the truth. The only source we have for divine truth is the Word of God. Let us faithfully and boldly proclaim God’s powerful truth in this dark, perverse world.

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Philippians 3:1-3 The Security of Sound Doctrine Part II

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

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Philippians 3:1-3 The Security of Sound Doctrine Part I

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, August 9, 2010

Asking Questions-Spiritual Growth

I am a volunteer writer for the website GotQuestions. People who come to that website can browse a huge data base of already asked and answered questions or they can submit a question which is assigned to a writer to answer. I thought as I had opportunity to answer some of these questions, I would share them in a series of posts under the label "Asking Questions". I pray that you are encouraged.

Q-about 8 to 10 months ago i felt like i was spiritually soaring, everyday i woke up i felt amazing and felt like i was getting higher and higher and closer to god or maybe it was something else but anyway, i just wanted to know what it was and how to get it back oh and also i have not been going to church lately and haven`t been able to praise god and read my bible like i did before, i use to do it everyday so if you can please help thanks.

A-I think it's important for us to remember that being a Christian does not mean that we are not going to feel down or have periods where we don't feel as good as we did. Observe a few things that Paul said.

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

Romans 7:21-25
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

If Paul, who was the greatest evangelist and preacher who ever lived, had times where he felt like that certainly you and I can expect that to happen. The important thing to remember is that how we feel is not important but what God's word says is what's important. When you feel like neglecting to study the word and pray that is the exact opposite of what the Holy Spirit would prompt you to do. Therefore, you know it is your "flesh" talking and not the indwelling Holy Spirit. Notice what the psalmist says about true happiness. It doesn't come from a feeling but from a relationship with God and drawing near to God through His word.

Psalm 1:1-2
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Friday, August 6, 2010

30,000 hits? Seriously?

Along about 15 minutes ago, someone from LaGrange, Georgia (used to live near LaGrange--played in a community band there) who was searching for "Matthew 6" on Google became the 30,000th hit on my blog.  How in the world did I get to 30,000 hits?  I am amazed that anyone would want to read anything I've written, much less 30,000 people.  Now, I know as far as blog stats there are people with a lot more but I am in awe that God has given me an opportunity to speak to that many people.  Anyone who has read anything on this blog and gotten anything out of it should give glory to God because it's not because of me, but rather in spite of me.

Prase God for allowing me to be involved in His work in some limited fashion.

Fundamental Friday's--How did Christ view the Bible?

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

There can be no doubt that Christ and His Apostles accepted the whole of the Old Testament as inspired in every portion of every part; from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Malachi, all was implicitly believed to be the very Word of God Himself. And ever since their day the view of the Universal Christian Church has been that the Bible is the Word of God; as the twentieth article of the Anglican Church terms it, it is God's Word written.

The Bible as a whole is inspired. "All that is written is God-in-spired." That is, the Bible does not merely contain the Word of God; it is the Word of God. It contains a revelation. "All is not revealed, but all is inspired." This is the conservative and, up to the present day, the almost universal view of the question. There are, it is well known, many theories of inspiration. But whatever view or theory of inspiration men may hold, plenary, verbal, dynamical; mechanical, superintendent, or governmental, they refer either to the inspiration of the men who wrote, or to the inspiration of what is written. In one word, they imply throughout the work of God the Holy Ghost, and are bound up with the concomitant ideas of authority, veracity, reliability, and truth divine.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Proposition 8 Voted Down

As should be no surprise to anyone, a federal judge has declared California's Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage, to be unconstitutional (here).  Now, let's be clear about this.  We're not talking about a judge saying that a law was unconstitutional.  No, this judge has said that an amendment to their state constitution is unconstitutional.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; 
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20 (NASB)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Preaching: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The prince of preachers
R.L Dabney writes in his book, Evangelical Eloquence, "And it is exceedingly instructive to note that there are three stages through which preaching has repeatedly passed with the same results. The first is that in which scriptural truth is faithfully presented in scriptural garb. That is to say that not only are all the doctrines asserted which truly belong to the revealed system of redemption, but they are presented in that dress and connection in which the Holy Spirit has presented them without seeking any other from human science. This state of the pulpit marks the golden age of the church.

Dare ya not to whistle the song.
The second is the transition stage. In this the doctrines taught are still those of the scriptures, but their relations are molded into conformity with the prevalent human dialectics. God's truth is now shorn of a part of its power over the soul.

This would probably be a better book than that garbage WM Paul wrote
A third stage is then near in which not only are the methods and explanations conformed to the philosophy of the day but the doctrines themselves contradict the truth of the Word.

Now, this book was written over 100 years ago and, as we can see, R.L. Dabney was right on the money.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Matthew 8:28-34 Problems in the Passage

As anyone who has read this blog knows, I am committed to the exposition of scripture. The reason I am committed to bible exposition is that I am convinced that the bible is completely unique in that the bible is the perfect revelation of God. I believe that it is inerrant as defined by the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy and I believe it in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the bible (verbal—the words in the text are inspired, plenary—every word in the text in inspired and you do not have to dig through to find what parts are inspired and what parts are not because every part is inspired).

However, there are some obvious questions that are raised when examining this passage if one is going to hold to verbal, plenary inspiration and inerrancy. Of course, folks that want to deny the truth of scripture literally lick their chops at what they perceive as contradictions in the biblical text. If they can prove the bible is not inerrant or inspired then they don’t have to obey what it teaches and if there is one thing the human heart loves to do above all else it’s disobey God’s word. Therefore, we’re going to go ahead and deal with these problems before we begin working through the passage itself.

The particular issues present themselves in the first verse of this portion of Scripture. The first problem we need to tackle is one of geography. Observe that in Matthew 8:28, it says Jesus came to a region called the “Gadarenes”. If we read the parallel account in Luke 8:26 and Mark 5:1 we find the name of the place is given as “Gerasenes”. Now, the question we have to ask and answer is “Do we see a contradiction in these verses?” Because, if the bible contains a factual error like calling a place by the wrong name then we have a text that is something less than inerrant. So, what’s going on here in the text.

As Adam Clark notes in his commentary, “Gadara was, according to Josephus, the metropolis of Perea, or the region beyond Jordan: both the city and villages belonging to it lay in the country of the Gergasenes.” In other words, Gadara was a city in the region of Gergasenes. Another possible solution to the problem is proposed by Albert Barnes in his Notes on the New Testament where he says “Gadara was a city not far from the lake Gennesareth; one of the ten cities that were called Decapolis. Gergesa was a city about twelve miles to the south-east of Gadara, and about twenty miles to the east of the Jordan. There is no contradiction, therefore, in the evangelists. [Jesus] came into the region in which the two cities were situated, and [Matthew] mentioned [the Gaderenes], and the [Mark and Luke} [Gergasenes]. In any case, there is ample evidence to show that the difference is less likely due to an error on the part of the synoptic writers but more the result of different names that could be applied to the same region.

Now, the second issue is one of grouping—or the lack of grouping as the case may be. Matthew records in verse 28 that Jesus met “two men who were demon possessed” Reading the parallel account in Mark and Luke we find that they mention only one man. So, who is right? Well, I think the answer is both. Many bible commentators have suggested that Luke and Mark record one because he was the loudest. This would not be unusual in a group of two people for one to be more the lead guy and the other to be the “wing man” so to speak. However, I think there is an even simpler explanation. Luke and Mark do not say that there was only one man. They simply identify one man. Could it have been two? Yes, it could. Therefore, both texts are right and just reflect the style of the writer. Matthew was a tax collector and as such was used to details in a different way than Luke was or Mark, for that matter. The two accounts do not contradict each other but rather they are complimentary.

Now, we are faced with a decision. Are we going to allow a minor bump in the textual road to knock us completely off track in obeying and following Jesus? Do we falter over these minor questions which have no material effect on the integrity of the text or do we examine the available evidence and conclude that there appears to be several reasonable explanations for what we see here? I choose the latter. As we continue to study this gospel written by Matthew, I hope you will do the same.

Monday, August 2, 2010

II Peter 3:10 Out of the frying pan, into the fire

Peer has shown us in the verses prior to this that the people who scoff at the return of the Lord and a future judgment are completely clueless. The fact is, simply because it hasn’t happened does not prove that it’s not going to happen. Rather, the fact that it hasn’t happened yet is simply a demonstration of God’s patience, not His slothfulness. Without giving as much detail as we might like, Peter tells us what the judgment is going to look like, what it’s going to sound like, and what it’s going to feel like. In short, we are given a picture of a terrible cataclysmic judgment that is worse than any nightmare we’ve ever had.

First of all, we are told of the certainty of judgment. Peter says “The day of the Lord [the future day of judgment] will come”. Sometimes, as we look at the sin in the world and the people that mock God and His precious word, we are tempted to say with the psalmist “How long?” (Psalm 6:3). It is difficult to see people sneer at God, mock us for our faith, and appear to prosper all the while. However, no matter how long it takes, judgment will come and it will do so according to God’s perfect timetable. We can take comfort in the certainty that God will put an end to sin and we should be motivated by the certainty of that judgment to be even more diligent to share the gospel.

Further, observe with me the clandestine manner with which the Day of Judgment will come. Peter says it will come “like a thief”. Now, considering the author, we have to assume I think that this refers back to Jesus’ words about His return as recorded in Matthew 24:43. The basic idea that Peter is trying to convey here is this—we can’t wait till the last minute to prepare for judgment day. This is not like when we were kids and we could start being good 2 or three weeks before Christmas because we knew it was coming and we had to get ready. This isn’t like a test that is announced 2 or 3 weeks in advance for which we can start to study little by little to prepare, friends. No, quite the contrary, this is the ultimate pop quiz and there will only be one question—“How did you respond to the gospel?” And you can be sure of one thing; the wrong answer will get you much more than a failing grade on some report card. Rather, you will find yourself in a terrifying position as justly condemned before a holy God.

Finally, Peter tells us exactly how terrifying the judgment will be. He describes a nightmarish cataclysm from which there will be no hiding and no recovery. Now, in the interest of full disclosure here, I should probably mention that I am a premillennial dispensationalist. In short, I believe the event of Revelation and the 70th week prophesied by Daniel have yet to be fulfilled. I believe there is going to be a rapture of the church followed by a 7 year period during which the Anti-Christ will be revealed who will deceive many people, persecuting those who come to faith n Christ. I believe this “Day of the Lord” that Peter discusses here will come after all these events and will be the final judgment of God on sinful men.  I do not believe that the Left Behind series is an accurate portrayal of what will happen nor do I believe in newspaper exegesis.

Now, having said that, I know there are good Christian men and women who believe differently than I do about these events. Therefore, I’m not saying that my view is the end all be all, final word on the subject of eschatology (the study of the end times). I believe, ultimately, that God will bring about an end to sin and will bring all those who have saving faith in Christ into an eternal heavenly kingdom to live with Him forever. That is the most important truth to remember when thinking about the last days.

In any case, the universe as we know it will cease to exist. Everything will be destroyed: “the heavens…the elements…the earth and its works”. Now, I’m not sure exactly what Peter had in mind when he said “heavens”. Likely, he just meant the sky as he could see it which we know would include the universe. Likewise, I’m not exactly sure where he was going when he said “the elements”. The Greek word means something like “building blocks”. Of course, Peter didn’t know anything about atoms and molecules so we can only speculate as to exactly what he had in mind. The phrase ‘earth and its works”, however, is pretty obviously referring to, well, the earth and its works. In short, Peter is saying that all these things are going to be destroyed (“pass away…destroyed with intense heat…burned up*”). I always like to point folks that are looking to save the earth to this verse on Earth Day. This universe, this plane of existence, is temporary and God will do away with it when the Day of Judgment comes.

Now, should knowing this affect us? I think it should. How should it affect us? Let’s see what Peter has to say about that next time.

*Some Greek texts have "will be laid bare" rather than "burned up".  This is what is known as a textual variant and it causes some people to (cue disco music) "Freak out".  However, regardless of which reading is the one Peter originally wrote, the trust of the passage is the same--there is a judgment coming and it will be sure doom for those who do not have saving faith in Christ.