Sunday, July 21, 2013

Search the Scriptures!

by Charles Spurgeon

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and searched the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

The Greek word translated search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search—the kind men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in pursuit of game. We must not be content with giving a superficial glance to one or two chapters—but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the meaning of the Word. Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babies—but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word.

The person who merely skims the Book of God will not profit from it. We must dig and mine until we obtain the treasure! The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures demand to be searched. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur—who shall dare to treat them casually? To despise them is to despise the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should allow our Bibles to become witnesses against us in the great day of account!

The Word of God will repay searching. God does not ask us to sift through a mountain of chaff with only here and there a grain of wheat in it—but filled with hidden treasures. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye—it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all kinds of priceless gems!

Finally, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: "These very Scriptures testify about Me!" No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: He who finds Jesus finds life, Heaven, and all things. Happy are they who, in searching the Bible, discover their Savior!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

John 4: The Woman At the Well

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well can be found in John 4:7-45. Generally, a particular part of this story is rendered by many, if not most, preachers and teachers thus: Jesus recognized the five men the woman at the well had been married to as legitimate marriages. The man she was with now, living in common-law, was not her husband. Ergo, regardless of what any law might say, Jesus did not recognize common-law relationships as legitimate marriages.

There is a problem with this interpretation, however. It is not biblical. It is not in keeping with the context of the passage. What is the problem, you ask? Let us examine it.
He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." John 4:16-18
Notice her response: "I have no husband." In other words, "I'm not married. I've never been married." Where am I getting that from, you ask? Let me use a rendering that should help you to understand: "For you have had five husbands, and [the husband] you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly."

The Greek word used for have in "the one whom you now have" is echo (εχω), and it infers possession. This same word is used for have had in "you have had five husbands." She had five husbands in the past and she has one now. Furthermore, we have the word "and," which carries on the same subject of the topic—another husband—which she possesses. She has had five husbands through sexual intimacy and the man she is now being sexually intimate with is her sixth husband.

Let us look at another passage dealing with marriage that illustrates the possession of the word have (echo, εχω) well: "For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.'" (Mark 6:17-18). The law John referred to for marriage was not civil or religious, but the law of God in the sexual intimacy of a male and female: "Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, 'THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.'" (1 Corinthians 6:16). Sexual intimacy is not just a physical encounter. It is a permanent marital consequence. It could have been said to Herod, "She whom you have (your present wife you are married to) is not your wife." Herodias was Philip's wife. Herod and Herodias were living in a fornicated marriage.

Let us simplify our understanding of Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman by exchanging the word "husband" for the word "apple," making it more revealing: "For you have had five apples, and the one you now have is not your apple." What do you possess? Right, an apple! A husband! Yet, not yours! The apple, or husband, belonged to someone else. She was in an adulterous affair with a legitimately married man, making him her husband. He was another woman's husband. Before this adulterous affair, the man was a legitimately married man. Her affair was defiling another woman's legitimate husband, and this is precisely what we see illustrated from Jesus' words in regard to divorce. The Bible informs us that re-marriage after divorce is actually adultery. Let me prove it:
Everyone who divorces his wife . . . makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:32

Whoever divorces his wife . . . and marries another woman commits adultery. Matt. 19:9

Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery. Mark 10:11-12

Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18
You have A married to B. Then A divorces B. According to Matthew 5:32, A causes B to commit adultery because A has divorced B. If C marries B, C commits adultery. According to Matthew 19:9, if A marries D, A commits adultery. D would also be committing adultery for the same reason that C would be, even though D and C could be said to be “innocent.” According to Mark 10:11-12, if A divorces B and marries D, A commits adultery against B; and if B divorces A and marries C, B commits adultery against A. According to Luke 16:18, if A marries D, A commits adultery, and if C marries B, C commits adultery. The only person not directly said to be committing adultery in these passages is D. But if C is held to commit adultery for marrying the “innocent” divorced party, then D must be held to commit adultery for marrying the guilty divorcing party. All four individuals who could potentially be in this scenario are said to be committing adultery. Unless your spouse had died (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39), re-marriage results in fornicated marriage.

Let us look at another statement made by the Samaritan woman:
"Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?" John 4:29
Note that she says, "all the things that I have done," and not "everything that has befallen me." In other words, it is a statement of past deeds revealed. Not unfortunate circumstances, such as her past husbands dying or divorcing her. Jesus revealed not only the secrets of her life, but also the life of the man she was presently giving herself to sexually (marrying).

The problem with the typical interpretation of this passage made by many, if not most, preachers is that they make co-habitation, or common-law relationships, out to be of no importance and/or little value. Jesus did recognize common-law relationships, but it was of a graver magnitude. The law of marriage states that if you have sexual intimacy with a person, you are now married to them in the eyes of God. 1 Corinthians 6:16 is pretty clear; you cannot get any clearer than what it says. This is why abstinence before marriage is so important. In the movie Vanilla Sky, with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Cameron’s character, Julie Gianni, asks, “Don’t you know that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise whether you do or not?” That is putting Paul in contemporary lingo. Once a relationship becomes a unit, God intends it to remain that way. In her excellent book Wait For Me, Rebecca St. James uses this illustration to demonstrate the seriousness of sexual union:
If you take one piece of paper and glue it to another piece of paper, both pieces tear when you pull them apart. It is impossible to wind up with two papers that are as flawless as when you started. Because of the glue, each piece of paper is forever left with some parts from the other paper.
Rebecca St. James, Wait For Me, p.59.
This is precisely how God designed sex, and He designed it for within marriage. He intended two people to become a marital unit through sexual intimacy, which is why sex is supposed to be reserved for marriage. I believe the interpretation of John 4 has been diluted by such preachers for the sole purpose of not feeling convicted and condemned for not being obedient to God and His Word. Once you learn the true interpretation of this passage, it is very sobering, very humbling. It shows you the gravity and majesty of sexual purity and the bond of marriage, and how desperately our churches need to reach our young people and protect them from the devastating effects sown and gleaned from having sexual intimacy outside the boundaries of marriage.

Marriage: What's Love Got To Do With It?

by Edward Ridenour

Love, love, love, love, love! Did I say it enough? This is one of the most overemphasized and misused word ever proclaimed, especially when it is applied to relationships of people. I won't attempt to itemize all of the different scenarios where this word is applied. I'll trust that you can think of plenty on your own. I would, though, like to address the application of this word when it is used in the context of marriage.

Let me get right to the point - the making of marriage has nothing to do with love. Love does not make two people married. According to the law of His Word, God, who marries couples, does not marry them based on love. Neither can two people, according to God's Word, who are married dissolve that marriage by getting a divorce, because they, supposedly, no longer love the other or one another. There are many who think this to be the case, but they don't understand God and His design of marriage revealed in His Word.

Let me use some Scriptural examples to confirm that love isn't the factor that causes marriage to be, or the lacking of it that justifies dissolving a marriage. Some Scriptures come to mind that get right to the point: 1) To men, the Apostle Paul admonished and commanded (KJV), "Husbands, love [agape] your wives...So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies" (Ephesians 5:25-28).  Paul commanded this to be done, because "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31).  2) To women, he commanded that the aged women were to teach the younger women "to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children" (Titus 2:4).

Love plays an important role in marriage, but not the kind of love eminent of our culture, which is a self-satisfying love.  If our cultural love is the underlying foundation that makes marriage the binding factor to enter into it or the absence of love to dissolve it, why, then, did the Apostle Paul command love to be exercised toward their spouse, which is not before, but after marriage?  He commanded it, because the design of marriage is of a higher purpose and calling than the, "so called," love factor.  Christian theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."

To every Christian, heterosexual marriage is the mirror of our relationship (marriage) to the Lord. His love toward us even when we were unlovable exemplifies this premise. Also, think of this.  Since you've become a Christian, have you been the perfect one to love?  If not, should Christ's love for you diminish and He, then, divorce you, so His love can be satisfied?  Or does His love work with you to gain greater love from you through your marriage to Him?

Let me ask this question...  If love is the factor for marrying, then, how is it that so many fall out of love and get divorced?  Isn't love, love?  Can true love stop loving?  Or is it that people who say they love actually have no idea what love truly is?  As long as they are satisfied, their love will continue, otherwise... 

Homosexual's want to marry, because they say they love one another like heterosexuals do (of course with God this is impossible; it can only happen through the state issuing a marriage document). Heterosexual's want to marry, because they say they love one another, yet, look at the infidelity and divorce rate.

Trust me, I am human.  I want to cater to my love as well as anyone, but love that is catered to is emotion, lust, or self-love.  Love that labors and is sacrificial is true marital love in its best form, and is "agape" (Godlike). When a man and a woman come together and make a marriage, their underlying principle for making that marriage should not be for their own self-satisfaction, but to serve one another and God in that union, exemplify His love, and build His Kingdom.  This is true love.

Friday, July 12, 2013

You Are Mine!

by George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854

"Fear not, you are Mine!" Isaiah 43:1

Child of God, dismiss your doubts; put away your fears.
Jesus says, "Fear not, you are Mine!"
Mine by creation,
Mine by redemption,
Mine by right,
Mine by purchase,
Mine affection,
Mine by choice,
Mine for life,
Mine in death,
Mine for time,
Mine for eternity!"

In all seasons; under all circumstances—you are Christ's!
As a father speaking to his child;
as a master speaking to his servant;
as a husband speaking to his wife;
as a potter speaking to the thing he has made;
as a buyer speaking to the thing he has bought—
Jesus says to you, "Fear not, you are Mine!"

And why does Jesus say, "You are Mine"?
Because He loves you,
because He has chosen you,
because He gave Himself for you,
because He will not part with you!

Will Jesus ever give you up?
Will He ever forget you?
Will He ever hide Himself from your prayers?
Will He ever disregard your tears?
He says, "Fear not, you are Mine!"

Will the bridegroom part with the bride, or the husband with his beloved wife? They may part—yet Jesus will never part with you. "Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?" But even if that were possible, yet will Jesus never forget you. He has you in His heart. He has engraved you upon the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:15, 16) He says, "Fear not, you are Mine! Fear not, you shall not be taken from Me. Fear not, I will never forsake you!" His eye is upon you. His affections yearn for you. Oh! the tenderness with which He bends over you, saying, "Fear not, you are Mine!"

When Jesus says, "You are Mine"—do you say, "And I am yours. I am my Beloved's—and His desire is toward me!" (Song of Solomon 7:10)? This is the way to delight the soul of Jesus. Contrite sinner, He says to you, "You are Mine!" Then fear not!

I Have Chosen You!

by George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854

"Fear not, I have chosen you!" Isaiah 41:9, 10

Christian reader, God says to you, "I have chosen you!" This is a great mystery—but it is a comforting truth. God does not tell you WHY He chose you. He only tells you the simple fact. It is not for you to question it, or to shrink from it—but to receive it, and be thankful.

God was free to love you—or free to loathe you.
He was free to choose you—or free to reject you.
He says, "I have chosen you!" Believe what God says, and rejoice. "Before the mountains were brought forth, before He had formed the earth and the world," God had chosen you! "From everlasting to everlasting, He is God." From everlasting to everlasting He loved—He chose—He delighted in His people.

Fellow-sinner, if God says, "I have chosen you," He says it . . .
  to encourage you;
  to strengthen you;
  to sanctify you;
  that you may rest upon the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,
  that you may look away from self, and see that salvation is altogether of the Lord.

God chose you, "not according to your works; but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given you in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Timothy 1:9.)

Fellow-sinner, you are . . .
  loved in Christ;
  chosen in Christ;
  called in Christ;
  saved in Christ!
Here is your foundation; here your hope; here your safety—you were "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world!"

This is to humble you—as well as to exalt you.

This is to make you weep—as well as cause you to rejoice.

You are vile in yourself—but chosen to indescribable honor!

You are poor in yourself—but chosen to unspeakable riches!

You are naked in yourself—but chosen to eternal glory!

Child of God, never lose your hold of this precious truth. God has revealed it, that you might delight in it. Let this be the brightest jewel in your crown—this the sweetest cordial to your heart—that God says to you, "Fear not, I have chosen you!"

As you sit at the feet of Jesus;
as you lay your mouth in the dust, and cry, "Unclean, unclean!"
as you take all the shame to yourself, and give all the glory to God,
let this comfort delight your soul—
God has said, "Fear not, I have chosen you!"

"God chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world!" Ephesians 1:4

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Predestination

So... you have a problem with the doctrine of predestination, do you? I submit to you that you have no such problem, but that your problem actually exists in not understanding (a) the sovereignty of God and (b) the wickedness of man (including your own heart) correctly. I say this with the utmost confidence because I can produce more than two examples where I will guarantee that you have no problem believing in predestination.

Let us begin.
  1. The first creatures that God raised up were the angels. He created them as spirits (Psalm 104:1-5). God chose some of the angels to establish them in their state. To establish means to "secure permanently in a secure position or condition." God did this to a percentage of the angels that He had created. He established them and kept them in the state He originally created them. Sinless. He refers to these angels as the "elect angels" (1 Timothy 5:21). But the rest of the angels, a full one-third of them, God left to themselves. He left them to pick and choose and live and do according to their own nature. The non-elect angels fell in sin.
  2. We see this same reality and truth with regard to the nations. Out of every nation that was in existence, God chose a single nation to be His representative. He left all the other nations to themselves. He left them to pick and choose and live and do according to their own nature. Within His own chosen nation, however, we also see that not everyone was elect. There was always only a remnant (Romans 11:15). The rest were left to themselves and frequently rebelled. Even among the Gentiles there were individuals elected by God according to His own purpose while the whole of Israel was left to themselves (Luke 4:24-27).
  3. Likewise, when you look at Jacob and Esau, or Joseph and his brothers, or David and his brothers, or many other similar events from Scripture, God always chose contrary to what was acceptable. Esau should have gotten the blessing, but God chose Jacob to receive it. In fact, before they were ever born, God had chosen Jacob and rejected Esau by withholding His love from him (Romans 9:10-13). Joseph and David were the youngest of their brothers and they were chosen in the position and with the blessing of the eldest.
I could give you ample other examples all from Scripture that demonstrate the reality and truth of predestination and the fact that it is not really this doctrine with which you take issue. Everything above you agree with wholeheartedly. Your problem is that you fail to understand precisely what it means to be sovereign. You mouth the words that God is sovereign but you live and act and believe in a way that says otherwise. You also fail to understand precisely how wicked man's heart is, including your own, and just how much man deserves eternity in hell. At the core of your being you think that man is basically good and does not deserve to go to hell. That is your problem.

The thing you need to understand first is that you and I and every other person in this world are dead in trespasses and sins. We are spiritually dead. We are unregenerate, we have a heart of stone, and we hate God with a passion. So, if someone comes along and preaches the Gospel to us, how and where do you figure that we are able, in and of ourselves, to respond to the Gospel of our own accord? It is impossible, as Jesus declared to His disciples (Mark 10:26-27). In order to respond, we need to be made alive, be regenerated, and have a new heart. We cannot do those things to ourselves. We cannot make ourselves alive. We cannot regenerate ourselves. We cannot give ourselves a new heart. So where do you figure that man, in and of himself, is able with "free will" to respond in faith? We cannot! There is no such thing as "free will." Romans 6 informs us that our will, prior to salvation, is slave to sin and the devil. You believe something Scripture does not teach! God must make us alive by regenerating us and giving us a new heart in order for us to even be able to respond to the Gospel, and when He does, we will respond freely because we cannot help it. "All the Father has given to Me will come to me" (John 6:37).

Your feelings are not a determiner of truth; they are merely personal opinion, and your opinion does not matter. What matters is what God has said. The only question you are left with is whether or not you will submit yourself to the reality and truth of the doctrine of God's predestination as it is entirely encompassed, whether you fully understand it or not. Otherwise, you are in rebellion and you have created a god in your own image that is contrary to the God revealed in Scripture. Predestination is taught all throughout Scripture (John 6:37-44; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-6, etc.). If God did not choose to save any of us, then none of us would ever be saved. We hate God so much that we would rather go to hell.

You need to spend time in God's Word, reading, praying, and meditating on what the Scriptures actually say and teach. You need to wrestle with God about this issue and submit your feelings and opinions to the truth of His Word. You need to learn what it means to be sovereign and just how sovereign God is, and you need to learn just how wicked and depraved man is. If you think man is not that bad, you have an unhealthy and unbiblical view of mankind. If you do not think that God can control whatever/whoever He wants, whenever He wants, wherever He wants, however He wants, you have an unhealthy and unbiblical view of the sovereignty of God. To be sovereign means to be in control of everything that is under you and that there is nothing outside of you that can influence or hinder your decisions. It means that everyone and everything answers to you, but that you answer to nothing and no one. I suggest you take a look at Nebuchadnezzar, Jonah, and a whole host of other examples in Scripture.

This verse is true of every person belonging to Jesus Christ: "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6). How do we know this? Because Peter quotes it and applies it to believers; Christians: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy  nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe, but they are dead in trespasses and sins, unregenerate, having hearts of stone and hating God. They will never repent and believe because they cannot. The Bible everywhere commands men to repent and believe. The Bible also says that men cannot repent and believe. The Bible never says that men can repent and believe. A command to do something does not necessitate the ability to actually do it, especially when you consider the state they are in: spiritually dead, unregenerate, stone-hearted, haters of God. God must do a work in them first, and then they will repent and believe.
"Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps" (Psalm 135:6)

"Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'" (Isaiah 46:8-11).
Predestination is biblical, whether you fully understand it or not and whether you choose to accept it or not. I encourage you to submit yourself (and your feelings and opinions) to the reality and truth of predestination. After all, the Bible calls predestination loving: "In love He predestined us..." (Ephesians 1:4-5).

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Two Great Cataclysms of Earth

On The Health Ranger Show, Report #89, an interview with Daniel Vitalis took place. He had these words to say:
"It appears the last cataclysm [of this earth] was water based. It appears it was a kind of a flood, and that's what most mythologies from most cultures tell us is that it was a flood; it was a water cataclysm. The Mayans say that the next cataclysm is going to be fire. Also, the Christians say that as well in the Bible. It's interesting because we see a cataclysm coming our way due to overheating."
What is interesting about the words of Daniel Vitalis is that science has discovered this information to be true and yet it continues to ignore and disregard it, continually attempting to deny it due to the resulting conclusion, which they do not want to admit or face. Well over 3,000 years ago, the Bible informed us that the last cataclysm on this earth was a flood (Genesis 7:11-12, 17-24). Jesus confirmed this account as being true (Matthew 24:38-39; Luke 17:27), as did Peter (2 Peter 2:5). Around 2,000 years ago, the Bible informed us that the next cataclysm of this earth will be by fire (Micah 1:4; 2 Peter 3:7, 10). What is it going to take for science to get a clue and finally believe the Bible? The second coming of Christ?

By then it will be too late for them.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Was Pentecost the Church's Beginning?

Dispensationalists tell us that the church did not exist until the day of Pentecost, but is this true? I submit to you that it is not. Because of their disposition—their erroneous pre-supposition, where they have separated the saints of God into two categories—the Old Testament saints and the New Testaments saints, Dispensationalists must make this claim about the church in order to try and keep their house of cards from falling down. However, any true student of the Bible can quickly and easily dismantle their false assertion.

You see, in Acts 7:38 Stephen calls Israel "the church in the wilderness," using the Greek word ekklesia (εκκλησια). Why would he do such a thing if the church never existed prior to the day of Pentecost?

In the third century B.C., the Hebrew manuscripts were translated into the Greek language by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars. This translation is known as the Septuagint—Greek for 70. This translation of the Hebrew manuscripts is what Jesus and the apostles used. A comparison of the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament will reveal that they more closely resemble that of the Septuagint than that of the Hebrew manuscripts. Why is this information important? Simple; if the church did not exist prior to the day of Pentecost, why is it that three centuries before Jesus was born the Septuagint, in referring to Israel, used the Greek word ekklesia? Here are the passages from the Septuagint that use ekklesia:
Deuteronomy 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1-3, 8; 31:30
Joshua 8:35
Judges 20:2; 21:5, 8
1 Samuel 17:47; 19:20
1 Kings 8:14, 22, 55, 65
1 Chronicles 13:2, 4; 28:2, 8; 29:1, 10, 20
2 Chronicles 1:3, 5; 6:3, 12-13; 7:8; 10:3; 20:5, 14; 23:3; 28:14; 29:23, 28, 31-32; 30:2, 4, 13, 17, 23-25
Ezra 2:64; 10:1, 8, 12, 14
Nehemiah 5:7, 13; 7:66; 8:2, 17; 13:1
Job 30:28
Psalm 22:22, 25; 26:5, 12; 35:18; 40:9; 68:26; 89:5; 107:32; 149:1
Proverbs 5:14
Lamentations 1:10
Joel 2:16
Micah 2:5

You see, the church has existed since the beginning. Every individual—past, present or future—who has ever had the faith like Abraham—Old Testament saint or New Testament saint, Jew or Gentile—and has put their trust in the promised and prophesied Messiah, is and has always been a part of the church. There is only one body of Christ—not two. That body is His bride, and His bride is the church. There is only one people of God, and those people are believers—Christians.