Daily Archives: May 19, 2013

Either He did or He didn’t! – Your weekly dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Till He Come, pages 333-334, Pilgrim Publications.

“If we lose the cross,if we miss the substitutionary sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have lost all.”

“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” These words in plainest terms assert that our Lord Jesus did really bear the sins of His people. How literal is the language! Words mean nothing if substitution is not stated here. I do not know the meaning of the fifty-third of Isaiah if this is not its meaning. Hear the prophet’s words: “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all;” “for the transgression of my people was He stricken;” “He shall bear their iniquities;” “He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bare the sin of many.”

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2013/05/either-he-did-or-he-didnt.html

Questions about Marriage: Can a couple who has gotten divorced get remarried?

When Jesus came into this world, He was “made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4–5). The Christian is to “stand fast … in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free” (Galatians 5:1). Scripture makes it quite clear that we who are in Christ are not under the Old Testament Law. Instead, we “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) and follow the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

The restriction of Deuteronomy 24:4 was part of God’s regulation on divorce, a practice which He tolerated, but never condoned, because of the Israelites’ hardheartedness (Matthew 19:8). Moses required a legally binding, written bill of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1) and prohibited “reversing” the divorce. Both regulations were calculated to emphasize the gravity and finality of divorce. In essence, God was saying, “Divorce is a very serious matter; do not take this step lightly.”

Today, married couples would do well to follow Jesus’ word and leave intact what God has joined (Matthew 19:6). Divorced couples, while not bound to follow the particulars of the Old Testament Law, must still consider all the implications of remarriage. If the relationship with an ex-spouse moves forward, pastoral counseling is recommended to ensure that the factors which led to the divorce in the first place have been confronted and worked through.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: Are we supposed to be actively looking for a spouse, or waiting for God to bring a spouse to us?

The answer to both questions is “yes.” There is an important balance between the two. We are not to frantically search for a spouse as if it depends solely on our own efforts. Neither are we to be passive, thinking that God will one day cause a spouse to arrive at our door. As Christians, once we have decided that it is time to start looking for a spouse, we should begin the process with prayer. Committing ourselves to God’s will for our lives is the first step. “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Delighting in the Lord means we find pleasure in knowing Him and trusting that He will delight us in return. He will put His desires into our hearts, and in the context of seeking a spouse, that means desiring for ourselves the type of spouse He desires for us and who He knows will delight us further. Proverbs 3:6 tells us, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Acknowledging Him in the search for a spouse means submitting to His sovereign will and telling Him that whatever He decides is best is what you want.

After committing ourselves to God’s will, we need to be clear on the characteristics of a godly husband or wife and be seeking someone who qualifies on a spiritual level. It is important to have a clear understanding of these qualities first and then to seek someone who fits them. To “fall in love” with someone and then discover he/she is not spiritually qualified to be our mate is to invite heartache and put ourselves in a very difficult position.

Once we know what the Bible says we should be looking for, we can begin actively looking for a spouse, understanding that God will bring him/her into our lives as we are in the process of looking, according to His perfect will and timing. If we pray, God will lead us to the person He has for us. If we wait for His timing, we will be given the person who fits best with our background, personality, and desires. We have to trust in Him and His timing (Proverbs 3:5), even when His timing is not our timing. Sometimes God calls people not to marry at all (1 Corinthians 7), but in those situations, He makes it clear by removing the desire for marriage. God’s timing is perfect, and with faith and patience, we will receive His promises (Hebrews 6:12).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Parables: What is the meaning of the Parable of the Fig Tree?

Jesus told the parable of the fig tree—Luke 13:6–9—immediately after reminding his listeners of a tower over the pool of Siloam (John 9:7) which unexpectedly fell and killed eighteen people. The moral of that story is found in Luke 13:3: “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” To reiterate this moral, Jesus tells the story of the fig tree, the vineyard owner, and the gardener who took care of the vineyard.

The three entities in the story all have clear symbolic significance. The vineyard owner represents God, the one who rightly expects to see fruit on His tree and who justly decides to destroy it when He finds none. The gardener, or vineyard keeper who cares for the trees, watering and fertilizing them to bring them to their peak of fruitfulness, represents Jesus who feeds His people and gives them living water. The tree itself has two symbolic meanings: the nation of Israel and the individual.

As the story unfolds, we see the vineyard owner expressing his disappointment at the fruitless tree. He has looked for fruit for three years from this tree, but has found none. The three-year period is significant because for three years John the Baptist and Jesus had been preaching the message of repentance throughout Israel. But the fruits of repentance were not forthcoming. John the Baptist warned the people about the Messiah coming and told them to bring forth fruits fit for repentance because the ax was already laid at the root of the tree (Luke 3:8–9). But the Jews were offended by the idea they needed to repent and they rejected their Messiah because He demanded repentance from them. After all, they had the revelation of God, the prophets, the scriptures, the covenants, and the adoption (Romans 9:4–5). They had it all, but they were already apostate. They had departed from the true faith and the true and living God and created a system of works righteousness that was an abomination to God. He, as the vineyard owner, was perfectly justified in tearing down the tree that had no fruit. The Lord’s ax was already poised over the root of the tree and it was ready to fall.

However, we see the gardener pleading here for a little more time. There were a few months before the crucifixion, and more miracles to come, especially the incredible miracle of the raising of Lazarus from the dead which would astound many and perhaps cause the Jews to repent. As it turned out, Israel as a nation still did not believe, but individuals certainly did (John 12:10–11). The compassionate gardener intercedes for more time to water and fertilize the fruitless tree and the gracious Lord of the vineyard responds in patience.

The lesson for the individual is that borrowed time is not permanent. God’s patience has a limit. In the parable, the vineyard owner grants another year of life to the tree. In the same way, God in His mercy grants us another day, another hour, another breath. Christ stands at the door of each man’s heart knocking and seeking to gain entrance and requiring repentance from sin. But if there is no fruit, no repentance, His patience will come to an end and the fruitless, unrepentant individual will be cut down. We all live on borrowed time; judgment is near. That is why the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Bible: What is the Apocalypse of Peter?

The Apocalypse of Peter, also known as the Revelation of Peter, is a piece of literature believed to have been written around the middle of the second century A.D. The Apocalypse of Peter should not be confused with the Gnostic Gospel of Peter, a completely different work. The Apocalypse of Peter does not exist in an entire manuscript, but has been found in quotations from early church leaders and two partial fragments. The first fragment, written in Greek, was found in Egypt in 1886; a second, Ethiopian fragment was found in 1910. The text is short, no more than a few dozen verses, and the authorship is unknown.

The two fragments found represent separate versions of the Apocalypse of Peter. The Greek and Ethiopian versions differ considerably, although they involve much of the same subject matter. In the Greek version, the disciples ask Jesus to show them believers who have passed from this world into righteousness. Christ shows them a wonderful vision of the redeemed, but He also shows them a terrible and frightening picture of the condemned. This scene has many similarities to the Greek myths of the underworld. Readers of Dante’s Inferno would find the descriptions in the Greek fragment oddly familiar.

In the Ethiopian version, the disciples ask Christ to tell them some of the signs of the end times and to further explain the incident with the fig tree (Mark 11). Christ unveils a vision of the future that includes epic levels of destruction and chaos. This version also makes mention of the beautiful state of the righteous and the horrible torment of the unrighteous.

The Apocalypse of Peter was not accepted by early Christians into the collection of scriptures that became the Bible. There were some early Christian writers who considered it inspired, but the general consensus left it out of the final canon of Scripture. Not only do both versions of the text include imagery clearly drawn from Greek mythology, but the Apocalypse of Peter also diverges from well-established Biblical principles. For these reasons, the Apocalypse of Peter was not included in the list of books of the Bible.

The Apocalypse of Peter was probably in wide circulation at some point, given the frequency of quotations in other sources. As an historical document, it provides interesting insights into the beliefs and opinions of some early Christians. However, as a non-inspired work, it is valuable only for reference. Like the many other ancient documents that became part of the Old and New Testament Apocrypha, the Apocalypse of Peter is not a reliable source of doctrine.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Angels and Demons: How do we distinguish a psychological disorder from demon possession?

The short answer to this question is that the Bible does not speak to distinguishing between demon possession and a psychological disorder. Because God chose not to equip Christians for this task, we should probably assume this is not something we are called to do. However, there are two things we know for sure from Scripture.

First, we know from the Bible that demons can and do possess those who do not belong to Christ, and Scripture gives some examples of people being possessed by demons. From these descriptions, we can find some symptoms of demonic influence as well as gain insights as to how a demon possesses someone. In some of these passages, the demon possession causes physical ailments (inability to speak, epileptic symptoms, blindness, etc. [Matthew 9:32–33, Mark 9:17–18]); in other cases the demon causes the individual to do evil (Judas is the main example); in Acts 16:16–18, the spirit apparently gave a slave girl some ability to know things beyond her own learning (a spirit of divination); in the case of the demoniac of the Gadarenes who was possessed by a multitude of demons, he had superhuman strength, cut himself, went around naked, and lived among the tombstones (Mark 5:1–17). King Saul, after rebelling against the LORD, was troubled by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14–15; 18:10–11; 19:9–10) with the apparent effect of a melancholy mood and an increased desire and readiness to kill David (God’s next anointed king of Israel).

Second, we should be greatly encouraged to know that it is impossible for a Christian to be possessed by a demon. The believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God who comes to reside in our hearts when we give our lives to Christ (2 Corinthians 1:22). The description of a possessing demon as “evil” means “unclean” in the Greek (Mark 5:2), therefore making it impossible for the Holy Spirit to share His dwelling place with such a creature. For those who do not have the Holy Spirit, however, no amount of “cleaning up their lives” will prevent a demon from possessing or influencing them. The parable Jesus told in Matthew 12:43 makes this clear:

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Jesus is teaching here that we are incapable of sweeping and putting “in order” our own hearts because our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV). Only God can regenerate us and create in us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and make us new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

However, while Christians cannot be possessed by a demon, this is not to be confused with being influenced by one. The apostle Peter is an illustration of a believer who was influenced by the devil (Matthew 16:23). This can occur especially when we are not mature in the faith and not sufficiently involved in the spiritual disciplines of regular study of Scripture and prayer.

Lastly, a word to the wise: some people develop an unhealthy fascination with the occult and demonic activity. This is ill advised to say the least. If we pursue God with our lives and we are clothing ourselves with His armor and relying upon His strength (not our own) (Ephesians 6:10–18), we have nothing to fear from the evil ones, for God rules over all! When we are in Christ, and He in us, we have nothing to fear from the evil one because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Who Are False Prophets and Teachers?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,  (1Timothy 4:1-2 NASB) 
In these last days, there appears to be a clarifying work of God going on in within the Visible Church. In the early church and in all those historic periods when it was not “comfortable” to be counted among those who named Christ as their Lord and Saviour, the genuine believers were easy to spot. They endured. They may have undergone severe persecution even unto death, but they did not fall away. Since the end of Puritanism, Christianity has taken on a role in the West that ensured religious freedom. Humanism began to encroach upon doctrine and in every aspect of how Church was done…

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Rapture Palooza?

Hollywood loves to poke fun at Christians. This movie trailer, “Rapture Palooza,” was created to mock not only those who love Christ, but Christ Himself.

If you can stomach watching to the end, you’ll see the character of “Satan” shooting Jesus out of the sky when He returns:

You may be asking, how is this any different than those in the crowds at the crucifixion who giggled and guffawed at our naked and scourged Savior, hanging on a cross and dying for their sins? It is easy to get angry at antics like this, until you remember that those who take part in acts like this are still in darkness; still shaking their fists and a holy and righteous God. Just as we did once. Knowing that He loved us while we still hated Him ought to spur us on to share the hope we have, even with those who do not see Him with spiritual eyes.

http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/05/rapture-palooza/

Shhh… It’s a Secret God Told Me to Tell You!

  • Fact 1: God has not revealed everything to us, nor will He.
  • Fact 2: He has already revealed everything we need to know in His Word. There is no room for new books in The Book.
  • Fact 3: If we cannot be obedient to what has already been revealed, there is no “new” or further revelation coming.
In addition to outright false teachers and false prophets who teach error, there are also those who, “…speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jer. 23:16b) In either case, it is to be rejected just the same.
The sad thing is that I cannot even report this to be the most egregious attempt to deceive the Elect in this age-old genre of claiming something never-before-revealed. There seems to be a whole “Bible codes” industry built on individuals and movements who purport to be the first ones in history whom God allowed to figure out these “secrets.” On the most shallow, surface level of this nonsense, why does it not bother anyone with a grade school education that the Lord has allowed all of the apostles, pastors and scholars throughout the whole of history up this point to have miscalculated, mistranslated, or just plain mishandled the Word except these chosen few whom God waited until now to reveal it to? Why is it that we so rarely see these “gifted” individuals living like a true apostle or prophet, much less a faithful rank-and-file believer? Why does God choose for them to personally profit so greatly from this particular revelation when this was anything but the case for those through whom the true, written Word of God was previously given? (Prophets from biblical times must be jealous of profits in modern times—pun intended.) Why should I even attempt a scriptural response when the argument is won and lost without ever leaving the arena of common sense?