Daily Archives: June 14, 2013

Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That 14 June 2013

I did not enjoy “The Bible” miniseries for a multitude of reasons. One of those is its misuse and abuse of the concept and phrase, “God is with us.” In that pitiful series, the idea of God’s protection and presence with His people was turned into a catchphrase, and the true magnificence and blessing behind it never was explained, nor was Emmanuel, the ultimate picture of “God with us,” extolled as He should have been. By the end of the first episode of “The Bible,” I never again wanted to hear someone with a bad British accent shout, “God is with us!” Perhaps this is an illustration of how poor and false teaching can ruin some true and wonderful concepts for the genuine believer.

Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi via photopin cc

But let us not abandon biblical concepts simply because they have been distorted by those who do not revere God and His Word. In reality, God truly is with His own. He cares for those who are His, whether in times of trial or in times of joy. He goes before His children in every circumstance, and stands with them even when men do not. This week, I was especially struck by these verses in Paul’s final letter to his son in the faith, Timothy:

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

(2 Tim 4:16–17)

The Lord has promised never to leave nor forsake His children (Heb 13:5; Deut 31:6–8; Jos 1:5). He demonstrated this in Paul’s life right up until the very end, and He will be faithful to those who are His today. We serve a Lord who fulfills His promises. Kind of makes you want to get on your knees in praise and thanks, doesn’t it? Go ahead, we’ll wait.
When you’re done with that, take your laptop or your tablet outside, find a shady spot, sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

  • “As you and I, who have long been brought into the church, think of how we became built upon the foundation, let us praise the hand which laid us in our place.”
  • Some homeschooling parents are starting to demand textbooks that teach evolution. Thanks a lot, BioLogos.
  • At the same time, while dissatisfaction with the public school system grows, so does the appeal of homeschooling.
  • Pope Francis says that a “gay lobby” exists inside the Vatican. Well, color me not surprised.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable. (Thanks to reader Jeff for the tip!)
  • Exposing the marks of counterfeit authority:

Source: http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/06/this-n-that_14.html

Does God Change His Mind? – R.C. Sproul

To “change one’s mind,” in the New Testament means to repent. When the Bible speaks of my repenting or your repenting, it means that we are called to change our minds or our dispositions with respect to sin—that we are to turn away from evil. Repent is loaded with these kinds of connotations, and when we talk about God’s repenting, it somehow suggests that God has to turn away from doing something wicked. But that’s not what is always meant when the Bible uses this word.

Using a word like repentance with respect to God raises some problems for us. When the Bible describes God for us, it uses human terms, because the only language God has by which to speak to us about himself is our human language. The theological term for this is anthropomorphic language, which is the use of human forms and structures to describe God. When the Bible talks about God’s feet or the right arm of the Lord, we immediately see that as just a human way of speaking about God. But when we use more abstract terms like repent, then we get all befuddled about it.

What About Moses in Numbers 14?

There’s one sense in which it seems God is changing his mind, and there’s another sense in which the Bible says God never changes his mind because God is omniscient. He knows all things from the beginning, and he is immutable. He is unchanging. There’s no shadow of turning within him. For example, He knows what Moses is going to say to him in Numbers 14 before Moses even opens his mouth to plead for the people. Then after Moses has actually said it, does God suddenly changes his mind? He doesn’t have any more information than he had a moment before. Nothing has changed as far as God’s knowledge or his appraisal of the situation.

What in Moses’ words and actions would possibly have provoked God to change his mind? I think that what we have here is the mystery of providence whereby God ordains not only the ends of things that come to pass but also the means. God sets forth principles in the Bible where he gives threats of judgment to motivate his people to repentance. Sometimes he spells out specifically, “But if you repent, I will not carry out the threat.” He doesn’t always add that qualifier, but it’s there. I think this is one of those instances. It was tacitly understood that God threatens judgment upon these people, but if somebody pleads for them in a priestly way, he will give grace rather than justice. I think that’s at the heart of that mystery.

Is God confused, stumbling through all the different options—Should I do this? Should I not do that? And does he decide upon one course of action and then think, Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea after all, and change his mind? Obviously God is omniscient; God is all wise. God is eternal in his perspective and in his full knowledge of everything. So we don’t change God’s mind. But prayer changes things. It changes us. And there are times in which God waits for us to ask for things because his plan is that we work with him in the glorious process of bringing his will to pass here on earth.


Online Theological Resources (Updated)

When it comes to Bible software, I use Logos more than anything else (though I know BibleWorks and Accordance are excellent too).

But what about free online resources? Thankfully, the web has made it possible for almost anyone with a computer to access hundreds of valuable study tools. For people who don’t have immediate access to a sizeable library, that’s great news.

If you’re an avid online Bible student, you are probably already familiar with the ten resources I’ve listed below. But these are the ones that I find most helpful in my own personal study.

Having said that, I’m always looking for new sites, to add even more richness to my online study time. So, if you think of one I’ve missed, be sure to add a comment and mention it.

My Top-Ten Favorite Online Study Resources

1. The John MacArthur Sermon Archive — When it comes to clearly and accurately explaining the Word of God, there is no pastor I trust more than John MacArthur. The fact that he has preached through every verse of the New Testament, and that all of those sermons are available for free online (both in audio and transcript form), means that this resource is as exhaustive as it is valuable. The topical Q&A section is also an expansive resource, giving practical and biblical instruction on a wide variety of issues.

2. The Theological Resource CenterThe featured resource on the site is a growing library of video lectures taught by the TMS faculty. These lectures can be watched, free-of-charge, by anyone with an internet connection. The site currently contains eleven full courses, consisting of more than 200 individual lectures. Over the next few months, the library will grow to include over 20 courses, offering hundreds of hours of seminary-level lecture content. When complete, this online video library will cover a wide range of topics including Bible Survey, Grammar and Exegesis, Systematic Theology, Historical Theology, and Biblical Counseling.

3. BibleStudyTools.com – This website came in handy even when I was a seminary student. I especially appreciated the interlinear Bible which worked great with the corresponding BST Greek and Hebrew fonts. While it is no substitute for Logos, this website provides a number of helpful study tools for free—including commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and lexicons. Similar sites include www.studylight.org, www.e-sword.net, and www.blueletterbible.org.

4. Online Commentaries – There are probably two dozen classic commentary sets available online. One of the most expansive lists of online commentaries (organized by book of the Bible) is found here. Though the majority of these commentaries are older (which is why they are now in the public domain), they still represent a wealth of insightful information about the biblical text.

5. BibleGateway.com – I appreciate two things about Bible Gateway. First, it is one of the easiest-to-use Bible searching websites. Finding passages of Scripture in multiple versions is quick and painless. Second, it is home to the online-edition of the IVP commentaries . This is one of the few modern commentaries available for free on the web.

6. Google Books– Of course, if I want to peruse modern commentaries (or other books) without going to the library, I use Google Books. I am a huge fan of Google Books; and if you’ve never used it before, you really should try it out. It is incredible. Admittedly, most of the modern books are limited to only a “preview.” But, you can still search the entire book; which makes it an extremely useful database. And, sometimes you find a gem, like the full version of John Broadus on Matthew or Martin Luther on The Sermon on the Mount.

Another nice feature (especially for seminary students) is that, if you cite a source from Google Books, you can cite the actual page in your footnotes, and not some long, messy URL.

On a side note, if a page is not viewable in Google books (because of the “preview” limitations), you can often find it at Amazon.com, using the “Look Inside” feature. Partnering the Google Books database with the Amazon.com database results in more information online and fewer trips to the library.

Google Scholar is a related resource from Google. This is not quite as helpful as Google Books, and it’s still in a Beta Version. But in essence, what Google Books is to books, Google Scholar is to journals. So, it can still turn up helpful information, especially if you’re looking for journal articles on a given topic. (Of course, a number of schools make their journals available on their websites. For example, if you’re looking to search TMSJ, you can just click here.)

7. iTunes U – So, technically, this resource utilizes iTunes and not your normal web browser … but it is an incredible resource nonetheless. A significant number of theological institutions (as well as other universities and colleges) have made lectures available for free download through iTunes. Now you can get a free seminary-level education while you commute to work or run on the treadmill.

I’ve personally benefited greatly from some of the Church History lectures that are available from various evangelical seminaries. And it’s fun to know I can “sit in” on a class at MIT or Harvard anytime I want–even if I don’t get official credit for it. (For theological students, another website that is similar to this is, though on a smaller scale, is www.biblicaltraining.org.)

8. Christian Classics Ethereal Library – Speaking of Church History, an area near-and-dear to my heart, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library is undoubtedly the largest collection of historic Christian resources on the web. If I’m looking for something from the church fathers, or Augustine, or Aquinas, or Calvin, or the Puritans, CCEL is usually the first place I look.

(Of course, if I’m looking for stuff related to Charles Spurgeon, no site is better than Phil Johnson’s Spurgeon archive.)

9. Bible.org – This site houses an expansive array of articles, organized by both topic and by book of the Bible. Contributors include well-known scholars like Daniel Wallace, Kenneth Boa, Darrel Bock, Eugene Merrill, and John Walvoord. (The site’s connection to Dallas Theological Seminary is no secret.) Also, this site is the home of the NET Bible, which is notable because of the translation notes that accompany the text.

10. Monergism.com – This site is somewhat similar to www.bible.org, though from a more Reformed perspective. Also, it serves largely as a topic-based portal—directing visitors to helpful articles on a wide array of subjects. The site includes an excellent database of sermon manuscripts, making it especially helpful for Bible study.

Source: http://thecripplegate.com/online-theological-resources-updated/

What Did Peter Mean When He said, “The Day of the Lord Will Come”?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

10 Ἥξει δὲ ἡμέρα κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης ἐν ᾗ οἱ οὐρανοὶ ῥοιζηδὸν παρελεύσονται, στοιχεῖα δὲ καυσούμενα λυθήσεται, καὶ γῆ καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ἔργα οὐχ εὑρεθήσεται. 11 Τούτων οὕτως πάντων λυομένων ποταποὺς δεῖ ὑπάρχειν ὑμᾶς ἐν ἁγίαις ἀναστροφαῖς καὶ εὐσεβείαις 12 προσδοκῶντας καὶ σπεύδοντας τὴν παρουσίαν τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμέρας δι’ ἣν οὐρανοὶ πυρούμενοι λυθήσονται καὶ στοιχεῖα καυσούμενα τήκεται. (2 Peter 3:10-12 NA28)

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with great suddenness and the elements will be burned up and destroyed and the earth and the works in it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed, what sort of people ought you to be in holiness and godliness, 12 awaiting and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and destroyed…

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Matthew Vines, an introduction

Matthew Vines is a young homosexual who, on March 8, 2012, spoke at College Hill United Methodist Church in Kansas in  defense of biblical support for homosexuality.  He taught from scripture, in a church.  His Youtube video of the  event has, as of June 2012, received over 500,000 views.  On his website at http://matthewvines.tumblr.com is a  complete transcript of that speech (9,876 words or about 21 8.5″ x 11″ pages).  I emailed Mr. Vines asking for  permission to reprint it and interject comments into it for an article here on CARM.  As far as I know, I received  no reply.  Therefore, I’ve written articles in response to his arguments where I have quoted him and addressed his  basic assertions.

Read More Here: http://carm.org/matthew-vines-introduction



1. It is a means of expressing Christianity. This is being able to express beliefs in a logical, systematic order. This expression of belief is also termed “apologetic.”

2. It is a means to define Christianity. The systematizing of the facts into a system will automatically define the system.

3. It is a means to defend Christianity. It makes it much easier to show the truth of the Word.

4. It is a means to propagate Christianity. Because it is a system which works, people will listen.[1]


Topical Bible Questions: What does the Bible say about failure?

To fail from time to time is only human, but to be a “failure” is when we are defeated by failure, refusing to rise and try again. Christians often believe they should be immune to failure by virtue of their relationship with God, but the truth is that God often allows us to fail for a variety of reasons. Job 14:1 says “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” That doesn’t say “unbelievers” or ‘the ungodly’. It says man born of woman. What does that mean? Everyone. Life is full of trouble, even for those who belong to God through faith in Christ. We are to expect it. This means God does not promise life to be without problems, sorrow, and yes, failure, just because we believe in Him.

Luke 9:1–5 describes how Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel and perform miracles. He also taught them how to handle failure. “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” Jesus wanted the soon-to-be apostles to model themselves after Him. He gave them power and authority over devils, power to heal the sick etc. Most of all, Jesus wanted them to have boldness. He knew that not everyone was going to receive the truth about Him, but in saying “Shake the dust from your feet,” He meant to move on and plow forward. Witnessing and being rejected can make us feel like failures, but if we understand we are to expect it (John 15:18), what appears to be failure actually becomes a badge of honor.

When we feel failure come against us, our first reaction may be to run or give up. When it comes to sin, we are all capable of avoiding it. Even in complete love, faith and devotion to God, we can fall, but God is not shocked by this which is why He sent His Son to die for our sins. We get back up again, and we start over. But we should know that we cannot do it alone. We must keep our eyes on our Savior, following and obeying Him and laying aside the sin that inevitably leads to spiritual failure, as Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1: “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” God has marked out a course for each of us, and yes, sometimes that course includes failure. But when we cling to the Savior, even our failures can be turned into successes by the One who controls all things and who strengthens us in our weakness (Philippians 4:11–13). Our ultimate victory in Jesus is assured, but complete victory will only come when we are out of this world of temptation and safe in the arms of the Lord in heaven.[1]


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

Questions about Cults and Religions: How does God judge those who were raised in non-Christian cultures and have been taught their entire life that their own religion (such as Islam or Hinduism) is correct, and Christianity is wrong?

This question presupposes that the ability to be saved is dependent upon where we are born, how we are raised and what we are taught. The lives of millions of people who have come out of false religions—or no religion at all—through the centuries clearly refute this idea. Heaven is not the eternal dwelling place of those who were fortunate enough to be raised in Christian homes in free nations, but of those who came to Christ from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). People in all cultures and in every phase of history are saved the same way—by the grace of God given to undeserving sinners, not because of what we know, where we are born or how we have been indoctrinated, but “because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5).

While some may be ignorant of the content of Scripture and the teachings of Christ, they are by no means deprived of any knowledge of what is right and wrong, nor are they deprived of the knowledge of God’s existence. Romans 1:20 tells us “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” In reality, it is not that some people have not heard about Christ. Rather, the problem is that they have rejected what they have heard and what is readily seen in nature. Deuteronomy 4:29 proclaims, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” This verse teaches an important principle: everyone who truly seeks after Truth will find it. If a person sincerely desires to know the true God, God will make Himself known.

Those in false religions are always subject to the teaching of salvation by works. If they believe they can satisfy a holy and perfect God by the keeping of rules and laws, God will allow them to continue in their efforts at self-justification until He finally judges them rightly. If, however, they respond to the goading of a conscience awakened by God and cry out to Him—as the tax collector in the temple did—“Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:9–14), God will respond with His truth and grace.

Only in Christ the Savior is a man freed from the liability of guilt, sin, and shame. Our right standing before our Judge is established on one thing only: the finished work of Christ crucified who shed His blood so we could live (John 19:30). We are released from our sins by His blood (Revelation 1:5). He has reconciled us in His earthly body through His death (Colossians 1:22). Jesus bore our sins in His own Body on the cross so that by His wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:24). We are made holy through the offering up of Jesus’ Body as a sacrifice once for all (Hebrews 10:10). Christ appeared once for all to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26). God sent His Son to remove the wrath that we ourselves deserved (1 John 4:10). The penalty of sin that is rightly ours is absolved by grace through faith, not by any righteous deeds of our own (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Christ’s final marching orders were that his followers preached this good news to sinners throughout the world and until the end of the world when He will return to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 28:18–20; 2 Timothy 4:1). Where there are hearts opened by the Holy Spirit, there will God send His messengers to fill those open hearts with His truth. Even in countries where preaching Christ is forbidden by law, God’s truth still finds its way to those who truly seek it, including through the internet. The stories of thriving house churches in China, conversions to Christ in Iran and other Islamic countries, and the inroads into remote areas of the world all attest to the limitless power of God’s love and mercy.[1]


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

Questions about the End Times: What is the significance of a red heifer in the Bible? Is a red heifer a sign of the end times?

According to the Bible, the red heifer—a reddish-brown cow, probably no more than two years old which had never had a yoke on it—was to be sacrificed as part of the purification rites of the Mosaic Law. The slaughtering of a red heifer was a ceremonial ritual in the Old Testament sacrificial system, as described in Numbers 19:1–10. The purpose of the red heifer sacrifice was to provide for the water of cleansing (Numbers 19:9), another term for purification from sin. After the red heifer was sacrificed, her blood was sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle.

The imagery of the blood of the heifer without blemish being sacrificed and its blood cleansing from sin is a foreshadowing of the blood of Christ shed on the cross for believers’ sin. He was “without blemish” just as the red heifer was to be. As the heifer was sacrificed “outside the camp” (Numbers 19:3), in the same way Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem: “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:11–12).

The Bible does teach that one day there will be again be a temple of God in Jerusalem (Ezekiel chapters 41–45). Jesus prophesied that the antichrist would desecrate the temple (Matthew 24:15), and for that to occur, there obviously would have to be a temple in Jerusalem once again. Many anticipate the birth of a red heifer because in order for a new temple to function according to the Old Testament law, a red heifer would have to be sacrificed for the water of cleansing used in the temple. So, when a red heifer is born (which is quite unusual) it might be a sign that the temple will soon be rebuilt.[1]


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

How does Jesus deal with Peter’s denial of Him during the trial?

In John 21:15–17, the meaning of this section hinges upon the usage of two synonyms for love. In terms of interpretation, when two synonyms are placed in close proximity in context, a difference in meaning, however slight, is emphasized. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used a word for love that signified total commitment. Peter responded with a word for love that signified his love for Jesus, but not necessarily his total commitment. This was not because he was reluctant to express that greater love, but because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past. He was, perhaps, now reluctant to make a claim of supreme devotion when, in the past, his life did not support such a claim. Jesus pressed home to Peter the need for unswerving devotion by repeatedly asking Peter if he loved Him supremely. The essential message here is that Jesus demands total commitment from His followers. Their love for Him must place Him above their love for all else. Jesus confronted Peter with love because He wanted Peter to lead the apostles (Matt. 16:18), but in order for Peter to be an effective shepherd, his overwhelming drive must exemplify supreme love for his Lord.

In v. 15, when Jesus asked him if he loved Him “more than these,” He probably refers to the fish (v. 11) representing Peter’s profession as a fisherman, for he had gone back to it while waiting for Jesus (v. 3). Jesus wanted Peter to love Him so supremely as to forsake all that he was familiar with and be exclusively devoted to being a fisher of men (Matt. 4:19).The phrase may refer to the other disciples, since Peter had claimed he would be more devoted than all the others (Matt. 26:33).“Feed My lambs.” The word “feed” conveys the idea of being devoted to the Lord’s service as an undershepherd who cares for His flock (1 Pet. 5:1–4).The word has the idea of constantly feeding and nourishing the sheep. This served as a reminder that the primary duty of the messenger of Jesus Christ is to teach the word of God (2 Tim. 4:2).Acts 1–13 records Peter’s obedience to this commission.

In v. 17,“Peter was grieved.” The third time Jesus asked Peter, He used Peter’s word for love that signified something less than total devotion, questioning even that level of love Peter thought he was safe in claiming. The lessons driven home to Peter grieved his heart, so that he sought for a proper understanding of his heart, not by what he said or had done, but based on the Lord’s omniscience (2:24, 25).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, http://www.thomasnelson.com.