Daily Archives: January 26, 2014

Questions about Relationships: Premarital Sex—Why Are Christians so Strongly against It?

 

Premarital sex involves any kind of sexual contact prior to entering into a legal marriage relationship. There are a number of reasons why Scripture and traditional Christianity oppose this. God designed sex to be enjoyed within a committed marital relationship. To remove it from that context is to pervert its use and severely limit its enjoyment. Sexual contact involves a level of intimacy not experienced in any other human relationship. When God brought Adam and Eve together in marriage, He established the “one flesh” relationship. Genesis 2:24 tells us that a man will leave his family, join to his wife, and become “one flesh” with her.

This idea is carried through in the New Testament as well; we see it in Jesus’ words in both Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7. Paul elaborates on that idea in 1 Corinthians 6:12–20, in his discussion of God’s lordship over our bodies as well as our souls. He says that when a man has sex with a prostitute, they have become “one body” (verse 16). It’s clear that the sexual relationship, no matter the context, is special. There is a level of vulnerability one experiences in a sexual relationship which should only occur within a committed, trusting, marital union.

There are, in general, two contexts for premarital sex. There is the “we love each other and are committed to each other, but just don’t want to wait to be married” sexual relationship, and there’s “casual sex.” The former is often rationalized with the idea that the couple will surely marry, so there’s no sin in engaging in marital relations now. However, this shows impatience and disrespect to oneself, as well as the other person. It removes the special nature of the relationship from its proper framework, which will erode the idea that there’s a framework at all. If we accept this behavior, it’s not long before we’ll regard any extra-marital sex as acceptable. To tell our prospective mate that they’re worth waiting for strengthens the relationship and increases the commitment level.

Casual sex is rampant in many societies. There is, in truth, no such thing as “casual” sex, because of the depth of intimacy involved in the sexual relationship. An analogy is instructive here. If we take a sticky note and attach it to a piece of paper, it will adhere. If we remove it, it will leave behind a small amount of residue; the longer it remains, the more residue is left. If we take that note and stick it to several places repeatedly, it will leave residue everywhere we stick it, and it will eventually lose its ability to adhere to anything. This is much like what happens to us when we engage in “casual” sex. Each time we leave a sexual relationship, we leave a part of ourselves behind. The longer the relationship has gone on, the more we leave behind, and the more we lose of ourselves. As we go from partner to partner, we continue to lose a tiny bit of ourselves each time, and eventually we may lose our ability to form a lasting sexual relationship at all. The sexual relationship is so strong and so intimate that we cannot enter into it casually, no matter how easy it might seem.

So, is there hope? When a Christian engages in premarital sex, or when one who has lost his/her virginity comes to Christ, the Holy Spirit will convict of the sin, and there will be grief over it. However, it’s important—even vital—to remember that there is no sin beyond the reach of the blood of Jesus. If we confess, He will not only forgive, but will cleanse us from “all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Furthermore, in addition to the forgiveness (which is in itself glorious), God restores. Joel 2:25 tells us that God is able to restore the years that the locust has eaten, and that’s what premarital sex is—a locust that consumes our sense of self, our self-esteem, and our perception of forgiveness. Scripture also tells us that when we come to Christ, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), so one who engaged in premarital sex prior to conversion is recreated by God into a new person; the old is gone, the new has come.

Finally, we know that, as Christians, we’re being renewed by the Holy Spirit each day we walk with Jesus. Colossians 3:10 tells us that our new self is being renewed day by day after the image of its Creator. There is no sin without hope. The power of the gospel is available to all who trust in Jesus for forgiveness.[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 Two Sons?

 

The Parable of the Two Sons can be found in Matthew 21:28–32. The basic story is of a man with two sons who told them to go work in the vineyard. The first son refused, but later obeyed and went. The second son initially expressed obedience, but actually disobeyed and refused to work in the vineyard. The son who ultimately did the will of his father was the first son because he eventually obeyed. Jesus then likens the first son to tax collectors and prostitutes—the outcasts of Jewish society—because they believed John the Baptist and accepted “the way of righteousness” (v. 32), in spite of their initial disobedience to the Law.

The key interpretive point in understanding the Parable of the Two Sons comes in defining to whom Jesus is speaking. For that we need to look at the overall context of this passage. Matthew chapter 21 begins with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The whole point of Matthew’s gospel is to show Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. The crowd responds by shouting Hosannas and praises to the King. The King’s first act upon entering Jerusalem is to cleanse the temple (21:12–17). Afterwards, we see Jesus cursing a fig tree (21:18–22). This account may seem an isolated story, but Jesus was making a strong symbolic point. The fig tree is often symbolic of Israel (cf. Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7). The fact that the fig tree had leaves but no fruit is symbolic of Israel’s religious activity—i.e., all the trappings of spirituality, but no substance. Israel may have had the leaves of activity, but not the fruit of repentance and obedience to God, which is why Jesus tells them the prostitutes and tax collectors will enter the kingdom ahead of them (v. 31).

In Matthew 21:23–27, the religious authorities—the chief priests and elders—question Jesus’ authority. Who is this Jesus who comes into Jerusalem receiving the praises of the masses and drives the moneychangers out of the temple? The stage is set for the showdown. It is in this context that Jesus tells three parables—the Two Sons, the Tenants, and the Wedding Feast. Each of these parables is told to the Jewish religious leaders, each illustrates their rejection of Jesus, and each pronounces judgment on Israel for their rejection of their Messiah. In the Parable of the Two Sons, the leaders of Israel are the second son who claimed obedience, but did not do the will of the father.[1]


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

Questions about the Bible: What Is the Book of Judith?

 

The book of Judith is part of the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical scripture and appears in the Old Testament of Catholic Bibles. The nation of Israel treated the Apocryphal books with respect, but never accepted them as true books of the Hebrew Bible. The early Christian church debated the status of the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals, but few early Christians believed they belonged in the canon of Scripture.

The book of Judith, believed to be written in the late second century or early first century B.C., recounted the story of God providing a woman, Judith, to deliver the Jewish people in a time of great need and despair. This narrative revolves around a beautiful and wise widow living in the town of Bethulia who becomes incensed with her town elders when they ‘test’ God rather than trust Him and decide to capitulate to King Nebuchadnezzar’s top General, Holofernes, to surrender if God does not save them in five days.

Judith feels giving God such a response deadline is arrogant and inappropriate in the extreme. She tells the elders she has a plan but must leave the city for it to be successful. She refuses to divulge any details, departs with her slave woman, and enters Holofernes’s camp on the pretext of providing him help to defeat her fellow Jews.

Holofernes is mesmerized by her beauty and takes her into his camp and company. Her voluptuousness and wiles attract him and lust blinds him to her deceit. Judith manages to get Holofernes alone in his tent when he is excessively drunk. When he passes out, she beheads him, steals away back to Bethulia, displays the result of her intrigue, and becomes the town’s heroine.

This book was believed to be written first in Hebrew, but the Septuagint scripture crafted in Koine Greek was accepted by the Catholic Church for its Bible. St. Jerome, a Catholic priest and apologist (c. A.D. 347–420), was said to produce a text of Judith in Latin from a secondary Aramaic text.

As with the books in the Apocrypha, there are anachronisms, most notably the claim that Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the Assyrian Empire from Nineveh. He actually ruled over Babylonia. Plus, Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, had destroyed Nineveh years earlier, making this story’s history suspect. However, many view this account as a variation of the Exodus story, where faith in God and reliance on Him for deliverance from fear and protection from harm and evil is what believers must always do. This book is regarded as an appropriate reflection during the Passover celebration.[1]


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

Hobby Lobby May Close All Stores In 41 States Due To Obamacare Abortion Mandate

RELATED STORY: Obama Brags That Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Will Never Stop In America

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word.

From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest.

Obama’s appetite to shed the blood of helpless, innocent babies is insatiable.

We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage. But now, our government threatens to change all of that.

A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs.

It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy.
Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running.
Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true.

The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult.

The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American and no American business should have to make. The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

Since you will not see this in the liberal media, please pass this on to all your contacts.

Sincerely,
David Green
CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

As published in USA Today by David Green

Source: http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=16202

Santelli Slams Central Bank Policies:

“For a while,” Santelli calmly explains, the fairy-dust commercial planners (Central banks) “at least for a while, made everything seem like it could work.” However, with “no excess margin in the system,” emerging-market-cannonball-driven ripples in the global pool of liquidity are a major problem. Slamming those who argue ‘taper is small’ or ‘Argentina doesn’t matter’; the ever-increasing central-bank-inspired interconnectedness means “the market is realizing in a hurry,” as we have warned numerous times, “these [central bank] programs can’t go on forever,”

Add to this, Santelli notes, that even the central bank architects of the (faux market) buildings (e.g. BoE’s Carney) no longer want to live in these buildings… and problems lie ahead…

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Did Jesus Die for All or for Only the Elect? Two Theologians Debate

For whom did Jesus die? For the sins of the entire humanity or only for the elect? This was the topic of a live debate between Messianic Jewish apologist Dr. Michael L. Brown and Alpha and Omega Ministries Director Dr. James White on RevelationTV.com Friday evening.

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Experts Weigh in on Robert Jeffress’ Remarks That Obama’s Policies ‘Pave the Way’ for Antichrist

Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas continues to garner attention for his view that President Barack Obama’s policies will lead to the rise of the Antichrist.

As Jeffress gathers headlines from media online and offline, a couple biblical scholars have weighed in on the controversial claim.

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Herescope: The PASSION of the PRESENCE (& the Purpose of the Passion) – IHOP

 

Exhibit 1: IHOP’s One Thing Conference 2013*
 I went to a John Wimber workshop…. He said he sees the next 20 to 30 years as the time when more signs and wonders will be done than ever in history and when the secular media will be overwhelmed and have to report it every day as great revival spreads.
– John Piper[1]

Now we come full circle to Francis Chan’s appearance along with the aforementioned Jesus Culture at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) Young Adult Conference 2013 One Thing, which just wrapped up Tuesday, December 31st…. In my opinion IHOP is using Francis Chan’s comments at One Thing as propaganda in order to borrow Chan’s credibility within the wider evangelical community and promote their leader Mike Bickle.  How foolish of Francis Chan to just gush enthusiastically:

“I go, man, there’s a lot of great things going on [at IHOP].
And today was the first time I ever met Mike Bickle.
And, I love that guy. I do.
…there’s people who told me not to hang out with him.
“Like, you know, words like “creepy” came up.
And yet, I get to know this guy and I’m going,
“Man, I love his heart.
And I just want to publicly say I love Mike Bickle.
(0:18-0:50)[2]
The children are the best of all the generations that have ever been upon the face of the earth…. those ELECTED SEEDS that will glorify Christ in the last days… they will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever been in the Bible – They’ll move in it consistently… they themselves will be that generation that’s raised up to put death itself underneath their feet… a church that has reached the full maturity of the god-man!
– Mike Bickle & Bob Jones[3]

IHOP In An Era of Celebrity-Driven Christianity 
Evangelical leaders are currently rushing to associate themselves with major youth events that are becoming increasingly popular in the Christian world. These mass youth rallies were developed over the course of several decades by Mike Bickle’s IHOP (International House of Prayer) movement, which is interconnected to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). IHOP and the NAR share both personnel and doctrine, with roots that go back into the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God cult.[4] Previously we have extensively documented the history of the camaraderie of IHOP and NAR.[5]

This rapidly rising youth movement in evangelicaldom is characterized by its emphasis on generating fervent passion. Why are evangelical leaders rushing onto this bandwagon? Why are Francis Chan, John Piper, Matt Chandler  and other prominent teachers placing themselves on center stage (literally) of these IHOP-orchestrated mass rallies?[6]  Superficially, one might assume that it is merely for the immediate stardom and pizzazz that comes with such celebrity status in a youth event rocking with fervor, bright lighting, and loud acclamations.[7] What an ego trip! But is it conceivable that these leaders also happen to agree with some of the IHOP doctrine? After all, it is impossible to separate the activities at these youth events without encountering the foundational beliefs that give rise to them.

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Exhibit 2: Francis Chan with Mike Bickle at One Thing 2013

What Does The Bible Say? Part 2, Our Security In Christ

See What Does The Bible Say? part 1 here

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

In this series we’re taking a look at the most important issues relating to our relationship with our Creator.  In each case we begin from the perspective that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and as such cannot be self-contradictory.  So if we think we see a contradiction, the problem is with our understanding, not God’s Word.  Our topic in this study is the durability of our salvation.  What does the Bible say about our security in Christ?  Is it conditional based on our post salvation behavior, or is it guaranteed from the beginning.  And could we give it back even if we wanted to?

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Debate: Has the gift of healing ceased for today? James White vs Michael Brown

The Domain for Truth

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Reformed apologist James White of Alpha Omega Ministries has debated apologist Michael Brown yesterday on the topic “Has the gift of healing ceased for today?”  The debate took place in Spain on Revelation TV.

Revelation TV has not allowed the option of embedding the videos so here are the links in two parts to this debate:

Part 1

Part 2

(HT)

 

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Silence at Last (Romans 3:19)

Romans 3:19

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

Now the apostle Paul comes to the end of the first main section of his letter, concluding that every human being is (1) accountable to God for what he or she has done; (2) guilty of having done countless wrong things; and (3) will never be justified by God on the basis of any supposed good works. His exact words in Romans 3:19–20 are: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

These two verses are very important, because to understand them is to understand the first great foundational truths of Christianity.

A Diagnostic Question

I want to study these verses in two separate messages, however, and one of my reasons for dividing them is that verse 19 has played an important part in the conversion of many, many people.

From 1927 to 1960 the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia (the church I now pastor), was Donald Grey Barnhouse, a gifted Bible teacher whom God used wonderfully in preaching and conference ministries throughout this country and around the world. He dealt with many people’s problems in his ministry, and early on he developed what he came to call a series of diagnostic questions to help him analyze where those he was trying to help were coming from spiritually. First, he tried to determine whether or not the individual involved was a Christian. “Are you born again?” he would ask. If the person gave a clear-cut testimony to his or her faith in Christ, Barnhouse would then go on to deal with the specific problem that had been raised. If not, he would proceed as follows:

“Perhaps I can help clarify your thinking with a question. You know that there are a great many accidents today. Suppose that you and I should go out of this building and a swerving automobile should come up on the sidewalk and kill the two of us. In the next moment we would be what men call ‘dead.’ We brush aside that absurd folly that we are going to meet St. Peter at the gate of heaven. (That exists only in jokes about two Irishmen.) We are going to meet God. Now suppose that in that moment of ultimate reckoning God should say to you, ‘What right—note my emphasis on the word right—what right do you have to come into my heaven?’ What would be your answer?”

Barnhouse found, as he used this approach again and again in counseling situations, that only three possible answers can be given to it. That is, all the many varieties of answers ultimately boil down to just three. One of them involves the text I am considering, which is why I tell this story.

“Justified by Good Works”

The first answer people give to the question is a common one. It is that they have done certain good things and therefore want to be accepted by God on the basis of these achievements. Some people have a very high opinion of themselves, of course. They think they have been models of righteous conduct—that they have never done anything bad, only what is good. In fact, they believe they have done a great deal of good! Others know that they have not been consistently good, but they still want God to take note of what good works they have done and accept them into heaven on that basis. Some have kept the Golden Rule, they say—or tried to keep it. Others have tried to help their neighbors, and so on.

If a person replied to Barnhouse’s question with any of those claims, he took them to Galatians 2:16b, which says that we “… put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” Barnhouse showed that no one can satisfy God’s perfect standards by tainted human righteousness.

Then he frequently told the following story. Early in his ministry he knew a man who lived near Tenth Presbyterian Church to whom he would often speak about the gospel. This man usually replied to the preacher’s message by laughing patronizingly. He wasn’t the kind of person who needed the church or any kind of religion, he would say. He belonged to a lodge, the chief function of which was to do good works. He was active in that lodge and lived up to its high moral principles. If he ever met God, he felt he would be all right on the basis of his lodge associations.

Years went by, during which the man resisted all attempts by Barnhouse to explain the gospel to him.

One day word came that the man was quite ill. He had been stricken with a fatal disease and was not expected to live out the day. Barnhouse went to see him. A member of his lodge was present on what is called “the deathwatch,” since no member of the lodge was supposed to be allowed to die alone. This lodge member was seated across the room from the bed on which the other was dying. He was reading a newspaper. As Barnhouse entered, the replacement for this man also entered the room, and the shift was changed. The first man got up and left; the second took his place.

Barnhouse realized that the situation was desperate and decided on a bold course of action. He sat down by the bed and spoke along these lines: “You don’t mind my staying here for a few minutes and watching you, do you? I have often wondered what it would be like for a person to die without Jesus Christ. I have known you for quite a few years, and you have always said that you do not need Christ and that your lodge obligations are enough. I would like to observe a person end his life with those beliefs and see what it is like.”

The man on the bed was struck through the heart. He looked at Barnhouse like a wounded animal. “You … wouldn’t … mock … a dying man … would you?” he said.

Barnhouse then asked his diagnostic question. “You are going to appear before God in a very short while. Suppose he asks you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ What will you say?”

This time the man looked back in agonized silence, and great tears flowed from his frightened eyes and down his pale, wrinkled cheeks. Then, while he listened attentively, Barnhouse told him how he might approach God through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. The man replied that his mother had taught him those truths as a child but that he had abandoned them. He had lived without faith. But now, in his final moments on earth, he came back to God through Jesus Christ, confessed his faith in Christ and then had someone call his family members so he might give his newfound testimony to them. He asked Barnhouse to tell his story at his funeral, which took place a few days later.

You must clearly understand this. No one is going to be justified before the bar of God’s justice on the basis of his or her good works, however great they may be. Your record will not save you. It is your record that has gotten you into trouble in the first place. Your record will condemn you. The only way anyone will ever be saved is by faith in Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty of our misdeeds for us and, in place of our misdeeds, offers us the gift of his own great righteousness.

“Not a Thing to Say”

The second answer that can be given to Barnhouse’s question involves our text in Romans, but it, too, is connected with a story. One summer Barnhouse was crossing the Atlantic by ship, and about the second or third day out, which was a Sunday, he preached for the passengers. This led to several fruitful conversations, one with a young woman who was a professor of languages at one of the eastern colleges. In the course of their conversation Barnhouse asked his question: “If this ship should suddenly suffer some great catastrophe and sink to the bottom of the sea and we died, and if, when you appeared before God, he should ask you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ what would you say?”

The woman answered, “Why, I wouldn’t have a thing to say.”

Barnhouse replied, “You are quoting Romans 3:19.” She didn’t know what he meant, so he opened his Bible and showed the verse to her: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” He explained that she had said it in American idiom: “I wouldn’t have a thing to say.” God had said, “Every mouth [will] be silenced.” But it is the same thing. At God’s judgment no one will be able to offer any good works as grounds for his or her justification or proffer any valid excuses for bad conduct. All mouths will be made mute, and everyone will know that he or she is guilty and deserves God’s just condemnation.

The reason, of course, is that this is God’s judgment. The person we must appear before is God. We do not have the same experiences when we appear before mere men or answer before a mere earthly tribunal.

Here we have trials by our peers. But our peers are like us. They are also sinful. Frequently juries excuse bad behavior.

Not even judges are always entirely upright in their decisions. In some cases they can be bribed. Or they simply make mistakes.

Moreover, human law is inexact and imperfect. It has loopholes. We can plead extenuating circumstances. And even if we lose our case, we can generally appeal to a higher court and to a court beyond that. If we finally exhaust our legal options and perhaps are sent to prison, we can still carry on our efforts at self-vindication. We can write letters. We can write a book. We can argue. We can refuse to be silenced.

Ah, but before God every mouth will be silenced! Then we will all know that we are not righteous and that there is not a word that can be spoken in our defense.

As evidence for this statement I bring forward the experience of the saints. Surely, if anyone could stand before God and be able to speak in his or her own defense, it would be an upright biblical character. But this is not what we find such people doing. Whenever a biblical “hero” has a glimpse of God’s glory, the result is not a loosing of the tongue but a feeling of utter worthlessness before God—and of silence.

Job is an example. Job wanted answers to an important question: Why do the righteous suffer? His friends had no satisfactory answers, although Job discussed the options with them at length. But when at last God spoke, revealing himself to Job and asking a series of probing questions that go on and on in the book that bears Job’s name (chapters 38–41), Job was overcome with confusion and answered:

“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?

I put my hand over my mouth.

I spoke once, but I have no answer—

twice, but I will say no more.”

Job 40:4–5

Job was silenced.

Isaiah had the same experience. When God revealed himself to Isaiah in the great vision recorded in chapter 6 of his prophecy, Isaiah replied, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (v. 5). How interesting that Isaiah’s response focused on his lips and the lips of his people! He recognized that anything he might say was unworthy, unclean, sinful. He was silenced. He said no more. It was only after God sent a seraph with a coal from the altar to purge his lips that Isaiah was freed to speak again and obey the command to take God’s message to God’s people.

When Habakkuk had a revelation of God, he testified:

I heard and my heart pounded,

my lips quivered at the sound;

Decay crept into my bones,

and my legs trembled.

Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk’s lips trembled, but no sound came out.

Even John, the beloved disciple of the Lord, when he saw the risen Christ in that awesome vision recorded in the first chapter of Revelation, had no words for him. Instead, he fell at Christ’s feet “as though dead” and did not move until Jesus placed his hand upon him and performed something like a physical resurrection (Rev. 1:17).

In his treatment of our text Barnhouse suggests that if there will be any words spoken before the bar of God by those who have rejected the grace of God in this life and are being sent to outer darkness forever, it will be—not excuses—but a resentful acknowledgment of the truth of God and the justice of their own condemnation.

They will cry, “It was all true, God. I was wrong. I knew I was wrong when I made my excuses. But I hated and still hate the principle of righteousness by the blood of Christ. I must admit that those despised Christians were right who bowed before you and acknowledged their dependence on you. I hated their songs of faith then, and I hate them now. They were right, and I hated them because they were right and because they belonged to you. I wanted my own way. I still want my own way. I want heaven, but I want heaven without you. I want heaven with myself on the throne. That is what I want, and I do not want anything else and never, never will want anything other than heaven with myself on the throne. I want my own way. And now I am going to the place of desire without fulfillment, of lust without satisfaction, or wanting without having, of wishing but never getting, of looking but never seeing, and I hate, I hate, I hate, because I want my own way. I hate you for not letting me have my way. I hate, I hate.… ”

Their voices will drift off into outer nothingness, and there will be silence at last.

The Only Saving Answer

It is clear from what I have been saying that the only saving answer to the question being posed—“What right do you have to come into God’s heaven?”—focuses not on the works of the sinner, but on the achievements of Jesus Christ. If we are to be saved, it will not be on the basis of anything we have ever done or can do, but solely on the basis of what he has done for us. Christ died for us. He suffered in our place. He bore the punishment of our sins. All who come to God on that basis and with that answer will be saved. No others will be. Only those who come to God trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ will enter heaven.

Some years ago there was an Arthur Murray dance instructor who had been out late on a Saturday evening. In the wee hours of the morning he staggered back to his hotel room, fell into bed, and went to sleep. The next morning he was suddenly jolted awake by his clock radio. A man was speaking, and he was asking this question: “If in the next few moments some great disaster should happen and you should be killed and if you should find yourself before God and he should ask you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ what would you say?”

The dance instructor was amazed and confounded by this question. He had never heard a question like that before. He realized that he did not have an answer. He had not a single thing to say. His mouth, filled with empty words just hours before, was suddenly stopped. He sat silently on the edge of his bed while Barnhouse—he was the preacher on that radio program—explained the answer to him.

That dance instructor was D. James Kennedy, now pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of the popular witnessing and evangelism program known as “Evangelism Explosion.” Kennedy believed on Jesus Christ that day in his hotel room, and the question that had been used to save him became the chief tool in his evangelism strategy. Since that day many thousands of people have come to Christ through his program.

What is Your Answer?

I end by asking that same question of you. Someday you will die. You will face God, and he will say to you, “What right do you have to come into my heaven?” What will your response be?

Perhaps you will say, “Well, here is my record. I know that I have done some bad things, but I have done a lot of good things, too. I want you to look at these and see if they are not enough for me to have deserved heaven. Add it up. All I want from you is justice.” If you say that, justice is exactly what you will get. You will be judged for your sin and be condemned. Your good works, however fine they may seem in your sight or even in the sight of other people, will not save you. For, as we have seen, God has said:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands,

no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the law of good works, for it is by the law that “we become conscious of sin” (Rom. 3:20).

Perhaps you will not plead your good works, but instead will stand before God silenced. This is better. At least you will have recognized that your goodness is not adequate before God. You will know you are a sinner. But it is still a most pitiful position to be in: silent before the one great Judge of the universe, with no possibility of making a defense, no possibility of urging extenuating circumstances, no hope of escaping condemnation.

So what will you say? I trust you will be able to answer—I hope this study had helped you to the point of being able to answer, if you have not come to it already—“My right to heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for me. He took the punishment for my sin. He is my right to heaven, because he has become my righteousness.”[1]


[1] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: Justification by Faith (Vol. 1, pp. 321–327). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Theology: GOD IS JUST

 

To put it in the vernacular, “Your gonna get yer just desserts.” To put it in the vernacular in the reverse, “He’s gonna get his just desserts.”

Strong tells us, “By justice and righteousness we mean the transitive holiness of God, in virtue of which His treatment of His creatures conforms to the purity of His nature, righteousness demanding from all moral beings conformity to the moral perfection of God, and Justice visiting non-conformity to that perfection with penal loss and suffering.” (Strong’s Systematic Theology)

Cambron states, “Justice is judicial holiness — that judicial act of god which demands the penalty for those who have not measured up to the righteous commands of God.” (Cambron, Mark G. D.D.; “BIBLE DOCTRINES”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954, p 50)

God’s justice is activated by His righteousness. All non-conformity to His perfection will be met with personal loss and/or suffering. When God acts in a just manner, He is not rewarded for doing right. He has acted within and in keeping with His own character and nature. He by nature is just and can do no other than justly.

God’s justice is seen in the following texts: Zephaniah 3:5,

“The just Lord is in the midst of her; he will not do iniquity; every morning doth he bring his justice to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.”

Deuteronomy 32:4,

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

God’s justice is just in a perfect manner. He cannot be unjust. He will meet out justice to the saved and lost alike. To the lost there is final judgment by works, yet no matter how good the works, the lost person will still be in eternal torment. Good works are as filthy rags. How does this judging by works, yet eternally tormented, work? We don’t know because the Scripture is silent on the subject. Some feel that there will be levels of torment, however there are no proof texts for this thought. It is only a logical deduction from the facts that we have.

To the saved there is final judgment of our works, yet no matter how good the works the saved person will feel them insignificant in light of seeing the Lord. The result of good works for the believer is reward. We might add also, that no matter how poor the good works, the eternal salvation is not affected — only the reward of the individual.

APPLICATION

1. Since God is all knowing and He knows how people treat us — since He is completely just and will see to it that just desserts are set — then why do we spend so much time wondering, worrying and fretting over how so and so feels about us? Or what so and so said about us? God is the great settler of scores. He will settle ALL accounts.

Now, we all know what I have been saying, but the hard part is committing these types of things to Him for His final work. We tend to try to hang onto those things and find little ways of getting back — in a nice way of course. Leave It Up To God And You Will Find More Peace.

2. On the reverse of what we have just mentioned. If you see an account that is long overdue for settling, don’t argue with God, don’t fret with God and don’t question God in his not dealing with the person. God knows what is best in every situation and may desire to allow something to go on longer than you think He should. He Is The Settler Of All Accounts, As Well As The Settler Of All Accounts, When He Is Ready To Settle Them.

3. I can relax in my own confidence that if I have truly sought God’s will and have truly attempted to the best of my knowledge to do right, that God will be the one that will show me up to be right or wrong.

There is nothing that any person can say that should shake me or cause me concern. When we all gather round, He will be the one that sets all records straight.

This is probably one of the great lessons of the book of Job. He was faced with several very intelligent, spiritual men who knew what his problem was. They felt free to tell him as well. Indeed, you will have those that will tell you in what area you have erred. God will set them straight when the time comes.

Job in the end was justified and all knew that he had done nothing wrong to deserve such troubles. There may be times when people become very vicious in their attacks upon you — relax and know that you have done correctly and that God will do correctly at His appointed time.

A pastor in California told me of a man in his church that was very opposed to the pastor. He thought the pastor was wrong and that God wanted the pastor to leave. The man worked in the church as hard as he could to move the congregation to ask for the pastor’s resignation. He finally was satisfied when the pastor, in total frustration over the unresponsiveness of the congregation, resigned. I arrived at the church the night of the pastor’s going away party. The man in question unloaded his burden on me and admitted that he had been wrong. He had, since the pastor’s resignation, tried to convince the congregation that they really did need the pastor. It was too late and the damage was done. The pastor left.

The point? That pastor does not need to worry and relive that man’s wrong. That pastor needs only to allow the Lord to settle the accounts. Indeed, the man had already settled with the Lord through confession and forgiveness, though he may suffer loss of reward for that period of his life.

4. In looking through these many attributes of the Lord, I have been time and time again impressed with the idea that all His attributes function so smoothly together. For example his holiness meshes well with His justice to bring about the punishment of those that sin.

Tozer makes a point that is very important and it is in relation to this line of thinking. “God’s being is unitary; it is not composed of a number of parts working harmoniously, but simply one.” (Tozer, A.W.; “The Knowledge Of The Holy”; Lincoln, NE: Back to the Bible, 1961, p 94) His attributes are not a list of characteristics that work harmoniously together but His very nature is the sum and substance of all these attributes.

His attributes are not separable, but are a unit.[1]


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

Biblical Thematic Outline: Dangers of riches

Synopsis

Material wealth can be a source of both physical and spiritual danger, against which believers are clearly warned to be on their guard.

Article I.           Riches are spiritually dangerous

Section 1.01 Love of riches a root of many evils

(a)     1 Ti 6:10

(b)    1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV) — 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

(c)     See also Jos 7:11 ; Jos 7:20–21 ; 1 Ti 3:3

(d)    Joshua 7:11 (ESV) — 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings.

(e)     Joshua 7:20–21 (ESV) — 20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

(f)      1 Timothy 3:3 (ESV) — 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

Section 1.02 They may lead to divided loyalty

(a)     Mt 6:24

(b)    Matthew 6:24 (ESV) — 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

(c)     See also Mt 4:9–10 ; Jas 4:4

(d)    Matthew 4:9–10 (ESV) — 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”

(e)     James 4:4 (ESV) — 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Section 1.03 They may hinder people’s response to the gospel

(a)     Mt 13:22; Mt 19:21–22

(b)    Matthew 13:22 (ESV) — 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

(c)     Matthew 19:21–22 (ESV) — 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Section 1.04 They may create false security

(a)     1 Ti 6:17

(b)    1 Timothy 6:17 (ESV) — 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

(c)     See also Job 31:24–28 ; Ps 52:6–7 ; Pr 11:28 ; Je 49:4

(d)    Job 31:24–28 (ESV) — 24 “If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence, 25 if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant or because my hand had found much, 26 if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, 27 and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, 28 this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above.

(e)     Psalm 52:6–7 (ESV) — 6 The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, 7 “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

(f)      Proverbs 11:28 (ESV) — 28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

(g)     Jeremiah 49:4 (ESV) — 4 Why do you boast of your valleys, O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’

Section 1.05 They may make people proud

(a)     Eze 28:5

(b)    Ezekiel 28:5 (ESV) — 5 by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth—

(c)     See also Ps 62:10 ; Pr 18:23 ; Pr 28:11 ; Ho 12:8

(d)    Psalm 62:10 (ESV) — 10 Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

(e)     Proverbs 18:23 (ESV) — 23 The poor use entreaties, but the rich answer roughly.

(f)      Proverbs 28:11 (ESV) — 11 A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.

(g)     Hosea 12:8 (ESV) — 8 Ephraim has said, “Ah, but I am rich; I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”

Section 1.06 They may cause unbelief and anxiety

(a)     Ec 5:12

(b)    Ecclesiastes 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

(c)     See also Job 20:17–20 ; Pr 15:6

(d)    Job 20:17–20 (ESV) — 17 He will not look upon the rivers, the streams flowing with honey and curds. 18 He will give back the fruit of his toil and will not swallow it down; from the profit of his trading he will get no enjoyment. 19 For he has crushed and abandoned the poor; he has seized a house that he did not build. 20 “Because he knew no contentment in his belly, he will not let anything in which he delights escape him.

(e)     Proverbs 15:6 (ESV) — 6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.

Section 1.07 They may lead people to forget God

(a)     Pr 30:8–9

(b)    Proverbs 30:8–9 (ESV) — 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

(c)     See also Dt 8:10–14 ; Dt 32:15 ; Ne 9:25–26 ; Ho 13:6

(d)    Deuteronomy 8:10–14 (ESV) — 10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,

(e)     Deuteronomy 32:15 (ESV) — 15 “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.

(f)      Nehemiah 9:25–26 (ESV) — 25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. 26 “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.

(g)     Hosea 13:6 (ESV) — 6 but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.

Article II.        Riches are physically dangerous

Section 2.01 Working for them may cause excessive tiredness

(a)     Pr 23:4

(b)    Proverbs 23:4 (ESV) — 4 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.

(c)     See also Jn 6:26–27

(d)    John 6:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Section 2.02 Enjoying them may lead to self-indulgence

(a)     Jas 5:5

(b)    James 5:5 (ESV) — 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

(c)     See also Hag 1:3–5 ; Mt 23:25 ; Lk 16:19–21 ; 1 Ti 6:8–9

(d)    Haggai 1:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.

(e)     Matthew 23:25 (ESV) — 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

(f)      Luke 16:19–21 (ESV) — 19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

(g)     1 Timothy 6:8–9 (ESV) — 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Section 2.03 Misusing them may foster oppression and injustice

(a)     Le 19:13

(b)    Leviticus 19:13 (ESV) — 13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.

(c)     See also Dt 24:12–15 ; Pr 22:16 ; Is 1:23 ; Je 22:13 ; Mic 6:12 ; Mal 3:5 ; Jas 2:6 ; Jas 5:4

(d)    Deuteronomy 24:12–15 (ESV) — 12 And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. 13 You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the Lord your God. 14 “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.

(e)     Proverbs 22:16 (ESV) — 16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

(f)      Isaiah 1:23 (ESV) — 23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them.

(g)     Jeremiah 22:13 (ESV) — 13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages,

(h)    Micah 6:12 (ESV) — 12 Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

(i)      Malachi 3:5 (ESV) — 5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

(j)      James 2:6 (ESV) — 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?

(k)    James 5:4 (ESV) — 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

 

What Is Temptation?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 ESV)

38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 ESV)

45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:45-46 ESV)

Temptation: Temptation is any thing, state, way or condition that, upon any account whatsoever, has a force or power to seduce, to draw the mind and heart of a man or woman from his or her obedience, which God requires of them, into any sin, in any degree of it whatsoever.

As Jesus agonized in Gethsemane in the hours prior…

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