Daily Archives: August 20, 2014

Questions about Humanity: What Does Paul Mean When He Writes of the Natural Man?

 

In 1 Corinthians 2:6–16, the natural man is compared to the spiritual man and the carnal man. Verse 14 says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (NASB). This verse does not define the natural man, as such; rather, it uses the term to describe one who does not understand God’s words and thoughts. The one who can understand God’s words is a “spiritual” man (verse 15).

Dr. Henry Morris, in the New Defender’s Study Bible, gives this comment on verse 14: “The ‘natural’ man, still unsaved, cannot appreciate spiritual truths. He must first understand Christ’s atoning sacrifice for him, but even that is ‘foolishness’ to him (1:18) until the Holy Spirit Himself convicts him of its reality (John 16:7–11).” Basically, the “natural” man is one who does not have the Holy Spirit residing within him. As Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6).

Let’s look at some other uses in the Bible of the word natural. In Romans 11:21 we read, “For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.” In 1 Corinthians 15:44–46, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, then there is also a spiritual body.… However the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.” Ezekiel 44:31 speaks of a natural death. Daniel 10:8 speaks of a natural color. James 1:23 speaks of a natural face, and James 3:15 states, “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.”

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul uses the word natural to refer to someone still in his original (sinful) state. The Greek word psuchikos (“natural”) can be defined as “animal,” as opposed to “spiritual.” Natural men are those who are occupied with the things of this material world to the exclusion of the things of God. They are led by instinct rather than by the Spirit of God. They intuitively choose sin over righteousness. They are the “pagans” Jesus refers to in Matthew 6:32 who only seek after the things of this world.

The supernatural work of God is to change the natural man into a spiritual one. When a person trusts Christ, God exchanges what is natural (received from Adam) for what is spiritual (received from Christ). “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). The Christian life is, therefore, a supernatural one. We do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).[1]

 

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

Questions about Prayer: Does God Answer Prayers?

 

The short answer to this question is, “Yes!” God has promised that, when we ask for things that are in accordance with His will for our lives, He will give us what we ask for (1 John 5:14–15). However, there is one caveat to add to this: we may not always like the answer.

We pray for a lot of things—some good, some bad, some really pointless. But God listens to all of our prayers, regardless of what we ask (Matthew 7:7). He does not ignore His children (Luke 18:1–8). When we talk to Him, He has promised to listen and respond (Matthew 6:6; Romans 8:26–27). His answer may be some variation of “yes” or “no” or “wait, not now.”

Keep in mind that prayer is not our way of getting God to do what we want. Our prayers should be focused on things that honor and glorify God and reflect what the Bible clearly reveals God’s will to be (Luke 11:2). If we pray for something that dishonors God or is not His will for us, He is unlikely to give what we ask for. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own, and we must trust that His answers to our prayers are the best possible solutions.

Does God answer prayers?—When God says “yes.”

In the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, Hannah prays and asks God to give her a baby. She had been unable to conceive which, in biblical times, was considered a mark of shame for a woman. Hannah prayed fervently—so fervently that a priest who saw her praying thought she was drunk. But God heard Hannah, and He allowed her to give birth to a child.

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:3). If you have prayed specifically for something and God has granted it to you, then you can be assured that it is His will. Nothing happens without God allowing it to happen (Romans 8:28).

Does God answer prayers?—When God says “no.”

In John 11, Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal their dying brother, yet Jesus allowed Lazarus to die. Why did He say “no” to these grieving women who loved Him so much? Because He had greater things planned for Lazarus, things that no one could possibly have imagined.

“No” is one of the hardest answers we can receive. But, once again, it is important to remember that God is all-knowing and is aware of the entire timeline of history. He knows every possible outcome of every possible choice in every possible situation; we do not. He sees the “big picture”; we see a partial brushstroke. Proverbs 3:5 says to “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” When we get a “no” answer, we must trust that whatever we asked for was not God’s will.

Does God answer prayers?—When God says “wait, not now.”

Sometimes hearing “wait” is even harder than hearing “no” because it means we have to be patient (Romans 8:25). While waiting is difficult, we can be thankful God is in control and trust that His timing will be perfect (Romans 12:12; Psalm 37:7–9).

God wants the best for your life. He does not want you to suffer needlessly. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Be patient and know that He is your loving Father (Psalm 46:10).

Abide by Philippians 4:6 as you make your requests to God: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Then, when God responds, be prepared to accept His wisdom—whether or not you agree with His answer.[1]

 

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

Questions about Marriage: Why Should I Get Married?

 

Our culture is losing the understanding of what marriage was designed to be. We live in a world that says we should get what we want any way we can get it. Marriage is often seen as confinement that may hamper our ability to have what we want when we want it. Every marriage gag involving a ball and chain furthers that attitude. Marriage today is often mocked as an archaic institution that has lost its relevance.

So what is marriage? Has it become outdated? It is important to realize first of all that marriage is not a man-made concept. When God created the first man in His own image (Genesis 2:7), He gave that man everything he needed to be content. Yet, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). So God created a woman from Adam’s side and brought her to the man. The first marriage occurred when God created a woman to complement the needs of the man so that, when joined in covenant, they become one flesh. The idea of “one flesh” implies an unbreakable seal meant to last a lifetime. When Jesus was asked about divorce, He answered, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh … So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:5–6). Notice that it is God who joins a man and woman in marriage. In Malachi 2:14, God reminds us that He was “a witness between you and the wife of your youth.” God takes marriage very seriously.

Marriage was the first institution God created. It preceded the establishment of either church or government. Marriage was the first social institution. Human beings are designed to function best when they are connected in healthy ways to others, and God’s plan for marriage is to establish strong families. The Bible contains much instruction for family members in how they should treat each other so that those emotional needs are met (Ephesians 5:21–33; 6:1–4; Colossians 3:18–21; 1 Corinthians 7:2–5, 10–16). God designed marriage as one man and one woman for a lifetime, and any deviation from that plan is a distortion of His intent (Matthew 19:8; Romans 1:26–27).

First Corinthians 7:1–2 gives us the best reason for marrying: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.” God designed sex to be enjoyed only within the boundaries of marriage. Any sexual activity outside those boundaries is sin (Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5). If a person has a strong sex drive, it is usually a good idea to marry in order to minimize lust and avoid immorality (James 1:13–15). Engaging in sexual activity with someone other than one’s own spouse is sin and leads to heartache and disaster (Proverbs 6:26–29; 1 Corinthians 6:18).

However, there is no command in Scripture that everyone must be married. In fact, the apostle Paul favored singleness as a way to devote more time to serving God (1 Corinthians 7:7–9, 32–35). There are some who do not feel the need to be married, and there is nothing wrong with that. Single people can have fulfilling lives and find emotional support through friends, family, and ministry opportunities. However, our society has begun to equate singleness with sexual immorality, and that is very wrong. Paul’s promotion of singleness was so that a person could devote his or her full attention to the things of Christ. Singleness should never be used as an excuse to live in sexual sin. But if a single person can control his or her passions and live a morally pure life, there is no need to feel pressured to marry (1 Corinthians 7:37).[1]

 

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

To Brighten Your Day: Lutheran Theology and Eternal Torment

Zwinglius Redivivus

With the judgment a complete and eternal separation takes place between the ungodly and the godly. The former are delivered over to eternal damnation, a condition which in Scripture is also called eternal death (“eternal death, eternal damnation, is a condition most miserable through the aggregation of multitudinous evils, and to last forever.” HOLL., (978).) [1] The Holy Scriptures say of them that they are in hell (ᾅδης, שְׁאֹל, a place of torment, [2] in which they suffer, according to the degree of their ungodliness, [3] in bodily and spiritual pains, [4] for their sins, eternally.*

On these four points, Schmid assembles the following citations from the leading Lutheran Theologians-

[1] HOLLAZIUS. (979): “Death eternal is the separation of the unbelieving soul from the beatific sight of God and eternal enjoyment.” QUEN. (I, 565): “Death eternal or damnation is that most unhappy state in which, from the just judgment of…

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GAZA WAR UPDATE, Day #44: Hamas breaks 11th ceasefire. Massive barrage of rockets fired at Israel. IDF prepares for new ground offensive. I’ve joined Sen. Rick Santorum’s Solidarity Delegation in Israel

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Standing with Sen. Rick Santorum near the border of Gaza on Tuesday. Standing with Sen. Rick Santorum near the border of Gaza on Tuesday. With the Santorum delegation at the Western Wall on Monday. With the Santorum delegation at the Western Wall on Monday. Meeting with Amb. Dore Gold, senior advisor to the PM, and giving him a copy of "The Auschwitz Escape." Meeting with Amb. Dore Gold, senior advisor to the PM, and giving him a copy of “The Auschwitz Escape.”

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Greetings from Israel. Thank you so much for your prayers and notes of encouragement. Please keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Israel. Please mobilize family and friends to pray more. Events are moving rapidly here.

  • On Tuesday, Hamas broke another ceasefire agreement.
  • This is the 11th time Hamas and its terrorist allies have done so.
  • They began firing rockets in the late afternoon here.
  • On Tuesday evening, Hamas launched a massive barrage of rockets at southern and central Israel, including Jerusalem, more than 50 rockets in less than two hours.
  • In response, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered devastating new airstrikes at Hamas targets in Gaza.
  • The…

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Fight the good fight of the faith

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 ESV)

What is the good fight of faith and why is it necessary? The main problem is the condition of what is called The Church in our time. It is decidedly lacking in spiritual maturity and, of course, much of it is not genuine. Christian spiritual maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity. On the other hand, since this is lacking big time in the visible Church, what we have in that part that claims to be “evangelical,” is man-centered, manipulative, success-oriented, self-indulgent, and sentimental. It is 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep. It is lead by many false, manipulative men who are pushing false gospels…

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