Daily Archives: September 24, 2014

Counseling Related Questions: What Does the Bible Say about Coping/Dealing with a Terminal Illness?

 

It certainly can be difficult to accept some of the sorrowful twists and turns that life brings our way. And there are few things that can stir the human soul more than the news of a terminal illness diagnosis. First of all, know that Jesus cares. Our Savior wept when His beloved friend Lazarus died (John 11:35), and His heart was touched by the sorrow of Jairus’ family (Luke 8:41–42).

Jesus not only cares; He is at hand to help His children. Our God is an “ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The Holy Spirit, the Comforter of our hearts, dwells with us, and He will never leave (John 14:16).

Jesus told us in this world we would have troubles (John 16:33), and absolutely no one is spared (Romans 5:12). Yet coping with any degree of suffering becomes easier when we understand God’s overall design to redeem our fallen world. We may not be guaranteed physical health in this life, but those who trust in God are promised spiritual security for all eternity (John 10:27–28). Nothing can touch the soul.

It is good to remember that not everything bad that happens to us is a direct result of our sin. Having a terminal illness is not proof of God’s judgment on an individual. Recall the time Jesus and His disciples came upon a man who had been blind since birth. They asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responded, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:2–3, emphasis added). Likewise, Job’s three friends were certain that his calamity resulted from sin in his life. Like Christ’s disciples, they were very wrong.

We may never understand the reasons for our particular trials this side of eternity, but one thing is clear—for those who love God, trials work for them, not against them (Romans 8:28). Moreover, God will give the strength to endure any trial (Philippians 4:13).

Our earthly life is a “mist” at best, and that’s why God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God’s plan for His children includes their death, which is “precious in the sight of the LORD” (Psalm 116:15).

Ultimately, God’s will for us is to glorify Him and to grow spiritually. He wants us to trust and depend on Him. How we react to our trials, including the trial of terminal illness, reveals exactly what our faith is like. Scripture teaches us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). In fact, “dying to self” is a requirement for those who seek to follow Jesus Christ (Luke 14:27). This means we completely subordinate our desires to those of our Lord. Like Christ at Gethsemane, “my” will needs to become “Thy” will.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to consider the suffering our Savior endured so that we ourselves do not grow weary and lose heart in our own trials. It was “for the joy set before Him” that Christ was able to endure the suffering of the cross. This “joy,” for Christ, was in obeying His Father’s will (Psalm 40:8), reconciling His Father with His creation, and being exalted to the right hand of the throne of God. Likewise, our own trials can be made more bearable when we consider the “joy” set before us. Our joy may come in understanding it is through testing that God transforms us into the likeness of His Son (Job 23:10; Romans 8:29). What we see as pain and discomfort and uncertainty our sovereign Father—who ordains or allows every event during our time on earth—sees as transformation. Our suffering is never meaningless. God uses suffering to change us, to minister to others, and, ultimately, to bring glory to His name.

Paul reminds us that our earthly troubles, which last only a short time, pale in comparison to our eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17–18). Commenting on these verses, one theologian stated, “God will never be a debtor to anyone. Any sacrifice we make or hardship we endure for His sake and by His Spirit, He will amply reward out of all proportion to what we suffered.”

If you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, we would humbly offer this advice: make sure that you are a true child of God, having trusted Jesus as your Savior (Romans 10:9–10). Then, as Hezekiah was told, “put your house in order” (Isaiah 38:1); that is, make sure your will is ready and other important arrangements have been made. Use the remaining time God gives you to grow spiritually and minister to others. Continue to rely on the power of God for day-to-day strength, and, as the Lord gives grace, thank Him for your “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10). Finally, take comfort in Jesus’ promise of eternal life and peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).[1]

 

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

Bible Commentary: What Should We Learn from the Account of Daniel in the Lion’s Den?

 

The story of Daniel in the lions’ den, recorded in Daniel 6, is one of the most beloved in all Scripture. Briefly, the story involves Daniel, a prophet of the true and living God, who defies King Darius’s decree that the people should pray only to the king for 30 days. Daniel, an otherwise law-abiding man, continues to pray to Jehovah as he has always done. Evil men, who instigated the decree in the first place in order to entrap Daniel, of whom they were jealous because of his good reputation, report him to Darius, who is forced to put Daniel into a den of lions where he would be torn to pieces. Darius, who is greatly distressed about having to punish him, says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you” (Daniel 6:16). God does indeed rescue Daniel, sending His angel to shut the mouths of the lions so they do not harm him. Daniel is removed from the lions’ den the next day, much to the relief of the king.

One of the chief lessons we learn from this narrative is gleaned from the confession of King Darius himself: “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end” (Daniel 6:26). For only by faith in such a God could any man have “shut the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33). As with Daniel, the faithful Christian must understand that God is sovereign and omnipotent and His will permeates and supersedes every aspect of life. It is God’s will that takes precedence over everything and everyone. The psalmist tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). If God’s ways are “perfect,” then we can trust that whatever He does—and whatever He allows—is also perfect. This may not seem possible to us, but our minds are not God’s mind. It is true that we can’t expect to understand His mind perfectly, as He reminds us in Isaiah 55:8–9. Nevertheless, our responsibility to God is to obey Him, to trust Him, and to submit to His will and believe that whatever He ordains will be for our benefit and His glory (Romans 8:28). In Daniel’s case, “no wound was found on him, because he had trusted his God” (Daniel 6:23). Joseph, too, understood that sometimes evil men plan things for evil, but God means them for good (Genesis 50:20).

There is more to learn from this remarkable story that makes it relevant to our postmodern culture. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:13–20 to “submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him” (1 Peter 2:13–14). Daniel not only followed this principle, he exceeded it by distinguishing himself as one with “exceptional qualities” (Daniel 6:2–3). Taking this lesson further, we read that submission to our political authorities “is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk as foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15). Daniel’s faithfulness, his outstanding work ethic, and integrity made it next to impossible for his adversaries to find “grounds for charges against him” (Daniel 6:4). Instead, they found that “he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” The world now, as it did then, judges us not by our faith but by our conduct (James 2:18). How many today could stand such a scrutiny as did Daniel on this occasion?

The story ends badly for Daniel’s accusers, just as it will for those who accuse and persecute Christians today. King Darius, on the other hand, recognized the power of the God of Daniel, turned to Him in faith, and commanded the people of his kingdom to worship Him (Daniel 6:25–27). Through the witness of Daniel, his faith, and the faithfulness and power of God, an entire nation came to know and reverence the Lord. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.”[1]

 

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

Bible Translations: What is the English Standard Version (ESV)?

 

English Standard Version—History The English Standard Version (ESV) is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. The ESV Study Bible, also published by Crossway Bibles, was published in October 2008. It uses the ESV translation and adds extensive notes and articles based on evangelical Christian scholarship. Under noted theologian J.I. Packer, who served as general editor, the translators sought and received permission from the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 edition of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV. Difficult passages were translated using the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other original manuscripts.

English Standard Version—Translation Method The stated intent of the translators was to produce a readable and accurate translation that stands in the tradition of Bible translations beginning with English religious reformer William Tyndale in 1525–26 and culminating in the King James Version of 1611. Examples of other translations in this genre are the Revised Version (1881–85), the American Standard Version (1901), and the Revised Standard Version (1946–1971). In their own words, they sought to follow a literal word-for-word translation philosophy. To that end, they sought as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. The result is a translation that is more literal than the New International Version, but more fluent and colloquial than the New American Standard Bible.

English Standard Version—Pro’s and Con’s The English Standard Version receives complaints from both sides. Some say it is too literal. Others say it is too dynamic. Often, criticism from both sides of an argument indicates that something has achieved a good balance between the two.

English Standard Version—Sample verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 8:58—“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Titus 2:13—“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”[1]

 

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

Joel Osteen Knows Nothing About The Bible- And Neither Do his Followers

Zwinglius Redivivus

Author and megachurch speaker Joel Osteen raised eyebrows this week when he wrote on his popular Facebook page that Moses was present to see the sun stand still under Joshua’s leadership and that he witnessed the Hebrew boys being thrown into the fiery furnace.

“God said in Numbers 11:23, ‘Moses, is there any limit to My power?’ Osteen, leader of the 43,000 member Lakewood Church, posted on Monday, and then proceeded to expound. “He was saying, ‘Moses, you saw Me part the Red Sea, stop the sun for Joshua, keep three Hebrew teenagers safe in a fiery furnace, don’t you realize that I can bring water without rain?’ There’s no limit to God’s power.”

The status received over 317,000 likes from his more than 8 million followers, and was shared over 52,000 times. A number of followers also agreed heartily with Osteen’s teaching in the comments section.

Ignorance is blistering.

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Gospel Tract Update with Bonus Tracts Offer

airō

Anticipated changes to the Do You Know HIM? Gospel tracts have been finalized. Here are some important updates:

  • The first 5 orders of 1,000 tracts will receive an additional 100 tracts (total 1,100).
  • The first 5 orders of 500 tracts will receive an additional 50 tracts (total 550).
  • The shipping cost for 200 tracts has been reduced to a total purchase price of $21 including shipping.
  • The biggest change is on the back of tract where people will be directed to the DoYouKnowHIM.info website for church location assistance and additional helps.
  • Also provided is larger space to affix your personal or church contact information.
  • Please contact me at the Gospel Tract Store if you would like to take advantage of the special pricing.
  • I also still have the previous version available and am offering them at 50% off while supplies last.

Below are images of the newly revised tracts:

OUTSIDE

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Sermon Recommendation: Phil Johnson Health and Wealth

Steak and a Bible

I love Phil Johnson’s sermons. I got to hear him speak at a discernment conference a couple years ago and it was great stuff. So I was thrilled that last Friday’s episode of Fighting for the Faith including a sermon by Phil Johnson that addresses the heresy of the prosperity gospel.

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A Brief Musing on the “Prosperity Gospel” – Psalm 4:6-7

J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason"

raindropfernI have been reading back through the Psalms, because, you know, it’s what the cool kids do. Anyway, I came upon a passage which I thought may have some relevance for the “Prosperity Gospel” teaching (check out this brief summary and critique of this movement):

“Many, LORD, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy
When their grain and new wine abound.” Psalm 4:6-7 [7-8 in Hebrew Bible]

The text may not immediately seem to have anything to say about the notion that God will grant us ‘health, wealth, and prosperity.’ However, I think it actually does serve as a brief refutation of this alleged “gospel.” I’ll break it down.

Many, LORD, are asking “Who will bring us prosperity?”

There are those who call out to anyone, seeking prosperity rather than seeking after the LORD. Rather…

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David B. Garner’s 5 Part Series on Insider Movement over at Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

The Domain for Truth

davegarner

One of the leading Reformed Christian scholar responding to the Insider Movement is David Garner, a professor from the Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS).

He was the chairman for the three year study committee on the Insider Movement for his denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).

He has written a five part series over at his blog with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals that must not be missed.  It took him several months but he completed at the end of last month!

The following are the links to his articles:

Stay In or Come Out

Old Trumps New or New Trumps Old?

Who am I and Who Says?

Missions: The Kingdom of Christ or the Church?

Church, Stay Out of Missions!

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Christian Authenticity – Submission to Authorities

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν. 2 ὥστε ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν, οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες ἑαυτοῖς κρίμα λήμψονται. 3 οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ. θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν· τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς· 4 θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν. ἐὰν δὲ τὸ κακὸν ποιῇς, φοβοῦ· οὐ γὰρ εἰκῇ τὴν μάχαιραν φορεῖ· θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι. 5 διὸ ἀνάγκη ὑποτάσσεσθαι, οὐ μόνον διὰ τὴν ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν. 6 διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ φόρους τελεῖτε· λειτουργοὶ γὰρ θεοῦ εἰσιν εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο προσκαρτεροῦντες. 7 ἀπόδοτε πᾶσιν τὰς ὀφειλάς, τῷ τὸν φόρον τὸν φόρον, τῷ τὸ τέλος τὸ τέλος, τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον, τῷ…

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