Saturday, January 31, 2015

Will Heaven Have Oceans? My Take

I wrote this in December 2009 and I edited it and added more scriptures and Commentary excerpts. I am reviving it because there was an article linked to by Tim Challies titled "Will Heaven Have Oceans?" from The Gospel Coalition. (The Gospel Coalition has been publishing very iffy authors and squishy doctrine lately and I don't recommend them unreservedly, if at all.)

The Gospel Coalition article about Heaven and oceans is from a series which examines difficult verses in the bible. Now, I'm not a trained theologian. There are many people who have interpreted this verse in different ways, so I can't be dogmatic. But I am nearly so.

Why? One particular verse. If God "placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it" then I need to understand that if there is no sea, what does 'eternal' mean? Plus I have several other reasons I believe interpreting the text this way. See what you think. Your contributions or corrections to the discussion welcome.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Editorial: Be vigilant about your comment section

Either through AOL chat, online newspapers, bulletin boards, blogs, Facebook, or Twitter I've been running online comment sections since 1999. I've had a lot of experience seeing how people choose to say things either openly or anonymously. I've also seen a steep decline in the quality of online (and real life) discourse.

By 2004 online newspapers and blogs became ubiquitous. That year was dubbed Year of the Blog. Anonymous commenting flourished. Prior to this, the only public discourse available was tightly controlled. Letters to the Editor had to be signed with your real name, and include a telephone number so the editor could call to verify. Journals and other publications demanded the same. The internet either wasn't invented or it was so new, not everyone was online. Books went through an even tighter process, if you could even reach the front door of a publishing house. Handing out personal leaflets or pamphlets was looked upon with suspicion, especially if someone was handing them out while standing on a street corner. To use a microphone at a public meeting you had to sign your name and be called to the podium. If your discourse was too inflammatory, your mic would be shut off. If someone wanted to say something publicly either in oral or written form, it was very hard, and there was no such thing as anonymous commenting. (Benjamin Franklin's penchant for pseudonymous commenting notwithstanding).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lists, lists, we all like lists. Listapalooza

When I was an editor/reporter I wrote lots of articles. Knowing I had readers of different ages, interests, and ability levels, I liked to write a variety of styles in the newspaper. Long, short, easy reading, casual reading, scholarly writing. And lists. I always liked bullet point, browsable, easily consumable lists. That was my favorite. So here is a list of lists.

These Christian writers present a list of excerpts and/or links, either daily or weekly. If you don't have a lot of time and want to just scan a list, this list is for you.

Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs has collected a list of red light warnings to be on the lookout for when testing whether a teacher may be heading down the road of falsity. His is an invaluable list. I recommend bookmarking it or copying it and printing it out. It's called Red Lights.

Red Lights
It occurred to me that many might be served if we offered warning-signs of (at worst) false or (at best) unreliable teachers. Here are a number of such indicators. Some are instantly obvious; others only over the passage of time (cf. 1 Tim. 5:24). Any one of these should signal alarm. Found all together in the same person, trainwreck is assured.
Al Mohler puts out The Briefing each day. He writes that this list is a "Daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations."

Tim Challies publishes an A La Carte each day.

Erin Benziger posts This N That at Do Not Be Surprised on Fridays.

Trevin Wax also posts Trevin's Seven on Fridays. Or maybe he changed the name to "Worth a Look". I'm not sure.

Julia at Steak and a Bible has a semi-regular "Don't Miss" list

If you know of a good blog that publishes a browsable list pretty frequently, lt me know and I'll add it.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First female Bishop; "Propelling" women beyond their roles, people with discernment called "disgruntled serial protesters"

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:3)

The 'passions' discussed today are the passions of usurping women and the men who let them.

Eve was originally created to be a helpmeet. Hers was the supportive role in helping the man. (Genesis 2:18, 20). It still is, despite cultural pressure and widespread disobedience. But because the man listened to the voice of the woman, (Genesis 3:17) who was rebelling against God and urging her mate to do so as well (Genesis 3:6) all mankind was cursed with bearing a sin nature. (Until the Redeemer came Genesis 3:15).

In addition, the woman was cursed with wanting to rule her husband. This is one of the "passions" we are to guard against, as mentioned so many times in scripture. Passions are also known as ungodly desires. (1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 1:18, etc). Women will want the man's role.

"Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)

It is a tragedy when we see this played out in the home. When it is played out in the church it's worse. And worst of all is institutionalizing the disobedience of male and female leaders within the church, as seen here in this article today from the LA Times.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead

The Glorious Return

29“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31“And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (2 Timothy 4:1)

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27)

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5)
The Judgment of Babylon

God will judge all people for their lives. No one these days likes to think about the LORD as judge, not even some Christians. Of course, the difference between Christians and non-believers is that though our lives will be examined and assessed, we will not be judged in wrath. Jesus exhausted God's wrath for our sins while He was on the cross. There is no condemnation for us now. (Romans 8:1). Even at that, it is still excruciating to think of Jesus staring at our heart and soul with His piercing eyes (Revelation 1:14) and know all our words, deeds, and even motives as He sends our works through the fire to either become silver and gold, or burn away as hay and stubble. (1 Corinthians 3:12)

For those who are not in Christ, the judgment will be terrible. Who can stand?

The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; (Psalm 5:5)
The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. (Psalm 9:7)
He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. (Psalm 9:8)

God is holy and He judges. He knows each and every word the unsaved say. He sees all their deeds. He knows motives in the heart. Nothing is hidden from Him.

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD, How much more the hearts of men! (Proverbs 15:11)

Make no mistake. Jesus is a loving God, but He is a holy God who judges all men.
As a part of his sovereignty and authority, God is executor of his righteousness within the created order. Jesus Christ shares in this ongoing work.
(Source: Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes)


He judges individuals, nations, rulers, families, cities, and His own people. The eternal punishment of the ungodly is sure. (certain Ro 1:18 See also Pr 10:24; Isa 13:11; 26:21; 66:16; Jn 5:28-29; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; 1Th 5:3; Heb 2:2-3. Source: Manser). It will be everlasting,(2Th 1:8-9, Isaiah 33:14), and the wicked will be forever separated from God's presence.

God is serious business. He means what He says, that all rebellion will be judged and punishments meted out accordingly. I am firm on this today because as I said earlier, man does not like to think of God's judgments. But we must.

They diminish His holiness by vain talk and babblings about visions, as Beth Moore does when she says God calls her "Honey" and "Babe" in her alleged visions. They besmirch His majesty and His wrath by writing books about erotic encounters, as Anne Voskamp did in her book One Thousand Gifts ("I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God." etc.) They blaspheme Him like in The Shack by William P. Young, by portraying God as a female pancake making Aunt Jemimah who says "Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it."

Oh, but God does both.

God is a MAJESTIC JUDGE, potent in holiness and coming in wrath to judge all the living and the dead.

The following verses speak to judgment

JUDGMENT.
The General: 1 Chr. 16:33; Job 14:17; Job 21:30; Job 31:13–15; Psa. 9:7; Psa. 50:3–6; Psa. 96:13 Psa. 98:9. Eccl. 3:17; Eccl. 11:9; Eccl. 12:14; Ezek. 18:20–28; Dan. 7:9, 10; Amos 4:12; Matt. 3:12 Luke 3:17. Matt. 7:22, 23; Matt. 8:29 With 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6. Matt. 11:22 Matt. 10:15. Matt. 12:36, 37, 41, 42 Luke 11:31, 32. Matt. 13:30, 40–43, 49, 50; Matt. 16:27 Mark 8:38. Matt. 22:13 vs. 11–13.; Matt. 23:14; Matt. 25:1–14 [Luke 19:12–26.] Matt. 25:15–46; Mark 4:22; Mark 13:32; Luke 10:10–14; Luke 12:2–5; Luke 13:24–29; Luke 20:45–47; John 5:22; John 12:48; Acts 2:19–21; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; Acts 24:25; Rom. 2:5–10, 12–16; Rom. 14:10–12; 1 Cor. 3:13; 1 Cor. 4:5; 1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:7, 8; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Heb. 6:2; Heb. 9:27; Heb. 10:27; 1 Pet. 4:5, 7; 2 Pet. 2:4, 9; 2 Pet. 3:7, 10–12; 1 John 4:17; Jude 6, 14, 15, 24; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 6:15–17; Rev. 11:18; Rev. 20:11–15; Rev. 22:12.

According to Opportunity and Works: Gen. 4:7; Job 34:11; Prov. 11:31; Prov. 12:14; Prov. 24:11, 12 Psa. 62:12; 2 Tim. 4:14. Isa. 3:10, 11; Isa. 5:15, 16; Isa. 24:2; Isa. 59:18; Jer. 17:10, 11; Jer. 32:19; Ezek. 7:3, 4, 27; Ezek. 9:4–6; Ezek. 16:59; Ezek. 18:4 [vs. 5–9.] Ezek. 18:19–32; Ezek. 33:18–20; Ezek. 39:24; Hos. 4:9 Hos. 12:2. Amos 3:2; Zech. 1:6; Matt. 10:14, 15 Matt. 11:24; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; 10:12–15. Matt. 12:37; Matt. 23:14 Luke 20:47. Mark 14:21; Luke 11:49, 50 v. 51.; Luke 12:47, 48 [See parable of the vineyard, Isa. 5:1–6. Of the farmer, Isa. 28:24–28. Of the wicked tenant farmers, Matt. 21:33–36. Of the talents, Matt. 25:14–30.]Luke 13:6–9; Luke 19:12–27; Luke 21:1–4; John 3:19, 20; John 5:45; John 9:41; John 12:48; John 15:22, 24; Rom. 2:5–12, 27; 1 Cor. 3:8, 13–15 v. 12.; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 2:15, 16; 2 Cor. 11:15; Gal. 6:5–10; Eph. 6:7, 8; Col. 3:25; 1 Tim. 1:13; Heb. 2:2, 3; Heb. 10:26–30; Heb. 12:25; Jas. 2:12, 13; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2 Pet. 2:20, 21; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 20:12, 13.

(Source: Swanson, J., & Nave, O. (1994). New Nave’s Topical Bible. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.)

Why am I writing about judgment? Because it is infrequently discussed these days. It is an unpalatable topic for too many people. But our God is holy and He is glorified in judging the wicked. Judgment in Holiness is one of His sovereign attributes and as such is is profitable for men to ponder His great and mighty decisions.

Anyone not in Christ has not been forgiven of their deeds, which are hostile to God and against Him as enemy. He will judge them and they will then endure eternal torment in hell forever to pay the penalty for those sins. DId you know that...

And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)

Matthew Henry Commntary speaks of that verse from Isaiah-
But our Saviour applies it to the everlasting misery and torment of impenitent sinners in the future state, where their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched (Mk. 9:44); for the soul, whose conscience is its constant tormentor, is immortal, and God, whose wrath is its constant terror, is eternal. (3.) What notice shall be taken of it. Those that worship God shall go forth and look upon them, to affect their own hearts with the love of their Redeemer, when they see what misery they are redeemed from. As it will aggravate the miseries of the damned to see others in the kingdom of heaven and themselves thrust out (Lu. 13:28), so it will illustrate the joys and glories of the blessed to see what becomes of those that died in their transgression, and it will elevate their praises to think that they were themselves as brands plucked out of that burning. To the honour of that free grace which thus distinguished them let the redeemed of the Lord with all humility, and not without a holy trembling, sing their triumphant songs.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1218). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Oh, yes, the gratitude that we are spared! The humble thankfulness with which we sing His praises. Our Redeemer! We are a blessed group, never forget His lovingkindness to those whom He chose for Himself. We are His trophy of grace, and looking upon the wicked in torment, how much more will be fall to our own knees in crushed and broken contriteness and relief to worship such a God!

Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28)




Saturday, January 24, 2015

Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains the Holy Spirit's work through Common Grace

I listened to a wonderful sermon today. I've been enjoying and savoring Martyn Lloyd-Jones' series called "The Great Biblical Doctrines." The one from today was called Creation and Common Grace.

It's only 27 minutes long, because unfortunately the beginning portion has been lost. Nevertheless, you can easily understand the points this great pastor is making from the jumping off point where the sermon does open.

I was struck by the multi-layered aspect of the sermon. I've been studying end time prophecies for a long time, of course; and also on Wednesday nights at church we are going through Acts, and have recently studied both Pentecost and Stephen's sermon.

The sermon puts so many pieces together. The bible is one great, unified work. It's the revelation God wants us to know about Him and His work among the people and of earth. It is THE TRUTH, not a truth and not many truths. As you study to understand it precept by precept, a jot here, a tittle there, you begin to see a large picture emerge.

This sermon explains the work of the Holy Spirit through His ministry of common grace, and through understanding common grace, you'll understand how when the restraining ministry of the Spirit ends this will be a dramatic moment as the Tribulation begins. (2 Thessalonians 2:7). You'll understand how men could be so sinful that without the common grace of the Holy Spirit's restraint we'd all kill each other immediately. You'll understand why Jesus said that unless the days of the Tribulation were cut short, no flesh would survive. (Matthew 24:22). You'll understand that the Holy Spirit has been working on earth since before earth was created. You'll understand that it's the Spirit Who sustains all, Jesus does it through the Spirit. (Colossians 1:17).

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:51).
The Spirit is the conscience that exists in all men. Though Jones's sermons sadly are not transcribed on the site, someone took the time to publish long excerpts of this particular sermon here.

Jones said of man's conscience,
You will remember that we are told in the prologue of John's Gospel about 'the true light which lighteth every man' (John 1:9). It does not matter how you translate that verse – 'the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world' says the Authorised Version; 'the Light that lighteth every man was coming into the world,' says another. We are not concerned about that. We are interested in the phrase 'the light which lighteth every man'. And there is such a light. It is a kind of natural light, as we call it, natural understanding. It is the light that is in the conscience and there is that light of conscience in every person born into this world. Now that is one of the operations of the Holy Spirit in what is called common grace.

You will remember that in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 it is written, For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. When the Spirit lifts his retraining hand from man's conscience, sin will be loosed in such a way that it is today impossible to comprehend. No man will have a conscience. Sin will reach its full expression. The horror of the few believers who come to faith in the Tribulation and live long enough to see these horrors will be permanently scarred by what they see, save the promise that God will not allow them to remember. (Isaiah 65:17).

Dr Lloyd-Jones' delivered this sermon in 1954, and already back then he could see the decaying effects of a society being given over to its sin. That was 61 years ago, and how much more we see the accelerating effects of societies being given over to sin now. He said,
God, through the Holy Spirit, restrains the foulest manifestations of sin, but there are times when He gives people up to them. Are we, I wonder, living in such an age? Compare the twentieth century with the nineteenth. It is obvious that the moral level is very much lower today. That does not mean that everybody was a Christian in the Victorian era, but it does mean that even people who were not Christians were better men and women, speaking generally, than people now. Why? It was because of the general influence of the Holy Spirit. But it does look as if again, today, God is giving humanity over 'unto vile affections' as Paul outlines in Romans 1.
The Holy Spirit's influence in the world and upon the world is not to be underestimated in light of the more visible qualities of the Messiah Savior and Father God. Please listen to the sermon and its part 2, The Significance of Pentecost, where the Spirit's ministry dramatically changed when the Church was formed.

EPrata photo

Scripture photo: Life- fragile, ephemeral, a vapor

EPrata photo

Friday, January 23, 2015

So much grace and good gifts from the Father

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)


Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the Lord God is a sun and shield,.... Christ is "the sun of righteousness", and it is in the house of God that he arises upon his people with healing in his wings, Malachi 4:2 he is like the sun, the great light, the fountain of light, the light of the world, that dispels darkness, makes day, and gives light to all the celestial bodies, moon and stars, church and ministers; he is a "sun" to enlighten his people with the light of grace, to warm them with the beams of his love, to cheer and refresh their souls with the light of his countenance, and to make them fruitful and flourishing and he is a "shield" to protect them from all their enemies; he is the shield of faith, or which faith makes use of, against the temptations of Satan; he is the shield of salvation, and his salvation is a shield which shelters from divine justice, and secures from wrath to come:
The graces of our Lord are manifold. He bestows grace upon grace to His children who believe in Him. What joy we have in worshiping and loving our Jesus.

He gives us the sun and our shield, as Charles Spurgeon says,
"A sun above, a shield around. A light to show the way and a shield to ward off its perils."
His good gifts don't stop there, He gives favor and honor, too. Grace upon grace. As T. Guthrie says of Psalm 84:11-12,
Mountains have been exhausted of their gold, mines of their diamonds, and the depths of ocean of their pearly gems. The demand has emptied the supply. Over once busy scenes silence and solitude now reign; the caverns ring no longer to the miner's hammer, nor is the song of the pearl-fisher heard upon the deep. But the riches of grace are inexhaustible.
Turn to sweet Jesus today, pray for Him to comfort you, enliven your weary heart, to strengthen your legs and straighten your arms for the days ahead. Draw His grace around you as a blanket of eternal love from our wonderful God.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tender Moments in the Bible (repost)

I'm reposting this essay originally published in June 2014 in hopes that it will encourage.

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There are so many powerful moments in the bible. Where does one begin? Genesis 1, God creates everything, are verses that are awesome to ponder. The resurrection, when Jesus emerged from the tomb alive. God is all-powerful.

There are thunderous moments too. When Mt Sinai trembles, when God was in the earthquake, when He split the ground under Korah and closed it back up again. God is to be feared.

But there are tender moments too. The God of thunder and wrath and all-power is so tender!! I'm not one of these who believes the wrathful God is the Old Testament turned into the sensitive ("boyfriend") Jesus of the New Testament. Read Revelation and you see it is the same God of wrath and anger against unrighteousness and sin. In the Old Testament (as well as the New), there are very tender moments which show us our Holy God is everything. He is simply everything good- including tenderness.

In Genesis 21:15-19, slave girl Hagar had been misused by Sarah (and Abraham). She and her son Ismael ran away to the wilderness, and there, thirsty, alone, and weak, they prepared to die.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

"God heard", "The Angel of God" [Jesus] called to her from heaven. He assured her. He made promises to her. He opened her eyes so she could drink. What direct, intimate ministration from Holy God in heaven!

In 1 Kings 19:4-8, we see tender ministrations again. Poor Elijah, downcast, alone, and fearing for his life. He, like Hagar, ran to the desert and wanted to die.

Elijah in the wilderness, by Washington Allston, 1817
 But did God let Elijah stay that way? No

Ferdinandus Bol, 1660, Elijah Fed By An Angel
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

The angel touched Elijah! He had prepared food for Elijah! He comforted Elijah, and gave him direction and hope. God is so good to us. He does that for us today.

In Matthew 4 we read that Jesus was in the desert 40 days and nights, alone, fasting, and tempted by satan. At the end of the trial, it says in Matthew 4:11,

"Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him."

One might say, 'Well, of course God would send angels to minister to His Son!' but perhaps the ministering angels who ministered to Jesus are also some of the same ones who minister to us? Just think on it! Overall, it is to His glory that he is so involved with His people, that ministration is a regular part of His interaction with us!

His ministration with sinful man began at the Garden after the Fall. He personally covered Adam and Eve

Genesis 3:21 says, "And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them."

The God who had just made the Universe, and upholds it by power of His will and His voice, personally made garments for his rebellious children, and wrapped them. I picture a child throwing a tantrum, and saying all sorts of things to his father, including, "No! I don't wanna! I hate you!" But after the storm is over and the timeout is finished, the father gives the boy a bath, wipes his tear-stained face, and wraps him in a towel. He holds him close to herself, his sniffles diminishing as the very heartbeat of the one who created him him and feeds him and cares for him saturates the boy's heart and mind, and eventually his brow unfurrows and his face becomes angelic, and he drifts off to sleep, still in his father's arms.

That is our God. Holy and Fearful, but a caring Father, holding us in His arms until the storm passes by and our rebellion subsides. He is tender. One day, there will be no more tantrums, and no more rebellion. We will love our Father perfectly and completely, just as He loves us now. What a day that will be.

Logos 6 review

I'd mentioned over Christmas vacation that I'd taken the plunge and bought Logos 6 bible software. I'd been watching it since Logos version 3, and the reviews were so good that when an updated version #6 came out, I took the plunge.

Coincidentally a week or two later, pastor and blogger Tim Challies reviewed Logos 6 because he also decided to commit to it. In his concise way, he wrote about it from a pastor's perspective and I recommend his review here, if you are at all interested in learning more. He said in one paragraph I particularly liked,
The greatest strength of Logos is its wider system. What a Logos book offers that a printed book does not is integration into that system. When you add a new book to your Logos library, you increase the power and usefulness of the entire system, because that book now links to and from every other book. It is less like adding a printed book to a bookcase and more like adding a new Christian with his spiritual gifts to your congregation—it improves and strengthens the entire system.

He also said that it doesn't do the work for you. Having the software system won't make you read the bible more. It won't get you to pray more. It is just a tool. He's right.

As for me, I'm a layperson. For me it's great. I love it. I enjoy the automatic reading plan. I plug in what book I want to read and at what pace, and the software organizes it for me, marking where I left off and where I need to begin. It also lets me know when I'm behind, lol. I always seem to be behind.

I get lost in the photographs of the Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, a 120 year old tome containing photos from the late 1890s. I enjoy looking at what Israel used to look like back then and push my mind back a bit farther to imagine those scenes in Jesus' day.

The books I can read or refer to, the plants of the bible, animals of the bible, dictionaries, pronunciation guides, maps, even videos., are all stellar. I have a wealth of material even though I'd bought the lowest base package. It is plenty for me, really.

The commentaries are especially helpful. I am falling in love with Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary of the Whole Bible. I have access to the Concise Commentary online but the Complete Commentary deepens the background and elicits so much from the verse I can barely stop reading.

Something else I like is the home page. Excerpts of various books or essays are posted. Today there is one explaining salt and light, being missional, survivor's guilt, bond servant of Jesus Christ, Context Matters: Dr. John Walton Explains Why, and Perseverance, among many other items, including explaining some of the great art of the biblical scenes, and Logos promotions (they are unabashed about it).

One thing that Brannon Howse said in one of his programs on World View Weekend, when he was discussing his purchase of Logos 6 and why he liked it, is the Art of the Day. He was very excited about the home page daily verse put to art. I didn't understand his enthusiasm for it until I purchased Logos 6 and began seeing the amazing creative work the Logos artists do in putting abstract theology to visual art. Here is today's example. It is the verse noting Enoch's rapture.

Add caption

It was an expensive purchase but worth it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

(Updated) Unity is over-inflated. Let's have more division, please. A report on the CCM free concert "We Will Stand"

UPDATED. Read the link at the end to see what true unity is.

A live-streamed event is occurring online tonight (and in a real life place venue located in Brentwood, Tennessee) which has the potential to reach 40 million people. It is being billed as a Christian event, but we'll see more about that in a moment. The event is titled "We Will Stand: An Online Concert" and is promoted as “the greatest night in the history of contemporary Christian music."

Well. The promoters are not without hubris, to be sure. But first, here is a bit of background on charitable single songs or concerts by super-groups--

Over thirty years ago, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" a song written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, was sung by a quickly put-together supergroup. It was written and recorded in reaction to television reports of the 1983–85 famine in Ethiopia. It was sung by a supergroup consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time. It was a huge success and raised a lot of money.

In America the next year, We Are the World was sung as a charity single for African relief. It was recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. Do They Know It's Christmas, sung by Band-Aid, was a direct inspiration for the single We Are the World. We are the World was very successful. (source)

Cut to thirty years later, and today we have the Contemporary Christian Musician's attempt at a Do They Know It's Christmas and We Are the World hit, replicated in "We Will Stand" but minus the charity. According to this article, "Stan Moser, Christian music industry veteran and founder of CCM United, he is seeking to create a “We Are The World” type of moment — but one that ultimately has its greatest impact on the world for Christ." Yet in an interview about the event, he stated his first goal is to be "part of a historic moment."

Details about exactly what the group stands united around are not clear, neither in that article or on their website. After reading the lengthy article published on 94 The FIsh radio station's site, and every page on their own website, I'm still not sure as to what is the message they'll be bringing, except that they will be "Glorifying God with One Voice and One Mind." - Romans 15:6 HCSB" and their slogan is, CCM UNITED, ONE MESSAGE. MANY VOICES. (source)

Christian Contemporary Music is not typically known for having a strongly doctrinal Christian message. It's saturated with sentimentalism, laced with emotion, and has an emphasis on experience. In fact, the organizer of this two-hour concert event happening tonight said the genesis for it was a conversation with God and a mystically intuited moment, sans the bible.

In its pursuit of mysticism and experience, CCM usually repeats one line many times until its choruses become mantra and mindlessness is achieved. Its emphasis is usually on our response to worshiping God rather than God's attributes and how He expects us to worship Him. CCM artists and music producers have not shown the best discernment regarding handling Christian doctrines in song. Nor have they shown the best discernment in who they partner with.

In addition to all that is the problematic nature of Christianity in general these days. Satan always attempts to re-define commonly understood words, until its original meaning has been twisted away from the biblical original meaning. At issue these days is the issue of Unity.

The bible urges unity within the body in many different verses. Here are just three:  Philippians 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8, and 1 Corinthians 1:10. The bible urges the brethren to mark those who cause divisions among us. (Romans 16:17). Originally, Paul meant for the brethren to mark those who are teaching contrary to the doctrines which have been delivered, because confusion divides. However, today it has come to mean mark the brethren that dare to exercise discernment and dividing them. The false teachers aren't marked out as divisive anymore, that is said to be unloving. Rather, the brethren pointing them out are said to be the divisive ones. What happens is that the false teachers are being protected and the true brethren are marked and shunned as dangerous. Nowadays, unity at the expense of doctrine is sought and seen as desirable, as long as "we agree on the basics."

The irony is, everyone is divided on just what the basics are, and so everyone gets past any whiff of disagreement by welcoming anyone and everyone as a brother. Unity around nothing is no unity.

Today's 'unity' has also come to mean, unite with Catholics.

CCM's lack of discernment as revealed repeatedly in their songs is on full display tonight. In addition to the contemporary Christian music they will be playing, appearances will be made by Roma Downey throughout the event. Ms Downey may be remembered for her role in the long-running television series Touched by an Angel, in which she appeared as a female angel. She and her husband Mark Burnett also produced a miniseries several years ago called The Bible, or as the more conservative, doctrinal, discerning Christians like to think of it, as "The-Missing-the-Mark Bible" series due to the fact that Downey and her team re-wrote or twisted many of the biblical events they portrayed in the show. The duo also produced and Downey acted in a theatrical release called Son of God, in which the life of Jesus was portrayed, with Downey playing Jesus' mother Mary.

Worse still, Ms Downey is a mystic, a Catholic, and a demonic summoner (divination) in which on live television she used a medium to contact and speak with her dead mother.

The bible says of divination, an activity hated by God and expressly forbidden:

When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. (Deuteronomy 18:9-1)

You can read more about the doctrinal problems with the faith that Ms Downey claims to have, which is no faith, here.

And lest one believes that God's hate for divination is just Old Testament wrath and not relevant to today's loving Jesus, Paul wrote to the Galatians that anyone practicing sorcery will not gain heaven. (Galatians 5:20)

Now when I say that the CCM artists participating in this event show lack of discernment, there it is in full display.

Worse, also participating in this event is Travis Cottrell, Beth Moore's band leader. Participating also is LifeWay Christian booksellers- they are donating the live-streaming for it.

If the concert event is donating the proceeds to some sort of charitable organization I've missed it. All I've been able to determine from quotes like the one above where the organizer said they want to be part of an historic moment, and this quote, that "CCM United was created to deliver the music, the ministry, and the life-changing message of many of the greatest CCM artists of today" and that it is a celebration of 40 years of contemporary Christian music, therefore all I can gather is that the event is just simply a celebration of themselves.

And this would make sense, because much of CCM is about celebrating ourselves. "God look at us worshiping you." "God look at us singing to you." "God see how we really, really love you." Why wouldn't 30 CCM artists get together and celebrate themselves?

I'm sad that they have partnered with Roma Downey. If they are attempting to get "one message" out, it is this:

Doctrine is not necessary, our version of love is; and mysticism, Catholicism, and divination are hunky dory. No wonder the organizer said five times in the interview that "We Are the World" was his inspiration and catalyst. They definitely are the world. They definitely are.

As for their event, "We Will Stand" I only have scripture to share:

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)

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Further Reading:

This is a good essay, explaining what true biblical unity is.

True Unity


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Birds of the air

It's comforting to know that the Creator of all the Universe takes care of us.

EPrata photo




Monday, January 19, 2015

How is being clamorous like a Russian nesting doll?

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Ephesians 4:31)

My Sunday School teacher was reading this verse aloud yesterday, and I got stuck on the word 'clamor'.

It is an interesting word. We hardly ever hear anyone use it these days. I like the word clamor, if not the real life noise it represents.

According to the internet dictionary, clamor means
"a loud and confused noise, especially that of people shouting vehemently."

Set of Matryoshka dolls nested
inside each other. Wikipedia
Whenever there is a list of words together, especially moral qualities, it seems to me that they build. Like Russian nesting dolls, they're connected. In this case, Matthew Henry Commentary explains the connection between bitterness, wrath, and anger and its connection to clamor and slander and malice.
By bitterness, wrath, and anger, are meant violent inward resentment and displeasure against others: and, by clamour, big words, loud threatenings, and other intemperate speeches, by which bitterness, wrath, and anger, vent themselves. Christians should not entertain these vile passions in their hearts not be clamorous with their tongues.
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2315). Peabody: Hendrickson.

I think this can be especially applied to women. The bible speaks of woman's quietness and gentleness as part of exemplary character. Riotous women, whether in anger or clamorous mirth, are not to be modelled after. In fact, Titus 2:3 says women should be reverent in behavior.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (Proverbs 31:25)

Whether man or woman, we know that what is inside us comes out and it can either honor Jesus or defile us. See Mark 7:21-23,

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

Matryoshka dolls set in a row
Wikipedia
If I suddenly break out in clamorous, slanderous, or malicious talk, then I know I have much more inside me that needs to be repented of. The outward expression is merely the end result, not the beginning. The beginning is what is in the heart. It is a grace to have verses like these, which tell us that if we are speaking clamorously, then it is the warning signal that there is something needing to be addressed inside of us, as a sinful heart condition.

Aren't we fortunate and blessed to have the Word of God to use as the mirror of all goodness? Holding it up to ourselves as a reflection is painful sometimes but this is what Jesus wants, and it is good for us. After all, didn't Paul say to Timothy,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Philippians 1:10- Why do we want to abound in all discernment?

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; (Philippians 1:9-10)

Let's look specifically at verse 10. Whenever there is a 'so that' or a 'in order to' it means there is a causal relationship. We are supposed to DO something in order that a result can come about.

Here I'd like to focus on the "all discernment". Why does Paul want the Philippians (and us) to have all discernment? Because discernment is a critical ingredient in an important process. The result Paul is praying for his people to have is to be pure and blameless on the day we stand before Jesus. So now let's look at this process and see how in honing our discernment it helps us strive toward this end.
Literally, “With a view to your proving (and so approving and embracing) the things that excel” (Ro 2:18); not merely things not bad, but the things best among those that are good; the things of more advanced excellence. Ask as to things, not merely, Is there no harm, but is there any good, and which is the best?
Source: Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 361). 

Now this is interesting. There are three questions the Commenter said we ask in discerning.

--Is there harm?
--Is there any good?
--Which is the best?

We already know that at the basic level, discernment means sifting between what is good and what is bad. That's the part in asking 'is there harm?' In addition, as Spurgeon said, "Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right." That's the second question.

And now here we have a third part of the process of discernment, distinguishing between what is good and what is best. This is an often overlooked part of discernment.


If your son or daughter is choosing a college to attend, if you're able, don't you want them to choose the best? If you're buying a book to read, all other things being equal, don't you choose the one with the best reviews? If you are a Sunday School Superintendent choosing new material to use in class, don't you want the best? No one says, 'Nah, I'll pass over the best and settle for the merely good.'

It's like if a tsunami is coming. The waters are rising and you've gotten to high ground. It's good ground. You're pretty sure it's good enough. But you still have time to reach the best ground, where you can be sure you won't get swept away. Do you stay put? Of course not. To save your life you strive for the best and highest ground.

Discernment is like that. I remember reading a Christian woman's essay about this very thing in practical terms. Sunny Shell, on why she chose to no longer follow John Piper.
I've found the teachings from John Piper and "Desiring God" (after testing it with God's word) requires more discernment than I currently possess. And since there are other Christian teachers/ministries I can learn from (e.g., John MacArthur/Grace to You, Alistair Begg/Truth for Life, R.C. Sproul and son, R.C. Sproul, Jr./Ligonier Ministries) that don't give me tired-head, I've chosen to only follow those who are clearly and faithfully following the Lord (Heb 13:7).
Discernment includes searching out the best holy ground we possibly can, so that Jesus is MORE glorified rather than LESS glorified. Seek out what you know to be the best, and stick with that.

Keep going up and up
Our ultimate aim always is to glorify Jesus. However there are several additional reasons why we want to "abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve the things that are excellent". The first reason is so that others will benefit.
all discernment - The term aisth─ôsis refers to the ability to make decisions for the benefit of others. 1:10 what is superior When the Philippians’ love abounds, they will be able to determine what is most valuable or beneficial to the community of believers.
Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Php 1:9–10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

What if you were running from the rising waters of the tsunami again. And you were not too familiar with the ground and you thought you'd reached the highest you could go, and sat down to see if the waters would reach you or not. But along came someone who had hiked that hill before and knew there was a narrow pass that led to even higher ground? Would you stay put? Of course not, you'd be grateful someone came along and showed you that though where you were was good, it was beneficial to move to where it was best.

The second reason we discern is so that our minds can be renewed. And here we have the most critical reason why discernment is important. (along with the other items Paul prayed for us to have). The process of discernment helps to sharpen the mind and to renew it according to Christ's likeness. This is the process I spoke of at the beginning.

Gills Exposition explains this aspect of the Philippians 1:10 verse
Or "try things that differ". There are some things that differ one from other; as morality and grace, earthly things and heavenly things, carnal and spiritual, temporal and eternal things, law and Gospel, the doctrines of men and the doctrines of Christ; all which differ as much as chaff and wheat, as gold, silver, precious stones, and wood, hay, stubble.
These are to be tried and proved; they are not to be received without distinction, but should be examined, which is right and best to be chosen and preferred; and to such trial and examination it is necessary that a man should be transformed, by the renewing of his mind, that he should have spiritual light, knowledge, and experience, have his spiritual senses exercised to discern the difference of things.
Let Jesus freshen and open your mind
as you practice discernment. EPrata photo
Gill said these things are not to be received without distinction. In today's Christianity we are barraged with the notion that we are to let the false teachers alone. We are not to point out the false doctrine. We are not to say this or that is a bad book. 'Let God judge' they say. 'It will be taken care of in the end' they say. However, failure to participate in the important process of discernment means you are choosing deliberately NOT to renew your mind.

The process of choosing, testing, weighing, examining, reading, comparing...all these are part of the process of how the Lord transforms our mind. As we hear a teaching and go back to the word, He transforms our mind. Through hard work, trial and error, we gain experience.

It would be nice if we were sitting around and Jesus simply plopped discernment and experience into our minds. This is what many of the false teachers say happens to them. They sit on their porch or sequester themselves in a cabin or shell peas and all of a sudden presto, a new revelation from God and a new 'level' of 'fresh experience.' They say, "God told me." "God wrote the book for me." "I saw Jesus and He said..." But that is not how it works.

When Paul said 'persevere in the struggle' and 'run the race', he didn't mean as a sidelines armchair quarterback waiting for a personally dove-delivered epiphany. LOL, that is hardly running, now, is it? The practice of discernment is part of the struggle and through it, we gain experience and a transformed mind.

The more I practice discernment the more my love for Christ abounds, because that means I see Him more clearly than the day before. We still see through a glass dimly, but in practicing discernment, it's like when we walk into a dark room, instead of choosing to turn on only a flashlight, we are using a floodlight.

So we end as we began, with Paul's prayer:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; (Philippians 1:9-10)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A few good links: 'One True God' free download workbook; Meaning of Pastor, Atheism, CT quake swarm, more

Here are a few good links.

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One True God

Justin Peters wrote on Facebook this week,

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, download this free Bible study and tear into the Book. For your edification:

One True God - workbook PDF

Written by Paul Washer. I haven't looked at the content, but I trust Peters and Washer to know good material. Take a look and see it if suits you.

Thank you Pastor, for developing good materials for us. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)

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What does Pastor mean anymore?

A Pastor friend of mine from Maine posted this. I read it and I thought it was excellent. I don't know the pastor who wrote it nor his church, but this particular article was very good.

Disembodied Bodies, Mark Driscoll, and How “Pastor” Has Lost All Meaning
With one simple click of the mouse, Christians can be pastored by their favorite pastor. Regardless of the miles between them, open your web browser and in just a few keystrokes, your preferred preacher is pastoring your soul…except, not really.
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. (1 Corinthians 4:1)

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Hail Satan

Tory MP comes out as atheist.
A Minister of Parliament (MP) of the Tory Party 'came out' as an atheist. He said that there is much pressure to at least pretend to believe in God. He said he can 'come out' now because his term is ending and he will not run again.

The MP was speaking at a debate on a private members bill which calls for prayers to be read at the start of council meetings. At the start of his speech, he noted that,
At a meeting of Lake Worth City Commission last month, the invocation was given by an atheist called Preston Smith. And he began his invocation with the words, 'May the efforts of this Council blend the righteousness of Allah with the all-knowing wisdom of satan.' The fact that the effect of the public sector equality duty on this bill is at local authority’s choosing to hold religious observance in their meetings will not then be able lawfully to discriminate against the observances of the religion of Satanism.
What the MP does not realize is that he is in exactly the same camp as the people who worship Allah and satan.

Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. (2 Samuel 2:22)

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Earthquakes in Diverse places!

4th straight day of earthquakes in Conn.
A 2.2-magnitude earthquake has rattled eastern Connecticut again. In what's becoming a daily seismic event, the Weston Observatory of Boston College said the earthquake occurred at about 4:40 a.m. Thursday near Plainfield, where previous earthquakes were recorded. It says two minor earthquakes were recorded on Wednesday and another on Tuesday. Several were recorded on Monday and last week, too.
Connecticut officials coordinate earthquake preparation
After daily earthquakes in eastern Connecticut over the past week, officials have met to discuss ways the state can respond and residents can prepare.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Matthew 24:7-8)

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SBC in full-on meltdown?

SBC-affiliated Beth Moore is allowed to speak God's alleged prophetic word with no rebuke from the allegedly most conservative denomination. Perry Noble of the Southern Baptist Convention's NewSpring church in SC re-wrote the ten commandments in a Christmas Eve sermon he delivered. As James Duncan at The Pajama Pages wrote,
On Christmas Eve, Perry Noble gifted the world a rewritten Ten Commandments. In so doing, he contradicted Scripture, celebrated his ignorance of the Bible, and ultimately rejected the gospel.
And LifeWay engages in fraud by trading on God's word in heaven tourism for filthy lucre, causing an outcry and forced to pull one of the heaven tourism books, The Onion weighs in with a (deservedly) mocking opinion:

Publisher Pulls Book after Boy Admits He didn't Go To Heaven

And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2:2)

PS: Phil Johnson has published further statements from Tyndale related to the Heaven book which show demonstrably the publishing house knew the boy had repeatedly said he not gone to heaven and are lying about not knowing.

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And just in case you ever need it,

How to Give a Pill to a Cat


Friday, January 16, 2015

I avidly used to watch Joel Osteen every week

Source
This is a testimony to the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would keep and protect His sheep, and He has done so with me.

He imparts spiritual life to the person who has faith in Jesus (2 Timothy 3:5; Ephesians 2:1; I John 5:11-12). He is the very Spirit of Truth,

that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:17)

The Holy Spirit teaches us, and He has taught me faithfully since the moment of my conversion.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What will it be like to be glorified?

I'm 54 years old. When I was young I said I'd never prattle on about my ailments, like a great-aunt Jane or a Grandpa Joe.

But now the doctor said I have bad arthritis in my knees, my feet swell, my eyes get so dry, my digestion is ahem explosively sensitive, and I get these headaches...

Ack. And my bodily griefs are piddling compared to some who endure disease, chronic pain, and trauma by fire or accident. Anyway, I think so often about seeing Jesus. My daily prayer usually ends with asking, "Is this the day? Will today be the Day I see you?"

After the promise and excitement and joy of seeing Jesus, the next part I'm looking forward to is the new body.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Discernment: Flatteries of false teachers

We are told in many verses about the false prophets and false teachers coming to deceive the people. They use false words, flatteries, and smooth speech. The antichrist will be the most full version of a false prophet ever, being full of sin. His name will be Man of Sin. (2 Thess. 2:3)

All the false prophets and teachers that come before the Man of Sin will be less potent, but no less dangerous. They use the same methods. Satan sticks with what works.

Sometimes I discuss false teachers with friends. I might mention Beth Moore or Billy Graham etc. One thing that I hear most often when I discuss this with people is "But they talk about Jesus!"

This tells me we need to look at how false teaches deceive by using rhetoric, oratory and speech. Earlier this week I looked at false teachers' motivations. Now let's look at their methods.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How should we treat false teachers? S. Lewis Johnson answers

Short answer:

Love them by --

--Rebuking them sharply
--Muzzling them
--Saying "To hell with you and your money"

This is biblical. Listen to this 13 minute exposition by the wonderful S. Lewis Johnson.




Beth Moore's heretic hunting article and its fallout

Beth Moore
On Twitter one day, a young woman mentioned John Piper and Beth Moore in a negative light. She'd said,

"just watched an interview with @johnpiper saying he supports false teacher @bethmoorelpn #sosad"

The young woman's name was Jessica Lam. Mrs Moore was apparently disturbed by Mrs Lam's Twitter comment, so Mrs Moore wrote a long essay at her popular blog accusing Jessica of various things.

The title of Mrs Moore's blog essay about Jessica was "It's Hunting Season for Heretics". This implies, of course, that Jessica Lam is a heretic for calling Mrs Moore a false teacher. Please keep in mind that Mrs Moore is pushing 60 years old, and Mrs Lam is 22.

In Jessica's own words, here is what Mrs Moore accused Jessica of-

Monday, January 12, 2015

Those distressing sin-battles

Sin is a torture. There is no avoiding it. There is no getting away from it. I hate the sin in me, and I hate that the older I grow in Christ, the sadder and more disappointed about my sin I become. Why? The more I'm sanctified the more sin I see. The more sin I see the more I realize that, blessedly, Jesus is the only One who can catch me up. He will glorify me on His Day. The most I can do is run the race. Persevere. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

I love the bible. My Savior, who I really love, sent His Spirit to inspire an entire book which reveals God to us. I love that. It encourages us with words of life. In this book are common men, men and women who were living lives and worshiping or not worshiping, or in Apostle Saul/Paul's case, killing. One day, Jesus broke the veil and converted Paul. Hallelujah!

I can't wait until our soul and our flesh are both perfectly pure!

However, even with a direct confrontation with a glorified risen Jesus, and even with the Spirit as fully on Paul as He was, Paul still did what he didn't want to and didn't do what he wanted. That old flesh.

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." (Romans 7:15-20)

In other words, Paul struggled. The flesh certainly has a grip on us, doesn't it? I'm grateful again that the people who are written down in the book are regular people, saints of grace, but not saintly. At least I can relate to the passage there in Romans.

When Jesus came, and some disciples told John the Baptist that people were going over to Jesus, John replied.

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

O, Lord, please increase the Spirit in me! Please, more each day. Yes, I know that's sanctification, but it is all right to long for the glorification, is it not? When there be no more sin in me, when I can worship Jesus properly? O happy day. I know I am not the only one to feel this way.
There is then...there is then sort of an ongoing sadness in the Christian life, isn't there? And the longer you're a Christian, the sadder you are over your sin. And what makes you sadder than you used to be is you keep assuming that you ought to grow out of this. There's a place in life for fun and there's a place in life for joy. And the Lord wants us to rejoice, all of that. But there's always that nagging reality in the life of a true Christian, that deep-felt grief and sorrow over sin until it is repentant of. ~John MacArthur, The Only Way to Happiness is to Mourn Over Sin

There is the joy that we know we don't have to increase by ourselves. We can't. We have joy in knowing the Holy Spirit in us is the One who will increase us to Christ-Likeness.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

He is a glorious, wonderful Savior to save us from wallowing for an eternity in our sins. What a blessed relief that is coming, final and eternal release from the sinful flesh.

New Heavens and a New Earth

17“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
18But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.
(Isaiah 65:17-20)

What a Creator. We brought sin into the world, but He will finally banish it. No more distressing flesh-battles...only peace- and purity.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

"But you can't know that [false teacher's] heart! You can't ascribe motivations!" Yes. Yes we can.

One of the common accusations from defenders of false teachers lodged against Christians who make the claim, is that no one can know their heart. That no one can know their motives. They say therefore it is not fair to make such claims. Only God can judge.

Once you know how to spot them, the fakes are easy to see.
That's a synopsis of their argument, an increasingly frequent one. But is it true? Let's look at the Bible.

First, in order to make a determination whether a teacher is teaching according to the bible or is straying from Christ's doctrines, we test them. (1 John 4:1). We test what they teach against the bible- no matter who they are! (Acts 17:11). If they preach a different Jesus, (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 11:4) fail to affirm His word, deny what the bible says (or that God said it), bear no fruit, or has a life that is below reproach, among other identifiers, they are false. They must accurately teach the full counsel of God through a life that stands up to scrutiny.

Once you've tested a teacher and they have fallen short, you know that they're false. Now we can look at bible verses about false teachers to learn more about what motivates them and how they operate.

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— Galatians 2:4 (cf. 2 Peter 2:1).
  • Their motivation is jealousy.
  • Their purpose is destruction of the true brethren.
  • Their method is by adding works.
[The above in context were the Judaizers preaching works, circumcision].


And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:3)
  • Their motivation is greed.
  • Their purpose is exploitation.
  • Their method is oratory.
Trivia: the Greek word for the term "false" above is from a root of plast├│s –  which is the root of the English term, "plastic"


Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18)
  • Their motivation is their own appetites.
  • Their purpose is personal satisfaction.
  • Their method is flattery.

Conclusion:

Once a person has been deemed a false teacher, we DO know their heart. We DO know their motivations. The bible states them, not just in those three verses, but in many others too. A false teacher's motivations and heart are evil and at enmity against God. They do not seek to glorify God and worship Jesus in His authority (they hate authority) but they seek to--
  • Blight Jesus' name
  • Destroy you
  • Satisfy themselves
  • Get money
FMI on false teachers, these New Testament books were written to educate us as to the false teachers' methods: Please read Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude

False teachers and their plastic words ... one after another. Beware.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading-

How to Treat False Teachers

The Strange Case of Brenda Maxwell



Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Pillars of Creation

Phil Johnson's sermon "Why I Don't Believe in Atheists" (text: Romans 1:19-20) is a brilliant and majestic exploration of the Creation. Pastor Johnson said,
"...the most obvious truth we learn about God from nature: He is glorious. Every molecule of the universe unveils and declares God's glory. You can see amazing, majestic displays of incomprehensible glory from any conceivable perspective. The glory of God is on display in vivid, intense, and graphic detail no matter where you turn your eyes. Look in the most powerful telescope at the outer edges of the current technology's ability to see, and what you will observe is breathtaking glory."
NASA re-oriented its Hubble telescope and took another photo of the Pillars of Creation, its most famous photo, taken in 1995. In the 20th anniversary of the iconic space picture, we see an even more startling clarity than we've ever seen before. This morning in looking at the newly released Hubble telescope's "Pillars of Creation", I was pondering the Creator and His glory. What a joy that Johnson's latest sermon is on this topic. He unfolded a most beautiful and cohesive explanation of why the likeliest most important verse in the bible is:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

Why did AW Tozer claim that verse as the most important? Even though ALL scripture is profitable? Because all else flows from there. In dogmatic, simple fashion, God made a statement that answers the basic questions all humans ask. Where did we come from? Is this all there is? Why is man different from the animals? and has a conscience? and can think? As Johnson said,
This text lays the necessary foundation for a truly biblical worldview. It tells us an essential truth, and it's the very first of all the inspired biblical dogmas.
This photo takes my breath away. God is tremendous.


When you look at this photo remember that God made all those stars.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. (Ps 147:4).

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing." (Isaiah 40:26).

Please listen to the sermon linked above. It will expand your thinking on Romans 1:19-20, and it will re-affirm your humility, as it did Job's, under the sovereignty of such a Creator.

Pillars of Creation. NASA

Friday, January 9, 2015

Add one more good woman teacher to the list: Chapter 3 Ministries

I recently finished a series on rebellious women who claim to be Christians, and the final entry extolled the virtues of many different women's ministries. I presented a list of good women teachers with a synopsis, and said that in my opinion these are profitable for women to follow. There are many teachings among these women's ministries that are currently safe in which to indulge.

Many women despair of finding a female teacher of substance who study the word with care and create solid curricula for us to use in bible study, Sunday School, or personally. Beth Moore is a false teacher. Joyce Meyer is also. Christine Caine,  Bobbie Houston, and many others are false teachers too. Well, thanks to some time spent researching, I shared a list of good female teachers.

Just after I published the list, I became aware of another woman that should definitely be added to the list. I'd like to introduce Sharon Lareau, of Chapter 3 Ministries.

Her web ministry is is aimed at women and is founded on 1 Peter Chapter 3:1-6 & 15. She is married with two children, is a member of a local church along with her husband, and has homeschooled both children from kindergarten to college, over the course of 18 years. Mrs Lareau has health issues that keep her homebound most of the time. She wrote on her "About" page,
In my life as a Christian, I have been led by a desire to minister to Christian wives in the spirit of Titus 2:3-5. I have been blessed with many different opportunities to serve in that way through the years. I have taught classes at our church as a part of Women’s Ministry, I have been involved with different online support and outreach endeavors, and I have sought to fulfill the call of Titus 2:3-5 on a one on one bases.
Her foremost prayer is that the ministry brings glory to God. In addition,
The circle of my ministry expands to all women whether they are married, single, divorced, or widowed. Though I know I am not well equipped to minister to all in some ways, my heart is open to learning. I hope and pray to be an encouragement along the way.
Mrs Lareau ministers to women in matters of Christian marriage, apologetics, and faith. I found her discernment essays regarding Beth Moore to be humble, discerning, and biblically solid. She participated in a BM simulcast in September 2014, and reviewed them. Part 1 of 3 parts is here.

At the website you can expect to find essays on subjects ranging from the Sovereignty of God, analysis of "The Message" bible, marriage & family, discernment and more. Mrs Lareau believes that Christian women are called to the defense of the faith just as much as men. We have no less need to be equipped.

I hope you enjoy her website. I'll add others as I discover them. For every Beth Moore out there, chanting mantras and proclaiming prophecies based on the deceptions of her own mind (Jeremiah 14:14), there are twice as many women in all corners of the United States and in other nations, persevering in the faith, ministering, laboring, loving fellow sisters through Christ.



Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ladies, do you want to revile God's word?

Ladis, did you ever consider the opposite of Titus 2:5? Here is the verse:

The Graphics Fairy
"to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

I use the ESV.

NIV: "so that no one will malign the word of God."
NAS: "so that the word of God will not be dishonored"
KJV: "that the word of God be not blasphemed"

The Greek word for 'reviled' is blasphemeo, means-

"refusing to acknowledge good (worthy of respect, veneration); hence, to blaspheme which reverses moral values."

If we are NOT self-controlled, we revile the word of the Lord,
If we are NOT pure, we revile the word of the Lord,
If we are NOT working at home, we revile the word of the Lord,
If we are NOT kind, we revile the word of the Lord,
If we are NOT submissive to our own husbands, we revile the word of the Lord,

Please think about what we do as women, widows, and wives before the Lord. I know I will try to be more careful to adhere to the behavioral standards outlined in the verse.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Atlanta Fire Chief Cochran fired for Christian views on homosexuality

This is the story of Kelvin Cochran, former Atlanta Fire Chief.

But it's so much more. It is really the story of how to glorify God when you are being persecuted.

It's how to publicly express your faith in love when the world hates you.

It's seeing the miracle of God using for good what they meant for evil.

The beginning of the story is that Kelvin Cochran, family man, Baptist, Sunday School teacher, men's Bible study leader, and Atlanta Fire Chief, wrote a book in 2013 stemming from his bible study class, entitled "Who Told You That You Are Naked?" The title refers to the moment in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, and hid from God when they heard Him walking in the garden. God asked the man and woman, "who told you that you were naked?" Throughout his book, Cochran also refers to being naked as being not-covered with the righteousness of Christ.

In Cochran's book when he refers to naked men, of course he isn't being literal. It refers to the nakedness unsaved people live in with being exposed to Jesus without the covering of His righteous blood.

Mr Cochran shares his faith, something that he stated in the book that "it's his first priority within the department “to cultivate its culture to the glory of God." Chief Cochran has said in many interviews that this job as the Atlanta City Fire Chief is a dream come true. That ever since he was five years old, he has pursued a career as a firefighter. And yet for all that focused intent on pursuing his life's dream, he puts Jesus first. The purpose of Kelvin Cochran's life is to glorify God, and the Fire Station is just as good a place as any other on earth in which to be Christ-like and to speak of his faith. Where Chief Cochran loves to be is the Station, where he longs to be is with Jesus. His duty as a Christian is to show people his love for Jesus in heaven while Cochran is still on earth.

Along the way, he published a book. It's aimed at men, how to be good husbands, leaders, men, based on God's standards for doctrine and for life. In it, Cochran spelled out exactly what God's standards for purity are, purity in works, purity in thought, and including sexual purity.

Cochran wrote,
“Uncleanness – whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”
“Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex, and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body – temple and dishonor God.”
Less than a half a page in the 160-page book mentioned homosexuality.

That doesn't matter to the homosexual people.

The First Amendment of the United States' national constitution, part of the United States' Bill of Rights, says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Not for Kelvin Cochran. Not for an increasing number of Christians.

The Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual lobby discovered the book's existence in November of 2014, and raised an outcry. Cochran was suspended with no pay for one month. He was due back to work this week.

Various reasons were given for his suspension.
--he distributed the book on government property without prior consent of the Mayor (his boss)
--he failed to alert the Mayor he was writing the book
--his views likely mean he has in the past, or will in the future, discriminate against LGBT people in hiring practices at the Fire Station
--his book is in violation of the city’s standard of conduct
--his language is so extreme, so belittling of gay and transgender people that he could not effectively lead a diverse workforce

During the one-month suspension, no one heard from Cochran. On Sunday, January 3, he did speak at Atlanta's First Baptist church during the GA Baptist Convention regarding his testimony. The Times-Herald reported,
Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin J. Cochran spoke to the “blessings of suffering” during his message delivered at First Baptist Church on Sunday. Coming off a one-month suspension because of a passage on homosexuality in a self-published book he wrote, Cochran expressed that his time off allowed him to spend more time with his family and enjoy the Christmas season 
“God intended for men and women are to be together to have children and populate the Earth,” Cochran said. “And any sex outside marriage and outside of a man and woman in holy matrimony is against the word of God. For that stand, I have been laid off for 30 days without pay.” However, Cochran emphasized that he is not a victim of his beliefs, nor is he discouraged or disheartened.
I love our city, and honor and respect our mayor and love all the people of the world,” Cochran said. “I took an oath to die for all people, under any circumstance. This is not about me, it’s about the Lord.” Cochran stated that his reputation was not on the line. “I took a stand for Christ, and it’s his reputation that is on the line,” he said. “Jesus never throws us under the bus. He will be glorified and I will be vindicated once all the truth comes out.”
On Monday, the one-month suspension was to be concluded. Mayor Kasim Reed was to have pondered, investigated and come to a decision. He did.

Chief Cochran was fired.
The LGBT members of our community have a right to be able to express their views and convictions about sexuality and deserve to be respected for their position without hate or discrimination,” Cochran told me in an exclusive interview. “But Christians also have a right to express our belief regarding our faith and be respected for our position without hate and without discrimination. In the United States, no one should be vilified, hated or discriminated against for expressing their beliefs.”
Mayor Reed disagrees that it is about religious faith. Reed says it is about judgment. Chief Cochran's judgment that is, being impaired due to extreme views.

There is some back and forth about Mayor Reed's knowledge of Cochran's book. A sort of what did Reed know and when did he know it?
Reed said that he had no knowledge that Cochran was writing a book. However, Cochran said the director of Atlanta’s ethics office had not only given him permission to write the book, but to also mention in his biography that he was the city’s fire chief. Cochran said he gave a copy of the book to Mayor Reed in January 2014 and the mayor told him he planned on reading it during an upcoming trip. 
Cochran wants to make clear that he does not hate anyone. “The essence of the Christian faith is a love without condition, sir,” he told me. “I have demonstrated that love in the fire service for 34 years. There’s not any person of any people group that has interacted with me for any measure of time that can say I have hate or disregard or discrimination in my heart for any people group.”
 Ex-Chief Cochran says he has no plans to appeal.

What does the bible say about situations like these?

1. They are inevitable. If you're a witnessing, mature Christian in the world, you will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12).  None of this is a surprise to Chief Cochran. None of it should be a surprise to you or me, either. Our response to persecution is key. Cochran said he is not a victim of his beliefs nor is he disheartened or discouraged. I am sure that in addition, Chief Cochran feels blessed in some measure to be sharing the persecution of His king.

The Hatred of the World … "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (John 15:19-20)

2. Turn the other cheek. Chief Cochran demonstrated the values Jesus imposed in Matthew 5:39, when Cochran says he hates no one, loves all people.

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

John MacArthur said in his blog essay Persecution and Submission,
...when persecution comes to the church, true believers don’t flee. Nor do they fight back against the persecution, or try to protest or legislate it away. Instead, authentic Christians submit to persecution.
3. He honors his boss. Mayor Reed had asked Chief Cochran not to speak to the media during the one-month suspension, and Cochran did not. Prior to that, Cochran said he'd gone to his boss's Ethics Committee to receive advice on the protocols regarding the book he was writing, and he said he also gave a copy to his boss. Cochran was doing the proper thing with his superior officers. The Chief says he has no plans to appeal. The bible says,

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, (1 Peter 2:13).

4. Remember that the world has an illogical mind when it comes to sin. Mayor Reed said of Cochran:
"His judgment and ability to manage the department was the subject of this inquiry.” Here is Cochran's bio, and mind you, it's only an excerpt. There's more.
Kelvin J. Cochran serves as First Vice President and Director of International Association Of Fire Chiefs Inc. His formal education post High School includes the U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Academy, Wiley College, where he received a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Management (1999). In 2009, President Obama appointed him as the U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration. Mr. Cochran holds a Masters Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech (2004). Previously, he was a 26-year-veteran of Shreveport, LA fire department, having joined as firefighter in 1981, progressing through the ranks of training officer and assistant chief training officer before becoming fire chief in 1999.
It seems to me that his 'ability to lead and manage the department' would be stellar, and in fact, has been for 6 years. What I ask is, would the same level of scrutiny be present with an LGBT person leading and managing the department? Would they have sound judgment and no bias when it comes to hiring, training, and leading Christian folk they know object to their lifestyle? Of course not. But sin makes the carnal mind illogical, they have a debased mind. That means they don't think straight. (Romans 1:28). We understand that and simply continue showing the love of Christ, as Chief Cochran has done.

5. Trust the Lord. Chief Cochran ended his message to the Convention gathered at Fist Baptist Church by reciting Psalm 27, which he had memorized,
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations ... Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
6. The LORD always uses His people for Good. Chief Cochran knows that good will come from this. It has already. Many people, I'm sure, are encouraged by his response and take inspiration from it. I'm one of them. He is providing a template for how to respond when persecution comes to my door. The bible says,

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20).

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Chief Cochran's goal was to glorify Christ. He has done so, in an unexpected way. When the time comes, may we do the same.


Oliver B. Greene on Pre-trib rapture (Reprise)

This essay first appeared on The End Time on July 10, 2014) Oliver B. Greene published a wonderful verse-by-verse exposition of Daniel ...