Friday, December 31, 2010

Holy Ground

by Steve Popovich

"Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Ex. 3:5-6

My not so fond memories of walking barefoot outdoors are bleeding feet from broken glass, being hobbled by discarded bottle caps and yelping like a scalded dog while scurrying across burning pavement. Since I now know that all these hidden evils are in the world, I have become disciplined enough to put my shoes on daily.

God uses symbols to help us understand his truths because a picture is worth a thousand words...even to God. And in God's manifold collection of types and figures, shoes represent a walk of spiritual separation from the cursed world; a manner of walking where we don't succumb to spiritual snares and minefields.

For forty years God led His people through the wilderness. In all that time the shoes of the Israelites never wore out.  

"And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot." Deut 29:5

Not only does this passage teach us about God's care in meeting the needs of His people, it tells us in a symbolic picture that those who are led by God are to walk separately from the spiritual wilderness of this world.

Not long before Moses led the Israelites from Egypt, Moses approached a burning bush in the desert where God command him to remove his shoes because the ground on which he stood was "Holy Ground". God was staying true to his types and teaching us through pictures that where He is, there is no need for a separated walk. In fact, the opposite is true; never should we walk separately from where God is.

Our daily prayer:
Lord, open our hearts to the Holy Ground of your word. May we have clear eyes and sure feet to walk according to your ways… but in the ways of the world, help us to have laced-up hearts with shoes that don't wear out. Amen

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Biblical Separation of Church and State

Java Asks

Can you please explain the following:

All authority, including political, is from God.
  • We are to obey that authority.
  • But that authority hates us.
  • We are to disobey that authority.
  • we are now disobeying God when we disobey political authority.

All of these are found in the bible. How are these points reconciled?

All explained by Peter and exemplified by Jesus:

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men....For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps...Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 1 Peter 2:13-15,21. 3:13-15
[our submission to the leading of God includes submitting to the earthly authorities, just as Jesus did---making us "model citizens" and earning the praise of those authorities.]

But "even if" we suffer at the hand of the authorities due to hostility toward righteousness, including false accusations by others, our defense and hope is set, not in the earthly legal system, but in the hope that is in us.

Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."John 18:35-37
[Jesus proclaims the hope that is in him as He sanctifies the Father's will in His heart]

If ever God leads believers to suffer at the hands of earthly authorities for righteousness sake, It is for reasons of eternal glory.

And he said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they kept shouting all the more, saying, "Crucify Him!". When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves." Matt 27:23-24
[through submission to unjust suffering at the hands of earthly authorities, the world's salvation came]

At no time did Jesus, or are we, to rebel against gov't authorities---they are there because God has put them there for His purposes..

So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." John 19:10-11
[Government authority over God's people is an extension of God's authority over us, therefore we are not to be rebellious toward it]


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

signs and wonder gifts - are they applicable for today?

Franky asks:

To say that signs and wonders ceased after the last Apostle died has no basis in scripture, no verses to prove this, yet it is a major belief among Christians---WHY ???

Signs and wonders were primarily given to underscore and give credence to the new revelation spoken by Jesus and the apostles.

how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. Heb. 2:3-4

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. John 14:10-11

It is clear from scripture that there is no further word of truth to be revealed to us by God at least until Jesus returns. Therefore the main reason for signs and wonders has ceased for the time being. I'm not saying God doesn't work miracle healings in response to prayer (I know he does - James 5:14-15) but I'm confident there have been no raising from the dead, multiplying of fish and loaves to feed thousands etc, since the days of Jesus and the apostles because the time of truth confirming has past.

Follow-up comment #1
WP comments

"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,a and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."
I definitely do not agree with many of today's T.V. "healers" and "miracle workers;" but; this verse is not talking about gifts that are used to confirm the truth of the gospel, but that are given for the common good of the Body.

The problem is, other parts of the body (teachers, pastors, etc.) reject the parts of the Body that have these gifts, making them least among the members, those members in turn withdrawing into a static position.

All gifts of the Spirit are connected to ministering God's truth---either 1) directly (e.g teaching, exhortation, pastoring), 2) indirectly by assisting others to minister the word (e.g. hospitality, giving, helps) or 3) by authenticating the word by the sign and wonder gifts (e.g. healing, prophecy, tongues).

The sign and wonder gifts are no longer applicable because the word has already been confirmed, and the recorded accounts of signs and wonders is all God has determined that our faith needs. For the body to seek signs and wonder gifts when they are no longer applicable just creates confusion---which is just what we see in many "sign and wonder" churches.

What is the purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

"for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" Eph. 4:12-14 [In other words, God's purpose for gifts is so His people can be built up as 'word people'---children of light---while throwing off things of darkness. This is the "common good"]

Follow-up comment #2

You're giving me "seminary speak", not scripture to prove YOUR words, there is NO scripture that says the gifts of the spirit are no longer available to us, and are no longer necessary.

As for the verse above,
We have NOT "attained to the unity of faith" as this debate indicates.

If I am to believe you, you must post scripture, preferably by Jesus, that a time would come when, no longer, the "works I do, you will do also", and He did not put a time limit on them, that was done by Calvin, etal.


I presented scriptures that give the reasons for gifts in general and the particular role for sign and wonder gifts. Cutting the word straight from there is very much on the surface.

We are called to perfection and we will be perfect in heaven. But while on earth it's not a matter of reaching perfection but of direction...therefore we 'press on' (Phil 3:10-14)

The focus of that verse is the "and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father". It becomes clear as we read the whole of the upper room discourse and on into the prayer of 17, that the "greater [works] than these" refers to the work of love, because we have become 'word people'---i.e. new covenant people with the word of God written on our hearts by the Spirit who Jesus sends after he goes to the Father. The "greater [works] than these" is the same thing as the "more excellent way" of 1 Cor 12:31 where Paul goes on in chap 13 to describe the superiority of love over all gifts.

And in 1 Cor 13:8 we see gifts that do have a time limit because their period of usefulness has expired---i.e. no further word to be given and authenticated.

Follow up comment #3
But "the perfect" has not come, so we should not call the works of God completed until the time for Jesus to come back. If we do, many suffer, who Jesus willed not to suffer.

The "perfect" is not the bible, because verse 12 says we will see "face to face", we don't see the bible face to face.

The Lord's will is that His will in Heaven be done on earth, Luke 10:9 says "And heal those in it, (the home they entered) and say to them, the Kingdom of God has come near you."

According to some modern theology, healing is no longer is included in the "Kingdom of Heaven", where does it say these things were removed ?

No proof, therefore a foundation built on sand.

Has the Kingdom of God (heaven), changed?


Many believe this refers to the canon of scripture (not our black bound bibles) which was not complete at the time of this letter but was 'made complete' (i.e. perfect) when John wrote Revelation.

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" John 22:18

Certainly a completed canon of scripture was foreordained. The use of the gender neutral in this verse argues in favor of this interpretation as opposed to the 'made complete thing' referring to Christ. However, that "perfect" thing could also refer to the perfected man (i.e. body of Christ) of eph 4:13 that will arise to heaven.

Paul uses "face to face" to describe the current ministry of the Holy Spirit as the word of God is 'written' by the Spirit on the hearts of believers and thereby transforming them into the image of the One whose 'face has become unveiled', 1 Cor chapters 3 and 4.

And so prophecy and knowledge represent word ministering gifts that will cease when the 'perfect' comes (whether the canon of scripture, Christ or the perfected Body of Christ) whereas tongues will cease of themselves (like a battery with a limited life)---two different verbs and verb tenses being used.

Moreover, It's clear from the gospel of John that Jesus performed miracles because the faith of many required it. And even though the faith that required works to believe His words was acceptable to God, He is even more pleased with faith that accepts His words without the need for miracles.

And lastly, we read in 1 Corinthian 14 how confusion and 'unprofitability' was rampant in those churches who utilized tongues 'unskillfully'---and that when sign and wonder gifts were applicable. I can only imagine how things are now when those gifts have long since 'wound down'.

In terms of ongoing physical healings in God's Kingdom, Why would the Kingdom of God be focused on physical healings when everybody dies anyway. No, the kingdom is all about righteousness (i.e. walking according to his word in the transformation power of the Spirit) with God's attending peace and joy--Rom 14:17.

The relevance of "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" in the context of this post is that God's word in heaven is received by the angels without God having to resort to signs and wonders to get their attention. And so shall it be on earth.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

What does partaking of the divine nature mean

D.R. asks:

I've been studying this verse and would like the opinion of others. Specifically, what does it mean to be partakers of the divine nature?

"For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
" 2Peter1:4

In this passage, Peter uses "divine nature" in the context of increased Godliness that goes on in our hearts like a seed that bears fruit. That is why we see in the previous verse that the grace and peace a believer receives when he receives the gospel is to be abounding in us. And so we see in the following verses that saving faith is just the beginning---having added to it holiness (i.e. less and less sin) and righteousness (more and more love) (1:5-7).

Peter, John and James all describe this growth as a flourishing of God's seed in us (a.k.a. His word), with the Holy Spirit mostly in the white spaces. And since this growth can only occur in blood washed hearts, the epistles, each in their own way, agree that:

divine nature = Word + Spirit + Blood

or as Paul calls it in 2 Cor. 4:7 "this treasure in earthen vessels."

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 2Cor. 4:7-8

All three ingredients of the divine nature are given to us in and through Christ---the flourishing being the fruit of Christlikeness.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jesus fulfills the law so we can live?

Iak asks:

Here Jesus being man e.g flesh, and according to some died to fulfill the law, doing a work of the law. If the case is that in order for mankind to be saved through Jesus Christ he had to finish the works of the Law, fulfilling the law, how is it anyone is justified since no flesh will be justified by works of the law?

"because by the works of the Law none of all flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law is the knowledge of sin. But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets" Rom. 3:20-21

Flesh could not do God's law so God's law did the flesh (i.e. the Word was made flesh)

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh
Rom." 8:3

So that whosoever will receive Him receives the cancellation of debt for being transgressors of God's law:

"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Col. 2:13-14

And power to engage God's word (aka righteousness) with an increasing measure of freedom from the desires of the flesh---it now being circumcised.

"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom 8:4


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Apostasy and Hebrews 6

TM asks:

I'm interested in learning more about Hebre
ws 6 and the various interpretations of it given in contemporary and historical contexts.

"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." Hebrews 6:4-6, NIV

I was wondering what thoughts people had on how to interpret this passage?

I'm really looking for some kind of overview on this passage, it's interesting to see how it polarizes Christians.

Points to ponder as we consider this passage:
  • Every occurrence of the Holy Spirit in Hebrews refers to His role as a witness to the word of God: Heb.2:4, 3:7, 6:4, 9:8, 10:15, 10:29
  • A clear description of the enlightenment power of the Holy Spirit through his witnessing role is in John 16:7-11
  • The Jews instigated the death of Jesus---having Him crucified--- because they so rejected His words.
  • Heb 6:7-8, is a symbolic parallel of 6:4-6 where:
  1. the earth is a picture of the heart of man (as it is in the parables of Matthew and other places in the Bible)
  2. water represents the word of God (as it is does throughout the Bible)
  3. vegetation of blessing is the evidence of the new life that comes from repentance and faith upon receiving God's word.
  4. Thorns and thistles is a picture of the curse---evidence of the old nature with its lack of repentance and saving faith at receiving the word of the Gospel.
  • This passage also has a parallel in Numbers 13-14 (a passage that has echoes in Heb 3:7-4:11 as well) where the grapes, brought back from Canaan as a witness of God's blessing of the land, were tasted by the people, but still they refused to enter because of unbelief, and so fell short of God's rest---falling away in the wilderness.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

1 Cor. 15:28 - "That God may be all in all"


Dave asks:

I still struggle with this verse and it's meaning, I see it used by Cults and ism's to support various beliefs.

"And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." 1 Cor. 15:28

Is it saying "God may be all in all" as in we will see the Trinity reigning? (hope that makes sense) or that God will have put down all rebellion, as a result God is in all (everyone). I lean towards the first because of the context. Maybe I've missed the mark altogether? Supporting scripture sure would be nice.

This verse appears to be the culmination and end of:

"yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Cor. 8:6"

And if we want further biblical elaboration, we can turn to Rev. chapters 21-22 and glean whatever we can glean.

I'll add one more related passage:

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Eph 1:18-23


Sunday, June 6, 2010


TC asks:

For all of you who do not believe in OSAS [Once Saved Always Saved] , can you please explain how a person who is already saved can then be damned?


This is not a direct answer to your question, just an 'OSAS' musing.

To be 'saved' means to be 'made whole'. Believers will not be made completely whole according to God's purpose until we receive our new bodies in heaven. Salvation (the noun) has a beginning, a middle and an end. We have been saved (a.k.a justified), we are being saved (a.k.a. sanctified) and we will be saved (a.k.a. glorified). Salvation has a 'sweep' to it. Therefore, OSAS technically should be "once having begun the process of being made whole always in the process of being made whole to the end'. Lets see, that would be, OHBTPOBMWAITPOBMWTTE. I don't say this to be a nerd, but there are a lot of verses that will trip up the youngsters in the word unless they are aware of this simple 'sweep' of salvation. Such as:

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 [Peter is saying that the trials we go through down here will result in greater rejoicing when we are glorified---the fullness of our salvation. Unless we understand this, this verse might say to some that we are wishing and hoping about our salvation until the end]

The just shall live by faith. various [means those who have been justified [by faith] will continue to walk by faith through the sanctification stage of salvation]

and so on..


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meditation on Fruit

JK asks

ust running this up the flagpole to see if it flies. Comments?

The other day I was meditating on the idea of “fruit” as used in the bible especially the New Testament. The term “fruit” is generally used as a synonym for “deeds”. Jesus stated that a good tree (a righteous person) produces good fruit (good deeds) while an evil tree (unrighteous person) produces bad fruit (evil deeds).

He also said that the way to produce proper fruit was to abide in the Vine (John 15:4).

Now here is my question. Should the goal of the Christian be to produce good fruit? Should a Christian expend great effort on producing such fruit?

I think not. Because trying to produce good fruit from a bad tree (our carnal nature) just won’t work. All it is going to do is produce frustration. It’s the wrong focus. Instead the Christian should focus on staying rooted in the ground of Truth and being nourished by the Light of the Son and the Living Water of the Spirit.

The branch must stay attached to the Vine of Christ or it will wither and die. If that is done a Christian will naturally produce good fruit without any effort. Such fruit will nourish others and spread the seeds of righteousness all around.

Fruits are generally categorized as either:

1) "Action" fruits - Basically the use of our spiritual gifts in the service of others (especially for the household of God)

2) "Attitude" Fruits - Heart felt peace, love, joy (which is really the fruits of Jesus that flow through us)

Every heart and mind is going to abide somewhere, either in the world through the flesh..or in the word of Christ by the Spirit.

Not abiding in the world, but remaining rooted and grounded, does require the activity of the will as we, for example, actively apply our spiritual armor (Eph 6)

We do have an active role in weeding the garden (repentance, confession, spiritual armor) and positioning ourselves (e.g. forsaking not the assembling together, subjecting ourselves to the instruction and example of elders, study of God's word and prayer) so that we as God's vessels can realize His power of transforming minds with His attending peace, love and joy. But you're essentially correct because it's His mind and His "attitude" fruits that He is actively producing in us.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Phil 2:12


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Turning the other cheek

Ed asks,

How many believe that defending your family is not allowed by God? IF someone broke into your house to harm your family should you turn the other cheek, or defend your family at all costs?


ndications are that Jesus wasn't inclined to turn the other cheek here:

And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? John 18:22-23

However, I have a hunch he literally did here:

Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they
began to come up to Him and say, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and to give Him slaps in the face. John 19:1-3

The reason being that by this time Jesus was in the hands of Pontius Pilate to whom God had given earthly authority.

So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has
the greater sin." John 19:10-11

And as such Jesus meekly "humbled Himself under the mighty hand of God, that He may be exalted in due time"

I believe it's safe to put "turning the other cheek" in the same category as "plucking ones eyes out if they cause one to do evil" not to be taken literally, but the lesson is less clear nonetheless, as stated by Peter:

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:20-23

Believers are sometimes called to suffer for Christ's sake at the hands of those who have God given earthly authority over us. In doing so, the unseen reality is that believers are humbling themselves under the mighty hand of God---just as Jesus had done, resulting in the salvation of man.

When we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, He lifts us up in His time.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blaspheming the glorious ones---what's that?

"Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord." 2 Peter 2:10-11

Q. What is this about?

My Bible notes say that the 'glorious ones' are demons. I would've thought this is a reference to kings or government authorities - didn't kings and Caesars of that time try to make themselves out as gods? How exactly do you blaspheme a demon?

A. Both you and your bible notes are on to something. The point is that all authority over 'kingdoms' on earth is given by God.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. John 19:11

And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. Luke 4:6-7
Therefore to speak evil of that authority is to speak evil of the one who grants all authority.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Rom 13:1-2

A similar thought is seen in Jude:

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. Jude 1:8-9
The flow of authority stems from God..He is sovereignly in control as he ordains authority.

Earthly authorities play checkers while the spiritual authorities behind them play chess. The Alpha and Omega who ordains all authority over the kingdoms is playing multi-dimensional chess and controls the board.

So, anything we say about those in authority over us should be tempered by the 'big picture'---lest we seem to indicate that God doesn't know what he's doing. That's the bottom line in this particular instance of 'blasphemy'!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Temptation and sin

Q. Jesus seemed to infer that to think the sin is to do it, and elsewhere said it is not a sin to be tempted. Where is the line between the one and the other? What exactly is the mechanism of a devil's tempting us? Is he putting thoughts into our heads using telepathic communication (without revealing his own presence) and therefore making us think it is our own thought and proof of our own corruption? How do we distinguish between a devil-made thought and our own thought? Remember Jesus telling Peter that Satan was speaking through him? I'm sure that was news to Peter.

Because his heart is entombed in the lusts of the flesh, fallen man is attracted to the sounds and sights of the carnival attractions with or without the carnival barker.

Q. But how can you blame the depressed from reaching for comfort from alcohol or drugs? He did not necessarily cause the depression that makes him vulnerable to addiction.

A. They're reaching out in the darkness...and finding it

Q. They may be in the dark, true. But what sets the dark minded people away from the light minded people?

A. There's different ways to put it and many different supporting verses, but a favorite is:

Trust and Obey
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21.
I assume we're talking about a believer?

Q. But I try to put away such filthiness and yet filthy thoughts keep invading my mind. What do I do about those thoughts?

A. I'll take that as a 'yes' to my question...

When we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death as well as his life.. Both have a mark on the transformed mind of a believer---one eliminates the negative and the other accentuates the positive.. As for being one with His death, we are to be dead to the lusts of the flesh just as a corpse in a casket is dead to the outside stimuli of the world---also known as the crucified flesh, or circumcised heart. However, since a believer's heart and mind still exist in the flesh while on earth, we need to be wearing God's truth like a helmet. Only then will we live in the place of the crucified flesh where the Spirit flourishes in love.--which is the point of Col 3:1-6, 1Peter 4:1-10, most of Romans 6, most of Galatians 5---among others. So, what is it like to view the world's enticements through the eyes and ears of the circumcised heart? Read Phil 3:8.

Q. Ok, but we have wandered away from the original question, which is: What is the difference between thinking bad thoughts and actually sinning? Think of those boys who killed their fellow students at Columbine Colorado, for example. What if they had merely thought the evil thing but did not do it and later actually repented of even having thought it? I'll bet there are thousands who are of this type.

A. In the eyes of God, as revealed at the Sermon on the Mount; one man has evil thoughts and acts on them...another man has the same evil thoughts and does not act on them, both are guilty of sin. If they are unconverted, they need to repent and receive the word of God unto salvation..If they are believers, they need to repent and continue receiving the word (trusting and obeying) unto sanctification---that is, spiritual growth.

Q. I repent of being an alcoholic. But I can't quit. What am I to do?

A. You need to join a local body of Godly believers that are confessing their faults to one another and carrying one another as they are praying and ministering their gifts to one another. The Lord wants to build you up, and his tool box is at the local assemblies.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

God is the Gospel


Below is just a quick gospel rant born out of gospel-intentional conversations for the last several months with lost people, especially with Jehovah Witnesses I've been meeting with since last October. They talk so much about "paradise earth" but speak seldom of our Creator and Redeemer who is the source of all our blessings (Eph 1:3). I understand that their blindness is a result of "the god of this age [who] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel"...(2 Cor 4:4)

However, while dwelling upon these things, I've just been struck by God's awesome plan of salvation...and how it's good for my heart to be reminded that my salvation in Christ is not merely a means to a different end (ie: new heaven/earth) -- but rather God has made Christ the means and the end! Heaven is heaven, because God is there --without God, it might as well be hell. As i've heard it said before, God is the gospel...we are saved from Him, by Him, to Him and for Him! I pray that if I preach this enough to myself I will treasure Christ all the more...and if I keep sharing this with the lost, by God's grace he will show them "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6)

We are saved from God (Eph 2:1-3)
We are saved by God (Eph 2:4-5)
We are saved to God (Eph 2:7)
We are saved for God (Eph 1:6,12,14)

With His love,


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

No one has ascended to heaven - John 3:13

"And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man" John 3:13

Q. Okay, here's the thing I'm wondering about...
Jesus said "no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man". But then there's Enoch and Elijah who, I guess, were taken to heaven, even 2 Kings 2:11 says Elijah was taken in a whirlwind to Heaven.

A. Jesus is essentially saying to Nicodemus that He has the words of eternal life, and is connecting himself to God's way ---stated in Deut. 30---- of freely distributing His words of life to man.
"For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it? Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it? But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it" Deut 30:11-14
Those who now have received the words of life that have come down from heaven are on the "distribution team"---like Paul---and all of us.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down [from above] Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; Rom 10:6-8
In other words, we don't have to be like Indiana Jones, "In Search of the Words of Life"...God sends them down from heaven and they are distributed freely by his people.

To have doubts about John 3:13 because Enoch and Elijah were received up to heaven misses the point of the imagery----i.e. Enoch and Elijah weren't climbing up to heaven in order to seek and obtain God's words of life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tempted in every way, yet was without sin - Heb. 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Heb 4:15

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Eph. 2:3

But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,"Rom. 8:3

Q. What does "we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are" --- mean to those who believe Jesus is God ?

A. Two basic ways a believer's heart is tempted:
  • A) To be pulled through the lusts of the flesh toward things that pass away
  • B) To feint in well doing because of the pressure of the crucible.

What nature did Jesus have ?

A. Jesus was not by nature a child of wrath...try as the tempter did in the wilderness, the allures of all that which is passing away (1Jn 2:15-17) held no attraction to him.. In other words, he was born with a heart that had no need of flesh circumcision.

Q. How can Jesus be tempted "in every way" and not have "evil desires" which is temptation ?

A. The ingredients of temptation are 1) The tempter (Satan), 2) the temptation 3) the tempted (heart of man)

Type A temptations - The heart of fallen man is entombed in the flesh with its lusts. Jesus was born with no such "entombment" therefore those things of the world held no attraction..In terms of Romans 6, He was born "dead to sin."

Type B temptations- The continuation through the "well doing" of Calvary was Jesus' great temptation---having nothing to do with the type A temptations--- and although Jesus prayed in Gethsemane to not be led to drinking that cup, at no time was his ultimate desire anything but to go where the Father led. (i.e "lead me not into temptation...nevertheless not my will but Thine be done")


Monday, January 18, 2010

Examine yourself whether ye be in the faith - 2Cor.13: 5-7

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. 2Cor.13:5-7

The question that I'm about to ask is probably very simple, but I've often wondered what does it mean when a preacher would say, "Test yourself to see if you're in the faith."

Could someone explain to me how you would test yourself to see if you're in the faith? Could you give me some examples on how you would test yourself?

We see in 2 Cor. 13:5-7, that if one is not of the faith he is reprobate (adokimos = not approved, as in counterfeit coins). So, to test if one is of the faith is the same thing as testing if one is reprobate. Or, as the NAS and NIV translate it, "fail the test".

Outside of 2 Cor. 13, we see 'adokimos' five times. Four times the meaning is that the word of God was not 'engaged' (it didn't 'take') in the heart in question. Those verses are Romans 1:28, 2Tim. 3:8, Titus 1:16 and Heb. 6:8.

And sure enough, we see in 2 Cor 13:8, Paul's one verse summary of what it means to be "of the faith":

For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

Which is also a one verse summary of 1 John, where we see over and over that those born of the word of God will be giving evidence of that seed of God which remains in them. And in that letter we see some specific criteria for passing the examination:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 1Jn 3:14

In the other usage of adokimos, 1 Cor 9:27, Paul says he is constantly on the look out lest he be engaging God's word with his flesh, in which case he would be 'disqualified' for crowns. That is, his ministry of the word would be found to be counterfeit works of the flesh and so consumed as wood, hay and stubble at the Day of Christ.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Pearl of great price - Matt 13:45-46

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matt. 13:45-46

. My question is in Matt 13: 45-46. Who is the pearl of great value? Jesus or us?...I believe we are the pearl despite the popular interpretation that Jesus is...what say you?

A. If what is in view in Matt. 13:45-46 is the heavenly city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God...and I think it is...then both are true.

To whom coming, as unto a
living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner tone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:1 Peter 2:4-7,9

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: ! Peter 1:18-19

Q. To follow up my question, I tend to agree with A.W. Pink's perspective..

A. Pink has excellent comments on the pearl representing the church. And I basically agree with what he says. Here is the way I see it:

The pearl represents the heart of man (a.k.a. living stone)..but also the heart of Christ (a Living Stone who is the Corner), reminding us that He became like us in order to transform us into His likeness. For example:

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Heb 2:17

And I agree that a sinner does not wholly consider the preciousness of Christ when he enters the gate of salvation other than rightly reaching for Jesus as an escape from God's judgment on his sin. However, when we enter the gate and continue coming to Him as living stones coming to the Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4) his preciousness grows in our sight. But even then the only thing we can give Him is our sin-prone selves in service as we are [slowly but surely] letting go of the world to serve Him--as expressed by Paul

although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, Phil 3:4-8