February 23, 2013

Great Decreasing – Greater Increasing – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:28 am by sranderson0103

“There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” (John 1:6-7)

Jesus Christ said that John the Baptist was the greatest man who had ever lived up to that time. “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!…” (Matthew 11:11). As great as he was, however, there is a striking contrast between himself and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus described John as “the lamp that was burning and was shining” (John 5:35), but He acknowledged that John was not “the true Light” (1:9).

The two different Greek words chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe these men are both translated “light,” but there is a significant difference. John’s “lamp” (luchnos) is defined by Thayer to mean, “a lamp, candle (?), that is placed on a stand or candlestick…” Compare this to the intrinsic, “true light” (phos). Thayer says, “consisting of light,…of the sun,…(i.e. illumining power)…a heavenly light, such as surrounds angels when they appear on earth:…” This is the “light” John preached. “He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” (John 1:7-9).

Similarly, John was foreseen by Isaiah as a great “VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS” (v. 23), but Jesus Christ was “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1). John’s voice was great but the Word was God.

John “came for a witness” (v. 7), bearing witness to the light and to the truth, but Jesus Christ was Himself incarnate truth (14:6). Some even thought John was the Messiah, but he said, “I am not” (1:20).

The prophet Malachi also prophesied of John four hundred years earlier: “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.” (Malachi 3:1). John was a messenger on a divine mission, sent by the Almighty, but Christ was the One whose way he came to prepare. John was “a man sent from God” (John 1:6), but when Christ came, John said, “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:34).

John preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3) as did the apostles of Christ (Acts 2:38). However, Jesus would baptize in additional elements. John explains, “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16). John spoke of the coming immersion in the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised the apostles and of the immersion in the coming judgment of fire, explained in the following verse. “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:17).

John was truly a mighty man of God, but when Christ finally came, John could only say, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30). John understood his role was to prepare for the real thing and that his job would soon be finished.

Isn’t it ironic that many today chose to wear the name of a great man who was “going out of business.” They do so with even less justification than those severely condemned at Corinth who were “saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’…” (I Corinthians 1:12). Remember, Jesus said “the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,” (Matthew 11:11). These great men, like those in Colossae, had been transferred into the kingdom, (Colossians 1:13) and were therefore greater, but Paul taught that it was wrong to wear their name religiously, (I Corinthians 1:10-13). The name of Christ is far above the greatest of the great men. Why can’t we just be Christians?

 

 

 

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February 16, 2013

Love – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:42 pm by sranderson0103

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” (Genesis 29:20)

Especially this time of year, we are told love is “in the air.” Faint remnants of reverence for Catholic “Saints” (St. Valentine) flavor expressions of emotion for the opposite sex. Hollywood makes millions extolling mystical, uncontrollable “happenings.” Such escapades are usually rationalizations for plain old sexual promiscuity, naively called “love.” It is a wonderful word, sadly and wickedly perverted.

Christians should know that “love” in the New Testament almost always means unselfish, self-sacrificing “agape” love. The Greek word for sexual love or romantic love, “eros,” is never used at all in the New Testament. Even marital love is ideally agape love in its main expression, as in Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” If husbands would learn the real meaning of “love” and how to do it, they need only look at their role model, Christ and His relationship to the church, together with the specific instructions to husbands and wives in the New Testament, such as that found in I Corinthians 7.

Of course, New Testament instruction builds on that revealed in the Old, designed to bring us to Christ.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ,…” (Gal. 3:24)

In the Old Testament there are about a dozen different Hebrew words used for “love,” and these often have wide variations in meaning, depending on context, often including romantic love as one of them. For example, Jacob’s willingness to work for Laban seven years in order to obtain Rachel for his wife clearly must have involved a high degree of romantic love on his part. He also loved her sister Leah, after Laban insisted he marry her first, but “he loved also Rachel more than Leah” (Genesis 29:30).

Several different “love” words are used in the Song of Solomon. The royal king and the lowly shepherd, both court the most beautiful girl in Israel. They frequently speak of their romantic love for each other. There is no doubt that God approves of such love when it is pure and true and involves self-sacrificing agape love as well.

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4).

The word, “honor” is defined by Brown Driver Brigs as:

“1. pert. to being of exceptional value …a. costly, precious…b. of great worth/value, precious of the blood of Jesus…1 Pt 1:19”

Marriage is thus “honored” when it is “undefiled.” The inspired writer says it is defiled by “fornication” and “adultery.”

The word for “fornicators” can refer to any kind of sexual activity. Some may call it “love,” but this is a caricature, outside of man-and-woman, lifelong marriage. It defiles that which God says must be honored.

The greatest love of all, of course, in both Old and New Testaments, is God’s love for the men and women He has created and redeemed.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

February 9, 2013

Descriptions of God – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:56 pm by sranderson0103

“And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,” (Acts 7:2)

The New Testament uses at least seven beautiful descriptive phrases to describe God.

First, consider the description used by Stephen, who called Him “the God of glory” as he gave his defense to the Jewish council just before he was martyred and indeed “saw the glory of God” (Acts 7:2, 55) himself. Steven was finishing his powerful defense of Christianity before the Sanhedrin, too powerful for these close-minded Jewish leaders who just couldn’t stand it.

The apostle Paul later referred to God as “the God who gives perseverance and encouragement,” while urging his fellow Christians to be “of the same mind with one another” (Romans 15:5). In the same chapter, he also called Him “the God of hope” in a benedictory prayer: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13).

Writing to the Christians at Corinth, Paul told them about the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:3-4). Then later he promised them that “the God of love” would be with them (II Corinthians 13:11).

From a deep, dark dungeon Paul told the Philippians about “the God of peace” (Philippians 4:9). Likewise, to the Thessalonians he prayed that “the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely” (I Thessalonians 5:23).

The seventh of these beautiful descriptions was written by the apostle Peter. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (I Peter 5:10).

The complete view presented by the Holy Spirit’s divine images of God, is amazing. These seven beautiful attributes of God (we could almost call them “titles” of God) are as follows: He is…

the God of glory

the God of perseverance and encouragement

the God of hope

the God of all comfort

the God of love

the God of peace

the God of all grace

 Those who have spiritual eyes and open them, understand from these descriptions that His nature demands that we honor and adore Him.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

February 3, 2013

Imperishable Things – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,”  (I Peter 1:18)

There are many things that appear very valuable to our natural eyes… stacks and stacks of gleaming gold bricks at Fort Knox…the immense store of sparkling diamonds owned by Kimberly and De Beers. But we need to be reminded that all the wealth of the entire world cannot redeem one soul. All the combined treasures are an ephemeral mist, perishing in a world sentenced to “the slavery to corruption” (Romans 8:12).

The entire physical creation is decaying and dying. In fact, one day all these “elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and  its works will be  burned up.” (II Peter 3:10). Even the amazing seeds which “miraculously” germinate and transmit life are “perishable” (I Peter 1:23). The apostle Paul refers to all mankind as “corruptible man” (Rom.1:23). Modern science recognizes this universal principle of decay as one of its most basic laws–the law of increasing entropy, or disorder.

In the midst of this perishing world a few things are permanent.

God

God Himself is appropriately described as the “incorruptible God” (Romans 1:23). Paul taught the church at Rome about the “Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God.” (Romans 16:26). One of the four living creatures before the heavenly throne spoke of “God, who lives forever and ever.” (Revelation 15:7).

The Enduring Word

Today, many tremble with reverence at the ever-changing, self-contradicting pronouncements of naturalistic scientists. They often foolishly bash their stubborn heads against an immovable stump, the “imperishable…the living and enduring word of God.” (I Peter 1:23).  Jesus assures us that “heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35).

The Precious Blood

In contrast to the perishing silver and gold by which we cannot be redeemed, we rely on the constant, timeless “precious blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:19).

The Christian’s Hope

Peter promises us “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away…” (I Peter 1:3-4).

The Christian’s Crown

Paul guarantees that while others work to “receive a perishable crown; but we an imperishable” (I Corinthians 9:25).

The Christian’s Changed Body

Finally, our own dying bodies will themselves be redeemed, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Corinthians 15:52-53).