January 26, 2014

God’s Written Word (Not Man’s) – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The following quote, from a popular “Christian” website, illustrates an attitude toward the Bible that I hear constantly.

“The Bible is inspired by God. It amazingly records and preserves the Hebrew/Jewish people’s history with God, the life and teachings of Jesus, and the beginnings of the Christian Church. Inspired, yes. There is, however, a critical difference between spiritual revelation and human words. …The words of the Bible were mostly penned by writers who lived in close relationship to God… They were not perfect or omniscient people.”

“Sure the Bible is inspired,” the writer says. He assures us that it preserves the history of God’s people and contains the teaching of Jesus. But, men wrote it so it is foolish to think it is perfect.

Liars

The first glaring problem with this heresy is the inconsistency of the idea that these wonderful, “spiritual” men in “close relationship with God” (who cannot lie, Heb.6:18), would lie so flagrantly about that which they had written.

King David was on his deathbed when he uttered these (lying?) words.

Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, The man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.” (II Samuel 23:1-2)

If he really was trying to tell the children of Israel that these were God’s words, what should he have said that he did not say? This spiritual man was not so stupid that he did not understand the concept of inspiration that these words convey. He intentionally lied if the obvious is not true.

Consider what Isaiah affirmed about what God told him.

“I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth,…” (Isaiah 51:16).

Isaiah lied again when he described God’s promise (according to the popular web site).

“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from now and forever.” (Isaiah 59:21)

Isaiah was not the only prophet who made such claims. Isaiah together with Jeremiah made a team of liars (according to this popular view). Jeremiah begins in chapter one, making it clear that these were God’s words.

“Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,… (v.4) Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” (v.9)

Presumptuous Liars

The second problem that shouts at a reasonable person is the attitude that the prophets commanded toward what they wrote. Not only should the words be regarded as God’s words, these were God’s exclusive words. Other spiritual men must shut up and must not dare to add their insights or make the slightest correction.

“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32).

Moses was the first writer of the Bible and it was appropriate that he should give such a warning. Then John finished the last book, then laid down the pen of inspiration. His warning is even more severe, demanding condemnation against any later attempt to add some new “revelation” to the now-complete Word of God.

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and  from the holy city, which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19).

My own words can and should be amended, early and often. Not so with every word of God. How ridiculous it would be to make assertions about my words, like those quoted above. Yet, the attitude is entirely appropriate toward the Word of God.

The inspired writers were presumptuous liars or they told the truth. I am amazed that those claiming to be Christians don’t know which. Consider Peter’s affirmation.

Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.  (II Peter 1:21)   NET

 

 

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January 19, 2014

I’ll Get You – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:02 am by sranderson0103

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:11-12)

“Blessed? Do you know what they did to me? That back stabber lied about me behind my back, and do you know what kind of damage that caused?”

The “natural man” guided by the flesh and full of pride, gets all fired up and immediately begins to focus ingeniously on plots and plans to even the score. “Just imagine. I could turn this disaster around and give them a taste of their own medicine. Wouldn’t it be great if I could give them what they have coming.”

That may feel right but it is wrong. The Apostle Paul commands,

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God,…” (Romans 12:19)

But how should we respond to these terrible things done by this terrible person? What is Divine wisdom?

First, this “terrible person,” is a human being created in the image of God. That’s one reason Moses gave for not killing them. (Pay attention, young brothers and sisters.)

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:6)

Second, we are all guilty of sin and God’s divine justice has determined that you and I are really worthy of eternal punishment. Yes, these terrible people did really evil things. (They hurt ME.) But, we do too…and in God’s view, one sin is terrible.

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”  (James 2:10)

Third, God is a just God who has promised that He absolutely, positively will even the score and He will do it perfectly.

“…leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “ VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Do you believe that? Really? Then why the overwhelming compulsion to make sure that it gets done? God promised that He would, so back off.

In other words: They are not that bad; we are not that good and God will even the score.

“OK, that looks different, but, ‘Rejoice’?”

We need to remember that we are not the only ones who ever got stabbed in the back with cruel words, in fact many of God’s children were stabbed with actual cold, steel blades. God sees all this. We understand that God appreciates those who have died for him, like Stephen.

“…they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:54-56)

Now, having come out of all of earth’s pain and disappointment, Stephen is being comforted in the presence of his Lord. You think he knows about rejoicing?

Why was it that Jesus told us to rejoice?

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

This lesson is not easy to remember and takes a lot of practice to be good at it. God knows this and reminds us over and over.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; (Matthew 5:44)

“…not returning evil for evil or  insult for insult, but  giving a  blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might  inherit a blessing.” (I Pet. 3:9).

“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 …while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (I Pet. 2:21-23)

 

 

 

January 12, 2014

Hardened and Blind – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;” (Ephesians 4:18)

It is difficult to watch a strong, healthy blind person groping with their red tipped white cane, trying to find their way. What a heartbreaking tragedy.  But, while blinded eyes are tragic, it is infinitely worse to have a blinded heart.

We do not see anyone choosing to be sightless, but spiritual blindness is a product of the human will.

Jesus chose a juxtaposition of these ideas, to teach a powerful lesson. He gave the gift of sight to a man born blind. In doing so, He provided powerful evidence that anyone could see. Nevertheless, the Pharisees still refused to see the illuminated implication of Jesus’ action.

“And Jesus said, For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (John 9:39-41)

These pompous, spiritually sightless intellectuals, who thought they saw it all, remind us of modern intellectuals who are often incurably blind. They profess to teach ultimate truth (while denying the concept) about science and philosophy from their lofty towers of higher learning. They profess themselves to be wise but their understanding is darkened and their hearts are blinded.

Because they are “intellectually dishonest” God tells us that He intentionally blinds them. Then the Devil joins the effort making truly formidable team.

“…Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged…” (II Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Because they do not love the truth, these pitifully sad individuals, are divinely blinded. They proceed ignorantly, probing with their white canes, stumbling along in black darkness.

Regarding the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul says:

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (II Corinthians 4:3-4)

Even very religious people, like the Jews, people who believe in God as Creator, may blind themselves when confronted with the truth that the Creator must also become their Savior.

“But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;” (II Corinthians 3:14-15)

Nevertheless, Christ came as “the light.” He came to open blind eyes so that they could see the radiant truth of Gods eternal wisdom, which man, on his own, could never imagine. But, He did not open all the blind eyes in Israel. Likewise, spiritually, He selectively opens the eyes guided buy honest hearts. Various translations of the promise made by Jesus in John 7:17 illuminate this truth.

“Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know…” NLT

“If you really want to obey God, you will know…” CEV

“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out…” NIV

“Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know…” NRSV

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know…” ESV

God promises that, when He sees honest hearts, He will shine the light of truth on Satan’s darkness. The result is “the veil is taken away.” (II Corinthians 3:16) Then, these noble individuals are promised they will, “see the light of the gospel.” (II Corinthians 4:4)

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

January 5, 2014

The Beginning of the Year – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)

This phrase, “the beginning…of the year,” occurs only twice in the Bible, here and in Ezekiel 40:1, introducing the prophet’s prophetic vision of the future church.

“In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of the LORD was upon me and He brought me there. In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city.” (Ezekiel 40:1-2)

Ezekiel is providing a real, specific historical setting, in the promised land, for God’s vision of the future. In Deuteronomy, the Lord, through Moses, is speaking of this land that He had prepared for the children of Israel.

“…a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven…”

It was the promised land of their dreams, “a land flowing with milk and honey.…” (Deuteronomy 11:9-10)

Moses assures Israel that God cares for this land and that His eyes will be on it bringing great blessings…if they obeyed God.

“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain,…” (Deuteronomy 11:13-14)

But, it doesn’t rain in Israel, except in the winter, when they don’t need it. Americans (especially Arkansans) who spend time in Israel today, are struck with the desolate nature of this desert land. They understandably wonder, “…a land flowing with milk and honey…?” It’s a pile of rocks!

Once you see the desert Israel has become, you cannot miss the impact of the alternative promises Moses made about what would occur if they did not “serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain,…”

At the same time, with ominous certainty, Moses said…

“Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. ‘Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain…’” (Deuteronomy 11:16-17)

Israel forgot that, “ the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.” God saw their disobedience and kept His promises.

Although these promises were made specifically with reference to Israel, the principle surely would apply worldwide.

“He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God…” (Acts 17:26-27)

It certainly has applied to America, for God has certainly blessed our nation abundantly, founded as it was in its beginnings on the principles of God’s words. The “Pilgrims” who came to this country to serve God according to His word, demonstrated encouraging scriptural insights regarding the singular nature of the Lord’s church, practicing baptism for remission of sins.

Sadly, however, there are now many signs that His blessings are being withdrawn, because of the widespread apostasy and moral decay that has overtaken us.

Here, at “the beginning of the year,” we can pray that America will return to the God of our fathers before it is too late and final judgment falls on our once-blessed nation. In the words of our text, “the eyes of the LORD” are on us, “from the beginning even to the end of the year.”

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris