August 13, 2017

Word of His Grace – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)

Paul was leaving his beloved brothers in the faith, likely never to see them again. He would not be there to chase away the wolves, but they would not be left without protection.

God would always be with them. Paul uses the same expression Jesus used on the cross when He placed His spirit into His Fathers hands. To “commend” to God is to place them into His care and keeping.

And, they had God’s Word. Was that enough? If they would fill themselves with it, they would be strong. It had the power to protect them, to strengthen them, to build them up, to guarantee their inheritance, to secure their place among all those who are sanctified, set apart for God’s service. Wow! Yes, that is enough, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:17).

Paul had done all he could do. Now they would be able to stand on their own, by the power of God administered through the “word of His grace.”

It is interesting and instructive to consider the expressions the Holy Spirit uses to describe the crucial role and the powers of God’s word.

Jesus was the expression of the will of God and He, Himself, is called “the Word of life (I John 1:1).

Christians at Philippi were told that they, themselves, “appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life,” (Philippians 2:15-16).

Jesus explains the role of Scripture in the parable of the sower, describing it as theword of the kingdom,(Matthew 13:19).

Paul speaks of the nearness of God’s Word when he called it, theword of faith, which we preach,” (Romans 10:8).

Paul established the fact that Christians today are the “children of promise,” by means of theword of promise, (Romans 9:9).

Paul speaks of the marvelous work of God, reconciling the world to Himself,” which our Calvinistic friends attribute to the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, relegating the Word to relative irrelevance. Paul indicates it accomplished by means of the “word of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:19).

Similarly, asserting the role of “the word of truth,” in salvation, he equates it with “the gospel of your salvation;” (Ephesians 1:13).

The writer of Hebrews referred to the admonitions of his inspired epistle as the “word of exhortation,” (Hebrews 13:22).

The Lord Jesus described the faithful church at Philadelphia as those who had “kept My word, and have not denied My name.” He promised them “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing,” (Revelation 3:10).

The metaphor of our text is also found when Paul was “speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.” (Acts 14:3).

Grace is the grand theme of the New Testament. It’s great significance warped the pendulum thinking of Calvin and Luther, who swung from the Catholic error of salvation by works, all the way past the truth to salvation without responsible accountability to conditions specified in the Word. Would that their followers, and all Christians today, learn to appreciate the great significance, the central, primary role of “the word of His grace.”

 

 

 

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July 30, 2017

A Fiery Serpent – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” (Numbers 21:8)

“And Jehovah saith unto Moses, ‘Make for thee a burning [serpent],…” (Numbers 21:8, Young’s Literal Translation)

The Hebrew word translated “fiery serpent” ( שָׂרָ֔ף) (seraph), according to Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, fundamentally means “burn.” It is used in a wide variety of ways; making bricks, destroying houses and chariots. It is never used for burnt offerings but is used of burning a red heifer (to produce ashes for purification). Under Roman numeral I, we read, “fiery serpent, usu. venomous; a flying serpent, or dragon.” Roman numeral II lists the plural form and defines: “seraphim — in OT. majestic beings with six wings, and human hands and voices, …”

So, now we know what Moses put on the pole??? Wow. Bible study is not always easy. There are several good words for “snake” in the Old Testament besides or in addition to this one. I have to wonder if the prejudice produced by evolutionists against dinosaurs, close-mindedly rejects the possibility of a fire-breathing dragon (which we see depicted only hundreds of years ago in sculptures and paintings around the world).

Proud Job is humbled by a consideration or God’s wondrous creation, the Leviathan in Job 41:21-34.

…Will you be laid low even at the sight of him? …“Who can open the doors of his face? Around his teeth there is terror. “His strong scales are his pride,… ““When he raises himself up, the mighty fear; Because of the crashing they are bewildered. The sword that reaches him cannot avail, Nor the spear, the dart or the javelin. “He regards iron as straw, Bronze as rotten wood. …“Nothing on earth is like him, One made without fear. “He looks on everything that is high; He is king over all the sons of pride.””

Then we read…

Out of his mouth go burning torches; Sparks of fire leap forth. “Out of his nostrils smoke goes forth…”

Isaiah appears to speak of a similar phenomenon.

“…for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth an adder, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.” (Isaiah 14:29)

“The burden of the beasts of the South. Through the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the lioness and the lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent,…” (Isaiah 30:6)

So what afflicted the Israelites in the wilderness and what did Moses put on the standard? I’m not sure, but it would certainly ramp up interest in the Biblical account if it referred to a fire-breathing dragon (dinosaur). If it refers only to poisonous serpents, it still is an incredible story, but…it was confirmed by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)

A plague of threatening creatures had terrorized the camp of Israel, sent as a divine judgment because of their complaints and ingratitude, and many people had died. When they confessed their sin and Moses prayed for their deliverance, God in His grace prescribed this unique remedy.

There is, of course, no naturalistic process that can heal a poisonous bite merely by a look. Neither, of course, is there a naturalistic explanation for the salvation of a sin-poisoned soul merely by looking with faith upon the crucified Son of man. Both are mighty miracles, with the first being beautifully designed by God to be a prophetic foreshadowing of the other.

The symbolism is striking. The brass image impaled on the pole represented slain creatures, but it also spoke of “that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan,” eventually cast forever into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:2, 10).

The symbols foreshadow and help communicate God’s eternal plan, the real deliverance which required a real Christ to die on a real cross.

“… even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)

(Adapted from an article by Henry Morris)

 

 

 

July 23, 2017

Nullifying The Word – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

“Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this.” (Mark 7:13 NET)

“…You have nullified the word of God on account of your tradition.” (Matthew 15:6 NET).

The original Greek word ἀκυρόω,” translated “nullify” in the above verse, is defined by Thayer’s lexicon to mean, “ to render void, deprive of force and authority,…”

Louw & Nida’s Greek lexicon give the following definition.

“to refuse to recognize the force or power of something — ‘to invalidate the authority of, to reject, to disregard.’ … In both Mt 15:6 and Mk 7:13 the emphasis is upon the fact that people had regarded traditions as having greater authority than the word of God.”

Jesus uttered these sharp words of rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees, men who professed great loyalty and respect for God’s Word. Jesus taught that their claim of respect was hypocritical when they ignored the simple, straightforward teaching of Scripture with numerous “interpretations” which enabled them to “nullify” the ideas that they just “knew” could not be true.

Comments from Baker’s Exegetical Commentary may help us understand the Jewish tradition that Jesus condemns.

“…it had come to refer to items removed from common use and dedicated to God, including funds pledged to the temple… Evidently, such funds were not transferable to others, such as one’s parents, but were still available to the one who pledged them. One could claim inability to meet a charitable obligation because one’s resources had already been pledged to God, when in fact no money had yet changed hands. In Matt. 15:4–5 Jesus juxtaposes God’s word and human traditions and concludes in 15:6 that the human traditions have cancelled or rendered void God’s word. Jesus twice refers to the tradition as “your” tradition (15:3, 6). He does not view these traditions as having authority on a par with the written Torah.”

When the Lord accepted and taught exactly what the Scriptures said, He found himself condemned by the dominant forces of religion of that day. Those who follow Jesus’s example today should not be surprised to find themselves in the same situation.

On another occasion, Jesus responded to slanderous accusations with an argument based on David’s poetry in Psalm 82. He called the quotation from the Psalms “Law” and hammered his conclusion home with the forceful statement, “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:5). Jesus thought because Scripture said it, that should be the end of the matter. The Son of God taught that every word of God’s revelation was true and authoritative.

Today’s skeptics (poor Bible scholars) stumble foolishly over apparent contradictions in the Bible, evolutionists ridicule its historical account of creation, and self-willed sinners determine to wriggle around its moral constraints, often denying what it plainly says, but the Son of God says, “the Scripture cannot be broken.

They say, “You are not my judge.” Jesus said, “The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day.” (John 12:48 NET)

Jesus’ frequent quotations from the Scriptures indicate complete confidence in and conviction that this was the Word of God. His own words in following passages demonstrate.

“For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood…” (Matthew 24:37 NET)

“For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them–and now, something greater than Jonah is here!” (Matthew 12:40-41 NET)

“He answered, ‘Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female,’” (Matthew 19:4)

Jesus, Himself is the living Word of God, and we dare not tamper with the written Word inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Son of God never questioned their accuracy, and neither should we.

Nevertheless, many modern “Christian” intellectuals are following in the example of the Pharisees, rather than that of Christ, just as they did in Peter’s day.

the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they also do to the rest of the scriptures.” (II Peter 3:16).

God has spoken plainly in His Word. It is our responsibility to believe and do just what He says.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

 

July 16, 2017

His Holy Arm – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10)

Reference is often made in the Bible to the human arm in order to symbolize spiritual strength or power. The first instance is in Jacob’s dying prophecy concerning his cherished son Joseph: “But his bow remained firm, And his arms were agile, From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,…” (Genesis 49:24). The source of strength for children of God is in their father, the almighty God, so it is not surprising to find at least forty biblical references to the Lord’s powerful “arm” or “arms.” In the passage quoted above, Isaiah promises that when God “bares his arm” for His great work, whether freeing from the bondage of Egypt, or the oppression of the Babylonians, the whole world will see His salvation. Contrary to the common misconception about approved faith, it is not blind. Biblical faith is the result of an honest evaluation of the facts. There is always abundant, sufficient evidence demonstrated by God so that unbelievers are inexcusable.

“When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31)

“For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” (Romans 9:17)

“Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)

“…He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth… Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.” (John 11:43-45)

“The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.” (Acts 8:6)

“…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19)

The ultimate demonstration of His power is seen in delivering us from bondage to Satan and sin and death by raising Jesus from the dead. There is a real sense in which “His holy arm” is Jesus Christ. It did not depreciate His power when the world rejected the Messiah. Rather He demonstrated the power of His mighty arm when He foresaw and predicted the rejection through Isaiah. Who has believed our message?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? …He was despised and forsaken of men, …” (Isaiah 53:1, 3).

Most rejected, but some honest hearts responded in faith; first, before He was born, His own mother.

And Mary said: “My soul exalts [“magnificat] the Lord, … “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;…” (Luke 1:46, 51)

This confession of faith is the first use of “arm” in the New Testament and refers to the saving arm of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah reminds Israel (to whom he had just pronounced the doom of Babylonian captivity) that His arm is not only mighty to save, but will authoritatively reign and judge.

“Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him…” (Isaiah 40:10)

And we can have confidence that this same powerful arm lovingly provides for those who will submit and follow.

“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom;” (Isaiah 40:11)

The idea for this article came from Henry Morris

 

 

July 9, 2017

No, Lord … By Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common and ritually unclean!” (Acts 10:14 Holman)

Impetuous Peter. Words fly out of his mouth unrestrained. Just a little thoughtful consideration would have helped him avoid this foolish self-contradiction. He affirms Jesus is his Lord and then, in the same breath, refuses to submit.

His words remind us of an old quote. “Make sure your brain is engaged before putting your mouth in gear.” Farmers Almanac

Peter could have used this wisdom at the Transfiguration when he made a similar blunder, bringing a rebuke directly from God.

“Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’” (Mark 9: 5-7 NKJV)

J B PHILLIPS translation says…

“Peter burst out to Jesus, “Master, it is wonderful for us to be here! Shall we put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah?” He really did not know what to say, for they were very frightened. Then came a cloud which overshadowed them and a voice spoke out of the cloud, ‘This is my dearly-loved Son. Listen to him!’”

Peter had observed the Jewish dietary restrictions all his life. We are all designed so that habits become ingrained and “second nature.” There is a positive advantage in not having to think about such conduct. It happens automatically. However, changing this conduct becomes extremely difficult. Peter reflexively resisted and told the lord, “No!” It took another rebuke from heaven (actually three more) together with coordinated, providential circumstances to produce Peter’s righteous response.

Submission is difficult, for multiple reasons. The result is that many Christians who have called Jesus their Savior and Lord, question or disregard His Word. Sometimes they say ‘No!”

Faithful Christians may legitimately discuss and question different interpretations of the Word, but there is never justification for questioning the authority of our Lord (Matthew 28:18), regardless of our familiar, habitual practices or pressures from society.

Our Lord himself asked the stinging question, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

It was Peter again, who demonstrated inconsistency when Christ told of His imminent crucifixion. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You. (Matthew 16:22). The Lord new the difficulty Peter was having and responded with a severe rebuke.

“Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s,” (Matthew 16:23).

It was not Peter’s prerogative, nor is it ours, to question the Word of the Lord, to challenge His authority, even when we don’t yet understand it.

A failure to learn this lesson can have deadly, eternal consequences. Jesus warned disobedient disciples who professed His Lordship.

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, …“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS,’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Peter learned his lesson. He was soon teaching Cornelius regarding Jesus Christ, “he is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). The life he lived thereafter, demonstrated much greater consistency with that eternal truth. Later, he spoke of the practical effect of Jesus as Lord. He assured that Christians would be “…neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (II Peter 1:8).

Likewise, Paul speaks plainly of the eternal consequence of failing to acknowledge with our lives that Jesus is Lord.

“Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (II Thessalonians 1:7-8)

Have you obeyed, are you obeying your Lord?

 

 

July 2, 2017

God’s Will In Our Heart – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

“I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)

David exemplifies an attitude that should be ours, expressing his determination to joyfully surrender his own desires, goals and thinking to that of his Creator. However, the passage is much more than that. It is also a Messianic prophecy, fulfilled completely only in Christ. Note the previous verse, “Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me.” Nothing in the scrolls of Moses (available to David) would have spoken of David. The Spirit (by David’s mouth, Acts 1:16) was speaking of the coming Messiah.

I know this because the writer of the book of Hebrews, by inspiration, quotes this passage and applies it to Christ.

Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’” (Hebrews 10:7)

The Messiah himself said…

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’” (John 4:34)

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)

(Aside: The submission of Jesus while on earth did not indicate he was “second class,” as today’s feminists argue regarding the submission of wives.)

The Messiah (who had become like us to be our example) determined to attune His heart to the will of God. Therefore the law was “within” His heart, not because God directly inserted the Law. Calvinists erroneously tell us that the Spirit directly operates on our heart, destroying personal responsibility and ignoring the figurative imagery. Consider similar language in II Corinthians 3:2-3.

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

Our example determined, as we must, to submit His own will to God’s, even in unimaginably trying circumstances. He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

This illustrates the determined, submissive attitude we must train our own hearts to follow. Yes, we are saved by grace, but this does not deliver us from the personal responsibility of submitting to constraints of God’s holy will, as in the case of Christ Himself. God implants His law in our hearts (indirectly, through the word) resulting in love for His law. The writer of Hebrews quotes the prophecy of Jeremiah, saying…

THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” (Hebrews 10:16)

We should learn from the example Psalmist and the Messiah, not to resist, per our own understanding, but to love His will and to delight in His law with all our hearts.

“O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalms 119:97)

“I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart.” (Psalms 119:111)

“I long for Your salvation, O LORD, And Your law is my delight.” (Psalms 119:174)

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

 

June 25, 2017

Enoch: A Man of Faith

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

Enoch: A Man Of Faith By Don R. Patton

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. The entire lifetime of Enoch was 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:21-24 ESV)

We are confident that Enoch was one of the most godly men that ever lived. He is one of only two, before the flood, of whom it is said that he “walked with God.” Noah did too. “…Noah was a godly man; he was blameless among his contemporaries. He walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9 NET)

Enoch is also one of only two individuals who never died.

“As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm.” (II Kings 2:11 NET)

Genesis reveals a precious little about him, but the New Testament tells us more. Together they reveal Enoch to be exemplary among men and special to God.

Hebrews emphasizes that he was man of faith.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God. Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6 NET)

We don’t know all that was revealed to Enoch but he certainly saw what Paul says the Gentiles saw.

“…God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)

He “perceived” the obvious evidence of a Creator. He did “believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” and it affected how he lived. He honestly, nobly yielded to the necessary implications: humble submission (the real barrier to many today who refuse faith). Enoch’s faith produced a close walk with God. This faith pleased God.

The book of Jude tells us more about how Enoch lived. Unlike the pluralists of today who do not believe in the exclusive nature of truth, Enoch’s faith impelled him to denounce strongly the false teaching and ungodly living of his day because he believed a real judgment day was coming.

“Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict every person of all their thoroughly ungodly deeds that they have committed, and of all the harsh words that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14-15 NET).

We should also take note of the fact that Jude was a creationist, who not only believed that Adam and Enoch were real characters, but also believed the genealogies were real and dependable. (Enoch’s birth was only 192 years after Adam’s death, according to the Septuagint)

Enoch certainly belongs in the list of the great heroes of faith recorded in Hebrews chapter 11. We should all look forward to meeting him, perhaps today.

Adapted from ideas in an article by John Morris

 

June 18, 2017

Spreading The Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

Spreading The Gospel

By Don R. Patton

“I want you to know, beloved that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel,” (Philippians 1:12 NRSV)

Other versions express this phrase with similar terminology.

furtherance of the gospel” King James Version

advance the gospel” English Standard Version

greater progress of the gospel” New American Version

Consider Thayer’s definition of the verb form of this word.

“1. to lengthen out by hammering (as a smith forges metals); metaphorically, to promote, forward, further;…”

The original, basic concept of this word, which involves spreading by means of hammering, seems to fit exactly what Paul is saying about the progress of the gospel. Paul wrote these words while unjustly imprisoned. Recall Paul’s first contact with of many of these Philippians was the result of being imprisoned and beaten in a Philippian jail (Acts 16:12-14). Paul had been and would be often imprisoned and beaten.

“…far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (I Corinthians 11:23-27.)

We should be thankful that such persecution is virtually unheard of among American preachers, but should remember that it is commonplace today, in other parts of our world.

Later, his imprisonment in Rome provided eternal opportunity.

“And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.” (Acts 28:30-31)

Also, Paul wrote at least four of his inspired epistles from prison (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon).

Paul understood and said the result of his “hammering” was beneficial. In addition to opportunities to teach, it resulted in favorable impressions on millions of Christian and non-Christians for centuries since. I suspect even he could not imagine the extent of the truth he expressed when he said, “…what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel.”

Rather than complaining or even quitting when the Christian life gets hard, we must remember that God’s providence assures, Human wrath serves only to praise you,” (Psalm 76:10 NRSV). Let’s get our eyes off our own suffering selves and look ahead. Consider the far-reaching consequences of our action. Understand the impact of our example on the world around us. Make sure our conduct will not be a hindrance but rather help spread the gospel.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 4, 2017

Three Fronted War

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Three Fronted War

By Philip C. Strong

Those recognizing the sovereignty of, and pledging allegiance to, the God of the Universe are sometimes biblically described in military terms, such as a “soldier,” “armor,” and “war/warfare.”   In keeping with the analogy, they’re urged to take up a soldier’s mantra and methods.  For instance:

  • 2Timothy 2:3-4, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”
  • Ephesians 6:10, “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
  • 2Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

However, understand that this particular war is composed of at least three distinct battlefronts…

Personal- the Battle for Self.  Each Christian soldier must first wage spiritual war for his own soul.  Paul described this fight in Romans 7:13-24.  Note a few excerpts from this text, “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate…. for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good the good that that I wish, I do not do; but I do practice the very evil that I do not wish.”  Every Christian soldier feels this way at times.  We feel as if we’re losing on this most-important front.  But remember two critical things:  1) as long as you feel this way, you haven’t lost yet- you’re still fighting and haven’t surrendered; and, 2) you’re not alone- Jesus is fighting with you and for you, Romans 7:24-25!  You also have battle buddies in your own local church company ready to step into the fray with you at a moment’s notice, cf. Galatians 6:1-2, if you’ll call for backup and let them know you’re in trouble and need help.  So, arm yourself according to Ephesians 6:11-17, and then “…be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might,” Ephesians 6:10.  Your soul is worth the fight!

Kingdom- the Battle for Church.  Each Christian soldier must also wage spiritual war for the souls of his company- the local church of which he is a member.  In attitude and activity he must “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; and give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” Romans 12:10-11.  He does “nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind” he regards his fellow-soldiers “as more important than himself,” and doesn’t merely look out for his “own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,” Philippians 2:3-4.  His kindred spirit and fellowship with his fellow soldiers leads him to answer the age-old question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” with a resounding, “Yes, with every fiber of my being and all the strength I can muster because I love him!”   Hear two passages regarding these things.  “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren,” 1John 3:16.  And, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal,” Hebrews 12:15-16.  The souls of your fellow-soldiers are worth the fight!

Dominion- the Battle for Souls.  And finally, each Christian soldier must wage spiritual war for the souls of others.  Beyond our own souls, and those of our fellow-soldiers, the souls of others- even those actively fighting for the opposition forces, are just as valuable.  This is why the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” said, “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” cf. 1Timothy 6:15; Matthew 5:44.  Assuredly, this is the most difficult of all battlefronts.  It is one thing to wage spiritual warfare, even to the death, for our own or the souls of our fellow soldiers, but it is quite another to be willing to love enough fight and lay down our lives for the souls of those actively opposed to us!  But isn’t this exactly the legacy let us by our Lord? To borrow from His words in Matthew 16:26, what will we give in exchange for the souls of others?  Are we willing to love sufficiently to battle for their souls?  True soldiers of the cross do just that!

So, fight “the good fight” for the souls of others, finish “the course” you began as soldier yourself, and keep “the faith” by helping your fellow-soldiers to final victory, cf. 2Timothy 4:7.  It is a three-fronted battle, but through God’s mighty power you can and must win!

 

 

May 28, 2017

In Christ Alone – Blake Edwards

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

By Blake Edwards

The powerful words of “In Christ Alone” make it arguably the most popular hymn written over the past couple decades. When I sing this song I feel encouraged and it causes me to look in the mirror. It is a beautiful song musically and lyrically. The song conveys the appreciation we should have for Christ. It focuses on all He has done, continues to do, and will do for His followers. I want to share the lyrics and discuss a few parts of this song.

In Christ alone my hope is found,

He is my light, my strength, my song,

This Cornerstone, this solid ground,

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease,

My Comforter, my All in All,

Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh,

Fullness of God in helpless babe,

This gift of love and righteousness,

Scorned by the ones He came to save.

Til on that cross as Jesus died,

The wrath of God was satisfied,

For every sin on Him was laid,

Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay,

Light of the world by darkness slain,

Then bursting forth in glorious Day,

Up from the grave He rose again.

And as He stands in victory,

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,

For I am His and He is mine,

Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt of life, no fear in death,

This is the power of Christ in me,

From life’s first cry to final breath,

Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,

Can ever pluck me from His hand, ‘

til He returns or calls me home,

Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

-Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend

Let’s focus on the last verse. The power of Christ compels us to live guilt free and not fear death. We can have this innocence because the blood of Christ was innocent and washes our sins away. Yes, we are guilty if we stand alone, but in Christ alone we can be relieved of guilt. When we are in Christ, death has no power over us (Romans 6:14). Since as long as we draw close to God. We will draw closer to God the more we know Him by His word and the more we strive to demonstrate the godliness and holiness He exhibits.

Finally, there is a declaration that we will stand in the power of Christ until our days on this Earth end. We will not be carried away by the powers of the world, but rather stand firm on the foundation of Christ, our Savior. “Or calls me home,” is an amazing and yet subtle encouragement to Christian ears. We do have a house not made with hands and we will live in the presence of God for eternity if we walk by faith eagerly awaiting Christ’s return (2 Cor. 5:1-8).

If we were to sing this song today, would you be able to confidently sing it? Can you proclaim that you are living in Christ alone?

 

 

 

 

 

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