Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Lord is not slow...the rapture will happen

On one of my older posts, I received yet another comment telling me that I am delusional. Why? Because I believe the Lord's word that He will return for His bride in the rapture and then render wrath onto the sinning world.

"Aw, they've been saying that since the first Christians!" the commenter said. I agree. The Lord told us early on that He will return and take us to where He is. He is preparing a place for us and He will bring us there in His timing.

The passage in 2 Peter 3:1-10 says,

The Day of the Lord Will Come

1This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,a not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.


And it's true, they are saying it. What is also true is that we still believe it. Our Lord does not lie. No lie can pass His lips.

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible explains about the mockers--
Now therefore let us see how this point stands, both on the believer’s part and on the part of these seducers: the believer not only desires that he may come, but, having a promise that he will come, a promise that he himself has made and often repeated, a promise received and reported by faithful witnesses, and left upon sure record, he is also firmly and fully persuaded that he will come:

on the other hand, these seducers, because they wish he never may, therefore do all that in them lies to cheat themselves and others into a persuasion that he will never come. If they cannot deny that there is a promise, yet they will laugh at that very promise, which argues much higher degrees of infidelity and contempt: Where is the promise, say they, of his coming?

 III. We are also forewarned of the method of their reasoning, for while they laugh they will pretend to argue too. To this purpose they add that since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation, v. 4. This is a subtle, though not a solid way of reasoning; it is apt to make impressions upon weak minds, and especially upon wicked hearts. Because sentence against them is not speedily executed, therefore they flatter themselves that it never will, whereupon their hearts are fully set in them to do evil (Eccl. 8:11);

thus they act themselves, and thus they would persuade others to act; so here, say they, “The fathers have fallen asleep, those are all dead to whom the promise was made, and it was never made good in their time, and there is no likelihood that it ever will be in any time; why should we trouble ourselves about it? If there had been any truth or certainty in the promise you speak of, we should surely have seen somewhat of it before this time, some signs of his coming, some preparatory steps in order to it; whereas we find to this very day all things continue as they were, without any change, even from the beginning of the creation.Since the world has undergone no changes in the course of so many thousand years, why should we affright ourselves as if it were to have an end?”
Thus do these scoffers argue. Because they see no changes, therefore they fear not God, Ps. 55:19. They neither fear him nor his judgments; what he never has done they would conclude he never can do or never will.

IV. Here is the falsehood of their argument detected. Whereas they confidently had said there had not been any change from the beginning of the creation, the apostle puts us in remembrance of a change already past, which, in a manner, equals that which we are called to expect and look for, which was the drowning of the world in the days of Noah. This these scoffers had overlooked; they took no notice of it. Though they might have known it, and ought to have known it, yet this they willingly are ignorant of (v. 5), they choose to pass it over in silence, as if they had never heard or known any thing of it; if they knew it, they did not like to retain it in their knowledge; they did not receive this truth in the love of it, neither did they care to own it.
Note, It is hard to persuade men to believe what they are not willing to find true; they are ignorant, in many cases, because they are willing to be ignorant, and they do not know because they do not care to know. But let not sinners think that such ignorance as this will be admitted as an excuse for whatever sin it may betray them into.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2439). Peabody: Hendrickson.

The Lord will return for His Bride. The Lord has made me ready by His grace. Since then I seek to live a holy life among the priesthood of believers and as a witness to the very ones who scoff at His soon return. So the question is, are you ready?

EPrata photo, with Pixlr post processing



Saturday, May 30, 2015

Strong, deep-focus earthquake hits off Japan coast

Strong earthquake hits off Japan coast
A powerful undersea earthquake south of Japan has shaken buildings in Tokyo. The US Geological Survey said the 7.8-magnitude earthquake was centred 874km (543 miles) from the Japanese capital, at a depth of almost 700km. It struck at 18:30 local time (11:30 GMT). Buildings in the capital swayed for almost a minute as the quake built in intensity, AFP news agency says. There are no reports of serious damage or casualties. No tsunami warning has been issued.
The unusual thing about this quake is its depth. What scientists call deep-focus earthquakes are an anomaly, they aren't supposed to be able to happen. At least, according to the scientific theories of why quakes occur.

Deep Earthquakes: About.Com Education- Geology
Deep earthquakes were discovered in the 1920s, but they remain a subject of contention today. The reason is simple: they aren't supposed to happen. Yet they account for more than 20 percent of all earthquakes.

Shallow earthquakes require solid rocks to occur more specifically, cold, brittle rocks. Only these can store up elastic strain along a geologic fault, held in check by friction, until the strain lets loose in a violent rupture.

The Earth gets hotter by about 1 degree C with each 100 meters of depth on average. Combine that with high pressure underground and it's clear that by about 50 kilometers down, on average the rocks should be too hot and squeezed too tight to crack and grind the way they do at the surface. Thus deep-focus quakes, those below 70 km, demand an explanation.
And so all the articles go on and try and explain it.

A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, (Psalm 24:1)

Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. (Job 41:11)

Shallow-focus earthquakes are quakes that occur between depths of 0 and 70KM below the surface.
Intermediate-focus earthquakes are quakes that occur between depths of 70Km and 300KM below the surface.
Deep-focus quakes are quakes that occur between depth of 300-700KM. (source)

So we can see that the Japan quake was the deepest of the deep-focus quakes. It was the deepest this year, being exactly 677.6 KM. There were 4 deep-focus quakes 4 in Fiji this year at 600-613 depth. All the other deep quakes that have occurred so far were shallower than 600KM.

There have been 23 deep-focus quakes this year so far. Here is a screen shot from my search on USGS for quakes between the magnitudes of 5.0-9.9 this year thus far exceeding a depth of 300K, AKA deep focus quakes at a meaningful magnitude. Click to enlarge.


The United States Geological Survey (USGS) data presents an average number of annual quakes.

In the 5.0-5.9 range so far this year there have been 565.
In the 6.0-6.9 range so far this year there have been 52.
In the 7.0-7.9 range so far this year there have been 8.
In the 8.0-8.9 range so far this year there have been 0.

This article, Greatest Earthquakes of the Bible, by Dr Steven Austin at the Institute for Creation Research, is excellent. I recommend it. Here is Dr Austin's conclusion:

Conclusion
A review of the 17 earthquakes listed above shows that virtually the entire story of the Bible can be summarized by its association with earthquakes. Biblical events emphasized by earthquakes are creation, Noah’s Flood, separation of Abraham and Lot from judgment of the wicked cities, the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, authentication of the leadership of Moses, God’s provision in the conquest of Canaan, vindication of the messages of Hebrew prophets, the crucifixion of our Lord in Jerusalem, the resurrection of our Lord, the ministry of the apostles and the church, the modern “birth pangs” sign of the end times, the national conversion of Israel, and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. History, archaeology, and geology appear to confirm independently many earthquakes mentioned in the Bible.

Earthquakes have been used distinctively by God to highlight some of the most important events of the Bible. The three main purposes for biblical earthquakes are judgment, deliverance, and communication. The lesson is obvious—God does not do anything really big without emphasizing it with an earthquake! In our fast-paced, man-centered, technology-based society of the twenty-first century, God would have us pause and consider His sovereign nature and the program He has been accomplishing in the world.

Friday, May 29, 2015

John MacArthur: "Hope for a Doomed Nation" AKA Love in the time of evil

John MacArthur preached on Sunday. It was a sermon from the pastor side of him, not the teacher side of him. He did not explain the bible verse-by-verse. Instead, he was speaking from the heart to his flock about today's world.

He quickly reviewed the tenets of the Holy Spirit created restraints put upon the world so it does not self-destruct from sin. Conscience, family, civil law/government and the church are four ways the Spirit restrains sin in the world, MacArthur summarized from a recent sermon. In addition, Romans 1 shows what God does to societies when societies leap over those bounds; sexual revolution, homosexual revolution, then reprobate mind. He said we are in the midst of judgment, the wrath of abandonment, since it can be clearly seen that America has leaped beyond those restraints and God has given us over to those different kinds of perversity. There IS an eschatological wrath, and there IS an eternal wrath, but the current judgment is neither of those. The eschatological wrath is coming, MacArthur said, and we can all agree, that is promised. But the current wrath is the judgment of abandonment. "That one is not coming. We're in the midst of it," he said.

That was his 30 minute introduction in the sermon "Hope for a Doomed Nation."

Dr MacArthur usually takes a several week vacation the beginning of June. He said at this point in his sermon,
"So as we look at America, and I don't know what's going to happen in the next few weeks when I'm not here, I'm just pre-empting that a little bit by helping you to be able to think through whatever happens."

He then listed 12 points that are driving this nation to its terrible demise, a spiritual pathology that is causing us as a nation to run so fast to the cliff.

It was a really interesting sermon. I think any one with discerning, biblical sense can see how far along the prophetic timeline we are. Many people I work with who are of biblical maturity and discernment believe this as well. I know I do. Imagine believing we are so close to the edge of some kind of terrible, visible disaster, that MacArthur believes something drastic might happen even in the next few weeks as he is gone from the pulpit. To be so close to something we all sense will occur, he is unwilling to leave his flock without preparing them biblically to be able to cope with "whatever happens."

He ended with Matthew 5:43. Love our enemy. No matter what happens, while we were still enemies, Jesus came down to rescue us, His enemies. So we are to love our enemies because we were them before grace came. The enemy is our mission field.
You're never more like God than when you love your enemies, because you were one of the enemies God loved. Romans 5:10, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God. Your enemy is your mission field. The world of enemies was God's mission field. God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son. ...
To convert a sinner from his eternal doom is of far greater significance than the deliverance of an entire nation from temporal evil
His speaking of Godly Love after 47 minutes of darkness was a Light that was powerful and incisive. Imagine demonstrating that kind of love in this very dark world. It will stand out brightly.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Church Covenants: Yes or no?

Source
Some issues have arisen of late regarding a new-but-not-new church covenant practice. I phrased it like that because though the discussion is fairly new, the practice of church covenants is not new. But of late church covenants are re-gaining popularity, and with the wider exposure, come the discussions about whether church covenants are biblical and if they are, if they are profitable.

Dictionary.com defines church covenants, or ecclesiastical covenants as-
-a solemn agreement between the members of a church to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel.
FYI, if you want or need to go back a few steps to the foundation, at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, Matt Slick defines covenants and the ratification of covenants.

Some say that church covenants are not necessary nor are found anywhere in the Bible. Others say that they are implied and very necessary, as church history shows. Some say that church covenants help solidify one's commitment to the church as a Godly member, others say church covenants are a breeding ground for spiritual abuse. Some say church covenants are wise and necessary, others say they propel members toward idolatry of their church instead of submission to Jesus.

When the Courageous movie and all its associated merchandising came out, I wrote about oaths. The movie people had asked Priscilla Shirer to write an oath, or a resolution, to be sold so that dads who had seen the movie could swear the oath and resolve to be better dads. And then hang it up on the wall of their home, or something. I was against this, because in my opinion it was biblically unnecessary.

In the piece, I said that I was cautious overall about swearing to anything, whether you call it an oath or a resolution or a vow. It's always serious when you swear to something and you sign your name. Covenants are serious serious, though.
Lifeway sells a
Church Covenant card

I've read the pieces linked below. I cannot make up my mind yet as to whether a church covenant is necessary and good or superfluous and unbiblical. I go back and forth. In these articles, covenants are defined and discussed, pro and con. On the YES side, we have Thabiti Anyabwile and Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition, as well as John Piper. On the NO side, I found one from Tim Fall. I don't know who Tim Fall is, other than having come across his essay on church covenants, but I found his site by a tweet from someone I trust. As for Wade Burleson, his piece seems biased and I find him liberal, but I link him to offer a balance of opinions from the entire spectrum.

~~~~~~~~~~~~YES~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thabiti Anyabwile: Strengths We've Lost: Church Covenants

The Gospel Coalition/Justin Taylor/John Piper in an essay interview: Why a Church Covenant?

Desiring God/John Piper: sermon title Why a Church Covenant?



~~~~~~~~~~~~NO~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tim Fall:  The Problem with Church Membership Covenants – bad doctrine hurts God’s people

Wade Burleson: Five reasons to Say No to Church Covenants

~~~~~~~~EXAMPLES of Modern Church Covenants~~~~~~~~

The Good: The Village Church (Pastor Matt Chandler)

The Bad: Church Covenants: Are they Biblical and Sensible? A point-by-point refutation of a sample church covenant by Don Koenig

The Ugly: Mars Hill (Ex-Pastor of defunct Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll), actual covenant archived at Joyful Exiles.

~~~~~~~~CHURCH COVENANTS IN HISTORY~~~~~~~~

1940 Vienna Baptist Church, West Virginia

F1630 First Church Cambridge Massachusetts, "Our Living and Historical Covenants"

Church Covenants: An Annotated Collection



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Heat wave in India so severe roads are melting

Some roads in New Delhi melted.

This is an actual cover of yesterday's newspaper in New Delhi, India. Steve Herman is the Asia correspondent for Voice of America.

Here is the story:
Intense heat wave claims over 900 lives across India, torrid temperatures melt roads in Delhi
An unrelenting heat wave has killed more than 900 people across the country over a fortnight with southern neighbours Andhra Pradesh and Telangana bearing the brunt, as torrid temperatures melted roads in the national capital and forced people indoors on Tuesday. The meteorological department issued “red box” warnings for Odisha, Jharkhand and coastal Andhra Pradesh, signalling high chances of heatstroke, dehydration and fatality with temperatures inching upwards of 45°C and conditions worsened by constant dry, sweltering winds.

This article from CNN said that the temps rose as high as 118F (48C), breaking previous the national high of 117. Some areas have reported temps of 120F. CNN reported that the death toll has reached 1,100 persons, dead from heat stroke or dehydration. In India, seven hundred ninety-two million people have no access to electricity, which means they do not even have a fan to even try and cool off.

By all accounts this heat is not normal and it's breaking records, even for normally hot India. The average high temperature for Delhi in May is 90F. A prolonged heat wave with temps in solid triple-teen digits is unusual, though infrequently the temps may reach low triple digits for short periods. People who have been interviewed for news articles  have talked about how the heat wave has crippled the city, caused dehydration, parched bodies seeking water from anywhere.

The storm gathers: sin piles up to heaven, wrath is promised

All this reminds of of the Tribulation to come. It is not the Tribulation now. However, this heat in India reminds of of the more severe heat stored up in His wrath that the Lord will pour out on the world. This heatwave today is a dim picture of the judgment to come.

One of the judgments will be a scorching heat, at the same time there will be no water. The Euphrates will be dried up. (Rev 16:12). The rivers and other waters will be made into blood. They will have only blood to drink (Rev 16:4-6)

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (Revelation 16:8-9).

This is that the MacArthur Commentary for the Book of Revelation says about the above verse:
In contrast to the first three angels, who poured out their bowls on the earth, the fourth angel poured our his bowl on the sun. As a result the sun, which has since the fourth day of creation (Gen. 1:14-19) given the world warmth, light and energy, becomes a deadly killer. Searing heat exceeding anything in human experience will scorch men so severely that it will seem like the atmosphere is on fire. Those who will be scorched with the sun's fierce heat are the same "people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image." (v. 2).

This fiery judgment is reminiscent of Isaiah 24:4-6,

The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. 5The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. 6Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.

One would think that the unparalleled disasters of the first four bowl judgments would cause people to repent. God's judgment is designed to bring sinners to repentance (Rom 2:4), or, like Pharaoh,  to harden their hearts.  Instead of blaming their sin, in the most shocking example of hardness of heart in history, they blasphemed the name of God, whom they know to be responsible for all their misery. Amazingly, they know that it is God who has the power over the plagues that were afflicting them. Yet they will love their sin so much, and be so deceived by the antichrist, that they will not repent so as to give God glory. Until this point, only the antichrist has been described as blaspheming, (Revelation 13:1, 5-6); here the world adopts his evil character.
Do I refer to this heatwave's a shadowy picture of one of the judgments to come because I believe we are in the Tribulation now? Of course not. The rapture of the church will happen first, and then the judgments will be rendered by the Holy and Just Judge exactly and in the order as chronicled in Revelation.

Do I speak of the severe judgment to come in order to instill fear? A little. Holy fear and biblical knowledge of the power of God in wrath is a good thing. His judgment and His wrath are holy attributes of which we should be acquainted. But that is not why I write about the India heat-wave, entirely.

It is because knowledge of the future judgments should give us an urgency to --

--witness with words as to the grace available through Jesus Christ now,
--live holy lives in the face of known coming judgment

When I read something like the India heatwave in the headlines, my mind goes this:

"Man, I'm sorry for those people. It hurts my heart to see this suffering."
"Boy that heatwave is nothing like the one prophesied to come in Revelation. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy..."
"I'm sooooo grateful to have been saved by His grace and living with the knowledge that He is preparing a place for us and to receive us in His great gathering up!"
"What about my neighbor? Does she know Jesus? Does she know how much He loves us but is storing up wrath to come? I should talk with her tomorrow..."


Prophecy is God's glory on display
Prophecy gives us urgency. It reveals God's plan and offers us the wonder of seeing it fulfilled to the jot and tittle, from the past by reading the Bible, and the future as we await His return. Prophecy shows us His holy anger, of which we must fear. We gain comfort and hope- think of Simeon and Anna in the temple, eagerly awaiting the Consolation of Israel, their hope and comfort fulfilled before their eyes as Mary and Joseph came to present the babe. (Luke 2).

I like being heavenly minded. I think of seeing the face of Jesus, singing to Him with all the redeemed. I think of the street of gold, the saints of the past I'll get to know, and so much more. Being heavenly minded also means seeing the justice of God as He renders it in the Tribulation and in the Millennial Kingdom. Judgment, wrath, and hell. There but for the grace of God go I... He took my ragged and pitifully craven life and turned it into something glorious for the Father. He put in me a new heart and my soul daily being cleansed of sin.

In all the ways above and many more, prophecy demonstrates His glory.

I encourage you all to read and study the Book of Revelation. It is not difficult, and the Spirit will make it clear. John MacArthur's "Because the Time is Near" is tremendous in explaining the Book, or any of his sermons at gty.org from Revelation are good. You know we receive a blessing if you read the Book of Revelation. In addition, as you saw from the explanation above, the parallel verse to the scorching heat verse in Revelation is one from Isaiah. Zechariah has as much prophecy in it related to the final days on earth as Revelation does, if not more. I enjoyed Steve Hadley's verse-by-verse sermons from Zechariah. There is so much prophecy in the Old Testament. I guess I should just say that the entire Bible is wonderful. Some say that a quarter of the whole Bible is prophetic. There is history, Law, narrative, poetry, wisdom, and prophecy. Something for everyone! So get to it today, don't shy away from prophecy, especially Revelation.

Prophecy puts me in my place. I am a crumb, saved by grace, and at His perfect appointed time, placed within the Age of Grace to do His will, and perhaps gloriously see His rapture while I'm alive. What a privilege. Share Jesus with another, His prophetic timetable is moving quickly toward the climactic moments on earth.






Tuesday, May 26, 2015

To Live Quietly...

My other blog is called The Quiet Life. It refers literally to the fact that I do not like noise. I like to live where there will not be loud noises, sustained interrupting noises, or any other wise unpleasant noises. I do not like them.

More philosophically the blog title refers to this verse from 1 Thessalonians 4:11 which is an important verse to me,

and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,

I like the word 'aspire' and then the surprise of what comes next- 'live quietly'. Usually aspirations include lofty things like winning the Pulitzer or becoming President of the US. Or at least, getting that raise or becoming a homeowner. One does not aspire to be quiet. Not unless you're a Christian and you're used to the Bible illustrating an upside down lifestyle. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Meek shall inherit the earth. Do not expect to be served but to serve. Now we see that a holy aspiration is to live quietly. Why?



Excerpt:
First, his readers should lead a restful life. The word translated quiet (hēsychazein) means quiet in the sense of restfulness (cf. Acts 22:2; 2 Thes. 3:12; 1 Tim. 2:2, 11), rather than quiet as opposed to talkativeness (sigaō; cf. Acts 21:40; 1 Cor. 14:34). The former means “undisturbed, settled, not noisy,” while the latter means “silent.” Paul was telling the Thessalonians to be less frantic, not less exuberant. A person who is constantly on the move is frequently a bother to other people as well as somewhat distracted from his own walk with God. The latter can lead to the former. But a Christian who strives to be at peace with himself and God will be a source of peace to his brethren. Such quietude constitutes a practical demonstration of love for others.

Second, Paul recommended minding one’s own business. The connection with love for the brethren is obvious (cf. Prov. 25:17).

Third, working with one’s own hands demonstrates love for the brethren because a self-supporting person is not a burden to others. Paul himself set the example by working with his hands when he was in Thessalonica (1 Thes. 2:9). Too restful a life can be a problem also, and Paul guarded against that with this instruction. This verse dignifies manual labor. The reference also suggests that many, perhaps most, in the church came out of the working class. The Greeks deplored manual labor and relegated it to slaves as much as possible. But the Jews held it in esteem; every Jewish boy was taught a trade regardless of his family’s wealth. Work itself is a blessing, and working with one’s hands should never be despised by Christians. A man who is willing to work with his hands demonstrates his love for his brethren by being willing to humble himself to provide for his own needs so that he does not depend on others but provides for himself.

Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 703). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Monday, May 25, 2015

We are not orphans

I was thinking of how wonderful God is. The Trinity, Three-In-One, Father, Son, Spirit are intimately involved in our lives. The Father's Providence, bringing all things to pass at the good will and pleasure of Himself. The Spirit, dwelling inside us as a deposit of the guarantee to come. The Son, Priest, interceding for us on our behalf in heaven. Each Person of the Godhead intimately knowledgeable of each one of us and loving us and leading us and providing for us. It is amazing.

The Bible's treasures are limitless. Each time we open it to read more of what God will reveal to us about Himself is a journey into love, wonder, and awe. I was reading and listening to a sermon on Saturday. John MacArthur's "What the Cross Meant to Christ." It was a terrific sermon as usual. In my reading and thinking about that section of John there is this verse:

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18).

The word orphan here means fatherless, bereft, desolate. In the context of the entire passage, Jesus is comforting the disciples, because He is going to leave them. They are lost, confused, heartbroken. They don't quite understand but they sense something bad is about to happen and they are upset. Jesus is reassuring them. He is explaining that He is going to prepare a place for them and will return. He says He will not leave them as orphans, He will come to them.

Alexander McLaren's commentary is excellent in explaining this beautiful moment. Imagine, the God of the Universe, softly and reassuringly comforting His little children. That was how Jesus began the conversation in chapter 13:33- "Little children." he IS our Father, and He will not leave us Fatherless as orphans. See McLaren on the unification of the Christ and the Spirit. One says He is leaving, but One is actually present.
Then, note, further, that this coming of our Lord is identified with that of His divine Spirit. He has been speaking of sending that ‘other Comforter,’ but though He be Another, He is yet so indissolubly united with Him who sends as that the coming of the Spirit is the coming of Jesus. He is no gift wafted to us as from the other side of a gulf, but by reason of the unity of the Godhead and the divinity of the sent Spirit, Jesus Christ and the Spirit whom He sends are inseparable though separate, and so indissolubly united that where the Spirit is, there is Christ, and where Christ is, there is the Spirit. These are amongst the deep things which the disciples were ‘not able to carry’ at that stage of their development, and which waited for a further explanation. Enough for them and enough for us, to know that we have Christ in the Spirit and the Spirit in Christ; and to remember ‘that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.’
"Christ is the only Remedy for the orphanhood of the world" ~McLaren
What a mystery the Trinity is! How tremendous His care of us in sending the Spirit! I can hardly contain myself. McLaren again-
Then, note, further, that this present Christ is the only Remedy for the orphanhood of the world. The words had a tender and pathetic reference to that little, bewildered group of followers, deprived of their Guide, their Teacher, and their Companion. He who had been as eyes to their weak vision, and Counsellor and Inspirer and everything for three blessed years, was going away to leave them unsheltered to the storm, and we can understand how forlorn and terrified they were, when they looked forward to fronting the things that must come to them, without His presence. Therefore He cheers them with the assurance that they will not be left without Him, but that, present still, just because He is absent, He will be all that He ever had been to them.
Wonder of wonders! He is good. He is so good!
And the promise was fulfilled. How did that dis-spirited group of cowardly men ever pluck up courage to hold together at all after the Crucifixion? Why was it that they did not follow the example of John’s disciples, and dissolve and disappear; and say, ‘The game is up. It is no use holding together any longer’? The process of separation began on the very day of the Crucifixion. Only one thing could have stopped it, and that is the Resurrection and the presence with His Church of the risen Christ in His power and in all the fullness of His gifts. If it had not been that He came to them, they would have disappeared, and Christianity would have been one more of the abortive sects forgotten in Judaism. But, as it is, the whole of the New Testament after Pentecost is aflame with the consciousness of a present Christ, working amongst His people. And although it be true that, in one aspect, we are absent from the Lord when we are present with the body, in another aspect, and an infinitely higher one, it is true that the strength of the Christian life of Apostles and martyrs was this, the assurance that Christ Himself-no mere rhetorical metaphor for His influence or His example, or His memory lingering in their imaginations, but the veritable Christ Himself-was present with them, to strengthen and to bless.

Please know dear brethren, no matter what you are going through, no matter how trying the hardship, no matter how difficult the circumstances, your Comforter is here. He has not left us as orphans.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Forgotten God: His wrath

EPrata photo

I'm big on God's wrath. It is rarely taught from the pulpit, even rarer is the new book on it, children aren't taught it, today's theologians ignore it. I love God's wrath because it is an expression of one of His holy attributes: justice, and because I love Jesus I love ALL of Him.

I am in awe of His wrath, and if I think on it longer than a moment or two, I will cry over it. God's wrath is already being revealed (Romans 1:18) and it is a mind-bending, majestic thing. This attribute is still a necessary portion of who God is and we must understand it to proclaim it. To that end, this is the latest edition of Credo Magazine, the topic is "The Forgotten God: Divine Attributes We Are Ashamed of and Why We Shouldn't Be". I especially enjoyed the article "Should We Teach Our Children about the Wrath of God?" Check it out. It is free online.

The Forgotten God: Divine Attributes We Are Ashamed of and Why We Shouldn't Be

HT Do Not Be Surprised

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Further Reading/Listening:

The Fury of God, sermon series by Pastor Jeremy Lundmark

"Sissified Needy Jesus?" Sermon Jam by Voddie Baucham

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ireland popular vote legalizes same-sex 'marriage'

HT to Entreating Favor on Facebook for putting this together. I had seen the headline from The Guardian- "Ireland becomes first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote" and I had been saddened to see this, but not surprised. Here is what the Bible says about the matter.

source NPR

Romans 1:26-32 "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

"Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind"

The title of this blog essay is a quote from John MacArthur in the New Testament Commentary, First Corinthians. It refers to the verse below.

Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14: 13-19)

Even in Corinth during the early church, believers had a tendency to lust after the more showy Spiritual gifts, particularly tongues. Tongues were actual languages believers could spontaneously utter, not having studied or having any knowledge of the language at all, yet could speak it perfectly. This was a sign to unbelievers, a fulfillment of a prophecy given in the Old Testament. (Isaiah 28:11).

However today, tongues are seen to be a babbling gibberish that comes directly from heaven and falls out of the mouth, (to the edification of no one) thereby bypassing the mind. However this is not correct.

"Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind."

There are many spiritual activities today that directly exclude the mind. Contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) excludes the mind. How can this be? We are told to contemplate the Lord, (2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalm 48:9), so contemplation is good. We are told to pray, (Matthew 6:9-13), so prayer is good. How can both terms together not be doubly good? In the words of the inimitable Inigo Montoya,

THIS is how the unstable twist truth to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16). Putting together two commonly understood words but using them in a different way than is commonly understood is a bible twist. For example, praying mindlessly. Putting words together that are commonly understood but creating a different context for them through continued spiritual activity is another way that the truth is twisted. For example, babbling mindlessly.

So the "modern version" of tongues bypasses the mind, and contemplative prayer bypasses the mind, and neither are valid spiritual activities grounded in biblical truth. Another activity where the mind is bypassed is what the Southern Baptist Convention calls a 'private prayer language' AKA modern gibberish tongues uttered in the closet while praying. The notion is that when a person prays, God will sometimes utter gibberish that the speaker knows not the meaning of but is a direct communication between the Spirit indwelling the person and Jesus up above. Private prayer languages were explained (or attempted to be explained) back in 2006 when the SBC originally banned potential applicant missionaries if they confessed to speaking in glossolalia either public or private:
IMB board of trustees chairman Tom Hatley said that during candidate interviews, those who practiced a private prayer language gave differing explanations of it, varying from an angelic language to a "revelatory" gift of the Holy Spirit.
Thinking is what
clicks ON the Light
So, they don't really know what it is, only that they do it. All the more reason to refuse to accept it. Unfortunately last week the SBC re-accepted the applications of potential missionaries who pray in gibberish. Sad. Tongues being gibberish isn't supported by the Bible, the transformation of the biblical gift of tongues from a known language to today's gibberish in modern times isn't supported by the Bible, either. Possessing a Spiritual Gift and only using it for personal use isn't supported by the Bible. Employing a Spiritual gift through the heart or body only and not the mind also, isn't supported by the Bible. A Christian's walk uses the mind AND the heart.

Let's see what the Bible says about the mind.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2).

and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (Ephesians 4:23).

Gill's Exposition explains that after salvation/justification, the "progress and carrying on the work of renovation, the renewing of them day by day in the spirit of their minds," i.e renewing the mind obviously includes the mind.

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:23)

Gill's again, says that "the new nature in us, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, is called the law of it, because it was the governing principle there;" Our transformation begins in the mind.

The heart is transformed, surely, but the governing principle is the mind. The new mind is equivalent to the new inner self. We have the mind of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Whenever you encounter an activity that exults in the fact that the mind is emptied, bypassed, marginalized, or in any way not fully engaged, it is a wrong activity. Because God's transformation of us begins in the mind, bypassing the mind is actually choosing to bypass His sanctifying efforts in us. Not only will we not increase in sanctification through contemplative prayer, speaking in gibbering tongues, uttering private prayer languages, walking prayer circles or labyrinths, chanting mantras, barking holy laughter, doing "holy" yoga, seeking visions in trances, any of that which denies the mind is actually denying the mind of Christ. These activities exalt the self because you are indulging the fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18).

Back to the title, which is a quote from John MacArthur. The Bible shows us that sanctification involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind. Beware of activities that sound spiritual, but aren't. You will know they aren't healthy for you if they exclude the mind.

His mind is too precious to waste.



Friday, May 22, 2015

The reality of the first century church

We're often reminded that the early church was powerful, pure, and to be emulated. And certainly, the following verse is weighty on our consciences, and it's truly to be emulated. This was the church in its earliest days:

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Acts 2:42)

This was the church in its early weeks.

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (Acts 4:32)

But that purity was fleeting if it ever truly existed. In its earliest days, remember, Ananias and Sapphira were killed for lying to the Holy Spirit in front of the church. Though sin had always been present, because people were present, Ananias and Sapphira's act was the first overt, discoverable perfidy. Yet the myth of the pure church persists.

Now we look at the Church at Corinth. Paul had strongly admonished them, he'd used sarcasm, and he soundly chided the members who had gotten drunk at the Lord's Table, had divided into factions, had sought the 'better' spiritual gifts, had done all manner of things unbecoming to a believing church. And now the worst of all:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12).


Some Christians were even denying the resurrection! The book of First Corinthians was written in about 55 AD, a mere twenty years after Our Lord's death and resurrection. Paul even mentioned in verse 6 many brethren who were still alive at the time that Jesus appeared to the 500! Yet some in "the early church" denied the verifiable fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! A "pure" church? Hardly.

When we read that the earliest church in its earliest days were all "of one mind" I think we would be startled to see how fleeting that was. From almost the very the beginning, sin and falsity lurked.

A parallel to this picture of sin crouching at the door can be seen in the Millennium Kingdom. After the Tribulation and Jesus' Second Coming, He sets up a kingdom in fulfillment of His promises to His people Israel. He personally rules on earth, with a rod of iron. The Temple is cleansed and sacrifices are ongoing. People come from all quarters of the earth, finally funneled down the Kings Highway to worship Jesus in person. The Church Saints are given tasks to perform, ruling and reigning with Jesus. Satan and his demons are locked up in the abyss. Ahhh, perfection.

Not so fast.

When satan is let out of the abyss at the end of the 1000 years, he gathers sinful people to his side in a rebellion that starts so fast it makes the head spin. All that while, when it seemed that people were at peace with Jesus, they weren't. They were sinning greatly in their hearts. All it took is the serpent to draw that poison out of them and he uses it to foment a revolution.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, (Revelation 20:7-19).

Sin!
So the point is that man's sin, even with satan's influence a total unknown to the people born people in the 1000-year kingdom, thus with satan's temptations completely absent from their lives, sin still lurks strongly in the heart of man- hiding. It's there, just as it was in the earliest church. Ananias and Sapphira tell us this, the believers at Corinth questioning the resurrection tell us this.

Here is Pulpit Commentary on 1 Cor:12-19. Bold & italics are mine.
The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our faith in the general resurrection. Verse 12. - Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead. St. Paul sees that if One has risen from the dead, the fact of that miracle, taken in connection with the rest of the gospel, furnishes Christians with a sufficient proof that they shall rise. "For," he had already said to the Thessalonians, "if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him" (see the same argument in Romans 8:11).

"That there is no resurrection of the dead". These deniers of the resurrection are usually called "the Corinthian Sadducees." After the state of social and moral laxity of which we have been reading, we can scarcely be surprised at the existence of any disorder or anomaly in the Church of Corinth. Yet it comes with something of a shock on our paralyzed sense of astonishment to read that some of these Christians actually denied a resurrection! The fact at once proves remarkable truths, namely,

(1) that the early Christian Church had none of the ideal purity of doctrine which is sometimes ecclesiastically attributed to it;
What does this tell us for today? Well, if your church is in disarray, as the church at Corinth was, you're in good company. Secondly, if we stop comparing our church with an idealized first century church we might be a little more content with our own. Third, being disaffected by or leaving our church for shallow reasons is really bad. No church is perfect, not even the first century church. It still astounds me that there were resurrection-deniers in the same generation witnesses as when Jesus was actually resurrected!

The pure church to emulate is the one where people sometimes sin, sometimes waver on foundational doctrines, love the word, love each other, forgive where necessary, repenting always, submitting to their elders, and worshiping together in in Spirit and in truth. Like the first century church did. 



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Is God a gentleman? The illusion of a Gentleman God



Facebook, blogs, and Twitter are interesting to me as a Christian. They are forums where I can read which doctrines fellow believers are thinking, saying, accepting and promoting. These forums afford me greater exposure to the believing, professing church than I ever would be exposed to otherwise. And it works in reverse too, anything I post will also be transparently exposed for other professing, believing church members to see and either accept or reject.

In one way it's great to see and experience the wider church, and in another sense it's sad. It is great for the obvious reasons. We tend to become myopic in our local assemblies. Visibly experiencing the wider church keeps us linked. It's a pure comfort to share the victories and Godly successes of others, even at a virtual distance.

On the sad side, I read abominable things. Many people believe and profess in "another Jesus", an altogether different Savior than the One revealed to us in scripture. Other people say ridiculous things on social media. That is the focus of this essay. People say the strangest things with a straight face. One of the ridiculous things I'm reading more and more often now is the following:

"God is a gentleman. He would never interfere with our free will."

People who say this obviously never read their bible much. On the face of it, this wrong-headed statement is easy to refute. God is certainly not a gentleman. He is God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:5). He drowned the entire world for sin. (Genesis 7:21). He killed Uzzah for touching the ark. (2 Samuel 6:7) He Threw Jonah into a fish. (Jonah 1:17). He killed Ananias and Sapphira on the spot in front of the church, for lying. (Acts 5:5, 10).

In the less visible example, it is still easy to refute. Our minds are blinded.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Worse, we are dead in our trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13).

We cannot freely "choose God". We should be grateful that He doesn't politely stand aside, never interfering with our free will, otherwise no one ever would be saved!

I searched for a credible and doctrinal essay to make the point about God not being a gentleman. I found a great one in Robert Bernecker's wonderful book, "Who's Your Father: Returning to the Love of the Biblical God." His Chapter 2 especially makes the point, gracefully, biblically, and firmly. PLEASE read the entire essay!!

For now, here are a few excerpts.

The Illusion of a Gentleman God
by Robert Bernecker
We sing songs such as the popular “Our God Reigns” with great enthusiasm and joy, and then we turn right around and teach that God does not in fact reign over the wills of humans, perhaps even in the very same church service. Do we believe he reigns or do we not?

From Genesis to Revelation, God freely interferes with human will to accomplish his own eternal purpose. Even the great sinful rebellion seen in Revelation 17 is said “to carry out God’s purpose” (v. 17). In regards to the choices and actions of the ten sinful, rebellious kings described in this passage, we are told explicitly that “God put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose” (v. 17), which in this case will be his inevitable conquering of these rebellious kings and people (v. 14).

The collective preponderance of these many Scriptures thoroughly dispels the notion that God is somehow a “gentleman” that is either unable or unwilling to turn the hearts and wills of humans (and thereby their choices) to accomplish his own purpose. In fact, Psalm 33:10 (NASB) teaches us the exact opposite: “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” We do not read that the Lord honors the counsel of the nations and carefully respects the plans of the people. Instead, we are told, “The Lord reigns, let the people tremble!” (Psalm 99:1). We should learn from Jeremiah, who declared his awareness of this glorious truth in Jeremiah 10:23: “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”

Contrary to much popular teaching of our day, our Father clearly can and regularly does interfere with human free will. To our great loss, we have drifted far from the historic confession of God’s sovereign involvement in every facet of his creation. In fact, Augustine made no effort to conceal his disdain for any such suggestions that would artificially limit God’s ascendancy, and he wrote bluntly that it was “blasphemous” and “foolish” to assert that God does not change the wills of men whenever and however he chooses.4 We must repent of such foolishness, and we should instead praise our God that he does change our will! Many who profess that “God is a gentleman” have probably never considered the consequences of a world where God, for whatever reason they may assert, did not actually influence, change, and interfere with humanity’s fallen will. How horrible indeed that would be!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Most Important Field

For a lot of guys (and gals too I guess) the football field is the most important field. They pay attention to what happens on it. They diligently keep stats, wanting to know all the minutiae regarding their team, or their favorite player. In season, the football field dominates their life.

For moms, oftentimes the soccer field is the dominant field. In season, the soccer field is ground zero to which all her activities point. The main thrust of the day is to get the child to practice or to the game on time. To be present at the field to cheer on the child. To comfort the child in what happens on the field that may have upset him or her. And to celebrate what happens on the field in victory.

There are lots of meaningful fields in people's lives. The field where he first proposed. The field where you won your first game (for me, the field hockey field). The field where you bring your beloved dog to play in pleasant past-times. The field where you had picnics with your father, and where they dug it up, to your horror, to put up a parking garage, or a subdivision.

However there is only one field of importance. Shepherds Field.

Source: Images of the Holy Land
‎Black goats glean the remains of the yellow grass at the end of a long summer in the surroundings of the Shepherds’ Field. This primeval landscape was the background of many of the events related in the Old and New Testament. Rachel died and was buried nearby, Ruth met Boaz, a meeting which was to lead to the birth of King David, and the shepherds first heard from the angel about the birth of Jesus nearby in Bethlehem. “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11).

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." (Matthew 13:44)

Jesus is the treasure. It was a privilege for the angels to announce Him to the inhabitants of the earth, initially, the shepherds in the field. And here is a beautiful picture of the coming Savior, who will open His field to the Gentiles, redeem them, feed them, and protect them.

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” 3So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. 4And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” 5Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

8Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:1-13)

We serve an incredible Jesus, who was announced to lowly shepherds in the field.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What a Mighty Jesus

[From the Archives: Five years ago this month:]

The scene in Gethsemane usually focused on is the sweet scene where Jesus is praying, alone. It touches the heart to see the beginning of the emotional and physical travail our Savior endured for our sakes. But John's Gospel alone has the scene where Judas arrives with the soldiers and the soldiers approach Jesus. Jesus asks the soldiers whom they seek:
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. (John 18:4-6)
This is a picture of what will happen in Armageddon. Both the Old and the New Testaments are replete with passages that at once depict live events, events that are partial fulfillments of the near future, and are complete fulfillments of things that will happen in the far future. One example comes to mind, the destruction of Sodom for sin, and how Peter advised us that what happened at Sodom is an example of what will happen to the ungodly in the future.

As Jesus spoke, his very words (almost) slew the soldiers, and they fell onto their backs. This is a picture of Rev 19:15, 21
The Coming of Christ
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
And to confirm, Isaiah 11:4;
But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
THIS is the mighty God we serve! He speaks, and the wicked fall. He speaks and worlds are made. He speaks, and angels fly. He speaks, and billions are redeemed. He is mighty and wonderful! No matter what comes upon us in this world before the Tribulation happens, He will see us through it, and then as we fly to Him and meet Him in the air, so we shall be with Him always!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pope's powers have expanded to forgive abortions. Sweet!

Source
Did you know that priests in the Catholic Church are called alter Christus? It means another Christ. They have been granted certain powers by the church to forgive sin. This is called "absolution." According to the Catholic Encycolopedia,
Absolution is the remission of sin, or of the punishment due to sin, granted by the Church. (For remission of punishment due to sin, see CENSURE, EXCOMMUNICATION, INDULGENCE.) Absolution proper is that act of the priest whereby, in the Sacrament of Penance, he frees man from sin.
It's nice for the priests to have the powers to be "another Christ", including being able to remit sin. Did you know that though priests can forgive run-of-the-mill sins, there are some sins so heinous that only the Pope can absolve?
[S]ince 1179, a Vatican tribunal has met in secret to evaluate sins so grave that they can be absolved only by the Pope. The sins in question involve defiling the Eucharist; attempting to assassinate the Pope; a priest abusing the confidentiality of the confessional by revealing the nature of the sin and the person who admitted to it; a priest who has sex with someone and then offers forgiveness for the act; and a man who directly participates in an abortion – even by paying for it – who then seeks to become a priest or deacon. Only the Pope can lift the excommunication incurred by these sins,
The Pope is called 'vicar of Christ' which means Christ's substitute. The Catholic Encyclopedia again,
the title Vicar of Christ is more expressive of his supreme headship of the Church on earth, which he bears in virtue of the commission of Christ and with vicarial power derived from Him.
Wow, so nice of Jesus to bestow some of His powers to the pope so that the pope can be Christ's agent on earth. In his "powers" the pope decided last week that the heinous, pope-forgiving-only sin of abortion can now be forgiven by priests and will not necessarily include an excommunication from the Catholic Church. How terrible for the Catholic Church to withhold what Jesus freely offered.
Pope Francis has decreed that priests may absolve women of the “sin of a procured abortion” during Holy Year next year. In Catholic teaching, it is normally only bishops or the Pope himself who may absolve the faithful of the sin of abortion, which leads to excommunication from the Church. In keeping with his ministry of mercy, however, Pope Francis has extended his powers of forgiveness to those “missionaries of mercy” priests who will visit Catholic dioceses and parishes during Holy Year.
Of course, all the above is nonsense. Any believer is the same as any other believer, we are all priests of the faith. (1 Peter 2:5-9). The pope does not have special powers from Jesus and charged by Him to act in his vicarious stead on earth. The pope is not the head of the church. The Catholic Church isn't even IN the church.

That news headline came at a time when I was feeling burdened for the many, MANY people who refuse the truth. Who are lost in their sins and not ready for the imminent return of Jesus. I was saddened for the many, MANY who are straying from the faith, perhaps at the given moment to reveal by their going that it was not an unfortunate temporary drift, but a permanent going out from us, proving they never were of us. (1 John 2:19). It feels like fiery agony to watch all this.

It truly feels like the sins of the world are piling up to heaven, and that the outcry of the saints are  reaching top volume. What is being done in the name of Jesus, as the Pope claims his special powers for example, is tremendously burdensome. I hate my own sin and I hate the sins of those who do terrible things in His name. It's holy torment.

The Pope cannot forgive the sins of others.

And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:20-21)

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
(Luke 5:24)

The sins of the cities was so great the people cried out. I wonder as the sins of those four cities of the plain were so heinous that the outcry reached heaven, what does the outcry today sound like since all the world is just as heinous as they were then?

Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” (Genesis 18:20-21).

Matthew Henry says of this verse,
Though God long forbears with sinners, from which they fancy that the Lord does not see, and does not regard; yet when the day of his wrath comes, he will look toward them.
The sins pile up, the outcry grows greatly, God deems the time to be right, and judgment cometh-

[Babylon]for her sins have reached even unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:5)

We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed. Forsake her, and let us go each to his own country, for her judgment has reached up to heaven and has been lifted up even to the skies. (Jeremiah 51:9)

They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)

Though what is done in His name is heinous, and though sins have grown putrid in their excrement, I remember that Holy and Pure Jesus came DOWN to earth and lived among all that. He lived with sin all around Him, to seek and save the lost sinner. Me.

It makes me love Him all the more. Grace, Mercy, Patience, He is the very definition of those things. I long for the day when my sin-anguish ceases via His glorification of my body and mind. However I also know that when the day of the rapture glorification comes, it means doom for those who reject Him, for the judgment will have begun. In one sense, I can't wait for the pope to be judged. He does terrible things in the name of Jesus, bringing reproach onto Christ's Spotless Name by his continual blasphemies. Uzzah was smote for less. On the other hand, I plead in prayer for the pope to be given the gift of repentance and conversion to the faith, so that he also will benefit from a relationship with Jesus that is no longer at enmity, but is in friendship.

The burden of the heart is surely a trial in days like this. I know the outcry against Sodom has come from my own lips in this little apartment. 'Lord, how long?' contests with 'Lord, a little longer so that he or she or they may come to the faith...' In all, the Lord's gracious timing and perfection in providence will carry the day, and my outcries at last will still, with the next breath shouting hallelujahs and hosannas to the Lord face to face in praise and adoration. What a day that will be. Soon, I hope.



Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ultimate selfie: man edits himself into one-man orchestra playing every instrument (and conducting)

A man played each part in a 70-piece orchestra and cut it into a one-man show
A man from Hull in the UK has taken the concept of the one-man band and run with it. Ben Morfitt, 24, spent a month creating a video of himself playing the parts of a 70-piece orchestra in his bedroom and posted the bizarre result to YouTube. He filmed an empty concert hall in the city's Abermarle Music Centre as the basis for the clip, before then taping himself playing each instrument in front of a green screen and slowly building the orchestra, the Hull Daily Mail reports. It took a full month to film," Morfitt said. "I used about three-and-a-half hours' [worth of] footage for the final piece, and there's about ten times that in outtakes." He had to edit out his cat every time it wandered into the shot. The whole thing ends with 70 versions of himself turning to the camera to give it the finger.
Because...why? Why waste that much time? Energy? Talent? After reading 6 articles about Mr Morfitt, the only clue I could glean regarding his employment is that he makes a living from composing work. He actually did play each of the nine instruments depicted. He is talented and creative...but to spend that much time on one's self, seems to me to be just ridiculously inward. And flipping the bird at the end, that's over the top crass.

The Bible says,

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,(2 Timothy 3:2)

The Strong's Lexicon explains the word 'lover of self' in the Greek. it is only used once, here in 2 Timothy 3:2,
phílautos (an adjective, derived from 5384 /phílos, "lover" and 846 /autós, "of self") – properly, a lover of self, describing someone preoccupied with their own selfish desires (self-interests).
Preoccupied with self and one's own desires. The young man who took such an inordinate amount of time to film himself in every orchestra position, then gave the finger to the audience at the end of the piece, seems to fill this scripture perfectly.

It takes a selfish desire and a heavy preoccupation with one's self to do this. It is a gross idolatry. Matthew Henry says of the 2 Timothy verse:
Even in gospel times there would be perilous times; on account of persecution from without, still more on account of corruptions within. Men love to gratify their own lusts, more than to please God and do their duty. When every man is eager for what he can get, and anxious to keep what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another. When men do not fear God, they will not regard man.
Man's Chief End is to Glorify God, preached Puritan Thomas Watson. He wrote,
Here are two ends of life specified. 1. The glorifying of God. 2. The enjoying of God.

First. The glorifying of God, 1 Pet. 4:11. "That God in all things may be glorified." The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. l Cor. 10:31. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth asserted is that the end of every man's living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

When we speak of God's glory, the question will be moved, What are to understand by God's glory?

Answer. There is a twofold glory: 1. The glory that God has in himself, his intrinsic glory. Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun: he is called the "God of glory." Acts 7:2. Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; it is so co-natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it. The creature's honour is not essential to his being. A king is a man without his regal ornaments, when his crown and royal robes are taken away; but God's glory is such an essential part of his being, that he cannot be God without it. God's very life lies in his glory. This glory can receive no addition, because it is infinite; it is that which God is most tender of, and which he will not part with. Isa. 48:11, "My glory I will not give to another." God will give temporal blessings to his children, such as wisdom, riches, honour; he will give them spiritual blessings, he will give them grace, he will give them his love, he will give them heaven; but his essential glory he will not give to another. King Pharaoh parted with a ring off his finger to Joseph, and a gold chain, but he would not part with his throne. Gen. 41:40. "Only in the throne will I be greater than thou." So God will do much for his people; he will give them the inheritance; he will put some of Christ's glory, as mediator upon them; but his essential glory he will not part with; "in the throne he will be greater."

2. The glory which is ascribed to God, or which his creatures labour to bring to him. 1 Chron. 16:29, "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name." And, 1 Cor. 6:20, "Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit." The glory we give God is nothing else but our lifting up his name in the world, and magnifying him in the eyes of others. Phil. 1:20, "Christ shall be magnified in my body."
Please click on the link to learn more of what it means to glorify God.

There are only two occupations for man, to glorify God, or to glorify self. This viral video which the social media proclaims is so clever is an object warning for myself. As I approach the end of school and begin to look forward to 8 weeks of staying at home, I can easily slip into the same kind of mind-set as Mr Morfitt- navel gazing, indulging selfish desires, and being preoccupied with my  own glory and not the Great God whom I serve.

I must remember to submit to the Holy Spirit in yielding up my old man, and focus on the new man. I want to use my time well and glorify God in what I do. I can use the time to study, minister, pray, read the Bible more, disciple, and grow. Lord, help me this summer remain diligent in seeking YOUR glory, and avoid resting in any false laurels I build up in myself. I desire to redeem the time. Summer is glorious for me because of the time off, yet the lure of the leisure life can easily descend into too much personal work, introspection, and just plain silliness (like Mr Morfitt)... and leave no room for the purpose of my life: the glorification of God

EPrata photo

Prayer
At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service, without restraint, for ever! O that I could give myself up to Him, so as never more to attempt to be my own! or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to His will and His love! But, alas, I cannot live and not sin. ~Valley of Vision


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