Wednesday, May 31, 2017

There's one thing we're all good at

Sinning. Every human on the planet, no matter his or her age, is good at sinning. Hands down. Me included.

Look at this example from scripture.

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (Matthew 23:16-21).

What this section of scripture is about is Jesus pronouncing woes upon the Pharisees. The Pharisees were one of the two ruling classes in Israel, the Sadducees being the other. The Pharisees had twisted the faith into something unrecognizable, laying incredible burdens down on the people, (like over 600 laws!) failing to minister to sinners, making sons of hell twice as worse as they were, and being total hypocrites. When Jesus pronounced His many woes upon them, this particular set of woes involved swearing by the LORD and lying.

The Pharisees has cunningly devised a way to appear to swear by the Lord but be able to get out of it later. They THOUGHT that if they swore an oath by the temple and not by the gold of the temple, they could break their oath later with no repercussions. Or swear by the altar and not the gift on the altar, or by heaven and not by the throne in heaven. "It depends on what the meaning of is is."

Photo Pixabay.com. cc.

Look how finely they were splitting hairs! They were dead wrong, as we read Jesus' excoriation of their sly practices. All the hairs matter.

But you see how we as humans excel at sinning and rationalizing our sin. We're really, really good at it. "It wasn't that bad." "It wasn't a real promise." "No one keeps promises anymore." "I'm not gossiping, I'm relating a prayer request." "It wasn't as bad as that other guy's sin over there." "No one saw."

All rationalizations are simply self-justifications. And there is only One who justifies, Jesus. Our pitiful attempts to justify ourselves when we sin are just evil blasphemies and vain delusions. When we transgress God's laws, we injure ourselves and dig ourselves deeper into the pit we will eventually fall into.

As I go through the day I ask Jesus to show me where I am sinning but rationalizing it away. Where I am too ignorant or blind to see my own sin. I ask Him to help me sin less against Him tomorrow than I did today, by the Spirit's conviction and strength. I am not only the Chief of Sinners, I am Queen of Rationalizations! Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I pray mine and your walk grows purer with each day and each step. Paul was so wise to pray this for his people:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, (Ephesians 1:18).

Lord open the eyes of my heart so I may see and repent of the sins that lurk there.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. (Proverbs 16:2).

I need Your eyes, Lord.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

An exhortation about false teaching from Jeremiah

It says in 2 Timothy 3:13, evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse. The study note for that verse explains that "all the dangerous movements of the false teachers (cf. vv. 1-9) will become increasingly more successful until Christ comes. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:11)."

This is a sobering thought.

Very sobering.

False teachers are a scourge and a plague. They are worse than locusts who sweep across the field and leave only broken and inedible crumbs in their wake. False teachers destroy souls. False prophets bring Jesus into disrepute and they steal His glory. Lest we believe that those who follow these false teachers and prophets are helpless victims, they are not. Followers of these locusts love to have it so. They actually heap up the false teachers to themselves. (2 Timothy 4:3).

False teachers have been around since even before the world was formed and satan was spreading his evil merchandise in heaven to his companion hosts. (Ezekiel 28:16). Jeremiah wrote in around 600BC about the evil, unholy trio of false priests, false prophets, and followers of both:

An appalling and horrible thing
has happened in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests rule at their direction;
my people love to have it so,
but what will you do when the end comes?
(Jeremiah 5:30-31)

The word in Hebrew for appalling is "a horror." False teaching, false teachers, false prophets, and false converts who love them are a horror, from a word meaning ruin, desolation.

False teachers is a serious issue, people. We tend to want to lessen their impact by rationalizing. We want to decrease their evilness by calling them merely innocuous bones to spit out whilst we ingest otherwise good food. But is this how God sees them? No. He calls them and their followers a horror, a ruin, and a desolation.

False teachers and false prophets have been in existence since almost the beginning. False converts have also been with us, also. (Cain, anyone?). The 2 Timothy 3:13 verse reminds us that things will only get worse. The diffusion of evil will eventually blanket the world, and during its inexorable diffusion, its intensity will deepen.
The breach between light and darkness, so far from being healed, shall be widened [Henry Alford]
What this means for us is that we are at risk. We are more at risk than our parents or our grandparents, because as the verse says, things will get worse and worse. If we are at risk, then our children are more at risk. How are we at risk? Those who become false teachers want to deliberately ensnare you and me. They want to sell their merchandise because they are greedy. (2 Peter 2:3, 1 Timothy 6:5). If we for some reason are unstable or naive, we will be seduced. (2 Peter 2:14, Romans 16:18). The New Testament is rife with constant warnings. We can't be content, ignorant, or relaxed about this.

Because we are all sinners, we can fall prey to these false teachers at any time. The antidote is not to be naive, but be wise. For we are not unaware of satan and his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). We must not be unstable, but cling to the solid Rock. Do this by constant repentance, persisting in the good works we're commanded to do, and by prayer and study of His word. Envelop yourself with the blanket of His word.

I speak of this issue frequently. That's for several reasons-

1. No matter where you read in the Bible, there is always either an issue of or a warning about false teaching. If it is a big deal to God, it is a big deal to me.

2. I am a woman, and women are even more at risk for falling into false teaching and following false converts. (1 Peter 3:7, 2 Timothy 3:6, 2 Corinthians 11:3).

3. Because as satan floods the church with false converts who in turn pile up false teachers, it will be harder and harder to detect the genuine. We are an army of forgiven soldiers whose job it is to love Jesus with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, with no room for false teaching and no quarter for false prophets. Don't give sway to it.

4. Because the purer we are individually and as a body, the more we can glorify Jesus. Our chief end in life is to do this. Don't waver in being steadfast against false teaching and false teachers. They are not misguided, innocuous, harmless, or temporarily errant. They are evil. They are a horror. They are a ruin. This means being being willing to call Beth Moore an evil, abhorrent horror. To say that Sarah Young, Paula White, and others are full of deceit. Can you? Will you?

False teaching is a never-ending battle. We return to Jeremiah, writing in around 600BC, 2,500 years ago-

For wicked men are found among my people;
they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.
They set a trap;
they catch men.
Like a cage full of birds,
their houses are full of deceit;
therefore they have become great and rich;
(Jeremiah 5:26-27).

God asked in Jeremiah 5:31, 'What will you do when the end comes?' It is always the main question. Our lives are a vapor, this era is but a moment. To the Lord, it has been but two days since Jeremiah wrote, not over two thousand years. (2 Peter 3:8). The end will come, for us all. I pray I am still standing form on His truth. I pray you are too.




-----------------------------------------------

Further Reading

The Cripplegate: Four characteristics of a false convert

Paul Washer's site I'll be Honest: A List of False Religious Hopes that Will Send Many to Hell



Monday, May 29, 2017

I liked this girl's purity rant; one dad's review of the program Passport2Purity

Parents, I can't imagine how hard it must be to raise children in this sex-drenched, lascivious age. Millennials, I can't imagine how hard it is for you, between the ages of 18 and 25, to negotiate college, relationships, and the world in this age of sin and temptation.

This is why I appreciated discovering Katie Gregoire's video channel.

According to her "About" on Youtube, Katie Gregoire is,
just a quirky, 19 year old, Christian university student who likes to talk to a camera every now and then. I also have atrocious parking skills and a slight obsession with Captain America. Stay awesome, and don't be stupid or make bad decisions.
- Katie xo, James 1:2-3
Katie talks really fast. But she enunciates very well. OK, I got that out of the way. She is a college student who muses on Christian life. I've listened to two of her videos (only 2 cuz of the talking fast thing...) and I enjoyed them. I really liked her 'rant on purity' very much. Many other people did too, because it got 2X the amount of views her videos usually get, which is a healthy 10,000-15,000. The purity video seems to have struck a chord. Toward the end when she got to her point I went A-HA!

Please watch and let me know what you think in the comments.



There is currently a groundswell of interest in a new program for parents teaching sex education to their children called Passport 2 Purity by Dennis and Barbara Rainey at FanilyLife. It seems like a good program. This dad's review of it was balanced and in concise terms expressed what Katie Gregoire so wisely noted on her rant. (Hint: too often we focus on prohibition and not affirmation.) He is Fred Mok, a pastor in San Jose, CA.

Pastor Mok's ultimate conclusion in his review of Passport2Purity was that the Raineys "were able to communicate law in the context of the gospel in a way their children were able to receive and experience as God’s graciousness towards them."

Here is Pr Mok's overview of the weekend program Passport 2 Purity and his review after having gone through it with his boys.
A Dad's Review of Passport to Purity

Here is a sponsored essay on Challies site by the Raineys-
How to Teach Your Kids About Sex

Tim Challies has written many blog essays and one or two books on the subject of sexuality and purity. You can find some of those here.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Praise the Lamb, who is building His church

Crazy world! But the sane world is coming, and Jesus will rule and reign. So we study end time prophecy in order to obey the command of Him who said to be watchful, sober, and vigilant; to encourage each other with these words, and to turn our eyes from this world in preparation for the next. And let's offer His world to as many as we can! Let's encourage fellow saints who are fainting, embroiled in besetting sin, or who are only lukewarm. We all need encouragement, and it's the one thing these days that is FREE.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

But you, beloved, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (Jude 1:20).

Have you been thinking all along that we were making a defense to you? We speak before God in Christ, and all of this, beloved, is to build you up. (2 Corinthians 12:19).

And soon enough, one of these days we will all really be physically going up, built up in Christ's majestic plan, and we will see it in its conclusion. He is building His church upon Himself, the Rock.(Matthew 16:18).

John Piper:
"I will build my church." The church is not a building. It’s a people, with or without a building. But the Bible pictures this people sometimes as tree that grows and sometimes as a building that is built. The point is that this people has a builder, and the builder is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus builds the church.
Photo EPrata

Praise the Lamb!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Does God speak to us? Should I expect Him to?

How can I hear God? What do you do to listen to God? Will God be giving me explicit instructions for my life, like He seems to be doing for so many other women?

Beth Moore book: Jesus, the One and Only, p. 48.
Personalized whispers are not scripture, nor are they equal to scripture. "Personalized whispers" is not a teaching method Jesus uses. Yet women are being taught consistently and for decades that it is.

The concerning part is that this generation of younger women has been raised on a steady diet of women in celebrity positions who, for decades, have 'taught' the above, that they regularly hear the voice of God. Therefore, women coming up now believe it is the norm to have a personal God in your pocket whispering instructions to you for every little thing, from career moves to audible instruction in theology. But this is most assuredly not the case.

What these celebrity women leaders have done is create a discontent among female congregants who do not have a personal God and wonder what they are doing wrong because they don't. Because of the poor teaching and constant eisegesis in their celebrity lessons that they, unfortunately, have relied upon, many younger women now realize they lack the skills to understand God's will in a biblical way.

The will of God is to repent & believe, be baptized and participate in communion, and obey Him all your life.

We know how and where to obey in specific life choices because we read the Bible.

For example, as far as day-to-day choices go, like where to live, what college to go to, whom to marry or whether to marry, the more we obey, the more we're conformed to Him, which means the more we can confidently decide for ourselves, knowing God prevents bad choices and ordains all things, AND makes all things work to the good of those who love Him. This is where trust comes in. We pray, (not to 'hear back' but to repent and submit and praise His sovereignty over all things), we understand the generalities of God's will for our lives (Matthew 22:36-40). Then we pull up our big girl panties and we just decide.

Should we expect to hear from God? NO. Here are two scriptural explanations why. I repeat, we should NOT expect to hear God audibly, or in a still small, voice, or even in signs or omens, tell us specifically what to do or where to do at any given moment.

Ladies, expect to find God's will by reading the Bible, whereupon the Spirit can conform you to His image and likeness and renew your mind. Don't expect to hear a personalized whisper, an impression on your heart, or an audible voice directly telling you. Ultimately the reality of our sanctification is more delicate, mysterious, and beautiful than any whispers could ever be.

RESOURCES


"God told me...?" a 90-second video.


The Blazing Center has an essay titled "Listening to God without Getting All Weird About It". HT Michelle Lesley

Two other resources for you on God's will

Here is GotQuestions with a short answer to 'What is God's will?'
Know God's will

And John MacArthur with a longer answer-
Taking the Mystery out of God's Will

Sola Sisters, from 2012-
False Teachings About Hearing Audible Words From God Taking Even Deeper Root in Today's Church

Grace To You blog from 2016
That's Not Jesus Calling


Friday, May 26, 2017

Visual Exegesis: Full of Eyes' "Members of the Body"

Full of Eyes is a support-based ministry of exegetical art that creates still and moving images intended to point people to the beauty of God in the crucified and risen Son. All art and animations are done by Chris Powers. Powers’ goal is to help people see and savor the faith-strengthening, hope-instilling, love-kindling beauty of God in Christ. And he does this by creating free exegetical art in the form of pictures, animations, and discussion guides. His work is at https://www.patreon.com/fullofeyes, Youtube, and his website fullofeyes.com

Chris' most recent work is below, with his artist's statement below the picture

Members of the Body

1 Corinthians 12:12-13, "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit were were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
The short explanation:

The bond of the Church's unity is the Holy Spirit who is/creates within each member of the Church a consent to / love for God as He is made known in His Son. This eternally increasing, Spirit-wrought alignment of the heart and mind to the beauty of God in Christ is the holiness of the individual and the unity of the whole.

The long explanation (take from this morning's journal entry):

The Spirit is the principle of union within the Church. Because we were all made to drink from one Spirit, we are all in Christ as one body. Now, the body imagery caught my attention this morning because of this question: What is it that makes the body a unity? What makes someone look at this collection of colors and textures and shapes, of fingers, eyes, toes, bones, veins, muscles, etc.....what makes someone look at this and consider it all one?

I think the answer must be found in the harmony of the parts, or--as Edwards would say--the consent of the various parts to one another.

The many and diverse members of the body are considered one because there is such a high degree of harmonious consent between them all, they agree with one another, not only in form, but in function (this harmonious agreement of the members as the principle of unity is hinted at in 1 Cor. 12:18,24 where Paul mentions the Lord's having arranged and composed the members of the body as He saw fit).

The unity of the body, then, is due to the mutual consent and harmonious agreement of the diverse members. What is glorious about this is that, according to Jonathan Edwards, consent in the observable world is only a shadow or reflection or image of a deeper reality which is consent in the spiritual world, and consent in the spiritual world is simply another way of saying "love." We might then say that a body (or a tree, or a landscape or a car) is a unity because the various members, as it were, "love" one another:

"When one thing sweetly harmonizes with another, as the notes in music, the notes are so conformed and have such proportion one to another that they seem to have respect one to another, as if they loved one another. So the beauty of figures and motions is, when one part has such consonant proportion with the rest as represents a general agreeing and consenting together; which is very much the image of love..."
- Edwards, Essay on the Mind
So, the unity of diverse members of a body is their consent aka, their beauty, aka, their "love" for one another. This, of course, wonderfully agrees with Paul's entire emphasis in 1 Corinthians as a whole and this section more specifically. The Spirit of God is the Love of God for God poured into His people (Romans 5:5) who unites them all into one by the bonds of harmonious consent To the Name of God revealed in the Son (John 17:11,26).

As Christians, our consent is not just--or primarily--to one another, but to God in Christ, and to one another because--in the Spirit--we are all in Christ such that our consent to Christ must also be consent to one another (1 John 4:7-8). The Spirit unites the various members of the people of God into one because He is the living harmony, the living consent, the living beauty, the living mutual love of the people of God, one for another because of their mutual love for the God in His Son.

One awesome implication here is that the Spirit functions in the Church just as He has eternally functioned within the Trinity. Going back to Edwards:

"[God] exerts Himself towards Himself no other way than in infinitely loving and delighting in Himself, in the mutual love of the Father and the Son. This makes the third, the personal Holy Spirit or the holiness of God, which is His infinite beauty, and this is God's infinite consent to being in general."
- Edwards, Essay on the Mind
According to Edwards, the Holy Spirit is the infinite and personal mutual love of the Father and the Son. He is the consent, the harmony, the agreement, the beauty who eternally unites the First and Second persons of the Trinity, and He unites them in the infinite and eternal bond of love. How glorious, then, that this is exactly what it seems the Spirit does in the Church? As He has always been the bond of mutual love between Father and Son, so now He has become the bond of mutual love (the harmony, the consent, the beauty) within the Church.

As the Trinity is one through the eternal and infinite love of Father for Son in the Spirit, so too the Church is one through this same love of God for God now dwelling within them as the personal Holy Spirit. The consent, then, of the various members of the Church to the Son by the Spirit is primary, and must necessarily give rise to consent of the various members of the Church to one another (1 John 4:19-21).

Thursday, May 25, 2017

4000 posts!

Dear Reader,

As of yesterday I have published 4000 essays at the End Time. My goal has been to share thoughts on the three general topics of prophecy, discernment, and encouragement. Of late I added Poetry and Visual Exegesis. I've published daily (with only 3 exceptions) since January 2009. It's a privilege to study God's word and then write about it. It's even more of a privilege to have a sister in the faith click on the links to credible ministries that I offer, and become edified as a result.

This is one of my goals - to point to solid ministries led by men so sisters can find good commentaries, sermons, and other material.

Another goal I've had is to provide explanations about prophecy that aren't wacky. It's discouraging when I google prophecy ministries and the search results yield such a plethora of date setting, conspiracy theorist, downright insane websites. Prophecy is important, edifying, and interpretable. I hoped to add to the internet archive of reasonable and thoughtful essays exploring this most delightful and thrilling topic, in a way that honors God and teaches the sisters.

Another goal has been to present discerning essays exploring troubling teachings and the teachers that bring them, without snark or mocking. I hope I've succeeded in this, but sometimes I know I haven't. Please forgive me.

I also seek to encourage. Just speaking of Jesus and His wonderful attributes is a privilege and doing so lifts me up. I hope it does you as well.

4000 essays is quite an accomplishment, and I thank the Holy Spirit for giving me the mental capacity, the physical energy, and the spiritual insight to persevere in this ministry. I've enjoyed it, and I plan to continue, Lord willing. Thank you for reading The End Time. Tune in tomorrow for another essay, #4,002, as we persevere and do not become weary in doing good.





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A short encouragement about the rapture (with no dates)

Phil Johnson, GraceLife Pulpit pastor and Executive Editor of Grace To You, also the editor of John MacArthur books, tweeted this:


Accepting the challenge, I searched it. Ahem. These were a few of the results-


It's the same on Google when you do a regular search.

We don't read the news and match to the Bible, but instead we read the Bible and then understand how our sinful actions in today's news repeat the same old sinful behaviors of the past. We know that judgment of those actions came then and will come again. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Shall we pray to our patient but wrathfully righteous God? May we pray for our nation to call out to Him in abject apology for thrusting Him aside and instituting false gods? We are a nation in dire need of repentance. Otherwise, we know the rest of the story...and there are still so many to be saved.

Read the Bible, be a Berean! We need truth more than ever in these falling away, lying times. Meanwhile, enjoy His provision, whatever it may be. Today it's the rain, tomorrow maybe the longed-for job? A dinner invitation? A powerful sermon? God will provide what we need when we need it. Our Father will feed us, even as He does the birds, and are we not more valuable than they? :) (Matthew 6:26).

I think about the rapture every day. I know that evil men wax worse, and that each succeeding generation gets more sinful. I know that we are closer to the rapture today than we were yesterday. I can't wait for the rapture to happen, but please don't set dates. Just be ready to explain to anyone who asks about the hope we have within us. (1 Peter 3:15)


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

If Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Paul were Arminian...

Today's essay explores the notion that if Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Paul had been Arminians, how would their testimonies sound? Using today's vernacular, let's see how it reads when these eminent Christians say they "chose God" of their own free will.

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Photo from Pixabay.com

The Sovereign call of Jeremiah to speak YHWH's words becomes:
Jeremiah asking Jesus into His heart and making a career decision,

"When I was a youth, one night I couldn't sleep. I walked around for a while outside, unfamiliar with this restless feeling. I felt young and inept at whatever I tried my hand. I remember clearly, it was the third of Tishrei, a cool September morning. I was at Sabbath at the synagogue. I was overcome with Avital's lyre playing of the ninth repetition of "Just As I Am." It all came together in my heart. I made a decision to walk the aisle toward the rabbi, and I knelt down and sincerely asked Messiah into my heart. Rabbi told me I was saved. Afer that, I decided I wanted to be a Prophet of God because I knew that God had a great plan for my life. When I came forward the priest had told me that. I became a prophet even though I was young and didn't know how to speak. It was a God thing for sure. I'm so happy that day I walked the aisle and decided for the Savior."

The powerful testimony of Christian Terrorist Paul on the road to Damascus becomes:
Paul meekly being led in praying the Sinner's Prayer and choosing to change his whole life around-

Paul explained, "I was exceeding my peers in Law, at that time I was breathing out threats and fire against the Christians. I was at the peak of my career. I had the esteem of my colleagues, and I was young enough to have the world in front of me. Yet something lacked. Then one day while I was walking along the road to Damascus on an official Pharisaical mission to jail and execute followers of The Way, I felt a restlessness. Is this all there is, I wondered? Just being the best at everything and killing blasphemers, nice as that was? I spoke about it with the men who were walking with me, but most of them didn't understand, except for one fellow traveler. He explained that I needed to decide to follow Jesus and that I should use my free will to choose Him. Of course! That was the answer. He led me in the sinner's prayer. I've been saved ever since. You should decide for Jesus too, everyone should. I don't know why they don't. That I did is what makes me a great example of Christian self-decisional regeneration. Not to boast, though. Grace and peace to you."

John the Baptist's call as the last Old Testament Prophet, foreordained and empowered since the womb, becomes a lifestyle choice-
John the Baptist shares his testimony about accepting Jesus

"I didn't get along with my parents, they were very aged and they just didn't understand me or my generation. I felt so lonely, like I didn't fit in with any of my friends. I went to live in the desert to try and find myself, and figure it all out. One day as I was roasting some locusts over the fire and sewing a new camel hair outfit, I realized suddenly that what I needed was Messiah. What I lacked was that I hadn't accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior! I decided to give my heart to Jesus. I also decided to stay in the desert. It's a relationship, not a religion, so who needs church? I have peace about that."

Don't those Arminian testimonies sound ridiculous? We do not decide for Jesus. He decided long before the world was ever made or we were ever born. Now here is how it really happened, with the addition of the verses about God's call to Jesus to become His Son.

The Call of Jeremiah-

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations
."
(Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Paul-

But when God, who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,
(Galatians 1:15-16)

John the Baptist-

for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He shall never take wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb. (Luke 1:15).

Jesus-

I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you". (Psalm 2:7)

And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, And My God is My strength), (Isaiah 49:5).

I am not familiar with this author but I thought his explanation of the biblical truth of God's sovereign choice of His elect was the clearest and most succinct I've read in a while.

Why is one’s understanding of election important? 
Why is it important to understand that election is unconditional and individual? If we believe, as Arminians propose, that election is the result of God looking ahead via His omniscient foreknowledge to see who will choose Him and persevere in Him, we make God’s choice of particular people contingent upon their choice/faith in Him. This makes election a reward or an obligation that is given in response to foreseen faith. This is not the gospel of grace. Election in this view is not God independently choosing us; rather, we are choosing Him and He is merely ratifying the choice by calling "elect" those who have chosen Him. Again, this makes man, not God, sovereign in election, and dishonors God by diminishing His sovereignty. 
Such a view also leaves a pocket for pride in the human heart. Since the choice to believe is supposedly made by the sinner independently, the one who chooses to believe and respond positively to the gospel offer has proven himself more "worthy" of salvation, with all its attendant blessings, than the one who rejects the gospel. Of course, such an exalted view of man is unjustified by Scripture.  

We do not choose Jesus. If we did, we could - and would - boast. No, He chooses us. All the glory rightly belongs to Him.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Why does America love death so much?

Do you ever wonder why American society is fascinated with death? From movies to entertainments to conversation to society in general, it's a culture of death.

I'm old enough to remember life, culture, and entertainment before our national fascination with death. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Movie posters used brighter colors. Blood and gore were normally absent. Discussion about death or dead people were done in reverent tones. It was a serious subject.

If a character on a highly rated television show died, it was a cause for "a very special episode." When the 1983 television film "The Day After", a film depicting a nuclear war on American soil, was broadcast, warnings about the devastating emotional effect accompanied it, along with telephone numbers for people to call counselors.

Back then, people were sensitive to death. It wasn't sought out. It wasn't treated lightly. It certainly wasn't light entertainment.

By now, in 2017, it is.

One of the top rated TV shows (on Netflix) is 13 Reasons Why,a graphic depiction of a teenager's life which includes bullying, rape and then suicide. Many viewers and critics say that the show, while striving to present the issue of teen suicide in a mature light, actually glamorizes it. Death occurs in action movies and even cartoons as a standard event. Promotion posters are usually dark, using black and gray colors, with graphic sprays of blood and other disturbing images.

Why has the nation taken such a turn for the worse in its entertainment choices and daily images?

Here is the answer.

For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the LORD,
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.
(Proverbs 8:35-36)

Jim Osman of Kootenai Community Church (in Idaho) preached last week a sermon called, The House of Mourning, (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4). He made an observation I'd like to pass along to you.

I think we'd all agree as Pastor Osman stated that America is a Romans 1 nation, meaning that because we have rejected God, He has turned us over to our sins, nationally. He's abandoned us so to speak. John MacArthur talks about this kind of wrath as the "wrath of abandonment." You can read about the progression of national and individual rejection in Romans 1:18-32.

Becuase God is life, when we reject Him, we remain dead in our sins. The proverbs verse stated that very clearly. "All who hate Me love death." It can't be clearer that that.

Our national entrancement with death is a clear sign of our spiritual state. All who hate God love death. America loves death, from top to bottom, inside out.

There you have it.



Above collage is an excerpt from a larger piece called "Images of our human spirit before salvation," by EPrata.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Visual Exegesis: Jesus Upholding the Universe

Full of Eyes is a support-based ministry of exegetical art that creates still and moving images intended to point people to the beauty of God in the crucified and risen Son. All art and animations are done by Chris Powers. Powers’ goal is to help people see and savor the faith-strengthening, hope-instilling, love-kindling beauty of God in Christ. And he does this by creating free exegetical art in the form of pictures, animations, and discussion guides. His work is at http://patreon.com/, Youtube, and his website fullofeyes.com




Upholding the Universe, by Chris Powers

Hebrews 1:3, "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power."
I've been teaching a small Wednesday night study at our local church and for the last few months we've been walking through the ecumenical councils. Last night we were discussing the council of Chalcedon--which substantially solidified orthodox Christology for the Church. One passage of the creed of Chalcedon reads:

"...one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledge in two natures, incofusedly, unchangeably, indivisible, inseparably..."
There are many implications that could be drawn from just these few words, but at least one of them is that when the eternal Son took humanity to Himself, He did so "unchangeably" and "inseparably." In other words, since the incarnation, God the Son has never and will never cease to be fully man.

Again, beautiful implications abound, but the one I wanted to focus on in this image is that--even in His death--the "natures" of God and Man are not divided. Consider it, even while a "corpse" (Mark 15:45-46), Jesus was all that God is....meaning that all that God is (the "fullness of diety" Col. 1:19, 2:9) was once expressed in and true of the lifeless man, Jesus.

God the Son did not cease to uphold the universe with the word of His power according to His deity even as He Himself lay, according to His humanity, in the dust of death.

And an even more glorious reality flowing from these things is that, even while His body was veiled in the tomb, Jesus was still the "radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature." Becuase He is ever and always fully God, it is always true to point at the man Christ Jesus and say, "Here is the radiance of God's beauty and exact image of His identity"....and that did not cease to be true--indeed, it became definitively true--when Jesus gave Himself even unto death on the cross for our sins.

There is no God like YHWH.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Man in a Hurry, Sunday slowdown

"There remains a sabbath rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9).


My favorite Andy Griffith episode is called Man in a Hurry. It's from Season 3, episode 16. A businessman from the city is traveling through and his car breaks down at the edge of Mayberry. It's a Sunday, though, and nothing is stirring, even a mouse. Not until church lets out, and even then, the hard-working citizens of Mayberry are committed to and enjoy their Sabbath rest. The man's frustration with the towns' seeming unwillingness to help him fix his car grows until he eventually succumbs to the slow-down sweetness of friendship, rest, and communion.

When people reflect on the old TV show they usually mention their most enjoyable scenes are when one or more characters are sitting on the front porch, not doin' anything much. In the scene below, it's Sunday, it's after church and Sunday dinner, Andy and Barney simply sit, listen to the crickets, or softly sing hymns.

Here is Sinclair Ferguson on "Sabbath Rest". What IS Sabbath rest, anyway?
In creation, man was made as God’s image—intended "naturally" as God’s child to reflect his Father. Since his Father worked creatively for six days and rested on the seventh, Adam, like a son, was to copy Him. Together, on the seventh day, they were to walk in the garden. That day was a time to listen to all the Father had to show and tell about the wonders of His creating work.
Thus the Sabbath Day was meant to be "Father’s Day" every week. It was "made" for Adam. It also had a hint of the future in it. The Father had finished His work, but Adam had not.
Ferguson continues explaining the Sabbath rest and then turns to what the Sabbath should mean to us Christians now that Jesus has come. It's a good read.

Saturdays are a pile-up day. I picture Saturdays for most people as a day when the litter along the side of the road has blown up against a fence. All the chores, tasks, things you'd planned to do have blown up against Saturday and it's a busy day attending to them all. Children's birthday parties, sports games, visiting Mom and Dad, grocery shopping, laundry, school projects....the list is endless. With all the hurry-hurry on Saturdays, it's sometimes hard to stop that momentum on Sunday.

But we're supposed to.
But one may ask: "How does this impact my Sundays as a Christian?" This view of the Sabbath should help us regulate our weeks. Sunday is "Father’s Day," and we have an appointment to meet Him. The child who asks "How short can the meeting be?" has a dysfunctional relationship problem—not an intellectual, theological problem—something is amiss in his fellowship with God.
This view of the Sabbath helps us deal with the question "Is it ok to do … on Sunday?—because I don’t have any time to do it in the rest of the week?" If this is our question, the problem is not how we use Sunday, it is how we are misusing the rest of the week.

As you conclude your day today, if you are reading this on a Saturday (or any other day for that matter), are you in a hurry? Are you cramming in things to do in and around church services? Are you distracted, frazzled, hurried? Slow down. Reflect on how you're using the week, and how your rest on the Sabbath is to be used as a refreshment to your soul and a reflection of all that God has done and is doing.






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Further reading


12 ways your phone is changing you, Tony Reinke article

What does it mean that Jesus is our Sabbath rest?, Robin Schumacher at Compelling Truth

Friday, May 19, 2017

What is Living Water?

In our small group discussion on Thursday nights, people come with Bibles in hand and the pastor opens the floor to anyone with a question. We search the scriptures and engage in a discussion regarding the person's question. Last night someone asked about one of my favorite metaphors in the Bible. What is the Living Water?

It is from the scene from John 4, when in Samaria, a tired Jesus sat down in front of the well, and a woman from the village came out a noonday to draw water. An amazing conversation ensued. Here are verses 10-14:

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink," you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." 11The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." 13Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

From this verse, we understand the Living Water is eternal life in Jesus. Nowhere else but in Jesus does a person have eternal life. He is the fountain. (Jeremiah 2:13). He is the spring. (Isaiah 12:3, Revelation 22:14, John 7:38).

What about after the moment of regeneration, after the person has received eternal life? The waters do not stop flowing. The living water is eternal life in Jesus, as mediated by the Spirit. It is the flow of the Spirit's guidance that transforms the newly forgiven creature into a person gradually conformed to Christ for all eternity.



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Further reading

Founders Ministries: The Model

GotQuestions: What did Jesus Mean when He said Living Water?



Thursday, May 18, 2017

God needs nothing...but...

God, as God, needs nothing. He is above all things. He is Creator of all things. He is self-sustaining, self-sufficient. He needs nothing.

Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:26)

Think of this. As man, Jesus needed everything. As a babe He needed protection when his life was threatened. (Matthew 2:13). He needed shelter, the milk from His mother, the fostering of His father. He was weak, He grew strong. (Luke 2:40). As an adult, He needed sleep, food, rest. (John 4:6, Mark 11:12, Mark 4:38).

I've read and enjoyed the Prince and the Pauperand other switcheroo type stories, where the privileged character (usually royalty) accepts reduced circumstances either willingly or unwillingly and learns much from the experience, while the elevated one learns lessons too.

In life we are "upwardly mobile." We're standing on the provision and achievements of our parents, who give us opportunities and life-lessons. We then strive to exceed theirs. When we grow to adulthood we turn around and give a helping hand up to our children. We almost never willingly thrust it all aside and reduce our circumstances, just because.

Jesus did.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus knows hunger, weariness, grief, joy, stress. He knows our need because He needed too.

What a great Savior we have.


Christ In The Wilderness by Briton Riviere




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Do you know how fast God can run?

I'm reading through Jeremiah. It's been about ten years since I read through and so it's time again. What a blessing God's word is! I am overfilled and overwhelmed with just the first 11 verses in chapter 1.

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" And I said, “I see an almond branch." 12Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it."

I enjoy the natural history aspects of scripture. As I read verse 11, I stopped to learn more. The first chapter deals with Jeremiah's call to his fifty-year-plus long prophetic office, almost all of which was difficult, depressing, and discouraging.

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, opening with the famous line-

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

This is an example of foreordination, where God does not merely react to events on earth, but ordains them from before He created the world. He not only knows the end from the beginning, He authored it, ordained, it and performs it.

I was curious about the linkage of the almond tree with God's word. What it is about an almond tree that I need to know so I can understand this verse better? How is an almond tree like God's word? Why is an almond branch being used as a promise from the LORD that He will perform His word?

Spurgeon helped here, preaching an entire sermon on just verse 11. (sermon #2678, THE LESSON OF THE ALMOND TREE)  His sermon is ripe with meaning, insight, and background. It was extremely illuminating.

The almond tree is the first tree to awaken in the winter, hastening to put out leaves and then ripe fruit before any other tree. Spurgeon said that the Hebrew word for almond is wakeful.
Observe, first, that THE ALMOND IS A WAKEFUL TREE. The Hebrew word which is rendered "almond” comes from a root signifying to be wakeful, so this passage might be read thus, "I see the wakeful rod."
Now, to my question about the linking of the almond tree with God's word. In the section of his sermon explaining the almond tree with God being quick in performing His promises, Spurgeon said in part,
"Oh, but!" says one, "There are often long delays before peace is enjoyed." Then it is because you make them, for God does not. "But sometimes we have to wait," says one. Yes, yes; I know all about that waiting. Do you remember, in the parable of the prodigal son, where he waited? Why, with the harlots and others with whom he wasted his substance in riotous living, or with the swine, when he was feeding them with the husks with which he would gladly have filled his own empty belly. That is where he waited; but when did he end his waiting? When he said, "I will arise and go to my father." He did not wait any longer, for we read, "And he arose, and came to his father;" and then it is written, "When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him,
and”—"and"—"and"—"and stood still, and waited for him to come"? No, no; I know that God waits to be gracious; but, according to the teaching of that parable, "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran." Do you know how fast God can run?
But again I ask, can you tell me how fast God can run? No, you do not know, you cannot tell; but you do know that He is all on fire with love to embrace a poor penitent sinner, and He speeds towards him at an amazing rate. ... Swift as the lightning’s flash is the glance of divine compassion that brings life to a penitent soul.
I've always been slain and humbled by this fact. In my own conversion, I was in a dire spiritual circumstance, at very rock bottom. My next stop was the pit to be lost forever. At the end of myself, the only place I had to look was up. I was 42 years old, having pursued sin all my life. Yet when I cried out to Him for "help", He helped me immediately. He didn't say, 'Wait, you decades-old sinner." He did not say "Let me think about it." I pled for my soul and He answered immediately. He ran!

He is a good God, a just God. I would have deserved my place alongside other sinners in hell. Yet he hastened to fulfill my appeal. Do I know how fast God can run? Yes, I do. I am eternally grateful.




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

There's no such thing as tragedy in a Christian's life

This will be among the shortest blog essays I've ever written, but it will be one of the most powerful. At least, it was for me. I pray it is for you as well.

John Gerstner was a Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary and an authority on the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards. He produced many edifying works in his life, most famously, his "Handout" series. Handout Church History, Handout Theology, and Handout Apologetics are among some of the most wonderful series of lectures and handouts he ever produced. They are easily available online, foremost at Ligonier.org but also in books and videos elsewhere.

Anyway, in his Handout Theology series I'm watching at Ligonier, he did several lectures on the Doctrine of Providence, which is my favorite doctrine. He referenced Romans 8:28 which I'll post. Then his comment below.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I was once asked, 'what is tragedy?' It is whatever happens to the unconverted. No matter how great a blessing, it is a curse to the unconverted because he does not receive it with gratitude to the Giver. On the other hand, no matter whether a snake bite, or whatever, it is a blessing to God's children for whom all things work together for the good. ~John Gerstner, Handout Theology lecture on Providence, part 2

When we focus on Jesus in His heaven, it changes our perspective. When our worldview changes, we settle into the peace that Jesus gives us, the peace that passes all understanding.



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Further reading

John Gerstner, Handout Theology lecture on Providence, part 1

John Flavel: The Mystery of Providence

Spurgeon sermon: Providence


Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Compassionate Lord

This world is so depraved it shocks me still, sometimes. The depravity of my own heart shocks me, especially as I recall the person I was before salvation. Ow! What weight of memory burdens my soul! What dark corners leap out to poison my psyche!

Yet the Light of Jesus' salvation is the balm to a poor, aching soul. He ministers peace and joy to us in abundance. If I focus on Him, all is well. His endless and infinite qualities bear pondering. His love is something in which we delight, like birds at the fountain or children on the playground. As the song says, the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

More and more I feel the Spirit's growth in me. I know this because I am more patient with the lost, and I feel a burden for them increasingly. This is not due to any natural capacity I possess for loving other people. I opened the essay reiterating my own depravity. Such patience and compassion are entirely due to the Spirit. Ultimately, the wellspring of such compassion comes from Jesus. See how many scriptures refer to his longing to save, His compassion for those who wander in the dark. Yes, we're all aware of His wrath upon such poor souls. I speak of His wrath often. But His compassion is magnificent also. Let's see what the Savior says.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

When He stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)

As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it. (Luke 19:41).

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36).

Barnes' Notes says of the KJV of the verse (i.e. fainted v. harassed)
Because they fainted - The word used here refers to the weariness and fatigue which results from labor and being burdened. He saw the people burdened with the rites of religion and the doctrines of the Pharisees; sinking down under their ignorance and the weight of their traditions; neglected by those who ought to have been enlightened teachers; and scattered and driven out without care and attention. With great beauty he compares them to sheep wandering without a shepherd. Judea was a land of flocks and herds. The faithful shepherd, by day and night, was with his flock. He defended it, made it to lie down in green pastures, and led it beside the still waters, Psalm 23:2. Without his care the sheep would stray away. They were in danger of wild beasts. They panted in the summer sun, and they did not know where the cooling shade and stream was. So, said the Saviour, is it with this people. No wonder that the compassionate Redeemer was moved with pity.
We serve a great and compassionate King. He is not distant, nor is He uncaring. As much as we are longing to see Him, He is longing to see us, to bring His Bride Home safe as a hen gathers her chicks.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee: the thorny fence

I love the old book, Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles.
The book contains 400 original photographs by Robert E.M. Bain, taken in Egypt, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Descriptions for each photograph are written by James Lee. These photographs depict the life of Christ and the influence of his ministry—the locations where Christ was born, baptized, crucified, as well as scenes from his prayers, miracles, and sermons. This resource also contains photography of sacred sites between Jerusalem and Rome.
In these photographs taken in the late 1890s, not much had changed in Palestine from the time of Jesus until then. When one sees the vintage, sepia photo of a lone colt tied to a tree in front of a house, one can easily imagine the scene when Jesus told the disciples to go find the young donkey so He could ride into Jerusalem. When one sees a cracked and browned picture of an oil or a flour mill, we can easily imagine commerce and trade as Lydia had with her business of purple.

Here below is a fence in Palestine. The caption explains what the reader is seeing and also contains thoughtful ponderings about Jesus and His Gospel. What I think of when I see this photo, is the impenetrable aspect of the fence and the strong deterrent of thorns. The verse from the Parable of the Sower springs to mind.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. (Matthew 13:8)

The agricultural and localized references written in the Bible are so much better appreciated by us in our day when looking at photos like this, or when I seek to learn about the plants and animals of the region.

Sadly, the book is out of print and very rare and expensive, but fortunately, it has been digitized and I can look at the photos on my Logos 6 software. By the way, if you are reading this before noon on this day, Tim Challies has a Free Friday Giveaway that runs until noon on Saturday, raffling off a Logos 7 Silver package. A hefty gift, if you sign up and become the lucky winner.




Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee and the Journeys of His Apostles caption-
‎The thorny cactus abounds in Palestine. It forms a most secure fence, growing sometimes to a height of twelve feet. Beyond this wall are fig trees and olive trees, pleasant vines and fragrant flowers. The man in the picture with white head dress and staff held behind him is the dragoman of the photographic company of 1894.
We linger at Dothan because, besides the memories of Joseph and his brethren, there is an Old Testament picture which must have been recalled by Mary on her pilgrimage to Bethlehem. The prophet Elisha lived here for a time, and it was to Dothan that the Syrian King sent an army to surround and to capture him. By night they came—"horses and chariots and a great host." And they "compassed the city." 
In the early morning, when Elisha's servant arose from his bed and went forth “behold, a host compassed the city both with horses and chariots." Then the prophet’s servant was afraid and he said: "Alas, my master; how shall we do?" And the prophet answered: "Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed and said: Lord, I pray thee open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."—2 Kings 5:13–18. 
The reality of the invisible realm, of God and His angels, of life immortal, of the protecting influence of heaven in all the struggles and endeavors of earth—these are doctrines which the Man of Galilee came to proclaim to the race of man. These are doctrines which gave strength and comfort to Mary in her pilgrimage from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Jesus is utterly fascinating. These long-ago glimpses into the lands upon which He walked are endlessly interesting and encouraging. I hope you find them encouraging also. Of course, nothing can compare to the lands that await us, a renewed earth and domicile in New Jerusalem. Jesus is worthy to be praised, for His earthly sinless life, and His holy sovereign reign over all the earth and universe beyond.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Nile River, the Nile in the Bible, and the Nilometer

Rivers figure prominently in the Bible, in the people's economic life, in their well-being, and in prophecy. The first rivers mentioned in the Bible are the four rivers crossing the Garden of Eden.

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:10-14).

The River Euphrates is also known later in the Bible as the Mighty River.

The Nile River is (likely reference) mentioned in Genesis 15:18-

In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I have given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

In the 5th century Herotodus said that without the Nile, there is no Egypt. Its importance is clearly seen. Where the river has its sway, there is green. Where there is no river, the desert begins. The Egyptian people have always depended on the Nile for life.

ATS Dictionary explains,
As rain very seldom falls, even in winter, in Southern Egypt, and usually only slight and infrequent showers in Lower Egypt, the whole physical and political existence of Egypt may be said to depend on the Nile; since without this river, and even without its regular annual inundations, the whole land would be but a desert.
The Nile has two branches, the White and the Blue, and its overall length is 4,000 miles! About 900 miles of the great river flows through Egypt proper.

The Egyptians lived by the annual flooding of the Nile. When the floodwaters receded, it left behind fertile silt, which added greatly to the nutrient level of soil for crops.

Smith's Bible Dictionary explains the specifics, and you will rapidly come to understand the Nile's importance for the region.
"With wonderful clock-like regularity the river begins to swell about the end of June, rises 24 feet at Cairo between the 20th and 30th of September and falls as much by the middle of May. Six feet higher than this is devastation; six feet lower is destitution." --Bartlett. So that the Nile increases one hundred days and decreases one hundred days, and the culmination scarcely varies three days from September 25 the autumnal equinox. Thus "Egypt is the gift of the Nile" - [as Herodotus first stated].
Thise are the agricultural and geographical facts. As for the Nile in the Bible, Moses was indirectly named due to his having been found in a basket in the Nile River. Exodus 2:10-

When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, "Because," she said, "I drew him out of the water."

The name Moses is Hebrew from the word mashah; drawing out (of the water), i.e. Rescued; Mosheh, the Israelite lawgiver -- Moses, according to Strong's Concordance.

We read of the Nile again in Exodus 7:21. One of the plagues of Egypt against Pharaoh involved the Nile.

And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

There is an interesting article at Atlas Obscura revealing the locations of and history behind the "Nilometer."
In ancient Egypt, the behavior of the Nile could mean life or death each harvest season. So, long before the Aswan Dam was constructed to manage the flooding of the great river, Egyptians invented an instrument to measure the waters in order to predict the Nile’s behavior: the nilometer.
There were three kinds of nilometers, and examples of all three can still be seen around Egypt. The simplest was a tall column housed in a submerged stone structure called a stilling well. One of these nilometers can be seen on Rhoda (or Rawda) Island in Cairo, an octagonal marble column held in place by a wooden beam at the top that spans the width of the well. The stilling well included a staircase so that priests, who were in charge of monitoring the nilometers, could walk down and examine the column.
Measuring shaft of the Nilometer on Rhoda Island, Cairo. Baldiri/CC by SA 3.0
The remainder of the article at Atlas Obscura is interesting. Check it out!

Sadly, the Nile also figures prominently in biblical future prophecy as well.

The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. (Revelation 16:4).

This evokes the former plague we read about in Exodus 7. J. Orr's Commentary reminds us of the impact it had on the people.
The first of the series of plagues which fell on Egypt was of a truly terrific character. At the stretching out of the red of Aaron, the broad, swift-flowing current of the rising Nile suddenly assumed the hue and qualities of blood. The stroke fell also on the reservoirs, canals, and ponds. Whatever connection may be traced between this plague and natural phenomena (see Hengstenberg) it is plain that it stood on an entirely different footing from changes produced under purely natural conditions. 
1. The water was rendered wholly unfit for use.
2. It became deadly in its properties (ver. 18).
3. The stroke was instantaneous.
4. It was pre-announced.
5. It descended on the river at the summons of Moses and Aaron.
6. It lasted exactly seven days (ver. 25).
An event of this kind was palpably of supernatural origin. Contrast Moses with Christ, the one beginning the series of wonders by turning the river into blood; the other, in his first miracle, turning the water into wine (John 2:1-12). The contrast of judgment and mercy, of law and Gospel.
The smiting of the Nile was - 1) A proof of the power of Jehovah, 2) A blow at Egyptian idolatry, 3) A warning of worse evil to come, 4) The removal of the plague at the end of seven days betokened the unwillingness of God to proceed to extremities.
Those extremities will come to full fruition and power during the Tribulation. In Isaiah 19 we read of the Burden of Egypt and God's plans for the people.

And the waters of the sea will be dried up, and the river will be dry and parched,

Barnes' Notes interprets the as-yet-unfulfilled prophecy this way:
Shall be wasted - This does not mean "entirely," but its waters would fail so as to injure the country. It would not "overflow" in its accustomed manner, and the consequence would be, that the land would be desolate. It is well known that Egypt derives its great fertility entirely from the overflowing of the Nile. So important is this, that a public record is made at Cairo of the daily rise of the water. When the Nile rises to a less height than twelve cubits, a famine is an inevitable consequence, for then the water does not overflow the land. When it rises to a greater height than sixteen cubits, a famine is almost as certain - for then the superabundant waters are not drained off soon enough to allow them to sow the seed. The height of the inundation, therefore, that is necessary in order to ensure a harvest, is from twelve to sixteen cubits. The annual overflow is in the month of August. The prophet here means that the Nile would not rise to the height that was desirable - or the waters should "fail" - and that the consequence would be a famine.
What a disaster looms for Egypt (and the rest of the world!) Our God is creator and Sovereign over all. He will do it. One way to ensure that you are not present on earth for the coming Tribulation disaster of famine and judgments is to repent and place your faith in Jesus. Sins will keep you here but faith in the resurrected Son of God, in whom salvation is found in no other, will rescue you from the day of wrath.

Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? (Amos 8:8)

I hope you've enjoyed this quick natural history overview of the Nile River in the Bible. The Lord made the Nile. It has sustained people for thousands of years. It's been a border, a life's blood, and a symbol. It's been used as a judgment and it will be used so again.

The Bible is rich with things to study. The best part is that all studies lead us back again to the same source: Jesus. He is the wellspring of life, all water flows from Him.

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Throwback Thursday: He will open the door and He will close the door

This essay was first published on The End Time in December 2011.

Do you take the Lord's power and grace for granted? Have you diminished His Holiness in your mind? Many people in this day and age have. How do I know? They think the Lord will somehow relent, and allow everyone into heaven after all. Or that His mercy is so great and so wide that they will be forgiven, even if they do not know Jesus. Jesus will not relent. His decision is final, and His decrees are sure. If you do not know Jesus on the day you die, you will be cast into hell. If you do not know Jesus on His day of wrath, if you die you will be cast into hell.

Even saying such a thing in this day and age seems like a revolutionary act. People chide us Christians who flatly declare the truth from the Word, that He will not relent. "Our God is a loving God," they exclaim. "He would never do that!" Well, Remember rebellious Korah who was swallowed by the earth? Remember Uzzah who touched the ark? Remember Ananias and Sapphira, who blasphemed the Spirit by lying to the Apostle? Jesus will not relent, because He is the door.

"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." (John 10:9).

He is the only One who opens the door.

"I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." (Revelation 3:8).

He is the One who shuts the door.

"And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. (Genesis 7:16).

When the ark was filled He shut the door and the rest of the world was judged. And so it will be again, for the unaware.

"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ (Matthew 25:10-12)

He is the King of the Kingdom and it is He who says who enters and who doesn't. He is the Door. Right now the door is open to all who would repent. It will be shut at the rapture. Not that anyone cannot be saved after the rapture, but with the door shut, you are in the cold, hard world and exposed to believing the lie.

"and with all the deceit of unrighteousness in those who perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie," (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11)

Enter now while the door is open. Repent and believe the truth: that Jesus is resurrected Lord and He is the only way to enter the Kingdom. He speaks the truth, and when He says that judgment is coming, believe it. The time will come when the door will be shut. As it says in Isaiah 26:20- "Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is past."

While the door was open, they did not listen and believe in Noah's day:

Sinners before the Flood, 1594 Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
After the Flood, Circa 1588 Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
This is what Judgment looks like:

The deluge, Léon Comerre  (1850–1916) 
This is what grace looks like:
Noah's flood KAULBACH, Wilhelm von (1805-1874)
How so? you ask. How is this grace? The serpents are writhing, the people are dying! Well, don't focus on the serpents and the people. It is one way we diminish His holiness and His mercy. Focus on Him and His protected righteous and the fact that His promises of salvation are sure. The angels ministering, the ark itself was a lengthy warning to the same people who are now crying for the door to be opened. "Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is past." He made a way for the righteous to be saved!

Please answer His call, and repent!

"Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'" (Luke 13:25)

"Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:9)



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Eschatology is not a fringe field of study but it attracts a wacky fringe element

I get excited as anyone about the thought of the rapture happening any minute. It has always been imminent, meaning, it could happen at any time without any particular circumstance HAVING to have happened first. Not like during the Tribulation where there is a specific series of chronological events, one preceding the other. Interest in the future has always been high.

Unfortunately, the theological field of study of "Last Things", also known as Eschatology, has fallen into disrepute over this last generation. I do my best to present credible essays which strive to demonstrate that eschatology should still be a major area of concern for Christians.

One reason the field of study has fallen in status is because so many people think nothing of twisting the scriptures and promoting wacky theories. Others set dates. When the date passes by without the projected event having occurred, the followers become defeated not just with eschatology but with Christianity in general. Pagans also love to make a mockery of us when this happens. The verse below prophesies the mocking of prophecy.

They 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." (2 Peter 3:4).

Another reason eschatology has fallen to less than credible status are that the fringe elements simply adding craziness to it. Aliens, conspiracy theories, and a heavy focus on interpreting signs and omens in current events all add to the pot which in turn adversely affects perceptions of the field.

A reader in all sincerity sent me a link to an article that seemed to explain certain aspects of the rapture with which she was unfamiliar. She was questioning it and wanted to know my take. I appreciate these kinds of questions because it's encouraging to know that people think and question about these sources.

The author of the piece is a woman who writes at a website called Cross and Cutlass. She made many statements that were assertive in their dogmatism. When this happens it often confuses people, because dogmatic statements in print seem credible just for being dogmatic. It's the old, "If it's in print, it must be true" notion.

Here are some of her statements.
Originally, God set up the constellations to reflect the Gospel. Many people don't know this, and I have only recently discovered this.
Warning #1. Whenever you see someone saying that an interpretation has been 'hidden' for thousands of years, and only recently discovered, run. The Bible isn't a code, it's not a secret, and it's not unknowable until some lone person in a corner of the internet makes a "new discovery." The Holy Spirit has been illuminating the Bible for millennia. The standard interpretations are the correct ones. It's called church history, preaching the Gospel, and hermeneutics.

Warning #2. There are no scripture verses to support her statement that God set up the constellations to reflect the Gospel. Instead, she uses a hundred-year-old book as her source called The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger. I'll provide a link below from the Creation Research Institute debunking Bullinger's "Gospel in the Constellations" theory.

Listen. Scholars over the last two thousand years didn't ALL fail to look up and notice the Gospel in the constellations. If it's a new theory, it is almost a sure bet that it's wacky, wrong, or based on twisted scripture and a poor hermeneutic. I'm talking to you Jonathan "Isaiah 9 Harbinger" Cahn and John "Blood Moons" Hagee.

The author of the wacky eschatological piece also claimed the following;
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.  Revelation 12:1-2
The woman here is the constellation Virgo, the Virgin, who every Biblical scholar says represents Israel. In fact, Israel in Biblical days was well aware of these constellations and their meanings. Even as far back as Enoch.
Warning #3. Again we have a dogmatic statement with no proof: "the woman here is the constellation Virgo..." Then the author adds her connection to truth by incorrectly referencing scripture. She changed Virgo to virgin, which the scripture nowhere indicates. The Greek word for woman in the verse she cited means "woman, wife, lady." As a wife, she would most assuredly NOT be a virgin, which the scripture actually indicates, The woman is, in fact, giving birth to a child. So, #hermeneuticfail.

The author goes on offering what seem like credible evidences but are actually tangential or made-up or just plain ridiculous. Like this statement:
Now, let's move to Virgo being in labor. Jupiter was known by the Jews as the planet Messiah or the King planet. Jupiter enters the womb of Virgo every 12 years. Only every 83 years does it stay in the womb of Jupiter for the full period of a human pregnancy. 

Be very cautious when people use constellations as their guide to prophecy. It is a satanic corruption. Astrology is an abomination to God. The Institute for Creation Research makes some excellent points regarding the constellations as a guide to the Gospel. Here are just a few of their good points, and the full explanation under each point is at the link:
The "Gospel in the Stars" Theory1) There is no uniform zodiac constellation. [in cultures across the world]
2) There is no uniform message behind the stars. As in the case of astrology, the star-formed zodiac signs can be assigned whatever meaning the interpreter decides upon; the purported messages behind the signs are completely arbitrary.
3) The message of the stars is out sequence.
4) There is no biblical evidence to support GIS. Bullinger cites a number of Bible verses that have nothing to do with stars revealing the gospel. For instance, he interprets the word “constellation” (Mazzaroth in Hebrew and Lucifer in the Latin Vulgate) in Job 38:32 as the twelve signs of the zodiac when, in fact, the precise meaning of the term remains uncertain.
I also wrote about horoscopes, i.e.interpreting the stars via their positions in the sky, and other omens/oracles, which forbidden to do.

GotQuestions has a good article about astrology.

Please be careful when following a website or teacher or preacher who is presenting explanations about Last Things. The fringe element is growing every day, with wacky theories, conspiracies, astrology, omens and signs.

I have found that one of the best expositors of the book of Revelation is John MacArthur. There are several other men I'd point you to, who do a good job with prophecy and explaining the scriptures regarding prophecy, like S. Lewis Johnson and James Montgomery Boice (who is excellent on the Book of Daniel!). The MacArthur sermons contain either audio or video AND transcripts. S. Lewis Johnson's sermons are transcribed too. Boice is good, too. Also solid on eschatology are Phil Johnson and Martyn Lloyd Jones and Dan Duncan at Believers Chapel, all of whom are on the web.

Sad to say I do not recommend RC Sproul on eschatology. Though I do listen to him on the topics of holiness, justification, and beauty, I do not trust his hermeneutic on eschatology. He is a preterist, a stance that believes that all or most prophecies were fulfilled in 70AD at the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. If one is a partial preterist they believe most of the prophecies were fulfilled. Further, preterists believe that Revelation's language is only figurative. Though it is heavily symbolic, scripture interprets scripture and the correct interpretation CAN become known. Just not to preterists, I guess! I feel strongly about this. I use a reference from Randall Otto's review of Sproul's book as a punctuation to my feelings on preterism and eschatological hermeneutic overall.

Randall Otto reviewed Sproul's eschatological stance as a preterist when Otto reviewed Sproul's book The Last Days According to Jesus, thus,
One can only marvel at the hermeneutical duplicity at work here and the way it ravages genre analysis. By means of such a hermeneutic any text could be made to say anything. The recognition of genre types provides bases for how to understand a text. Seeing similarities in form and content to other texts enables the interpreter to view a text differently than if those similarities went unnoticed. By applying to the text the potential extrinsic genre-types, "the interpreter eventually determines the intrinsic, originally intended genre and thereby is able to utilize the correct 'rules' for understanding that text." [12] The elasticity with which these "rules" are applied to such texts elicits a problematic inconsistency vis-a-vis the parousia.
So sadly, even within conservative and evangelical corners of the faith, misinterpretations in eschatology occur. Yet, last things are not unknowable. MacArthur said,
I'm seeing this world unravel. There doesn’t seem to be any way back. I mean this is totally out of control. This is a free fall down a black hole. So, you can’t just say, "Well, eschatology doesn’t matter." That is not helpful. People want answers. Where is this thing going? It’s not fair to God, it’s a dishonor to God to say, "Well, the Bible is not clear." It is clear. It is absolutely clear.  
Here is an example of that clarity, even on eschatological matters. After the Soviet Union fell and the split-off nations came into existence, each with freedoms and openness to religion, 1,600 pastors in Kazakhstan asked Dr MacArthur to come and teach them. He spent 7 days a week, 8 hours a day teaching, for two weeks. The pastors wanted one entire day on Revelation so MacArthur went through the book systematically from start to finish. At the conclusion of chapter 22, the pastors said,
"You believe what we believe." I said, "I believe what you believe?" Same Bible. Guess what? It’s so clear that people with no training, no seminary, and no commentaries could understand what the book of Revelation said.
Some things are difficult to understand. I'm not saying I have everything figured out. I can't understand the Daniel verses referring to the Beast, or how the Last Days verses across the OT like Amos and Obadiah fit together in the grand picture, etc. But if  I studied for a long time and referred to credible commentaries and prayed and was patient, I could by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Peter mentioned that some verses were hard to understand when referring to some of Paul's writing on eschatological topics.

He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing. (2 Peter 3:16-17).

The context of Peter's comment is the end of days, when the earth is to be dissolved and a new earth established. That's the 'such matters' Peter is referring to. Peter says he understands when Paul writes of these matters that some parts are hard to understand, but not impossible because it is the unstable who twist them. If you are not unstable, by default, you already know the truth, and Peter urges us to stand on it, and not be carried away.

I think the best way to handle prophecy, especially the next one to be fulfilled (rapture!) is to study the Bible, which keeps us joyous in troubling times, listen to credible expositors preach the verses, and stay out of fringe end time groups online.  We should also keep an expectation of imminence about us, and to stop looking for signs. It only promotes defeatism when the signs inevitably pass without fulfillment, and it destroys the credibility of the study of eschatology itself.




Who else longed to look into the Gospel besides angels?

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