New Testing Phase

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

News From A Missionary

My friend and brother in Christ Dave Olds has recently send back his latest report back from the field, where “the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few” Luke 10:2. That verse goes on to exhort us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest. I would ask you to pray for Dave, and to pray for other faithful labourers like him who will go to the harvest

You can read that newsletter here

Monday, 11 July 2011

God’s Redemption Of Us, His Slaves

I have recently finished listening to the audiobook of Slave, by John MacArthur, and was extremely challenged by this book. MacArthur’s premise is that the word doulos usually translated servant in most slave_tn_largeEnglish translation of the bible, even back to the 1611 King James Version, is accurately translated slave. Thus, in Matthew 25:21&23, when the master says, “well done, good and faithful servant” it should more accurately read: “well done, good and faithful slave”. MacArther then goes on to show the difference between 1st century Roman type slavery and our picture of the 18th and 19th century slave trade. He further elaborates that the idea of being a slave to Christ is lived out by the lives of early Christian believers who lived and died understanding that they we’re someone’s slave, either sin, or else Christ’s, and that all that they did was relative to this fact. I am not going to elaborate or review this book any further, at this point, but suffice it to say, it was excellent, and he convinced me that his premise is true, that we SHOULD consider ourselves, nothing less than slaves to Christ.

That little review, as a way of introducing the topic, I would like to move to my most immediate thoughts I had after finishing the book: “Several doctrines are clearer and make more sense in light of the fact that we are slaves of Christ.” Immediately the doctrine of redemption sprung to mind and thus I will devote the rest of the post to exploring this doctrine and magnifying it in light of the fact that we are slaves to Christ.

When I think of the word redemption I usually first think of the line from the song In Christ Alone “Bought with the precious blood of Christ” This is a really clear and concise basic definition of the New Testament doctrine of redemption. The Old Testament had a slightly different nuance to it, I think, for example of the story of Ruth, who needed to find a kinsman-redeemer, which she did in the form of Boaz.

Ruth 4:4  (Boaz talking to an unnamed relative) So I thought I would tell you of it and say, 'Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.' If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you." And he said, "I will redeem it."

Part of the OT law was that if a man had died, without his wife bearing children to carry on his name, then a relative was required to marry the widow and if possible, have children for the dead man. Also the idea was to keep the land and property within the family. Thus in Ruth we have a situation where all the men in a particular family are dead, and their is only property and a young Moabitess widow left, Boaz, wishing to marry Ruth but cannot until the nearest relative, who has a responsibility to marry Ruth under the Law, had renounced his claim. Ruth 4:4 is where Boaz reminds this unnamed man to redeem the inheritance or else renounce it. The relative is initially keen but when he hears about Ruth, he changes his mind.

Ruth 4:9,10  Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day."

Do you see how, in the text, Boaz rescues Ruth, to be his wife, by paying money to make claim on her. This is a graphic illustration of Redemption in the bible. BUT the New Testament takes this idea a step further. It adds the concept of ransom to the mix. Thus we can say: Christ bought us, with His blood. But now picture this.

You are a slave, you have no rights, but under the protection of your master, all your needs were provided for, and because you are well educated, you occupied a privileged position within society, even as a slave. But, for some reason you neglected your master’s business, leaving him in much and that gave him sufficient cause to have you put to death. You are put in stocks and are forced to wait for the moment of execution to arrive. However, you are suddenly released and informed that a stranger, realising your position, had decided to buy you for your value, as well as cover the full debt as payment for your life. Overwhelmed with joy at being REDEEMED from execution, you serve your new master with all your might.738_22561_-_Shackles_550

This little story is a graphic illustration of New Testament redemption. We are all slaves to sin, and the doom of that situation could come on us at any time, death. BUT Christ, because HE loved us, paid the cost required to rescue us from that doom by shedding His innocent blood, and now, because of this we are free, by which I mean, free from our old master, sin, we are now gratefully obliged to our new Master, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and should follow His every command, regardless of our opinion of that command because He is the master now.

Thus we could define the doctrine of redemption thus: Christ ransomed us from sin and its consequences by providing a payment of His own blood, on the cross, thus taking ownership of us to do His will.

To quote another Hymn: “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow”

Some further verses to consider:

1 Corinthians 6:19,20  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:22, 23  For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Galatians 3:13  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"

From the ISBE attachment to e-Sword – REDEMPTION: פּרק, pāraḳ, “to tear loose,” “to rescue,” פּרה, pādhāh, גּאל, gā'al; ἀγοράζω, agorázo, referring to purchase, λυτροῦμαι, lutroúmai, from λύτρον, lútron, “a ransom”

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Blaspheming the glorious ones

I mentioned a few posts ago that one of the characteristics of a false teacher is that, according to 2 Peter 2:10 and Jude 8 they blaspheme glorious ones. This is a rather strange phrase and confusing, because who are the glorious ones, and how exactly are they blasphemed?

Well lets take this step at a time. First the glorious ones? who are they. The Greek word here is δόξα pronounced doxa which, in biblical Greek literally means glory. Most scholars agree that the phrase ‘glorious ones’ refers to spiritual beings, the angels and possibly demons. This is further re-enforced by Jude 9 which talks about the arch-angel Michael, contending with Satan. This is also consistent with the Old Testament which uses the ‘sons of God’ to refer to angels and possibly demons.

Job 2:1  Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD.

Job 38:7  when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

First, from Job 38, we see that the sons of God, the angels sung for joy when God laid the foundations of the earth (vs 4). This obviously refers to a time when the angels, none seemingly had yet fallen.

So sons of God definitely refer to angels. In Job 2 the phrase ‘being among them’ could imply that there are demons among the angels. I’m inclined to think, taking all verses into consideration, that the phrase ‘sons of God’ refers to those spiritual beings who now are both angels and demons. The same applies to the phrase ‘glorious ones’, it refers to both angels and demons.

That being said, that means that a characteristic of a false teacher is that they will blaspheme angels and demons. Quite a scary thought, and something worth our consideration.

But how do they do it? The word blasphemy means to defame or to vilify, to drag the name and reputation of an object or person down. We usually use the word in regards to God, indeed the 3rd commandment is “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” or to put it another way “do not blaspheme God”. However we can also use the word in different contexts. For example, if someone is spreading malicious rumours about you, you could say that they are blaspheming you. The word works in this context.

But how do false teachers blaspheme angels and demons? Jude 9 tells us what this means:

Jude 1:9  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

In this verse, the archangel, who we would have said, next to God, is probably the most powerful being in the universe, does not take it upon himself or his own authority to rebuke Satan. If he had, that would have been a ‘blasphemous judgement as the verse says. Instead, Michael says ‘The Lord (the Greek word translated Lord literally means the Authority) rebuke you.

We could take this a number of ways, all equally valid. For example, a false teacher is someone who blasphemes the glorious ones by rebuking Satan or a demon on his own authority, or judging the demon. Or we could take it that these people are those who miss teach about angels and demons, giving people false ideas about who they are, and how they function.

This plays out in a number of ways, which I will outline in a later post. I will cite one example, of how this could happen. I have heard many false teachers use a phrase like “I bind Satan and the power he had over you.” There are so many things wrong with this statement, not least of which it is a person taking authority over Satan or a demon to somehow suppress their ability or movement.

Thus to sum up. One aspect of a false teacher is that they regularly mislead people about angels and demons, often with a large focus on casting demons out, and having authority over them.

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Bitterness of Sin!

Another great Grace Gem, this one is a long one but well worth the read:

by James Smith, 1860

"Your ways and your deeds have procured these things unto you! This is your wickedness--it is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!" Jeremiah 4:18

Sin is the most dark subject that can engage our attention--but we have become so familiar with it, that it scarcely affects us at all. Not so the Lord--he calls it 'that abominable thing which he hates.' Yes, God hates nothing but sin--and no one, but for sin. God never hated a sinless being--and he never can. If we could get rid of sin, we would have nothing to fear; therefore we bless God that deliverance from sin is promised.

But sin is not only dangerous--it is bitter, and is the prodigious source of all bitterness! Hence the language of the prophet, "It is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!" Jeremiah 4:18. It is called the root of bitterness. It may appear pleasant at present, and may taste sweet to the depraved palate of the sinner; but as Joab said of war, "It will be bitterness in the end!" Let us therefore think of:

The Bitterness of Sin: Sin is bitter in its NATURE, as it is . . .
a departure from God, the source of all real happiness;
opposition to God
, the giver of all true pleasure;
rebellion against God
, the righteous ruler, who is pledged to punish it;
the degradation of man, who was made in the image of the holy and happy God.

Sin is bitter in its EFFECTS:

Look over the world--all its divisions, confusions, wars, diseases, bloodshed, and cruelties--are but the effects of sin.

Look into families--all the anger, envy, jealousy, enmity, and lack of love--are but the effects of sin.

Look at individuals--all the sufferings of the body, and all the tortures of the soul; all the sorrows of time, and all the agonies of eternity--are but the fruits of sin.

Look at the seeking soul--all his cutting convictions, bitter reflections, stinging remorse, gloomy despondency, and slavish fears--are but the effects of sin.

Look at the believer--all his terrible conflicts, deep depression, gloomy foreboding, and soul-distressing fears--are all the effects of sin.

Indeed whatever is . . .
  dark and dreary,
  distressing and painful,
  alarming and terrible--
is to be traced up to sin!

Every sigh that ever heaved the bosom,
every groan that ever indicated a breaking heart,
every exclamation produced by violent pain
--all, all are the fruits of sin!

Think of . . .
the millions who have suffered, and are suffering;
the fearful nature and extent of their sufferings;
the agonies experienced on earth;
the horrors endured in Hell--and say,
must not sin, from which all these proceeded, be a bitter thing! But here is:

A Season Assigned: "It reaches unto your heart!"
Sin is not a wound in the flesh--but a disease in the heart!
There it was conceived, there it is nourished, and from thence it flows.

Sin reaches to the heart--and defiles and pollutes it!
Indeed, man's heart is one of the most loathsome and polluted things in God's universe!
There is pollution enough in one human heart, to corrupt and defile the universe!
There is nothing so foul, base, or abominable, in earth or in Hell--but its counterpart is to be found in man's heart!

Sin reaches to the heart--and alienates it from God. It has now . . .
  no sympathy with God,
  no desire to please him,
  no fear of offending him!
Man fears punishment--but he does not fear sin!

Sin reaches to the heart--and distracts it. It has . . .
  no settled peace,
  no holy calm,
  no quiet satisfaction.

The passions are turbulent.

The conscience is defiled.

The will is depraved.

The understanding is darkened.

The memory is a store-house of evil!

Indeed every power and faculty of the soul is injured, perverted, and wrongly influenced--by sin!

Sin reaches to the heart--and damns it! It is condemned already, and if grace does not prevent it--the sentence of condemnation will be executed, and the heart will become the seat of . . .
  the most terrible agony,
  the most torturing pain, and
  the most dreadful despair
--and that forever!

No lake of fire and brimstone,
no bottomless pit,
no horrible tempest--
can convey to the mind any adequate idea of the horrors of damnation--which are the just desert of sin.

Truly, "it is bitter, and it reaches unto the heart!"

Reader, see how God speaks of sin, your darling sin, that sin which you now value so highly, and enjoy so much: "It is bitter!" Your sin is so bitter, that no tongue or pen can describe it. And what makes it so bitter is that "it reaches to the heart," the seat of life, the source of action, and therefore . . .
  defiles the whole person,
  misdirects the whole life; and
  exposes the whole man to the wrath and curse of God--and to that wrath and curse, forever!

From this bitter root, proceeds . . .
  all the bitter words,
  all the bitter tempers, and
  all the bitter actions--
which make men miserable on earth, and
will make the lost eternally miserable in Hell!

Our one great business therefore, should be to get rid of sin--this root of bitterness! And by faith in the Lord Jesus, which purifies the heart; and by the work of the Holy Spirit, which cleanses and sanctifies the nature--we may get rid of it. Let us therefore seek first, and before anything else--first, and more than everything else--that we may be washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Holy Spirit, convince us of the bitterness of sin! May it . . .
  be bitter to our taste,
  lead us to forsake it in practice, and
  seek to be delivered from its love and power in our experience!

 

Quoted verbatim from gracegems.org

Are You A Good Person

Are you a good person?