Friday, August 31, 2012

That's the Place


Psalms 36:12 KJV
There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.


The Psalm identifies the differences between the wicked and the one who trusts in the Lord and, together with the previous Psalm, plead God to fight those who fight against the righteous. He ends the Psalm with a word of assurance. It is as if he points to the spot where the enemy will fall and not get up.

Matthew Poole writes, “There, where they come against me, and hope to ruin me. He seems as it were to point at the place with his finger, as if it were already done, and he could tell all the circumstances of it. Or, then, i.e. when they thought all sure, and me irrecoverably lost.”

Though this world often appears to be friendly to the ungodly (it is only an appearance; the ungodly also get sick, go through difficulty and eventually die) there is a time and a place when those who do not know God will fall and not rise up. God's Word assures us that hell and the Lake of Fire are real and that real souls will go there for a real eternity.

I point that place out not to revel in the place of their defeat but to warn men and women that there is such a place.
  • Rise up today
  • Rise up and come to Jesus Christ
  • Rise up while you can
and be rescued from that place where they are cast down and  shall not be able to rise.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Another Wonder

Revelation 12:3 KJV
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

There is in these verses two hugely contrasting "wonders."
  • The first of them is of God.
  • The second is anti God
Yet
  • They both appear to John
  • They both are said to be wonders and
  • They are both in heaven.
The word another means "one more" and doesn't provide much distinction between the two.
  • There is one wonder and
  • There is one more
And herein lies one of the great dangers of religion; both that which is of God and that which is of Satan appear wonderful and appear to be heavenly.

Satan has deceived people by the multitudes with this ploy. It requires care and true work to divide the two and discern which is of God. The majority would rather not put the effort into it and that is why Jesus said they choose the broad way; it is the way which appears to be most obvious. Satan, the Bible says, will deceive the masses with lying wonders. So clever will they be that those who have not been deceived will be thought fools by those who have.

The answer to this deception is the Bible. Only as we judge those wonders through the lens of the Word of God will we see truth. Any other lens will only lead us to the other wonder

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Surrounded by Mercy


Psalms 32:10 KJV
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

I take note that the one who trusts in the Lord is surrounded by mercy and not by
  • Fortunes or
  • Fitness or
  • Fame
It is mercy. It is judgment withheld.

The one who trusts in the Lord does not receive the fullness of the judgment they deserve, ever. This is in contrast with the wicked man who lives in rebellion against God and, though he may seem successful for a time, is constantly surrounded by the wrath and condemnation of God.

Concerning being surrounded by mercy Barnes says mercy,
“Shall surround him; shall attend him; shall be on every side of him. It shall not be only in one respect, but in all respects. He shall be “surrounded” with mercy - as one is surrounded by the air, or by the sunlight. He shall find mercy and favor everywhere, at home, abroad; by day, by night; in society, in solitude; in sickness, in health; in life, in death; in time, in eternity. He shall walk amidst mercies; he shall die amidst mercies; he shall live in a better world in the midst of eternal mercies.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Something Not Said


Revelation 10:4 KJV
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

Years ago I heard a preacher say that it is wise to leave something unsaid every day. John intended to faithfully record what the seven thunders had ordered but was bidden of God not to write them down. Some have tried to guess what they are. The fact is, that God has left them concealed.

One lesson is that the Tribulation will be as bad as all that we read; and much worse. Whatever we know about the Tribulation suffering we know of a certain that we cannot know it all. God has elected not only to hide it from us but to tell us He is doing so.

We may also learn from this that it is not necessary to unload the full weight of our own words and thoughts upon those about us.
  • We may need to rebuke, but we don't need to lash out.
  • We must instruct, but we may withhold some instruction for another time.
It might be we have an opinion, but we are always wise to give it.

As much as scholars have guessed at what these seven thunders said, we can be sure that someone will press us to give up all that is on our mind. It may be that causes us to think we are justified in the doing it. No so.

It is wise to leave something unsaid every day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wait I Say On The Lord


Psalms 27:14 KJV
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

The encouragement to wait on the Lord is repeated and emphasized in the second repetition. It is not a command, but it is surely more than a suggestion. It is delivered with urgency. “Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

This exhortation is delivered out of the depth of the Psalmist's experience with God. David's life could hardly be described as "charmed." He is a Bible hero, but he is a hero with baggage. Life was never easy for him. And yet he had begun as a believer, and more than a believer, but a “truster” in the Lord. He had always had a deeper relationship with God than just attending services; He had always;
  • Trusted the Lord
  • Followed His Word
  • Given God authority in his life
True, he had failed at times, but he always came back.

And David's experience with God was that he could be trusted. Always, at all times and in all circumstances, God could be trusted. And it is from this experience that he urges you and me, "Wait, I say, on the Lord." 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hush


Revelation 8:1 KJV
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Whatever would make heaven silent for even a moment must be of enormous consequence. I take the seven seals, trumpets and vials to run parallel to each other and that the seventh of each is a reference to that moment when Jesus Christ returns to bring and end to the Tribulation of this earth.
·         The power of this moment
·         The awe of this moment
·         The loss of lost lives in this moment and
·         The grace of God in those who are saved in this moment
brings a hush of silence upon heaven.

There are times when we too should see as the only appropriate response, utter silence. When God is at work, let all the earth be still. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Greatly Afflicted, Greatly Comforted.


Revelation 7:14 KJV
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

The bulk of the chapter is a description of this numberless group who have been saved though enduring great tribulation. I take this to be speaking especially of the Great Tribulation. Those who are saved through it are without question an amazing bunch. The times will be so severe and the afflictions exacted upon the converts so great that to stand for Christ through it will be a feat of grace that defies human explanation.

But both Gill and Barnes suggest that the phrase may be speaking as well of those countless souls who have come to believe upon Christ in all ages. There has been affliction upon the faithful believer since the days of Cain and Abel. Those who have suffered at the hands of pagans and those who have suffered at the hands of their own brethren are equally a testimony of the grace of God. That we have numberless examples of men and women who were so persuaded that God is and He is worthy as to endure tribulations rather than deny Him is the chiefest of evidences that God has ministered in their hearts.

There is a blessed comfort for those who have endured such great tribulation; the Lamb Himself will be their minister.

What glories will be theirs whose faith refuses to stray from Christ though they are sorely tried. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Terrible Tribulation


Revelation 6:1 KJV
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

That the six seals broken in this chapter each describe a future judgment during the Tribulation that is to come there is no doubt. I am of the persuasion that what is described is meant to cover the majority if not the entire Tribulation. It seems to me that the Revelation is written in layers, each layer resulting in a cumulative effect rather than subsequent one.

I however cannot help but be impressed with the severity of these six seal judgments coming in rapid succession.
  • There is no time to recover
  • There is no break to regroup
The judgments just keep being broken open and the pain just keeps heaping up upon the children of men.

This is one of the great tragedies of the Tribulation; it is merely a precursor to the pain of hell and the Lake of Fire where they have no rest day or night forever and ever.
  • No words could adequately describe this suffering
  • There is no possible way to exaggerate the problem
  • Therefore there is no price too high to pay in our desire to see others rescued while rescue is still possible

We are not the savers of souls. Only God is that.
But:
  • We are the messengers of His Word.
  • We are the representatives of His grace.
  • We are the ambassadors of His good will.
And we could never do enough to save one from the fire which is to try them who are lost. 

The Sublime Beauty of The Bible


Psalms 19:6 KJV
His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

This Psalm is fascinating and beautiful in its transition from earthly testimonies of the glory of God to the Word of God.

We begin with the heavens declaring the glory of God and move to a specific unit; the sun. It is described in a fashion that is remarkably similar to what we know of the Saviour (as this Psalm serves as a prophecy concerning Him).
  • He is a bridegroom
  • He is the light of the world
  • He came forth to the earth
  • He has gone into heaven but will return
  • His influence reaches all of the earth, even in those lands where He is rejected
And then, in verse seven, the Psalm transition to the law of the Lord.

  • What beauty
  • What majesty
  • What glory
Is the Word of God. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It Is His Sword


Psalms 17:13-14 KJV
Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:
From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

Some have suggested that the rendering here doesn't work, that to imply that the enemy is God's sword doesn't jive with the context. There are, however, other pieces of Scripture that support the doctrine that the oppression of our enemies is in fact a work of God[1], not against us but a means of chastening and correcting us.

So I will not question the text. What I am interested in is that David prays to be delivered from these enemies even knowing they are from God.

Who better to withdraw the enemy than the one who sent them?
What confidence David must have had in asking the Lord to remove his own sword. There is no need to ask the Lord to be a middle man, no heart that has to be softened before God can have His way. David dealt directly with the source.

What a blessing to realize that our enemies are in fact the sword of God.
  • There is mercy in that sword
  • There is precision in that sword
  • There is meaning in that sword

  •  I am glad to know that my Father has all things in His hand
  • I am glad to consider that He will use His sword on my behalf
  • I am glad to think that I am able to ask Him to withdraw His sword in mercy


[1] Isaiah 10:5-7 KJV
O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wasted Religion


Revelation 3:1 KJV
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Barnes says that to have a name that you live but to be dead is "wasted religion." It is:
  • Having activity,
  • Holding services,
  • Offering prayers,
  • Etc.
but to be without the new birth.

Such is Christ's judgment of the church at Sardis (or at the least, the pastor of this church.)

To think that there are pastors of churches who occupy their time in activities that look spiritual when the man himself is spiritually dead is difficult to fathom.
But that has been the case as in the days of George Whitefield who was known to begin his preaching campaigns by calling on the pastors to be born again. We can be assured that if it was a problem in Whitefield's day it is a problem in our day too.

To take that a step further and consider that perhaps whole congregations have an appearance of spiritual life when in fact every member is dead in their trespasses and sins is an unthinkable tragedy.
And yet if the message is not one with a sound gospel presentation that church will end up with members who have not been born again.

But Gill goes a step further still and claims that the entire movement of Protestantism had a name of life because they were know for their first tenant of justification by faith, but were, in his estimation devoid of the work of grace.
This is interesting because Gill ministered in a time (1690-1771 AD) when today's preachers like to quote those old Protestants (I just quoted from Barnes) and justify themselves by claiming the Protestants then were much different than now. Gill seems to disagree and labels Protestantism dead from the start.

Oh, and this is consistent with the Baptists of that time who would not accept the baptisms of the Protestants from their inception.

Historic Baptists understand that they neither came from Protestantism nor were they ever supportive of it. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Foolishness


Psalms 14:1 KJV
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Psalm fourteen is especially tragic in mood. No one knows the occasion of David's composition and that is very likely God's intent. What is written here may be written concerning any era and any people.
Barnes Notes says of the passage:
"It would seem to have been composed under the influence of an affecting conviction of the depth and extent of human depravity, and in view of prevalent impiety and neglect of God; but such a state of things was not confined to any one period of the life of David, as it is not to any one country or period of the world. Unhappily there has been no country and no age in which, in view of existing facts, such a psalm as this might not have been composed... "

David's conclusion concerning these who are so depraved is well described by Gill:
"…though they do not express it with their mouths, yet they would fain persuade their hearts to deny the being of God; that so having no superior to whom they are accountable, they may go on in sin with impunity... "

Christian people are unfortunately as prone to this sort of foolishness as is any lost man. The depths of sin that even preachers are capable of:
·         Twisting truth to convince a group to do as they believe they should
·         Ignoring doctrines they once claimed to believe for gain of financial support
·         Cannibalizing other churches for their own growth, and these, not to mention the well documented
·         Sexual sins of men who were once considered leaders in the Christian world
We could easily apply Gill's interpretation of the Psalm to the Christianity of today

It is a gracious thing indeed that God included verse five that we might be reminded that even in the midst of such depravity, God is in the generation of the righteous. He is with the righteous. Regardless of
·         The era
·         The age or
·         The generation
God is with those who seek Him.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Preserved Word


Psalms 12:6-7 KJV
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Those who deny the preservation of the Bible are quick to attack the use of these Scriptures as having anything to do with the issue of the Bible. They will tell us that we must keep the Bible in context and that the context is protecting God's people from their enemies.

First, that is the appropriate context and exactly the gist of the Word of God as a whole.
God's promise is that His promise to protect us from our greatest enemies:
  • The world
  • The flesh and
  • The devil
will not fail.

His promise is that the promise is pure. That promise has been purified through the fire again and again. And it is trustworthy.

Second there is the double standard of these doubters of God's Word.
They are happy to apply Psalms 24-26 as Messianic Psalms. They see Christ in these words even though Christ would not come for a thousand years after they were written. They have no problem explaining that while the Psalmist was writing about things happening in his life at that moment, God meant his Psalms for a greater purpose.

They are of course right; just as we are correct to say that when the Psalmist wrote of God's protection from his present enemies, God had a greater meaning than immediate enemies and one promise. God meant to give us an assurance that all Scripture is preserved. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Call is Final


Jude 1:1 KJV
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Lists don't always imply order of importance or chronology.
  • Sometimes a list will be alphabetical
  • Sometimes it will be entirely random
However, when a list is given us in Scripture its order ought to be at least considered. In this case, though nothing says so, there is a sense that this order is significant.

And of significance is that the call is last.

The sanctification of the Father speaks of salvation whereby we are set apart from this world.

The preservation of Jesus Christ speaks of our security as His own.

And then there is the call.
Many claim that the call of God is not for salvation but it is the call for the saved to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. This passage supports that teaching. Once we are saved and safe God still calls to us, woos us out of this world to what Gills says is...
"… called out of darkness into light, and from bondage to liberty; and from a dependence on themselves to the grace and righteousness of Christ; and from society with the men of the world to fellowship with him; and to eternal glory…

May we who are saints answer that call. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Wrong Remembered


3 John 1:10 KJV
Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

Barnes Notes gives three reasons Diotrophes would be chastened upon John’s arrival; three reasons why John wasn't going to forget this man's offense. When he came he would deal with it.
“… what had been done
·         was public
·         It pertained to the authority of the apostle, the duty of the church, and
·         the character of the brethren who had been commended to them.”

So too good authority is never vindictive but always responsive to error.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guard the Home

2 John 1:8 KJV
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

There is an interesting change of person in this verse that Poole says is, "neither unusual nor... inelegant." The Apostle chooses to warn these beloved brethren that, should they be led astray by false doctrine, “we,” not just “they” would lose the full reward.

Christianity is a community thing. We are not alone as believers but when we rise up we lift up the whole of our Christian body and when we fall we bring down the whole. Cain's sinfulness is manifested not only in the murder of his brother but in his failure to see his responsibility toward Abel; He is his brother's keeper.

Barnes gives good counsel when he writes, "When error abounds in the world, our first duty is not to attack it... (but to) look to the citadel of our own souls, and see that it is well guarded there.”

Perhaps this has been the weakness of much of modern Christianity. It has been on the offense and hasn't prepared well for the defense of those back home. Consequently we have won the souls of strangers (a good work) at the expense of the souls of our loved ones (a tragedy.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How To Express Love for Another


1 John 5:2 KJV
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

If we had never looked into the pages of the Bible this would likely never come to mind as one of the different ways we may show another person that we love them.

God's word says that one of those ways we love another is by keeping God's commandments.

Poole says true love to others presupposes our love toward God. The only real love we may express for another is
·         On account of God
·         In conformity to God's Word and
·         In obedience to His commandments

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Deliberate Testimony


1 John 4:14 KJV
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

The key to this verse is the phrase "we have seen." The word is "A prolonged form of a primary verb; to look closely at."[1] In other words the Apostle says that he has
·         Studied
·         Examined
·         Deliberately looked into
those events and words that he had witnessed in the life of Jesus Christ. He had done the work of rehearsing in his mind and verifying the truth of what he had seen and heard not only of the life of Christ but also of His death, burial and resurrection.

What he testified concerning Jesus Christ was not casual speculation or the mere passing on of what others had told him. He gives to us the honest report of his own work.

This is the sort of testimony we need from Christians today. Too much of Christianity is one man telling another man what some other man told him. It is true that faith is passed from one to another. But the true witness is not one who merely repeats as a mocking bird, what he heard someone else say but has deliberately and steadfastly studied what he has heard and can therefore give an honest testimony as to the truth of it.

That such a testimony has failed to be given is evidenced by the mass of so called preachers who have changed their messages midstream.
·         That which they assured us they believed at their ordinations
·         That which they boldly preached in the pulpit and
·         That which they once proclaimed to assemblies of other preachers
was obviously not their own message because they have since changed it. I am not so sure they meant to deceive as much as we didn't know they didn't know yet.

I have no interest in hearing from apes who have learned to imitate some preacher. I want to hear the testimony of someone who has searched out the truth and can testify they personally know it to be truth.


[1] Strong’s Concordance

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blessed Are All


Psalms 2:12 KJV
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

This blessing isn't just to some but to all, any and everybody who would trust in him.
  • From any race of people
  • From any sort of background
  • Enduring any sort of difficulty
  • The man in prison is blessed when he trusts the Lord
  • The one will terminal illness is blessed when he trusts the Lord
  • That person whose love is lost is blessed when he trusts the Lord
  • The wealthy and
  • The happy on the earthwill be blessed by trusting the Lord
Regardless of the circumstances all who put their trust in the Lord will be blessed in doing so.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Little White Lies


1 John 2:21 KJV
I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

No lie is of the truth...

Barnes Notes gives a clear understanding here.
"No form of error, however plausible it may appear, however ingeniously it may be defended and however much it may seem to be favorable to human virtue and happiness, can be founded in truth. What the apostle says here has somewhat the aspect of a truism, but it contains a real truth of vital importance, and one which should have great influence in determining our minds in regard to any proposed opinion or doctrine. Error often appears plausible. It seems to be adapted to relieve the mind of many difficulties which perplex and embarrass it on the subject of religion. It seems to be adapted to promote religion. It seems to make those who embrace it happy, and for a time they apparently enjoy religion. But John says that however plausible all this may be, however much it may seem to prove that the doctrines thus embraced are of God, it is a great and vital maxim that no error can have its foundation in truth, and, of course, that it must be worthless."

 It is so easy for us to accept some forms of biblical error because they seem so harmless or in some cases so plausible.

We have come into an era of religious tolerance. I suppose in an effort to right the wrongs of Catholic and later Protestant history we now believe that the "Christian" thing to do is accept any and all forms of religion as equally true. It is now considered hateful to have an opinion concerning Islam, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism or any other error. Issues of doctrine such as eternal security are laughed off as if they had no merit.

But the Word of God says no lie; not one, not the most seemingly harmless one is of the truth.

I want to be a seeker of the truth.