Contend Earnestly: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some Helpful Links...

Check these out as I think you will definitely find them helpful:

Tim Challies is helping give away Jonathan Edward's audio book, Religious Affections. I am sad to say that it isn't the voice of Jonathan Edwards in the audio. ;) Click here.

Travis Carden
has a pretty extensive list of verses backing the doctrine of Total Depravity.

HT: erik

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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: Conclusion

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do you not see how generality persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God's mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God. -- And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. -- And you, children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God's word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men's hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles' days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God's Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.

Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed."

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Learning Bible Interpretation through Skimboarding

I know that this post might be a little corny, and I really don't care. It will however hopefully make you think the next time you try and interpret the Bible.

For some reason, yesterday, I bought a skimboard thinking I would be able to quickly pick this up and have some fun at the beach. So, either I am just getting old and have very little balance or the skim board is broken and was falsely advertised. My thinking is that the skimboard has to be broken because there is no way the former is true.

In actuality I learned some things from the skim board.

1. It looks easier than it is
2. There are rules that govern the skimboard that must be followed or you will fall on your face
3. The skimboard isn't broken, I just suck at it

When I started to think of these things I realized that it really does parallel what we learn in Bible interpretation as well.

1. When one takes a look at the Bible and they hear their preacher or other theologians interpret passages it looks, or maybe sounds easier than it truly is.

2. There are rules that govern biblical interpretation so that the meaning of the text is found and it aligns with the whole counsel of God. If you don't follow these rules you will fall down and in the worst of cases, lose your soul.

3. The Bible isn't broken when you can't "figure it out" you just suck at interpreting it.

Let's take a quick look at each one of these to get a quick glimpse of hopefully helping us all to interpret the Scriptures better. This is going to be a small post that is mostly full of reminders, not full of new awe inspiring thoughts.

When one takes a look at the Bible and they hear their preacher, or other theologians, interpret passages it looks, or maybe sounds, easier than it truly is.

Sometimes layman, or people like myself who do not know Greek and Hebrew can look at our great theologians and think that interpretation is very easy. We will look at some of the Scriptures and just think a particular part is just "obvious" and wonder why not everyone "gets it." The thing that most of us don't see is the hours of study that have gone into particular passages to get their full meaning and we just take things for granted. We sometimes forget how this particular passage fits with the rest of the flow of the Scriptures, the book at hand, or even the particular surrounding passages. When these things are left out of the interpretation, you can really messed up.

So, what we need to learn from this is that one passage never stands alone and although it might look easy to interpret Scripture at first, it can be very much a difficulty at times and can be a dangerous art if not placed within the overall context of Scripture. This is most profoundly found in cults like Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Pelagianism, etc. It is also found today on TBN with the all the crazies with their wigs and pimp suits sitting on their purple thrones talking of God's blessing while their congregations go hungry because of continually sowing their seed.

There are rules that govern biblical interpretation so that the meaning of the text is found and it aligns with the whole counsel of God. If you don't follow these rules you will fall down and in the worst of cases, lose your soul.

This really flows from the first but is definitely a dinstictive. The Bible is made up of poetry, narrative and prophetic language, that can either be very easily recognized or can be confusing at times. Writers can move from a historical narrative to poetry and end with a prophecy very quickly. Think of Genesis 3 with the historical narrative of the fall, the poetry of the condemnation of the man, woman and the snake and then right in the middle we get a prophecy in Genesis 3:15, called the proto evangelium.

We must continue to ask when interpreting Scripture the question of which kind of writing is taking place as prophecy and poetry can tell two very different tales yet sound very similar.

Some also take a historical narrative as being a truth that needs to be followed. Such as polygamy. It would seem at first glance that polygamy is okay with God because of the Old Testament. The problem with polygamy in the Old Testament is that everywhere we find it, it is in historical narratives and God never gives it as lawful or okay in marriage context. This might seem obvious, but this happens all the time with biblical interpretation. So, when looking at historical narratives we must ask how these historical truths fit into theological ones...because they could be very different. So, just because David danced naked in the streets doesn't mean that we should do so as well.

There are many other rules to govern interpretation, such as context, culture and word usage in those cultures, but I don't want to spend the whole time on all of these.

The idea of this is just to understand that there are some rules in interpreting Scripture and one must understand this before just pulling out a verse from the Bible and making it fit what they want it to fit. The biggest mistake I find in biblical interpretation comes in the form of not allowing the Scripture fit into the overall counsel of the entire Bible. People like to parse the verse without asking, "How does this fit within the whole context of God's revealed word?"

When one does this, it would be like coming to Seattle on a sunny day and saying that it never rains here...big mistake.

The Bible isn't broken when you can't "figure it out" you just suck at interpreting it

This is the harshest of realities. People try and look at the Bible, they see contradictions and things that don't make sense and they, as a finite humans say that the infinite word is broken. It is almost funny, if it weren't so sad. It is like me saying that the skimboard is broken because I can't figure it out.

Are there things in the Bible that don't make sense? Of course. Is God one that can be fully grasped? No. But would you want God to be fully figured out? Because if he could be, then how is he greater than us? If I can figure out everything about who God is and why he does what he does, am I not at the same level he is at? If so, why would I worship him and not myself? There is a reason that his thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are higher than our ways.

The Bible isn't broken, we are. We suck as we try to interpret and follow it. The problem are those who aren't humble enough realize this. These people will eventually end up thinking everyone else is stupid and they are always ultimately right, or they will do the unthinkable: they will think that God is stupid and therefore there isn't One that reveals himself through the Bible.

The call for us Christians would be the same as it is for someone who knows how to skimboard. We are to show that it is possible to follow what God has written in this life for the eternal hope. The reason I know that my skimboard isn't broken is because I can see all these 12 year olds doing it masterfully all over the beach. This is what we are to be to the world. We are to be the example to everyone else that there is a God, who sent his Son to die for us that suck and we look to follow him, and guess what...WE SHOW IT IS POSSIBLE.

This whole post is just to get us thinking about biblical interpretation. I haven't put anything in here that you probably haven't heard before, but I just wanted to give you another reminder of being careful when you come to the Scriptures. Don't take them lightly or you will fall on your face like I did many times yesterday on the skimboard.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

God's Great Creation

Last night, my son Caleb and I got to see some of God's great creation on the Oregon coast in Cannon Beach. Below are some pictures of my boy enjoying God's creation. It was a great opportunity for God to give Caleb and I a word picture showing his greatness. What is interesting is that as I looked at the ocean and the beauty that surrounds it, I asked my son, "You see how big the ocean is? Who is bigger than all of that?" His answer: "Jesus." I then asked, "Who made the ocean?" He responded, "Jesus." It is amazing that as we look at the vastness of the ocean that the first thing my son looks to is Christ. I praise God for it. I also love that a walk to a look out and the post that I type because of it can be labeled under "theology." That is just cool. This whole time brought to mind God's response to Job in Job 38:

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop’?
Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal;
And they stand forth like a garment.
From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the uplifted arm is broken.
Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
That you may take it to its territory
And that you may discern the paths to its home?
You know, for you were born then,
And the number of your days is great!
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?
Where is the way that the light is divided,
Or the east wind scattered on the earth?
Who has cleft a channel for the flood,
Or a way for the thunderbolt,
To bring rain on a land without people,
On a desert without a man in it,
To satisfy the waste and desolate land
And to make the seeds of grass to sprout?
Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb has come the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?
Water becomes hard like stone,
And the surface of the deep is imprisoned.
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?
Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her satellites?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth?
Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
So that an abundance of water will cover you?
you send forth lightnings that they may go
And say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the innermost being
Or given understanding to the mind?
Who can count the clouds by wisdom,
Or tip the water jars of the heavens,
When the dust hardens into a mass
And the clods stick together?
Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
When they crouch in their dens
And lie in wait in their lair?
Who prepares for the raven its nourishment
When its young cry to God
And wander about without food?

Job 38

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: Part II

The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. -- That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff on the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. -- And consider here more particularly,

Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Prov. 20:2. "The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul." The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth. It is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke 12:4,5. "And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him."

It is the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isa. 59:18. "According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries." So Isa. 66:15. "For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire." And in many other places. So, Rev. 19:15, we read of "the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said, "the wrath of God," the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: but it is "the fierceness and wrath of God." The fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful that must be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is also "the fierceness and wrath of almighty God." As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? And whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the subject of this!

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezek. 8:18. "Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them." Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only "laugh and mock," Prov. 1:25,26,etc.

How awful are those words, Isa. 63:3, which are the words of the great God. "I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment." It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Rom. 9:22. "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. 33:12-14. "And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites," etc.

Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isa. 66:23,24. "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?"

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Friday, July 25, 2008

God's Greatest Secret: Conclusion

Live for the Glory of God, With What He Has Given You: His Love

So, this final post will show the outcome of the correct understanding of this passage.

If we understand that God is perfect in wisdom and infinite in Being and knowledge, and that we should trust him for our salvation through the mystery of Christ, the outpouring of this is found in the Shema.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart: it starts with love. If Israel would have realized this, they would have been able to worship their God through their sacrifices and not because of their sacrifices. Here is what I mean.

Do you obey God because “he says to do certain things” or do you obey God because you love him and desire to worship him?

Let me ask you:

Why do you memorize Scripture, read your Bible, pray, come to church and tell others about Christ?

Is it natural because of the outflow of love you have for your Creator and Saviour?

Think of this:

What is the difference in killing an animal for forgiveness of sin because God says so (like they did in the OT), and reading the Bible and praying because God says so? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
Psalm 40:6-8

If God didn’t desire the sacrifices of animals because he merely said so, what makes you think he desires your sacrifices in the form of bible study, prayer and evangelism, just because he says so? He doesn’t. This is the definition of doing what God says for “fire insurance.”

David says something in this Psalm that gets to the crux of the issue and why God loved David so much…

What does David say in Psalm 40:8?

I delight to do your will...

David does the will of God not merely because he is supposed to, but because he loves God. David exclaims elsewhere:

I love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.
Psalm 18:1-3

So, why does David pray, do the will of God, look to God, read and study his commandments?

Because he loves the God of his salvation, even though it is all a mystery to him.

The question is: Do we?

Deut 29:29’s second half says this:

but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law

God has many mysteries, none that we will ever know, even in heaven, but we are told to observe the things that are revealed to us. The most awesome thing that has been revealed to us is the mystery of God’s salvation, that is, Jesus Christ.


The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29

We have the all infinite God, all knowing God, that created us, loving us by sending his Son to die for us. He has revealed this to us, it should only be a mystery of why he did this for undeserving whores.

But out of this, we should observe all the words of this law.

We should trust in our God, not to get us out of trouble or to give us things in this life, but our trust should be found in our redemption, our hope should be found in our redemption. This was the cry of David’s heart. It should also be the same with us.

Although we don’t understand everything that goes around us, we do get a grasp of the love of God because it was shown and demonstrated through the death of Christ for us that didn’t deserve it.

May we cry out like David cried out, even when we don’t understand everything:

I love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,

The riddle at the beginning of this series was, “what gets whiter the dirtier it gets?” (a chalkboard)

We could also ask, “Who realizes how white he is, the more he realizes his dirt?”

The answer: Christians

The more you realize how dirty and sinful you are, the more you should realize the greatness that Christ has washed you white as snow.

This secret belongs to God, but may we love him dearly for it and worship him the rest of our days.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

God's Greatest Secret: Part III

The Ultimate Secret: The Messiah

I am not going to try and cover, in one post, all that God promised to deliver the Israelites or all the prophecies that were spoken about their restoration. But, who were the Israelites ultimately waiting for and looking forward to for their restoration?

They were looking forward to the Messiah.

There are many prophecies concerning the Messiah. Like the riddle that we told at first, you might know things about the thing spoken about, but you do not know the substance.

This is how it was with Christ.

In Deut 30:2 it states that when the Israelites obey God with all their heart and soul according to all that God commands that is when God will rescue them.

What is the problem with this if you are an Israelite and God tells you this?

This is impossible.

If the Israelites were honest with themselves they would have understood that this was completely impossible for them to follow. They would know that they must look to another to accomplish this. They would have to look at one that is perfect, without sin.

They must look to God. They must look to God to save them from their sins. They must look to God to not only send them the Saviour, but BE their Saviour.

And God gives them prophecies concerning this all along the way.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:11-12

God said this is how it will be done. God said that the one will have to be Immanuel, Eternal Father, Mighty God, the Righteous One. So, in essence, God says, I will send myself to die for you. And after this, I will do something remarkable.

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Ezekiel 36:26-27

So, back in Deut 30 it says that God will save them if they would obey him with all their heart. God now shows that the only way for this to happen is through the new covenant of blood through Jesus Christ and him dying for their sin and then God putting the new heart in them and cause them to walk in his statutes. This is the only way this will happen.

So, the ultimate secret, the ultimate mystery of salvation came through Jesus Christ. Instead of looking inward to our goodness and keeping of the Law for salvation, we are to look outward and the obedience unto death of our Saviour. This is how this redemption will take place. This is the ultimate secret that God gave the Israelites. But instead of listening to God, they decided to give it the good ole Pharisaical try and desired to try and live perfect lives, instead of looking outward to God, who is the perfect One.

It is almost comical when we see this play out back in Exodus:

So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.
Exodus 19:7-8

To think that you can do all that God has commanded is a travesty, and it will lead you directly into hell, because you will look to self instead of the all powerful Righteous One; Christ. Because of them trying to do it all by their own works, and they failed miserably, God tells us what will then have to happen: He will have to do it all himself, he will have to live a perfect life, he will have to die the perfect death, he will have to be risen in the perfect light, all for the sake of his people, ultimately for the sake of his name.

Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Jeremiah 31:31-33

With this in mind our next post will show the outpouring of the life that understands that the most perplexing story to unfold is that a Righteous Saviour would save a whore like me. This life, is lived for the glory of Christ and because of the love that we have for him.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

God's Greatest Secret: Part II

Salvation: Where Our Rest Must Lie

Again, what is the main point of Deut 29:22-30:4? Is it not salvation?

Most of us, when asked what we should do because we do not know the secret things of God, respond by saying what? We respond by saying that we should trust Him. Should we not put our trust in the all knowing God and not ourselves? We probably all know the famous passage in Proverbs:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

Why? What is the purpose of trusting in God when I don’t have the answers? What is the end result?

Is it not because I trust my God and lean on him for my ultimate salvation for his glory? I mean think of it: Do you think that the martyrs trusted in God merely for their physical lives and for their safety? Or did they trust in God for their salvation?

When we speak of God choosing people for salvation, don’t most of us say, “that isn’t fair!” But, God plainly shows us in his word, that fairness is seen completely different. We think God owes us, for some reason, to bring all to heaven, but look at what some verses say when we think of this term, “the secret things belong to the Lord.” God is going to show us what should perplex us.

I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,
Isaiah 65:2

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
Isaiah 53:6

God shows us what should perplex us. It shouldn’t perplex us why God would send sinners to hell, it should perplex us that God spreads out his hands to a rebellious people. This should make us wonder, why does God do this? Think again of the passage at hand. Look again to Deut 29:22-30:4.

What is going on here? What does God say he is going to do? He is going to gather back the people of Israel, even though they have been a wicked people.

This should really have us saying, “I don’t understand why God is so gracious to save a people who don’t desire him, who continually turn from him”

God really gets to the point in Ezekiel 16 by calling Israel, or us, all being whores, and harlots going after other gods. God says, in Jeremiah 3, after talking about how terrible the sin of Judah and Israel was, the following:

Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD;I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the LORD. Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD; For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.’
Jeremiah 3:12-14

What?! Why? How could this be? This is the ultimate secret of the Lord. This is the ultimate mystery. How we could be such whores for other gods, so much so that God says in Ezekiel 16:25 that we sit upon the mountain side and spread our legs out for anyone who passes by.

Does that make you cringe? Does that verse in Ezekiel 16:25 make you think that is a little inappropriate for me to say? Are you uncomfortable yet? I hope so, because God is talking about you being a whore. It is a little R rated, is it not? Does anyone desire to grow up to be a prostitute? When God says this it is a little like Nathan and David. God points to how terrible it is to be a whore and a slut, we cringe at those ugly and disgusting people and cry out "SINNERS!" and God looks at us and says, "You are the man!" or "You are the whore!"

That is how terrible you and I are. The secret thing, that is amazing through all this, is that God desires to save you!

Deut 30:3 says, “then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you."

This is not deserved. Again, YOU DO NOT DESERVE THIS! So, if you start to understand that you don’t deserve heaven in any way and that you never deserve God, then when you lean on him and trust him, what is it for? It is trusting in God through all things because he has redeemed you. This is ultimate.

You don’t trust God to get you out of a bind, you don’t trust in God to help you get out of financial trouble, out of trouble at school, out of trouble with the law, or with parents, your spouse, your friends, etc., because you might be punished through terrible decisions. But, you trust God through letting yourself rest in his salvation, not in what he might, or might not, give you on this earth.

This is ultimately why Christ said, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, because you might not have any treasures while you are here on earth besides Christ.

The one who trusts in God because of what he gives or takes away from you is one that trusts in a genie in a bottle, not in the true Yahweh God that delivers you from bondage into his everlasting arms.

This is a mystery why God would do this. Not only why he would do it, but through whom he would do it through. The next post will point us to the mystery of the Saviour who saves us from whoredom.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boring Preachers Suck

Are you a preacher? Are you boring? If yes, please stop preaching. I know it sounds pretty critical. I know it sounds maybe shallow at first, but boring preaching really sucks. Besides the obvious point, that if you are boring people won’t want to sit and listen to you, how are you a good representative of the most amazing event that ever happened, namely, the cross?

Go do something else for the cause of Christ. Feed the homeless, teach Sunday School, serve your church in other ways, but if you don’t have the gift of telling others the exciting news of Christ from the pulpit…take a seat.

Here is the point of this post…I believe that preaching is different than teaching and some have the gift and some just don’t. What I want you to also know is that I am NOT saying that excitement and emotion from the pulpit is the only thing, but it is definitely a part of the pulpit. We won’t be looking at other parts of being a pastor, such as exposition of the passage, which is the most important, but we’ll just be covering one part: the excitement of preaching.

Here is what we are going to look at:

Preaching is Heralding and Shouting; Not merely Teaching
Preaching is emotional
Preaching is a gift

Preaching is Heralding and Shouting; Not Merely Teaching

One of the coolest, yet strangest men in the New Testament, was no doubt John the Baptist. If you and I saw him today we would kindly ask him to please go to the fundamental church down the street where they “like that sort of thing.” He ate bugs, dressed in camel hair and preached in the most unlikely spot: the hot desert in Judea. Dude was odd. But, he does give us some insight into what it means to preach something that means a lot to you.

John the Baptist was a man that had a conviction and it was to let people know that the Christ was coming and he was coming to take away the sin of the world. One of the best ways to see how his preaching ministry took footing is found in Matthew 3:1-12.

“JtB” as I will call him, knowing that he is dead and can’t come and hunt me down in his camel suit, had a message that he could not wait to tell everyone. Here, in this passage, there are three words that are associated with “how” JtB told people about the coming Messiah.

The first is the term, “preaching.” This term means to literally herald. This is how Strong’s defines the term: to proclaim after the manner of a herald. always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed.

This term speaks of authority and one that must be listened to and obeyed. Does this give you the thought of a monotone pastor that sounds like he is reading the phonebook? Hardly.

The second term is “saying” at the end of verse 1. This terms speaks of affirming something by speaking out loud by command. Again, showing authority by commanding something as the speaker speaks.

Lastly, the term “crying” is used by way of the prophecy from Isaiah 40. This term means to shout out loud because of joy or pain, to use a strong voice.

So we have the crazy man, John the Baptist, convicted of a message that he needs to preach, and he does it with excitement while he still has some locusts stuck in his teeth. In the end, we see that John the Baptist is not a man that sounds like he is in the wilderness speaking monotone about the most exciting thing to come to the people of Israel.

No, we see a man convicted of a message in the wilderness getting people’s attention, not only with the message but also in the delivery and force of the speaker. This man is one that any would listen to. Does this describe you? If not...please don't preach.

Preaching is Emotional

We learn from Christ that out of the heart the mouth speaks. We also learn that we are to love the Lord our God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.

When we are told to love God with all of our heart and soul, the soul is said to be part of the human that puts forth its desires and affections. You get that...affections!

So, if the preacher is allowing his heart to speak and he truly loves the Lord with all his soul, would not his mouth show the emotions and affections of his love of God?

We actually do see this in the preaching of Peter and John. They show how much they love Christ in their preaching to the people. Take a look at this verse:

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Acts 4:13

Peter and John show confidence because of what is found in their heart. This term confidence gives the idea of free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance. Notice that the council could tell that these men were uneducated and untrained, in probably oratory speaking, but it says that the council was amazed! Even more so, it says that the council, because of the confidence of the two standing before them, that these two had been with Jesus. Because of this boldness and because of their message the council in verse 18 of Acts 4 says that they ordered them to stop teaching about Jesus. Sadly, when I hear some preachers they sound like they have never experienced Christ, but only have read about him.

This passage though, as a whole, gives the essence that Peter and John were very emotional about what they were preaching on. Because of the overflow of their hearts, these two confidently proclaimed the Messiah to all who would hear. They were truly preachers, not merely teachers.

The question is do others see you, if you are a preacher, the confidence in your message? Can they tell that you have been with Jesus? Or do you sound more like a math teacher?

If people can’t tell the confidence and joy you have in Christ, I would beg you again, to find another way to serve God. Preachers are men who preach with the emotion of one that has been with Christ, not one who has only heard the good news.

Preaching is a gift

People mistakenly take preaching and lump it in with teaching as though it was the same thing. Sorry to say, these people are far off. In Romans 12 we have some of the gifts listed.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;
Romans 12:6-7

The term for prophecy would be one that is associated with the preacher. Prophecy means to proclaim or herald before a people. The Old Testament prophet would be the equivalent of the New Testament preacher. Notice also that another gift listed in verse 7 is the one for teaching. This shows that they are not the same. Although there may be many of the attributes that are the same between the two; exposition, biblical understanding, etc., there is big difference in how one who just has the gift of teaching and one that has the gift of prophecy and teaching will differ.
I believe the main difference is going to be in the delivery. Again, the main purpose of the prophet is to declare. They are to declare the things of God. Think of the first point that we made in this post with John the Baptist. The preacher is to herald with confidence and with authority. They are to do this without wavering as the Old Testament prophets did among the nations. Think of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Think how these men spoke against the people of their day; this is the role of the preacher.

It is a gift. Teachers are much needed in the church, but we should not expect every teacher to be able to get behind the pulpit and start teaching with passion. It isn’t that easy.

The sad part is that I believe many look to teachers who can exposit a passage and knows a lot about the Bible and then they place them behind the pulpit without care. The problem is that they are boring and no one wants to listen a thing they have to say. With a preacher, they do all the same thing that a teacher would, except they come with authority, confidence and emotion for the oracles of the Lord God our Yahweh.

One of my friends quoted something that he had heard once (it wasn't said to him):

The message isn't boring, you are!

So, if you are a preacher that sounds like Ben Stein on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…how about you take a day off and we’ll call you, don’t call us.

P.S. Just for pastor doesn't suck...he loves Jesus and shows it through his preaching and through the way he lives his life.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

God's Greatest Secret: Part I

Because I am a leader in the church and because I interact with a lot of people, I get asked many times on why people go through dry times in their spiritual lives. I have been recently coming out of one of my own, so it is always easier to answer a question when you have been staring at it in the mirror for a little bit. Most of the time, instead of answering this question with a “7 Step Program” of "success", which is really just a way to be a moralistic Pharisee, I take my questioner back to the cross.

In short, the reason we go through dry times, and the reason we go through times to where we feel God is “far off” is so that we can grasp the greatness of God and that a “program” is not what we need, but we need the ultimate treasure: Christ.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a good friend about sin. He is going through a time to where he doesn’t realize why his sin is so forcefully being put in front of his eyes for him to see them laid bare.

Instead of trying to get him to look to the “good things of life” or to dismiss his struggles, I took him to the greatest secret that God has withheld from us: the cross (I’ll explain what I mean by this statement in a later post). He didn’t need me to empathize with him, he didn’t need me to just say, “everything will be okay.” What he needed was the reassurance that his salvation and his life is not in his hands, in his works, but only in the hands and the assurance of his Saviour, Jesus Christ.

This takes me to the next series I want to direct this blog to. It is looking at the Old Testament passage of Deuteronomy 29:22-30:4. In the middle of this passage is one of the most abused passages, myself included, to generate trust in God’s ways and not our ways. It is verse 29 of the 29th chapter of Deuteronomy:

"...the secret things belong to the Lord our God.”

This verse is raped from the original intent of the passage and taken to mean that if you don’t get it, it must be a secret of God. This could be true, but I don’t think this is the ultimate meaning of this term as spoken by Moses. I want to show you that if you can see the ultimate reason for this passage, you will be able to really trust in your God, no matter your circumstance.

Think of a riddle. What is a riddle? Isn’t a riddle something that gives you clues to get you to guess the substance of the riddle at hand?

Here is a quick riddle: What gets whiter the dirtier it gets?

God and his ways are sometimes like a riddle. We know some facts, like the riddle. We know in the riddle above that whatever this “thing” is, it is a “thing” because the term “what” is used, instead of “who.” We also know that it gets white in some way, and also gets dirty in some way. We know some facts, but we don’t know the underlying reasons, or answers to the facts that surround us.

Being in the church age, we have a lot of answers that the Old Testament saints didn’t have available to them. We have, in essence, gotten more of the riddle answered than they did.

I want to show you the ultimate reason that this verse is placed in Deuteronomy. I want to show you the ultimate “riddle” or the ultimate “secret” that God has given us, to completely astonish and perplex us, that in the end, should make us run to him and trust in him even more.

We will see how this verse works out through looking at:

God is a Mystery
Salvation: Where Our Rest Must Lie
The Ultimate Secret: The Messiah
Live for the Glory of God, With What He Has Given You: His Love

God is a Mystery

The secret things belong to the Lord our God

I have used this verse many times when I have taught, counseled and just brought about theological questions.

I believe the understanding of this verse, must first come in the understanding that God himself, is a secret and a mystery.

You are going to see how this all comes together in the end, but look at Isaiah 55:6-11

This is almost an exact parallel to Deut 29.

What is Deut 29:22-30:3 speaking about as its central theme?

Its central theme is redemption, and we’ll get to that in the next point, but it also speaks of the mystery of God or the secrets of God.

In Isaiah 55 it says that God’s ways are higher than our ways, that his thoughts are not our thoughts.

Why is this? Why is it that his thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not his ways?

Let me put it this way.

What would most kids eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner if they got to choose?


Why won’t the parent let them eat candy all the time?

It is because the parent knows what is best for the child and knows the consequences of the child eating candy and knows the benefit of the child eating well rounded meals.

We are like the child and God is the parent.

Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
Isaiah 40:13-15

So, God is all knowing: He literally knows all things. Do we know all things? Actually the Bible says quite the opposite. It says that none understand, and have become useless in Romans 3; in Romans 1:22 it states that we profess to be wise, but we are fools.

Isaiah 41:21-24 furthers this thought.

God says that he is the only one that knows all things. He is the only one that can tell us the former events, the events happening now and also the events that will happen. He continues in Isaiah 46:10.

Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
Isaiah 46:10

Here God takes it even further. He not only is saying that he knows all things but he has a purpose for each thing that happens. So, there is not only things happening which he knows of, but they all have a purpose, and he alone is the one who knows them. So, when a rape happens to a Christian, or anyone for that matter, God knows why this happened. We as humans can know the fact that this person was raped, but we cannot know the purpose. God does. This is how far above his knowledge is when compared to our own.

So, think of this. When we read Deut 29:29 that states, “the secret things belong to the Lord” can we come to the conclusion that this has to be true, that God has secret things, because he knows all things, knows why they happen, and is forever eternal from eternity past to eternity future? Especially when compared to us, who are said to be foolish, worthless, and today we are here and tomorrow we are gone, that our life is like a vapor.

Our understanding compared to God is not even close to the understanding that a child and a parent have, we are even more far off in knowledge and understanding compared to the child.

So, think of my knowledge and my two year old’s knowledge. My knowledge compared to Coleman’s (my two year old) isn’t even close…yet my knowledge when compared to God’s is even a further distance off.

This is why there are secret things that we do not know that only God does.

We will take a look next to where our rest must lie, if we know that the secret things belong to God: Salvation.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

I am going to start making Fridays, Jonathan Edwards day on my blog. To start, I am going to put up his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of Angry God. I will put up a part every week until the whole sermon is up. It isn't that long, about an hour read for the whole thing in one sitting, but I am going to do it slowly to hold your attention since you probably have blog ADD.

Here is the first snippet.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Edwards (1703-1758)
Enfield, Connecticut
July 8, 1741

Their foot shall slide in due time. Deuteronomy 32:35

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God's visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God's wonderful works towards them, remained (as vers 28.) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. -- The expression I have chosen for my text, their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm 73:18. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction."

It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18,19. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!"

Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

That the reason why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. -- "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God." -- By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God's mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. -- The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. -- He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.

They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18. "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23. "Ye are from beneath:" And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isa. 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;" but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. 2:16. "How dieth the wise man? even as the fool."

All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself -- I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief -- Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me."

God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

God's View on Divorce: Final Report

What about the two exceptions?

When speaking of divorce the first two things people seem to point to is the two exceptions mentioned in the Scriptures. I know that there are a lot of opinions on this, and I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic.

Jesus gave us one of the exceptions in Matthew 5 and that is the one of the unfaithful spouse. If your spouse cheats on you, God will allow divorce.

but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 5:32

The other is found in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16

Divorce is allowed if an unbelieving one decides to desert the other spouse. We are to keep the peace and allow them to go. 1 Timothy 5:8 would seem to conclude that the one who leaves his household is not only an unbeliever, but actually worse than an unbeliever.

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:8

The question though, comes in this form: "If someone is unfaithful or an unbeliever are we supposed to just give up?:

Are we supposed to just write the divorce papers?

Again, through these two acts, we see the grace and love of Christ Jesus.

Here is the point of why these two things are of last resort and why the one that is the holy one in the marriage is supposed to be the forgiving one, and the righteous one. So, the one that has done nothing wrong, should forgive and show grace to the one at fault. Does this sound familiar? Sounds like redemption. Sounds like the true Christian in the marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ in these instances.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

The one who forgives the spouse is the one who will showing the imitation of Christ, they will point the other, the one at fault, the Messiah, the One who was perfect, who died for the souls of the unrighteous and in return gave them His righteousness.

Further, what is the person in a marriage that cheats on their spouse called? An adulterer. They are a fornicator, both words are really nice ways to call someone a whore in the Hebrew.

Look to Jeremiah 3:1-14

When a spouse cheats and the one who has been offended shows forgiveness they are a picture of Christ.

When a spouse is cheated on they now get to understand what Christ goes through with his people who are whores, harlots, adulterers and run to other gods, instead of loving him with all their heart, soul and strength, and worshiping him alone.

The second exception that is given to us in 1 Corinthians is the person who is does not love Jesus and decides to leave the spouse. We find that again, the believing spouse, gets to show the love of Christ through this situation.

What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:4-7

If Jesus Christ goes after our wandering and faithless hearts, then the spouse who tries to reconcile with the unbelieving spouse is also a picture of Christ. The believing spouse should do all that is possible to keep the marriage vows, but when all hope is lost, they should let them go to do as 1 Corinthians 7:15 tells us: to keep peace.

The last resort in both of these cases is divorce and we also see that God does the same thing to those who are unrepentant.

Look to Ezekiel 16:23-43

In the end, when a divorce happens, it is also a picture of what will happen to one who denies his God. He is allowed to follow after his desires as God turns them over to their desires to follow after their other gods, and ultimately they will be thrown into hell. The picture that is shown in divorce is ultimately the picture of Christ allowing those to follow after their own ways, which leads to hell, not the picture of the church and their spouse, Jesus Christ.
Can you really conclude that divorce is ultimately “okay” with God. He says he hates it, can you see why?

If marriage is a picture of the union with Christ then divorce is a picture of a man being plunged into the depths of hell. And God says in Ezekiel 33:11

Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:11

As our faithful God says this to the world, we should also say to a spouse who desires to be divorced.

In the latest polls taken, there is more divorce in the church than outside of the church. I just wonder if those that do this know how much disgust that they bring to the cross of Christ.

We have the perfect spouse, found in Jesus Christ. We are the unfaithful ones, we are the whores, we are the ones looking to other gods, we are the ones wanting to leave our God. What if Christ "divorced" us the first time we were unfaithful or desiring to follow after our own evil desires?

This is why in the old hymn, Come Thou Fount, by Robert Robinson he says in there,

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

This is why when faced with an “out” per se from marriage we are always to be forgiving and gracious and try our hardest to keep the marriage, for we show the glory of God through being imitators of him, for I would hate for my God to divorce me the first chance he got, because I am unfaithful, in some way, every day of my life.

May we marry for the glory of Christ and not for the glory of our self.
Soli Deo Gloria!

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