Archive for January, 2020

If Not Doing It, Then Can’t Preach It

January 30, 2020

I was having a study recently where the subject of divorce and remarriage came up. The lady I was studying with commented that her preacher certainly could not preach what Matt 19:9 says on that topic because he was divorced himself. This is sad but so true in many cases. When one who teaches the gospel is not practicing the gospel as he ought, not only will it hurt his influence among others (nobody will listen to a hypocrite, II Cor 8:21), but it usually also compromises his preaching.

As another example, if a preacher is not as heavily involved in personal evangelism as he ought, how can he consistently teach that all Christians need to be involved in such (Acts 8:4)?; he would just be condemning himself if he did so.

If a preacher watches modern TV shows, then how can he emphatically preach against watching trashy TV?; he is doing it himself.

If a preacher is not in the habit of warning his regular listening audience of what they need to change on (Acts 20:26-27,31, Ezek 3:18), then how can he effectively teach that other Bible teachers need to be regularly warning their listening audiences of what they need to change on? It is easy to preach about others who are not there.

If a preacher is spending most of his time running errands and what not, then how can he forcefully teach that Christians should be busy about the Lord’s work on a daily basis (Matt 9:37-38)?

If a preacher is not regularly out doing the good deeds Jesus emphasizes in Matt 25:31-46 (and deeds in the same category), then he can’t very well preach others should be doing such, can he?

Conclusion:  Not practicing what one preaches is exactly the kind of judging condemned by Matt 7:1-5.

II Peter 1:3 – God Has Given Us All Things That Pertain Unto Life And Godliness

January 23, 2020

II Pet 1:3 reads “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”

Some may think this verse is talking about how God gives us everything we need informationally through His word, the Bible. II Tim 3:16-17 does teach that, but II Pet 1:3 I think includes more. It is talking about ALL the things that God gives us (using his divine power) that pertain to life and godliness. Let’s name a few (but not all) of those things …

1) God’s word, the Bible. This is such an important gift. Without it we would be groping around in the dark trying to figure out how to please God:

· John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. – God’s word is the truth. That means it has no errors, and would also mean it encapsulates all the religious truth God intends for us.

· II Tim 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. – So the Bible is the thing we look to for doctrine, for religious instruction, etc. It makes us complete as a Christian. We don’t need anything else such as the Pope or church tradition as a standard of truth.

2) Forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ. There is nothing more important to us than this:

· Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, – Without the death of Christ, we couldn’t be saved (Heb 9:22).

· Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. – Only believers who repent and are baptized will receive the forgiveness of sins.

3) The right to pray:

· I Thess 5:17 Pray without ceasing. – We should take full advantage of the power of prayer.

4) The necessities of life. This probably would pertain more to life than to godliness:

· Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. This context shows that if we will put God first, even before our jobs, he will make sure we get the necessities of life.

5) Parents to guide us in our youth. Without our parents’ good influence, probably not too many of us would be faithful Christians today:

· Eph 6:4 … ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Good parents’ first priority is to teach their children to serve God.

6) The angels to minister to us:

· Heb 1:13-14 … the angels … Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

7) Other Christians to encourage us to remain faithful:

· Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. – One of the main reasons we should attend church is to encourage others and be encouraged toward love and good works. Maybe that’s why this passage makes it a sin to skip church services.

Conclusion: The last part of II Pet 1:3 says “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”  So none of this will work as intended unless we are a faithful Christian.  We should be so thankful God gives us (using His divine power) everything we need to survive this life, and especially everything we need to be godly – so we can please him and be saved eternally. Remember, passages like Heb 5:9 say Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him,” so we have to please him to be saved.

Does God Still Act Supernaturally Today?

January 16, 2020

It is true God does not today still perform the miraculous through the hands of men in order to confirm His word (I Cor 13:8-13, Zech 13:1-4), but does that mean God never acts supernaturally today? If someone denies He does, that usually reveals a misunderstanding of I Cor 13:8ff. Why else would they think such?

God has always acted supernaturally in the affairs of men (in ways that man cannot necessarily see) and nothing in the Bible indicates He has ceased doing this. To prove this, let’s start with the classic case found in James 5:16-18 which is given as an example for our prayers today. When we combine what James says with the story of Elijah and the rain in I Kings 18:41ff, we see that God sent rain (I Kings 18:1) based upon the prayer request of Elijah. Some might say God used natural means (a cloud) to send the rain, and that is true, but it is obvious God also used supernatural means to form/send the cloud in answer to Elijah’s prayer. The meaning of James 5:16-18 is that if only nature had run its course, it might not have rained, but God intervened in nature to make sure it rained to Elijah’s advantage.

What do we mean by God acts supernaturally in the affairs of men “in ways that man cannot necessarily see”? Think of the case of God providing the ram (caught in a thicket) in Gen 22:13 for Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac. An outside human observer might have concluded the ram was there by accident/coincidence, but reading the whole story, we know that God supernaturally “provided … a lamb” (verse 8). The ram wasn’t just there by the natural course of events; instead God intervened in nature to make sure it would be there – He did not leave it to chance.

Another illustration of such would be a number of Biblical examples of God causing women to conceive, such as Hannah in I Sam 1:11-20 and Ruth 4:13.  I think it is safe to say God overruled the natural course of events in these cases, sometimes as an affirmative answer to a prayer request.

Another example of how God acts supernaturally today is found in Rom 8:26-27 where God says the Holy Spirit helps us with our prayers by making “intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” This is something the Holy Spirit does in addition to the word and is obviously not acting within the laws of nature, therefore it is supernatural.

Another way the Bible reveals that the supernatural occurs today is found in the Heb 1:14 assertion that angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” Obviously these angels do not act solely through the laws of nature (since they are spiritual beings); instead they function supernaturally to help Christians.

Recently my nephew mentioned to me another way God acts supernaturally on a regular basis today that I had never thought of. A baby is born of course through the laws of natural procreation that God set up in the beginning. Only Adam and Eve have been created supernaturally. But that only explains the physical part of man’s existence. What about the spiritual? The Bible also teaches man has a Spirit (James 2:26). Eccl 12:7 says at death the “spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Well, when did God give that Spirit? At conception, right? Is the giving of the spirit only done through natural means? Obviously not. So every time a child is conceived, God performs a supernatural act to make that child a spiritual being – God gives the little one a spirit.

The short of it is that God has always performed supernatural acts; that is what He does – He is a supernatural being. And there is no reason to think such has ceased.

Just why is this point so important? Because it affects our prayers. If the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man” does not “availeth much,” if it never causes God to change the course of nature (what would have happened anyway if we had not prayed and God had not intervened), then we will lose confidence in the real power of prayer. Why would we pray for rain if we don’t think God might change the course of nature and cause it to rain when it wouldn’t have rained otherwise? Why would we pray for a person with cancer if we don’t think God might change the course of nature and help that person get better when they wouldn’t have gotten better otherwise?  Why would a barren young wife ask God for a child if she doesn’t have confidence God might grant her request and cause her to conceive?

There is no reason to box up God when the scriptures don’t. We should have confidence in our prayers that God might change the course of nature if He decides to answer such prayers “yes.”

Compromise On Divorce And Remarriage

January 9, 2020

Over the last several decades, many preachers have compromised and become more and more lenient on Divorce and Remarriage:

•Because of their own marital situation? – Matt 23:3

•Because of the marital situations of many members of their congregation (to keep their preaching job)? – Rom 16:18

•Because of family members or close friends? – Matt 10:37

But the BOOK still reads the same as it did 1900 years ago.

Matthew 19:9 still says: Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

The Bible says it; that settles it; I believe it. Do you?

Jesus’ Teaching Method

January 2, 2020

Many talk about Jesus’ teaching method, but consider what His teaching method actually was. Jesus constantly challenged his audience with things they were in error on. He didn’t waste all of His limited, valuable opportunities on things his audiences already agreed with.

Consider his long sermon on the mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) – where He went through a number of various topics that directly contradicted the views of those He was teaching. Consider what Jesus did with the rich ruler in Matt 19 – He challenged the young man on the very issue that was keeping him from being in an acceptable relationship with God. Consider what Jesus did earlier in Matt 19 when the Pharisees asked him a question about divorce. Jesus told them exactly what they needed to hear on that subject; it didn’t matter to Him that that truth might offend them. Because they thought Jesus taught a hard truth in John 6, “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (verse 66). I am sure Jesus knew that was going to happen, but that didn’t hold Him back. Consider Jesus’ answer to the scribes and Pharisees in Matt 15:1ff. He didn’t just talk to them about their strong points; instead he went straight to their religious errors. Matt 22:45 says “when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him ….”

Evidently Jesus taught in such a way that his listeners knew He was talking about them, and that they needed to make a change. All of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is filled with this method. And Jesus was the master teacher, someone for us to emulate.  Finally consider the old testament warning of Ezek 3:18 – “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Acts 20:20,26-27, 31). We should use Jesus’ teaching method in all circumstances – challenging our audience to conform to the “truth” (John 8:31-32).