Archive for March, 2020

The Difference Between The WHO And The WHEN In Salvation

March 26, 2020

Many times in the Bible (and everyday life) there is a big difference in the Who and the When – Who causes something to occur, and When that something occurs, are not the same thing.

For example we read in Josh 6:1-20 that God instructed the Israelites to walk around the walls of Jericho thirteen times in seven days, and then God would knock those walls down. Don’t confuse the Who with the When. The Who is God; he is the one that knocked those walls down. But the When was not until after the Israelites walked. Heb 11:30 makes this clear when it says “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” It is clear then the Israelites didn’t knock those walls down themselves; they would have had to use battering rams and sledge hammers to do that. No, God knocked those walls down. But when? The verse says God knocked the walls down after the Israelites walked as God instructed.

We see the same thing in the II Kings 5:1-15 story of Naaman having to dip seven times in the Jordan river to be cleansed of his leprosy. Who cleansed Naaman of his leprosy? God of course. Did Naaman heal himself just by dipping in that little dirty river seven times? No, but he did have to dip, didn’t he? The Who that healed Naaman was God, but the When was when Naaman dipped seven times.

We see the same thing in the Numbers 21:4-9 story of the Israelites being told that if they would look up at the brazen serpent on the pole, they would be healed of their snake bite. See the difference in the Who and the When? The Israelites didn’t heal themselves by looking. No, God is the one that healed them. But not until they did what God said to do to be healed.

It is the same with our salvation. God is the one that saves us. God is the one that forgives us – because of the death of Christ – that is the Who and the How. But the question is – When? Does God forgive us when we believe?, or does he forgive us when we are baptized? When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:3-6 makes it clear that Saul believed in Jesus. So was he forgiven of his sins at that point – when he believed? Absolutely not, Ananias was sent to tell him what to do, and Ananias told Saul in Acts 22:16 to “be baptized, and wash away thy sins.” So obviously Saul’s sins were not washed away when he believed on the road to Damascus. Instead he was told at least three days later to be baptized to get his sins washed away. Now the baptism is not the thing that washed away Saul’s sins. It is God that did that – based upon the blood of Christ. God is the Who. The death of Christ is the How.  But the question is – When? When were Saul sins washed away? When he believed or when he was baptized? The text makes it clear.  Saul’s sins were washed away When he was baptized, and not before.

It is the same for all of us – there is a difference in the Who and the When in our salvation.  Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, I Pet 3:20-21, Gal 3:26-27.

Deut 5:29 Keep ALL My Commandments ALWAYS

March 19, 2020

Deuteronomy 5:29 reads “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” Let’s notice from this verse what God expected of the Israelites.  And He would expect the same of us today, just within the confines of a different law – some of God’s commandments would be different under the New Testament law …

First, God expects us to fear him. This is kind of like the way I feared my Dad. That would be a healthy respect of God as long as we are faithfully serving him. But if we are being disobedient, we should be scared out of our britches, knowing what eternal fate awaits us. Phil 2:12b commands “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We should tremble at the thought of facing God in judgment unprepared and out of compliance.

Second, God expects us to keep his commandments. As a matter of fact Jesus said in John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I can show my wife I love her by kissing her, but I can’t kiss God; He isn’t here. So we demonstrate our love for God by keeping his commandments (and repenting when we make a mistake – II Pet 3:9).

And Deut 5:29 says we should keep “all” God’s commandments. Our goal should be to do everything God instructs in the New Testament. And when we fail, we are upset with ourselves (and repent) because we didn’t meet our goal. This popular idea that it is okay to sin because “everybody sins” (I John 1:8), or it is okay with God for us to continue in one sin because we are doing most everything else right, is false to the core. James 2:10 says “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

And Deut 5:29 says we should keep God’s commandments “always.” That would mean all the time, and for the rest of our lives. The idea that as long as we believe in Christ and go to church on Sundays, it doesn’t matter so much how we live Monday through Saturday is a false notion. And so the Once Saved Always Saved doctrine is a false doctrine (Gal 5:4).

Lastly, let’s don’t overlook Deut 5:29 is saying God would want us to have the kind of heart that would keep all his commandments always. It goes back to our heart and attitude every time. If we have the right kind of heart, we will live in obedience to God. And if we are not serving God faithfully, that reflects upon our heart. Maybe we need to work on our heart?

Warning About SPECULATING In Sermons

March 12, 2020

There is a lot more speculation in sermons now than I used to hear when I was first converted. A good example was a Bible lesson I heard recently at a gathering of young Christians. The Bible teacher presented quite a number of his speculations as actual Bible teaching. That can become a dangerous practice.

One such speculation was made about the “three days” we read about in Gen 22:4. It is very possible Isaac in Gen 22 is a type of Christ, but I think the only thing we know for sure is that the sacrificed ram in Gen 22:13 is a type of Christ (John 1:29, etc., Gen 22:8). To say that since Abraham arrived in close proximity to his destination on the “third day” (Gen 22:4), that there is a parallel to Jesus being dead for three days, because Isaac was “as good as dead” for three days – seems like a mighty stretch to me. First of all, Isaac was not as good as dead for three days; he didn’t even eventually die at the site. And second, it could be a complete coincidence that Abraham arrived on the third day. Does this mean every time we read about the “third day” in the Old Testament (32 times), that there is an intended parallel to Christ in the grave being made?

I remember studying with a Seventh Day Adventist in Huntsville in the late 1980s, and we were discussing the issue of seventh day or first day, and the guy asked me how many churches were written to in Revelation chapters 2-3?, as if that count (seven) proved the seventh day Sabbath was still binding. That illustrates how this kind of poor reasoning (based upon speculation and/or coincidence) can lead to all kinds of problems.

Is it possible the increase in speculation being done by gospel preachers these days is an indication they and their listeners are becoming bored by just learning what is actually found in the Biblical texts? We certainly hope not.

Does “Preaching Christ And Him Crucified” Mean We Should Preach Less About What Christ Taught?

March 5, 2020

Many gospel preachers seemed to have the mistaken notion that I Cor 2:2 (“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”) means we should preach more about what Jesus did and what happened to him, and less about what Jesus taught. Denominational preachers use the phrase “Preach The Man Not The Plan” to imply the same false concept.

But they are missing the point of Paul’s statement altogether. Paul’s declaration is not contrasting what Jesus did (and what happened to him) with what he taught. It is actually contrasting what Jesus did and taught with what uninspired humans do and teach.

What Paul is teaching in I Cor 2:2 is the same thing as he taught in Col 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” It’s a contrast between teaching the doctrine of Christ (II John 9) versus teaching the philosophies of men, the commandments of God versus the commandments of men (Matt 15:9), not a contrast between preaching what Christ did versus what Christ taught. If the latter were the case, then Paul himself was more guilty than us all, because by my estimate – Paul spent at least 95% of his recorded teaching relating what New Testament doctrine is; only a small part of his material actually describes what Jesus did.

Notice from even the context of I Cor 2:2 itself, Paul is not contrasting preaching about the things Jesus did versus what he taught, but Paul is contrasting what Jesus’ wisdom taught versus what human wisdom would say (verses 6-7 “Howbeit we speak wisdom … not the wisdom of this world … But we speak the wisdom of God …”). The contrast is God’s revelation of New Testament law versus man’s wisdom (verse 13).

A few years ago a well know preacher in our brotherhood (we’ll call him John Doe), after he was too feeble to get out much, wrote a lot of religious articles to keep his influence going. But I noticed he was the central figure of almost every article. Most every article was about something he had taught in the past and about how he was mistreated because of it. Even if it were true the brethren were wrong for mistreating him in every case he mentioned, he was still violating I Cor 2:2. Instead of writing about Christ and what Christ taught, this preacher was writing about John Doe, what John Doe did, what John Doe taught, and what happened to John Doe. That is not preaching Christ and him crucified, and that has nothing to do with the fact that John Doe spent more time on Jesus’ teaching than Jesus’ actions. Instead it had everything to do with John Doe writing primarily about himself as the focus (even in the context of religion) instead of writing about Jesus and what Jesus taught as the focus.

Nobody thinks preaching “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” rules out preaching about Jesus’ resurrection. Why then would anybody think the phrase rules out preaching on the details of what Jesus taught? As a matter of fact, Jesus puts to rest this whole notion in Luke 6:46 “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” It is not enough just to call Jesus Lord; we have to make him Lord, and we make him Lord by doing the things he taught us to do. That cannot be over emphasized.