Posted in theology

The brevity of a long life

By Elizabeth Prata

Saturday morning on Twitter, Dan Phillips, author of The World Tilting Gospel and God’s Wisdom in Proverbs tweeted of the news of 90-year-old Sean Connery’s death,

Ohhh, no. Saddened. Don’t really know what to say. SUCH an iconic, one-of-a-kind actor. Loved his work since I was a kid. I wish he’d ever shown a glimmer of understanding of the Gospel, let alone faith in Christ. Did he even know a genuine Christian? Celebrity isolates badly.

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Posted in theology

God’s power

By Elizabeth Prata

When we think of the incommunicable attributes of God, his power often comes to my mind first. He upholds the entire universe by His will…He made the universe with His word! My 2nd graders were discussing who was the smartest, after a boy confidently proclaimed he was the smartest one in the room. A tiny girl from the back of the line piped up, “God is the smartest. He can make people!” Out of the mouth of babes, she nailed it.

Earthquakes fascinate me. I’ve only been in one, a tiny one here in Georgia. The ground seems to be solid, yet earthquakes can turn it to liquid in a moment. The earth shakes and rolls and buildings totter like a hut. That is scary to me. I hope I’m never in a big earthquake.

Greece/Turkey experienced a large quake last week, a 7.0. IRIS, or Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, comprises virtually all US universities with research programs in seismology. Their visual data gif for that earthquake‘s waves are amazing and sort of hypnotic to watch:

“Watch the waves from the M7.0 earthquake near Turkey roll across seismic stations in Europe. This animation, called a Ground Motion Visualization (GMV), shows the motion of the ground as detected on seismometers across Europe – each dot is a seismic station and when the ground moves up it turns red and when it moves down it turns blue.”

The visualization struck me, how such a large portion of the earth was impacted by the 7.0 quake. Seen from an ‘above’ perspective, the power of God to hold the earth in His hands and shake it like a toddler shakes a toy just struck me all over again how powerful He is.

I think it’s important to keep His power in mind. We’re flooded with teachings about His love, His kindness, His humility, His condescension to stoop down and reach out to save us sinners, that sometimes we could tend to diminish His august majesty and forget His total and absolute power.

Reading Job 38-42 will bring these things to mind again. The longest discourse in the Bible spoken by God himself, we see His power and wisdom as He reminds Job of it via His creation work. It all begins with Genesis 1:1, said to be the most important words in the entire Bible, “In the beginning, God…” He created all that there is by the power of His mighty word, and everything subsequent all stems from that fact.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross”. (Colossians 1:15-20).

Praise this thrice-holy, powerful God, praise His holy name!

Posted in theology

The incident in the Garden instructs us about false teachers

By Elizabeth Prata

Genesis 3. Ohhh, Genesis 3. We all know that was the Fall of man at the prompting of satan-serpent. Satan spoke, Eve listened, Adam joined, and here we are.

This century is full of rampant false teachers, false prophets, false teaching, and heterodox doctrine. If you picture the church as a boy’s room and he knocks over his ant farm, ants crawling everywhere and hard to catch them all, you have the idea.

The Bible gives us much information that these days would come. (2 Timothy 3:1-5). It’s OK, God prepared us ahead. We are not unaware of satan’s schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11). Except, some people are unaware of his schemes. It’s up to us to help those who are weaker, unaware, or in danger. (1 Thessalonians 5:14, Jude 1:23). So pastors, teachers, people with the gift of discernment, speak out.

I recently wrote about Beth Moore, posing the question “Is Beth Moore possessed?” I personally believe she is. Others don’t. Either way, most of the people in my sphere know she is a false teacher, doing damage. My question roused a great many people who shared their opinions on social media. The week taught me two things: first, that the state of discourse is deplorable among professing Christians. Many of those people should be embarrassed at their publicly hateful and unchristian rejoinders. I wrote about the state of discourse here.

Secondly, it demonstrated the depth of the need to continue exhorting against false teachers. We need to keep promoting the value and importance of discernment, and to continue to help those who are under deception. Several comments I received that were frequently repeated need addressing. They were: Beth Moore (or whoever) cannot be a false teacher because she hasn’t denied Jesus (2 Peter 2:1, Jude 1:4). Beth Moore (or whoever) can’t be false because she talks about Jesus so much.

Genesis 3 opens with this statement:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. (Genesis 3:1). God wanted us to know that this is the first thing to know about satan. The word crafty is also translated cunning or subtle.

It would not be subtle for a false teacher to go around saying “I deny Christ. Let me teach you the Bible”. No, satan’s more subtle than that.

See the scene in the garden. Satan first cast uncertainty on what Eve knew by asking it in the form of a question, forcing her to defend God while simultaneously planting a seed of doubt. He also phrased it in a sincere attitude, as most false teachers do. They do not care about you, they only care about money. But satan was crafty and came across as friendly. “Hath God said?” …

Secondly, satan mixed truths, half-truths, and outright lies in his conversation. So do false teachers.

You will not surely die‘ is a flat out lie. Adam and Eve died physically eventually but they died spiritually on the spot.

Your eyes will be opened: this is truth. He just omitted the consequences. But do we really need something extra to open our eyes? False teachers often add to the Bible by promising secret knowledge, a perfect method, an experience. The Spirit’s illuminating ministry already opened our eyes. Do we want our eyes opened, or isn’t the Bible enough? Eve’s eyes were already opened, having a perfect one-on-one relationship with perfect God and with her perfect husband.

You will know good and evil is also a total truth. But do we want to know evil? Only satan is subtle enough to suggest that knowing evil is a good thing, that it’s something that you should want.

You will be like God is a lie. Only God is like God. There is none like Him. (Isaiah 46:9).

You notice that after encountering satan in the serpent, Eve’s perspective shifted. Suddenly she wanted to know evil. (!) She wanted the fruit for food (even though hunger was alien to her). She wanted to be wise, even though she lacked for no knowledge. Eve lacked nothing. But after speaking with the serpent, she suddenly had sensations she’d never had before; hunger, desire, yearning, jealousy. Satan incites us to desire things we never knew we wanted. He draws us away from contentment.

That is what false teachers do. A good and true teacher of the Word leaves you feeling full, knowing Jesus more, loving Him better, understanding sin more deeply. A false teacher leaves you hungry, yearning, and discontent.

We don’t assess a false teacher solely on how we feel, it’s never appropriate to do that even for good reasons. The point here is that encountering satan in the form of His false teachers will shift your perspective, move you from the seat of contentment to one of discontent, and incite yearning, desire for fleshly lusts, and other spiritually damaging things that all take the focus away from God.

Eve suddenly saw the fruit was good, not God. She saw evil was desirable to know about, not God. She saw the tree was a delight to the eyes, not God. In all those subtle ways, satan (and his false teachers) deny Jesus. Here is Barnes’ Notes on 2 Peter 2:1, when false teachers deny the Lord:

This must mean that they held doctrines which were in fact a denial of the Lord, or the tendency of which would be a denial of the Lord, for it cannot be supposed that, while they professed to be Christians, they would openly and avowedly deny him. To “deny the Lord” may be either to deny his existence, his claims, or his attributes; it is to withhold from him, in our belief and profession, anything which is essential to a proper conception of him.

Source

And here is Barnes’ notes on Jude 1:4, denying the Lord,

It cannot be supposed that they openly and formally did this, for then they could have made no pretensions to the name Christian, or even to religion of any kind; but the meaning must be, that “in fact” the doctrines which they held amounted to a denial of the true God, and of the Saviour in his proper nature and work.

Source

Jesus is too precious to deny, either flatly as atheists and pagans do, or functionally, by teaching or accepting teaching that offers a different Jesus. A substituted Jesus is no Jesus at all. The word of God is sure, infallible, inerrant, and the only truth we can cling to with security, to do good work in His name. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Posted in theology

This is what repentance looks like: Dawn Hill in a moving testimony

By Elizabeth Prata

I don’t know this lady. A virtual friend on Facebook shared this video.

Dawn Hill repents of being a false prophet and for being part of the NAR. She urges women everywhere to discern properly, test all things, focus on Jesus Christ, and not swim in emotionalism and prophetic words that are only vain imaginations and fleshly lusts. She pleads with her audience to throw away her work, her book, and any and all of her old material. She urges women to submit to the authority of the Bible as the only sure word.

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Posted in theology

Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

By Elizabeth Prata

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Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.
A Song of Ascents, of David.
Psalm 122:1-9

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let’s go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
Within your gates, Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that has been built
As a city that is firmly joined together;
To which the tribes go up, the tribes of [a]the Lord—
An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For thrones were set there for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

Psalm 122-124 was my Bible reading for the day. I mulled over the peace of Jerusalem. Then I saw the news, big news. The Jerusalem Post reports on US Secretary of State Pompeo’s announcement:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday a reversal of a long-standing US policy that passports of citizens born in Jerusalem may not say they were born in Israel.” Consistent with President [Donald Trump]’s policy, I am happy to announce US citizens born in Jerusalem can now elect to list their place of birth as either ‘Jerusalem’ or ‘Israel’ on their passports,” Pompeo tweeted. … Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

US citizens born in Jerusalem can have ‘Israel’ on their passports

The Lord God places His name in Jerusalem, (2 Chronicles 6:6a) and His residence will be there:

At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:17).

Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. (Zechariah 8:3).

Satan has always tried to obliterate God’s people the Jews and he will try again in the future (Revelation 12:13-14). He will not be successful, but he will wipe out 2/3 leaving only a remnant. Ultimately of course, God wins.

“On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security.” (Zechariah 14:8-11).

What a day that will be!

Further Reading:

I thought this was an interesting article from the Jerusalem Post, discussing a new documentary just out covering their view of American evangelicals and President Trump’s activity surrounding Israel (moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the passport identification, etc). There are several misunderstandings, likely because they focus on Pat Robertson and John Hagee, but from a biblical point of view, the assertion of Christians that most of the Jews are killed in the Tribulation haunts and upsets Jews (understandably). The article discusses this new documentary centering the Israel-American political relationship through VP Pence and President Trump:

The new documentary film ‘Til Kingdom Come on relations between Israel and Evangelical Christian communities in the US broadcast on KAN 11 on Wednesday night raised a slew of issues regarding this contentious relationship. The film brings to the forefront the tight political alliance that has developed between the Israeli political Right, including the settlement movement, and Evangelical Christians and their heavy political clout in the US, and especially with the current administration. And it also juxtaposed on the one hand the devotion and care of Evangelical Christians for Israel and the Jewish people who live there alongside the Christian doctrine in which Evangelicals fervently believe of the apocalyptic “end times” in which two thirds of the Jewish people die and the remainder convert to Christianity.

Documentary ‘Til Kingdom Come synopsis

‘Til Kingdom Come trailer


Posted in theology

Improving our public speech

By Elizabeth Prata

Our church had its first get-together, family supper last Sunday since the Covid era began. A congregant with a huge private yard and a lighted, open pole barn invited us for a picnic. It felt good to sit around and talk, the kids running free on the lawn.

I was chatting with my discipling elder and social media came up. He is on email but not much else in terms of the commonly used platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest. I mentioned that the state of discourse is deplorable, and how people act on it. I gave a few details, and he said that he isn’t that familiar. I said “It’s good that you aren’t”. He laughed, saying that’s what our teaching elder says, too, lol. Social media provides a wonderful platform for discourse, but it also provides a terrible public platform for anger, immorality, and all manner of other sins on display.

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Posted in theology

Question: Why was David a man after God’s own heart?

By Elizabeth Prata

Did you ever wonder why was David called a man after God’s own heart?

After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’ (Acts 13:22).

But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:14).

A man after mine own heart – This expression is found in 1 Samuel 13:14. The connection shows that it means simply a man who would not be rebellious and disobedient as Saul was, but would do the will of God and keep his commandments. This refers, doubtless, rather to the public than to the private character of David; to his character as a king. It means that he would make the will of God the great rule and law of his reign, in contradistinction from Saul, who, as a king, had disobeyed God.” (Barnes’ Notes)

At the same time it is true that the prevailing character of David, as a pious, humble, devoted man, was that he was a man after God’s own heart, and was beloved by him as a holy man. He had faults; he committed sin; but who is free from it? He was guilty of great offences; but he also evinced, in a degree equally eminent, repentance (see Psalm 51); and not less in his private than his public character did he evince those traits which were prevailingly such as accorded with the heart, that is, the earnest desires, of God.” ( end Barnes’ Notes)

“In the Psalms, we see the heart of a penitent unveiled and in that I think we see most clearly the greatness of David the Great. If you read Psalm 51 and read it carefully and thoughtfully, that Psalm will reveal more than anything else in the history of David why David was called a man after God’s own heart. Because here it reveals the broken heart of a sinful man who sees his sin clearly.”

RC Sproul: A Man after God’s Own Heart
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Posted in theology

Complementarianism: Or, Being the Help-meet

By Elizabeth Prata

Question from a reader: I’ve heard the word complementarianism talked about a lot, but I’m not sure I fully understand the biblical definition of what it means. I know there are implications for marriage. And what about in the church?

All relationships are in some way hierarchical. Players submit to Coach. Employees submit to Boss. Boss submits to Corporate. Students submit to Teacher. Children submit to Parents. Sailors submit to Captain…who submits to Admiral…who submits to President/Commander in Chief. The President submits to the Constitution, and ultimately, the Voters. Congregants submit to Leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

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