Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

What does ‘disciples’ mean?

In listening to Martyn Lloyd Jones today I was struck by how he brought out nuances to the word ‘disciple.’ All that the word disciple really means is learner. More on Lloyd-Jones below in a moment.

I’ve thought a lot about education over my lifetime. My foremost profession has been an educator in various capacities. I’ve attained a post-graduate degree, a Master’s in Education with a 4.0 average. However my family is one of high achievers, and a Master’s in my family is the low end of the educational totem pole. Many of my family have Doctorate degrees. They’re Professors or Deans in universities, or are doctors or are highly educated in other professions. They all worked very hard for their education and they are all very smart.

I am second and third generation immigrant, so the family emphasis on education was great and for that I’m grateful.

So often, I ponder my family’s well-earned achievements in the secular world (for none are saved that I know of, except perhaps one). Their brilliance, thirst for learning, and great intellectual capacity will become as nothing on The Day. Their wisdom which is of the world and which the world admires, will be as dung on Judgment Day. It’s an upside down notion that takes getting used to.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:20-21).

And in an even more upside down twist, the uneducated, the simple, the ignorant, have the mind of Christ.

Finally, after three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers... (Luke 2:46-47).

This is because Jesus had no sin. His mind was pure, undefiled, and divine, and therefore the top mind in the universe.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, KJV).

No doubt Paul had a great intellect, and had been trained in the only secondary school there existed for Jews at the time: the Sanhedrin. However most of the apostles were as the verse says, uneducated and ignorant men. They were simple men, fishermen and craftsmen, jailers and soldiers. The Holy Spirit dispenses the mind of Christ to His followers, and with it, the thirst to learn His word. The men went from being fishermen to being disciples. What are disciples? Learners. Here is Martyn Lloyd Jones on disciples and learning:

The Holy Spirit can make any man new, it doesn’t matter who he is. The Holy Spirit can regenerate an ignoramus quite as easily as He can a great philosopher. Perhaps even more so! He does the same thing in both cases. And when He does, He does the same thing to both of them. He creates a desire and an appetite in them for the truth.”

And they [the 3000 souls just converted at Pentecost] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42).

The thing that is put first [in the verse] is the teaching, the doctrine. These people, suddenly converted from ignorance and darkness, from the vileness of their lives…what do they want? They want more teaching. They’ve suddenly got an appetite and a desire for teaching! Have you ever heard of such a thing? People who have never read, who’d never thought. People who had lived for gambling and for sex and for drunkenness … people who hadn’t seemed to have brains at all, suddenly they want teaching! They wanted it daily. They continued steadfastly. … This is the miracle of redemption, and it is proof of the fact that they have become a Christian.

Many people are “making decisions” but they don’t want to be taught. They don’t like teaching. They grumble at it. They say sermons are too long. They want something nice and simple, bright and breezy. When a man is born again, he wants teaching. He’s a disciple. ~Martyn Lloyd Jones, Acts 6:1-7, The Church and Her Message

Disciples are learners. Anyone and everyone can learn, when the Spirit puts the thirst for the word of God into you. The most formerly foolish and ignorant drunken gambler now seeks the highest wisdom that exists, and is given access to it by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Before I was saved, all my accumulated learned wisdom from University stood me no closer to understanding Jesus and gave me no advantage or wisdom that counts with God. I was equally as ignorant as the most ignorant person on earth. Yet when He gives us the new man inside is, comes with is a capacity for unfolding the wisdom of heaven, direct from the mind of Christ. We’re disciples, praise God.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (Psalm 111:10).
bible with glasses

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Revelation 101

So often I hear that people are scared to, or worried about, reading the Book of Revelation. It’s this monolith at the end of the Bible that people stay away from because it’s too hard, too mysterious, too difficult to understand. Yet the book itself says otherwise.

Believers cannot afford to ignore the immense truth this book contains. In fact, we’re commanded not to; Revelation 22:10 says, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” ~John MacArthur

It’s actually one of the easiest books to understand.

By the way, the book is called “Revelation” singular. It’s not “Revelations.”

Daniel is dense. Pound for pound, Zechariah has twice as much prophecy than Revelation. Some of the minor prophets are hard to understand because of the time frames and the history. Romans is heavily philosophical. If I was to pick a book that is hard to understand, I’d choose any of those over and above Revelation. Revelation is actually one of the easiest book in the Bible to understand.

How can I say this?

Two reasons.

1. It is the ONLY book in the Bible in which the reader is promised a blessing if he or she reads it. The. Only. Book. That’s something worth paying attention to. The promise is stated at the beginning and at the end of the book.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3).

How can we keep what is written in it, if we do not read it?

And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7).

Clipboard04Did Jesus promise a blessing, and in a cosmic ‘gotcha’, then make it intellectually or spiritually too difficult to understand? Or is it because it’s one book that proclaims Jesus in His full glory, promises a great ending for His people, and wants us to look ahead for the encouragement?

2. It has its own built-in study guide. Despite the chaos it reveals, it is actually a very orderly book. I’m not kidding.

The first three chapters are greetings and letters to churches, which we would do well to study. To each church, Jesus identifies himself in a different way, revealing a certain aspect of Himself that matches the warning or commendation He gives to the church. It also shows how intimately He is involved with His church as its Head and its Priest.

In Chapter 4 the scene shifts to heaven. In Chapter 5 we’re still in heaven, but now heaven is readying for the “things to come”, meaning, the global judgment.

Chapter 6-18 are those judgments. Again, it’s orderly. A series of three (perhaps four, if the Seven Thunders are judgments) each containing 7 judgments are unleashed, one after the other. The time frame is fairly chronological. It’s also rapid. The events take place mostly within three and a half years (7 total) so reading this main portion of Revelation can be compared to reading the Gospel of Mark. Mark reports quickly, covers a great time frame in short order, and uses muscular language and a rapid pace. It’s the same with this portion of Revelation.

The judgments, in addition to being judgments, are also working to UNcreate the world. Compare Genesis 1-2 with Revelation 6. Genesis shows the creation, Revelation is the UNcreation. As the LORD deals with sin, He is also preparing the world for its upcoming regeneration (“The New Earth.”). Mainly the story proceeds chronologically with an occasional glimpse back to heaven or a parenthetical comment.

Chapter 19-22 is the wrap-up- the new heavens and new earth, New Jerusalem, the Marriage Supper, the final strings to tie up, the last encouragement.

Voila!Clipboard05

As for the symbolism, scripture interprets scripture. The symbols are not a lot harder to interpret than other analogies and symbols in the Bible. Jesus being the vine (we know He is not ACTUALLY a vine). Or when the angels pour out the bowls of wrath, we are reminded of Jesus drinking the cup of wrath. The dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads is a similar kind of symbol to the ram with long horns of Daniel 8, which is interpreted for Daniel right in the same chapter.

 

I’m not saying everything about Revelation is easy. It still takes study. What I’m saying is that is is not harder than any other book of the Bible and in some ways it is easier. Please do not be intimidated by it.

On sale now at Grace To You through June 25 is a booklet for $1.50 called A Jet Tour Through Revelation. It is adapted from a sermon MacArthur gave a while ago. Even when the sale is done the booklet only costs $2.00. Of course, you can listen to the sermon for free at any time. The booklet-

-helps take the mystery out of a portion of Scripture many people consider too difficult to understand. Yet, the book of Revelation promises blessing to those who read its words and heed them. This Jet Tour booklet will help you make sense of the symbols, imagery, and significance of this amazing prewritten history. It will increase your appetite for heaven—or give you a needed dose of concern about your eternal future and point you to Christ, who alone can save you from the wrath He will one day bring.

One of my favorite books on Revelation is another of MacArthur’s -“Because the Time is Near”. This book is also on sale now for $8.25. I found it not only to be clear, non-academic and useful in laymen’s terms, so encouraging. Yes, the Book of Revelation is encouraging. Seeing all that wrath poured out is hard on the heart, but it is also encouraging knowing Jesus took that same wrath for His people. This in turn inspires a profound relief and love for His work on the cross. It’s one thing to know about the cup of wrath He endured, it is another to understand it. Revelation helps you understand sin and wrath, and by contrast, grace. In this way, reading Revelation helps you love Jesus even more.

Far from being a dense, mysterious, non-understandable book, I have always found it to be encouraging, amazing, and inspiring. It shows Jesus as He is now, in full glory, power, and beauty. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible, Genesis being the other!

Please don’t be intimidated by Revelation, just start reading it. You will be blessed. That is a promise from Jesus.

Posted in Uncategorized, visual exegesis

Even The Depths of God

Full of Eyes is a support-based ministry of exegetical art that creates still and moving images intended to point people to the beauty of God in the crucified and risen Son. All art and animations are done by Chris Powers. Powers’ goal is to help people see and savor the faith-strengthening, hope-instilling, love-kindling beauty of God in Christ. And he does this by creating free exegetical art in the form of pictures, animations, and discussion guides. His work is at https://www.patreon.com/fullofeyes, Youtube, and his website fullofeyes.com

Chris’ most recent work is below, with his artist’s statement below the picture.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him”–these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”

Often times verse 9 gets quoted as referring to the eternal state….however, I’m not sure why people do that. The context of Paul’s citation has no immediate bearing on the new heavens and earth etc. Instead, he’s quoting Isaiah 64:4 here (the text immediately following the passage I used for yesterday’s picture).

In Isaiah 64:4, that which “no eye has seen” etc. is not some future blessing for God’s people, rather Isaiah is talking about the absolute uniqueness of YHWH as attested by His acts of redemption on behalf of His people. This original context of the citation fits much more naturally into Paul’s line of argument in 1 Cor.1-2. In this section, Paul has been saying that the preaching of Christ crucified is a message that reveals God to and saves the souls of those who receive it as wisdom and power (1 Cor.1:21,23-24), while it confirms in condemnation those who reject it as folly (1 Cor.1:22).

This–Christ crucified as the saving revelation of the God who cannot be known by worldly wisdom–this is the “secret and hidden wisdom of God” imparted by Paul’s proclamation of the word of the cross (1 Cor.2:7), a wisdom that “God decreed before the ages for our glory. The spiritual understanding to perceiving the saving revelation of God in the crucified Christ is that which God “has prepared for those who love Him,” and this is why Paul supports his argument by citing a passage from Isaiah talking about YHWH’s utter uniqueness as revealed in His works of redemption.

In Isaiah’s day as in Paul’s (and ours) YHWH is made known as the only true God through His works of redemption. This is definitively true of the cross of Christ….a work of redemption so opposed to the fallen bent of humanity’s perceptions that the revelation of God imparted therein cannot be received apart from the merciful foreordination of God and present working of His Spirit.

So, verse 9 is talking about the never-before imagined glories of who God reveals Himself to be through the preaching of the crucified Christ. This–He Himself perfectly communicated in the love of the Son–is what God has prepared for those who love Him. And so, in that sense verse 9 can be seen as anticipation of eternity since ALL the joys of the eternal state can be summarized in that one statement: to know God in Christ.

With this in mind, the “these things” in verse 10 is God made savingly known through the wisdom of Christ crucified. This, then, is what the Spirit of God must reveal to us….If this is true, then the awesome thing to see is that Paul says the Spirit can do this–can reveal God to us in the Son–“For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” In other words, these “depths of God” are what the Spirit illumined eyes of faith perceive when they look to the crucifixion of the Son who will rise again. The unplumbable depths of God’s infinite heart–truly the beauty into which we will be pressing further up and further in for eternity–this is opened to us on Calvary…..May we, then, by the Spirit, in submission to the word, and in community with other believers, grow in knowing this all glorious Triune God who blessedly surpasses all of our knowledge, imagination, and hopes.

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: 340 year old bible found, reminds me of Hilkiah’s finding the Law in the temple

This was first published in January, 2011 at The End Time

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Here is a small thing that is good and nice. It is a news piece out of Wisconsin, ripped from 2 Kings 22. First, the modern version:

“A centuries old relic has been discovered in a Bonduel (WI) church, tucked away for decades. No one realized it was even there, or what it was. In a cramped, rarely seen safe, no bigger than a kitchen pantry, at St. Paul Lutheran Church are heaps of old books and pamphlets. Many of which are more than 100 years old and in foreign languages. Most of the artifacts wouldn’t fetch a high price at auction, but represent the church’s nearly 150 year history and heritage. Now, one item kept there for an unknown length of time has taken the entire congregation by surprise. “This is an authentic 340-year-old Bible. We don’t know how we got it. We don’t know how it got into the safe. We’ve been asking some of our elderly folks and people in the nursing home and nobody seems to remember,” said Pastor Timothy Shoup.” source

How amazing! A beautiful original bible from over three centuries ago! How could they forget that it was there? Here is a bit more:

“A 340-year-old bible discovery can attest to the fact that they sure don’t make things like they used to. The German bible was discovered by a sixth grade teacher inside an old safe in a small Lutheran church school where she works in Bonduel, Wisconsin. “I was looking for the old baptism records to show my students and then up here in the corner was where the Bible was tucked,” explained Court, not realizing what a rare find she stumbled upon.”

Imagine, in a dusty closet of the church, lay the precious treasure, there all along but quite forgotten.

And a bit more:

“How the book ended up in Bonduel is still a mystery. But either way, Pastor Shoup says the 17th century discovery has brought him closer to his faith.”

How beautiful that the revealing of the Word caused the pastor such a sensitive and blessed reaction.  Did you know that the Old Testament records another, similar instance? I’m not making a huge doctrine out of it, I believe that the news spot out of Wisconsin is a nice event that happens more often than we know. But the similarities with the bible’s discovery and our Sunday School lesson focusing on Hilkiah, Huldah, and King Josiah was too sweet to ignore drawing some parallels. In Josiah’s reign, a long and evil, corrupt line of kingship was coming to an end. Josiah’s grandfather and father were terrible kings that did much evil in the eyes of the LORD and provoked the LORD greatly. His people had not only fallen away, had forgotten Him and His word, but they engaged in perverse and horrible worship practices to other gods. Finally came Josiah, a good king of Israel, was endeavoring to have the Temple repaired. As you can imagine, no one really used the Temple for real worship and had not for a very long time. Here is the biblical piece about it:

The Lost Book (2 Kings 22:8-11)

Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan who read it. Shaphan the scribe came to the king and brought back word to the king and said, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes…”

As the workmen were moving furniture around and inventorying items, this book of the Law was found! Hilkiah the Priest wasn’t sure what exactly it was, and Shaphan the scribe wasn’t exactly sure, either! The two men, along with three others searched high and low at the king’s command, so they could inquire of the LORD. (2Kings 22:13) They found Huldah the Prophetess, who told them.

Huldah Predicts (2 Kings 22:14)

“So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her.”

Ahikam was Shaphan’s son, a helper. Achbor was an officer of Josiah, as was Asaiah. Shaphan was a scribe of King Josiah. It is shame and a testament on the men that though they held lofty positions in the religious hierarchy, none felt they had the ear of the LORD, and they went to find someone who did, ending up with Huldah. Huldah is named as “keeper of the wardrobe”, and wardrobe then is as it is now: a closet for storing clothes. 2 Kings 10:22 is another example of the keeper of the wardrobe: “And Jehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, “Bring robes for all the ministers of Baal.” So he brought out robes for them.”

The small closet where the bible had been stored

Huldah was also a prophet. She told the men that the LORD said that since Josiah had been repentant and tender in his heart toward the LORD, the LORD would stay His wrath upon Judah until Josiah was laying peacefully in his grave.

It is interesting to note that the King’s faith deepened upon finding the Word. Tearing of clothes was an act that was meant to convey either great grief or great righteous indignation. The custom was also done as a symbolic removal of authority i.e. the tearing of a king’s royal robe. Here is a link to a short study on the biblical act of tearing of clothes, by Wayne Blank. Josiah was immediately convicted upon hearing the words of the LORD, and he tore his clothes. He sent out a search for a person who could relate the meaning of the words and help them come into obedience to them. It is also interesting to note that the Wisconsin Pastor’s faith deepened upon finding the word. Finding the precious treasure that is God’s word is always a blessing.

Josiah’s men found the Scriptures in an old wardrobe when doing routine repairs and inventory, and the School teacher found the word of the Lord while doing routine rummaging in a forgotten closet in search of old records. The LORD reveals Himself when and where He chooses, and at unexpected times!

I think about the bible itself, being twenty pounds. It’s huge! Someone carried that bible all the way from Germany across Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, across half the American continent! Look at it, its size and heft. Yet, the Word of God meant so much to him that he took the trouble and expense to bring it with him , on horseback, in canoes, in ships, by hand…and protected it so well all along the way!

I hope that if you own several bibles, that none of them are laying on the back of the car window, fading as the sunlight drains the print away. I hope that your bible is meaningful to you and that it is used daily, lovingly, reverently. I hope that you do not travel so far away from the Word that you forget what it says and have trouble even finding a person who can relate its meaning to you.

The Wisconsin Pastor said of the find, “To hold something that tells us in 1670 the same message of God’s grace in Christ, that tell one another other today helps me be even more thankful.” Yes, the best lesson out of all of this is God’s word is eternal! (Mt 24:35)

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Re-Post: Paul said, “Be Not Ignorant!”

I wrote and posted this 6 years ago, in April 2011. It’s even more true today, as masses of believers are ignorant of eschatology, spiritual gifts, and Israel’s future. What’s worse, they think that’s OK.

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Paul warned his readers in three different Epistles not to be ignorant of something. In all three cases, the word is the same, agnoeó. It means ignorant of facts. In terms of comprehending the bible, there are certain things to be aware of. When imperatives are used, we need to be pay special attention. When a command is used, we should perk up to something we are being told to do, or not do. The Holy Spirit inspired all the bible writers to write these words, and the Holy Spirit is one part of the Triune God. So God is commanding something, and we have to PAY ATTENTION.

Paul said, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,” (Romans 11:25). Barnes Notes explains the word ‘mystery’ thus:

“Ignorant of this mystery – The word “mystery” means properly what is “concealed, hidden, or unknown.” And it especially refers, in the New Testament, to the truths or doctrines which God had reserved to himself, or had not before communicated. It does not mean, as with us often, that there was anything unintelligible or inscrutable in the nature of the doctrine itself, for it was commonly perfectly plain when it was made known. Thus, the doctrine, that the division between the Jews and the Gentiles was to be broken down, is called a mystery, because it had been, to the times of the apostles, concealed, and was then revealed fully for the first time.”

Paul was explaining to the Jews that though the Gentiles were now coming in, God would not forsake the Jews totally. After all, Paul said Jesus had saved Paul, hadn’t He? It wasn’t over for the Jews, but Paul did remind them that God was now rejecting a large part of the nation because of their past rebellion. His attention and grace would be showered on the Gentiles, who were being grafted in. The Jews would remain hardened of heart – until the full number of Gentiles was met. But just as God had always done in the past, a remnant would be saved.

The Jews would receive their Kingdom as promised, but their entry into it must as always be by faith through His grace, not birthright. As for us today who have claimed salvation through Jesus – Whom we recognize as our Messiah – we will continue in the Church Age until the full number is filled and then we fly. It is why the rapture isn’t a date, it is a number. It will not be May 21, unless that is the day that God has deemed the Church quota filled.

The second thing Paul said not to be ignorant about is spiritual gifts. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:” (1 Corinthians 12:1-3). Paul was reminding the Church of the importance of the gifts, through which we accomplish the work the Holy Spirit wants us to accomplish to build up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12) The gifts are important, they are given (which is a grace and a blessing) to build up the church (ditto) and they grow the Christian himself as well (bonus). Bible.org explains, “a spiritual gift is the supernatural ability to carry out the work of Christ through his church.”

And yet the spiritual gifts doctrine is precisely what many people are mixed up over. ‘You must speak in tongues or you’re not a real Christian.” “What’s my spiritual gift, let me take this questionnaire.” People certainly are ignorant of the gifts, sad to say. Satan did a good job of mixing us all up on that. If we are mixed up as to the truth of the spiritual gifts, then we are not as effectively building the church, are we?

Thirdly, Paul warned the church not to be ignorant of the doctrine of Last Days and the Coming of The Lord. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains:

“The leading topic of Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Acts 17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects.”

What are the exact three things the Church is ignorant of? What are most arguments over these days? The rapture doctrine and what is forecast for Israel, the spiritual gifts doctrine (speaking in tongues and healing gifts, and the Charismatics, for example) and the doctrine of the Coming of the Lord.

Paul said do not be ignorant three times, and yet in this day and age so many people are three times as ignorant as they ever were.

A solution for ignorance is available. The Spirit. He helps interpret scripture: 1 Cor. 2:1,14; Eph. 1:17. If your house was on fire, you would call the fire department for help, wouldn’t you? If a robber was breaking into your house, you would call the police department wouldn’t you? Both are dire circumstances, signifying events that need an authority of higher power and skill to help you. And yet we so often fail to call the Holy Spirit, our higher authority possessing more skill and knowledge to bring to the situation than we could ever hope to see anywhere! Praise Him. Here is a good page outlining the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Ignorance leads to error. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) Call on Him through prayer, and abide in the Spirit’s power:
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11).

blind to the truth
Do not be blind to satan’s schemes. Life is not a game and it is not to be frivolously wasted. Collage by EPrata
Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Discernment lesson: how secular writers of Biblical material manipulate your emotions

Filmmakers are always looking for fodder to make their productions and of late they have discovered the narratives in the Bible. Since the people writing and producing these movies and shows are not saved, of course they get it wrong. This is because In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4).

In the recent series The Bible, there came a moment when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with a decision. Would they bow to a false god statue, or would they stand for Yahweh, thus losing their lives (as Nebuchadnezzar had aid those who disobey his decree to bow will die, Daniel 3:6).

It’s a dramatic moment when you see it in full visual force. Look, here is the clip:

It is not so dramatic when you hear it though. First, read what the men really said, from the real Bible. It is all from Daniel 3. That’s the first part of the lesson- always compare to scripture.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

The pagan man always seeks to elevate man and diminish God. See how the writers put very different words in the mouths of the three men when they answered to King Nebuchadnezzar.

[Azariah] With all our hearts we follow you. We seek your presence. With all my heart I follow you. I fear you. I seek your presence. Lord hear my cry, though death entangle me, though the anguish of the grave consumes me, do not ignore my tears, I’m overcome by sorrow. I call upon the name of the Lord. Lord save me! Hear my prayer, oh Lord. Hear my cry.

The prayer of the men were self-centered, not God centered. There is a big difference between ‘I will not serve your gods’ and ‘Lord, I seek your presence!’ In the Bible the men accepted the consequence of their fate, because as long as glory was being given to honor God they were satisfied. The TV show could not be more opposite to the actual statement the men made in the real Bible.  That’s the second part of the lesson. Once you compare what you’ve read or heard to scripture, test  it to see if it gives glory to God only and aligns with His character.

God decided to manifest a miracle in the fire and He saved the men. In the TV show, since the men had prayed to be saved, when they were saved, it looked like it was their own prayer that saved them rather than the sovereignty and power of God.

In the TV show, when the men were delivered from the fire, they emerged declaring “God is with us! People of Judah, rise!” Again, ‘me’-centered.

In the real Bible, honor to God in the highest was given by Nebuchadnezzar.

The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3:27b-29)

I mention this because the scene where the men do not bow, and the scene where the men are delivered in the furnace are well done and moving. In between, though, when the people speak, it is not with Bible words and a humble God-centeredness.

The point here is, do not let emotion cloud your judgment when you absorb non-biblical material. You will most likely be emotionally manipulated when you read a book written by a non-Christian, (The Shack was well done and emotionally engaging for the first 70 pages) or a movie. The scenes in The Bible are moving and close enough to the Bible, but close enough is not good enough. Be wary of letting emotion override the truth with any material you watch or read. Besides, the real word of God is emotional enough!

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Did God really say “You are precious to me, you are honored, and I love you”? Women’s ministries today

Sure, I walk around every day in Renaissance hair and a wedding dress
clutching a crumpled leaf. FYI, read to the end regarding this very verse.

Over these last ten and twenty years we have become used to women’s ministers and Bible teachers preaching the consistent message of female empowerment of one sort or another. They put out messages like, “You are beautiful”, “You are wonderful.” “Jesus created you with a cosmically important job that only you can do”. These Bible teachers seek to encourage women, which is good, but they do so by appealing to our self-esteem and growth on the basis of strengths and qualities we possess. What their message boils down to is that we become God-approved by becoming more of ourselves. The cumulative message from all these teachers leads to a place no Christian wants to be. The end result is not growth, but apostasy; not encouragement, but despair.

Here is an example of the mixed messages we see, these are from Christine Caine, founder of Propel, a female empowerment ministry. Caine is an activist, not an evangelist, though she claims the opposite.

Live an unexplainable life, because you were chosen uniquely for a cosmic task ONLY you can accomplish (not God?) so press through and take risks. But don’t be arrogant, self-assertive or self-confident about it! #Mixed messages, Mrs Caine.

That’s the trouble with appealing to women’s emotions and qualities. While these teachers want to make affirmations to women that we are sensitive snowflakes melting in love with Jesus who is in turn melting in love with us, we also possess power, accomplish important tasks, and live a risky unexplainable life to accomplish it all. That is why the encouragement turns to despair- it doesn’t add up. The cognitive dissonance grates.

While previous generations of Bible teachers like early Kay Arthur and Elisabeth Elliot taught that our power is in God through submission to Him within the limits of the roles He has outlined for us, these past few generations of Bible teachers teach that our power is in us as women and it demonstrates sanctifying growth when we act on it, which God affirms by giving us more power.

Blogger Phylicia Delta wrote this week on the topic. It’s a good essay that makes the point, from which I’ll post some excerpts below-

Dear Women’s Ministry, Stop Telling Me I’m Beautiful

If I judged Christianity by its women’s conferences, I’d be led to believe that the Bible is no more than a series of compliments from God to man. Instead, the real story is far less complimentary and far more humiliating. Jesus didn’t come to earth because we were beautiful, special, or great. He came because we were too grossly sinful to bridge the gap between ourselves and God.

That’s not a message we want to hear from the stage of Extraordinary Women, is it? But it’s the one we need, because women who think they’re pretty awesome don’t need a Savior. [emphasis hers]

The truth is that I’m not beautiful, special, or all that unique. I’m born into sin, bent to rebellion. My insecurities and fears are too deep, pulsing through Adam’s blood in my veins. They can’t be rooted out with shallow “encouragements”.

The solution is simple. Stop preaching the easy message, and start preaching the right one. Stop exalting us as women and start exalting Christ.

A few days later, I noticed this satirical post from the Babylon Bee, which makes the point about the end result of all these esteem-laced female “encouraging messages”.

Woman Unsure Why She Needs Jesus After Preacher Spends 30 Minutes Telling Her How Amazing She Is

TWIN OAKS, AZ—According to reports coming out of Hope Community Church, first-time visitor Brittany Wilson remains unsure about why she needed “this Jesus guy” in her life after the pastor spent the entire Sunday sermon reiterating how awesome, amazing, unique, and special she is.

“The message was super-encouraging. It was all about how I need to let the goodness within me shine and ‘just do me,’ without worrying about all the haters,” Wilson said after the service.

“But then the pastor said I needed Jesus, out of the blue. Like, what? It made no sense. I’m not sure what He has to offer that I don’t, based on how wonderful the pastor said I am.”

Do you see the devastating cumulative effect of the mixed messages? The point of these particular kind of women’s studies and Bible teachers is to appeal to the pride of life. Satan did it in the Garden with Eve. Resist, ladies! The main way to resist being deceived is to stay in the Word. Read and study the Bible. Another way is also feed on good and solid books and studies, like this one-

Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

I have not read this book but it is on my ‘to-read’ list.

There is a way to do women’s ministry biblically. This book addresses that. Here is the publisher’s synopsis:

Susan Hunt and Ligon Duncan walk through the Scriptures to help readers better understand what it means to have an effective, biblical women’s ministry in the church. The benefits of women’s ministries are great: training and discipling, evangelizing, and reaching out to the poor and needy. This book, written by seasoned ministry leaders, provides many proven tools to help start a women’s ministry in your church.

Here is a verified purchaser’s review of the book:

This book was very helpful in understanding the biblical view of women’s roles in the church. It encourages the empowerment of women in a positive way. This is an excellent guide for developing a meaningful ministry to women of all ages within the church body. Women want to know how God can use them to make a difference for His kingdom and this book addresses that concern very well.

As for the difficulty with many female Bible teachers in this day and age, and the Instagram, Pinterest, & other Social Media picture verses they put out… the Isaiah 43:4 verse above is a partial verse! Usually when a partial verse is written, it’s proper to indicate so, either by stating it or by putting a or b after the verse to show if it’s the beginning part of the verse one has excerpted or the latter part of the verse you’ve excerpted. In this case, the verse should read Isaiah 43:4a since the author saw fit to only paste the first half of it.

The FULL verse reads:

Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honorable, and I have loved you: therefore will I give men for you, and people for your life.

The word “since” here is key. It connects the former verse to the latter verses. It is a concluding thought. As a reader one must have the previous verses in mind when arriving at the conclusion, which in this case begins “Since”. Excising the since off the verse destroys both the meaning and the context.

So first, ladies, when you re-post a social media verse like this, check the actual Bible to see it is at the address stated and if it is the entire verse.

Secondly, CONTEXT is key. In the verse, God has been talking to the Prophet Isaiah to tell the NATION ISRAEL His message, not special snowflake ladies in the 21st century. Moreover, He is not telling them that He is so in love with them, as the way the verse is presented over the photo. He is saying that he is setting apart the NATION and will keep it intact, even to the point of KILLING men (nations) to do so. Puts a different spin on the whole thing, doesn’t it? Barnes’ Notes explains the verse:

Since thou wast precious in my sight – This verse contains another reason why God would defend and deliver them. That reason was, that he had loved them as his people; and he was willing, therefore, that other people should be overcome in order that they might be saved. 

Thou hast been honorable – This does not refer so much to their personal character, as it does to the fact that they had been honored by him with being the depository of the precious truths of his religion. It means that he had made them honorable by the favors bestowed on them; not that they were honorable in reference to their own personal character and worth. [emphasis mine]

Therefore will I give men for thee – As in the case of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba Isaiah 43:3. He would cause other nations to be destroyed, if it were necessary, in order to effect their deliverance, and to restore them to their own land.

Puts an entirely different spin on things, doesn’t it?

I hope you have enjoyed reading this two-fold lesson. Firstly, we looked at women’s ministries and how their skewed emphasis perverts the mind of women into thinking their inherent worth is the reason God is so concerned with them. I quoted from two articles, one was a well-written article from Phylicia Delta and the other was a satire piece from the Babylon Bee.

Secondly I used as an example one of the women’s ministry photos I found on Pinterest to demonstrate how verses are twisted to falsely emphasize how God is allegedly concerned with women as special women He is in love with. Double check all memes before posting, please.

Now that you are aware of these discernment issues, what can we do about them? You can buy the above mentioned book by Duncan and Hunt about Women’s ministries. You can pause before clicking the meme to check that it’s actually a verse, the whole verse in context, and the correct address. You can check out the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) offered for free at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary called Biblical Theology of Womanhood I and II. It’s free. I have not taken it so I can’t say one way or another if it’s good. I have signed up. I’ll let you know. There are many free courses, usually MOOCs, that can be taken either through colleges or seminaries or places like Ligonier or other parachurch ministries. As always, use your prayerful discernment when submitting to teaching.

Ladies, don’t be taken in by pop psychology self-esteem teaching. We love who Jesus made us to be, but we love him more for who He is.

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Are you a Bible-thinking woman?

I’m just a regular church woman. I attend services consistently, I read my devotional Valley of Vision regularly, I read the Bible and I study it too. I listen to sermons online as I go through the week, and I pray, though not as often as I should.

When I’m in small group I try to be the elder model of the Titus 2 woman for the younger, and I do my best to submit to authority in spiritual life as well as secular.

I don’t hold special seminary degrees, though I take classes online when I can. I have a talent of writing I use for the Lord within the scope of the Spiritually delivered gifts (discernment and encouragement). I’m not trained in any exceptional way, and I’m mindful of that when I write and speak.

My heart is firmly locked in the battleground between true doctrine and false doctrine. I hate false doctrine. I hate anything that steals glory from Jesus, and false doctrine does that. I hate anything that draws women away from seeing the glory of Jesus, and false doctrine does that. Continue reading “Are you a Bible-thinking woman?”

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Mail Call: Why don’t they check against the Bible?

I receive questions and emails about theological topics from readers, as most bloggers do. My email address is listed in the ‘About This Blog’ tab. Sometimes someone will ask a question in a comment. There’s a comment in the queue in which someone asked me a great question that I haven’t posted yet. I will, I am working on an answer.

One particular question I frequently receive is on the topic of discernment. Some people have been given the spiritual gift of discernment. All Christians are supposed to exercise discernment, whether they have the gift or not. (Acts 17:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1). However, for the edification of the local and global body, as an early warning system, the Spirit has given an extra measure of discernment. The folks possessing this gift can detect false doctrine or a false teacher. People with this gift can detect whether the spirit working in a person is the Holy Spirit or another spirit. They can spot a counterfeit, or detect something off in a person’s life, teaching, or words. And so on.

People with this gift see truth so clearly, cling to it so tightly, and react so joyfully, it’s sometimes hard for them to understand how or why everyone can’t see what they see, understand what they know, detect what they detect. it’s perplexing to them. They love the scriptures so much they wonder why any and all Christians don’t leap into truth every chance they get. So the discerning person will gently point out that a certain teacher is false. They’ll share that the teacher is using them as merchandise, or is promoting an ungodly agenda. And the reaction of the hearer will be one of dismissal, apathy, or anger. In most cases, there will be a refusal to even go to scripture and hear out the case. And here comes the mail call question.

Q. Are they misinformed (as I once was) because they absolutely rely on misinformation and will not seek to find confirmation for or against a teacher who says questionable things?

It’s heartbreaking to see loved ones in one’s family or church or work life pursue ungodliness by following false teachers. It’s even worse when they decide to cling more tightly to that false teacher instead of investigating the issue. In discernment discussions, we often refer to Acts 17:11. I’d like to point out something in the verse that isn’t discussed much- the comparison

Paul noted in Acts 17:11 that “these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

What this tells us is that, just like today, not everyone checked the scriptures to see if what Paul was telling them was so. Not all people hear and then eagerly check. He said the Bereans were “more” noble, which by virtue of the word more, we understand the Thessalonians were “less” noble. The Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians because they checked, and the Thessalonians didn’t.

The scriptures record that in Thessalonica some did believe, but others (the Jews) were incited by the scriptures and mobbed Paul and forced him out of the city down to Berea. This tells us that not only do some people fail to test scripture but that some hold onto their version of scripture so hard they become varying degrees of enraged when their pet theories or philosophies are exposed.

Other times when they refuse to listen to you or to check to see if it is so, it’s because of a situation called ‘deception by investment.’ A believer has followed the false teacher for so long, or invested so much personal worth, (money buying their books, travel time to their conferences, etc) or have staked their own personal credibility in promoting this teacher, that they do not want to face the fact that they might have been wrong all this time. So their pride won’t allow them to check against the Bible and they continue on in their deception.

If this is hard to believe, remember, unsaved people suppress the truth very well despite the fact of the existence of the earth telling them every minute that God’s invisible qualities are readily seen. (Romans 1:18-19). For saved people or false converts, it’s the same thing. They suppress the truth that a certain teacher is false. We creatures are good at suppressing. It happens all the time, every day, to the saved and the unsaved.

The difference between a false convert refusing to have an ear to hear and the saved person who initially has a bad reaction to the news their favorite teacher is a false one, is the Spirit in them. If the person has the pagan spirit in them, over time they will continue to follow the false teacher.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

However, the Holy Spirit in a person will never allow them to continue sinning, and following a false teacher is sin. He will alert them by giving them ears to hear, and soon enough, the words you’ve shared will enlighten their mind and begin the transformation by virtue of being carried by the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to point to Jesus, who is Truth. He will not allow a person to continue pointing to the false. So even if you initially receive a bad reaction (hopefully not a mob chasing you out of your town or your church!) if the person is truly saved, they will respond soon enough by repenting and falling away from that false teacher, or false doctrine, or false practice.

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Further Reading

What is discernment and why is it important?

How to identify false teachers

Posted in Uncategorized

Jachin and Boaz, two named Temple columns

I like columns. Did you know there were two particular columns that were part of Solomon’s temple, and that they had names? Since the terms describing these pillars have gone into history, and no explanation is given in the Bible as to why they are so named, these pillars remain mysterious. The Bible records their existence and look and that’s it.

Of course whenever there is a mystery there are a plethora of mystical and conspiracy theories regarding it. The Bible mysteries are no different. If you go off researching about the two pillars/columns, be wary of many of the search results.

Jachin and Boaz were the names of the pillars which were set up in front of the Sanctuary in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem (I Kings 7:15–22, 41–42; II Kings 25:13, 17; Jeremiah 52:17, 20ff.; II Chronicles 3:15–17; 4:12–13). According to Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews, Boaz (“In him/it [is] strength”) was on the left when entering Solomon’s Temple, while Jachin (“He/it will establish”) was on the right. The were made by Hiram. It seems that though opinion is divided, most scholars seem to believe these were freestanding pillars and performed no structural function in the temple.

He set up the pillars in front of the temple, one on the south, the other on the north; that on the south he called Jachin, and that on the north Boaz. (2 Chronicles 3:17).

The pillars had a size nearly six feet thick and 27 feet tall. The eight-foot high brass capitals on top of the columns bore decorations of brass lilies. The original measurement as taken from The Torah was in cubits, which records that the pillars 18 cubits high and 12 cubits around, and hollow, four fingers thick. (Jeremiah 52:21–22). Nets of checkerwork covered the bowl of each capital, decorated with rows of 200 pomegranates, wreathed with seven chains for each capital, and topped with lilies (1 Kings 7:13–22, 41–42). (Wikipedia).

I do not know a lot about the Temple but I’m looking forward to learning. Ligonier Connect has an online class I’m going to take over Christmas break called Understanding the Tabernacle. The Temple is the place where God decided to make His presence known and inhabit for a time, so I believe learning about it will be profitable and interesting. He was specific in its aesthetic and dimension, and so by virtue of His interest in the temple, my interest is also ignited.

Aesthetically, I’ve always loved pillars and columns, I suppose the tendency in us is to admire things that reach for heaven. We see that this tendency can be corrupted, as the pagans built Ashereh poles, and monuments, pillars, and altar cairns on the high places. The problem with Ashereh poles is mentioned constantly in the Old Testament. Warnings and admonitions about them appear in Exodus, Deuteronomy, Judges, both Books of Kings, the 2nd Chronicles, and the prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah. One can build a beautiful monument to a god, and worship there, but it has to be a monument to the One True God and worship there has to be true. (Leviticus 10:3). Of course, one does not have to build a soaring monument to God, one can worship Him in any humble building. But we sometimes still have the urge to offer worship to Him in a building that matches His majesty. Columns add to that majesty.

I’ve traveled to Europe and have seen the great cathedrals and churches. It’s a shame most of them are Catholic and therefore perform the same function as Ashereh poles. Any worship in those places only comes to dust and ashes. But I understand the desire to build something beautiful and soaring for the Lord. David felt it and inquired of the LORD in 1 Chronicles 17. David asked through the prophet Nathan, may he built a dwelling place for the LORD? The LORD praised David’s urge, but reminded David he had not rebuked previous kings and leaders for not building a temple. He said that a temple will be built, but David may not do it. Solomon will. In 1 Chronicles 22:8 we learn God’s reason- David had shed much blood because he was a man of war. David’s urge is something  many of us feel, we want the best for our Lord because He IS the best. The temple in heaven must be absolutely glorious and indescribable.

Florence Cathedral with the famous dome. Prata photo

There is a good book called Brunelleschi’s Dome, by Ross King, covering the incredible story of the largest masonry dome ever built. It adorns the top of the Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flower) cathedral in Florence, Italy. The cathedral’s construction began in 1296 without knowledge of how the dome would be built to the architectural design they were following. The people were sure that by the time they got to the top, they will have figured out how to do it, lol. The cathedral was finished in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi, in an ingenious way.

I remember reading Ken Follett’s monumental book Pillars of the Earth, a sweeping historical narrative covering the people designing and building a cathedral in 12th century England. It’s historically accurate and a ripping good yarn. I read it long before I was saved so I do not remember whether it can be safely recommended as a clean book to Christians. I do remember the author balanced both the sweep of epic cathedral building with finely drawn realistic characters.

Columns are soaring and beautiful. They adorn many a church in America, from humble to cathedral. The Temple will be interesting to study, as will the two named columns, Boaz and Jachim. There is so much to study, isn’t there? God surely has an incredible mind. We’re blessed He has shared some of it with us in His word.

Columns of a Georgia Baptist Church. Prata photo

 

Columns under repair, New England secular building
Prata photo
A larger Georgia church with its columns. Prata photo