Posted in discernment, theology

Are you drifting toward only wanting your ears tickled?

By Elizabeth Prata

This essay first appeared on The End Time in November 2010.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Do you notice that word “endure”? The verse does not say “they will not like sound doctrine…” It does not say “they will not enjoy sound doctrine…” It doesn’t even say “they will not accept sound doctrine.” It uses the word endure. When you endure something, you writhe. You wish you were not there in the midst of it. If anyone has ever undergone physical therapy, you know that you have to endure it but if you could you would shoot out of the gym so fast you’d be like a speeding bullet. If anyone has ever had to get a root canal, you know that you endure it. You do not seek it, you do not like it, and if you could, you go away from it.

That is the process by which lukewarm Christians, fake Christians, and unholy pastors feel about the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. To be sure, the true Gospel of the Risen Savior is full of warm fuzzies. He loves us. (John 13:1). He prospers us. (2 Corinthians 9:8). He sends angels to us. (Hebrews 1:14). But the True Gospel is also full of truth, the unpalatable truth that the iniquitous lawless cannot endure: we are sinners. (Psalm 51:5). Rejection of the remedy for your sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) means you will spend eternity in torment, apart from God. That there is nothing good in us. (Mark 10:18). That we are fallen, craven, and deserve judgment. No, they will not endure that. So they don’t.

Instead they seek teachers to tempt us with what the devil has always tempted us with, and tempted Jesus too: health, wealth, fame. (Luke 4:1-13). They may find it in some “preachers” and in some “churches”, but it is for a season. Hebrews 11:25). Most do not find prosperity in health, wealth and fame. The only ones becoming famous and rich are the false pastors who urge the hapless and desperate to send money.

In his series, “Toxic Television: Unmasking the Prosperity Gospel part 1” Bible teacher John MacArthur spends a few minutes below of his one-hour sermon (linked above) explaining why Joel Osteen is false, dangerous, and unholy. He also spends time explaining why the Trinity Broadcast Network is also false, dangerous and unholy. MacArthur says, Osteen “is a quasi-pantheist where Jesus is a footnote that satisfies his critics and deceives his followers.” As for Osteen’s book, MacArthur says ‘Your Best Life Now’, the title, is a dead giveaway. The only way you can have your best life now is if you’re going to hell.”

Toxic Television: Unmasking the Prosperity Gospel part 1

A watered down gospel removes the book-end to the parts that they seek love and only ‘love’. The missing book-end is judgment. They will not endure sound teaching of His holiness involving love but also including righteous judgment.

“I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
“They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. (Isaiah 45:23-24)

A watered down gospel that removes the other book-end is less filling but it tastes great. The Bible shows us that the True Gospel tastes great, and also the watered down false Gospel tastes great. In the verses telling us of Ezekiel’s commission,

Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ez 3:1-3).

The true word absorbed by submissive believers is sweet. But it is also sometimes accompanied by a bitterness felt by even the most beloved of followers, even the most obedient of disciples. Sometimes the true word is hard to hear and bitter even for believers, because it reveals to us the true state of our sinfulness, our sorrow over our sin, and the fate of those who refuse His hand, those mockers and scorners whom we mourn over-

I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.” (Rev 10:10)

The only way to endure the knowledge of judgment that is coming is to rest on His truth and His promises. Those who do not rest in that truth, bitter as it sometimes is, do not endure it. Not only have they stopped asking the Spirit for wisdom, but they simply stop ingesting the sweet Words of the LORD and they flee away, being unstable in all they do.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)

But we do endure! Paul said to in 2 Tim 2:3, 10. Peter said to in 1 Peter 2:20. The writer in Hebrews 12:7 advised us to endure. Endure what? Hardship. Beatings. Wrongdoing. Life. Hardship. Persecution. And there are those today who cannot sit still in a chair or a pew and ‘endure’ the Word of the Living God who loves them. They seek tickling instead. They are gaining the world only to lose their lives forever.

Has solid preaching become an endurance test for you? Or are the hard but truthful words uplifting to you and filling in every way? If you have recently changed churches because the pastor is “a little too Bible thumping for my taste”, or have drifted away from regular worship lately because the sermons are too long, too convicting, or demand endurance on the part of your deceitful heart, then ask yourself if you are really just trying to accumulate a teacher in accordance with your own desires, and are wanting your ears tickled with a less filling but great tasting sermon. If so, you may be at risk.

Why at risk? Because we all live forever in eternity in one of two places. The day will come when the eternity you are beginning will either not have the word endure associated with it, which is heaven, or it will have the word endure associated with it, for an eternity!

You may try to avoid enduring a convicting sermon from a ticklish teacher today, but the end result will be that you will have to endure an eternity separated from Him in torment. O, faithful one, let it not be so!

 

Posted in prophecy, theology

The darkness deepens

By Elizabeth Prata

I have friends who are unafraid and unashamed to post the biblical truth on social media, like James White, Michelle Lesley, Justin Peters, and so on. We learned a few days ago that Amazon pulled books on the subject of conversion (homosexual) therapy. This week also, the American Institute of Graphic Arts who puts on the Circles Conference disinvited a staffer from Matt Chandler’s church who was to speak, due to his “organization’s” allegedly discriminatory attitudes towards women and gay people. It’s sad to see these things come to pass, but we expected the battle on those fronts. However, my friend Michelle also was just notified that a meme she posted on Facebook was hate speech. Here it is.

women pastors

Feminism and the Homosexual Agenda are two of the enemy’s favored doctrines. He is pressing them ever forward into American culture. As he does so, he is tightening the reins of how much truth will be tolerated. This is an example.

James White wrote about this recently, saying in his blog post Wisdom From Above

what shall we do now that Google and Facebook and Twitter and Amazon are picking us off, one by one, for not saying Caesar is Lord?

James White continues in his short blog post with a few ideas about what we should do, as related to social media.

He also wrote, commenting about a recent incident from culture, that we are looking at Romans 1:32 being lived out in front of us.

It was quite a reminder that those who know God’s righteous judgment against their sin suppress that knowledge by inviting others to join them in their rebellion.

Here is the verse he mentioned, about those who participate in these sins heartily applaud those others who do as well.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)

When God gives them over to a depraved mind, it means their mind can’t think straight. It’s warped, twisted, and literally cannot think rationally. A vivid example of this is claiming that the meme’s language is hate speech when it’s actually just a verse describing the qualifications of preachers.

In the generations gone by, He permitted all the nations to go their own ways. (Acts 14:16)

Thirteen years ago John MacArthur preached a message that stayed with me. It was piercing in its devastating truths. It’s called When God Abandons a Nation. We know that God is a God of love, but He is also a God of wrath. There are different kinds of wrath. One of them is the Wrath of Abandonment. We can’t know when God performs certain acts, but our minds are not futile and we rationally observe the culture. As we know the prophesied outcome of All Things and the general trajectory of life and society, (Genesis 6, Judges…) we can detect by our observations when or if God might have abandoned the USA. MacArthur gives the steps to see this process. I excerpted them below.

1. So you look at a society and ask, is it driven by sexual immorality? Romans 1:24
2. Rampant degrading passions.- Plain and simple, Lesbianism, homosexuality. Romans 1:26
3. First the heart is rotten and the body follows, and then the mind goes. What is a depraved mind? Well, the word literally means tested and found useless, disqualified for its intended purpose, a non-functioning mind. Reasoning is so corrupted that it is crippled. Romans 1:28.

God given-over minds are so warped their reasoning doesn’t make sense. If anyone has spent time on Social Media, you’ve seen this futile thinking. It’s uncritical, unreasoning, twisted, and belligerent.

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. It is also a terrible thing to be cast out of the hands of the Living God. Abandonment to one’s own desires is one of the worst things that can happen to a soul. When this occurs on a wide-spread scale, as in an entire society being given over, it’s horrible to watch.

I’m posting this not to ‘tut-tut’ the culture, but to encourage you to keep studying the word. We need to know what we believe and why. We should keep sharing the reason for the hope that is within us because as society darkens, the Light that is within us will be brighter. We need to prepare for alternative social media platforms as cultural intolerance appears to be increasingly rejecting Christ’s truths. Other platforms beside Twitter and Facebook exist, and James White mentions one or two. There are others.

MacArthur offers a hopeful conclusion in his sermon When God Abandons a Nation:

The key, listen to Me. Walk in My ways. The only hope for this or any other society is to hear the Word of the Lord and obey it, to hear the Word of the Lord and obey it. And I would suggest that this is not a good time for weak men preaching weak messages in weak churches. This is a time for bold and powerful strong biblical ministry that calls people to hear the Word of the Lord and respond. This is the only hope for any people for any individual.

All glory to God!

abandoned

Posted in hell, theology

What about hell?

By Elizabeth Prata

I love to speak of Jesus’s love, mercy, grace, salvation, and sanctification. However I also think it is important to speak of His justice, wrath, and consignment of the rebellious to hell in torment forever. Jesus spoke both of His kingdom to come and hell constantly. Yet, we don’t. We should. Many of those on earth won’t be joining Him in His kingdom to come unless they repent of their sins and believe on Him. Jesus taught quite a bit on wrath, hell and the consequences of sin. I read this week for background to this essay that the Bible runs 3-to-1 on wrath vs. love as a topic.

As Bible.org sums it up,

It may be worth noting that in Deuteronomy 28 (and following), the blessing section (28:1-14) is a great deal shorter than the cursing section (28:15-68).

Paul taught that thinking about and teaching about the rapture and the joy to come is encouraging. It is, but remembering the wrath we ourselves were under before salvation and is still poised over every unbeliever is a worthwhile thing to ponder, too.

I started a new book this week, John Gerstner’s treatise, Jonathan Edwards’ on Heaven & Hell. It’s quite illuminating. Though hell should not be a popular subject, (after all it’s the weightiest in the universe), it should not be marginalized, either. Here is the blurb on the book-

Dr. Gerstner was an ardent student of the famous Jonathan Edwards. In this short work, previously published by Baker, he examines the teaching of Edwards on the subjects of heaven and hell.

Hell is a real place and unconverted people will be cast there at the Day of Judgment. If it not real, then where did Jesus descend to during his three-day death to proclaim to the spirits bound there? (1 Peter 3:18-20). Though people try to debate this, dampen, it (annihilationism, universal salvation), hell is real.

If you are looking for a resource on the topic of hell, here are a few items for you-

Described as

a. Everlasting punishment. Mt 25:46.
b. Everlasting fire. Mt 25:41.
c. Everlasting burnings. Isa 33:14.
d. A furnace of fire. Mt 13:42,50.
e. A lake of fire. Rev 20:15.
f. Fire and brimstone. Rev 14:10.
g. Unquenchable fire. Mt 3:12.
h. Devouring fire. Isa 33:14.
4. Prepared for the devil, &c. Mt 25:41.
5. Devils are confined in, until the judgment day. 2Pe 2:4; Jude 1:6.
6. Punishment of, is eternal. Isa 33:14; Rev 20:10.
7. The wicked shall be turned into. Ps 9:17.
8. Human power cannot preserve from. Eze 32:27.
9. The body suffers in. Mt 5:29; 10:28.
10. The soul suffers in. Mt 10:28.
11. The wise avoid. Pr 15:24.
12. Endeavour to keep others from. Pr 23:14; Jude 1:23.
13. The society of the wicked leads to. Pr 5:5; 9:18.
14. The beast, false prophets, and the devil shall be cast into. Rev 19:20; 20:10.
15. The powers of, cannot prevail against the Church. Mt 16:18.
16. Illustrated. Isa 30:33.

John Gerstner (RC Sproul’s mentor) was an ardent student of Jonathan Edwards’ works, as noted above. From Gerstner’s essay on Edwards’ Rationale of Hell, we read Gerstner’s thoughts interspersed with Edwards’-

“those that have a sinful fear of God fear God as evil, but a right fear fears him as great and excellent.” (Edwards). Thus there is a right and wrong fear of God. This wrong fear of God, fearing him as an evil and dreadful being, drives men from God.

“A sinful fear makes men afraid to come to God.” (Edwards)

But, on the other hand, there is a proper fear of God, as the good and holy being that he is, and this right fear makes men afraid to go from him.

Eve and Adam had a sinful fear of God and they fled from Him. Those who are in Him would have a healthy fear to flee away from Him, but instead fly toward Him in all circumstances. On so many levels, once we are converted, everything turns upside down (or right side up, depending on yoru perspective!)

So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Luke 3:7).

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the sentence of hell? (Matthew 23:33)

I’m sorry not to be uplifting or sentimental today. Sometimes I feel the weight of the lost and their permanent eternity, or I give a mournful shaking of my head when I see important topics being shunted aside, and I feel compelled to write about the more unpopular subjects. Hell might not be popular, but it is very real. I recommend John Gerstner (especially at Ligonier.org) and Jonathan Edwards for credible treatment of the subject.

wrath 3

Posted in prophecy, theology

“But I’m a good person!”

By Elizabeth Prata

When they live in dreadful wickedness, they are but filling up the measure which God hath limited for them.~Jonathan Edwards

 

ust when we start to think we might be such bad people, here is a splash of cold water for us all to ponder. Commenting on Hosea 7:1, Israel’s sin, Matthew Henry wrote

The actual wickedness of men’s lives bears a very small proportion to what is in their hearts. But when lust is inwardly cherished, it will break forth into outward sin. Those who tempt others to drunkenness never can be their real friends, and often design their ruin. Thus men execute the Divine vengeance on each other. Those are not only heated with sin, but hardened in sin, who continue to live without prayer, even when in trouble and distress. (“Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible“)

We’re not as bad as we could be, but it’s in there and under certain conditions, our greater seed of iniquity comes out. Pogroms, genocide, the Holocaust, are all examples where the evil men did rose in greater proportion to what is in there. And that is not end of the evil that lurks within still. During the Tribulation, men will fully enact what is in their heart. The full measure of sin will be complete. (Dan 8:23, Matthew 23:32). Jesus said it will be the worst time the planet has ever known. (Matthew 24:21-22).

In 1735 Jonathan Edwards preached on 1 Thessalonians 2:16, in his sermon titled When the Wicked Shall Have Filled Up the Measure of Their Sin, Wrath Will Come Upon Them to the Uttermost

by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! (1 Thessalonians 2:16)

This is true of every individual person, but will be in greater application during the Tribulation. Edwards’ sermon again,

There is a certain measure that God hath set to the sin of every wicked man. God says concerning the sin of man, as he says to the raging waves of the sea, Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further. The measure of some is much greater than of others. Some reprobates commit but a little sin in comparison with others, and so are to endure proportionably a smaller punishment. There are many vessels of wrath; but some are smaller and others greater vessels. Some will contain comparatively but little wrath, others a greater measure of it. Sometimes, when we see men go to dreadful lengths, and become very heinously wicked, we are ready to wonder that God lets them alone. He sees them go on in such audacious wickedness, and keeps silence, nor does anything to interrupt them, but they go smoothly on, and meet with no hurt. But sometimes the reason why God lets them alone is because they have not filled up the measure of their sins.

Edwards urges us to get into the ark, Christ.

We find in Scripture, that where glorious times are prophesied to God’s people, there are at the same time awful judgments foretold to his enemies. What God is now about to do, we know not. But this we may know, that there will be no safety to any but those who are in the ark. — Therefore it behooves all to haste and flee for their lives, to get into a safe condition, to get into Christ. Then they need not fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof: for God will be their refuge and strength; they need not be afraid of evil tidings; their hearts may be fixed, trusting in the Lord.

Through rapture or death, what a blessing it will be to arrive home to heaven where Jesus dwells, and there is no sin or death or evil any longer. Then, we can be with and gaze upon the only truly Good Person there ever was or shall be: Emmanuel.

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filled with hope verse

Posted in prophecy, theology

The Different Kinds of God’s Wrath

By Elizabeth Prata

Thomas Hooker, a Puritan preacher of the 1600s, said in his book The application of redemption by the effectual work of the word, and spirit of Christ, for the bringing home of lost sinners to God (don’t you love their lengthy titles, lol? And their antiquated spelling? )

who shal comfort, who can releeve what ever he doth, whereever he is, the wrath God abides upon him, thou art not within the Mercy nor the compass of that Redemption?

Jonathan Edwards said the word “wrath” 52 times in his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. He said “anger” 6 times. He preached,

The Wrath of God burns against them, their Damnation don’t slumber, the Pit is prepared, the Fire is made ready, the Furnace is now hot, ready to receive them, the Flames do now rage and glow.

What IS the wrath? Most people, if they think of God’s wrath at all either think of Jesus exhausting it on the cross for forgiven sinners, or the last day when Jesus returns in wrath, blood, fire etc to pour His wrath out on unforgiven sinners.

The wrath of God is not an easy topic. It is not a popular topic. It is not often directly preached from pulpits, nor spoken of on social media or in conversation. But it is an important topic. Upon death, the final state of all humans who were not saved during life will be to endure horrific wrath forever. The wrath hangs over every unsaved person while they are alive.

The wrath is something that Jesus endured and died for so we believers would not have to encounter it. When we say are saved, what are we saved from? God’s wrath. The wrath is half of the Gospel. So we need to understand it in all its different aspects, speak of it, include it judiciously in conversation. It is an attribute of God. And though we love to think of Jesus the babe meek & mild, He is also wrathful. He will return to deliver that stored-up wrath one day.

However there are different kinds of wrath. Just because we don’t see fire and brimstone raining down from heaven does not mean God is not expressing His righteous anger against sinners this very moment. Let’s look at the different kinds of wrath that exist and have existed for all time.

John MacArthur preached on this a number of times, here is a paraphrase / excerpt from one of the sermons. Please note that though MacArthur put the different wraths in a descriptive list, by no means is the list extra-biblical. It’s just that people aren’t used to thinking about the wrath in different types delivered at different times.

1. Eternal wrath – because it is the punishment that God brings upon unbelieving sinners forever in hell. (Matthew 25:41-46, many other verses).
2. Eschatological wrath, that is the wrath of God that is released at the end of the world described by some of the Old Testament prophets, described by Jesus Christ Himself in the Olivet Discourse, and clearly laid out for us in the book of Revelation. (Luke 21:23, Romans 2:5, Revelation 6-18).
3. Cataclysmic wrath, like a tsunami, a volcano, a hurricane, an earthquake… Noah’s FLood and the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, & Zeboiim are examples of this wrath. Cataclysms are a reflection of the judgment of God. (Numbers 16:31-35).
4. Consequential wrath. Consequential wrath is the sowing and reaping wrath, you live a certain kind of life and you set in motion certain forces that will produce judgment. The resulting wrath can be reflective of the consequence of the sin-choice a person makes. (Acts 5:4-5, 1 Corinthians 11:29-30).
5. The wrath of abandonment. It is that wrath exhibited by God when He turns His back on a group, society, or individual. (Romans 1:24, 28, 28).

We should be careful though, not to attribute any particular event as an example of a specific kind of wrath. The tornado-wind that destroyed Job’s house was not wrath. (Job 18:18). The man born blind did not experience a lifetime of infirmity due to sin. (John 9:2-3). The Tower of Siloam fell over because the Tower of Siloam fell over. (Luke 13:4). Someone whom God has seemed to have turned over to their sin in a wrath of abandonment could become the unlikeliest convert (Saul/Paul).

Unlike in Edwards or Hooker’s time, in today’s Christianity God is talked of as a kindly grandfather in the sky, or Jesus is treated as a romantic boyfriend. However, God’s wrath is real. It is already present and it is also to come. Humans may not live any way we want and God will sit idly by smiling upon His wayward children. He has high moral standards and a high holy standard. Departure from His standard will result in wrath. Since none of us can attain these standards on our own, it means we are all due to experience His wrath. This presents a problem because none is righteous, no, not one. We are all separated from God. Yet He desires communion with His creatures.

Graciously, Jesus lived a perfectly holy life, died on the cross as the sacrifice, having exhausted all of God’s wrath for those whom He will save, and after laying dead in the tomb for three days, God raised Jesus to life. Those who repent of their sins and turn to Jesus as Lord and Savior will never experience His wrath. Praise God for that.

Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! (Romans 5:9).

We truly don’t have any idea of what is coming. Read Nahum for an example. It’s just three short chapters. Read Revelation for a glimpse. God is angry with the wicked every day. (Psalm 7:11).

Repent now, while there is still time.

After the arrest of John, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God.and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15).

wrath verse

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Further Reading

Delivered By Grace: The Wrath of God

GotQuestions: What is the biblical understanding of the wrath of God?

 

Posted in bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: The Terrible Duty of Truth

Our Bible Reading Plan for today brings us to some difficult Psalms, Psalms 9-11.

I love these Psalms where David exhorts to God for justice, for the wicked to perish, for nations that rebel to be put down.

In today’s loving and tolerant climate, such imprecations are seen as unworthy of the Christian.

But they’re not.

The wicked (as we all were, to be sure) who reject the kingship of Messiah and refuse to repent, do polluted things against our most Holy God. These things are evil, they are wrong, they are a grief and a cause for mourning in the Christian that our God should have mud splattered on His holy name. We concentrate so long on the wicked person, praying for salvation, urging repentance, we forget the reason we do these things is to proclaim the name of Jesus among men and urge men everywhere to repent of the evil they do against Him.

I’m with John MacArthur when he said in his book Found: God’s Will:

“If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for a while.” John Macarthur

In today’s Psalm, David said

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. (Psalm 9:17)

O, terrible thought! It gives me no delight to proclaim the fact of hell and the individual’s sure condemnation of those who reject Jesus. It gives no consolation to know that nations will fall into the lake of fire to remain trapped in punishing fire for all eternity. Yet Spurgeon said it so well,

Many of God’s ministers have been accused of taking pleasure in preaching upon this terrible subject of “the wrath to come.” Indeed we would be strange beings if so doleful a subject could afford us any comfort. I should count myself to be infinitely less than a man, if it did not cause me more pain in speaking about the impending sentence of condemnation, than it can possibly cause my hearers in the listening to it.

God’s ministers, I can assure you, if they feel it to be often their solemn duty, feel it always to be a heavy burden to speak about the terrors of the law. To preach Christ is our delight; to uplift his Cross is the joy of our heart; our Master is our witness, we love to blow the silver trumpet, and we have blown it with all our might. But knowing the terror of the Lord, these solemn things lie upon our conscience, and while it is hard to preach about them, it would be harder still to bear the doom which must rest upon the silent minister…

Reminding the world of the wrath to come is part of the terrible duty of truth. We stand firm in it.

duty 2
Photo EPrata
Posted in prophecy

When a sweet smell is foul

Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it. What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me. (Jeremiah 6:19-20).

The LORD had instituted incense offerings which can be seen in Exodus 30:7-8; Exodus 30:34; 2 Chronicles 13:11. According to Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, from 1897, we read of incense that the sacrifices were

a fragrant composition prepared by the “art of the apothecary.” It consisted of four ingredients “beaten small” (Exodus 30:34-36). That which was not thus prepared was called “strange incense” (30:9). It was offered along with every meat-offering; and besides was daily offered on the golden altar in the holy place, and on the great day of atonement was burnt by the high priest in the holy of holies (Exodus 30:7 Exodus 30:8). It was the symbol of prayer (Psalms 141:1 Psalms 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3 Revelation 8:4). Source Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

A Renaissance era pomander container. Source

In today’s verse from Jeremiah we read that the LORD had become angry with a sweet smelling offering that was devoid of obedience and love for His law. An empty sweet smelling fragrance would do nothing to satisfy Him or render the giver justified in any way. It’s ineffective. Instead, such an empty sacrifice incurs wrath.

The notion of ineffective perfumes reminded me of the 14th century bubonic plague remedy. People were told to carry pomanders, which were perfume balls containing herbs, flowers, and spices, either around their neck or in their hand, and to sniff it constantly so as to ward off the disease.

Pomanders are traditionally mixtures of fragrant substances which are often held within a container – although the term can also be applied to the container itself. The odours given off by the mixtures were once believed to offer protection against disease and they are particularly associated with times of plague, from the 1300s onwards. Their use is linked to centuries-old miasma theories which suggested that disease was transmitted through foul-smelling air. Keeping a sweet-smelling pomander close by was believed to offer protection.

Miasma theory posited that disease was carried by a cloud of poisonous vapor in the air, which was created by decay and could be identified by a bad smell. Following the logic that bad smelling air carried disease, it makes perfect sense that you could “cure” the air by making it smell good. Hence the perfume. And the long nose to stuff good smelling material into.

It seems silly to think that a perfume ball containing a few herbs and sweet-smelling spices would protect one from bubonic plague! But just as silly were the Jews who thought that they could disobey Him all day long and at the end offer the Lord God a sweet smelling offering and everything would be all right. Such empty fragrances do nothing to ward off the disease of sin. Nor would they protect one from wrath and judgment.

So what would satisfy His wrath and stay His judgment?

Thus says the LORD:
Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls
(Jeremiah 6:16)

The good way is traveling the road of His word. It pleases the LORD and it gives rest to the rebellious soul. We also would do well to inquire as to where the good paths are, and walk on them. The sweetest scent of all is obedience.

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Note: Tomorrow- the link between incense and prayer

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 2

The verse to consider today is from Romans 9:21-24

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

There are vessels of mercy, and there are vessels of wrath. Considering anything regarding God is weighty and should fill the saved and the non-saved with awe and humility. But to really consider His work of judgment should bring to mind the famous comment attributed to martyr John Bradford,”There but for the grace of God go I”.

Here is Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne preaching on the Romans verse. In my opinion, it’s brilliant. I’ll post M’Cheyne’s point 3 tomorrow, Lord willing. Part 1 is hereM’Cheyne’s full sermon is here.

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The Vessels of Wrath Fitted to Destruction

I come now to the second reason why any are left to perish–it is, that God may show his power. “What if God, willing to make his power known?” We are frequently told in the Bible of the power of God. He said to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God.” We are told in the ninety-third Psalm, that “the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” We are frequently told of his almighty power; and not only so, but we have brilliant examples of it.

The first upon record is creation. “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” “He spake and it was done – he commanded and all things stood fast.”

Another example of the same thing is, the constant providence of God. “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” He rides on the swift wings of the wind.

Another example of the power of God is, his restraining and bridling of the wicked. “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with the bit and bridle.” – Psalms 32:9. This is the way in which God holds the wicked.

Another way in which God makes his power known is, in the conversion of souls. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” This is said to be “the wisdom of God and the power of God.” I believe the converting of a soul is something greater than the making of the world.

Brethren, there is one exhibition of divine power that yet remains – it is, the destruction of the wicked. “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” I believe, dear friends, that the reason why God has raised up Pharaohs is to show his power in them. He said to Pharaoh, “For this cause have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee.” No, I say, in regard of those of you in this congregation who will die unsaved, that God has raised you up, to show his power in you. Thus, it is said in Isaiah 62, “I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.” And then in Revelation 18, “She shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” And we are told by our Lord in Matthew 10:28, to fear God, “who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” You will notice in this passage that he says, “God is able to destroy”; and therefore, brethren, it is plain that there must be some great power exercised in his destroying the wicked; and I think it is to consist in this – God will destroy their well-being, but not their being. Here, then, is another exhibition of the power of God.

When lately in the north of Scotland, I stood on the sea-shore, and saw the rocks standing out of the sea. It was very remarkable to stand and see the mighty waves dashing upon the rocks. There were two things remarkable in it: first, the greatness of the rocks on which the waves dashed: second, the rocks remaining unmoved – no force of the waves could move them. Brethren, this scene is an emblem of what will be witnessed another day, when God shall pour out his wrath on the wicked. Ah, brethren! will it not be fearful to see God put out his power upon the wicked – to see him upholding them with one hand, and pouring out his wrath upon them with the other? Surely, brethren, the power of God’s wrath is very great. If any of you have seen a great furnace, you will have seen the power that the fire has; but fire is God’s creature. What must his power be who is the Creator?
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Further Reading

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 1
Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too, part 3

Jesus’ Predestined Life

Is Predestination biblical?

Posted in prophecy

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 1

A few days ago I’d posted an essay about predestination. This is the doctrine where the Bible teaches that God is completely sovereign over everything that happens, including individual salvations. He elects people to salvation, independently and apart from foreknowledge of any decision they make. It’s all His grace, and not our decision.

People dislike that doctrine and fight against it. One of the reasons people resist the plain truth of the doctrine is that people want to think that somewhere in their heart or mind, they chose God. However, we are dead in sins and trespasses and have no ability to choose God, or ‘make a decision’ about our salvation. It is granted to us. (Galatians 3:22). We have no part in it, except the resulting gratitude and service in His name.

The verse to consider today is from Romans 9:21-24

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

There are vessels of mercy, and there are vessels of wrath. Considering anything regarding God is weighty and should fill the saved and the non-saved with awe and humility. But to really consider His work of judgment should bring to mind the famous comment attributed to martyr John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God go I”.

Here is M’Cheyne preaching on the Romans verse. In my opinion, it’s brilliant. I post ed M’Cheyne’s point 2 here. I’ll post point 3 tomorrow and the next day, Lord willing. The full sermon is here.

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The Vessels of Wrath Fitted to Destruction

The following sermon preached on the afternoon of March 12, 1843, was the author’s last in St. Peter’s. “It was observed, both then and on other occasions,” says Andrew Bonar, “that he spoke with peculiar strength upon the sovereignty of God.” The following evening McCheyne’s illness commenced and on Saturday, March 25, he went to the Saviour whose glory he lived to proclaim.
“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?” – Romans 9:22,23

In a former discourse, brethren, I attempted to show you that the reason why God will punish the wicked eternally is, because he loveth righteousness. It is said in the eleventh Psalm, “Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup, for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.” I then tried to show you, that God has created hell, and will maintain it for ever, not because He loves human pain – I believe it is not so, nor is it because He is subject to passion, as men speak of passion – but because the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.

And I showed you, as you will remember, what a certainty hell is to the wicked. If it had its origin in the love of human pain, then you might have hoped that it would have an end; or, if it proceeded from passionateness, then it might cool; but ah! when it proceeds from Jehovah’s love of righteousness, I see, brethren, in that a reason why “the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

There is a second question which no doubt has occurred to you: why are there any left unpardoned at all? Why was Adam left to fall? Could God not have held him up? Or, if it was necessary that Adam should fall, in order that Christ might die, why are not all saved? Surely there is efficacy in the blood of Christ to pardon all – why, then, are not all saved? There are many answers to that question which we will know in a higher state of being; but here is one; “What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory?” You will notice, brethren, that in these words the apostle Paul tries to give an answer to that question. He does not answer it directly, he employs a “what if”.

Let us enter into this subject a little more deeply. There are three reasons set down here why men are allowed to perish.

I. The first is, that God was willing to show His wrath. These words are terrible. We are told frequently in the Bible of the wrath of God. It is not like human wrath: it is calm, settled – it consists principally in a regard to what is right. This is the wrath of God. We are told a great deal about it in the Bible. It is revealed against all sin. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” – Romans 1:18 Observe the word “all” – it is against all sin. Then Colossians 3:6, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” We are told also, brethren, that this anger is constant. “God is angry with the wicked every day.” – Psalms 7:11. The bow of God’s justice is, as it were, already bent against the wicked, the arrow of God’s is already on the string against the wicked. And then we are told that His wrath is intolerable. In the Psalm which we were singing (Psalms 90:11), it is said, “Who knows the power of thy wrath?” And we are told in Revelation, “The great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?”

But we learn more by example than even by these declarations. We have many examples of God’s wrath and its consequences. The first example we have is, his casting the angels out of heaven. We are told by Jude, “That the angels which kept not their first estate, He hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” And we are told by Peter, “That God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” Now, brethren, in several respects this was one of the greatest examples of divine wrath we have, for it seems to have happened in one day. One day these angels were in heaven – the next in hell. One day they were angels of light – the next fiends of darkness. And then this made it fearful, when the Lord left them no room for repentance. One thing the universe might have learned from this was, that God will certainly punish sin.

Another example of God’s punishing sin was not in heaven, but one earth, when He sent the deluge upon it. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth.” And so it came to pass: “The flood came, and carried them all away;” and it has left traces on our world still, to show that God will not fail to punish sin.

Another example of divine vengeance was, when God destroyed Sodom. “Now, the men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” The cry of its wickedness went up to heaven, and God sent down two angels, to see if it was according to the cry that came up; and they found it even so; and, when they had taken out just Lot, God rained fire and brimstone upon the devoted city; and he has left traces of it there to this hour.

There was yet another exhibition of divine wrath on earth – it was the death of God’s dear Son. If ever there was a time when God could have said that he would forego his wrath it was surely this. It was this for two reasons. First, because the object of that wrath was dear to God. There never was on in the universe so dear to God as his Son. And another reason was, Christ had no sin of his own. Just as his robe was seamless, so was his soul sinless. Nay, brethren, that one act of his – laying down his life, was so glorious, as an exhibition of God’s justice, that the universe never saw its “marrow”. “Yet it pleased God to bruise him.” These words do not give the least shadow of his suffering from God on account of our sin. Brethren, if any thing in the world can show that God will punish sin, it was the death of his dear and sinless Son.

There is one exhibition of his wrath yet to come. Verse 22 – “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” God is yet to destroy the souls that he has made–not the angels that fell, for he has done that already, when he cast them into hell, but the souls on which he has waited. There is to be a new exhibition of wrath that the world never saw the like of before. He is going to show what he will do to the despisers of his Son – to those who despise his gospel. it will be a new thing when “God will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know him not, and that have not obeyed the gospel.” God waits to show his wrath. Ah, brethren! it will be fearful to feel it – it is fearful even to think of it. so I believe it will be with the wicked: they will be beacons, to show how God will punish sin.

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