Archive for September, 2010


“Only the humble man is completely sane, for he is the only one who sees clearly his own size and limitations.  The egotist sees things out of focus.  To himself he is large and God is correspondingly small, and that is a kind of moral insanity.  Humility is a coming back to sanity like Nebuchadnezzar.  The humble man evaluates everything correctly, and that makes him a wise man and a philosopher. 

Young Christians often hinder their own usefulness by their attitude toward themselves.  They begin with the innocent notion that they are at least a bit above the average in intelligence and ability, and consequently they feel shy about taking a humble place.  They want to begin at the top and work upward!  What happens is that they usually fail to secure the high place they feel qualified to fill and end up developing a chronic feeling of resentment toward everyone who stands in their way or fails to appreciate them. 

This is too serious to be funny and too tragically harmful to take lightly.  The simple fact is that no one can stand in the way of a completely humbled man.  There aren’t enough mountains in hell to hold down the true man or woman of God even if they were piled on him or her at once.  God chooses the meek to confound the mighty.  “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, the Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2.  Babies pass for what they are — they have no pride in themselves and they bear no grudges.”  A. W. Tozer, “This World: Playground or Battleground?” pp.37-38.

Don’t Be Ignorant

Dictionary.com defines ignorant as “Lacking knowledge or awareness in general…”  Some say ignorance is bliss, and I guess that’s true for some things.  The only problem is there will come a day that our ignorance will evaporate under the intense Light of God’s Glory.  As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, His saints most definitely ought to be ignorant of the sinful things of this world. There are, however, somethings we should not be ignorant of.  We should never be ignorant of the truth.  Also, we should not be ignorant of the devil’s schemes. 

Many have pointed out the fact that those who work at the Treasury Department don’t study counterfeit money to catch counterfeiters. Treasury agents must study true bills to detect the fakes.  And for those who have been born again, it is key to stay rooted in the truth to keep from falling for counterfeit doctrines.  Staying in the truth of God’s Word will guarantee the promised freedom from the heavy burden of sin so easily supplied by the world.  See John 8:31-32. 

On the flip side of the coin, those in the Treasury Department must be aware of the many popular practices and avenues developed and used by counterfeiters.  The same is true for any good coach or general.  In order to be as effective as possible,  these men need not only study the fundamental truths at hand, but they must also know their enemy or opponent.  This is true for God’s children as well. 

We must love, know, and do the truth.  The truth is our only solid foundation. But we, as children of the Light, must also take great diligence to not remain ignorant to the current schemes of the wicked one.  That’s not to say we should spend all of our time learning the lies of the devil, but every generation has key avenues which transport his false doctrines.  Even though Satan’s lies don’t really change, the packaging has been adjusted throughout man’s history. And if we’re not paying attention, we might unwittingly fall or pass along doctrines from the Father of Lies.   

We are commanded by our Heavenly Father to take heed, to be on guard and be alert for our enemy prowls around seeking whom to devour.  (Mark 13:33, 1 Peter 5:8)  We ought to never be ignorant of the enemy’s devices.  To do so would not only be foolish, it also could be harmful to those we love and hope will receive the truth.  May we always spend time loving and learning God’s Word. But may we also be alert and on guard, never ignorant of the enemies popular avenues and devices. 

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11

God’s Faithfulness is Tied to Israel

God’s faithfulness is centered in His very nature and is inextricably linked to His promises both from the Old and New Testaments.  How can we as New Testament saints trust our God for eternal life if He hasn’t kept His promises recorded by the prophets of old?  There is much danger for those who believe that God’s promises to Israel have been broken and transferred to the Church.  To believe this one must say God has either edited or worse yet revoked His very faithful covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  

How ironic it is for those who correctly believe so strongly that the Old Testament is the foundation of the new, and Creation as literal, to say that God’s promises to Israel are either allegorical or no longer applicable.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  God’s promises are irrevocable, and Israel’s blindness is not in full, but in part.  

 For those who think God is through with Israel, the challenge of this article is to lay aside all that you’ve been taught and let your Savior’s Word speak plainly to you.  Consider a few of the Old Testament promises to Israel from the LORD God. (Note: All emphasis added below is mine.)

  • Genesis 28:13 and 15– “And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed…And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”
  • Exodus 12:23 and 24 “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.” 
  • 2 Samuel 7:23-26– “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to Himself, and to make Him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For Thou hast confirmed to Thyself Thy people Israel to be a people unto Thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God. And now, O LORD God, the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as Thou hast said. And let Thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of Thy servant David be established before Thee.”
  • 1 Kings 10:9- “Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.”
  • 1 Kings 11:39- “And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.”
  • 1 Chronicles 16:12-19- “Remember His marvellous works that He hath done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth; O ye seed of Israel His servant, ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones. He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. Be ye mindful always of His covenant; the word which He commanded to a thousand generations; Even of the covenant which He made with Abraham, and of His oath unto Isaac; And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it.”
  • 2 Chronicles 33:7b- “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever.”
  • Psalm 105:6-11- “O ye seed of Abraham His servant, ye children of Jacob His chosen. He is the LORD our God: His judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance…”
  • Jeremiah 31:7-13- “For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn. Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.”
  • Jeremiah 31:31-32-“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD…”
  • Jeremiah 33:14-16-“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.”
  • Jeremiah 33:20-21a“Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant…”
  • Jermiah 33:25-26a-“Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant…”
  • Jeremiah 51:5-“For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of His God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”
  • Ezekiel 11:17-“Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

One final note:  God is called the God of Israel 201 times. 

“I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.” Isaiah 43:15

For a good follow-up article concerning God’s Word and Israel, see- “Israel and Prophetic Proof” Part 1 from The Berean Call at: http://www.thebereancall.org/node/7745

Four Soils Dilemma

In Luke 8 Jesus is teaching the parable of the sower to a multitude of people.  There are four soils in this parable, and the seed is the Word of God. Luke 8:11.  After He finishes the parable, the disciples ask Him the meaning.  He then explains that the four soils are four hearts- the first, a hard heart, the second one is a heart that receives the Word with joy, but withers when trials and persecutions come.  The third heart is choked by the thorny worries and cares of the riches of this world, never producing any fruit.  And the fourth heart is a good heart, the heart that wants to understand (Matthew 13:13) the Word, producing much fruit. 

There is some discussion over this parable, especially the two middle hearts.  Perhaps I am just not seeing correctly, but there seems to be a dilemma I have not read or heard about before.  The dilemma I see is between the theology of Calvinism and the teaching of this parable. There seems to be a glaring issue when trying to align this parable with the Calvinistic teaching on God’s sovereignty and man’s total inability to choose Him. For those who believe man cannot choose anything but evil, and that man is so dead that he is actually unable to turn to the Lord, there should be some recognition of a dilemma in Jesus’ parable. Let me explain further. 

The first heart is clearly a representation of lost mankind. To many who call themselves Calvinists this first heart would represent dead men ‘at the bottom of the ocean’ unable to even reach out to Christ at any level.  The fourth heart is the heart that produces good fruit.  And to the man who holds to Calvinist teachings, this heart would be the man who has been regenerated by the Spirit of God.  This is the heart which Jesus swam to the bottom of the ocean for, reviving and bringing him from death to life.  Not that I believe that God must revive us before we can believe, but I can understand how someone could use these two soils to further their reformed, Calvinistic theology.  But here is the dilemma. 

If the reformed, Calvinistic perspective is true, then why even bother adding the second or third soil to the parable?  If men are so dead that they cannot do anything other than choose evil, and if all men truly cannot understand anything regarding the Gospel of God, then what place do soils two and three have? 

Soil 2: For some to receive the Word with gladness (Mark 4:16), then turn away when trials and tribulations come seems to imply that they are not truly saved. Even though lost and dead in their sins, they are able to receive the Word, albeit with wrong intentions, i.e. to make their lives more comfortable.  Or would you say that they were saved, but then simply turned away?  If so, the Calvinist would have to admit that God has sovereignly allowed some to actually receive the Word only to force/cause them to turn away during persecutions and trials.  Would this not be a strange action by the God which the Bible declares is love? 

Soil 3: Then there is the third soil which is filled with the worries and  cares of this world.  This man again receives the Word, but doesn’t seem to turn  away from the old nature.  Much like Lot, he moves back into Sodom instead of fleeing it.  Again the question is this- Has God sovereignly predestined and regenerated this man to receive the Word of God, then causing them to keep the worries so much as to choke the fruit of the Word from ever being produced?  And if these are true, born-again believers which God has sovereignly regenerated, then why not sovereignly sanctify them to keep from having any thorns at all? 

Soil 1: Lastly, there is the dilemma of the first heart, the heart that is so hard that the seed never enters and Satan comes to snatch away the Word.  In Matthew 13:19, Jesus reveals that this heart is hard because it does not understand.  Now to many Calvinists, this would be that all men cannot understand without God regenerated them.  Most Calvinists would say that men not only do not want to understand, but that they cannot understand.  Although the Bible does say men, in general, don’t want to understand, no where does it teach that they are not able to at least understand that God is the Creator and that they are in need of the Savior.  See Romans 2:14-15.  Are the first three hearts representations of sinful men? If so, then what is the point of drawing a distinction between soil 1,2, and 3?   And if soil 1 is the only unregenerate man in this parable, then are soils 2 and 3 sovereignly regenerated hearts that have been caused to later reject or choke the Word?  Would not both of these be strange conclusions?

Frankly, if our theology doesn’t fit the Word of God, we need to throw out our theology!  It will only benefit us and those we seek to teach.  Why couldn’t it be as simple as this- When Jesus began to teach this parable there was a multitude of people who gathered, including His disciples.  I’m sure the Lord knew that the multitude consisted of a variety of hearts.  Some had soil 1.  Others had soil 2. Still others had soil 3, and a few had soil 4.  Jesus told His disciples, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13:15.  Two notes: First, Jesus says the people closed their eyes themselves.  God did not make them do it.  Secondly, He says every one of them has the option at anytime of seeing, hearing, and understanding so as to be converted and healed.  It truly reads as though all have the option of receiving the Word, however after hearing, some will refuse, others will hear wrongly, and others will never yield to the Word, even though they have heard. 

This parable seems to make much more sense when taken in light of man’s ability to at least be able to hear the truth of God’s Word and respond.  When the reader starts with man’s ability to respond to God’s invitation, the parable of the sower seems to serve as a warning both for the hearer to be careful he receives the true Gospel and after receiving, to take care in correctly teaching it to others.

When dilemmas arise within our understanding of the Scriptures, it might mean we need to pray for deeper and clearer understanding.  Or it might simply mean we are attempting to mingle the ideas of men with the Word of God.  May we always desire the Truth of God’s Word over any of man’s teachings! 

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days…”                   Deuteronomy 30:19-20a

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve…” Joshua 24:15

“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, says the LORD.” Jeremiah 29:13 and 14a

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