Category Archives: doctrinal

If I Were God

Ever have the thought cross your mind “If I were God…”? Did you think “Here’s what I would do…”? I’ll do it because it should be done! You know what I speak of. Some person does some despicable thing and his life seems undisturbed. Someone else having done comparatively little or nothing seems to have a truck load of trouble dump on them.

Why do those who legalize abortion get away with it? Why do those who abuse or molest children get to go on their merry little way? And on and on we go.

The Bible addresses this subject on a few occasions, but this just recently jumped off the page at me. 1 Timothy 5:23-24 says:

Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

There’s a great explanation for us. The Lord tells us to expect that some men’s sin blow up in their faces almost immediately while others may never in their lives face many obvious results. They do experience consequences, just not those dramatic, out-in-the-open ones that we so love to see. I mean some Nazi tormentors were brought to justice in 1945 while others are dying of old age with new identities in beautiful locales around the globe. How haunted they have lived, however, or how much time they spend jumping at every shadow, we have no clue.

Some of us have our sins knock us over before we leave the scene of the crime while others spend their lives being chased by their sins. The lesson is the same: sin is devastating and we must run to Jesus Christ.

You may be glad to have Christ’s forgiveness, but have something stuck in your craw about some who are “getting away with it.” What we are really questioning is the justice of God. Does He hand out unfair judgments in His world? In our more sane moments we know our God is just and even explains that He will not “be mocked” (Galatians 6:7).

So our two issues really are:

1. Appearances—The Lord is not making the judgment as apparent as we would like.

2. Timing—The Lord is not acting as quickly as we would like.

Besides the issue of it just being all about our likes and dislikes, we forget that the Lord lives in eternity while we live in time. Yes, my life is passing, but His is not. I may have occasion to get in a hurry as I may run out of time, but He never has reason to get in a rush. The problem is that I view the finish line as my time here while He has time until His Kingdom is brought to completion.

Verse 25 tells me more. The positive side is true as well. Some have their good honored here while others die unsung. Remember no martyr ever gets to read the glowing accounts of his or her sacrifice. Sometimes in life little recognition comes while others receive multiple accolades.

The Lord will catch all of that up, too. Remember He has eternity to work in. All accounts will be settled and not one shred of injustice will survive eternity.

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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God’s Greatest Promise?

God’s Word is filled with promises. It often seems that you cannot read a single chapter without finding at least one promise. A few weeks ago I was reading Romans 8. I hit verse 28, a promise most Christians have claimed on more than one occasion- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” It is a great verse and a great promise.  But as I continued reading in this chapter I came to a verse I had probably read two dozen times before (verse 32).

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

I stopped and read it again, and again. I probably read it six or seven times before I grasped what it was saying.

The Fathomless Promise

Many of God’s promises are amazing. In Matthew 6, verses 25-34, he who seeks the kingdom of God first is promised that “these things” (food, clothing, and shelter) will be provided. God gives us the promise of rest and relief if we bring our burdens to Him in Matthew 11:28-30. But in Romans 8:32 He promises us more than this- He promises us “all things”! I love things that include the word “all.” All-time greatest, all-inclusive resort, all-you-can-eat buffet.

For the child of God, the breadth of this verse is limitless. As the saying goes, “All means all and that all that all means.” Think about it. The very God of heaven is promising you and me all things- salvation, forgiveness, mercy, love, protection, provision, wisdom, righteousness, friendship . . . ALL THINGS! What could be greater than a promise of all things from an all-knowing, all-powerful God?!?

Glad you asked. I told you I liked things that contained the word “all.” I also really like things that are free! Here, God doesn’t just promise all things; He promises to give these things to us freely! I did not catch this the first time I read it. But it makes the promise even more amazing. It’s so amazing it is a difficult to understand what is being said, and to do so fully we must consider the doctrinal underpinnings of the promise.

The Foundational Principles

At least two things undergird this promise – the omnipotence of God and the fact that He purchased and now freely offers salvation. If someone other than God Himself was making this promise it would be much less amazing. As a matter of fact, it would not be believable. Also, if God the Father had given something less than his most precious possession (His only Son) to begin with or if He had not offered salvation as a free gift, the promise would similarly lose its significance. To put it differently, the first half of this verse is what provides substance to the second half. But the fact is that God IS the one making the promise and He did FREELY sacrifice Jesus Christ for each of us. Because God did not withhold what was most dear to Him, I can be confident that there is absolutely nothing He will withhold. It is on this basis that I can fully, unwaveringly rely on this promise.

The Final Point

You may think that salvation is God’s greatest promise. Salvation, as great as it is, doesn’t compare to the promise made in verse 32. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the basis for this verse, just as it is for salvation. But salvation is simply one side of this multi-faceted promise. You may disagree, but I truly believe this might be the greatest promise of the Bible precisely because it is rooted in the greatest gift ever given.

Read Romans 8:32; meditate on it. As I did a few days ago, I was left with one thought. It has come to mind numerous times since.

The fact that the God of heaven gave up His Son Jesus for me is proof that there is NOTHING that He will withhold from me. 

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Two Sides

“Hey, I’m just bein’ honest here,” or “I’m goin’ to tell it like it is,” more often than not are ways of setting up the fact that we are about to say something unflattering or unkind that we shouldn’t be saying at all as Christians.  With that in mind, I would like to offer a thought with a minor book review.

I will not be telling it like it is…I will be telling it like it should be.

A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert H. Stein was a very good book.  The focal point of the book is Hermeneutics: the practice or discipline of interpretation.  Stein discusses and argues the various points of view in interpreting Scripture as well as discussing translation.  I was reminded of a few men in our church as I read the book.  They are Scholars and Theologians.  Because they are clinical, analytical, and want to dissect and understand all of the Biblical facts, it often seems like they have no passion at all.

I, on the other hand, am full of passion when it comes to the Bible in a different way.  When I was six years old, my father owned a 1966 Pontiac convertible 2+2.  It was sharp.  As we drove down the road one day (with me in the passenger seat beside him and no seatbelt) I turned and said, “Punch it Dad.”  My father looked at me with a mischievous grin and said, “What do you mean…This,” as he kicked the accelerator to the floor.  I was pushed back into the seat and laughing as the car gained speed and the wind blew across our faces.  It was pure joy.  Over the next ten years, my father taught me the mechanics of the automobile so I could properly take care of my own vehicles someday.  I spent a lot of time under the hood of cars learning how they worked and what moved what and why.  It was interesting and I enjoyed it, but all of those hours spent under the hood of our cars dissecting and understanding could not bring about or mimic the joy I felt when Dad “punched it.”

The point is, in our Christian life we need both.  I need those Scholars and Theologians in our church.  I learn a great deal and am able to appreciate Scripture on many levels that I never would have been able to without them.  They, on the other hand, get to feel the pure child-like joy of Scripture.  A passion that understands while Moses and Paul had no idea what they wrote would be translated…And they didn’t know English, Spanish or Russian…God knew.  He knew every language there would ever be and He knew the words they used in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic would be perfectly translated into words you and I read today, because He has a perfectly translated message for you and me.  Trust me, that kind of passion is contagious.

So no matter which camp you find yourself in, look to the other side with appreciation.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is one time we are both right.

 

 

Article by C.S. Depew

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A New Perspective on God’s Sovereign Immutability

Our Traditional Understanding

Our basis for this doctrine is Malachi 3:6 which states: “For I am the LORD, I change not;”  And our traditional understanding of God’s sovereign immutability is based on history.  We look at what God did in the past – how He forgave David and Peter, how He overcame incredible odds for the children of Israel in Egypt and for Daniel, how He was faithful for Job, Joseph, Jeremiah, and John – and we relate this to the present.  We believe that if God made a conditional promise and we meet the condition, then we can be assured of the promise.  We believe that every truth, Old Testament and New, is still just as true today.

This traditional understanding is by no means wrong.  In fact, it is THE bedrock principle of the Christian faith.  For, if God could change, none of His promises would mean anything!  As Charles H. Spurgeon put it, God does not change in at least six ways: 1) in His essence, 2) in His attributes, 3) in His plans, 4) in His promises, 5) in His threatening, or 6) in the objects of His love.  These principles are important.  But I have realized this truth is bigger, deeper, and more amazing than this.

A New Perspective

Bible doctrines are much like a globe.  When you change your vantage point, the globe obviously does not change, but you see something different.  Similarly, as I have grown older – as I have encountered peaks and valleys – I have seen new facets of many biblical gems.  Some recent challenges my friends have faced have made me reconsider all that immutability truly means.  I have seen a pastor friend lose his father to suicide; I have seen a young lady whose husband served on a church staff deal with the death of that husband in a car accident; and I witnessed a youth pastor friend lose a four-month-old son to heart failure a few days ago.

In talking to these people, in watching the way they relied on God’s grace, in trying my best to be a help and a comfort, I realized something.  The God we serve is absolutely and unquestionably the same today as He was before all three of these events.  The “new perspective” on God’s immutability that I have seen is more “personal” than “historical.”  It is this:

In each of our lives, no matter what happens, the great God we serve deserves our worship because He has not and will not change!

I believe this aspect of God’s sovereign immutability is exemplified in Job 1:21b: “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

He Is Not More Worthy of Praise When Things Go Right

When you have an answer to prayer, when you get that promotion, or when you see God work in a special way in the life of a loved one, you may feel like worshipping Him more than before.  This, however, does not mean He is more worthy of your worship.  Why?  Because if He were “more worthy” afterward, it would mean He was “less worthy” before!  As coarse as this might seem, the simple fact that I had something great happen to me has no impact on the greatness, righteousness, or love of God.  So I must endeavor to serve Him faithfully because of who He is, not what He gives.

He Is Not Less Worthy of Praise When Things Go Wrong

The opposite is just as true.  If you lose your job, God is no less Jehovah-Jireh – the LORD who provides.  If your loved one receives devastating news from the doctor, God is no less Jehovah-Rapha – the LORD who heals.  If life has you confounded and afraid, God is still Jehovah-Shalom – the LORD our peace.  And if your faith waivers or if you fall into sin, God is still Jehovah-Tsidkenu – the LORD our righteousness!

As I stopped to consider the “events” I noted above, and as I attempted to reconcile them with my understanding of God . . . something in my mind changed.  But NOTHING about God changed!  He is still just as good; He is still just as worthy; He is still just as holy.  He is still God!

 

 

 

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Your Salvation

1. ADOPTION

When we receive Christ and are saved, we are God’s sons & daughters.  He has imputed His righteousness onto our account (irreversible) and made us part of His family forever.  *See Romans 4:5-9, 16.  Ephesians 1:4-5 says that is His desire [will] and choice that has brought us to Him – that’s impossible to fight against.  John 1:12 says that we believe and become His children.

2. COVENANT

Marriage covenants are strong, but they are secondary to that of Christ’s covenant with His people (Ephesians 5:25-26).  God hates divorce because if gives a false picture of His faithfulness (book of Hosea).  When we are saved, God covenants with us – never to leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5, 20).  All believers should expect to share in the marriage supper mentioned in Revelation 19 as His Bride.

3. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

God’s love is greater and stronger than whatever man can do.  I didn’t do anything to earn or deserve God’s love, so it is also true that I cannot do anything to make Him stop loving me.  He loved me when I was still a sinner (Romans 5:1-11).  God can’t love me any more or any less – just look at the cross for the most compelling example of this kind of love.  While this doesn’t mean that God saves everyone or that He overlooks sin, it does mean that, because He hath set his love upon me, I can be assured of eternity through grace and faith.  *See John 5:24, 6:37-40; Titus 3:4-5.

4. GRACE

God’s grace is connected with His power … and He is far too strong to ever let me go (1 Peter 1:5)!  His gracious commitment to me when I commit my soul to Him precludes my past sins and all my future sins (Phil. 1:6).  God agreed to save me when I was 12 yrs old – even though I hadn’t even committed the bulk of my sins yet.  He knew what I was going to do, and still He graciously saved me from my sins.  Just as my acts of goodness cannot count toward my salvation, neither can my acts of sin and selfishness count against it.  I was saved by grace, and grace is always victorious over sin (Ephesians 2:8-10)!

5. CHASTENING

As a child of God, I understand God’s discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11).  He does not treat me like a convict feeling the need to constant punish (Romans 8:1).  He understands that I am flesh and will require training… and I’m thankful.  Some would say that sins destroy my relationship with God, but John writes in his First Epistle that my relationship with Christ is secure (sin only jeopardizes my fellowship with Him).

6. PETER

The chosen Apostle’s example is one of great encouragement to the worst of sinners.  Peter committed the worst of sins  — the ‘unpardonable sin’ of denying Christ (blasphemy).  Not only once, He denied three times (Mark 14:66-72).  Three wasted opportunities.  The third time he even swore with an oath.  Did not Christ tell Peter that any man denying Him would be denied before the Father (Matt. 10:33)?  Yet Jesus didn’t just throw away this soul to Satan!  He didn’t give up on Him, quite the opposite… He gave Peter three ‘second chances’ to voice His love for His Savior (John 21).

7. SO MANY SCRIPTURES

Is God indecisive?  Is the Bible divided?  No!  Yet some would question hundreds of clear Bible teachings (teaching eternal security) because they do not understand a dozen vague passages (seemingly implying insecurity of salvation).  The whole of Scripture has a singular teaching about salvation… either the Bible teaches you CAN or you CAN’T lose your salvation – not both.  Over 10:1, the Scriptures teach that eternal life is a present possession (1 John 5:12) given to those who receive Christ by faith (John 6:37, 10:28-29), guaranteed for our assurance and faith (1 John 5:13-14) to the intent we believe even more.

>> There are far more reasons, this is just a quick list that is personal to me… please add your own reasons in the COMMENTS, below!  Thanks.

What about QUESTIONABLE PASSAGES?

*I must admit that I don’t have all the answers!  I firmly believe that many false teachings have been born out of a person’s inability to say “I don’t know” and leave it at that.  We long to be dogmatic and know that we know certain things.  We must agree to study and search the Scriptures, comparing verses with each other, drawing conclusions that gel with the whole of the Bible.

*Let context rule!  Many cults and false teachings are based in the very same book I’ve built my life on.  Consider the audience, date, dispensation, literary type, etc.  of difficult passages.  For example, John 15:6 is part of a parabolic teaching (Jesus doesn’t really give me sap or expect me to grow grapes on my fingers and toes.  So why would I isolate the fire as literal ‘hell-fire’?).  Also, Hebrews 6 is a difficulty to many, but it was written to Messianic Jews.  Don’t try to apply verse 6 to your experience… it is simplify understood when you consider the author is speaking of the Jews who lived along side Jesus and saw His life, miracles, death, and resurrection first-hand, yet did not believe.  He says that if they didn’t believe that, what else would they believe – there’s not another Jesus coming to save them (10:26).

Article by Patrick Nix

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Hell – What a Concept!

Did you know that more people believe in heaven than hell? Even if they do not believe in the actual existence of the place, almost everyone has their own concept. Some people believe it’s where all the “cool people” go, and that only fuddy-duddies go to heaven. They laugh and joke about the wild parties that take place, and that the “real” party won’t start until once they arrive. Others believe we are living in hell now and that our only escape is by death into heaven. Still others believe that hell is just an exaggerated expression that people use to curse with but that it is not an actual place.

My earliest concept of hell probably came from the things I saw and read. Similar to the perception many people have, comic book and cartoon artists have also described it as dark, cave-like and fiery place where bad people go or spirits reside. Could it be that similar representations of hell have desensitized the general public so much that it no longer has the same impact on the modern world? The Bible describes hell as being much more terrible. You will find it described as a place of “disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2), where there will be only “torment and agony” (Luke 16:23-24), an “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41), that “is not quenched” (Mark 9:44), an “eternal destruction” (1 Thessalonians 1:9), and where the unrighteous will be “tormented day and night, forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Not so good, right?
Several Christians today have grown so comfortable with hell being an expression that they no longer take it as seriously as the Bible says they should. Many prefer not to talk about hell because of the “negative connotations” it often carries. In an interview with Larry King, the author, motivational speaker and pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Joel Osteen, said, “I know there is condemnation, but I don’t feel that’s my place [to talk about it].”
But if Christians don’t talk about hell, what makes the good news of the gospel so good? In fact, during Jesus’ ministry on earth, he spoke about hell as much, if not more than, heaven! (Luke 16:19-31, Matthew 23:33; 25:31-55). The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment of sin and lawlessness is an infinite and eternal death that each person has earned (Romans 3:23; 6:23). It is only after understanding this that the good news is actually “good.”
The good news of the gospel is this: Jesus Christ came to this earth and lived a perfect and sinless life. He shed his blood and died on the cross to to pay for sin by taking God’s wrath upon himself. He was buried in a tomb and on the third day rose again to defeat sin and death once and for all. To be reconciled to God one must trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ, and repent (turn away) from sin. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Christian, why don’t you share this with others? The bad news is only offensive if you don’t follow it up with the good news. Share Christ with love. Because without the good news, the truth of the bad news would be the end for all.

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

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