Thursday, April 16, 2015

Voddie Baucham!

Voddie Baucham (Voddie Baucham Ministries) reminds us that we need Christ more than our example but as our “federal head.” This allows sinners like us to be both forgiven and declared righteous.
Posted by The Gospel Coalition on Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Toying with the Bible

"[A]s also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,  as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked" 2 Peter 3:15b-17

If, as Peter has stated, some of what Paul has written is hard to understand, then shouldn't we seek understanding these things?  And where should we begin to seek?  Since Paul was given this wisdom, we also ought not to presume on our own intellect, but first by asking of the Lord that we might grasp then by the same wisdom given to Paul?  And we ought to do this before our study commences lest we be found twisting the Scripture to our own destruction.

The pride of human intellect is a dangerous place to toy with Scripture.  How many a man, seeking to understand the Word, zealously gets caught in the minutia of study, commentaries, and cross-references – without first seeking after God in fervent prayer that He might grant the wisdom from above to open our eyes.  Read Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:15-21 and notice that this is Paul’s very prayer for us!

Much of Peter's argument for caution can be wrapped up in the knowledge that the Scripture is not some collection of wise sayings a man can get at if he only applies himself rightly. Yes we are to study to show yourself approved of God (2 Tim. 2:15), but study alone is not enough. Paul was 'given' this wisdom and if we hope to grasp it, we need to go to the source where Paul also received it, the Lord.

Hebrews tells us, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12)

Like a loaded gun, we ought not carelessly handle it!  We would not carelessly grasp a sword by the blade, so how much more ought we not carelessly grapple with the Scripture!  The very Word of God! 

Listen to the people's reaction to God's audible word in Exodus, "Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.  Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”" (Exo 20:18-19) The Word of God is not to be trifled with!  This is the Word, which if not handled properly could damn a soul to hell! 

Peter rightly says, "beware lest you also fall" This is not to say that a believer can fall - but are you a believer?  Do you examine yourself regularly to see if you are in the faith? And Paul’s prayer in Ephesians, was for believers, so we need to be praying whenever we approach the Book!  Brethren, we ought to have great caution in this Christian life, for we are not as strong, nor as smart, as we think we are. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Adding to your faith

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge”
                                                                                                                                                      2 Peter 1:5
Many times it is argued that we want to hurry past doctrine and get to the practical.  Lloyd-Jones observed this often enough. A popular saying, ‘Don't be so heavenly minded you're no earthly good’ sometimes purports to have a truth, but it is alarmingly shallow.  Apart from a mind to God we ARE no good to anyone on earth actually. Here, in this passage, is content most practical and doctrinal all at the same time.

Giving all diligence add to your faith... 
First, we are to increase the foundation which has been given to us.  Our faith (Peter calls it ours, because though we did not have it at the 1st, but obtained it (vs. 1), is a gift given to us which we are responsible to build upon.  Recall the parable of the talents - the men each received a measure, but the one who did nothing with it was called wicked and lazy.  (See Blog posts in May 2014)

Secondly this work is to be done to our utmost. Peter says, 'giving all diligence' so we are to work hard to build upon the foundation of faith granted to us.  Incidentally, this seems to be exactly opposite the Arminian way of thinking.  Yet Peter says we obtained it using a Greek word, langkano: to get by lot or receive.  Now having obtained this faith, he tells us to get busy adding to the foundation of a faith now ours, by our very life.

And we are to begin this work in cleaning up our dirty lives by moral excellence - virtue.  Virtue is a moral power of a pure and holy living even to praiseworthiness.  Once, before faith, we lived in the deadness of our sin.  But now, having been granted faith, we are to repent of all our wicked ways, and with all our being - pursue holy living to the point of praiseworthiness.  Not that we seek the praise of others, but of God.  I am reminded of Job, and how it was God who sought to boast in his life - even when the adversary sorely afflicted him. 

Our virtuous life then leads to knowledge.  One might ask, why is knowledge not first?  Do not we need to know God before life begins?  Good questions, but Peter would not instruct us to do what we would not have been able to do prior to faith.  Also it is well known that some believe knowledge is not only the foundation but the whole pathway to God.  We need special knowledge they say - secret knowledge.  Gnosticism is ever a danger to the Christian - since faith itself is a mystery - as it comes to the man by external means.  And yet knowledge is very important as we can see by Peter’s inclusion of it in the list. 

Proverbs tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Brethren, don't be the devils fool.  Seek out good instructors and sit at their feet.  You may say I have no one to whom I can go.  Let me give you a great help at this point.  In my earliest days as a believer I carpooled with two older Christian men, who mentored me in the faith.  One was my pastor.  Pastor Dave told me once, "I read mostly dead men".  And then he explained that the works left behind are the gifts granted to us, and as they had already left us, these are tried and trusted sources.  Yes - they are from imperfect men - and not all dead men left us blessings, so discernment is necessary.  But I urge you to taste the works of old.  You may find them meaty - but they will fill your soul with fatness!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Glory & Virtue

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,  as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,  by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Grace and peace are granted in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, but this is not some formulaic to grace and peace.  It is a simple factual statement. Peter, in the verses which follow, explains how this is.  Verse 2 is like a thesis statement which he is setting out to prove.

as - indicates the explanatory nature of what follows further strengthening Peters assertion in verse 2.
His divine power - Life and godly living are not possible apart from the divine Hand, which is shown to us by knowledge of the One who called.

by glory & virtue - What glory and virtue do we have in this life?  What beauty and moral purity do we have which could have revealed to us Christ or the Father? None!  We know there are none righteous, not one among men. Yet Peter here maintains knowledge of Him who calls us is possible by glory & virtue?!  How is this so?
The glory & virtue Peter speaks of is that of Christ's and is, if received, the way to knowledge of the Holy One.  Proverbs 3:1-7 expound on this very well!

By which - that is to say by the virtue and glory of Christ.  Promises have been given.  Blessings have been bestowed in Christ.  These promises have been described as 'exceedingly great' and 'precious'.  Without speaking of the promises themselves Peter tells us what they lead to - a godly life and demeanor.
the divine nature - when Peter says this, it is in accord with all nature.  We are not suddenly turned into some part of the Godhead when we die.  That is not Christianity!  There is only one God-Man, Jesus Christ our Lord. We never take to ourselves divine attributes such as immutability or omniscience.  They are reserved for Him alone - indeed, the very idea of say, immutability to a man, is logically impossible, for man is mutable.  Perfection is not attainable by imperfect man.

How is this so? Couldn't a man, if possible, attain it? No - for God does not reside in time and space.  He sees reality as it is.  In Exodus 3:14 He is described as the great I AM.  Not I was or will be.  Hebrews 13:8 speaks of this, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday today, and forever. God is described to Moses as being the God of Abraham Isaac & Jacob (though they be dead, physically). 

Since this is so- Man could not attain in time (if it were possible) something which is by nature not bound to time.  God sees us as we are - not as we were or will be - for He sees outside of time and space and nothing escapes His gaze. 
Peter further explains when he says, 'having escaped the corruption in the world through lust' - If a man could escape the corruption in the world he might be free from the outside influences of sin - but his evil heart is within him and he cannot escape that!  You cannot escape corruption by leaving the world - for we need a heart transplant (see Jer. 31:31-34).  This is only available through the gift of righteousness in Christ, which Peter has been telling us about since verse 1. 

 Glory be to the Father

Glory be to the Son.

Glory be to the Spirit.

Glory to the 3 in 1.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Precious Faith

"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us
by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 1:1

a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ  -  Peter opens this letter with his credentials, yet it is not as though he is flaunting them, for right away he ties such a faith as he has to all other Christians. Even the order suggests humility.  A slave has no authority of his own - it is derived from the master and Peter's apostleship lays plainly to us that the authority is Christ.  (In saying this, I realize that this argument is true of all believers, however – we make no such claim that apostleship is based on our relationship to Christ – Apostleship is more than acknowledging Christ as Lord & master)

To those who have obtained like precious faith  -  Peters first letter was to pilgrims and strangers in the dispersion who were elect.  In this epistle he identifies his audience as those who have the same faith.  Peter is writing to Christians. 

by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ  -  Here Peter reveals that the gospel is obtained by the righteousness of another, Christ.  We are not made perfect by our good deeds, but we stand before God in Christ’s works - He is the only righteous one, and He alone will stand.  Apart from Christ, no man will see the Lord.

Peter describes how we get our faith - by Christ's righteousness. It is not by faith we come to know our condition and claim Christ. Rather by His work and righteousness he is afforded a people. And having chosen them, He quickens (or wakes) them.  They, having been made aware of their sorry state, trusting not at all in their deeds, evil as they are, trust in the finished work of Christ by faith in those works.  This is the gospel.  Such a wonder this book is!

Post script: Wednesday (the 3rd) our dog, Sunny died.  We had him as a pet 10 years, 9 months. So although he was sick for a time, the loss is real. I was not so apt to study that morning.  But putting aside my morose state I took up the task.
And I was blessed. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grace to the Humble

I have been studying 1 Peter and have been ruminating on a very familiar passage- 5:5-7, "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

Submission requires humility. Peter tells us how to be rightly submitted one to another - in humility.  Humility requires a faithful trust in one another, and God most of all.  We are given motivation for this in the statement, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
Often times it is said that the wife is to be submissive to her husband.  And while that is true (and we'll not go off in the direction of egalitarianism or complementarism) Peter is saying much more.  Peter says believers ought to be submissive one to another - Elders and young people, Husbands and wives, masters and slaves. Each to the other.

Humility is a grace toward each other.  But as regards God it is the grace given to humble people.  Toward God our humility is evidently due - few would question that (though today some might).  In the light of His presence we all do shrink back.
But we do not regularly think like this toward one another.  Why?

In a word - Pride.
We think we know better, or are stronger, or that our experience is greater than the person before us.

And our deceitful heart will not tell us differently.  We become deluded and deceived so much to the point that we dare not question our motives.  And the only time we do admit weakness - is when it is too painfully obvious: We are too short or weak or some other malady which we evidently cannot hide and our ability for the task is lacking.
Brethren - Peter does not say submit when you have no choice, like an army does when confronted with defeat.  He simply says be submissive to one another.

Humility is not often displayed because we think it exposes us AS weak wimpy or too stupid to fully grasp a thing.  Who likes to present themselves this way?!
But oftimes isn't this actually the case? Aren't we? 

Now look at Christ.  He was not in any sense weak, wimpy or stupid.  Paul tells us how He voluntarily gave up all His heavenly prerogatives to go to the cross for our sakes in Philippians 2:5-11. 
But, we object, I have gifts!  I want to share! I don't want to be misunderstood!

What!  You don't want to be thought of as stupid? or weak? or wimpy?
Then think of it as laying down your giftings for a time - like as Christ did that He may do His perfect work in you.  For isn't it true that it's not us who works but Him?  Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Don't let pride in your abilities or your great strength or your mental prowess get in the way of the work of God in your life or that of another.
Paul tells us of the work of God in a most beautiful passage in Ephesians chapters 1-2.  We are very familiar with verses 2:8-9.  But look at verse 10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Let the motivation of the use of any gift of strength, mental prowess, or artful creation be used in the glory of Him who gave us the very gifts themselves that He gets all the glory!
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.


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