Holy Spirit: In Sanctification (Part 3)

The Bible clearly teaches that God sanctifies. Moreover, it clearly teaches that He does so indirectly, mediately through the word of God (John 17:17). He does so indirectly through the influence of the word of God. However, some believe that the Bible also teaches that He does so directly and immediately. That is, it is thought that He directly influences the human heart without means of the word, or separate from the word.

Let’s consider two commonly cited passages…

Love Poured Out

Romans 5:5, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

First issue: What love is in view? Does this refer to our love for God? Does it refer to our love for others, as God loves others? Or, does this refer to God’s love for us? The context suggests that the reference is to God’s love for us (cf. Romans 5:8). We can have confidence that God will not let us down, because He has revealed His love for us.

Second issue: How did God pour out this love into our hearts? Roy Deaver commented, “The knowledge we have of God’s love is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit by revelation, by miracles, and by spiritual gifts, made known God’s love” (Deaver, Romans: God’s Plan for Man’s Righteousness, pp. 137-138). The pouring out of the Spirit takes one back to the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-18, 33, 36-38). It refers to revelation and confirmation which came by the Holy Spirit.

This does not teach what some think. It does not teach that the Holy Spirit directly (miraculously) transforms the hearts of men into loving hearts, or at least provides direct influence on the heart towards such.

Natural Man v. Spiritual Man

1 Corinthians 2:14-16, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

Some have misunderstood this passage. It is thought that the natural man is the non-Christian, or the unsanctified. Furthermore, it is thought that the spiritual man is the Christian, or sanctified man. Then, it is inferred that this is teaching that the natural man, who is without aid of the Holy Spirit, cannot properly interpret scripture The spiritual man, aided by the Holy Spirit, can accurately interpret scripture.

However, the context is not interpretation, but revelation. Let’s notice the context: (1) Verses 7-9. God, before time, ordained a plan for our glory (1 Corinthians 2:7 cf. Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). Man, apart from revelation, did not understand God’s plan. It was hidden wisdom. This hidden wisdom was now being revealed by inspired men (1 Corinthians 2:7 cf. Ephesians 3:1-5; Romans 16:25-26). (2) Verses 10-13. This declares how God chose to reveal His plan. No man can know the thoughts of another man unless such is revealed by that man, in some way. Even so, no one can know the mind of God, and His plans, unless He chooses to reveal such (1 Corinthians 2:11). Revelation, not interpretation, is in view. God chose to reveal His plan through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 3:1-5). God’s plan was revealed to His apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:1-5; 1 Corinthians 2:10, “us” cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23; 2:6; 2:10; 2:13; 2:16; 3:5-9; 4:8-13). (3) Verse 14-16. The spiritual man refers to the inspired prophet of God (1 Corinthians 14:37 cf. Hosea 9:7, where used in sarcasm of the false prophet). The natural man is man in his wisdom apart from revelation from God. Franklin Camp commented, “There could be no greater perversion of the truth than to take a passage that is contrasting inspired revelation though chosen men, with uninspired false teachers (natural men) whose teaching was of human origin, and make the passage refer to a sinner that has a completed open Bible before him and insist that he cannot understand what he reads unless the Holy Spirit dwelling in him interprets it for him… The consequences of making the natural man the sinner and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the interpreter of the Scriptures would be infallibility. Does anyone think that the Holy Spirit in one, and interpreting the Scriptures, would ever be guilty of misinterpreting His own revelation?” (Camp, The Work of the Holy Spirit in Redemption, pp. 209-210).

Man can understand the Bible without a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. He did at Jerusalem (Acts 2:36-38). He did at Samaria (Acts 8:5, 12, 14-16). He did at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6).

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The Scars of Sin

2 Samuel 12:7-15 , “Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!  Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anoint you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah.  And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!  Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight?  You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to by your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.  Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’  Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before you eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.  For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’  So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’  And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.’  Then Nathan departed to his house.”

There are often lasting consequences, in this life, for sin.  David was forgiven.  However, his life never again would be the same.  Sin should not be taken lightly.

Consider, the following story which is contained in the book, The Moral Compass (edited by William J. Bennett).

Nails in the Post by M.F. Cowdery

There was once a farmer who had a son named John, a boy very apt to be thoughtless, and careless about doing what he was told to do.

One day his father said to him, “John, you are so careless and forgetful, that every time you do wrong, I shall drive a nail into this post, to remind you how often you are naughty.  And every time you do right I will draw one out”  His father did as he said he would, and every day he had one and sometimes a great many nails to drive in, but very seldom one to draw out.

At last John saw that the post was quite covered with nails, and he began to be ashamed of having so many faults.  He resolved to be a better boy, and the next day he was so good and industrious that several nails came out.  The day after it was the same thing, and so on for a long time, till at length only one nail remained.  His father then called him, and said: “Look, John, here is the very last nail, and now I’m going to draw it out.  Are you not glad?”

John looked at the post, and then, instead of expressing his joy, as his father expected, he burst into tears.  “Why,” said the father, “what is the matter?  I should think you would be delighted; the nails are all gone.”

“Yes,” sobbed John, “the nails are gone, but the scars are there yet”

So dear children, with your faults and bad habits; you may overcome them, you may by degrees cure them, but the scars remain.  Now, take my advice, and whenever you find yourselves doing a wrong thing, or getting into a bad habit, stop at once.  For every time you give in to it, you drive another nail, and that will leave a scar on your soul, even if the nail should be afterwards drawn out.

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Holy Spirit: In Sanctification (Part 2)

Many in Christendom believe that sanctification, that is man being made holy, is accomplished by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the mind of man, the human heart. Calvinists believe that sanctification begins with irresistible grace (which leads to conversion) and continues through life (perseverance of the saints). The church of the Nazarene has another teaching. Influenced by the Wesleys, they teach the doctrine of second grace. This second grace is provided by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. They teach that there are two types of sin. Actual sin (personal sin) is removed when one (with free will) repents and places his trust in Jesus. Original sin which taints man, affecting his inclinations, is removed following conversion and justification by a second working of grace. Both Calvinism and Wesleyanism teach a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. They simply place the direct operation at different points.

What does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit’s role in sanctification? Let us notice the New Testament passages which speak of both the spirit and sanctification.

The Offering of the Gentiles

Romans 15:19, “…I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of these things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient – in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”

Paul had been given grace (Romans 15:15). The reference is to miraculous gifts, even apostleship (f. Ephesians 4:7, 11 cf. 3:7; Romans 1:5; 12:6; cf. 15:15-16).

Paul’s objective was to use this gift to set the Gentiles before God as an acceptable sacrifice. It is highly figurative language. Remember that for a sacrifice to be accepted by God it had to be authorized (cf. Leviticus 10:1-2) and holy (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 7:1, etc.). Grammatically, it is the “offering” being sanctified. The word translated, “’Gentiles’… is in the neuter gender, plural number, and genitive case and therefore cannot be that which is being sanctified. The only feminine gender, nominative case, and singular number noun in the sentence is the word… translated ‘offering’” (Fox, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Vol. 2, p. 80). The Holy Spirit sanctified the Gentiles as an acceptable offering.

How did the Holy Spirit sanctify the Gentiles? (1) The revelation which came by the Holy Spirit declared the Gentiles acceptable (Acts 10-11, 15; Galatians 2 -3). (2) The signs and wonders Paul did among the Gentiles were done by the power of the spirit of God. Paul did not do these things by his own human power.

Chose for Salvation

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, “We are bound to give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul was thankful for these brethren. Why? The answer is: God had chosen them for salvation (keep in mind that a choice may involve standards – cf. Acts 6:2-6).

How did God choose them in context? Two things are mentioned: (1) “Sanctification of spirit.” This is the literal reading. The definite article is not present. Is this speaking of the Holy Spirit or the human spirit? This is not clear. If we assume that this refers to the Holy Spirit, let us ask how the Holy Spirit sanctifies in context. Man is called by the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:14; Ephesians 2:18, 20 cf. 3:1-3a, 5-6). He is called to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7) and the obtaining of glory (2 Thessalonians 2:14). There is nothing here which demands a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. (2) “Belief in the truth.” The Holy Spirit provided the message. Man believes. Lynn Blair commented, “How did God choose them: Through two parts: God’s part (sanctification of the Spirit) and man’s part, or reaction (belief of the truth). God chose them through their belief of the truth” (Houston College of Bible Lectureship, Calvinism, p. 447).

Obedience

1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter… to the pilgrims of the dispersion… elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…”

Peter is writing to those who had been scattered due to persecutions (cf. Acts 8:4; 11:19). Life was difficult.

Yet, Peter reminds them, God had chosen them for salvation. This choice was according to foreknowledge of God. That is, it was according to His forethought and pre-arrangement (Thayer). God chose (planned) to save man (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-20; Ephesians 1:3-4a; 3:11).

God did not choose to save man unconditionally. Peter, in this same book, warned “…the Father… without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourself throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (1 Peter 1:17). Peter, in his second book, continued to exhort saying, “giving all diligence add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love… be ever more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-11).

There is again the  question of whether spirit refers to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit. The definite article is not present. There is no adjunct such as “Holy” or “of God” or “of the Lord.”

Assuming that this does refer to the Holy Spirit, what is the Spirit’s role in sanctification? Contextually, the Holy Spirit revealed the message of salvation (1 Peter 1:10-16). Remember that man is sanctified by the truth (John 17:17, 19).

Jesus’ role? Mentioned is the sprinkling of blood (1 Peter 1:2, 18-22). “Sprinkling” refers to His blood being applied to us (Hebrews 10:22 cf. 9:13, 19, 21; 11:28; 12:24). This is closely linked with baptism (Hebrews 10:22). Baptism is into the death of Christ (Romans 6:3).

Man’s role? The sanctification of the Spirit is for obedience. Again, there is a question of whether the Holy Spirit or the human spirit is in view. Later, in this chapter, Peter wrote, “you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…” The article is present. Though, the words “through the Spirit” is a textual variant. However, the reason that we can obey the truth is because the Spirit has revealed the truth. It is not necessary to read into this a direct operation of the Holy Spirit.

Complete Sanctification

1 Thessalonians 5:23, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your who Spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God has a sanctifying influence on man. This passage does not explain how God sanctifies. It is not necessary to read into this a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. We have already seen that He sanctifies through His truth (John 17:17, 19).

Remember: (1) One can hear and be converted before receiving the Holy Spirit. This was true at Jerusalem (Acts 2:36-38), at Samaria (Acts 8:4-5, 12, 14-17), and at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6). (2) The Holy Spirit does not sanctify man with irresistible force (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). It is man’s responsibility to present himself a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. This is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2).

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Eating Together

“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house…” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

The family sitting at the table together for breakfast and supper used to be common.  However, in this fast-paced world in which we live such has become less common.  “In the past 20 years, the frequency of family dinners has declined 33%” (thescramble.com/family-dinner-challenge-statistics).

There are several advantages to a family eating a meal at home together.  (1) Eating at home saves money.  In 2007 the average household spent $8 per meal outside of the home and only $4.50 per meal made in the home kitchen (cnn.com/2011/10/25/family-dinner).  Only about one-third of the price of a meal in a typical restaurant is food cost.  (2) Eating together is typically more nutritious and healthy.  The University of Minnesota found that family meals were associated with improved intakes of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium rich foods, protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, B-6, and folate (cfs.purdue,edu/cff/spellsuccessfactsheet.p.d.f.) Children of families who eat together are 35% less likely to engage in an eating disorder, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods, and 12% less likely to be overweight (human.cornell/outreach/upload/family-dinner).

However, it is not just economics and nutrition.  There are other benefits.  Children not eating dinner with their families are 61% more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs.  Children who eat dinner with their families nightly are 20% less likely to drink, smoke, or use illegal drugs.  Teens who share frequent family dinners are less likely to have sex at young ages, or be suspended from school (healthylearningpatterns.org/blog/dinner-statistics).  There is a correlation between the family meal and good behavior.

Families need to spend time together.  Sharing a meal and having a conversation around a table is one way to accomplish this.  Turn off the TV, and all electronic devices.  Enjoy each other’s company.

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Holy Spirit: In Sanctification (Part 1)

Sanctification is “the separation of the believer from evil things and ways” (Vine’s). The verb “sanctify” refers to “the setting apart of the believer for God” (Vine’s), “to separate from things profane and dedicate to God” (Thayer). Sanctification could be rendered holification. Sanctify could be rendered holify.

Several things are involved in the sanctification of a saint. Let’s notice…

Blood

Hebrews 9:13-14, “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The argument is from the lesser to the greater. If animal sacrifices could purify a ceremonially unclean person (e.g. Numbers 19:2-12), how much more the blood of Christ do! His blood can cleanse our conscience of dead works. “Dead works” refers to sin (Hebrews 6:1 cf. 9:14) leading to death (Romans 6:16, James 1:15). The “conscience” refers to the recurring remembrance of sin on the day of atonement (Hebrews 1:3; 9:9; 9:14 cf. 10:1-3). Christ did not provide a temporary remedy for sin. He didn’t just cover it. He removed it.

He offered Himself by the eternal spirit. This may mean: (1) According to the eternal aim/purpose (cf. Ephesians 3:10-11 cf. Philippians 1:27). (2) According to His eternal spirit. That is, His divinity. (3) According to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. Nehemiah 9:30; Mark 12:36, etc.).

Hebrews 10:9-10, “’Behold, I have come to do Your will O God’… By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Jesus accomplished what bulls and goats could not. The blood of bulls and goats did not offer a permanent remedy for man’s sin problem (Hebrews 10:3-4 cf. Leviticus 16:11-15). It took the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:7, 12, 24-26).

Christians have been cleansed. Their hearts have been sprinkled from an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22 cf. 9:13, 19, 21; 11:28; 12:24). Their bodies have been washed in pure water. That is, purifying water (cf. beautiful feet, Romans 10:15; not called beautiful for the beauty of the feet themselves, but beautiful for what the feet accomplish. Even so here, water purifies Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26). Remember that the Jordan river was not the purest of waters. Yet, it was used to baptize.

Hebrews 10:28-29, “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy why has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing…”

Forsaking the assembly shows disrespect for the blood by which we are sanctified. Judgment is coming. “The LORD will judge His people” (Hebrews 10:30).

Hebrews 13:11-12, “For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”

There is a type- antitype picture. Sin offerings of old were offered outside the city or camp (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 4:11, 12, 21; 9:11; 16:27; Numbers 19:3). Even so, Jesus was offered outside the city gates for our sanctification.

Word

John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your word. Your word is truth.”

Jesus is praying to the Father. His prayer concerns the disciples. He did not pray that they be removed from this world. Instead, He prayed that they be kept from the evil one, sanctified by God’s word (John 17:14-15, 17-19). Guy Wood commented, “The people of God are sanctified, consecrated, dedicated to his service through obedience to the truth which has in it all that is necessary to enable them to live sober, righteously, and godly in this present world” (A Commentary on the Gospel According to John, p. 361).

John 17:19, “And for their sake I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”

Jesus’ life (and death) allows us to be sanctified. Guy Woods commented, “The word ‘sanctify’ means to be set apart for holy purposes; to consecrate; the Lord’s entire life on earth involved just such consecration and dedication and he was now approaching the hour when he would make the supreme consecration – death on the cross; he would ask of the disciples no more than he would do himself; and thus his action became both an example and motivation for them. Wonderful though this was, it did not take the place and the need for sanctification of the apostles… The sanctification of our Lord provides an example for us but not a substitute; he still requires that his followers sanctify themselves in body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and live godly lives on earth” (ibid, p. 362).

Faith

Acts 26:16-28, “…I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness… to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Jesus has plans for Saul. He is sending him to the Gentiles. His mission: (1) Open their eyes. Help them see the truth (cf. Psalm 119:105; Luke 24:25-27 cf. 24:32). (2) Turn them from darkness to light, from Satan to God (cf. Colossians 1:13). That is, help them receive the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 2:38), and an inheritance in heaven (cf. 1 Peter 1:4).

Man is sanctified by faith (literally The Faith, The System of Faith) in Jesus. All spiritual blessings are found in Him (Ephesians 1:3; 1:7; 1:11).

Water

Ephesians 5:26, “He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.”

The word “washing” is connected with water (Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 10:22-23). It is connected with baptism (Acts 22:16). It is connected with the removing of sin (Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11). The reference is to the sanctification of the church which was accomplished by baptism according to the word (Mark 16:15-16).

Spirit

Man is also sanctified by the Spirit (Romans 5:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2). We will consider these passages next time.

The issue is not: Does the Holy Spirit convert and sanctify? The issue is: How does the Holy Spirit convert and sanctify? It needs to be emphasized (regardless of one’s view on how the Holy Spirit indwells) the Holy Spirit does not sanctify man with irresistible force (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).

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Love in 1 John

The term “love” appears in some form 51 times in the 105 verses of 1 John. What can we learn about Biblical love from this book? Here are a few things…

1.  Love is more than words.

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).

The word, “let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth,” are an ellipsis. The meaning is, “let us not love in word or in tongue (only), but (also) in deed and in truth.” This is not forbidding us from saying “I love you” (cf. 2 John 1; 3 John 1). Such can be encouraging. However, talk can also be cheap and unsupported by the evidence of action. We should not only tell others that we love them, but also show them that we love them by our actions.

Jesus is our example of how to love. He put His love into action, laying down His life for us.

We owe this kind of love to one another. (1) We should be willing to lay down our lives for the brethren. Someone might find it easy to say that if the situation ever presented itself where he could die for his brethren, he would do so. However, such generally stays in the realm of a hypothetical situation. Rarely, even during times of persecution, would one ever find himself in a situation where in his life could be given to save another. Therefore, the next point is more basic, more practical. (2) If a brother is in need (not want, but legitimate need), and we have the ability to help, love should prompt us to do so. Caution: (a) This is not speaking of wants, but legitimate needs. (b) We are not to enable sinful behavior. Those who will not work should not be aided (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The father did not send aid to his son, while his son continued his prodigal life-style (Luke 15:11-32).

2.  Love seeks reconciliation.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).

There are some people who are “implacable” (Romans 1:31 KJV), or “unforgiving” (Romans 1:31 NKJV). They allow no opportunity for forgiveness.

God wants a relationship with us. He wants it so much that He made reconciliation possible. He provided the opportunity for reconciliation. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

He wants us to be a forgiving people. Jesus wanted, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

3.  Love allows the world to see God.

“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us” (1 John 4:12).

The world has not seen God in His essence, and glory (Exodus 33:20; 1 John 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 4:12; 4:20). How then can the world come to appreciate His nature?

The answer that when the world sees true Biblical love in us, they get a glimpse of the nature of God for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Jesus came to reveal God to man (John 1:18; 12:44-45; 14:8-9). Furthermore, Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). When we practice true Biblical love we identify ourselves with Jesus and show the world a glimpse of who God is.

“Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wonderful passion and purity; may His spirit divine all my being refine, let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me” (Song: Let The Beauty of Jesus Be Seen by Ben Cumnock).

4.  Love can spread.

“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Love can have a powerful affect. God’s love can affect the heart of man. It can prompt a man to love, both God and man (cf. 1 John 4:11). Our love can also awake love in others.

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up to its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You spread His love to everyone you want to pass it on. /What a wonderous time in spring, when all the trees are budding. The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You want to sing, ‘It’s fresh like spring’; you want to pass it on. /I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found. You can depend on Him; it matters not where you’re bound. I’ll shout it from the mountain top, I want the world to know the Lord of love has come to me; I want to pass it on” (Song: Pass It On by Kurt Kaiser).

5. Love is necessary.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar… And this is the commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).

Thomas Warren asked, “Can you name one person living on earth whom God does not love? No, you cannot. Can you name one person living on earth whom Jesus Christ does not love? No you cannot. Can you name one person living on earth whom you do not love? If so, then – to be saved – you must repent of that lack of love. We must repent or perish!” (Warren, The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians, p. 113).

6.  Love is to be expressed by keeping God’s commandments.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, When we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments ( 1 John 5:2-3).

Some try to defend sinful behavior by claiming that love prompted this behavior. They have a misguided view of love.

Biblical love is never contrary to the commandments of God. We are to express our love for God by keeping His commandments (John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 1 John 5:3 cf. 2:4). We show our love for our fellow-man by abiding by the commandments of God (Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 5:2; 2 John 5-6).

Thomas Warren wisely said, “No one can be saved without both knowing and obeying the truth. But being correct in doctrine, while necessary to salvation, is not – without love – sufficient. Likewise, while love is necessary to salvation, it is not sufficient (for salvation) without both knowing and obeying the truth (sound doctrine). We must not allow anyone to so misuse what the Bible teaches about love as to mislead us into accepting the sinful position of conceding that the truth (doctrine) of Christ is not critical. On the other hand, we must not allow anyone to mislead us into accepting the false position which holds that as long as one believes the right doctrine, love is not important. All of us ought to speak the truth in love. To hold to truth without love or to love without truth is to espouse a strategy – not of victory – but of defeat. The only strategy of victory is a proper balance between love and truth (sound doctrine)” (Warren, The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians, p. 11).

 

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So, You’ve Got A Little Power!

In Psalm 82 God addressed the judges of old. He referred to them as “the might,” and even as “gods.” Why are they referred to as “gods”? The word “god” has reference to might, strength, authority, or position. Some have positions of delegated authority from God over the people. Those holding such positions are to be submitted to and obeyed (Numbers 12, 16; 1 Samuel 24:6-7; Proverbs 24:21-22; Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17, etc.), unless there be a conflict between God’s instruction and man’s (Daniel 3, 6; Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). They are to be not to respect for their position (Exodus 22:28; Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17; Jude 8). Some men possess the power of life and death over the people (John 19:10-11; Acts 25:10-11).  It is for such reasons, they are called “gods” (cf. Exodus 7:1-2). This is not saying that man is literally God, for he is not (Ezekiel 28:2; Acts 14:12-15). He at best only represented God (cf. Exodus 7:1-2), or has delegated authority from Him (cf. Romans 13:1-7). Not even in the next life will man be equal to God (Revelation 7:13-15; 22:3).

God rebuked these “gods” (Psalm 82:1-4). They had not been good stewards of their positions. They had shown partiality and prejudice (Psalm 82:2-4; cf. Exodus 23:3,6; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:18-19; 2 Chronicles 19:6-7; James 2:9; Matthew 7:12). They may have accepted bribes (Psalm 82:2-4; cf. Proverbs 17:23; 1 Samuel 8:1-3; 12:3; Isaiah 5:23; 33:14-15; Amos 5:12; Matthew 7:12). They may have abused their authority by passing rules and legislation that enriched themselves (Psalm 82:2-4; cf. Isaiah 10:1-2). Yes, they had been entrusted great authority, but they had misused it. They should have used their authority for good(Psalm 72:2,4,12,13; 82:3-4; 101:8; Proverbs 20:8,26; Romans 13:1-7).

Now, what’s my point? My point is just this: You, today, or one day, may well find yourself in a position of authority over others. You may have authority over others at work. You may have authority over others due to a government position. You may have authority over a wife and/or children in the home. You may have authority as an elder or deacon in the church. Don’t let the power go to your head (1 Timothy 3:6).  Remember: (1) Though you may possess great authority, all men are “children of the Most High” (Psalm 82:6). Moreover, all of us were created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9), whether we hold high or lowly positions in this life. It matters much how we treat one another (Matthew 7:12; 25:31-46; Acts 20:35; Galatians 6:10; James 2:1-5; 3:9; 1 John 3:17). Furthermore, since we all are “children of the Most High” we are all (both small and great) subject to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 6:8-9; Colossians 3:25-4:1; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12-15). (2) Though you may be mighty upon this earth, and even be called “gods,” or think of yourself as such,  still “you shall die like men” (Psalm 82:7). All men, no matter how wealthy, powerful, or prominent meet death, unless they happen to be alive when the Lord returns. After death we’ll be judged by The Great Judge (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12-15).

Let us recap, here are the powerful. They are referred to as “gods.” Yet, they were not to forget that they really were not so mighty and powerful. They too were going to die just like the poor (cf. Luke 16:19-31). They too had a Great Judge to Whom they must one day answer (Psalm 82:1, 8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12-15). Let us use our authority, therefore, for good and not merely for our own selfish ends. Let us not be unreasonable, harsh, or unjust (Ephesians 5:25,28; 6:4; 6:9; Colossians 3:19; 3:21; 4:1; Peter 3:7).

Read These Passages

1.  “And you masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” (Ephesians 6:9).

“Masters, give unto your bond-servants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1).

Are employees to be submissive to their employers? Yes!

Do employers have authority that is to be obeyed by their employees? Yes!

But, employers need to realize that they are to be just, that they are not so mighty, that they too will die and be judged.

2.  “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

“So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…” (Ephesians 5:28).

Do husbands have positional authority over their wives? Yes!

Are wives to be obedient to their husbands? Yes!

But notice the warning. If we are overly harsh and misuse our authority, we stand spiritually hindered. It is no enough to possess authority. We must also love.

3.  “And you fathers, do not  provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Are children to be obedient to their fathers? Yes!

Are fathers to discipline and set limits on their children? Yes!

But should a father use his authority just to be difficult, or to  puff himself up? No! He is to use his authority to train up his child properly before God. [Note, regardless of the suspected motive of the command given – wives, children, and employees need to learn to be submissive save for the one exception mentioned ( Acts 5:29)].

We will be judged concerning our stewardship of authority

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