Archive for the ‘Scriptures / Theology’ Category

A Letter From Rev. John MacArthur

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

This is a copy of a letter that Rev. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Van Nuys, CA  sent to men who had attended the Master’s Seminary in Van Nuys. The letter was motivated by the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same sex marriage.  As usual, Rev. MacArthur is right on the money. If you don’t agree,  read 2Cor4:3-4.

Dear Master’s Man,The highest court in the land has passed its judgment.   The headlines proclaim that a slim majority of Supreme Court justices considers freedom of sexual orientation a right for all Americans.   This exchange of one set of values in favor of another does not come as a surprise to us who already know that the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe (2 Cor. 4:4).  June 26th, 2015 stands as a significant milestone in the American demonstration of this ancient reality.   In the coming days, you will be expected as a shepherd to provide commentary and comfort to your flock.  This is a critical hour for pastors, and stands as another reminder of why proper training is crucial.   I’m writing this short message as one pastor to another.  Media outlets are bustling with updates, and I don’t need to add my voice to the general fray.  Instead, I want to help you shepherd your church through this confusing time.  In addition to the helpful articles on the Preaching and Preachers Blog, I also want to communicate the below thoughts that I trust will help you frame the issue in a biblical way.

  1. No human court has the authority to redefine marriage, and the verdict yesterday does not change the God ordained reality of marriage.   God was not defeated in this ruling, and every marriage will be judged according to biblical grounds on the last day. Nothing will prevail against Him (Proverbs 21:30) and nothing will thwart the advance of His Kingdom (Dan 4:35).
  2. The Word of God has pronounced judgment on any nation that would reclassify evil as good, darkness as light, and bitter as sweet (Isaiah 5:20). As a nation, America continues to put herself in the crosshairs of judgment. As a proclaimer of truth, you are responsible for never compromising on these issues. In every way you must stand firm.
  3. This ruling proves that we are clearly in the minority, and a people set apart (1 Peter 2:9-11; Titus 2:14). As I wrote in the book Why Government Can’t Save You, the standards that shaped Western culture and American society have given way to practical atheism and moral relativism.  This decision has simply accelerated the rate of decline. A country will not rise above the morality of its citizens, and the majority of Americans don’t have a biblical worldview.
  4. Religious liberty is not promised in the Bible. In America, the church of Jesus Christ has enjoyed unprecedented freedom. This is changing, and the new normal may include persecution that is new to us. There has never been a more important time for gifted men to help lead the church by capably handling the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
  5. Marriage is not the ultimate battleground, and our enemies are not the men and women who seek to destroy it (2 Corinthians 10:4). The battleground is the Gospel. Be careful not to replace patience, love, and prayer with bitterness, hatred, and politics. As you carefully guide your flock around the dangerous pitfalls ahead, remind them of the indomitable power of forgiveness through the cross of Christ.
  6. Romans 1 clearly identifies the evidence for the wrath of God on a nation: sexual immorality followed by homosexual immorality culminating in a reprobate mind.   This most recent step reminds us that God’s wrath has come in full.   We now see reprobate minds at every level of leadership – in the Supreme Court, the presidency, cabinet, legislature, press and culture.   If our diagnosis is in line with Romans 1 then we must also follow the prescription found in Romans 1 – we are not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation!   In this day it is our divine duty and calling to strengthen the church, families, and gospel testimony by shedding the pragmatic nonsense that distracts the church from its mission given by God.  Homosexuals – like all other sinners – need to be warned of impending eternal judgment and lovingly offered the forgiveness, grace and new life through repentance and faith in the lord Jesus Christ

In the final analysis, your greatest contribution to your people will be to show patience and a steady confidence in the sovereignty of God, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the authority of Scripture.  Turn their eyes toward the Savior, and remind them that when he returns, all will be made right.   We are praying for your steadfast proclamation of truth, and your uncompromising stand for Christ.
John MacArthur

Copyright © 2015 The Master’s Seminary, All rights reserved.-

Thoughts on Deut. 32:47 and John 6:63

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

04/19/2015

 

  While studying Deut. 32:47, I read Moses’ instruction to Israel regarding God’s Law. 47 “ For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life…….” The BSF question was to compare this verse with John 6:63 The setting was that Israel was about to cross the Jordan into the promised land and Moses was telling them to observe the Law that this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.” I believe these words were with regard to the flesh since the stated reward was to prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess, a physical reward. Comparing this God breathed scripture with John 6:63 reveals some interesting differences. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. His message was speaking of Himself: “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”  6:51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. Here Jesus asserts a purely spiritual message because His bodily flesh and blood are clearly physical. The living bread that came out of Heaven is clearly spiritual! The eating of this bread is clearly spiritual as is salvation (live forever) the reward. The Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” They were clearly thinking in physical terms. 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. Here Jesus is speaking in the spiritual context. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. The spiritual act of eating His body and drinking His blood leads to eternal life, a spiritual reward since nothing physical is eternal. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.  ‘True food’ and ‘true blood’ can have only one context and that is the spiritual perfection of the perfect God. There can be no truth in anything physical (flesh) because of the corruption of the flesh. “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:8) John 6:56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me (spiritually), he also will live (spiritually) because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate (manna) and died; he who eats this bread will live forever(spiritually) .” 60“Many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” In the flesh, they could not understand spiritual things. 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? That is, if you have trouble understanding this, how will you understand the amazing ascension of Christ into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father which some of them will shortly see with their physical eyes!. Jesus sums it up perfectly: 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.   Jesus goes on to state profound doctrine: 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.”  65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father. He knows all things, the beginning from the end (Is 46:10). He knew Judas would betray Him because he did not believe. He was made to betray Jesus just as Pharaoh was made to demonstrate His power. (Rom 9:17) Jesus knew this from the foundation of the world, that is, before time began. God gave Him His own and He shall not lose one. Belief is a work of God (John 6:29) and only those called by God can come to Him. No one can come to the Father except by the Son. (John 6:44).   Deut.32:47 on the surface appears to be some wise counsel from the wise patriarch Moses, but on closer examination, like all of Scripture, it is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16)     PAC

The Healing of the Blind Man – John 9:1

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

This story records the historical event of Christ healing a man that had been born blind. The spiritual lesson is that Christ reveals that a man was born blind, not due to the sin of his parents or his own sin, but that God would be glorified by his healing. We must also remember that Christ spoke in parables and without parables He did not speak (Mat.13:34). So besides the historicity of this message, there is another spiritual message in this account.

 The historical message is that the man was blind, he was healed, he was confronted by the Jews (the church leaders – Scribes and Pharisees), he was thrown out of the synagogue, Christ spoke and he believed and the Lord was glorified. These are all fact.

There is a parabolic message in this story also, in which the man is a symbol of mankind. Born in original sin, in darkness and without the Light of Christ (Jn. 8:12). Christ called him as He called all that are chosen (Eph.1:3-5). The blind man didn’t seek Christ in his blindness or make a choice to receive the gift of sight from Christ (Jn.9:1). The blind man had never seen from birth, created that way by God, chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4). Made for one purpose, that the works of God would be displayed in him (Jn.9:3) to glorify God. First the man was called (Jn.9:6), then healed by the washing away of the mud (the washing away of the mud was symbolic of the baptism by the Holy Spirit that the man might be brought into the light of Christ (Jn.9:5)). Even though the man could then see in the flesh, in his called state, he still didn’t know who Christ was. He had not had anything to do with being called or even asked to be healed (Jn. 9:1-2). It was a work of God for His glorification that the man was healed in the same manner that anyone is blessed with salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). The man had been sanctified by Christ (set apart for His works) (Jn.17:19), even though the blind man didn’t know it. In this, the blind man is symbolic of those chosen before the foundation of the world for salvation that God might be glorified (Eph.1:4). The Jews (the Scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the church), who in the flesh, knew the letter of Law as the wisdom of words described in 1 Cor.1:20-21 and 1Cor. 2:12, but they did not have the spiritual understanding of the Word. They had not been given the spiritual hearing of the Word given by the Holy Spirit (Ro.10:17). The Jews threw the man out of the congregation (Jn.9:22) symbolic of the true believer leaving the apostate church in the latter days (Mat. 24:15-16). All believers will be hated by the world (Jn.15:19).

 Christ sought the man when the time is right according to God’s plan of salvation for the man (Jn.6:37, 39).

 Christ then gave the man his salvation by telling him who He was (Jn.9:37). How? Christ, the Word (Jn.1:1) spoke and the man heard. Faith comes by hearing and (spiritual) hearing by the word of Christ (Ro.10:17). The man’s belief was God’s work (Jn.6:29).

 The summation of the spiritual parable is that Christ came into the world to judge so that those chosen before the foundation of the world will see (the light of the World) (Jn.9:5) and the world (the non-believers) who see in the flesh will not see in the spirit (Jn.9:39). The world is incapable of seeing spiritual things typified by the Jews (Scribes and Pharisees in Jn.9:39), (Jn.6:44 and Jn. 6:65).

On Spiritual Free Will and Spiritual Predestination

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

The biblical theological issue of Free Will or Predestination to gain salvation is one that has persisted for hundreds of years, but one that has the upmost importance to the true believer. If the context of the words is spiritual, that is if the words, in the spiritual sense are juxtaposed, both concepts can not be true. One is true doctrine and one is false doctrine. It is critical that we understand the difference between things spiritual and things physical. Salvation is spiritual in that it is everlasting life with our Heavenly Father in heaven, whereas things of the flesh are physical. Therefore salvation is meaningless in a physical sense, since in the physical world, nothing is eternal. It is the purpose of this paper to state what I believe is solidly based on Holy Scripture and clarifies the role of both free will and predestination in our lives as believers.

 WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

 The Free Will case simply stated and based on an interpretation of certain scriptural verses can range from man makes a volitionary choice to be saved  and gain their salvation to the extreme that all mankind will be saved by a merciful God and receive their salvation.

The Predestination case simply stated is that almighty God, for His own divine purposes, chose before creation, those that He elected for salvation. Thus the term the Elect. The choice was God’s, according to His own sovereignty and divine purpose, not man’s.

The difference between the two concepts is in one, man is preeminent in his ability to choose whereas in the other, God is sovereign and transcends man. In essence, man is greater than God; the created is greater than the creator. This, I believe, is a fundamental tenant of the philosophy of Humanism.

 THE DIFFERENCE

Simply stated, in one case, the choice is of man and in the other, it is of God! Theologically, that difference is tremendous. The concept that almighty God is all powerful; all present, all knowing, infinite creator of all things must be compromised in the first case. Man was a creation of God, yet, in Free Will doctrine, God accedes to man and surrenders His sovereignty to man. Free Will doctrine makes man above God because it is man’s choice, not God’s, in the matter of salvation. In its most basic form it is idolatry because it gives man, the created, a capability that God does not have and makes him above God, the Creator. The doctrine is humanism in its most fundamental form. Man will ascend on his own merits, according to his pleasure.

SPIRITUAL FREE WILL

 The basis for spiritual Free Will doctrine stems from Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). Arminius rejected unconditional predestination and limited atonement as taught by Calvin and others. He taught that there was a “preventing grace” that was conferred upon all by the Holy Spirit and this grace is “sufficient for belief’ in spite of our sinful nature. And therefore salvation. Arminius stated that the grace ”the grace sufficient for salvation is conferred upon the Elect and the non-Elect that if they will, they may be or may not be saved”.1 Arminius’ teaching was formalized in the Remonstrance of 1610 after Arminius’ death. Its main points of theology were:

  1. The divine decree of predestination is conditional.
  2. Atonement is intended to be universal.
  3. Man cannot exercise saving faith.
  4. The Grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort but is not irresistible in man.
  5. Believers can resist sin but can fall from grace.

 The main scriptural references that are used to justify spiritual Free Will are those that use adjectives such as all, every, whomsoever etc. when referring to salvation. John 3:16 is an example implying that anyone who believes in God shall not perish. John 3:17 implies the whole world might be saved. John 3:15 says whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. There is also a common rationalization that God uses perfect foreknowledge to know who will choose Him and therefore chose them before the foundation of the world. This is an attempt to explain the very clear and plentiful scriptural references the Elect were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-4 and Matt 25:34 et al),

 HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THE DIFFERENCES

 The key to reconciling the differences, I believe, is to first pray for spiritual wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the Word by the Holy Spirit (Col 1:9). Secondly, we must remember that scripture interprets scripture and is the inspired Word of God, not the opinions or influences of the men. God chose to transcribe His Word in a manner given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness (2Tim 3:16).  Everything is given by God (John 3:27) including belief and our ability to interpret His Word.

 As we study scripture though, it is important to follow some basic steps to aid our understanding. Actually the so-called Scientific Method was developed by early church fathers to study scripture and was adapted by scientists over the years to systematically study science. The starting point is to understanding is to develop the context of the verse by establishing the frame of reference and  / or the initial conditions that God was addressing in His message. Commonly, who is He addressing when the verse was written and who is He addressing with His spiritual message for all time. The Bible is a spiritual book with a spiritual message not only for who a verse was originally written (i.e. God’s message to the Jews in Rome penned by Paul) but for all believers for all time.

I suggest a couple of simple tests when reading scripture:

  1. Is this a spiritual message or a physical message? Is the writer speaking of flesh or spirit?
  2. Who is it that is being addressed?

Is the attribute referred to something that the natural man has or is it a gift of God?An example of Item 1. above might be Paul’s message in the book of Romans when he says “the good that I would do I do not do, but the evil I do” Surely this passage refers to the struggle of Paul in the flesh, and not in the spirit. Paul was personally chosen by God to proclaim His Word in penning most of the New Testament, but in the flesh, Paul struggled just as we all do.

 An example of Item 2. above is recorded in John, Chapter 3, when Christ speaks to Nicodemis about believers (whoever believes in Him). But who is that?  He tells us many different ways in scripture, but they all boil down to those who He chose to believe and whom He gave the gift of belief (Jn 6:29). How does He do this? Everyone who has heard the Word and learned from the Father, will come to Christ (Jn 6:39) but hearing is the spiritual hearing referred to in “Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of Christ” (Ro 10:17). The hearing in this context is spiritual because it comes directly from Christ.An example of Item 3. above is the subject of belief. Man can not understand or believe on his own (Jn 8:43, Jn 9:47, Jn 10:26). Belief is a work of God and a gift given to those whom God chose to bestow it upon (Jo 6:29). No one can come to the Father unless it has been bestowed (given) by the Father (Jn 6:65). Careful reading of verses that on a casual look indicate that everyone will be saved invariably shows that such interpretation is simply unsupportable. How about verses that refer to God’s desires or wishes (1Tim 2:4 and 1Pet 3:9) which are interpreted by Free Will doctrine that a loving God will save all men? The answer is an emphatic Yes that God desires that all men be saved. This is evidenced by His creation of man in the Garden of Eden, but sin entered in and in the flesh, man chose not to obey God. God wanted (desired) Adam and Eve to dwell in a perfect habitat and walk with Him, but man’s sin spoiled that perfection. God says “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord, is it not that he (the sinner) should turn from his ways and live (Eze 18:23).” God wishes it were true, but it is not! 

 PREDESTINATION

 The basic premise that I present is that both Free Will and Predestination are in fact true. Although, in asserting this fundamental truth there is a crucial distinction that must be understood. That crucial distinction is the realm in which we are speaking. The realm of Free Will is flesh where as, the realm of Predestination is spiritual.

In the Beginning

 Holy Scripture tells us in Genesis 1:1 that God created the heavens and the earth (that is, all space and time) and therefore God transcended the physical universe as we know it. God is not bound by the three spatial and one time dimension in which our physical universe resides. The Creator must reside in a higher dimensional order than that created. God has reveal through modern physics the truth of Gen. 1:1 in undeniable exactitude. There was the instant of creation when all matter, space and time came into being. Paul said it explicitly in Heb.11:3 when he said the God made what was seen (the universe) out of what was unseen or according to the early church fathers, Ex Nilio. Why is this important? Because it identifies God (a spiritual being) as beyond our comprehension as physical beings (beyond our dimensional bounds).

 We cannot perceive the spiritual nature of God because He is far beyond our three physical dimensional constraints. Holy Scripture also confirms this in many places such as who can know the mind of God (Ro.11:34)? Your ways are not my ways (Is.55:8), Where I go you cannot go (Jn.8:21).

What does it mean to be in a higher dimensional order? Try this thought experiment:

  1. Think of a line with length but without height or width (the definition of a line in geometry).
  2. Now think of two lines intersecting at 900  angles with length and width but without height.  A surface of these lines is a plane, like a sheet of paper.
  3. Now think of another line intersecting at a 900 angle with the two in 2. above (orthogonal axes). A box or any three dimensional object can be defined by an arrangement of three points of these axes.
  4. Now think of another line intersecting at a 900 angle with each and all of the three in 3. above.

 Opps! 1, 2, and 3 above are easy every day occurrences but 4.) is impossible for the human mind to comprehend. The numbers represent the number of dimensions of the case, so it is impossible for us three dimensional beings to even comprehend a four dimensional figure and God may be an infinite dimensional being! The point is very simple and absolutely true that man can not comprehend God!

 NOW COMES MAN

In Gen.1:26 after making a suitable habitat for man, and after He had created all of the other animals, God did something astounding. He made man. He said “Let us make man in our image, according to Our likeness”.  Now man by nature is three dimensional and God by His nature is multidimensional (higher than three dimensions), so the likeness cannot be referring to physical attributes. Gen. 2:7 amplifies the summary statement of Gen.1:26 and gives details of man’s creation and defines the difference between man and every other living creature. It says ”Then the Lord formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”. Note the word soul is literally used in this verse, not being! Being would be commonly understood to be physical, but soul implies a spiritual nature.

 Man was physically created from the dust of the earth, as were all other creatures on earth, but God breathed the spiritual breath of life into man’s nostrils. This was done to no other creature. Man has two natures, one physical, from the dust of the ground and one spiritual breathed by his Creator. This, I believe, is the meaning of Gen.1:26. The nature of our image in the likeness of God is the spiritual breath of life that made us a living eternal soul. This makes man part physical, in which we can touch, feel, see, hear, think, do, and choose. It is this part we can perceive in the flesh. The spiritual part, which we cannot comprehend within our physical bodies is God’s domain. No other creature is said to have this spiritual essence and that precisely separates us from all other creation. We are in fact created in Gods likeness!

 Obviously, if we cannot even perceive our spiritual self, how can we make spiritual choices?  The answer is that in things spiritual, we cannot (Ro.11:33). Holy Scripture verifies this throughout the book and the key to understanding this wisdom is to understand that spiritual wisdom must come from the Holy Spirit (Eph.1:7), not our flesh. In our flesh, we cannot understand spiritual things (Ro.3:11), they must be given as a free gift of God to those He chose from the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-5) as a gift and through no merit on their own lest they boast (Eph. 2:8-9) and take credit on their own salvation (Eph.2:8-9).

 ***** MORE TO COME ****