Sinful Culture vs. Holy Bible

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or Why the crafty serpent is winning the argument again

Two of the most hotly contested topics in the church today are homosexuality, and the role of men and women in the church. The two issues have two things in common. Firstly, they arguably cause more disagreement and controversy than any other topic within Evangelical and wider Protestant circles. Secondly, on both of these issues, pastors, lay people and theologians are essentially reinterpreting what scripture says. It’s the second of these two that I will focus on here.

My focus is how Christians are reinterpreting scripture, though homosexuality and gender roles will be used as illustrations of how it is occurring. Readers may disagree with me on those issues, but that merely serves as an illustration of the controversy surrounding them. In attempting to make sense of the biblical texts which speak of these issues, you hear people say things like, “Oh, but that text is for that particular church at that particular time.” Scholars are translating the original Greek in entirely new ways, showing that Paul didn’t really mean that homosexual practice is sinful when he wrote Romans (see , for example). Paul also couldn’t have meant that women are not to teach the bible when he wrote to Timothy (see ). Even if he did, they might say, it doesn’t apply to us today. In other words, people are starting to say that Paul didn’t really mean what we’ve always thought. Continue reading Sinful Culture vs. Holy Bible

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,

who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

What Will Heaven Be Like?

Over the years there have many ideas and beliefs concerning what heaven will be like. Sadly, many of these are based on someone’s experience, desire or some TV commercial. As a result of this, some of the descriptions have been bizarre and frankly unbiblical. Well, can we answer the question, what is heaven like?

In order to answer this question our attention must be directed toward Scripture. It is only there where we can find a reliable and truthful portrait of this glorious place.

When it comes to this topic the Bible is not silent. In-fact, there are many passages Continue reading What Will Heaven Be Like?

The Power of the Resurrection

Resurrection

The day after the death and burial of Jesus, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered before Pilate worried that the disciples’ may steal the body. So Pilate ordered soldiers to guard the tomb (). However, nothing was going to get in the way of what happened early that Sunday morning – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ refers to that event in which He was raised to life. It occurred three days after His crucifixion (Luke 24:46; Acts 10:40; 1 Cor. 15:4), which took place on the first day of the week (Mark 16:9). The resurrection of Christ was an event foretold by the prophets (Psalm 16:10) and prophesied by Christ Himself (Matt. 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; John 2:19-22) – it was a necessary event (Luke 24:45-46). After His resurrection He appeared to Mary Magdaline and other women (Matt. 28:9; Mark 16:9; John 20:18). He also appeared to the disciples (John 20:26), to a crowd of about 500 (1 Cor. 15:6) and later on to Paul (1 Cor. 15:8). The resurrection was the power of the Triune God on display (The Father: Acts 2:24; 3:15; Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:13; the Son: John 2:19; 10:18 and the Holy Spirit: 1 Peter 3:18). It was powerful! In this post I would like to sure three demonstrations of the power of the resurrection of Christ in the life of the Christian.

The Power of the Resurrection in Justification
If we are going to be forgiven of sins and justified by God, it was necessary that the Lord Jesus Christ would rise from the dead. The act of the Jesus Christ rising up from the grave was a public demonstration that Christ’s suffering and death satisfied the wrath of God. The Father accepted and approved the perfect sacrifice of His Son. In his letter to the Romans Paul writes concerning Christ, “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (). If this did not occur we would be bot be forgiven. In his grand chapter on the resurrection Paul again writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).

The Power of the Resurrection in Sanctification
By virtue of the resurrection of Christ, the believer is granted the ability to grow in Christlikeness. It logically flows from the previous point that if Christ was not raised from the dead we would still be lost in our sins. However, because we have been raised up with Christ, we are to “seek those things that are above” (). Because of our union with Him we are to pursue those things that are pleasing unto the Lord. The resurrection of Christ enables us to bear fruit for God (cf. ). As we strive to walk in the will of Lord, let us be reminded that our resurrected Lord is interceding for us ().

The Power of the Resurrection in Glorification
The power of the resurrection is also seen in the certainty of the believer’s future bodily resurrection. Jesus stated plainly,

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” ().

The reality behind what we read in is amazing. Every single person in history will one day be raised up and will stand before God. With authority and command, the Lord Jesus Christ will speak and the dead will be raised. Note that Jesus speaks of two different kinds of resurrection – “the resurrection of life” and “the resurrection of judgment“. The first is in reference to believers and the second to unbelievers. The reason why some are able to expect the resurrection of life is because they trust in Christ for salvation. It is His death and resurrection that makes their future one possible. This future event is something the people of God for centuries have anticipated (; ). This will be a spectacular event. At the return of Jesus Christ His people will be changed instantly. They will receive resurrected bodies and will be fitted out to enjoy the eternal kingdom of their Lord.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is powerful.

 

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Implications of the Deity of Christ

Jesus is God

When it comes to the identity of Jesus there have been much debate and controversy throughout history. Even at the time of His earthly ministry there were many views and suggestions concerning who He was (). Debates have raged throughout the centuries and even today people continue to hold to various understandings and views. Who is Jesus Christ? The Scriptures make plain that He is the eternal Son of God (; ; ; ). Last Sunday morning at Hills Bible Church, in our exposition of the Gospel according to John, we considered . In that passage we noted the Lord’s unmistakable claim that He is Divine.

Knowing then that this is the clear teaching of Scripture, what are the implications of Jesus Christ being God? Whatever Jesus says He came to do is indeed true and is therefore necessary for us to embrace.

He is the Sufficient Saviour
In preparation for the eternal Son of God’s arrival on earth, the angle of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said concerning Mary, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (). Here it is made clear, Jesus is going to be a Saviour. This truth is again repeated soon after Jesus was born when an angel declared to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (). Jesus Himself understood that this is who He was and why he was on earth (). Since He is the Sufficienct Saviour, He alone is able to make the exclusive means of salvation when He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me” ().

He is Worthy of Worship
In the Scriptures, the concept of worship carries the idea of serving God by means of an attitude of fear and adoration. What is worship? Worship for the believer is the act of recognizing God’s worth and responding to that in service to Him. Worship is to be exclusively offered unto the Lord (Exodus 20:3; Deut. 5:7; 6:13; Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; Acts 10:26; 14:15; Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:8). Because Jesus is God He is worthy of our adoration. It is the duty and delight of God’s people to love Christ () and faithfully follow Him. Concerning Jesus Christ we read,

“God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” ().

The day is coming when all will worship Him. However, for some this will be as a result of God’s saving grace in which it is their delight. However, for others it will be a duty that comes by means of their final submission to the Lord despite the fact that they are under eternal condemnation.

Jesus is God and this has serious implications. By God’s grace, embrace these implications and give the glory to the Lord!

14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 20:28

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Three Tenses of Salvation

Salvation_Image

The thought of salvation ought to fill us with gratitude and praise!

What is salvation? In the New Testament, the word “salvation” or “saved” comes from the Greek word sozo, which refers to rescuing or delivering from danger. It is used of physical deliverance (; ), healing (; ), and release from demonic possession (). However, the use I want to look at in this post is in its spiritual sense – the deliverance from sin.

Continue reading The Three Tenses of Salvation

25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”

36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed.

Guarding Against Departure of Doctrine

Myths and genealogies

We need to remember that a church’s doctrine is not to be limited to their current situation. We are to recognize that we stand in line with centuries of historical truth. Every church potentially is less than a generation away from compromise, so it is essential that we know how to guard against departure of doctrine.

After his opening greeting in his first letter to Timothy (), Paul provides Timothy with a serious charge, which reveals the occasion for the writing of this letter (). He begins by saying; Continue reading Guarding Against Departure of Doctrine

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Why is Doctrine Important?

Doctrine is important2

The word doctrine will create various responses from people. Some think controversy, legalism, or truth and for some they are just indifferent to the word!

What is doctrine? When it comes to defining doctrine I am talking about Christian doctrine, which is a body of belief or teaching that is drawn from Scripture. We can put this body of belief into categories like, the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man, the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the church and the doctrine of last things.

Knowing then that doctrine is a body of belief drawn from Scripture, why is it important? In this post I want to give three reasons, the source of doctrine, the supervision of doctrine, and the security of doctrine.

The Source of Doctrine
God – the Creator and Sovereign of the universe – is not silent. He has spoken and therefore what He has said is of utmost importance. His words are to be treasured because they alone are food for our soul and light for our path. God continues to speak to us today by means of the Holy Scriptures. It is by means of reading and studying them (with the Holy Spirit’s help) that we can know and learn about God. Every genuine believer of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to desire to learn about Him and in turn obey Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (). These commandments He spoke of are contained within the Scriptures, therefore we must read and know the Scriptures in-order to obey what he has commanded. Now the Scriptures unlike any other document proceed from God and are inspired (). Because the Scriptures are inspired they are “profitable for teaching” (). The word for “teaching” can also be translated “doctrine” (KJV). It is from the Scriptures where biblical doctrine is drawn. Doctrine is important because it is a summary of what God has spoken. Since God has spoken, whatever He has said is of great importance and must be affirmed by the people of God.

The Supervision of Doctrine
Doctrine matters because it provides us God’s supervision and direction for the church. If you are invited to a particular venue, and the instructions you were given were incorrect, it is almost certain that you will arrive at the wrong destination. Even though you were convinced you were going the right way, the truth is, you weren’t. The wrong instructions led you to the wrong destination. It is the same when it comes to Christian belief and living. We know that we are to live lives of godliness, but how do we know what is godly? How do we live in such a way that according to the will of God? How do we adhere to biblical truth? How does a church practice godliness? The answer is, by holding to and living in accordance to what God requires. If we disbelieve or misinterpret what He has said in His Word, our actions will be contrary to what He desires. Our life will be one of sinfulness, even though we may be convinced that we are obeying God, the truth is we are not. Our wrong belief will lead to wrong behaviour.

It is essential that if we are going to adhere to God’s truth and live in accordance to it (as individual believers and as churches as whole), we need to first of all understand His instructions. Because the Scriptures contain what God has spoken, they are authoritative. All that we do as Christians must come as a result of obedience to what God requires of us. If we are convinced that the Scriptures are from God, and that they contain His truth, then they must be our foundation. The apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (). These are called “sound words” because they are without corruption. What are these “words“? This is a reference to the very words of God. Paul knew the importance of God’s words when it came to Christian living, and he commands Timothy to allow them to be a pillar that will hold him up when it comes to ministry.

If biblical doctrine is at our foundation, it will direct us down the path of righteousness. The Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (). God’s Word lights up the path and guides the believer in a direction that is glorifying to God providing Divine supervision.

The Security of Doctrine
Finally, doctrine is important because it provides the believer with security. That is to say it protects us from error. There are many false doctrines in the world today, but this is nothing new. The Scriptures provide various names for false doctrines, “worthless doctrine” (), “every wind of doctrine” (), “doctrines of men” (), “different doctrine” (), “doctrines of demons” (), “strange doctrines” (), “doctrine of Balaam” () and “doctrine of the Nicolaitans” (). These names give us the understanding of the source and nature of false doctrine. False doctrine does not come from God and therefore is not helpful but only harmful.

How does sound biblical doctrine protect us from error? It will prevent us from affirming a belief that it unbiblical which in turn will lead to a practice that is unbiblical. Put simply, it will protect us from bad belief and behaviour. Departure from sound doctrine occurs when someone basis their belief and behaviour on something that is not biblical. Perhaps people and churches will form their belief on tradition, experience or simply on ignorance. Such practice is devastating because the actions they perform are driven by something that is unbiblical. This is one of the reasons why many churches will have bizarre and unbiblical ministries and practices – they have departed from sound doctrine. Liberalism is the fruit of departing from sound doctrine. Biblical doctrine is critical because it provides the believer with security and informs their behaviour and practice.

In contrast to those who embraced false teaching, Paul reminded Timothy “You, however, have followed my teaching (or “doctrine“)” (). Because of the emphasis of this “teaching” coming from Paul, it is best to view this as apostolic teaching. In other words, this refers to the divine truth of Scripture that Paul taught and wrote. If Timothy imitates Paul’s doctrine, this will lead to godliness, and in turn combat error. In addition following doctrine, Paul instructed Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (). While the false teachers advance in their error (cf. ), Timothy is to continue in the things he had learned. In other words, don’t move from the truth! Doctrine, drawn from the Scriptures is your weapon against error and it will protect you.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!

14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

1 Timothy 6:3

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,

4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Four Lessons from 1st Timothy

Written by Pastor Andrew Courtis

1 Timothy

A few weeks ago it was my privilege to finish a verse-by-verse exposition of Paul’s first letter to Timothy. I would like to share some key points and lessons I have learnt from this great letter.

But first,a brief introduction.

The first letter of Paul to Timothy provides us a clear understanding of a church’s confession and conduct. Shortly after his Continue reading Four Lessons from 1st Timothy

Christ first, Family second, Church third – Really?

 

priorities

 

Christian, what  place does the Lord Jesus Christ have in your life? Many have given a common answer indicating the order of priority, “Christ is first” and then they add, “my family is second, and the church is third”. Now I understand what most people mean they say that, but I want to make an important point. For the Christian, Christ is to be first, second, third and so on. What do I mean by this? Continue reading Christ first, Family second, Church third – Really?