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What Difference Does the Future Make? The Practical Application of Prophecy (Part 3)

I am looking forward to speaking at Cedar Valley Bible Church’s “Second Coming Conference” (November 16-17) in Iowa. I want to work my way through three prophetic sections of Scripture: I Thessalonians 4:13-18, II Peter 3:1-18, and I John 3:1-10.

We’ve looked at I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and seen how the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus ought to encourage our hearts! Let’s move on to our second text, II Peter 3:1-18 and see its practical implications for RIGHT NOW. Here’s our text —

In this text we see the Certainty of Final Judgment.
We notice, first of all, that prophetic teaching should lead us to wholesome thinking (v. 1). We are to be neither eschatophobiacs or eschatomaniacs! Overfocusing on end times’ material without present life-change is not wholesome thinking!

We are then reminded of God’s climatic actions in the universe (vv. 3-7). Specifically creation (v. 5) and the flood (v. 6) are provided as evidence that God can — and will — dramatically interrupt the normal, everyday pattern of life.

Years ago Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote a book entitled He Is There and He Is Not Silent. As C.S. Lewis puts it, “God has more to do than simply exist!” God is there and has spoken.

I think Peter could write a similar book and call it He Is There and He Is Not IMPOTENT! These false teachers are counting on a kind of uniformitarianism that all things in the universe will continue as they always have. We read, “4 They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” This perspective is sometimes called Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity. This is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in our present-day scientific observations have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. But these false teachers took it a step further, arguing that God will not invade His creation by judgment.

But they have “deliberately” forgotten God’s climatic actions in creation and the flood! God’s timetable is not our timetable (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day”). His delaying judgment is not to be thought of as His slowness in keeping His promise. His delaying judgment is His patience — giving people time to REPENT and not perish (v. 9).

We learn of God’s longing that people repent (v. 9). How does one avoid God’s judgment? By repenting and believing the gospel! Becoming converted involves both faith and repentance — believing the truths about Jesus and acknowledging and turning from our sin.

May I suggest that you and I pray that the Lord will us the opportunity to say those hard words at the right in red to someone we love? God’s future judgment is certain! And the only escape is repentance! (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2019 in 2 Peter 3

 

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Time for a Great Quote: Thomas Watson on KNOWLEDGE without REPENTANCE!

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in repentance

 

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Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World (A Study of Philippians) Part 4 Sadness and JOY

We are working our way through the epistle to the Philippians as we think about the theme of JOY! In our previous post we saw that there are many, many books on happiness and how to get it.

While JOY isn’t an explicit topic in Philippians, it seems that it permeates much of what the Apostle Paul is saying to these believers. The sheer use of the term JOY (and its variants) shows that a deep, other worldly JOY was a major aspect of his life.

I love the quote from G.K. Chesterton when he said, “The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy like a bird in spring.” (Orthodoxy).

Deep JOY begins with recognizing that we are in the wrong place, something is terribly “out of whack,” for we are not right with the world and with the God who made the world. JOY — true, deep, biblical JOY — begins with a profound sadness about our sinful condition. That sadness is remedied only by the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God for our sins.

Perhaps this is a clue why so few believers experience this kind of life-permeating JOY. The JOY or happiness they have was not preceded by a profound sadness over their sins. The church must recover the biblical doctrine of repentance if it is to faithfully present the gospel to a sin-sick and sad world. We read in 2 Corinthians 7 that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

The first use of the term JOY in Philippians occurs in chapter one as Paul begins his epistle: “3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Do I pray for others “with JOY”? Do you? For whom should you pray today? Choose to pray for that person — with JOY!

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2019 in joy

 

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Getting to Know . . . 2 Samuel (chapter 12) The Rebuke of David’s Sin (Part 3)

(“Oh, no!”, Nathan might have thought. “I’m in the middle of rebuking the King of Israel!”). Let’s continue our discussion of the prophet’s Nathan’s confrontation of David and his sins against Bathsheba and her godly husband Uriah. Please take the time to read over 2 Samuel 12 again:

Here are a few of those principles we’ve already seen:

1. Make sure you are sent by the Lord (v. 1).

2. Use wisdom in your confrontation (vv. 1-4).

3. Speak directly about the sin (vv. 7ff).

4. Review God’s acts of kindness and goodness in the person’s life (vv. 8-10).

5. Speak of the awful evil of despising God’s word (vv. 9-10).

6. Warn the person of God’s hatred of sin and His power to bring judgment into one’s life (vv. 11-14).

Here are one final principle that I see in this passage about getting involved in another person’s life:

7. Upon repentance, comfort! (v. 15).  That David repented is implicit in this passage. Explicitly he confesses his sins in Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.

Bathsheba’s son dies.

The consequences: After Nathan had rebuked David, he went home. We read that the Lord struck Bathsheba’s baby with an illness. David poured himself into fasting and praying for the baby’s recovery, but the baby died on the seventh day (v. 18). The servants fear telling David of the child’s death, perhaps concerned that he would kill himself out of despair. Instead, David got up from the ground, cleaned himself up, and went and worshiped the Lord. He then went to his home and ate (v. 20). The servants are surprised at David’s reaction, but he says, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

This, it seems to me, is a great OT statement on the afterlife! “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” David and Bathsheba have a son Solomon and we are told “the Lord loved him” (vv. 24-25). We then read of a great military victory by King David (vv. 26-31).

One takeway for me today: Some tragedies we bring on ourselves, and they come with consequences. But life can go on in the Lord and He can give victory in the next chapter of our lives!

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2019 in 2 Samuel 12

 

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Getting to Know . . . 2 Samuel (chapter 12) The Rebuke of David’s Sin (Part 1)

“But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” So ends chapter 11 of 2 Samuel. But displeasing the Lord requires repentance! And God raises up Nathan the prophet to do the unthinkable — to confront the King of Israel with his sin. Let’s carefully read 2 Samuel 12 as we begin to make some observations of this episode in David’s life:

As I look over this chapter, several principles of intervening in another person’s life occur to me. Whether one is involved in counseling as a profession or simply wanting to help another person, the principles that guided Nathan deserve our careful attention.

Here are several of those principles:

1. Make sure you are sent by the Lord (v. 1)! Some of us are always feeling “sent” to rebuke or correct others. The text tells us that “The Lord sent Nathan to David.” How do we know when we are “sent”? Galatians 6 say, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.”

Apparently there was direct instruction from the Lord to Nathan to confront David. Our instruction comes from God’s written Word. We are to care about those whose lives are being ruined by sin — and get involved!

2. Use wisdom in your confrontation (vv. 1-4)! Everyone loves a good story — and Nathan spins one for King David. Only he does not begin his story by saying, “Once upon a time . ..” No. To David the story sounds like a real event in his kingdom.

We will notice the details of that story in our next post — and see David’s reaction!

Today’s takeaway: God has a process of dealing with sin among His people. And some of us are sometimes called by God to do something hard. May you and I have the courage to lovingly confront when called by God to do so!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in 2 Samuel 12

 

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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #22): Chapter 21- “A Final Question”

The last chapter of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? is entitled”A Final Question” and is subtitled Do Mainline Christians Believe in Getting Saved? This is a critical question! He answers his question in the affirmative — mainline churches, he says, believe in getting saved.

He suggests that people can get saved two different ways: (1) by a sudden affirming of faith in Jesus, and (2) by a gradual justification. He makes three affirmations about salvation: (1) Salvation is a lifelong process; (2) We are saved by God’s grace; and (3) Salvation requires a human response. Thielen speaks about God’s prevenient grace (“grace that goes before”). Calling it God’s “preceding” or “preparing” grace, he means that God works in us to gradually (or, in the case of some, suddenly) bring one to faith. [I don’t have a major problem with the Wesleyan concept of prevenient grace (I think John 1:9 fits here: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.“), having taught a course on Wesleyan theology a few years ago.]

MY RESPONSE: There is much that Thielen says in this chapter that I can affirm, but some that he, unfortunately, misses. He speaks, for example, of gradual justification (a concept I don’t see in the Scriptures). And what really troubles me is a complete lack of reference to the essential of repentance in conversion. Instead, he uses expressions like “affirming faith in Jesus” or “accepting God’s pardon.”

He took me by surprise at the end of the chapter by providing an invitation to those who aren’t sure of their salvation to pray a certain prayer. Here’s that prayer: “Dear God, thank you for loving me and offering me salvation. I joyfully accept your forgiveness and grace. The best I know how, I affirm faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I accept him as my Savior. Thank you for adopting me as your child. Help me faithfully to follow you for the rest of my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Perhaps you don’t find that prayer troubling, but what about repentance? What about a sorrow for one’s sins? Now, some in the mainline camp (and even some Evangelicals) argue that repentance is not a requirement for salvation. I would invite any who hold that view to do a study of the following passages: Mt. 3:2; 11:20; 21:32; Lk. 5:32; 13:3&5; 15:7&10; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21 (repentance and faith); Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pe. 3:9.

In his conclusion, Thielen invites readers to join themselves to mainline churches, not warning readers that such churches have often denied the  fundamentals of the faith.

I want to thank you, dear blog-reader, for sticking with me in my review of this book. Please feel free to leave a comment or two below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2019 in salvation

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel (chapter 7) Revival and Ebenezer!

Can you imagine hosting the ark of the covenant for 20 years?! That’s what the family of Abinadab does! His son Eleazar is consecrated to guard the ark of the Lord (v. 1). As a result of the ark remaining at Kiriath Jearim, “all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord” (v. 2)! There was revival in Israel!

Samuel addresses the people and commands them to get rid of their idols IF they were indeed returning to the Lord with all their hearts (v. 3). Samuel promises that if they do that and commit themselves to the Lord only, “he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” The people obey! We read “they served the Lord only.” (v. 4).

Samuel intercedes for the gathered nation at Mizpah as they fasted and confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord” (v. 6). The Philistines prepare to attack Israel. Out of fear the people ask Samuel not to stop crying out to the Lord for them! Samuel offers a whole burnt offering to the Lord and the Lord answers Samuel’s prayer (v. 9).

While he is sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistine army is drawing near to attack. We read that the Lord thundered with loud thunder and threw the Philistines into a panic. The men of Israel pursue the Philistines and conquer their soldiers.

Samuel then sets up a remembrance stone and names it Ebenezer which means “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (v. 12).  We sometimes sing —

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
By: Robert Robinson, 1735-90

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
While the hope of endless glory
Fills my heart with joy and love,
Teach me ever to adore Thee;
May I still Thy goodness prove.

Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

[Some have tried to “modernize” the line “Here I raise my Ebenezer.”  Examples include:  “Here I find my greatest treasure,” (Psalter Hymnal); “Hitherto thy love has blest me,” “Here by grace your love has brought me,” and “Here I raise to thee an altar.”  Gary A. Parrett wrote an article entitled “Raising Ebenezer” for Christianity Today back in 2006, arguing we are misguided when we try to modernize hymn texts.]

We read that for Samuel’s lifetime the Philistines were subdued for “the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines” (v. 13). The captured lands are returned to Israel and Israel even delivers the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines, eventuating in peace between Israel and the Amorites.

Samuel continued as Israel’s leader the rest of his days, circuit riding in his duties in judging Israel. But Ramah was his home and he built an altar there to the Lord (v. 17).

We learn in this chapter that God can use a physical object (the ark) to draw His people back to Himself.

We also see that God desires repentance from His people, that they abandon their idols, and that they serve and worship Him only. God blesses his repentant people by providing them deliverance from their enemies.

I certainly don’t want “the hand of the Lord” against me, do you? Then let’s serve Him only, raising our Ebenezers in honor of the great acts of help He has given us!

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2018 in I Samuel 7

 

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