"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

Search My Blog Using Key Words, Phrases, Names, Etc.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jesus Christ Our Hope

by F. L. French - mwtb.org - Article Link
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).
Paul did not always acknowledge Jesus as Lord, or as his hope. Looking back on those days he speaks of himself as the chief of sinners who thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus. He persecuted the church of God, and when Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned to death, the witnesses laid down their clothes at his feet (Acts 7:58). He was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious  (1 Timothy 1:13).
At the same time he advanced in his own religion, and so far as he knew, he kept the commandments of God (Galatians 1:13,14). He was self-righteous and hated the gospel of the grace of God, which is always the case with those who are endeavoring to please God by their own goodness and works. What caused the change in his life? What caused the self-righteous Pharisee, who loved his religion and hated the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and all who belonged to Him, to change so dramatically?
He saw himself in the presence of God! He found out that he was a sinner and that his own works could not save him. The only way of true blessing for anyone is to find just what he is in the presence of God—a lost, helpless, hell-deserving sinner—then to confess his sins in true repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He who does that finds forgiveness of sins, new birth, eternal life, an inheritance in heaven, everlasting security in God our Savior, and a blessed hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Now Paul bowed at the blessed feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, and owned Him as his Lord and his God. With Mary, the mother of Jesus, Paul owned Him as “God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47). With Thomas, he could say, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). To Titus he could write of Him as “God our Saviour” (Titus 2:10,13).
Through all his trials, Paul’s eye was fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, his hope. Amid all the hopelessness and despair of these trying days, is the Lord Jesus Christ your hope? Not some creed or religious profession, but the one bright star of cheering light shining out in this world’s midnight darkness.

Living Hope

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Christ died for our sins, He was buried, but He arose again the third day for our justification. He now sits at the right hand of God, where He ever liveth to make intercession for us, and from where He shall come to receive us unto Himself, that where He is, there we may be also.
This is what differentiates Christianity from every religion in the world. Every other religion is just a system of dead works, or of moral teachings and philosophies, propounded by a teacher who is now dead. Christianity is a vital relationship with a living Person, our Lord Jesus Christ, on the throne of God. We have a living hope because the Lord Jesus laid down His life for us on the cross, and after completing the work of our redemption, took it up again, now no more to die. All who believe on Him are united to our Living Head, in everlasting relationship. “Because I live,” He says, “ye shall live also” (John 14:19). The living Lord Jesus, on the throne of God, is the evidence that our sins, which were laid on Him, are forever put away and that the life we have in Him is everlasting.

Sure Hope

Our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ is not only a living hope, but it is also sure and steadfast. It rests not upon some failing foundation on earth, but its foundation is within the veil, even in heaven itself, where the Lord Jesus has entered for us, and so we have this hope as an anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:17-20). Things on earth change, decay, and pass away, but the things in heaven are eternal. We see the Lord Jesus, who went to the cross to bear our sins and God’s judgment due to us, crowned with glory and honor and seated on the throne of God. There is our security. There is our peace. There is our hope.
When we see our Forerunner there, we understand His words in John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Seeing Him on the throne of God enables us also to realize the force of John 10:27,28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”

Blessed Hope

The living Christ has gone before us into the glory, but we look for Him to come again and take us to be with Himself there. Blessed hope! “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14). It is for His coming glory we look. It is for His coming we wait. It is Himself who is our blessed hope. We do not look for death. We look for Him.
And He may come today. Perhaps today the sorrows and trials and pains and disappointments and failures and sins of our pilgrimage way, may be ended by His awakening shout as He calls the sleeping saints from their graves and takes us all up instantly to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52). Then we shall be forever with Him and like Him (1 John 3:2,3).
In solemn contrast to the living, sure, and blessed hope of the child of God who is saved by faith in Christ, is the awful condition of those who will not trust Him. Ephesians 2:12 tells us, “Ye were without Christ … having no hope, and without God in the world.” Solemn word of God! All who are without Jesus Christ as their Savior are without hope, without God!
May we be faithful and earnest in pointing men to the only Savior and hope, while we await His coming, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ—our hope!
—F. L. French, adapted.

R.C. Sproul on the True Ministry of the Holy Spirit

by R.C. Sproul - gty.org - Source Link
Having a lot to say is not the same thing as being an expert. The charismatic movement would have all Christians believe that they—the charismatics—are the experts on the Holy Spirit. But is volume the true measure of expertise?
Scripture is clear about what to look for when it comes to identifying the Spirit’s work. Christ’s words in John 16 give us a good place to start.
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. (John 16:13–14)
In the following video clip, R.C. Sproul gives a helpful perspective on how to identify and understand the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.
Many charismatics falsely assume that opposition to their movement is the same as opposition to the Holy Spirit. But Grace to You’s criticism of charismatic theology has always been in defense of the Spirit, as He’s presented in Scripture. At the upcoming Strange Fire conference, we want to highlight the true work of the Holy Spirit.
For more information regarding Strange Fire, please visit our conference website.
GTY Staff

Ten Myths Used Against Defunding ObamaCare on the October 1 Appropriations Bill

Mike Hammond is GOA’s Legislative Counsel.
http://gunowners.org/ - Source Link
MYTH #1: THAT CONSERVATIVES LIKE SENATORS MIKE LEE AND TED CRUZ ARE “THREATENING TO SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT.
Republicans have only two choices: After pretending to oppose ObamaCare 40 times (only to have Harry Reid spit in their faces 40 times) they can dutifully fund the program (because they don’t want Obama, Reid, and their cronies to yell at them) -- or they can not fund ObamaCare.
The Lee-Cruz Strategy is to send Harry Reid and/or Barack Obama a government funding bill that is unacceptable to them in one respect -- it either refuses to fund ObamaCare or simply refuses to fund the individual mandate. If the House is wise, it will send a new bill over to the Senate every day.
If Obama and/or Harry Reid choose to shut down the government for the SOLE REASON that preserving their wildly unpopular individual mandate is more important to them than keeping the government open, the burden’s on their shoulders.
How hard is it to say, over and over and over again, “If Obama signs any of the ten government funding bills we’ve passed, the government will open up tomorrow. The sole problem is his insistence that we pay for his efforts to cram his expensive insurance down Americans’ throats.”
MYTH #2: THAT IT’S A MORE PALATABLE POLITICAL STRATEGY TO “DELAY,” RATHER THAN DEFUND.
Hey, dummies!
You understand, don’t you, that the “continuing resolution” only lasts for, at most, one year? Under ordinary circumstances, limitations on funding contained in the CR expire at the end of the year, unless they are renewed -- and there is considerable legislative momentum to do so. You can have a permanent restriction on the CR (although the rules would have to be waived to do so), but no one’s insisting on that.
So, for the people who are arguing for “delay” on the grounds that “defunding” is unachievable, here’s some news: Your major option would be exactly the same language as Cruz-Lee.
MYTH #3: THAT OBAMA IS “SALIVATING” OVER THE CHANCE TO BLAME REPUBLICANS FOR SHUTTING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT.
And how do we know that? Answer: Because Obama told us so, in leaks to the sycophant media.
Which leads to this question: If Obama and the liberals are so convinced that Republicans would destroy themselves by defunding ObamaCare, why would they not want them to do so?
Instead, Obama’s allies are frantically fighting the Lee-Cruz option. This should tell you something about how they really feel.
MYTH #4: THAT OBAMA WOULD NEVER SIGN SUCH A BILL DEFUNDING OBAMACARE, HIS “SIGNATURE INITIATIVE.”
There is every evidence that the roll-in for the exchanges (beginning October 1) and, hence the mandate, are going to be excruciating for enough Americans to constitute a political tsunami.
In New Hampshire, where there is only one company on the exchange, the state’s largest newspaper let slip that the cheapest policy would be $398 a month. Thus, for a new graduate earning $35,000 (saddled with debt and earning too much to get any significant subsidy) this would constitute one-seventh of his or her income – for a “transfer payment” he or she will never use.
HHS has bragged that young people in selected places can get CATASTROPHIC policies -- which they will never, ever use -- for a “mere” $1,200 a year. Of course, this is like taking $1,200 of your meager income and burning it.
And all of this will be revealed on the day (October 1) that the new fiscal year begins.
Take into consideration, particularly given the configuration of the 2014 Senate races, that the GOP would not require every American to hate ObamaCare. If only one-third loathed it, this would be politically transformational.
Already, 20 House Democrats have defected on postponing the individual mandate. And, if it gets messy, they will be beating down the door to Obama’s office.
MYTH #5: THAT FORCING A CONFRONTATION ON THE CR WOULD SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT, BUT ALLOW OBAMACARE TO CONTINUE DURING THE SHUTDOWN.
This is not true on either count.
Since Reagan’s second term, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Management and Budget have promulgated guidance allowing most of the desirable discretionary functions of government and virtually all of the entitlements to continue as “essential functions,” even with no CR.
Furthermore, if the House really wants to chime in on keeping Social Security, air traffic controllers, national parks, etc., it can pass a bill stating that these are essential functions which will not be interrupted. Thus, their continuation pursuant to Article I, Section 9, and the Antideficiency Act will be in accordance with the “law.”
As to the question of whether you can cut off ObamaCare through appropriations, the answer is that the important question is whether you can cut off the mandate. And CRS grudgingly concedes that the answer appears to be “yes.” (And, incidentally, if you can’t enforce the mandate, everything else eventually dries up.)
CRS concedes that the $1 billion of previously appropriated funds to the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund (HIRIF) that has previously been used to fund the IRS “would be obligated by the end of FY 2012.” IRS enforcement of the mandate is not a “nonrecurring expense” which can be funded from a fund for that purpose, cannot be funded by any trust fund established under ObamaCare, and, at a cost of $400 million, is too large to be legally reprogrammed from another account.
Finally, the Antideficiency Act has been interpreted, without a CR, to prohibit “all audit functions, examination of returns, and processing of non-electronic tax returns that did not include remittances…” [CRS p.8]
The CRS argues that the IRS would just start levying penalties once Republicans capitulated.
ANSWER: Don’t capitulate. If Congress succeeds in prohibiting funds for the mandate, the answer is “no,” the IRS will not be able to enforce the mandate for the duration of the CR.
MYTH # 6: THAT THE PROBLEM WOULD BE SOLVED BY A 60-TO-75-DAY CR THAT WOULD POSTPONE THE DEBATE UNTIL “EARLY- TO MID-NOVEMBER.”
Which leads to these questions, “Can you add?” and “Do you think we can’t?”
Now a short-term CR might be a very good idea. And, in fact, the House should send Harry Reid a short-term CR every day, along with its ObamaCare-free long-term CR.
But a 75-day CR expires on December 14, which opens the door for the strategy of forcing capitulation by threatening to take away Congress’ Christmas vacation.
MYTH #7: THAT REPUBLICANS HAVE LOST EVERY BUDGET “SHOW DOWN FIGHT” THAT THEY HAVE SERIOUSLY WAGED.
In 1995-6 House Speaker Newt Gingrich was unapologetic about his desire to shut down the government in order to achieve a balanced budget.
So what happened?
The public turned against Gingrich only after he cowered. The GOP picked up three seats in the Senate. It retained control of the House with 227 seats and lost only three. Clinton would have been ousted had Republicans not nominated a stand-for-nothing nasty old man as their candidate. And the negotiations springing from that conflict produced a balanced budget and fiscal austerity. It was the most successful legislative strategy in our lifetime.
The second most successful strategy was in July 2011, when conservatives -- holding back the GOP leadership -- stalled the debt limit for a month. Obama’s poll numbers went down 10 points and, although not our preference, the impasse-related sequestration is being lauded by the stand-for-nothings as the only successful thing Congress has done.
MYTH #8: THAT “EVEN THE DEFUND RINGLEADERS ADMIT -- AT LEAST IN PRIVATE -- THAT THIS FIGHT ISN’T GOING TO END WITH A DEFUNDED LAW.”
Speak for yourself, Tonto!
The “gun lobby,” of which I am a part of, just beat back an Obama gun control initiative while every major institution in America (including the Murdoch empire) -- pronounced doom upon us. Similarly, we waded into the immigration battle, and that Obama “sure thing” is now in question. In July, 2011, I was in the middle of the fight over the debt limit, and, during the month in which we stalled a Republican leadership cave-in, Obama’s numbers went down 10 points.
So, spare me the hopeless cringing of the “coward wing” of the conservative movement. They have done us more damage than MSNBC.
MYTH #9: THAT AS THE “DELAY” FACTION ARGUES, “IF AND WHEN A DEFUND BILL FAILS TO PROCEED IN HARRY REID’S SENATE, REPUBLICANS NEED A SAVVY AND PROACTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO SHUTDOWN.”
Huh?
For the last three years, I have been pushing for Senate GOP leaders to introduce a mandate repeal, move it onto the calendar under Rule XIV, and move to proceed to it. I have prolonged discussions with DeMint’s top guru about how to grab the floor in a minute where no preemptive motion to proceed is pending.
And during that time, I have seen no indication of anyone else pushing to force the issue to the Senate floor with any strategy, savvy or otherwise.
MYTH #10: THAT OBAMACARE IS INEVITABLE BECAUSE “A DEMOCRAT-CONTROLLED SENATE…IS UNLIKELY TO PASS ANY LEGISLATION BLOCKING FUNDING, AND OBAMA WON’T SIGN ANY MEASURE THAT DOES SO.”
A majority of House Republicans need neither the Senate nor Obama’s signature to shut down the mandate
If there is no CR, the CRS, DOJ, and OMB opinions state that IRS can’t enforce the mandate.
House Republicans just need to stay firm in opposition to approving any CR that funds the mandate. All that will take is 117 votes, plus observance of the Hastert Rule.
There will be one of two outcomes: Either Obama and Reid will relent on their principles, or the House Republicans will.
The question is: If ObamaCare becomes a reality because Obama is firm on his principles -- and Republicans don’t care about theirs -- what will that tell the GOP base in 2014 and 2016?
Mike Hammond is GOA’s Legislative Counsel.

Is God Still Revealing Truth?

Is God Still Revealing Truth?
by John MacArthur - gty.org

The Truth About Hell

by Tommy Clayton - Article Link - gty.org
More than 150,000 people die every day. That’s 4.5 million each month, a number that exceeds the population of Los Angeles. Add to that the number of dead throughout human history—it’s a staggering figure. Tragically, many of those people died without knowing Christ. What fate awaits them? Do they really Rest In Peace, or do they find a different reality beyond the grave?
Sadly, those who reject God and His way of salvation don’t find rest when they die. They enter into eternal hell where there’s no peace for the wicked. That’s a grim, terrible reality, and it’s what the Bible teaches.
The real conflict over the biblical doctrine of hell is essentially an issue of authority. What the Bible affirms about hell forces you to believe or disbelieve, to accept or reject. It’s back to the same question that confronts everyone: Do you believe the Bible, or do you not? At the end of the day, the answer determines the fate of every person who ever lived.
The Bible is the only authority source that tells the truth about death, hell, and eternity. The Bible has the final word on that subject—and on every subject—because it is a revealed book. It has come from God, from the spiritual realm, and has the answers about where all of us will spend eternity one day.
So, what does the Bible teach about hell?
Hell Is
Far from legend, myth, metaphor, or allegory, the Bible presents hell as a real place where wicked people suffer the wrath of God. Consider these vivid portraits of hell from three different New Testament writers:
Then the King will say to those on His left, “Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”…These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:4146)

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43)

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
Scripture presents a terrifyingly clear case for a literal hell. It’s a place where God punishes unbelievers for all eternity. Contrary to what some so-called evangelicals are teaching, hell is not a state of mind or a hard life on this earth. Your state of mind can change; your circumstances can improve. Hell never changes, never improves. Hell is not chastisement; it’s everlasting, insufferable punishment at the hands of an angry God.
According to the revelation Jesus gave to the apostle John, the fate of every unbeliever is to,
…drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger. And he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. They have no rest day and night. (Revelation 14:10-11)
Jesus and Hell
Though every New Testament author acknowledges the doctrine of hell, Jesus has the most to say about it. The existence of hell wasn’t something He questioned, debated, or defended, and He certainly didn’t apologize for it. He assumed the reality of hell just as much as He did the resurrection (John 5:28-29). Jesus viewed hell as a real place, a certainty, and so should you. in fact, He’s the model on how you should think about hell.
When Jesus talked about hell, His purpose was always to warn, not to raise questions or plant doubts. Consider the graphic words He used to portray hell—they clearly aren’t meant to provide comfort, but to frighten.
According to Jesus, hell is a place of outer darkness (Matthew 22:13) where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12). Hell is a fiery furnace (Matthew 13:4250) of unquenchable fires (Mark 9:48-49). Hell is a place of spiritual and bodily destruction (Matthew 10:28) where there are endless torments (Luke 16:23-24). Hell is most certainly a place, a horrific place where agonizing conditions exist.
No Way Out
Have you ever been stuck somewhere in a situation beyond your control—an airplane, an elevator, a jail cell? In times like those we usually have a reasonable hope of rescue or escape.
Remember the mine that collapsed last year in Chile? Thirty-three miners were trapped thousands of feet below ground. It took sixty-nine days, but all of them were rescued from their underground tomb.
We love stories like that—against unthinkable odds, finding a surprise exit route or the execution of a successful rescue in the eleventh hour. But that’s not possible when it comes to hell. God built the prison of hell, and there are no doors or windows. God is hell’s jailer, and there is no key. There are no escape routes, and no one is powerful enough to rescue anyone out of His hand. That’s why Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Hell offers no means of escape, rescue, or relief—no way out, ever. The occupants of hell are sealed in their damnation (Rev. 22:11). Friends and family can’t help; God won’t help. The time for mercy has passed.
As one who knows exactly what awaits the wicked, Jesus told the story of a rich man who was tormented in hell:
And the rich man cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.”

But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” (Luke 16:24-26)
Dante seemed to understand that message. His imaginary inscription over hell’s entrance, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” rightly pictured hell as a place where mercy and hope are left at the door. But some reject that view, believing against Scripture’s testimony that God gives people a second chance. Some still say there’s a postmortem opportunity to believe the gospel, repent, and be saved. That may sound appealing (especially to sinners), but it doesn’t come from the Bible.
Others hold to a form of universalism that holds out the false hope that hell is not the final destination for sinners. In their view, God’s redeeming work doesn’t stop at death. God will eventually reconcile every creature to Himself—yes, even those in hell. As British evangelist John Blanchard put it,
All the ways to hell are one-way streets. The idea that those who go there will eventually be released and join the rest of humanity in heaven has not a shred of biblical evidence to support it.

Children are sometimes told fictional adventure stories with the delightful ending: “And they all lived happily ever after.” We call that kind of story a fairy tale. Universalism is exactly that. (John Blanchard, “Whatever Happened to Hell?”)
In the face of such clear, undeniable evidence about hell from the pages of Scripture, it seems absurd that professed evangelicals would challenge the existence, nature, or eternality of hell. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Satan continues his efforts to make sin less offensive, heaven less appealing, hell less horrific, and the gospel less urgent.
Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices. The Word of God leaves no doubt about the existence or nature of hell. With clarity and authority, God has told us everything we need to know about hell, and how to avoid it through the merits of Christ.
Tommy Clayton
Content Developer and Broadcast Editor

Related Resources:

Do Pope Francis's Remarks Have Prophetic Implications?

Written by Mike Gendron 
As Christ is calling His people out of the world with the truth of His Word, Satan is holding people captive with his lies. While Christ is preparing His bride for the wedding feast of the Lamb, Satan is using his harlot to gather all unbelievers together to worship the AntiChrist.
In a wide-ranging interview published Thursday from Jesuit journals, Pope Francis said the church is not to "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians. This comment comes after the explosive comments he made in July about not judging homosexuals. His motivation for such statements is not known, but he appears to be overly tolerant as he suppresses the truth of God's Word. Christians know the only hope for any unredeemed sinner, including homosexuals, is to be lovingly confronted with God's Word and then called to repentance and faith in the Gospel. For the pope to say the church is not to interfere spiritually in the lives of sinners is the same strategy of Satan. It is his goal to keep people from hearing the Word of Christ because he knows the truth with set them free from the power of sin and religious deception (Rom. 10:17John 8:31). By the way, this was the same reason the Catholic Church put the Bible on the list of forbidden books at the Council of Trent.
When asked if he approves of homosexuality, he replied, "Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?' This pope continues to show his ignorance of God's word. All sinners, including homosexuals are condemned by God until they repent and believe His Gospel. Only then is there legal status before the holy judge changed from condemnation to justification.
The pope said, "The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent...We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards." Tragically, the false and fatal gospel of the Roman Catholic religion has no power to overcome the flagrant immorality of the unregenerate Catholic clergy and their followers. Quite frankly, I am surprised the Catholic church has not yet fallen like a house of cards. Catholics should be leaving their religion in droves as they witness the growing corruption and scandals of pedophile priests preying on young boys. Sadly, many Catholics ignore it all because of their fierce loyalty to what they believe is the "one true church" that will get them to heaven after they are purified in purgatory. This is a great time to evangelize Catholics since they don't know who or what to believe. We must point them to Christ and His Word for truth! 

The Critical Value of the Bible - Part One

by T. A. McMahon - thebereancall.org - Article Link
Sep 1 2013
Sep NL.jpg
But [Jesus] answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  — Matthew: 4:4
Those of us who have been Christians for a number of years can sometimes lose sight of the critical value of the Bible in our lives. I’m not referring to those whose walk with the Lord could be characterized as lukewarm at best. I’m thinking more of those who consider themselves to be Bible-believing Christians, who attend and participate in a Bible-based church, who enjoy fellowship with committed believers, and who generally see the fruit of the Spirit in themselves and in their families. As great as those things might be, however, they can also dull to some degree (call it a creeping complacency) one’s awareness of how miraculous and necessary the Scriptures are. What I have in mind for this article is to underscore some things about the Bible that perhaps we’ve heard before and some things of which we may not have even been aware. The goal is to refresh our thinking and our thankfulness for God’s supernatural communication to mankind.
Here are some general thoughts about God’s Word that relate to all of mankind: without the Bible, humanity would be nearly clueless about God; without the Bible, people would be completely deluded about their moral condition; without the Bible, humanity would have no idea what its purpose might be; without the Bible, mankind is lost in a condition of hopelessness and worse. For Christians, however, if we are not serious about the Word of God, we may still be semi-clueless about God, about our moral condition, about our purpose in God’s plan (or clueless about the plan itself), and ill-equipped to deal with the problems of life. In fact, we may struggle as much as nonbelievers. So, what we think about the Bible and what we do about it are very important concerns.
Without the Bible, as I said, mankind would be nearly clueless about God. I say “nearly” because creation does give us indications of God’s attributes—in particular His omnipotence and His omniscience. Although evolutionists rail against intelligent design, it is obvious to any reasonable mind that the Intelligence behind creation must be all powerful and all knowing. Both the vastness of the universe and the incredible complexity of cellular and molecular life would indicate that the Designer must be omnipresent as well. Regarding creation,Romans:1:20 tells us (although in somewhat general terms) that mankind is without excuse, i.e., we are accountable to God, in terms of acknowledging and seeking after Him.
God has not, however, left humanity without specific information regarding what He wants us to know. What information has he given us? We can read about His attributes, His personality, His purpose and plan for mankind, and His relationship with His created beings (or lack thereof). That’s what the Bible is about, and then some. Furthermore, through it we can learn about the nature of humans when they were first created, as well as the change in that nature due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience, which affected all creation.
The Bible is a history book. From man’s creation, to God separating and preparing the Israelites as a chosen people to whom He would send the Savior of the world and to whom their Messiah will return.
It is a prophetic book, declaring the significant events that will take place in the future, including the Lord’s return for His church, after which will fall a time of unprecedented devastation and tribulation upon the earth. Next those left in the world will experience the thousand-year earthly reign of Christ, followed by the end of this present world and the creation of a new heaven and earth (Revelation:21:1).
The Bible is the Manufacturer’s Handbook, an instructional manual telling mankind what God wants us to know and do in order to live our lives righteously, fruitfully, and in a manner that is glorifying to Him.
The Bible is the only objective source of information for developing a personal, intimate relationship with God, who is love. It is His personal letter to us containing His words of counsel, comfort, encouragement, blessings, correction, protection, forgiveness, judgments, mercy, and grace.
The Bible reveals the true nature and heart of every human. It sets the record straight on what is morally and spiritually good…and evil.
Without God’s Word, His direct communication to His rational creatures, we have only man’s opinions, speculations, and guesses about God, not to mention the lies introduced by God’s chief adversary, Satan. Regarding the latter, his strategy from his first dialogue with Eve had been to turn humanity away from God’s words: “Yea, hath God said…?” (Genesis:3:1).
But are the words of the Bible indeed God’s words? That’s what the Scriptures claim. From Genesis through Revelation, in addition to the more than 4,000 explicit phrases such as “Thus saith the Lord” and “The Word of the Lord came to me,” we find God personally speaking to various prophets and other individuals. For example, in Jeremiah:9:23-24 God discloses characteristics about Himself that are beyond man’s ability to discover without His revelation of them: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”
God the Father spoke to Jesus after His baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration. After His ascension, God the Son spoke to Saul on the road to Damascus and He spoke to John on the island of Patmos. The Apostle Paul declares to Timothy that, “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God .” He also thanks God for the believers in Thessalonica because when they received the teachings from Paul they “received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (2 Timothy:3:161 Thessalonians:2:13). Peter, referring to his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, declared, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter:1:20-21).
Although we have a host of biblical statements claiming God’s personal communication to mankind, the Bible nevertheless gives a prerequisite, something that must come first, before anyone can understand His communication and truly know God. We must be born again . Speaking to Nicodemus, one of the religious leaders of the Jews, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John:3:3). Paul explains why being born of the Spirit of God is the only way that God can be known: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians:2:14). Once we turn to God and by faith believe the gospel, the good news that Jesus, who is God, became a man to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind, we are born of the Spirit. We become new creatures in Christ, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians:5:17).
Unless I have the Spirit of God, I have only my fleshly mind to rely upon to know God—which is an impossibility. Jesus declared that “the flesh profiteth nothing.” Paul wrote, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (John:6:63Romans:8:5-6).
Not only does the Bible claim that its words are God’s direct revelation to mankind, but it also claims that the words of God are absolutely true. Psalm:119:160 states, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John:17:17). Not only does the Bible make numerous claims of being the truth of God, but it gives support of those claims in a verifiable way. That is called prophecy .
In the Book of Isaiah, God establishes Himself as the God of Prophecy. He challenges the pagans to prove the reality of their gods by having them foretell future events, something only He can do: “Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together….And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any” (Isaiah:41:22-23; 44:7-8).
Nearly a third of the Bible contains detailed prophecies of future events, most of them related to Israel and the First and Second comings of the Messiah. Israel, the Lord declares, will be a witness to the world of God’s direct involvement with humanity: “Ye are my witnesses...and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Isaiah:43:10). In other words, God will use them and their land to be “witnesses” both to themselves and to the world—not only that He exists but that He is actively involved in shaping the history of Israel as well as bringing about His purpose for all of mankind.
Prophecy is compelling proof for the existence of God, and it is also evidence that the Bible is exactly what it claims to be—His Word! “What proof?” someone might ask. The answer is found in the fulfillment of what God prophesied. He announced to Abraham (Genesis:12:1), and then to Isaac (Genesis:26:3), and after that to Jacob (Genesis:28:13) that He would give them the land “from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis:15:18), and that this Promised Land would be theirs. It’s a fact of history, as the book of Joshua records, that the Israelites took possession of the land that God promised. Although His promise was irrevocable, He nevertheless warned them that should they cease to obey Him He would cast them out of the land for a time: disobedient Israel “shall be plucked from off the land whither [they go] to possess it” (Deuteronomy:28:63).
They were, and He did—resulting in the Assyrian captivity of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Babylonian captivity of the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Jeremiah prophesied that the captives would return from Babylon to Jerusalem “when 70 years [were] accomplished” (Jeremiah:25:12). Even so, a still more devastating dispersion of the Jews was foretold: “And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy:28:64).
This, the last major diaspora, took place when the Roman army under Titus destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Not only have the Jews been widely dispersed, as the Bible predicted, but God’s Word also gives details as to how they would be treated: “And I will...deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them” (Jeremiah:29:18). This treatment would be known as anti-Semitism, carried out by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, raised to a demonic level by Hitler, practiced from the 7th century onward, and continued today by Islam—yet it was first prophesied by Moses (Deuteronomy:28:37) 3,500 years ago!
It would seem that this dispersion, along with accompanying persecutions and attempts at annihilating the Jews, would have placed God in an untenable position. After all, He promised unconditionally to Abram (Abraham) that the Promised Land “which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Genesis:13:15). The Lord declared also that while Israel would not go unpunished, He would “not make a full end of thee” but would “save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob [Israel] shall return” (Jeremiah:30:11; 46:27). That a scattered and persecuted minority could live for 2,000 years or more among other races without being absorbed into them (especially when doing so could have avoided endless repression) and yet remain a uniquely identifiable ethnic group, is inconceivable—it is certainly beyond chance and without precedence in world history. Add to this astonishing fact that they would then be gathered from around the world and brought back to the land that God had promised to them more than three thousand years ago. Yet as the world knows, this took place “officially” in 1948 when Israel was recognized as a sovereign nation.
God’s Word is indeed just that: the very words of God. Fulfilled biblical prophecy is the undeniable proof that mankind has direct access to the God of all creation. That fact should make the Bible the most exciting book in the world, which it is. Believers who have lost that excitement need only to get back into it on a daily basis.
More on the critical value of the Bible in Part Two.  TBC