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Friday, October 31, 2014

Prophecy Run Amok 2: Fearmongering

by T. A. McMahon - Article Link - thebereancall.org
Nov 1 2014
As was noted in part one of this series, prophecy is a very important ingredient in the Bible. In a general sense, the entire Bible is prophecy because God has given mankind His words through His prophets. It is also God foretelling what will take place in the future. That forecasting is what God presents to set Himself apart from the false gods that mankind is deceived into worshiping. God alone knows the future events, which He has declared hundreds and even thousands of years before they take place. Moreover, His foreknowledge of such events, revealed in more than a quarter of the Scriptures, is proof of the supernatural origin and nature of the Bible—that it is indeed God’s communication to mankind (Isaiah:42:9; 46:9-10; 48:5).
Prophecy is often a warning regarding what lies ahead so that believers can discern the times and take appropriate action. This gives unbelievers the opportunity to repent in order to avoid God’s judgment. Noah, a preacher of righteousness, was told by God that He would destroy everything that lived upon the earth by a flood (which didn’t come until about 120 years later) and that He would save Noah and his family; He told Abram that his descendants would remove the Canaanites from their land because of their wickedness, an event that took place four centuries later; Joseph was able to interpret the dream of Pharaoh warning of the famine to come upon Egypt in seven years, and then he was given a plan to keep the Egyptians from potential starvation; Jonah warned the Ninevites of God’s impending judgment unless they repented, which they did. Yet most of the Old Testament prophecies from Genesis:3:15 through Malachi:3:1 anticipated the first coming of Israel’s Messiah and have been fulfilled perfectly by Jesus Christ.
Prophecies in the New Testament primarily address events associated with the time period of the Second Coming of our Lord. Matthew 24 begins with Jesus characterizing that time with a warning of great deception, including false christs, false prophets, and lying signs and wonders. It then foretells “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (vv. 21-22). The book of Revelation supplies some of the Tribulation details as God pours out His wrath in judgment upon the earth. There will be a conquering army of the Antichrist, world war, worldwide famine, the death of half of the world’s inhabitants (Revelation:6:8, 9:15), the massive martyrdom of believers, worldwide physical catastrophes involving mountains moved out of their places, and mankind trying to hide itself from God’s judgment. Of those who turn to Christ and are martyred for their faith during the Great Tribulation, Scripture tells us, “the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation:7:17).
So there is good news and bad news in biblical prophecy. The best of the good news was the first coming of Jesus in order to pay the full penalty for our sins and to reconcile us to God by our faith in Him alone. Having received the gift of eternal life, the next best prophetic good news for a believer is the first phase of Christ’s Second Coming, known as the Rapture. The Apostle Paul refers to that event as the believer’s “blessed hope,” which we are to anticipate with joy because Jesus is returning to take us, the bride of Christ, to Heaven for a wedding: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus:2:13).  “For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation:19:9). That is indeed good news.
Sadly, when a professing or true Christian sets a date for the Rapture to take place, an act that is contrary to what the Bible teaches (Matthew:24:36, 44; Mark:13:321 Timothy:6:14-15), and that event fails to happen, people grow disillusioned and the good news becomes bad news. In some cases, the date setting arises out of a sincere desire for Christ to return for His bride. At other times, it comes from the pride of having an alleged insight into a biblical interpretation that no one has discovered before. Although both predictions may be sincere, they are sincerely wrong and have caused physical and/or spiritual problems among those who believed their erroneous teachings.
No matter who brings the false teachings, some experience disastrous consequences from them. In the 1980s, millions believed the calculations of former NASA scientist Edgar Whisenant regarding Christ’s return through his booklet 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 and his other misfires in 1989, 1993, and 1994. Also in the ’80s, Southwest Radio Church published Apocalyptic Signs in the Heavens , which saw catastrophic consequences for the earth due to the “Jupiter Effect,” a planetary alignment that would purportedly alter our solar system. Just prior to that, Southwest Radio’s David Webber and Noah Hutchings co-authored Is This the Last Century? published by Thomas Nelson. Based in part on Hal Lindsey’s calculation that the Rapture would take place in 1981, they concluded that the seven-year Great Tribulation would begin soon after.
Although many conservative Christians considered the “rapture and doom” prognosticators to be sensationalists, attitudes changed as the turn of the century drew near. The increasing talk of a worldwide computer meltdown was too much for many Christians to brush off, especially when Y2K concerns were being raised by respected evangelicals such as James Dobson, Gary North, Jerry Falwell, Jack Van Impe, Chuck Missler, and many others. The year 2000 made its debut in grand fashion when the world, rather than hunkering down, began celebrating the new century with spectacular fireworks. On the other hand, many of those who were misled by church leaders suffered “survival” consequences: losses from selling their homes, quitting their jobs, and relocating to the country, along with the expenditure of large amounts of money for stockpiles of survival food, firearms, generators, and other survival equipment. Many were overtaken by fear, and some succumbed to suicide over their financial losses.
Fast-forward to 2012 and the Mayan Calendar scare, another “prophesied” end-of-the-world apocalyptic nightmare that turned out to be wrong. Fear is often the response of those who have no hope, not having put their trust in Jesus, the only One who can make us eternally secure. Sadly, even many of those who claim to have a personal relationship with Christ by faith alone demonstrate by their actions that their trust is elsewhere.
Of course, we are not saying that we shouldn’t be prudent in making preparations for potential disasters whether they are natural, technological, or financial. Having a one- or two-week supply of food and water on hand could be very helpful, especially if one lives in an area that is prone to weather-related catastrophes. A reasonable amount of accessible cash may also be practical. In most cases, however, to go much beyond this may lead to a self-oriented “survivalist” mentality, which is at odds with the examples and instructions of the Word of God. Stockpiling food or turning to gold for survival could create an attitude of selfishness, especially when others in the disaster are without and in great need. To share, or not to share, that is the biblical question. Does one protect his goods at all cost? Scripture tells us, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke:6:21). Who would deny that they would want someone to share their food with them if they and their families were hungry? Furthermore, the Bible tells us how we are to treat our neighbors and even our enemies: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink” (Romans:12:20).
Believers need to think such things through in the light of Scripture, particularly since our days are loaded with fearmongering false prophets and some “survival food” con men preaching certain doom. The latest to conjure up forthcoming dark clouds on the horizon are those who promote the teaching that there may well be a combination of two prophetic events taking place in the year 2015 that could result in unprecedented physical cataclysms and financial crashes. The use of italics for “may well be” and “could” is given to note that those purveyors of disasters have used such language in order to cover themselves from being accused of false prophecy. Even so, those “disclaimer” terms are lost in the hyperbole of their fearmongering.
The two leaders in this alleged confluence of biblical tribulations are Jonathan Cahn ( The Mystery of Shemitah ) and Mark Biltz ( The Blood Moons). They are supported by a cast of false teachers and sensationalists and their associated organizations that include Jim Bakker, Sid Roth, John Hagee, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club , and Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, to name but a few.
What then of the biblical significance of the so-called mystery of shemitah and blood moons? There is none in the context in which Cahn and Biltz present them. Cahn promotes shemitah as a universal principle that applies to all nations and “their financial and economic realms.” No. Shemitah was given exclusively to Israel as a blessing should God’s chosen people follow His commandment. It involved obeying the seventh day of the week as a day of rest and every seventh year as a year of rest. God promised to make provision on the sixth day and year to supply the Israelites’ needs during their day/year of rest. Also, during the seventh year there was to be a “release” of all the debts of the Israelites. Jonathan Cahn further compounds the central error that he taught in his book The Harbinger by applying a law of God to America—a law that applies only to God’s exclusive covenant people: the Jews. This is false prophecy in the sense that it seriously misrepresents the Scriptures. Cahn is heavily promoted by WorldNetDaily, which heralds him as a modern-day prophet and revealer of “ The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future .” Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily’s chief, is the producer of Cahn’s documentaryIsaiah:9:10 Judgment , and the website is a chief supporter of Cahn’s books.
The blood moons teaching of Mark Biltz is also false prophecy because, as with Cahn’s abuse of Scripture, Biltz forces the biblical term into his own agenda. The Bible clearly applies the conditions and the consequences of a blood moon (singular) to the seven-year Tribulation period: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew:24:29); “I beheld when he had broken the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of the heaven fell unto the earth” (Revelation:6:12-13). If Biltz concurs that the “blood moon” verses take place during the Great Tribulation, then 2015 must occur in the latter part of the Tribulation. What does that indicate for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture? It either took place in 2008 and was a partial Rapture, or it will be a Post-Tribulation Rapture, neither of which is biblical.
If Cahn’s and Biltz’s beliefs were merely a matter of false teachings that are of the faith-wrecking kind among the multitudes of those who buy into their unbiblical assertions, it would be tragic enough. They have, however, become the latest tool of the evangelical fearmongers as they apply their prophetic distortions to alleged soon-coming financial crashes and physical catastrophes worse than any thus experienced on the earth. Their promotional appearances with Jim Bakker, as just one example, would give credibility to the snake oil pitchmen of yesteryear (2 Peter:2:3). After Biltz declares, “I think we have one year to really prepare for what God [has] coming,” Bakker responds, “It’s time to get ready. That’s why God has called me to tell you to store food…you don’t have to order from us to hear the Word of the Lord. But you should have food….What are you gonna do when the stock market crashes?....We have the Morningside recipes….We have the Year of Food for $550 dollars….One of these days it will all be gone. One more event…I’m telling you, if we have a big earthquake on the West Coast or say a volcano going on, or something major, there will not be any food left for months and months….We have…‘The Time of Trouble’ offer, and that’s a seven-year food offer, and that’s for a donation of $3,000…[that’s] 7,700 meals.” Biltz adds that what’s ahead is the “Super Bowl of human history and people need to get ready and that’s what I believe these are signs of” (http://jimbakkershow.com/video/mystery-sevens/). Joining the false signs-and-wonders teacher Rodney Howard-Browne for his Celebrate America Conference, Jonathan Cahn told the audience, “The financial collapse of the US dollar may happen on Sunday the 13th of September 2015 corresponding to the 29 of Elul 5775 on the Hebrew calendar, the next shemitah of the 7 year cycle.”
WorldNetDaily devotes numerous pages to selling survival food as well as self-defense and preparedness gear. Thomas Horn, author ofNephilim Stargates , is another distorter of biblical prophecy who claims that the Nephilim have returned and who also sees blood moons as a foreboding of things to come. As CEO of SurvivorMall.com, his website features hundreds of supplies to supposedly help Christians to be prepared for the last days.
What’s wrong with the present conjured-up scenarios that relate to pending catastrophes? Will there be a time of utter devastation that the world hasn’t experienced since Noah’s worldwide flood? Yes. However, it will happen according to God’s chronology and not according to man’s ideas about when it will happen and how to prepare for and survive it. The timeline is given in the Scriptures, beginning with Christ’s returning for His bride (believers in Him) to take them to Heaven prior to the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation, during which God pours out His wrath upon the entire world. Even a cursory reading of what takes place as presented in the Book of Revelation clearly shows the futility and folly of imagined survival tactics. No, survival during the Great Tribulation will be only by God’s miraculous intervention for those who come to Christ during that time period. Prior to the Tribulation, believers are “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come,” keeping in mind that “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thessalonians:1:10; 5:9-10).
Our living together with Him involves pleasing Him in every way, and our waiting involves opportunities by His grace to be fruitful and productive with joy as we look for our “blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus:2:13).  TBC

Reformation Day and the Righteousness of God

497 years ago today, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation. Nearly 500 years later, God’s people reserve this day to celebrate the rescue of His Word from the shackles of Roman Catholic tyranny, corruption, and heresy. The glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the sufficient Scriptures had been recovered, and it’s been doing its saving work ever since.
Romans 1:16–17 stands at the heart of the Reformation, especially because of how central it was in Luther’s conversion. Luther speaks of how he had hated the phrase, “the righteousness of God,” because he understood it to be speaking only of God’s standard of righteousness by which He would judge unrighteous sinners. But eventually, he says, “I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.”
Today, as we reflect upon and remember the grace of God that fell upon the world in the Protestant Reformation, I want to reflect upon the Gospel that made it happen—and particularly the concept of righteousness which was so central to the regeneration of the great reformer. And to do that I want to focus on another text that Paul penned, which gives us wonderful insight into the saving righteousness of God. In Philippians 3:9, Paul explains what it means to be found in Christ—namely, “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (NKJV).
In this verse, Paul contrasts two different kinds of righteousness. And really he is contrasting two systems of salvation, because the only way one can be saved is to be found righteous before God. And though Paul is contrasting Christianity with Judaism in particular, what he says about Judaism can be applied to every other religious system in the world. As John MacArthur has often said, there are only two categories of religion in the world: (a) the religion of human achievement, where man works to achieve his own righteousness; and (b) the religion of divine accomplishment, where God accomplishes righteousness on man’s behalf and then freely gives that righteousness as a gift. The religion of divine accomplishment is Christianity. The religion of human achievement is every other religious system in the history of mankind. These two religions delineated very carefully in Philippians 3:9.
The Source of Righteousness
Note first the source of saving righteousness. Paul says, “…not having my own righteousness,which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from Godby faith.”
In the religion of human achievement, the source of righteousness is law-keeping. There is some moral and/or ritualistic standard by which man is to order his life, and if he does that successfully, he may achieve a righteousness that is acceptable to his god. He earns his righteousness by keeping a law—by doing good works—whether that’s the Law of Moses or Roman sacramental system, his hope is that obedience to that standard is able to provide righteousness.
But in the religion of divine accomplishment, the source of righteousness is God Himself. InGalatians 3:21, Paul says that no law has been given which is able to impart life. Because of humanity’s total depravity—because the depth of our sinfulness runs to the very core of our being—the only thing that law could do was to arouse our sinful passions and demonstrate our inability to obey as we ought. That’s why Paul says in Romans 3:20: “…by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in [God’s] sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Because we are sinful to the core, the standards of God’s righteousness can never free us from sin; they can only point out where we have continued to fall short of God’s standard.
And so Paul doesn’t want a righteousness that is sourced in the law; no such thing could exist! Rather, he says, “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested…even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Rom 3:21). Paul says, “My old way of life in Judaism could only have provided me a righteousness sourced in the Law. But that kind of righteousness could never save. I count that kind of righteousness as refuse, for the sake of gaining Christ. Because in Him, I have the righteousness which comes from God.”
The Basis of Righteousness
Secondly, notice the basis of saving righteousness. In the religion of human achievement, the basis of righteousness is man’s own obedience. Paul says at the beginning of verse 9, “…not having my own righteousness….” He says, “I don’t want my own righteousness. I don’t want a righteousness that is intrinsic to me, based upon my own obedience. The righteousness that saves must be outside of me. It must be,” as the Reformers called it, “an alien righteousness.”
And the religion of divine accomplishment provides an alien righteousness. Paul says he wants to be found having the righteousness “which is through faith in Christ.” Now, whatever you put your faith in for righteousness is the basis of your righteousness. Paul says the true Christian trustsChrist for righteousness. He puts his faith in the alien righteousness of Christ to earn his acceptance before God.
All of us have broken God’s law. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty that the law required when He died on the cross for the sins of His people. And He not only paid the law’s penalty, but also obeyed all the positive demands of the law as well. And the good news is that when a sinner turns from his sin and puts his faith in Christ for righteousness, God treats Christ as if He lived your life and punishes Him on the cross, and then God treats you as if you lived Christ’s life and gives you eternal life. That’s 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
And so Paul says the basis of justification isn’t our own intrinsic righteousness that we’ve obtained by our own good works. No, the basis of our righteousness is the alien righteousness of Christ that He achieved by dying in our place to pay sin’s penalty, and by living in our place to accomplish righteousness. Judaism could only ever get Paul his own righteousness. And so he counts that righteousness as refuse so that he may be found in Christ. Because united to Him, he gains the righteousness of Christ Himself.
The Means of Righteousness
Third, we need to understand the means by which Christ’s righteousness can be counted to be ours. And it’s very clear in this text. Paul repeats it. He says, “…not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
This is the foundational doctrine of the New Testament—the very heart of the Gospel. Sinners cannot be made right with God by earning their own intrinsic righteousness by keeping commandments—whether the Law of Moses or any other law. No, Paul says, Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”
Why is faith so key to all of this? Well, in Romans 4:16, Paul makes a comment that exposes the logic of salvation. He says in that text, “For this reason, it [i.e., salvation] is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace.” Salvation is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace. Paul is teaching us that there is something inherent in the nature of faith that uniquely corresponds with the free gift of God’s sovereign grace. Paul says elsewhere that if works haveany part of salvation, “grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6). Rather than being the ground upon which we boast, faith is “something which looks out of self, and receives the free gifts of Heaven as being what they are—pure undeserved favor. … Faith justifies, not in a way of merit, not on account of anything in itself, … but as uniting us to Christ” (Andrew Fuller).
Now that is so important, because if my righteousness depends on my doing anything, it becomesmy own righteousness. It is no longer an alien righteousness, and it is not the righteousness of God. Faith is then made into a work, and then grace is no longer grace. If any part of justification is our doing—if we contribute to the basis of our righteousness in any way—then there is no Gospel, and we are all damned in our sins. God’s holiness is so magnificently perfect, His standard is so high, and our depravity is so pervasive, that all of our righteousness must be a free gift of His sovereign grace, because we could never earn it.
The Hope of Righteousness
And if it wasn’t that way, friends, we could never taste the sufficiency of Christ in justification. We could never know Jesus in the way that we do now, as He is all the ground of our righteousness. If there was something we could do that could contribute to our justification, there would be something we could do that could disqualify us from it.
But because your righteousness is an alien righteousness—because your salvation depends on the righteousness of another: the perfect righteousness of the Son of God Himself—you never have to fear that your justification is in jeopardy. If you have truly been born again, if you have been granted the gifts of repentance and faith, and if you presently abandon all hope in a righteousness of your own derived from commandment-keeping, you are justified! You can never be lost! You are as secure in your salvation as Christ is righteous. You can cry with the hymn writer: “Upward I look and see Him there who made an end to all my sin!” and “Behold Him, there, the Risen Lamb! My perfect, spotless righteousness!” and “Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free. For God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.”
There is Jesus, our perfect, spotless, righteousness, who ever lives to make intercession for His people (Heb 7:25)—ever pleading our case before the Father: that He lived, died, and rose again on our behalf—that He has accomplished the righteousness that we could not, and that we have been united to Him by faith. And because of the righteousness of Christ, God graciously counts us to be righteous before Him.
This is the Gospel that is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. This is the Gospel in which the righteousness of God is revealed. And this is the Gospel that Luther recovered in the 16th century. Take time today to thank God for the work that He accomplished in the Reformation.

Black Activists Says it is the Black Politicians That Are Abusing Them

Listen to a black activist declare that the only thing liberals have done for the black community is give them abortion on demand. Listen as several black men say the democrats are pushing neo-liberal agenda and it is the black politicians that are abusing them. You think CBS, NBC, or ABC will play even a portion of this? I am not saying the republicans are really any better because they are not. Yet, I am thankful these black men are speaking out against the race baiters and poverty pimps. Watch this video now!

What Is the First Indication of Turning Away from God?

by Jerry Benjamin - Article Link - thebereancall.org
Nov 1 2014
God created us in His image—with a mind to know Him, a heart to love Him, and a will to obey Him—in order that we might enjoy a living, personal relationship with Him. Hence, the Christian life is not a lifestyle, but fellowship with a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
This Person, to whom we are joined by faith in Him, is to have the preeminence in our life—not prominence, one among many, but preeminence—there is no one else! Thus, our very being is to be captivated by Him and enthralled with the altogether Lovely One. And our lives are to be revealing and reflecting Him.
However, there is one particular attitude that will poison our love for Christ and erode our walk with Him. This disposition of heart, perhaps more than any other, hinders our testimony and diminishes our light, which is designed to be a witness, illuminating the Person of Christ. It perverts the image of Christ in our lives and misrepresents the manifestation of God through our lives. This mindset produces the same spiritual effect as pouring acid on the surface of a bright, new, shiny metal—eating through it, marring the finish, and impairing the reflection. Like a cancer, it continues growing and festering—the tentacles reaching deep within the recesses of our lives. And this conduct, which maligns and defames the goodness of God’s character, is detrimental to His name and reputation. The Word of God declares that it is this attitude that is the first indication of turning away from God.
The attitude is easily identifiable because it is clearly displayed; but we rarely recognize it and acknowledge it for what it is. Instead, we call it by other names in order to excuse it, rationalize it, and justify it, but God is grieved and He calls it sin.
What is it that is so displeasing to God, devastating to our relationship with God, damaging to our fellowship with God and others, as well as distorting our witness as lights revealing Christ? The one attitude that hinders our love for Christ, prevents Christ from having the place of preeminence in our lives, and begins the believer’s turning away from God is not unbelief, anger, disobedience, or rebellion—rather, it is murmuring!
We grumble about many things: We murmur about the food, the weather, taxes, politicians, the media, the temperature (inside and out), our paycheck, the people around us, our inadequate surroundings, poor workmanship, incompetent service, traffic, time (it is either going too fast or too slow), and the decisions made by those in authority, [and even] church services and sermons!
Of course, this list is not intended to be exhaustive, nor is it complete—it is just the “tip of the iceberg!” One lady commented that if she could not murmur, she would have nothing to talk about!
The first indication of turning away from God is an unthankful heart (Rom:1:21), expressed by murmuring, complaining, and grumbling. A thankful heart demonstrates satisfaction, indicating we are resting in the Lord.
The Word and Work of God
God’s Word to us, and His work in us and through us, is completely contrary and diametrically disparate to murmuring.
God’s Word to Us
God is quite clear and very specific when He urges believers, “Do all things without murmurings” (Phil:2:14). This is not optional. God did not say that this is a nice idea or a good suggestion. This is a command of God…. This imperative pertains to all things. God did not say that we are to do some things, most things, the majority of things, nor do as many things as you possibly can without complaining. Rather, God had in mind, “ALL!” I have done extensive research and a thorough examination of the Greek word translated “all” in English, and it means “all”—everything! We do not need to study the original languages to obey God’s Word.
God’s Work in Us
Murmuring expresses disapproval and even rejection of God’s work in us. In the verse preceding the exhortation, “Do all things without murmurings,” God declared, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil:2:13). In the previous chapter, the redeemed are reminded, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil:1:6)—not referring to our work for Christ, but His work in us. Hence, complaining communicates, “God, I don’t like it!” We are conveying to God that if we had the same power and authority that He has, we would be arranging and designing our life quite differently from the way He is doing it! “We are His [God’s] workmanship” (Eph:2:10)—not our own!
God is the One who works in the life of the believer to conform him to the image of Christ (Rom:8:29). The Person of Christ is described by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal:5:22-23). Its nine elements can be personified in two words: Jesus Christ. Christ does not give us the fruit of the Spirit, rather He is the fruit of the Spirit, and His nature is the antithesis of murmuring. Is grumbling an evidence of Christ’s joy? Is murmuring proof of Christ’s peace? The character of Christ—longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance (self-control)—are all the opposite of a murmuring heart.
Christ redeemed us in order to reproduce His life in us so that the world would see the Savior revealed through the saint. My life is to be a reflection of who Christ is, not who I am. The word “Christian” means “to be characterized by Christ.” (The suffix, “ian” signifies to be exemplified by that thing or that one, such as a politician is one typified by politics.) The believer should not be murmuring because the Lord Jesus Christ does not murmur!
God’s Work through Us
Murmuring not only repudiates God’s work in us, but it also tarnishes God’s work through us. Following the admonition that the redeemed are not to be characterized by murmuring, God explained, “that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil:2:15). Murmuring will dim and diminish the believer’s witness and testimony.
“Shine as Lights”
To “shine as lights” signals that the believer’s life is revealing Christ to the world. When God stated, “Work out your own salvation” (v 12), He was not directing the believer to finish the work that God began. Nor are we to adopt the attitude, “Jesus, thank You for saving me and putting me on the right path, going in the right direction, but I can take it from here! I’ll just call on You for the things I am not able to handle!” In the next verse, to preclude that understanding, God emphatically proclaimed, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” The phrase, “work out” carries the idea, “to have translated into a visible form.” God simply reiterated to the believer that the salvation received and implanted through faith in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit, now be “worked out”—be made visible—by the Holy Spirit. Thus, Christ would be manifested in those who have trusted Him in order that others would come to faith in Him. This is to be realized “with fear and trembling”—not what the Lord will do to a Christian if he does not act properly, but what the Christian does to the Lord when he murmurs—blemishes the name of the Lord.
The believer in Jesus Christ is to be “blameless.” The word…literally means “unmixed, unadulterated, undiluted.” In the first century, wine merchants advertised their wine as blameless—not watered-down or weakened, but of the highest quality. Jewelers presented their ornaments as blameless—certifying that they were pure metal, with no alloy added to lessen their value. Murmuring pollutes and dilutes the character of Christ.
“Harmless” is to be a distinguishing trait of the Christian. The word denotes that “it does not hurt” and that it is “of such character that all the poison is removed.” In other words, that which offends, hurts, angers, and causes reaction has been rooted out.
“Sons of God”
The identity of the believer is referred to in the phrase, “sons of God.” The expression, “son of” or “sons of” is an idiom used throughout Scripture that means, “to be identified with.” The defining mark of the Christian is not activity but identity. The redeemed are to be identified with the Redeemer. The “sons of God” are not to be murmuring because the Son of God does not murmur.
The redeemed of the Old Testament, the nation of Israel, came sweeping into the Land of Promise as God’s torch—to bring the light of God into the midst of darkness. But that light was severely diminished amongst the peoples of the land because of the Israelites’ murmuring. Above all else, that which characterized Israel was murmuring and complaining—the besetting sin of those blood-bought believers.
The Words and Works of Man
To comprehend the grievousness and seriousness of murmuring, God uses Israel, His redeemed people, as the example (1 Cor:10:6-10). In summarizing their history, He depicted their failures: “We should not lust after evil things, as they [Israel] also lusted…neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them…neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed…neither let us tempt Christ as some of them also tempted…neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured.”
Much can be learned about God’s estimation of an attitude or action by that with which it keeps company. Murmuring is part of the same category of sins as evil desires, idolatry, immorality, and tempting Christ—the sum of them all is idolatry (v 14), which is simply serving self.
To remind believers today of God’s displeasure with murmuring, God recorded its consequences and causes. And, so that we may live a life well pleasing to Him, He also articulated its cure.
Consequences of Murmuring
Israel unmistakably illustrated the consequence of murmuring. Their murmuring is usually associated with the wilderness wanderings, but their complaining began even before they left Egypt….
In obedience to God, Moses [desired] to do God’s will, but when the leadership of Israel murmured against him, Moses questioned God’s will for his life and became discouraged. (See Exodus 3-5)
Murmuring discourages others by taking the focus off of Christ and fixing it upon the circumstances. Murmuring directs our hearts away from the Savior and deposits it on the situation. Early in our married life, I often came home complaining to my wife about the day’s problems and vexations. Within seconds, I witnessed my cheerful, radiant wife wilt with the onslaught of murmuring, which always leads to discouragement.
A second consequence of murmuring is exposed in the confrontation with Moses. As a result of Israel’s complaining and grumbling, Moses murmured. Murmuring is contagious—it breeds more murmuring. Murmuring does not stop or stay with one person. But again, similar to cancer, it infects other parts of the body (i.e., the Body of Christ) as well as going deep within our own vital organs, and like an infectious disease, spreads rapidly in epidemic proportions.
The first two consequences of murmuring are directed at man—it discourages others and it promotes more murmuring. But the third consequence is far more severe—for it greatly grieves God and brings about God’s deep displeasure, disapproval, and disfavor.
God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, but that did not stop their murmuring. These murmurers found something else about which to complain, “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:…Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth unto this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Ex 16:2-3).
Experiencing freedom for the first time in over four hundred years, Israel murmured because they were hungry. God could have prevented them from being hungry…. But He purposely let them get hungry. Why? They needed to feel the hunger pains so they would realize their need of Him! God desires that the redeemed of the Lord recognize their continuous, daily need of Him.
Beloved, sometimes our loving Heavenly Father brings us to that place, through some circumstance that is painful, stressful, distasteful even agonizing—that we may come to our wits’ end and the end of ourselves in order to comprehend the truth that without Christ we can do nothing and we are nothing! It is only when we truly grasp our need of and dependence upon Him that we will turn to Christ in that need. The Word of God graciously encourages us, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps:91:1). The “secret place of the Most High” is the difficulties, trials, and sufferings of life in which we learn to abide in Christ—drawing all that we need to sustain, support, and nourish us from Him.
Is Christ alone sufficient? Would we be complete and content with only Him? Perhaps God’s greatest desire for us is to recognize our need of Him and find our sufficiency in Him.
The cure for murmuring is to allow Him who has begun the good work to complete that good work (Phil:1:6Heb:12:2). There is no formula to follow, no procedure to perform, no method to learn, no principles to practice, no steps of action to take, no list of rules to observe, no laws to obey, no commitments to make, no accountability groups to form, and no commands to keep.
The Scriptures declare that as we behold the glory of the Lord, we are changed into His image (2 Cor:3:18). To “behold” does not suggest a casual glance and then revert to our previous interest. Rather, it urges sustained, riveted, fixed attention upon this Person—single-mindedness. The Greeks approached Philip with just one request, “Sir, we would see Jesus” (Jn:12:21). As we behold Christ, we are transformed into His likeness (One who does not murmur!). Beholding produces the transforming. Our true occupation should be preoccupation with Christ Himself.
Let us reflect on the goodness of God and declare with the psalmist, “I have tasted the Lord, and He is good!”