30 January 2009

The Covenants - 1.30.09

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Had the privilege of teaching a class during the rightly dividing course last semester at The DeLand School of THE BIBLE. The course covered topics such as law vs. grace; 3 groups of people (Jew, Gentile, Church); 3 types of men (natural, carnal, spiritual); standing vs. state; kingdom of God vs. kingdom of heaven; dispensations; and covenants.

Each of the topics covered really made the Bible come together and make sense like it never had before. That’d be the reason why God told us that the biblical study He approves must include right and proper division.

The class I had the opportunity to teach focused on the covenants God has made with men in the Bible. For the next several posts, I am going to give you a condensed version of those notes. I realize these posts will be more doctrinal than devotional in nature, but no serious Bible student could deny the strong correlation between sound doctrine (Romans 1-11) and sound practice (Romans 12-16). Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

First of all, let’s define the word. According to Webster’s 1828, “covenant” comes from a Latin word that carries the meaning of “a coming together; a meeting or agreement of minds.” Mr. Webster defined covenant as a mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forbear some act or thing; a contract.

Now consider the relationship between dispensations and covenants. The root of DISPENSation is obviously “dispense,” and thus the biblical study of dispensations takes a look at the ways in which God has dispensed or distributed His truth and His grace to the crown of His creation (that’s you and me). The study of the biblical covenants focuses more specifically on how God has dealt out His promises to mankind.

There are many, many covenants in the Bible. Some form of the word appears exactly 300 times. We will focus our study not on the promises and contracts men in the Bible made with each other but with the major covenants God has made with men; those that have had and will have the greatest impact upon the course of history.

Two final things to note before we jump in next time with a look at the Edenic covenant.

1. There are two types of covenants. There are unconditional (or one-way) promises God has made to men. These are statements that God has made regarding what He is going to do; these do not at all depend upon the actions of the other parties involved. And there are also conditional (or two-way) promises God has made to men. These statements include an IF and a THEN. God’s actions under such agreements are dependent upon the actions of the other parties involved.

2. Though these covenants are important, and we should know them because they do have some type of effect on and application to our lives, they focus primarily on God’s dealings with the nation of Israel (1 Corinthians 10:23; Ephesians 2:12). Romans 9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.

26 January 2009

Bible Conference 2009

God answered our prayers in a mighty way and blessed us with a GREAT week of meetings. Click here for 14 powerful sermons from the book of 1 Thessalonians.

Well of Joy – 1.26.09

Isaiah 12:2-3 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Christians, of all people, ought to be characterized by joy. Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines joy as [1] the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good. The modern Merriam Webster's says joy is [1] the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. It's simply that happy feeling you get when you obtain or expect to obtain something you consider beneficial.

Now, here's what's great about the joy available to the children of God. It springs from the salvation we possess, and it's like a well unto which we can continually resort, for it never runs dry. You see, on our very worst days on this earth, our salvation from sin, death, hell, and the grave through the shed blood of God's Son the Lord Jesus Christ still secures our ETERNAL well-being and carries a blessed and happy prospect for the future.

No matter what predicament I may find myself in, no matter what all's going wrong in the world around me, I can bring my cup to the well of salvation and take a long, cool drink of the waters of joy.

In his first epistle Peter wrote to a group of believers who were having a time of it. It seemed the whole world was against them. All five chapters speak of and to their sufferings. But Peter introduces the letter with reference to the Christian's election (v. 2), lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (v. 3), everlasting and heavenly inheritance (v. 4), and assurance of eternal life through the power of God (v. 5). Then verse 6 says, WHEREIN ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.

Again, no matter what you face today and no matter what you face tomorrow, if you're saved and born again by the grace of God, there's a well you can visit and re-load on your joy (RE-JOICE).

But that's the catch. Being a Christian does not mean you'll automatically be joyful. In fact, don't you know a good many who aren't? Don't you know a good many Christians who can more aptly be described as depressed, discouraged, gloomy, paranoid?

What's the problem? Well, in order to get a drink from a well, you're going to have to go down to that well, dip your vessel, and bring it back up again. And in order to enJOY the joy of God's salvation, Christian, you're going to have to visit the well.

When's the last time you stopped to think about and thank God for all the great things God did for you when He saved your soul from sin? When's the last time you wondered with amazement on how and why God became a man and died on cross for your sin? When's the last time you considered the wonders of God's amazing grace and boundless love?

If all you think about and all you dwell on is the here and now, don't be surprised by the fact that it gets you down. There's got to be a time each and every day when we turn off the TV, get away from the computer, trash the newspaper, block out the world, open our Bibles, get on our knees, and take a trip to the well of salvation.

16 January 2009

Joseph, Jesus, & the New Covenant - 1.16.09

Genesis 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

There's probably no more complete type of Jesus Christ in all the OT than the man who wore the coat of many colors. Joseph, like Jesus, was beloved of his father; sent unto and rejected by his brethren; sold; unjustly accused and condemned; wed to a Gentile bride; made known to His brethren "the second time" (see Acts 7); and the list could go on and on.

But notice the picture in the passage at hand. Joseph claimed he was sent by God down to Egypt for 2 purposes: (1) to preserve for his brethren a posterity (descendants, succeeding generations) in the earth and (2) to save their lives by a great deliverance. And so Jesus Christ was sent by God down to this earth to accomplish the 2 very same purposes.

First, the second. To save your lives by a great deliverance.

Matthew 1:21 …JESUS…shall save his people from their sins 1 John 4:9 …God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world...

Because Jesus Christ came to this earth to do the will of God you and I who are saved have been eternally delivered from sin, death, hell, and the grave. Hallelujah!

As great as that is, there is much more to the first coming of Jesus Christ. Like Joseph He came to preserve you [his brethren] a posterity in the earth.

Let's get a little background on some covenants God has made with the Jewish people.

ABRAHAMIC COVENANT: God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and promised the great nation He would make from him would FOREVER inherit the land of Palestine.

MOSAIC COVENANT: After being delivered from Egypt's bondage, the Hebrews promised God at Mount Sinai that they would keep His laws. The reward for obedience was peace and prosperity in the land of promise. The curse for rebellion was oppression, famine, and captivity.

In time, the nation of Israel rebelled and the people were driven from the land of promise. But the promise God made to Abraham is eternal and unconditional. The Hebrews will forever dwell in that land. But according to the Mosaic covenant, in order to dwell in that land, they have to live in obedience. So how will the covenant to Abraham ever be fulfilled.

This all leads us to an understanding of what the Jews in Jesus' day missed. There must a SPIRITUAL basis for the physical, political kingdom they looked for the Messiah to establish. In order for God to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham, He had to do something about the promise they made but had failed to keep.

And that's what Jesus did when He came and laid down His life for the sins of the world. He guaranteed the continued and eternal posterity of the nation of Israel by establishing a new covenant. Read it for yourself in Jeremiah 31:31-37

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.

13 January 2009

Degrees of Punishment – 1.13.09

Continuing the thought from the previous post, we see that the Bible also indicates that there are varying degrees of eternal punishment. Consider the following passages:

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Matthew 23:13-14 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

Matthew 11:21-24 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Deuteronomy 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Revelation 20:13-15 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Sorer punishment? Greater damnation? More tolerable? Lowest hell? The Bible is clear. I believe hell will be hotter for those who continually rejected the gospel despite frequent opportunities to believe (Hebrews 10:29; Matthew 11:21-24); those who lived their lives in opposition to the gospel (Matthew 23:13-14); and those who knowingly and willingly devoted themselves to complete and absolute rebellion against their Maker (Revelation 20:13-15).

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...

09 January 2009

Degrees of Sin – 1.9.09

John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

These words were spoken by Jesus Christ to Pilate on the night of His crucifixion. And I can almost hear somebody thinking, "Wait a second, Jesus. What do you mean about this greater sin? Aren't all sins the same?"

Well, no, not according to the Bible. But let's get some background.

The Roman Catholic Church has this teaching concerning what they call mortal and venial sins. In this system, there are three conditions that distinguish between the two:

  • Does the sin concern a "grave" matter?
  • Was the sin committed with full knowledge?
  • Was the sin committed with both deliberate and complete consent?

If the answer to any of these questions is NO, it is a venial sin. If the answer to all 3 is YES, it is a mortal sin.

A mortal sin, unless confessed and absolved, condemns a person's soul to hell after death. These sins are considered mortal because they constitute a rupture in a person's link to God's saving grace: the person's soul becomes "dead." (reference)

While venial sins do not condemn a person's soul to hell, they do add to the length of time that person must spend in purgatory, which can be offset by the performance of some penance prescribed by the priest. (reference)

Obviously, this teaching is in error. According to the Bible, God's saving grace has nothing to do with our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and there is no such place as purgatory.

But what has happened is that many have reacted to this false teaching in such a way as to jump into the ditch on the other side of the road and say things like "All sins are the same." Well, according to John 19:11, that's simply not true, either. The Pharisees and chief priests committed a greater sin than Pilate did.

Don't get me wrong. One sin makes you a sinner in need of God's forgiveness, only available through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But all sins are not the same. Some will warrant a lecture or a spanking, while others will get you thrown in jail or executed.

Now again, a sin is a sin. And the fact that some are worse than others is absolutely no excuse to commit what you might consider a "little" one. You see, I could try to deter myself or somebody else from committing "little" sins by saying that all sins are the same, but then I have to answer the guy that figures if all sins are the same, he'll go ahead and commit the "big" one.

John 8:11…Jesus said…Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

06 January 2009

Peace on Earth – 1.6.09

Daniel 11:27 And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.

Who says the Bible isn't up with the times? Turn on the news tonight, and see how long it takes before you hear about kings sitting together and speaking lies at one table.

And they can meet, they can negotiate, they can treaty, they can draw lines in the sand all they want – in hopes of achieving "peace for our time" (read a bit of history here). Their people can protest and hold vigils and light candles all they want in hopes of bringing peace to the world.

But the end shall be at the time appointed. Make no mistake. World peace will come – but not until the Prince of Peace returns and establishes His throne in Jerusalem, and all the nations and all peoples of the world submit to His authority.

There is a statue that depicts the conditions described in Isaiah 2:4 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City (sore subject, but I didn't get to see it because the day we went they were absolutely shut down in observance of some Muslim holiday).

Now, believe it or not, they pulled the verse out of its context and failed to include vv. 2-3 in the inscription:

Isaiah 2:2-4 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

And the same principle holds true on an individual level. None of us can experience the peace of God in our hearts until we submit ourselves to the Lordship of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Isaiah 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

03 January 2009

Public Evangelism – 1.3.09

Jeremiah 18:20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.

The prophet Jeremiah was a remarkable man. He received nothing but opposition from the people he preached to throughout the course of his entire ministry, yet he never lost his commitment to the God Who had called him nor his love for the people to whom he preached. There are so many important lessons we as Christians can learn from the life and ministry of this dedicated servant of the Lord.

The passage before us, I believe, provides a wonderful summary of our aim in public evangelism. Notice how a consistent, faithful, and effective public witness requires what we find Jeremiah to have – both an unwavering dedication to his duty before God (I stood before thee) AND a real desire to be a blessing to the people that God sent Him to reach (good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them).

Brethren, both are absolutely necessary. If you have either one without the other, either your efforts will be fruitless and ineffective, or it won't be long before the evil being recompensed for your good and pit being digged for your soul will make a quitter of you.

So why do we preach publicly? (1) In obedience to the Lord's command AND (2) in order to turn the lost to the way of deliverance.

And how should we preach publicly? Well, we should speak good (see Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 4:6). We don't sugar-coat the wrath, but the reason we bring it up is so that men, women, boys, and girls can be delivered from it (Luke 13:5; 2 Peter 3:9).

01 January 2009

Profit – 1.1.09

Here's another hit on an oft-occurring theme in Scripture.

Isaiah 48:17-18 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

To profit is to benefit; to gain some advantage; to improve; to advance. And we all like profit.

What the Bible in many places sets before us is this fact that there is a way that God says we can be benefited, advantaged, improved, and blessed, and there are things that the world, flesh, and the devil would have us believe will benefit, advantage, improve, and advance us.

Now, one is right, and the other is wrong. One is true, and the other is false. One is reliable, and the other is deceptive.

The decision we must make each and every day is who we're going to listen to. God wants to bless us and will teach us how to profit (Deuteronomy 10:13; Acts 3:26). The devil wants to deceive us and seeks to draw us away after our own lusts (James 1:14).

There's not time or space here to give this study the detail and attention it deserves. That'll have to wait for another time and another place. But let me encourage you to devote your time and effort and commitment to that which is truly worthwhile.

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

1 Samuel 12:21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.

Jeremiah 2:11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

Proverbs 11:4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

Perhaps you find yourself asking the question that many have asked down through the years:

Malachi 3:14…It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?

If you believe God, then the answer is clear: peace, joy, righteousness, an eternal inheritance. If you don't think those things are worth your adherence to the teachings of God (Isaiah 48:17-18), then you are deceived.