An Important Reminder About Hurricanes

We cancelled services yesterday at Oak Grove Baptist Church because of the threat of flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Florence. The forecast was for our Nebo, N.C., area to receive 6 to 12 inches of rain, with the heavy rain beginning shortly after daybreak Sunday morning and continuing through the day. In reality those high rain totals didn’t fully materialize — Nebo got somewhere around 4 to 5 inches, I think —  but I suppose it was better to err on the side of caution.

Sadly for the residents of the North Carolina coast, their forecast wasn’t exaggerated. The town of Swansboro received over 34 inches of rain from the storm. The town of Hoffman received over 25 inches. The city of Wilmington got almost 24 inches, as did Morehead City. The worst part of it all is the fact that the death toll from the storm currently stands at 17 in North Carolina and another 6 in South Carolina. That’s 23 eternal souls who lost their earthly lives in some way that was directly related to a storm that began as a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa in the closing days of last month.

But before we start blaming God for all these deaths, we need remember that hurricanes — along with tornadoes, tidal waves, thunderstorms, hailstorms, electrical storms, floods, heat waves, snow storms, blizzards, droughts, and volcanic eruptions — were not part of God’s original plan for life on earth. When you read the first two chapters of the book of Genesis, you won’t find any of those things in there. To the contrary, the description given is of a world, really an entire creation, that was by God’s assessment all “very good” (Genesis 1:31). I myself agree with the interpretation that it didn’t even rain during those days. Instead, God kept the earth watered by way of a mist that rose up from the earth and watered the whole face of the planet (Genesis 2:5-6).

Dr. Henry Morris, who received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, was the founder of the Institute for Creation Research. He authored several books, one of them being The Genesis Record, a book he described as “a scientific and devotional commentary on the book of beginnings.” In The Genesis Record, Dr. Morris explains that the “firmament” (the Hebrew word “raquia” literally means “expanse”) that God created on Day 2 of the creation week (Genesis 1:6-8) trapped a vast body of water, most likely in vaporous form, above the atmosphere of the earth. Consequently, this “vapor canopy” created greenhouse-type conditions upon the entire earth. According to Morris, the results of this “global greenhouse” were:

  • A uniformly pleasant temperature was constantly maintained all over the world.
  • Great air-mass movements were inhibited and windstorms were unknown.
  • There was no global air circulation and, thus, no hydrologic cycle.
  • No hydrological cycle meant no rain.
  • The temperature change of the day-night cycle created a bit of evaporation.
  • That bit of evaporation was enough to form dew or mist.
  • The world was filled with lush vegetation.
  • There were no deserts or ice caps.
  • The “vapor canopy” filtered out all ultraviolet radiations and cosmic rays.
  • No such radiations and rays meant extended lives for humans and creatures.

You see, the earth of the opening two chapters of Genesis was vastly different than the earth we know now. So, what happened to cause the change? Oh, that answer is easy: sin happened. Romans chapter 8 explains that because of Adam’s sin the whole creation was “subjected to futility” (verse 20, N.K.J.V.) and bound in “the bondage of corruption” (verse 21, N.K.J.V.). Consequently, creation now “groans and labors” (verse 22, N.K.J.V.) like a woman desperately trying to give birth. As an example of this, God Himself told Adam that the soil of the earth was now cursed because of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17-19).

You might be asking, “But what about that protective ‘vapor canopy’ up there in the firmament? Doesn’t that still protect us?” No, that’s long gone. All of that moisture was poured down upon the earth as part of the waters of Noah’s flood. As Genesis 7:11 tells us: “…on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (N.K.J.V.). The Hebrew word translated there as “heaven” is “samayim,” and it’s the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:8, which says: “And God called the firmament Heaven…” (N.K.J.V.). This means that during the great flood the windows of the firmament were opened and all that moisture held in check by the firmament was released.

By the way, don’t let the fact that the King James translation and the New King James translation use the word “heaven” to describe the firmament confuse you. The apostle Paul does the same kind of thing in 2 Corinthians 12:2 when he talks about being caught up to the “third heaven.” His use of that term to describe the heaven where God dwells shows us that the “first heaven” is the earth’s atmosphere and the “second heaven” is deep space.

Anyway, to get back to the point, Adam’s sin ruined God’s original set-up for all creation. It also caused Adam’s entire race to became poisoned with a nature of sin that provoked them to behavior bad enough to cause God to wipe out the entire race, except for Noah and his family, by way of the great flood. What all this means for us is that the pre-sin, pre-flood world is a thing of the ancient past. That’s why we are now all too familiar with: sickness, disease, aging, death, hurricanes, floods, droughts, snow storms, etc. These things are all part of us living as a broken race on a broken planet that’s part of a broken creation that no longer functions the way it was designed to function.

What I’m saying is that if you are going to blame God for every hurricane, you might as well also blame Him for every case of cancer. If you are going to blame Him for every flood, you might as well also blame Him for every fatal accident. If you are going to blame Him for every drought, you might as well also blame Him for every death regardless of how it occurred.

The question to ask is not, “Why are there deaths and hurricanes?” The question to ask is, “Why hasn’t God fixed His creation, including mankind, yet?” And the answer is, “All in due time. All in due time.” The Bible teaches that God has a precision plan of prophecy for when and how He is going to accomplish this fixing. If you want to learn all the details of this plan, I encourage you to read my extensive 26-post blog series “Bible Prophecy in Chronology.” In those posts, I go into a ton of detail on this whole subject. For the purposes of this post, however, I’ll simply offer the highlights of the plan as the close to the post. Here goes:

  1. The Rapture (the snatching away to heaven of the bodies of all Christians and the glorification of those bodies)
  2. The 7-Year Tribulation Period (featuring the Antichrist and his False Prophet)
  3. Christ’s 2nd Coming (which includes His victory over the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the armies of the world at the Battle of Armageddon)
  4. Christ’s 1,000-year reign upon the earth (which is marked by Satan and the other fallen angels being imprisoned for the 1,000 years and planet Earth being restored to a pre-sin state.)
  5. Satan’s Release & Final Rebellion (which doesn’t last long).
  6. The Great White Throne Judgment (where Jesus sits upon a throne and eternally banishes all of history’s lost to the eternal lake of fire, which is not the same place as the hell that exists now)
  7. The New Heaven, The New Earth, and The New Jerusalem (I favor the interpretation that the “New” Heaven and Earth will be the current Heaven & Earth purged of all taint of sin by fire. As for the New Jerusalem, that will be the glorious city where all of history’s saved will spend eternity with the Lord.)
Posted in Aging, Christ's Second Coming, Christ's Return, Creation, Death, Demons, Eternity, God's Timing, God's Timing, Heaven, Hell, Human Life, Prophecy, Restoration, Satan, Sin, The Depravity of Man, The Devil | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joy Comes in the Morning

…Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5, N.K.J.V.)

English missionary James Hannington was the first Anglican bishop of East Africa. His initial missionary visit to Africa only lasted a few months because he was stricken with a high fever and dysentery which forced him to return to England. A couple of years later, though, he returned to Africa and set himself to the task of organizing and supervising a road-building project that would build a new road into the Ugandan kingdom of Buganda. At the time, the only road into Buganda was an Arab slave route that was filled with danger.

The problem the project faced was Buganda’s king Mwanga. Despite the fact that his father, king Mutesa, had been open to foreigners and had even granted them favor, Mwanga was known to be highly suspicious of outsiders and quick to put them to death. Once Hannington reached Busoga, which was an area of great strategical importance to Buganda, Mwanga sent word to Hannington forbidding him from going any further. Hannington, however, was determined and continued on with his mission. A short time later, under the order of Mwanga, a group of Bosaga’s local chiefs captured Hannington along with 50 of his men and imprisoned them.

After eight days of cruel treatment, during which Hannington himself was exhibited as a trophy, the whole party was killed on October 29, 1885. Hannington was 38 years old and died by being speared in both sides. Purportedly, his last words to his Bosagan captors were, “Go tell your master (Mwanga) that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

We know so much about Hannington’s story because he faithfully kept a daily journal. Upon his death, the Ugandans kept the journal and sold it to a later expedition. And what is the journal entry for October 29, 1885, the day of Hannington’s martydom? He wrote:

I can hear no news, but was held up by the 30th Psalm, which came with great power. A hyena howled near me last night, smelling a sick man. I hope it is not to have me yet.

Later that same day, the hyena didn’t get Hannington but the spear did. His “night” of weeping was now finished and the “morning” of his joy had come. As Charles Spurgeon wrote in his commentary, The Treasury of David:

And so, when life with its struggles and toils and sins, bringing us perpetual conflict, ends at last in the fierce struggle of death, then God “giveth his beloved sleep.” They sleep in Jesus, and wake to the joy of a morning which shall know no wane — the morning of joy. The Sun of Righteousness is beaming on them. Light is now on all their ways. And they can only wonder when they recall the despair and darkness, and toil, and violence of their earthly life, and say, as they have often said on earth, “Weeping has endured only for the night, and now it is morning, and joy has come!”

Along the same lines, Harry Ironside wrote in his Studies on the Psalms:

My mother told me that when my dear father was dying he was suffering terribly and a friend of his leaned over him and said, “John, you are suffering terribly, aren’t you?” “Oh,” he said, “I am suffering more that I thought it was possible for any one to and live, but one sight of His blessed face will make up for it all.”

And so whatever we are called upon to endure here, whatever we are called upon to suffer here it is for only a moment, comparatively. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Finally, I love John Phillip’s take on the verse, and it’s his words that I’ll offer as the close to this post. In his Exploring the Psalms, Phillips writes:

It is significant, surely, that God’s day begins with an evening and ends with a morning. Thus all the way through that creation chapter of Genesis we read: “The evening and the morning were the first day…the evening and the morning were the second day…” Right now we are hurrying through the nighttime of our experience. The shadows often are dark and menacing; but the morning comes, and with it a day that will never end! The night through which we are passing is only temporary. When the morning comes there will be no more sorrow, no more sadness, no more suffering, no more sickness, no more separations. “One glimpse of His dear face all sorrows will erase.” Joy cometh in the morning!

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When You Know What to Do But Don’t Do It

“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:47, N.K.J.V.)

It’s one thing when you honestly don’t know what to do about a situation. It’s another thing when you know what to do but choose not to do it. That second category is the one to which our text verse applies.

The verse comes on the heels of a parable that Jesus offers about stewardship. In Bible times, a steward was a servant who was placed in charge of managing his master’s household goods and distributing provisions to the rest of the servant staff. The main character trait the job required was faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2). Not only did a steward need to be faithful to his master, he also needed to be faithful in the performance of his duty toward his fellow servants.

In Jesus’ parable, a steward’s master goes away for an undetermined amount of time, leaving the steward in charge of the estate. At that point the steward can respond to the assignment in one of two ways. Option 1: He can carry out his duty faithfully. Option 2: He can use his delegated power to turn himself into a little dictator that enriches his own life while making life miserable for his fellow servants.

While the steward gets to choose his course of action, he doesn’t get to choose the consequences of his choice. The returning master will see to those. If the steward is found faithful when the master returns, the steward will be rewarded handsomely by way of a promotion (verses 43 and 44). But if the steward is not found faithful, he will be punished severely, even to the point of being put to death (verses 45 and 46).

Immediately following the parable, Jesus explains that any servant who knows his master’s will but doesn’t do it will be punished. Jesus metaphorically describes the punishment as involving “stripes” (verse 47). Why is the punishment so harsh? It’s because knowing what you are supposed to do brings major accountability. You see, having a knowledge of God’s will can be dangerous thing if you don’t do that will.

So let’s say that you are right now in the midst of a difficult situation, and let’s also say that God has revealed to you what He wants you to do about it. My question to you is simply, “Have you done what God told you to do?” If you have, then stop stressing out about the situation. Quit worrying. After all, you’ve done the best you could do. I mean, you don’t think that you could have done any better than God’s will about the situation, do you? For that matter, since God rewards obedience, you should be in line for some kind of a promotion. That is what the parable teaches.

Ah, but what if you haven’t done what God told you to do? Oh, well, now we’re on another subject. My question to you would be, “What’s stopping you from doing what you know to do?” Perhaps it’s fear. Perhaps it’s procrastination. Perhaps it’s outright rebellion. Perhaps it’s something else.

Whatever the case may be, just take this post as a warning that it’s high time that you got God’s job done. Until you do, you are a steward who has been handed an important assignment — the doing of God’s will — and you are failing miserably at that assignment. And, unfortunately for you, if your disobedience continues there will be some “stripes” in your future. You say, “Russell, you are just trying to scare me.” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. It’s better that you heed my word of warning and do what God has told you to do than it is for you to suffer the consequences when your Master inspects your work and finds it lacking.

Posted in Choices, Coming Judgment, Conscience, Conviction, Disobedience, Dying To Self, Fear, God's Will, Obedience, Problems, Rebellion, Stewardship | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Classified Falsely

Private First Class Alan Barton, an American soldier fighting in the Vietnam War, was reported missing from his base in South Vietnam on July 28, 1970. Thirty-two days later, his commanding officer notified his mother that her son was now officially classified as a deserter. Since Barton’s father was a twenty-year army veteran, the news of the desertion was especially embarrassing for him.

In reality, though, Alan Barton had not deserted. He had been killed by the steel pellets from a landmine or a booby trap hidden along the perimeter of his base. The problem was that his skeletal remains were not discovered until March 28, 1972, and even then the army was unable to identify the soldier to whom they belonged. Consequently, those remains were sent to a military morgue in Honolulu, Hawaii. Meanwhile, Alan continued to be classified as a deserter.

But Alan’s mother never gave up fighting to clear his name. She didn’t know what had happened to him — she suspected that he had been captured and was being held in a prisoner-of-war camp — but she could not make herself believe that he had deserted. For thirteen years she fought until finally the army rechecked the Honolulu morgue records and were able to correctly identify Alan’s remains by use of dental records. Truth be told, various personal belongings that would have helped to identify him had been found with his remains in 1972, but the army had somehow lost them. All that was left of those belongings was a fragment of an envelope that was postmarked from Alan’s hometown in Michigan.

In February of 1983, Private First Class Alan Barton was finally given the full military funeral that he deserved. A twenty-one-gun salute was sounded, taps was played, and his mother was handed the folded American flag that moments earlier had draped her son’s coffin. Her fight was now ended. She had her closure. Her son’s good name had been vindicated.

The story of Alan Barton reminds us that this world is filled with injustices and false accusations. Unfortunately, Christian, you are not immune from such things. You can take heart, though, in the promise that God always knows the truth and in eternity everything will be revealed, classified accurately, and set right. As Jesus said of eternity, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:30, N.K.J.V.). That means that this world’s distorted allotments will not continue into the afterlife. I, for one, am grateful for that and long more and more each day for that better world to come.

Posted in Adversity, Comfort, Criticism, Eternity, God's Omniscience, Heaven, Justice, Persecution, Reward, Suffering, Trusting In God | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m With You

An elderly grandfather took his little grandson for an afternoon walk. After they had walked a while, the old man asked the boy, “How far do you think we’ve walked?” The boy answered, “I don’t know, grandpa.” The grandfather asked, “Well, where are you right now?” Again came the answer, “I don’t know, grandpa.” At this point the grandfather chuckled a bit and said, “Well, it sounds to me like you’re lost.” To that the little fellow replied, “No, I can’t be lost, grandpa. I’m with you.”

Hebrews 13:5 says to the Christian:

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (N.K.J.V.)

Those words “I will never leave you nor forsake you” quote a promise that God once made to the Israelites through their leader, Moses, regarding their conquest of the land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 31:1-6). Even more specifically, the promise was made to Joshua, the man who succeeded Moses as the leader of the Israelites and led them in the actual conquering (Deuteronomy 31:7-8; Joshua 1:5). But what’s wonderful about the Hebrews restating is that it lifts the promise out of the Old Testament storyline and places it firmly down upon the life of the Christian.

The immediate context of the promise, as it is offered in Hebrews 13:5, involves the sin of covetousness. Why is covetousness a sin? Because it shows a lack of contentment. It shows that you aren’t trusting God fully regarding your circumstances. And what other sin always rides on the back of a lack of contentment? Worry. You worry that what you have won’t be enough.

So, the point of Hebrews 13:5 is this: If you are a Christian, you should eliminate covetousness, a lack of contentment, and worry from your spiritual resume. After all, you are a child of the King. And King’s kids don’t go around lacking!

Christian, because you know Christ as Savior, you have the Creator of the universe in your corner. You have unlimited resources at your disposal. The One who makes sure that the birds of the air are fed will make sure that you are fed (Matthew 6:25-26). The One who makes sure that the lilies of the field are clothed will make sure that you are clothed (Matthew 6:27-30). If you will always seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, He will add to you all the necessities of life (Matthew 6:31-34).

Really, though, the Christian can apply this promise “I will never leave you nor forsake you” to any area of life. Perhaps you are contented right now but confused about your current station in life. Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Perhaps you haven’t reached a state of worry yet but you do find yourself in a very difficult circumstance. Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Perhaps you are even standing at death’s door. Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and that promise extends into the afterlife.

Christian, like that little boy out walking with his grandfather, your job is simply to trust in the One who is doing the leading. Just place your hand in His and know that He is never lost. He always knows the way. He knows the way out of somewhere. He knows the way into somewhere. Most importantly, ultimately, He knows the way home. And when you truly grasp this profound truth, then you’ll be able to genuinely say with confidence, “No, I can’t be lost, Jesus. I’m with you.”

Posted in Adversity, Comfort, Contentment, Eternal Security, Eternity, Faith, Fear, God's Love, God's Provision, Greed, Money, Needs, Problems, Prosperity, Sickness, Trusting In God, Worry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

God, The Trinity

I don’t know any Bible topic that is harder to explain than the fact that God is a Trinity. Him being a Trinity means that He is one God who exists in three distinct persons. Even though He is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit, these three distinct persons are one. God is one God, not three. As it says in the Constitution & Bylaws of many a Baptist church: “The one God is revealed to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.”

Well, I don’t have the audacity to think that I’m going to sit down and write a blog post that is going to clear up all the confusion regarding the doctrine of the Trinity. After all, the church has been working on that project for some 2,000 years now and hasn’t mastered it yet. So, what I’m going to do is simply offer a list of many of the relevant passages of scripture that speak to the issue and include just a touch of commentary after each passage. In this way, I’ll just let the Bible do its own teaching. I’ll cite the passages in the order in which they are found in scripture, and I’ll use the New King James Version for all of them. These passages will constitute the body of this post. Here goes:

  1. Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (The Hebrew word translated in this verse as “God” is Elohim. What’s significant about that is the fact that Elohim is a plural word. You see, from the very first verse of the Bible, God is laying the groundwork for the idea that He is a triune being.)
  2. Genesis 2:26: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… (Note the words “Us” and “Our.”)
  3. Genesis 3:22: Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…. (Here again God uses the word “Us” concerning Himself.)
  4. Genesis 11:7: “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (God spoke these words about the building of the Tower of Babel.)
  5. Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (These words are the opening words for the Jewish prayer called the Shema, which is the most famous prayer in Judaism.)
  6. Psalm 2:7,12: “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, Today I have begotten You….Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are those who put their trust in Him. (Note the capitalized titles in this Messianic passage. They indicate that God the Father has a Son who is fully divine Himself and in whom we should place our trust.)
  7. Proverbs 30:4: Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know? (This is another Old Testament passage that teaches that God has a Son.)
  8. Isaiah 6:8: Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” (Here again we see God using the word “Us” in reference to Himself, even though in this instance He also uses the word “I.”)
  9. Isaiah 9:6: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (New Testament passages such as Luke 2:11 and John 1:45 leave no doubt that the Messiah spoken of in this passage is none other than Jesus. That’s important to understand because this passage calls Jesus not only “Everlasting Father” but also “Mighty God.” Both of those titles can also rightly serve as titles for God the Father.)  
  10. Matthew 3:16-17: When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (This passage finds the Trinity on full display. God the Son is baptized. God the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven to rest upon Him. God the Father speaks from heaven.)
  11. Matthew 17:5: While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (As He had done at Jesus’ baptism, here God the Father speaks directly from heaven concerning Jesus and calls Him “My beloved Son.”)
  12. Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Notice here that Jesus commands His followers to baptize in the singular “name” of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.)
  13. John 1:1-3,14: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (These verses teach that not only was Jesus with God in the beginning but that He was God. He was the Creator.)
  14. John 5:22: “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” (Jesus taught that the divine Judge of the Universe is none other than Himself, and that certainly speaks to His divinity.)
  15. John 8:58: Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (No Jew had to be told what Jesus meant in claiming the title “I AM.” Moses had asked God, “What shall I say to your people when they ask me, ‘Who sent you to us?'” God had responded by saying, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM’ has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). Jesus claimed to be that same God, and that’s why the Jews immediately took up stones and attempted to stone Him to death for blasphemy.)  
  16. John 10:30: “I and My Father are one.” (By Jesus’ own teaching, He and God the Father are one even though they are each a distinct person. The Jewish religious leaders certainly took His statement that way. A few verses later they tried to stone Him for the blasphemy of making Himself God.)
  17. John 12:41: These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. (This verse hearkens back to the vision that Isaiah has of God in Isaiah 6:1-13. John’s use of the capitalized words “His” and “Him” in reference to Jesus shows that Jesus was the God in Isaiah’s vision.)
  18. John 14:9: Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father?” (Even though God the Son and God the Father are each distinct persons, their oneness means that, in essence, to see one is to see the other.) 
  19. John 15:26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” (The capitalized title “Helper” is a reference to God the Holy Spirit. Notice that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father and testifies of God the Son.) 
  20. John 17:5: “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (Here Jesus speaks of having a divine glory in a time before Genesis 1:1, just like the glory of God the Father.) 
  21. John 20:28: And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (Thomas called Jesus “my God” and Jesus didn’t correct him.)
  22. Acts 2:32-33: This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God the Father, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. (These verses teach that Jesus is right now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He’s not God the Father, but He is seated on His right side, which was always the side of favor in the Jewish placements.)
  23. Acts 5:3-4: But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Notice the way that Peter interchangeably uses the Holy Spirit and God. First, he says that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Second, he says that Ananias lied to God. The logical conclusion to be drawn is that the Holy Spirit is God.)
  24. Acts 7:55-56: But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (This is another passage that places Jesus in a seat of divine prominence at the right hand of God the Father. The classic interpretation of the passage is that Jesus had stood up to receive the soul of the soon-to-be martyred Stephen.)
  25. Acts 13:2: As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (This verse equates the Holy Spirit to “the Lord” and speaks of the Holy Spirit doing God’s job of calling people to the mission field.)
  26. Acts 20:28: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (This is a significant passage because it speaks of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as each being God. According to Paul’s words, the Holy Spirit had made these men the overseers — the shepherds, the pastors — of the church of God. That implies that the Holy Spirit is God. Also, Paul says that God purchased the church with His own blood. That, of course, is a reference to Jesus dying on the cross, and it means that Jesus is God as well.)
  27. Acts 28:25-26: So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying…” (At this point Paul quotes verses 9 and 10 of the familiar Isaiah 6:1-13 Messianic passage. Interestingly, whereas John 12:41 proves that Jesus was the God in Isaiah’s vision, this passage teaches that it was the Holy Spirit who actually spoke the Lord’s words in that vision. The clear indication is that Jesus and the Holy Spirit, though distinct from each other, are in essence one.)
  28. Romans 9:5: …of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Not only is Jesus the Lord over everything, Paul also called him “the eternally blessed God.”)
  29. 1 Corinthians 8:4-6: Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. (Paul doesn’t mention God the Holy Spirit in these verses, but he does specifically name God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet still affirms, “…there is no other God but one.”)
  30. 2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (Here we see that the Holy Spirit is the Lord. In other words, He is God.)
  31. Galatians 4:6: And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (All three members of the Trinity are mentioned in this verse. Jesus is God the Son. God the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Jesus. And God the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of the Christian allows the Christian the right to refer to God the Father as “Father.”)
  32. Colossians 2:9: For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (The term “the Godhead” refers to the Trinity.)
  33. Titus 2:13: …looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Here again Paul doesn’t hesitate to call Jesus “our great God.”) 
  34. Hebrews 1:1-2: God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. (This is a parallel passage to John 1:1-3, both passages teaching that Jesus is the Creator mentioned in Genesis 1:1.)
  35. Hebrews 1:8: But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” (The teaching is that Jesus, the Son, is God.) 
  36. Hebrews 10:12: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. (This verse is yet another one that places Jesus in a role of divinity at the right hand of God the Father.) 
  37. James 2:19: You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! (You see, we do well to believe that God is a singular God.)
  38. 2 Peter 1:1: Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Peter referred to Jesus as “our God.”)
  39. 1 John 5:7: For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. (The title “the Word” is a title for Jesus.)
  40. Revelation 22:8-9: Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (This passage is significant because of the angel’s words, “Worship God.” Jesus receives such worship in Revelation 5:8-14.)
Posted in Bible Study, The Holy Spirit, The Trinity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Put on the Whole Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-17 is the famous “armor of God” passage. There Paul tells us that we must put on the whole armor of God if we are to be successful in the midst of spiritual, demonic warfare. That armor consists of: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit (the word of God), and footwear that keeps us prepared to share the gospel.

Why does a Christian need a belt of truth? It’s because Satan is the great deceiver. Why does a Christian need the breastplate of righteousness? It’s because a breastplate protects the heart, and if a person’s heart isn’t protected by a covering of righteous living that person will be easy pickings for Satan. Why does a Christian need the shield of faith? It’s because Satan is constantly shooting his flaming arrows.

Why does a Christian need the helmet of salvation? It’s because a helmet protects the head, which houses the mind, and Satan is constantly trying to get the Christian’s thinking off base. Why does a Christian need the sword of the Spirit, the word of God? It’s because God’s word is the only offensive weapon that can strike a damaging blow to Satan. Why does the Christian need footwear that keeps one prepared to share the gospel? It’s because any good soldier who truly believes in the cause for which he is fighting will try to recruit others to that cause.

Obviously, each item of the whole armor of God is of vital importance. It is interesting, however, that each one is mentioned only once. On the other hand, what the passage mentions no less three times is the idea of standing. Here are the verses (emphasis mine):

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11, N.K.J.V.)

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness… (Ephesians 6:14)

You see, Paul didn’t say, “Put on the whole armor of God so that you can charge toward the devil.” He didn’t say, “Put on the whole armor of God so that you can go on a seek-and-destroy mission against the devil.” Instead, he said, “Put on the whole armor of God so that you can stand against the wiles (the schemes, the methods, the plans, the strategies) of the devil.” In other words, there’s no doubt that Satan is going to bring the fight to you, so you’d better have your battle gear on when he does. If you don’t, your stand is going to become at best a retreat or at worst an all-out fall.

So, Christian, I know that you’ve got salvation (the helmet of salvation) covered. If you don’t, then you are not an authentic Christian. But how are you doing in the areas of truth, righteous living, faith, Bible study, and evangelism? If you are lacking in even one of these areas, then you really aren’t wearing the whole armor of God. And that’s a problem that you need to get shored up because if you aren’t wearing all the armor, Satan is a worthy enough adversary to find your weak spot and do some real damage.

Posted in Bible Study, Demons, Discipleship, Evangelism, Faith, God's Work, Personal Holiness, Righteousness, Salvation, Satan, Spiritual Warfare, The Devil | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments