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When teachers continually change their views—certain, at last they have found correct ones (until the next ones)—you’re advised by Peter to watch out!
Here is what he wrote (speaking of how such people handle Paul’s writings):
The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction as they do with the rest of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16, HCSB)
There are two crucial words in this sentence: “untaught” and “unstable.”
The unstable are frequently also the untaught. They launch out on their own, unaware of the difficulties involved in accurate teaching, to set others straight—even when their own views are far from correct. The obvious indication of a person like this is his instability. He is always changing his views at each juncture, as one such counselor does, publicly exclaiming to all and sundry “At last I’ve found the truth” (or words to that effect)! Watch out for people like this!
The temple destroyed . . . God’s people captive . . . distress of every kind on every hand . . .
Those are the conditions under which the writer of Lamentations 22 wrote:
His mercies never end, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Do you believe it, Christian? If not; why not? May I suggest a reason?
You have trouble singing the hymn based on this verse because you don’t look for those mercies every morning! Jeremiah (the probable author of these words) looked—and he found! If you are on the lookout, you too will do so. How about it? Do you need a coffee “fix” in the morning, or a wake-up call to explore God’s mercies?
Is it because you see the need in the church today? Is it because of some situation that you were involved in where you saw that counseling was not provided when it ought to have been? Is it because you have always had a desire to minister to others? Is it because you like to be authoritative and tell others what to do? Even from these few suggestions, obviously, you can see that there are many reasons why someone might want to counsel; some laudable, some not. What are yours?
Perhaps you don’t even know why you are becoming interested—couldn’t spell out the reasons out if you were forced to do so at gun point. There simply may be something about counseling that entices you that you are unable to articulate. Perhaps you believe that you have gifts that seem to point you toward counseling. Whatever the reason—or reasons—you ought to sort them out. Why? Because the time will come when you will have to ask yourself whether or not your reasons are sufficient to sustain your interest in counseling. Counseling can get wearisome at times. It can become demanding, discouraging and time-consuming. It is in times like those that a proper, biblical...
Paul didn’t (see 2 Cor. 4:1, 16 HCSB). He didn’t, even though he had greater reason than you probably do for giving up (see vs. 7-15).
What kept him going on and on and on in spite of his trials? He tells you later in the chapter. Even though trials were wearing him out physically, inwardly he was being “renewed day by day (v. 16).”
Now why would God pour strength into him that way? Because he had the proper outlook, for one thing.
Here’s what he said:
What is happening to me is momentary, light, affliction. (v. 17).
How could he say that after all he underwent? He compared it with what was yet to come.
What was that? In contract to each of those three words, he looked forward to
an eternal weight of glory.
That’s what we all need—the belief in what God says awaits those who serve Him.
On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him. – C.S. Lewis
Who can commune with an angry God? Is God not ‘angry with the wicked every day’? (Ps 7:11) Does God’s justice not find us all guilty, and loathe our corruption? A crushing sense of accusing guilt, with the consequent fear of judgement, destroys the ability to love God. No one can enjoy God who worries that God remains his adversary. No one can love God ultimately unless he knows he is out of debt with God and no longer under condemnation (Rom 8:1). When faith grasps the love of God for us in Christ, communion is possible.
There is no condemnation, There is no hell for me,
The torment and the fire Mine eyes shall never see;
For me there is no sentence, For me death has no sting,
Because the Lord who loves me shall...
How should we pray for unbelievers? 1 Timothy 2:1–2 helps answer this question. Let’s get the context first and then look at the content of this passage.
1 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV)
(1) First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, (2) for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Taken at surface level, 1 Timothy 2:1–2 is understood to give a general command to pray for all people and civil leaders. The surrounding context, however, helps us see that Paul had in mind a prayer for the salvation of all. How do we...
Last week, I shared some observations gained from a busy summer of teaching internationally. I received a number of replies, both supportive and questioning, that merit some further clarifications. Let me say categorically—I unequivocally support church planting! But I also believe in theological education. Both have their place in world evangelism. My goal last week was not to argue against church planting, but to argue for theological education. I have personal reasons for doing so. In addition to my own teaching at a seminary, my son is raising support to return to Africa to be involved in theological education. I also urge my students to consider this ministry path. I think theological education abroad is an urgent need.
Some pastors will choose not to support this kind of ministry, either because they prefer to support church planters or because they believe that supporting anything other than church planting is to miss the biblical mandate. My goal last week was a simple one—to challenge the view that theological education is separate from church planting and thus not part of the biblical mandate. This view is both a...
Both Old Testament command and New Testament example demonstrate that God desires that believers lift His praises together. He wants His children to gather for the purpose of honoring Him. This worship is still an individual, heartfelt response toward God, but it is expressed publicly in the presence of other believers. That brings God even more glory than if it were done privately.
For instance, a person receives more honor when he is praised in the presence of many people than if he were praised by one person privately. The great honor that comes with winning an Olympic gold medal is because thousands of people are watching the event. A solo violin can be beautiful, but when it is combined with other instruments in a symphony, the glory of the music is even more spectacular. The same is true when God is praised publicly in the presence of others. C. H. Spurgeon said, “Personal praise is sweet unto God, but congregational praise has a multiplicity of sweetnesses in it.”
Too many Christians experience communion with God as moths behave around lights. The light draws them in, but as they approach, the intense heat repels them. So the moth comes in and out, in a restless cycle of approaching and fleeing, drawing near and pulling away. Christians desire to draw near to God to know him and love him. As we do so, we find that the sight of God’s holiness reveals our sin, imperfections and wrong loves. Guilt and shame follow, and with it, the desire to hide from God (Genesis 3:9). As we break off communion, or refuse to confess our sins, we live in self-imposed leanness of soul, being starved of our soul’s nourishment: God himself. Eventually the spiritual hunger pangs are intense enough for us to return to God, seeking communion. God delights in the return of his wandering children, and restores us, where we can begin beholding him again. Unfortunately, for many, here the cycle begins again.
Our problem is twofold: we make God in our own image, and we are naturally legalists...
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood—Acts 20:28
What does Paul mean in his speech in Acts 20 when he says that God purchased the church with “his own blood”? God doesn’t have blood. He’s a spirit. In fact, it’s precisely because God doesn’t have blood that God the Son became incarnate. Otherwise the human problem of sin and death could not have been solved. So, what is Paul saying here? Let me try to untangle this one by offering three of the more plausible solutions, one text critical and two interpretive.
A text-critical option. One solution to the problem is found in a handful of important manuscripts that read “church of the Lord” instead of “church of God.” For a list, see the online apparatus of NA28 here. As most recognize, however, the manuscript evidence for this alternative reading is pretty evenly matched with the manuscript evidence for the reading followed above by the NIV. What tips the...
Over the past month or two, I’ve put forward a few suggested reading lists in the field of church history. These lists have included surveys of church history, books on the history of Christian doctrine, books that discuss church history in specific areas of the world, and books related to Baptist history. In this last post of the series, I am going to recommend a few Christian biographies. There are so many good biographies available that it was hard to decide which ones to mention. Below is a list of six Christian leaders from the past 500 years with a recommended biography of each. If your favorite biography doesn’t appear in the list, feel free to mention it in the comments at the end of the post.
A few weeks back I offered a tribute to my dad for being a good parent to an unbelieving child (yours truly) by (1) being an agent of common grace, introducing me to “received laws” that God communicates generally to man in his image (language, logic, conduct, industry, etc.) and by (2) offering me the special grace of salvation and urging me to receive it. In his mercy God softened my heart in my late teens to receive the latter, but in the meantime, my parents were not stymied in their parenting efforts—they had plenty of common grace to pass along to their little pagan. They knew well that the world is filled with pagans of various degrees. Some pagans are morally upright, honest, industrious, law-abiding, and conservative. Others are immoral, dishonest, lazy, lawless, and licentious. And since I was at the time determined to remain a pagan, they deduced that a moral pagan was preferable to an immoral one. So they heaped common grace upon me and worked hard to make me the best possible pagan I could be.
Common grace, you see, is the sphere in which believers and...