Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Of the Father's Love Begotten

The above song celebrates, among other things, the "eternal generation of the Son." In other words the relationship of God the Father to God the Son is an eternal one. A human father can engender a son in a moment of time, and from that point on, he is the father of that child.

It is different with God the Father and God the Son. Yes, the Son of God was born on this earth at a specific moment in time, but that was not the beginning of His existence. Yes, it was the beginning of His taking on a human body, but He Himself is from all eternity.

Since God the Father is eternal, His Son is also eternal. Hence the term "eternal generation of the Son." The Son of God did take on human flesh, born of the Virgin Mary, but that was not the beginning of the existence of the Son of God. He is eternal, as is the Father and the Holy Spirit - God in three persons.

The early church in the 4th century needed to clarify Biblical teaching about the person of Jesus Christ, since there were some who were teaching that the Son of God was not eternal. That is, He did not exist until He was born on the earth. However, the Bible teaches that the Son of God left Heaven in order to be our Savior. Philippians 2:5-11 is one of the clearest texts supporting the fact of Christ's pre-existence - that is, He was already God and Lord before He took on bodily form, even before time began.

So, Christians have from time to time needed to clarify the relationship that exists between the Father and the Son, as well as the Holy Spirit - the Triune God. There is only one God, existing eternally in three persons.

From the 4th century we have the Nicene creed.:

The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

More recent theologians have also addressed this issue of the "eternal generation of the Son." Here is what A.A. Hodge had to say as quoted in a Wikkipedia entry.:

"The eternal generation of the Son is defined as 'an eternal personal act of the Father, wherein, by necessity of nature, not by choice of will, He generates the person (not the essence) of the Son, by communicating to Him the whole indivisible substance of the Godhead, without division, alienation, or change, so that the Son is the express image of His Father's person, and eternally continues, not from the Father, but in the Father, and the Father in the Son.'"

- A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, p. 182

Then, way back in the 4th century about the same time the Nicene Creed was being forged, the hymn Of the Father's Love Begotten was written. It expresses eloquently this concept of the eternal generation of the Son. He was begotten - speaking of relationship and representation - not made. Yes, the Son took on bodily form and showed us the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit, but He has always been and always will be the eternal Son of God.

The melody of this song is also called Divinum Mysterium - Divine Mystery. There is a mystery about the eternal generation of the Son that some would like to ignore. However, the One who was in the bosom of the Father has been revealed - Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior.

John 1:18
No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

The only God has been made known.

John 1:18 (English Standard Version)
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Notice that in the Greek NT, the words translated "only begotten Son" in the KJV and "the only God" in the ESV are "μονογενης θεος" - "only begotten God." Begotten, not made, very God of very God. The Nicene Creed got it right. Our English, IMO, does not properly express the nuance that the ancient Greek and Latin fathers understood, and I think we are poorer for it, myself - especially when some modern day theologians, I have noticed, argue from the English! Weird...

ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 1:18 (1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament)
18θεον ουδεις εωρακεν πωποτε μονογενης θεος ο ων εις τον κολπον του πατρος εκεινος εξηγησατο

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Father Sent the Son

1 John 4:14
14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Matthew Henry:

"The Father sent the Son, he willed his coming into this world."

John 3:16,17

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Dr. Bruce Ware:

"Clearly, the Father both consecrated the Son for the very mission he planned for him, and then he sent the Son into the world to fulfill what he had designed. For this to be meaningful, we must understand both the consecration and sending of the Son as happening prior to the incarnation and thus in the design and purpose of God in eternity past."


It is important to understand that the Father sent the Son into the world before the Son was born in Bethlehem, even before He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The sending happened in eternity past. In fact, one could say that eternity does not really have a past, present, or future, since eternity speaks of the kind of existence that God has outside of the constraints of time. Time is part of His created order. He is in no way bound by the limits of time.

Therefore, it has always been the will of the Father, - throughout all of time and eternity - with the full agreement of the Son, and the of the Holy Spirit to send the Son as our Savior. The effects of this sending would carry through to all eternity. His coming was at a specific point in time, but the effects of His coming are eternal. In fact, as Matthew Henry points out in his quote above, "He [the Father] willed His [the Son's] coming into the world." The "willing" had to happen before the "coming."

What does it matter? The Son is eternal, as is the Father. They have always had an eternal Father with His eternal Son relationship. The Son did not begin His life when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He is the eternal Son of God, just as the Father is our Eternal Father, and the Holy Spirit is the eternal Spirit of God. It has always been this way, and it always will be, for God in His essence does not and cannot change.

Since the Father is eternal, the Son is also eternal. How can there be an eternal Father if there is no eternal Son?

Of course, there is only One eternal God who has always existed and will always exist in what are called three hypostases - IOW, three persons who are one in essence and will.

Deuteronomy 33:27
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before youand said, Destroy.

Romans 16:26
but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Symbols of the Season

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

In Everything Give Thanks

I know that Paul was not talking about American Thanksgiving when under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he wrote the words "give thanks in all circumstances." The imagery of the horn of plenty has always appealed to me.

That's all. Times of a plentiful harvest are certainly part of the "all circumstances." When I was a kid, I loved those coloring pictures with the Cornucopia.

43.1 Thessalonians 5:18
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
εὐχαριστέω eucharisteō

1) to be grateful, feel thankful
2) give thanks

"Give thanks in all circumstances" is a simple command, yet one that is hard to practice. It is another one of those present active imperatives in the Greek that means the giving of thanks and the feeling of gratitude is a habit that we should cultivate if we are real Christians. The giving of thanks should be part of our daily "routine." It should not be something that we do once in awhile, and then forget about. An imperative is a command. This is God's will for us, not an option or just a good idea.

Adverse circumstances should not have an effect on our habit of expressing gratefulness to God. God does not change, so why should our gratefulness change? The giving of thanks is Godward primarily. Remember that Christ gave thanks on the night He was betrayed, so we will never face more adverse circumstances than that.
Christ is our Savior, but He left us an example of how we should face the most dire of situations. Besides that He lives in us through the Holy Spirit, developing in us Christlike attitudes which lead to Christlike actions. The giving of thanks in all cricumstances is something that Christ certainly practiced.

Some argue that we are not told to give thanks for the circumstances themselves. If God is control of the circumstances, shouldn't we receive them all as from His good hand and give thanks for them? On the other hand, in an absolute moral sense, not all circumstances are good, so we should not thank God for our own sin or for the sinful things that others do that bring about bad circumstances. God can and does make all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, but He does not make people sin. (Romans 8:27-29) He allows people to sin, but His expressed will is that people do not sin.

So, we can thank God for the good that He is able to bring even out of the sinful actions of ourselves and others, but we should never be grateful that we or someone else has sinned. The act of giving thanks is closly related to worship, God's holiness, and His glory, so nothing in us should be grateful that someone has sinned.

Even so, if evil men had not taken Jesus and murdered Him on a cross, we would not be saved from our sins. God used the most sinful acts of the depraved human heart to bring about the destruction of sin, the devil, and even death itself.

Still, the command remains to habitually practice giving thanks to God no matter where we are or what is happening to us. Paul and Silas in prison is another example of where this principle was put into practice. Paul practiced what he preached, in other words. (Acts 16:22-30)

One may think that it is easy to give thanks to God when all is going well, but often that is not the case. Remember the 10 lepers who were healed? Only one of the 10 came back to give thanks.

I don't think, as many Christians seem to indicate, that there is some kind of spiritual power released in the act of giving thanks itself. The "power" comes from the regenerate heart of obedience and the work of the Holy Spirit. There is no "magic" in the act of giving thanks, and the unbeliever will not receive some spiritual benefit from it. The giving of thanks and the feeling of thankfulness is not something that we can work up in the flesh.

We don't thank God through gritted teeth, so to speak, while in our hearts we are cursing our circumstances.

Thankfulness is a grace that God works in our hearts through faith in Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Giving thanks in all circumstances is God's will in Christ Jesus. This is a command for believers.

Of course, if we do not feel grateful at all times, we can still give thanks, knowing that it is the right thing to do and that it is God's will. We can also ask God to work in our hearts so that our feelings also line up with His revealed will.

Some make a big deal about the circumstances themselves being God's will for the believer, therefore give thanks. Some make a big deal about the giving of thanks being God's will. I think that both are true, actually. Nothing happens to us that is outside His sovreign will, and it is always His will for us to be thankful no matter what.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Choosing Gratitude

The Family Life Today radio program has had a good series featuring interviews with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who has written a book called Choosing Gratitude. You can find the podcasts at Family Life' website..

This got me thinking that it would be good to do a little devotional blogging based on the subject of gratitude in the Bible. It's something I like to do - choose a topic and then search Bible Gateway to see what verses contain words related to that topic. It's not meant to be scholarly or anything, just devotional. Maybe I don't even need to say that. :-)

I'm using the English Standard Version, but there are many versions to choose from at Bible Gateway. I'll start in the NT. There are 51 verses in the NT that use the word "thanks" or "thanksgiving." I may take a look at the Greek - or not. I will try not to take the verses out of context, but I won't take the time to do a proper job of putting them in their context. It's just some thoughts.

I will give a link to the very fine harmony of the Gospels found at the Blue Letter Bible website. There are three events where Jesus gave thanks, took bread, broke it, and distributed it. Two were the miraculous feeding of the 4,000 and of the 5,000. These two events tend to get "smooshed" together in my mind, but they were two different miracles. Then there is the Lord's Supper on the night He was betrayed.

A. The feeding of the 5,000.

Feeding of the five thousand Matthew 14:13-21 Mark 6:30-44 Luke 9:10-17 John 6:1-15

B. The feeding of the 4,000.

Feeding of the four thousand Matthew 15:32-39 Mark 8:1-9

C. The Lord's Supper. This is called The Paschal Supper.

Paschal supper Matthew 26:17-30 Mark 14:12-26 Luke 22:7-23 John 13:1-35

Not all of these passages showed up in my search at Bible Gateway, so, anyway.

1.Matthew 15:36
he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

God blessed the loaves and the fish, and it was enough. Well, my thoughts turn to Christ. He was offered to God as the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, as John the Baptist declared. (John 1:29-33) His blood as suffiecient for all. His sacrifice is also efficient to save those who come to Him by faith. There is such depth in these few words. If you are His, it is because He died for you in a specific way. Hear His voice. Come to Him. The way is open.

1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.

Jeremiah 31:3 (English Standard Version)
the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

This is also part of where the tradition that Christians have of giving thanks before meals comes from. I kind of got away from the event of the feeding of the 4,000 and Jesus' giving of thanks, but I just get carried away by the Gospel.

2.Matthew 26:27
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you,

Here we see Jesus, the Bread of Life, the Lamb of God, giving thanks once again before He and His disciples drink of the cup at the Lord's Supper. On the eve of His darkest day, Jesus gave thanks. Let the beauty of that, and the beauty of our Savior overwhelm you. He did it for His people to save them from their sins. Come to Him.

3.Mark 8:6
And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd.

This is Mark's record of the events related to the Feeding of the 4,000 we also see in Matthew 15.

4.Mark 14:23
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.

This is Mark's record of the events related to the Lord's Supper.

5.Luke 2:38
And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

This is Anna in the temple. She was a godly woman who spent her time in prayer at the temple. She was waiting for God's Messiah to come. When Joseph and Mary entered the temple area with the baby Jesus, God revealed to her that He was the One. She spread the news among all the true believers in Jerusalem. Imagine her joy in being able to actually see the Savior with her own eyes after the long wait.

6.Luke 17:16
and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

This is the story of Jesus' healing of the 10 lepers. Only one of them returned to thank Jesus, and he was a foreigner. Aren't we often like the ungrateful 9? We do not properly thank and even worship the Lord for what He does on our behalf, yet He is kind even to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:34-36)

7.Luke 22:17
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves.

This is Luke's record of the Lord's Supper.

8.Luke 22:19
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

Christ gave thanks first for the cup, and distributed it, and then for the bread, and distributed it. This is the institution of the Lord's Supper, better known as communion. We fellowship with the Lord Himself at His table until He come. All believers unite around that table of the Lord.

9.John 6:11
Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.

This is the feeding of the 5,000. See my notes on the other miraculous feedings.

10.John 6:23
Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

This is a reference to the feeding of the 5,000.

11.Acts 27:35
And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.

Paul did this on the ship before it was run aground. He had all the people onboard eat a meal first. It must have brought comfort to all, as well as being a big surprise.

12.Romans 1:21
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

The lack of offering thanks to God for one's benefits and blessings is a sign of deep depravity.

13.Romans 6:17
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

Deliverance from sin and a change of heart obedience is the work of God in a person, so it is appropriate to thank God.

14.Romans 7:25
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

It is Christ who set us free from the terrible drag that sin is on our souls. We can now serve God's law freely.

15.Romans 14:6
The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

In matters of personal conscience, we are free to honor the Lord and give thanks to Him.

16.Romans 16:4
who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.

Here Paul thanks some people who risked their lives for him.

17.1 Corinthians 1:4
[ Thanksgiving ] I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

Again, Paul was grateful to God for the work He was doing in those living in Corinth.

18.1 Corinthians 10:30
If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

If we partake of something inoffensive, and we do so with thanksgiving, then we should not fear being criticized by other Christians who like to make rules about what Christians can and cannot do - rules, that is, that are not in Scripture.

19.1 Corinthians 11:24
and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

This is a reference to the Lord's Supper. When we reinact this supper, we also give thanks as Jesus did.

20.1 Corinthians 14:16
Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say "Amen" to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?

Since speaking in tongues in this way is a private affair, how can everyone join in the giving of thanks? The church is not the place for private shows of spirituality, but rather for corporate worship and mutual edification.

21.1 Corinthians 14:17
For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.

Selfishness in the body, even though the selfish person thanks God for what he has, doesn't build up the body. If we share in our bounty, then there is more thanks offered to God and our own thanks doesn't sould so hollow.

22.1 Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, we thank God continually for the victory we have through Christ.

23.2 Corinthians 1:11
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

The NT teaching on the giving of thanks must be closely related to the OT practice of thank offerings.

24.2 Corinthians 2:14
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

The believer can always be thankful because Christ always leads us in victory.

25.2 Corinthians 4:15
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Thanksgiving is related to worship and God's glory.

26.2 Corinthians 8:16
[ Commendation of Titus ] But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you.

God is thanked even for the caring heart of Titus.

27.2 Corinthians 9:11
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

Generosity among believers results in thanksgiving to God.

28.2 Corinthians 9:12
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

When believers do what they can to help supply the needs of other believers, it is God who is thanked.

29.2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Words fail Paul in telling of the depth of gratitude he felt for the gift of Christ.

30.Ephesians 1:15
[ Thanksgiving and Prayer ] For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,

31.Ephesians 1:16
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

This is evidence that Paul practiced the habitual giving of thanks to God.

32.Ephesians 5:4
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

This is clear. Giving thanks to God should be the main topic of our speech.

33.Ephesians 5:20
giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Always and everything are pretty all-inclusive words. All the time, for every thing. Our thanks is to the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here is another evidence of the diversity of roles within the 3 hypostases of the Triune God. Well, in this case two, but elsewhere Paul tells us that we pray in the Spirit.

34.Philippians 1:3
[ Thanksgiving and Prayer ] I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

The faith of converts was a motive for Paul to give thanks to God.

35.Philippians 4:6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Give thanks to God as you are asking Him to supply your need, even before you have received what you have asked for.

36.Colossians 1:3
[ Thanksgiving and Prayer ] We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

We should thank the Father as we pray for other believers.

37.Colossians 1:12
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Our thanks for our salvation is to the Father.

38.Colossians 2:7
rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Real Christians don't thank God grudgingly, but they abound in thanksgiving.

39.Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Giving thanks characterizes the life of a true believer in Christ.

40.Colossians 4:2
[ Further Instructions ] Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

In all our prayer, especially when facing temptation, don't forget to thank God and be grateful to Him.

41.1 Thessalonians 1:2
[ The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example ] We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,

Paul the apostle gave thanks to God for what he was doing in the converts.

42.1 Thessalonians 3:9
For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,

Words fail us when we beging to offer thanksgiving to God for the joy that seeing converts grow in their faith.

43.1 Thessalonians 5:18
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

εὐχαριστέω eucharisteō

This is a simple command, one that is hard to practice. It is another one of those present active imperatives in the Greek that means the giving of thanks and the feeling of gratitude is a habit that we should cultivate if we are real Christians. Adverse circumstances should not have an effect on our habit of expressing gratefulness to God. Remember that Christ gave thanks on the night He was betrayed.

Some argue that we are not told to give thanks for the circumstances themselves. If God is control of the circumstances, shouldn't we receive them all as from His good hand? In an absolute moral sense, not all circumstances are good, so we should not thank God for our own sin or for the sinful things that others do. That is usually the argument against the necessity of thanking God for the circumstances themselves.

I can see that. Still, the command remains to habitually practice giving thanks to God no matter where we are or what is happening to us. Paul and Silas in prison is another example of where this principle was put into practice. Paul practiced what he preached, in other words. (Acts 16:22-30)

44.2 Thessalonians 1:3
[ Thanksgiving ] We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Seeing the growth in others should give us joy and we should feel grateful, giving thanks to God when we see His work.

45.2 Thessalonians 2:13
[ Stand Firm ] But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

When we see how God has worked in the lives of others, our reaction should be that of gratefulness to God for what He has done.

46.1 Timothy 2:1
[ Pray for All People ] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

Giving thanks is a kind of prayer that we should engage in at least as often as we do in asking and interceding.

47.1 Timothy 4:3
who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

False religiosity of all kinds - Gnosticism in this case - makes up rules and laws to prohibit things that God has created to be enjoyed.

48.1 Timothy 4:4
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

Man takes what God has created and is capable of turning it into something that doesn't bless us. Everything that God created, that is used as He has designed and authorized should be received with thanksgiving. We don't need to go around with our noses in the air, looking down on people who enjoy legitimate pleasures.

49.Revelation 4:9
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

These beings' only purpose in life is to praise God.

50.Revelation 7:12
saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."

Words fail us in expressing our gratitude for who God is and what He has done.

51. Revelation 11:17
saying,"We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was,for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.

Wow! Yes, we give thanks to God for His rule in our lives.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jesus, Lover of My Soul - Aberystwyth

Jesus, lover of my soul, Safely to Thy bosom fly
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.


"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

- Horatio

Jesus, Lover of My Soul - Aberystwyth - begins at 8 minutes more or less

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thunder Storm

I love a Capella music.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Word "Love" in the Book of John

Amazing love! In the book of John, the word "love" is used 39 times in 21 chapters. No wonder John is called the Apostle of Love.

The New Testament was written in Greek. As many know, there are several words in the Greek language that are translated into English as "love." In the New Testament, there are two Greek words used fairly frequently: "agape" and "philos." "Agape" tends to mean "love" in a general sense and "philos" more of a brotherly love. However, in the NT, these two words seem to be practically interchangeable in their usage. Many think that there is little difference between the two words. So, I won't bother at this point going through and looking up which word is used in each verse. I may do that sometime, but not right now.

Here is a good John MacArthur sermon on the subject of John:The Apostle of Love. His text is from 1 John.

1.John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The Bible speaks of God's love in several different ways. First, God is love. That is, He is a loving and good God, kind and gracious to all (Acts 14:17). Love is one of God's attributes.

Then, God has a special love for His own, for those who believe in Christ. It is the kind of love that a bridegroom has for his bride. It is an exclusive kind of love, reserved only for the beloved and not given indiscriminately to all.

Here in this verse we see God's love for everyone in the world, yet only those who believe in Christ will be saved from condemnation. Why? God is also just. His love is satisfied in sending Christ, and His justice is satisfied in Christ's death on the cross. Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of mankind, especially for those who believe in Him. (1 Timothy 4:10)

So, there is a sense in which God loves all the world and all the people in it, but there is a greater kind of love. God's love for His elect is not at all the same as the general love He has for all those created in His image.

Even among humans this is true. The love one may feel for mankind in general is not at all the same as the love he feels for those close to him such as his family or best friends.

God's love for His elect ensures their salvation. God's love for all of mankind does not save all men from their sin. Many are left in their unbelief and rebellion while others are saved from their sins.

2.John 3:19
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

We should love God with all our hearts. He is the one who made our hearts in the first place, after all. We are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26,27). Since God is love, and since we are made in His image, it seems that it would be natural for all mankind to love God back and to be loving and kind to everyone else. As St. Agustin said in his Confessions:

"Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee?"

The problem is that we tend to love sin rather than God. Just as Adam and Eve hid from God when they sinned (Genesis 3:10), all the children of Adam and Eve - which is all of us - hide in the darkness from God because we don't want to face up to who we really are. We don't want to admit that we are sinners who hate God and love our sin. Our problem as men and women is one of sinfulness.

3.John 3:35
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.

The love that the Father and the Son enjoy is absolute and perfect. The Father and the Son are equal in being, so the Father gives all things into the hand of the Son. Only the Son is able to receive such a commission from His Father.

4.John 5:20
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

Again, the Father and Son are equal in being.

5.John 5:42
But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.

Jesus knew who had love for God within them and who did not. Outward displays of religiosity are not enough. God looks on the heart; He looks at what is on the inside. (1 Samuel 16:7)

6.John 8:42
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

One cannot say he loves the Father but reject the Son. One cannot say that he loves God and at the same time reject the Word made flesh.

7.John 10:17
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

The love between the Father and the Son was perfect.

8.John 11:3
So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."

Jesus had special friends that He loved in a special way. People noticed that He had His close friends, and Lazarus was one of them.

9.John 11:5
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

Mary and Martha were also among Jesus' closest friends.

10.John 11:36
So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

His love for this family was great and everyone recognized His grief.

11.John 12:25
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

This is one of those beautiful paradoxes we find in Scripture. How can our losing our life actually give us eternal life? This is what Jesus teaches, though. We lose what once seemed dear to us, but we gain something far better. We no longer live for ourselves, seeking to satisfy our sinful desires. Rather, we live for the One who gave Himself for us, Jesus Christ.

12.John 12:43
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Here is an example of some who claimed to be serving God, but who were really seeking fame. We were created to love the glory of God above all else, but because of sin, we easily seek glory, fame, and fortune for ourselves and not for God. That self-glorification can lead to evil acts. In the case of these religious leaders, the result was the murder of the Son of God.

13.John 13:1
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

14.John 13:23
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus,

15.John 13:34
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

16.John 13:35
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

17.John 14:15
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

18.John 14:21
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

19.John 14:23
Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

20.John 14:24
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

21.John 14:28
You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

22.John 14:31
but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

23.John 15:9
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

24.John 15:10
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

25.John 15:12
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

26.John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

27.John 15:17
These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

28.John 15:19
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

29.John 16:27
for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

30.John 17:23
I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

31.John 17:24
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

32.John 17:26
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

33.John 19:26
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"

34.John 20:2
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

35.John 21:7
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.

36.John 21:15
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."

37.John 21:16
He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."

38.John 21:17
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

39.John 21:20
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?"

Friday, July 3, 2009

Joy - Pauline Epistles

I searched the word "joy" at Bible Gateway, restricting it to the Pauline Epistles. Here is what I found, along with a few of my comments on each verse that came up.

1. Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

Partying brings a kind of "joy." It is only for a brief time, though. The joy that comes as a gift of the Holy Spirit is not like that. That joy is eternal and no one can take it away. No circumstance in this life can rob a believer of the joy that is theirs in Christ. Christian joy also goes along with righteousness and peace.

2. Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Real joy comes from God.

3. Romans 15:32
so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.

There is joy found in fellowship with other believers, especially when we go through difficult circumstances together.

4. Romans 16:19
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Knowing how God has worked in those we have shared Christ with brings joy.

5. 2 Corinthians 1:24
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

The desire of a true shepherd of God is that those under him will have joy. He wants the best for them and wants to work with them. The real spiritual leader doesn't try to boss people around.

6. 2 Corinthians 2:3
I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.

If the Apostle Paul was happy, then they could all be happy. If they were still tolerating sin in their midst, then there would be no joy shared with Paul. True joy from God involves separating oneself from sin. True Christian fellowship is based on the truth. When we "hide" sin among us, there can be no fellowship and no joy.

7. 2 Corinthians 7:4
I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

Paul was confident that they would obey God in the things he had written to them about in the first letter. Knowing that made his troubles less and even "worth it."

8. 2 Corinthians 7:7

and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

Paul was joyous to find out that the Christians in Corinth had taken care of the problems they had. He was happy to find out that they still loved him even after he had rebuked them strongly. He was glad to see that they loved righteousness and hated sin.

9. 2 Corinthians 8:2

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

Often those who have the least as far as this world goes are the ones who most understand the joy in giving principle.

10. Galatians 4:15
What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.

False teachers had confused the Christians in Galatia. Because of accepting wrong teachings about the Law, they had lost their joy. False teachings rob a Christian of joy. The Holy Spirit is not in heresy, so His joy is not present, either.

11. Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Again, real joy is from the Holy Spirit and is fruit of His work in our lives.

12. Philippians 1:4
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy

Paul prayed with joy for those who were his brothers and sisters in Christ.

13. Philippians 1:25
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,

Growth brings joy.

14. Philippians 1:26
so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Paul was in prison for his faith. They were all suffering because of it. Paul was torn. He would have liked to die and enter God's presence, but he knew that the Christians needed him to continue teaching and encouraging them. His presence with them after being released from prison would give all of them great joy.

15. Philippians 2:2
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Unity among Christians gives us joy.

16. Philippians 2:29
Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,

Paul was telling the brethren to receive Epaphroditus with joy and honor. He had been willing to give his life for the sake of the Gospel. God had mercy on him.

17. Philippians 4:1
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

Paul, though he was in prison, found joy in knowing that His friends were standing firm in the faith. He longed to be with them. That was all he wanted - to be with them.

18. 1 Thessalonians 1:6
You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Where can one who is suffering find joy? There is joy in the Lord and this joy is given as a gift by the Holy Spirit. When we have nothing left, we still have the joy of the Lord to strengthen and encourage us.

19. 1 Thessalonians 2:19
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

When Paul and his companions stood before God, the ones who had come to the Lord through their ministry would be their source of joy. They would not be entering Heaven alone.
20. 1 Thessalonians 2:20

Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

The fact that the believers were going on with the Lord brought Paul and his companions joy.

21. 1 Thessalonians 3:9
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

Joyful fellowship in the Lord.

22. 2 Timothy 1:4
Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.

Paul was sad because Timothy was sad. They were very close, like father and son. Their separation and Paul's difficult circumstances caused them both pain. Paul looked forward to a joyful reunion with his dear friend.

23. Philemon 1:7

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Other believers who are an encouragement to us bring joy to our hearts.


Definition of the Greek word "χαρά - chara" which is translated as "joy" in many of these verses:

"1) joy, gladness

a) the joy received from you

b) the cause or occasion of joy

1) of persons who are one's joy"

Blue Letter Bible

Monday, June 8, 2009

St. John Chrysostom - On Marriage and Family Life

St. John Chrysostom is one of my favorite writers on the subject of marriage and family life. His homilies are simple, straightforward, very compassionate, and warm. Even though he lived in the 4th century, (347-407)his words have great meaning for today. People have changed a lot. Our society has changed a lot. However, there are certain human qualities that never really change very much. Things like love, self-sacrifice, devotion, service, submission, obedience, and more still speak to us. Many of the struggles that marriages face now were very similar in Chrysostom's time.

Here are some quotes from one of his homilies. I believe that his teachings on marriage and family are very Scriptural. I also believe that what is today called "Complementarianism" is close to St. John's teachings.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church. (Ephesians 5:25).
1. "You have seen the amount of obedience necessary. Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse."

2. "Even if you see her belittling you, or despising and mocking you, still you will be able to subject her to yourself, through affection, kindness, and your great regard for her. There is no influence more powerful than the bond of love, especially for husband and wife . . . . Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies (v. 28)."

3. "So if you think that the wife is the loser because she is told to fear her husband, remember that the principal duty of love is assigned to the husband, and you will see that it is her gain. "And what if my wife refuses to obey me?" a husband will ask. Never mind! Your obligation is to love her; do your duty!"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Use of the Tongue - Good Words - Part One - Pauline Epistles

Ephesians 5:6
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

I will now find some Scriptures that talk about the proper use of the tongue, or the proper use of words. I don't know about others, but reading through the passages on the subject of gossip and slander was eye-opening and convicting for me. It's not that many of the passages aren't familiar. Some are very familiar.

It's just so convicting! I praise God for His grace - grace that paid the penalty for my sins when Christ died on the cross, and grace that enables me by the Holy Spirit to actually work at living up to these strong words of correction and rebuke.

Then, I know that Christ lived up to these standards every moment of every day of every week of every month of every year of His earthly life. He took my sin and clothed me in His righteousness. Wow!

Hellbound gossips and slanderers that we are without His intervention in our lifes! Praise His holy name. Even so, if I do not walk in obedience to what He shows me in His Word, how can I claim the name of Christ?

Praise His Name!

Now on to a correct use of the tongue. The texts in this post are from the epistles of Paul.

[to be continued]

1. 1 Corinthians 2:13
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

1 Corinthians 2:13 Or Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual men

This is a wonderful verse. Paul and his companions were not speaking words to us that they had learned from some human philosophy. He was not speaking words of human wisdom. He was speaking things that had been taught to him by the Spirit of God.

How are we as Christians taught by the Spirit of God? We are taught by the Spirit as we read and study the Bible, asking the Spirit to enable us to understand the message of the Gospel. This is what we speak to others, too. What the Spirit spoke to Paul and the other human authors of Scriputre, we read, seek Holy Spirit illumination, and speak to others.

2. Romans 3:2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.

The Jews of the Old Testament, and to a certain extent today, were entrusted with the words of God. We have them recorded for us in the Bible. For that reason, even we Christians should respect what God did through His Old Testament people. For that reason, believers should protect and defend the Jews. We believe that the Bible teaches that God is not finished with the Jews, yet, and that they will someday turn to Christ, their Messiah. We love them and speak well of them. We bless them and long for the day of Christ's coming.

3. Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Sometimes our spiritual need is too great to put into words. The Spirit intercedes for us.

4. Romans 10:18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

5. 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

6. 1 Corinthians 14:9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

7. 1 Corinthians 14:19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Ephesians 6:19
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:18-20 (in Context) Ephesians 6 (Whole Chapter)
1 Thessalonians 1:5
because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 (in Context) 1 Thessalonians 1 (Whole Chapter)
1 Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 (in Context) 1 Thessalonians 4 (Whole Chapter)
1 Timothy 6:4
he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions
1 Timothy 6:3-5 (in Context) 1 Timothy 6 (Whole Chapter)
2 Timothy 2:14
[ A Workman Approved by God ] Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

Use of the Tongue - Slander

Another wrong use of the tongue is that of "slander." These are powerful words. There are many Biblical references to "slander." I will put most of those here in this post.

1. Leviticus 19:16
" 'Do not go about spreading slander among your people. " 'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.

Slander can be life-threatening. It seems here to have more legal connotations. It does in our legal system. This particular law is part of various laws given after the Decalogue.

2. Deuteronomy 22:14
and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,"

Here we see that under the Old Testament system, women who were virgins before they got married were protected from husbands who would slander them. Evidently, these husbands would do this so that they could get a divorce and get rid of a wife when they had no grounds for divorce. In a very real sense, this threatened the woman's life, since the punishment for adultery under the Old Testament theocracy was the stoning to death of the offender.

3. Psalm 15:3
and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,

It is easy to cast a slur on another. Even if we don't come out and say it, if we insinuate it, it is still slander in God's eyes. Slurs and innuendo are also ways that people slander one another. Those who want to have a place in God's sanctuary and holy hill will not slander others, or even cast slurs on his fellowman.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

4. Psalm 35:15
But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing.

Slanderers often kick a person when they are down.

5. Psalm 38:20
Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good.

Often those to whom we have done much good end up turning on us and spreading rumors about us. They may even be telling the truth in part, but the intention is to harm or even destroy.

I think of many parents who have suffered this kind of thing with their children. I have a good friend who is going through this kind of thing with her daughter. It is very hard for her.

Often, ex-spouses will slander one another. Sometimes, the offending spouse will slander their victim in an attempt to cover up their own wrongdoing. I have seen this happen, too.

I wonder if David had his own son, Absalom in mind when he wrote these words.

6. Psalm 50:20
You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother's son.

It is especially sad when siblings slander one another. It is especially sad when, in the body of Christ, Christians resort to slander.

7. Psalm 54:5
Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them.

Strong words! God does not ignore slander. We had better repent of it if we have engaged in it.

8. Psalm 101:5
Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.

We may think that if we slander someone it is in secret. However, God hears it. Again, let's repent of it before God deals with us as we deserve.

9. Proverbs 10:18
He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

Yes. The one who spreads slander is a fool. I think that this refers to the fact that when someone wants to spread slander, the last person he or she tells is the one who is being slandered. It is supposedly done in secret. It is a lie to not tell the person what you have in your heart, and then spread those supposed secret lies around behind their back. It is foolish, because slander is never secret, and it eventually doubles back on the one who uses it to spread hatred.

10. Jeremiah 6:28
They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly.

Who are they rebelling against? God, really, though they may also be rebelling against His properly established authorities.

11. Jeremiah 9:4
"Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.

Slanderers often turn on each other, I have noticed.

12. Ezekiel 22:9 In you are slanderous men bent on shedding blood; in you are those who eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts.

Those who slander may also want bloodshed. They may also be engaged in false religious practices which involve gross immorality. It is not always the case, of course. Exekiel was talking about the depths of depravity that God's people had sunk to in their rebellion. These particular slanderers were also engaged in other detestable practices.

13. Ezekiel 36:3 Therefore prophesy and say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people's malicious talk and slander,

During the time of Ezekiel, part of God's judgment on Israel was that they were the object of the malicious talk and slander of other nations. I think it safe to say that when we are being slandered ourselves, we should search our hearts and repent of any known sin. The slander of others may be God's discipline.

Matthew 15:19
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

All of these sins have their origin in the human heart. No one can say that they have never slandered another person. No one can say that they have never listened to and spread slander. Often, this involves public figures. It seems that slandering a public figure is somehow okay, even for Christians. It may be legal. I'm not sure I'd try to convince God that slander is not sin, even when it is about a public figure. Those involved in serious, Christian apologetics or counter cult ministries are very careful not to slander others. Analyze their teachings in love, yes. Slander, no. They want to help Christians defend the faith, as well as help those trapped in cults to escape.

We need to be careful. Even when speaking of Satan, we should not slander him and the celestial beings. We tell the truth about him and don't get into "shouting matches" with the devil as some are wont to do.

14. Romans 1:30
slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;

Again, slanderers is mentioned right up there with the worst kind of sinners.

15. Romans 3:8
Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.

Misrepresenting the teachings of others is also slander. Deliberately misrepresenting the teachings of the Word of God is one of the worst kinds of slander.

16. 1 Corinthians 4:13
when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Answer a slanderer kindly, but do answer them - as Paul did.

17. 1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

Stay away from those who slander, especially Christians who are known to have the habit of slanderering others. Our church had one case like this some years back where one man had to be made to leave the church.

18. 1 Corinthians 6:10
nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who habitually slander others will not go to heaven. Period.

19. 2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

Slander can even happen in the church.

20. Ephesians 4:31
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

What do we do when we realise that we have fallen into this dreadful sin that endangers our souls? Repent. Get rid of it out of our lives. Work at getting rid of it.

21. Colossians 3:8
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Get rid of these things.

22. 1 Timothy 5:14
So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

Young women need to keep busy in their homes so that the devil won't slander the church because of its women with moral problems.

23. 1 Timothy 6:1
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.

We don't have slaves, but most of us do work for someone. Christian employees should earn the respect of their employers so that people won't say things like, "look at what a lazy mess that guy is, and he calls himself a Christian! They're all alike. They're all hypocrites."

24. 2 Timothy 3:3
without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,

Love and slander do not go together. The one who refuses to forgive generally slanders the one that has offended them. There is no way to pacify an unforgiving person. The Bible proves itself wise in not just suggesting that we stay away from slanderers, but rather commanding that we stay away from them.

25. Titus 2:3
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Slander can be a problem at any age.

26. Titus 3:2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

No matter how bitter this pill is to swallow, a Christian leader cannot slander others. Yes, others can slander him until the cows come home, but he cannot retaliate. Yes, he can defend himself as Paul did, but he cannot spread slander about others. He cannot go on the attack, but he can defend himself. Paul defended himself when he was slandered. It was a measured, and careful defense.

J27. James 2:7
Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

How were the rich slandering the name of Christ? By withholding wages from their workers. A rich person who is also generous is a great blessing to all they come in contact with.

28. James 4:11
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

This is a command for Christians not to slander one another at all.

29. 1 Peter 2:1
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Get rid of slander.

30.<em>1 Peter 3:16
keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Good behavior defeats the slanderer.

31. 2 Peter 2:11
Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.

Don't even slander demons.

32. Jude 1:8
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

Don't even slander demons.

33. Jude 1:9
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

Not even the archangel Michael slandered the devil.

34. Revelation 2:9
I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

35. Revelation 13:6
He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.

The devil slanders God and His people.


I am being convicted about this. I try to make my blogs positve, God-honoring places. If I write something that comes out kind of negative, I try to reword it, to rework it, and then post it. I often just delete posts that don't come out right, or could be taken the wrong way. I use my tongue. I want to make good use of it for God's glory.

Wrong uses of the tongue.:


1. Proverbs 20:19
He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
Therefore do not associate with a gossip.

We are told to break off contact with gossips. That would include, I suppose, even reading gossip. That would include everything from Supermarket Tabloids to blogs where gossip is regularly featured.

2. Romans 1:29
being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,

Here, gossip is mentioned along with murder in the list of sins that those of depraved minds engage in. Gossip seems like such an innocent passtime. However, it is really evidence of a depraved mind.

Romans 1:28-30 (New American Standard Bible)

28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,

30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

3. 1 Timothy 3:11
Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.

Women who freelly engage in gossip sessions are not qualified to serve in the church until and unless they deal with this sin.

4. 1 Timothy 5:12-14 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.
14Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach;

This passage speaks for itself. Gossip is never the proper activity for a Christian woman. In our day, we can say using the telephone, emails, text messaging, blogging, or even the US postal service to spread gossip.

5. 2 Timothy 3:3
unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,

This is a cluster of qualities that characterize men who have abandoned the faith. "Malicious gossips" is one of those. This passage from 2 Timothy shows that gossip is not just a problem that women have. Men can be just as bad. It is also one sign of apostasy.

6. Titus 2:3
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,

Gossip is malicious. Older women should not spend their days listening to and spreading gossip.

7. 2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance,

Paul hoped that when he visited the church in Corinth, they would have "cleaned up their act." He wanted them to deal with their "issues" before he came. I think that he wanted to have sweet fellowship with them, so he didn't want to have to spend his time with them just resolving conflicts that should have been resolved.

These words are sobering. There is grace offered. After all, Paul expected that the Christians in Corinth, who were well-known for their disorderly conduct, would have repented of the sins they had been engaging in.

Let us take hope from those words, and these.:

1 John 1:9 (New International Version)
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Soul-searching Scriptures.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

1 Pet. 2:20ff

1 Pet. 2:20ff

"For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for
your faults, ye shall take it patiently, but if when ye do well, and
suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God.

For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps:

who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

who when he was reviled, reviled not again,

when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness:

by whose stripes ye were healed."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jesus is the Light

Volcano eruption in Chile.

John 1:3-5
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

4In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.


Everything was made through Jesus. Nothing was made without Him. This, of course, shows that Jesus Himself is not a created being. How could He be created through Himself?

The easiest thing is to think that He was not created, but rather is God Himself. He is the Creator, and He didn't create Himself.

Of course it makes sense that He has life in Him. He didn't get life from somewhere else. Life belongs to Him. It is His because of who He is. He is God.

It is not a life that is only for Himself. It is life that is shared with people. His coming to earth as a man was like a light to us. People actually saw God walking around in a body. It's not that He had some weird glow coming out of Him. That's not how He showed His light. Rather, people could see how He lived; what He did; where He went; how He reacted to people; what was important to Him; and most of all, how He died on the cross, bearing our sins in His own body.

When we believe in Him, we have His life in us.

The darkness doesn't understand it. Who or what is the darkness? Well, for one thing, it is Satan and his demons. They never understood Jesus. If they had, they never would have killed Him. They would have protected Him from death, since His death sealed their doom.

The darkness is also a reference to unbelievers. They can't figure Jesus out. They might think He was a good man. They might think He was a kook. They might have religious feelings about Him - as well as Buddha, Krishna, and Mohammed. They don't know who He is, though.

Jesus knew who He was. The darkness couldn't destroy Him. He destroyed the darkness.

How did He destroy it? Again, by being who He was and doing what He did.

Please consider the words of the Bible. Ask Jesus, who is the Light, to shine in your darkness. Read the book of John in the New Testament. Ask God to help you understand. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Good News About Injustice

Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World (Current Issues, Missions)
by Intervarsity Press

If you are involved at all in cross-cultural missions in any way, you really must read this book. Haugen was sent to Rwanda in 1994 as the director of the UN genocide investigation in Rwanda. After Haugen returned from there, his life was never the same again. His suburban lifestyle had been shaken up for good after he found himself, "standing in the middle of several thousand corpses in a muddy mass grave in a tiny African country called Rwanda?" (p. 21)

Instead of becoming bitter and pessimistic about the horrible conditions in the world and the terrible injustices, He started The International Justice Mission.

This is not an agenda-driven, politically correct organization that is concerned only with the injustices done to one class of people. Their work helps anyone they are able to help. They work through the legal systems, defending cases in the courts of the countries where their clients live. These are not your stereotypical attorneys, but are men and women who fight for justice on a case by case basis.

Their only agenda is justice for the oppressed while showing Christlike compassion.

Here are some quotes to give you the idea of what this man and his mission are about.

From chapter 1 - The Rage in Rwanda - A Suburban Christian Confronts Genocide


Here Haugen compares some of his experiences in third world situations to Christ's Ascension from the earth, full of sinfulness, to Heaven.

"I have traveled from the slippery mud and corpses of mass graves in Rwanda to my usual seat at the right hand of my neighbor on our dependably boring and climate-controlled bus ride to my office in Washington, D.C. I remember reclining on a comfortable living-room couch, among friends and family in California, talking about soaring real estate values in Orange county when only days before I had been exhuming the remains of a woman raped and butchered by soldiers in the Philippines. Similarly, I recall watching from my train window as a low summer sun cast a Norman Rockwell glow across Little League fields in Connecticut when only days before I had been in a country where boys of a similar age but of a different color were being beaten like animals by the South African police."

He says that he felt the urge to make an announcement to his fellow commuters about what was happening in Rwanda. This urge, "came not from a desire to shock them but from a desire to somehow affirm for myself the human reality and relevance of my own experience. Could it really be true, and could it really have anything to do with me...?" (p. 23)

I have never been in such extreme situations as the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide, but I can relate to this kind of "ascension" from the mission field back to the US. It is surreal, and no one can really know what you are talking about. It's not just that you understand that it really has nothing to do with them. It is also that you are not sure it had anything to do with you, and if it did, what do you do about it?

What Haugen did about it was found The International Justice Mission.

Haugen is truly spiritual, deeply thoughtful, and firmly Biblical in what he does.

Please read it. It is well written and fairly easy to read, even though it will challenge you.

One more quote:

"For the little Filipino girl abducted into prostitution, for the Pakistani boy chained to a weaving loom, for the Latin American widow pushed off her land and even for the African father rotting in his prison cell without a charge or a trial, we share Christ's saving love on the cross and the servant love of our hands. As it was in days of old, 'it will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them." (Isaiah 19:20).

"Here I am, Lord. Send me!'"


God will show us what it has to do with you and me if we make ourselves available to Him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Diane Bish - Toccata on 'Christ the Lord is Risen Today'

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
"Christ the Lord Is Risen Today is a Christian hymn associated with Easter. Most of the stanzas were written by Charles Wesley, and the hymn appeared under the title Hymn for Easter Day in Hymns and Sacred Songs by Charles and John Wesley in 1739. It remains the traditional processional hymn on Easter Sunday.

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Jesus Christ Is Risen TodayThe hymn is a variation of an earlier hymn Jesus Christ Is Risen Today, a 14th century Latin hymn which had been translated into English and published in Lyra Davidica in 1708 (and later in 1749 in Arnold's Compleat Psalmodist). In some hymnals, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today is in fact the 3 stanza Compleat Psalmodist version with one or more of the additional stanzas written by Wesley appended."

Happy Easter!

This came out pretty small. You can click on the images to enlarge them. I really like it. Our friend Jenny sent it to us.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Veil of the Temple Torn in Two

Matthew 27:50-52
50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

Mark 15:37-39
37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

Luke 23:44-46 (New King James Version)

Jesus Dies on the Cross
44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.

John 19:29-30
29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.

30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.


I have been thinking about this great miracle of the temple veil being torn from top to bottom at the very moment Christ died for our sins. He had been on the cross, pouring out His lifeblood for us. He was made sin for us there on the cross. He died in our place. He took our punishment on Himself.

John records His words, "It is finished!"

Nothing more needs to be done to save us. Nothing more can be done to save us. We cannot add to or take away from the finished work of Christ. We in Him believe. We receive Him.

John 1:12,13
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

So, because our sins were paid for on the cross, and the Father accepted the sacrifice of His Son, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). His wrath can now turn away from the sinner who accepts the sacrifice of Christ for his sin. He can now look at the sinner in a merciful, propitious way. He can now forgive the repentant sinner who believes in Christ. Now the sinner can be reconciled to God by faith in Christ.

Because of that, we can now enter right into the presence of God without fear of death. We don't have to stand on the outside looking in, so to speak. We can enter into fellowship with God Himself. Now the veil separating us from God has been torn in two.

No man tore the physical curtain in the temple from top to bottom. Think about it. It was a heavy object, made of several layers of material. It would be hard to start tearing it from the bottom in order to split it in two. The Bible says that this veil was split from top to bottom at the very moment Christ finished dying for our sins! When I was a kid, this miracle fascinated me and gripped my heart. How amazing!

Believe it. Receive it. Christ's death is for you.
Question: "What was the significance of the temple veil being torn in two when Jesus died?"

Answer: During the lifetime time of Jesus, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. Here was the place that animal sacrifices were carried out and worship according to the Law of Moses was followed faithfully. Hebrews 9:1-9 tells us that in the Temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies—the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence—from the rest of the Temple where men dwelt. This signified that man was separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). Only the High Priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year (Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7), enter into God's presence for all of Israel, and make atonement for their sins (Leviticus 16).

From: Got Questions?