- ► 2014 (8)
- ▼ 2013 (44)
- ► 2012 (67)
Monday, June 10, 2013
When Teachers of Truth Turn Aside
He had spoken to us words which were as precious morsels to comfort and refine our souls. He had led many to the way of righteousness. We had put our hope in him. We had loved him. We had cherished his presence among us. We had seen similitudes of the working of the Spirit in and through him. And now, he has turned aside. He has forsaken the way of Truth. His ‘love’ has gone cold. Our hearts would be shattered. His prior proclamations of Truth had built up the reserves of our souls and now his apostasy has resulted from his inner rejection of Christ. Shall we be shattered? Shall we faint? Shall we be scattered, torn, and slain? Are we, the sheep, now ruined?
“For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng” (Ps 55:12-14)
Dear saints, doctrinal apostasy prevails in our midst. And yet I feel convicted that even when doctrine is sound and within the confines of Truth, the apostasy of the soul may linger. We, the saints, have categorized teachers according to their doctrines. And we have set apart within our hearts those teachers who proclaim Truth to us. We invest our time in hearing from them. Indeed, we have little time to waste hearing those who are not yet brought into the full understanding of the sovereignty of God, His Gospel, and His work of regenerating souls. And yet, we must understand that knowledge of these core things is not enough. It is possible to speak in the tongues of men and of angels and to have no love (1 Cor 13:1). It is possible to have been enlightened, to have tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Spirit in some sense and to yet be worthless, yielding only thistles and thorns, and eventually cursed (Heb 6:1-8). The saints who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and MANY WILL JOIN THEM IN HYPRCRISY. (Dan 11:32-34). Perhaps those who join us in hypocrisy do not teach the Truth. Or perhaps they do teach the Truth, but they are devoid of the Spirit…
How then shall we deal with the bewildering apostasy of leaders who have proclaimed the Truth of the Scriptures to us? How shall we resolve our anguish? Such apostasy may not have happened yet from our standpoint, but if and when it happens, how shall we abide in Him confidently and with full joy? The Spirit teaches me today that we are not to be shattered, because we know our Christ and His Gospel. We know that we are led by one Shepherd. He never fails. He never changes. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us (2 Cor 1:20). Whatever Truth which we had been taught in the past by these now apostate leaders is from this immutable Shepherd of love. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd (Ecc 12:11). All the Truth that has nourished our souls is from our good Shepherd. He remains the same. He has arisen from the grave and shepherds His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God. And we, His true people, will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth (Mic 5:4). He is our only Rabbi, our only Father, our only Shepherd (Matt 23:8-9). We were never following any other man. We were never called by any other Name than His Name. He is our banner. And though some teachers of His Word have turned aside, may we ever cling to Him and to His Word, yes even His true Word that had been stored up and treasured within us from the moment we had been taught in the past from these false teachers of Truth. These teachers are false in the sense that though they had taught the Truth, the outcome of their lives, that is, their evidenced apostasy, revealed that they were false (1 John 2:19). Our Lord’s sovereignty and constancy persists throughout all time, and into eternity. He is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13). Although the apostasy of endeared leaders is as the bread of privation and the water of oppression, He, our Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but our eyes will behold Him (Is 30:20). We will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for we will all know Him, from the least of us to the greatest of us. This is what the Lord has declared to us because He has forgiven our iniquity through the blood of the Lamb and remembers our sin no more. (Jer 31:34) Since these teachers of Truth have turned aside, had they truly taught the Truth? The Spirit of God within us will bear witness with the Truth. For the anointing which we received from Him abides in us, and we have no need for anyone to teach us; but as His anointing teaches us about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught us, we abide in Him. (1 John 2:27)
Dear saints, when teachers of Truth turn aside, we will cling to our Christ and to His Truth. May we not be shaken! We will not be ruined. His love will keep us.
No one go with me, still I will follow. No turning back. No turning back.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
A Minor Defense of the Sovereignty of God
You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end. (Heb 1:10-12) As for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver us from the hand of our enemies and from those who persecute us. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save us in Your lovingkindness. (Ps 31:14-16) May Your grace grant us power to see a glimpse of Your true sovereignty here.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,
The repute of the sovereignty of our God has been compromised. Countless false notions of the nature of God reside in our midst. These notions take away from the full sovereignty of God and portray a god who is both impotent and less than omniscient. The true worship of such individuals is greatly inhibited, if not absent, for the Father is seeking worshippers who worship in spirit and in TRUTH (John 4:23). Our greatest authority on the nature of God is His Holy Word. Our God is the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim 6:15). May the Lord open our eyes with His Word to His full sovereignty as we proceed.
1. His Undefeatable Purpose
God speaks to us saying, “Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” (Is 46:8-11) As God prophesied imminent judgment upon the nation of Israel He devised a plan against the whole earth; for His is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back? (Is 14:26-27)
He has spoken, He has purposed, and He has planned. His purpose will be established. He will accomplish all His good pleasure. No one can stop His purpose.
2. The Mystery of His Sovereign Will in Christ
Our God has power to subject all things to Himself (Phil 3:21). He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to the administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth (Eph 1:9-10) For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Pet 1:20-21). The mystery of God, that is, His predestined purpose for mankind resulting in His glory, is fulfilled in Christ. We do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor 2:6-8) As Peter preached to the audience on the day of Pentecost, he proclaimed that this Man was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, and was nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men who put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:23-24). Grace was given to the apostle Paul to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Eph 3:8-12). Of this church, Paul was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on him for the benefit of the saints, so that he might fully carry out the preaching of the Word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:25-27). For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phil 3:20-21) In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preaches to His servants the prophets (Rev 10:7)
3. The Preordained Mystery of Lawlessness
In His sovereignty, our God has predestined the presence of wickedness and those who practice such until the time of His final judgment. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all those who would believe in Him (Rom 11:32). For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the Truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they may be judged who did not believe the Truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thess 2:7-12) The great woman of wickedness: on her forehead a name is written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev 17:5)
4. His Sovereignty over Human Souls
Our God is not only able to effect His chosen state of every soul, but He has predestined some for wrath and appointed some for eternal life. What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharoah, “For this purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth”. So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (Rom 9:14-18) His sovereignty over the souls of His people is complete. He works in them that which is pleasing to His will and He works in them to will and to act according to His good purpose (Heb 13:21, Phil 2:13). He directs their hearts into God’s love and the steadfastness of Christ, puts His Spirit within them, and causes them to walk in His statutes so that they will be careful to observe His ordinances (2 Thess 3:5, Ez 26:27). Though they were continually straying like sheep, now they have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of their souls (1 Pet 2:25). The sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him (Dan 7:27).
The saints understand the sovereignty of God over souls. And thus they pray on behalf of the spiritual poverty around them, “You, O Lord, rule forever; Your throne is from generation to generation. Why do You forget us forever? Why do You forsake us so long? Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old, unless You have utterly rejected us and are exceedingly angry with us” (Lam 5:19-22). On the basis of the blood of Christ they pray, “The Lord bless you because He was cursed, and keep you because was forsaken; The Lord make His face shine on you because the Father turned His face away from Him, and be gracious to us because He suffered our condemnation; the Lord lift up His countenance on you because He underwent His Father’s just wrath, and give you peace because He underwent agony.” (Num 6:24-26)
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Rom 8
Why is this a “Minor” Defense
I have called this writing as a “minor” defense of His sovereignty. This defense is minor in comparison to the full Scriptural defense of His sovereignty. It is minor in comparison to the full outpouring of the riches of His power and majesty to the inhabitants of the world. His judgments, His salvation, and His signs and wonders display and authenticate His Sovereignty. In addition to the inerrant, infallible, inspired, all-sufficient Holy Scriptures, there are several means by which God can and will authenticate His sovereignty. The great miracle is His work of regeneration: removing the heart of stone, placing in the man the heart of flesh and His own Holy Spirit…the changing of the very nature of a man into the image of Christ by the power of His eternal Gospel!
“He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens" Rev 3:7
Ways that He Authenticates His Sovereignty:
1. The Love and Unity of the Saints
Christ has given His people a new command, that they love one another, even as He has loved them, that they also love one another. By this all men will know that they are His disciples, if they have love for one another. (John 13:34-35). Christ prayed that the glory which the Father has given Him He has given to them, that they may be one, just as the Father and He are One; He is us, and the Father in Him, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that the Father sent Him, and loved His people, even as He has loved Him. (John 17:22-23)
2. The Judgment of the Lord
When the earth experiences His judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (Is 26:9). At the time of the end, another angel flies in midheaven, having an eternal Gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:6-7).
3. The Signs and Wonders of the Lord
One of the magnificent wonders of God is His creation. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, having been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Rom 1:20). As Elihu tells Job, “Stand and consider the wonders of God. Do you know how God establishes them, and makes the lightning of His cloud to shine? Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, the wonders of one perfect in knowledge, you whose garments are hot, when the land is still because of the south wind? Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, strong as a molten mirror? Teach us what we shall say to Him; we cannot arrange our case because of darkness. Shall it be told Him that I would speak? Or should a man say that he would be swallowed up?...” (Job 37:14-20)
Similarly, God performs signs and wonders through His people. Moses led the Israelites out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for 40 years (Acts 7:36). The people of God keep feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles (Acts 2:43, 5:12). For example, Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8). And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in Christ’s name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18) Tongues are a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe (1 Cor 14:22). For if the saints prophecy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among them. (1 Cor 14:24-25). He performs these signs and wonders in His own time and by His own will.
4. The Steadfastness of the Saints in the Midst of Persecution
The saints are to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that they may stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel; in no way alarmed by their opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for them, and that too, from God. (Phil 1:27-28) For the time already past is sufficient for them to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that the saints do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation and they malign them; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Pet 4:3-5) The saints have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for them, leaving them an example for them to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet 2:21-23) They are to do all things without grumbling and disputing, so that they will prove themselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of the crooked and perverse generation, among whom they appears as lights in the world (Phil 2:14-15). When they are arrested and handed over, they do not worry beforehand about what they are to say, but say whatever is given to them in that hour; for it is not them who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11)
Their faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one toward one another grows ever greater; therefore they are spoken of among the churches of God for their perseverance and faith in the midst of all their persecutions and afflictions which they endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that they will be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which indeed they are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict them, and to give relief to those who are afflicted when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing our retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for the testimony of Christ spoken to them was believed by them. (2 Thess 1:3-10)
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Rom 9