Saturday, February 17, 2018

For the Rest of This Season, I'm Giving Up NBA Basketball

We don't have cable television and haven't had it.  However, I can watch the NBA online some at TNT and ESPN.  I can keep up with the NBA by checking on the scores and watching highlights.  That means I'm seeing advertisements that support the NBA.  I'm very unhappy with the NBA right now in light of moronic commentary from their players, some of which are from our local team, the Golden State Warriors.  I feel like a hypocrite being interested in them.

I like basketball.  I grew up in Indiana.  I played organized basketball from 5th grade to my senior year in college.  I coached a few years our school team here.  As an adult, I played to keep in shape.  Our local team is one of the best teams in NBA history and play a fun style to watch.

These players have a right to speak in public.  They can say what they want.  They don't have to, as one person put it, "shut up and dribble."  They can speak.  They have that right.  I understand that the reasoning behind "shut up and dribble" is "stop talking if you don't know what you are talking about."  People can still talk even if they don't know what they are talking about.  I've not heard one player or coach who knows what he's talking about.  Maybe they do, but they don't say anything that sounds like they do.  They all say the same thing, not one says something different, complete lockstep, same message.  If one of them did, he would have to shut up and dribble, because he would be shunned and castigated for speaking a different position.  You hear zero conservative commentary coming from the NBA.  Right now the NBA refuses to separate inane and destructive speech from its product.  You have to take both.  I refuse to do that.

As of today, I'm done with the NBA for the foreseeable future. I might give it up for the rest of my life.  It wouldn't hurt me to do that.  It would help me.  Maybe you could join me.  You don't have to do that, but I think it would help.  I'm done watching them, checking on their scores, and reading about them.  I'm sure I'll see scores and hear about them, but I refuse to click on one more NBA related article, story, or video.  I'm done with them.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Sinful Snooze Button Mortified: The Sheet on Sleep

The Bible says: "As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed" (Proverbs 26:14). The large majority of the time, hitting the snooze button is a lack of temperance rather than something Biblically justifiable that can be done for the glory of God. Furthermore, just as hitting the snooze button is bad for your soul, taking time away that you could spend with God and giving in to the flesh, so hitting the snooze button is actually not good for your body, either.

If you hit the snooze button two times a day, and snooze for ten minutes each time, you will lose 7,300 minutes a year that you could have spent seeking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Do you really think this is the most God-glorifying way to use the short time you have to live? Should you change the time that you rationally determined you needed to get up the night before to do what your flesh says in the morning instead?

By the way, in addition to the Sheet on Sleep below, one would do very well to avoid entering into temptation and setting oneself up for failure through things like being able to turn off the alarm clock without getting out of bed, having no backup alarm, etc. (A loud alarm is the Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock, which we use as a backup--the normal clock radio has nice Christian music to wake up to, but woe to the person who is still in bed a very small number of minutes later and hears the Sonic Bomb go off.)  Parents should also train their children not to turn like the slothful man upon his bed by enforcing a no-snooze button policy, giving their children more time to spend with God, possibly saving them from losing future employment by being late to work, and by, overall, delivering them from this bad habit by not allowing it to begin early in life. Of course, going to bed early enough to get well rested also helps.  God "giveth his beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2), but it is planned sleep, not sleep determined by the flesh's desires gaining the mastery.

Something we have in our family is the "Sheet on Sleep" below.  It is a way to determine if going back to bed is indeed giving in to the flesh (which it is the vast majority of the time) or is something that can be done to the glory of God (which is possible in those rare situations where one, say, accidentally confused "AM" and "PM" on the clock or had some other clearly justifiable reason to reset the alarm.)  Before a person can get back in bed after his alarm goes off, he must read the "Sheet on Sleep" below out loud and do what it says.  The "Sheet on Sleep" has proven to be effective in mortifying the sin of the snooze button.  I reproduce it below.  Feel free to use it in your family and in your own personal life if you can do so for the glory of Jehovah.  The Sheet fits on two sides of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.

Sheet on Sleep

These verses are to be read out loud, in a normal tone of voice, at a normal speed or slower, standing up, letting my heart be affected by the Word and by that dear Savior and Master who speaks therein.

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” (Proverbs 24:33-34)

“O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. 2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. 3 I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 108:1-4)

“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.  44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.  45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. . . . Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matthew 26:36-46, 56)

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:14-21)

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6   Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,  10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10)

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

“My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song 2:10)

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” (Psalm 63:1-5)

“The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. 8 Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. 9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:7-9)

Now sing the morning song [we sing a psalm or hymn every morning], then plan specifically how everything that needs to get done will get done if I go back to sleep, and finally pray, standing up or walking around, for at least five minutes, moving my lips and with my eyes open, asking God if it is His will for me to go back to bed, or if I should stay awake.  If I am certain, with no doubt, but in faith, (since “he that doubteth is damned [if he act] . . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” Romans 14:23), that I should go back to sleep, then set the alarm and do so.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Personal Motivation to Evangelize

Among all the days of the week, I'm most regular on Wednesday for door-to-door evangelism.  I go every week on Wednesday.  I should go more, but I make sure I go every week by scheduling it for our church every Wednesday and leading it myself. Even though I schedule it and I do go, I am admitting that I still struggle with motivation.  It both makes sense and doesn't make sense to me, which I'll explain.

I'm sure that most professing believers in the United States are not part of the effort to evangelize everyone in the United States, starting with their area.  Even though I fight for motivation, I still preach the gospel to unbelievers every week and am saddened that so little of this occurs.  If just every person who claimed to believe in Jesus Christ could join that effort, we would easily cover the United States, and yet we don't.

A verse that regularly comes to mind and always rings true to me is John 13:17, where Jesus said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."  He didn't say, do them if you're happy, but "happy are ye if ye do them."  Happiness follows doing.  When I evangelize, I don't start off happy.  Sometimes I start off bummed out to be doing it, and become happy as I do.  I'm saying that I start off by doing my duty, which I believe is love, and then feeling good about it as I do.

My happiness with doing what God said, I believe, also proceeds from the Holy Spirit.  Fruit of the Spirit is joy.  God came from heaven, both the Son and the Spirit, the second and third members of the Trinity.  They did what I'm doing when I evangelize.  They have been both part of that work.  They want it.  Therefore, when I do it, the indwelling Spirit is happy, in turn making me happy.  His happiness is my happiness.

On the other hand, when I don't evangelize, I'm unhappy.  Why?  I am quenching the Holy Spirit.  I am resisting the Holy Spirit.  When I'm not filled with the Spirit, I don't have joy.  It bugs me when I don't evangelize, and I see this as the fruit of my being a saved person.  It's what scripture teaches and it is how it works.  I don't know how other professing believers don't think or feel the same way as I do about it.

Scripture speaks a lot about motivation.  It's important to me.  I have a lot of truths about which I think, that motivate me to evangelize and to do it more.

The first motivation for me is that I love God.  If I didn't love God, I wouldn't think I was saved, because I see the love of God in my heart that manifests itself in my life as the most significant mark of salvation.  My love for God comes out of His love for me.  I know He loves me.  I'm not loveable.  Do I love Him?  I can say I do, but if I know that love shows in obedience, especially His Great Commission, then love for Him motivates me.  I think about my love for Him and that does get me going.  I know I'm not better than Him and He loves me.

I could say there are a lot of related motivations to love of God.  I can be thankful to Him.  I can be praising Him.  I can be talking about Him.  I don't know how I can be a person thankful to God and not evangelize.  I'm at least thankful for salvation.  Does that show up by not talking about it?  God is to be praised among the heathen.  Evangelism is praising God among the heathen.  Paul also said in Romans 1:9 that he served God in the gospel, and serve is latreuo, which means "worship."  Paul worshiped God in the gospel. I am worshiping God by praising Him through evangelism.  I know that I am and I know that God wants that from me.  I'm going to be doing that in heaven, so why wouldn't I do it on earth?  I would call all of these motivations in this paragraph motivations related to the love of God, but they could all be separate motivations.

There are other motivations.  I evangelize out of sheer obedience. God is Boss and He told me to do it.  Who am I to disobey Him?  When I don't evangelize, I am disobedient.  I'm not being a servant of Jesus Christ -- that's for sure.  God leaves me here to evangelize.  I know that.  I'd be with Him or we'd all be with Him, if He was done with evangelism. I know He isn't done.  I should obey Him.  He told me to work His work while it is day.  A day comes when no man can work.  Again, there are many interrelated motivations here, and all of them worthy.  Included in this would be stewardship.  It's a good use of my time to be faithful to what God said.  I can't improve on what He said, and I know He wants this through the overwhelming amount that it is talked about either in proposition or example in scripture.

Also related to the previous paragraph is sanctification, Christian growth, and conforming to Christ.  Christ evangelized.  I'm conforming to Christ.  He did it more and better than me.  If I become more like Him, I'm not going to be less and worse.  It will get better if I'm growing and that all relates to the previous paragraph.  The church itself also grows through evangelism, spiritually and numerically.  It's the only church growth technique in the Bible and God is building His church.  I know that the building of His church is what my life being gold, silver, and precious stones is all about.  I'm irrelevant, but I'm still responsible.

A last reason, that is a less important one to me, but it's an obvious motivation in the Bible, is love for men.  That's the second table of the law.  Love your neighbor.  For God so loved the world.  God is not willing that any should perish.  We should care about the souls of other people.  As Jesus mentioned, we should be sending up a welcome committee for ourselves in heaven for when we arrive.  The only thing we can send to the other side are the rewards of properly motivated work for God and the souls of men.  If you are to lay up treasures in heaven, you've got to deal with something eternal and the souls of men are eternal.  So, again, these are several interrelated motivations for the love of men that God wants us to have.

I said it makes sense and doesn't make sense that I'm not motivated to evangelize.  It doesn't make sense because of all of the above.  It makes sense because of the nature of the flesh, the devil, the world system, persecution, hatred, and weakness.  People don't listen.  They make it difficult. They show hatred for God and the truth.  I get the worst treatment voluntarily when I attempt to evangelize people.  Why go through that?  Jesus died.  It can't get more harsh than that, and He said they would hate us for doing this. We know that, so it should be expected.

In two places, Paul asks churches to pray that he would be bold in evangelism.  Two.  The Apostle Paul.  He struggled with getting himself going.  He wanted people to pray that He would.  We should pray for each other for boldness.  I pray for boldness all the time.  I know I need it.

I'm going evangelizing today, and I'm not motivated.  This is how I get motivated.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Bible As Scientific Challenge to Climate Change Speculation

An American actor spoke to the World Government Summit in Dubai this weekend.  The Associated Press reports:
Hollywood star Robert De Niro took aim at the Trump administration's stance on climate change, telling a packed audience in the Middle East that he was visiting from a "backward" country suffering from "temporary insanity."
De Niro said:
I am talking about my own country, the United States of America. We don’t like to say we are a ‘backward’ country so let’s just say we are suffering from a case of temporary insanity.
I would be confident in saying that De Niro doesn't know what he's talking about.   I suspect "backward countries" to him include people who believe the Bible.  It is an ignorant view to say the world is threatened by climate change.  Scripture is verified as true and it says the world will end by direct divine intervention.  God started everything and He will end everything. 

The Bible speaks again and again about the end.  The planet won't survive, because God did not design it to be permanent.  It has a built-in stopping point that doesn't relate at all to fossil fuels and carbon dioxide.  Man offends God and He puts up with the offense only so long.

The earth isn't stable because of anything that man has done.  The world is stable because of what God does.  The prophet Haggai brings a message from God to Zerubbabel to end his prophecy in Haggai 2:21-22:
I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.
He delivered this to say that Zerubbabel needed to trust God and go ahead and return Israel back to the worship God intended.  He should not have considered man to be a threat to his work.  You can read the same types of accounts in several other places in the Old Testament about the future of the earth according to God.
2 Samuel 22:8, "Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth."
Psalm 68:8, "The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel."
Isaiah 13:13, "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger."
Isaiah 29:6, "Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire."
Jeremiah 10:10, "But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation."
Ezekiel 38:20, "So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground."
Joel 2:10, "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining."
Joel 3:16, "The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
Nahum 1:5, "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein."
Haggai 2:6-7, "For thus saith the LORD of hosts;; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts."
For this reason, Jesus said (Matthew 24:35):
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
We know heaven earth will pass away.  This is a foregone conclusion.  It won't occur because of climate change.  Man's time will have run out with God.  God is the greatest threat to the planet, because He alone holds it together.

The Bible is authenticated by facts, an overwhelming number of them, and this verification stands in contrast to climate change thinking.  If God says something will happen, then it is sure, more sure than whatever man says will occur.  Unbelievers are temporary, if not permanently insane, De Niro being one of them.  He doesn't know how the world will end, because He doesn't believe the Bible, the true source of knowledge.  He's not even open to it.

The Bible is confirmed.  The Bible tells how everything will end.  It contradicts climate change.  Climate change is not how everything that will end.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 9 of 9: Miscellaneous Notes & Conclusion

The Conclusion: What it Means to Abide in Christ
All believers abide in Christ; they persevere in characteristic obedience to Him and fellowship with Him through His Word (John 17:17Ephesians 5:261 Peter 2:2). The glorious promise to saints, “ye shall abide in Him” (1 John 2:27), should motivate them to ever closer communion with their Lord. Being confident that He which began that good work of sanctification in them will continue it until they reach glory (Philippians 1:6), and that God will sanctify them, spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) and preserve them to the end (Jude 11 Thessalonians 5:232 Timothy 4:18), they can boldly plead the promises of God concerning their perseverance and sanctification with the Lord who has covenanted to perform those great works in them. Sanctification is their new covenant heritage and certainty (Hebrews 8:10-12)—the certainty of ultimate and absolute victory over sin in glory, and the certainty of God’s working in them now both to will and do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13Ephesians 2:10), provides them with a tremendous encouragement to strive for ever greater conformity to and communion with God (Philippians 2:12) and practical holiness of life.
Miscellaneous Notes
Note #1: Abiding is not merely a New Testament doctrine. In the Mosaic economy, the saints sang in their inspired songbook, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place [ma'on] in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). Before the incarnation of the Messiah it was already true that “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). One could say to an Old Testament saint: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (Psalm 91:9-10; cf. 71:3). Jehovah had promised His Old Testament people: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). However, the analysis in this study is restricted elsewhere to the New Testament doctrine of abiding revealed by the word meno and expounded most fully in John 15.
Note #2: Compare to the verb meno the noun mone, found in John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode [mone] with him.” It is very clear that fellowship with the Father and the Son will take place for the person who loves Them. Nevertheless, the word itself does not require this meaning, as in John 14:2 (the only other NT reference) it is the word for the “mansions” that believers will inhabit in heaven, and, while their abodes will doubtless be glorious dwellings, they will not have fellowship with their dwelling places, although the bliss of heaven will center in communion with He who gave them their mansions. BDAG defines mone as:
            1. state of remaining in an area, staying, tarrying 
            2. a place in which one stays, dwelling(-place), room, abode 
Note #3: J. C. Ryle well states:
Sanctification, then, is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian. ‘He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 15:5). The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The union with Christ which produces no effect on heart and life is a mere formal union, which is worthless before God. The faith which has not a sanctifying influence on the character is no better than the faith of devils. It is a “dead faith, because it is alone.” It is not the gift of God. It is not the faith of God’s elect. In short, where there is no sanctification of life, there is no real faith in Christ. True faith worketh by love. It constrains a man to live unto the Lord from a deep sense of gratitude for redemption. It makes him feel that he can never do too much for Him that died for him. Being much forgiven, he loves much. He whom the blood cleanses, walks in the light. He who has real lively hope in Christ, purifieth himself even as He is pure (James 2:17-20Titus 1:1Galatians 5:61 John 1:73:3)” (pg. 15, Holiness: Its Nature, Hinderances, Difficulties, and Roots, J. C. Ryle, part 1. Pensacola, FL: Chapel Library, 2001 (repr. of London, 1879 ed.)).

See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Prayer Versus a Wish

Sometimes you want things to work out for someone a certain way, and the appropriate statement seems to have become, "I'll pray for that to work out in that certain way."  However, you don't know if it is God's will.  You don't know that you are praying in God's will.

A good and scriptural alternative to saying you'll pray for something to occur, which you aren't sure will occur, is to say, "I hope the best for you in that endeavor," or, "I am wishing that it will turn out that way for you."  That doesn't mean you now must pray for it, when you don't think you should pray for it, because it isn't something you know is God's will.  God hasn't promised it.  It's not wrong to want, but you don't know you'll get it.

Is there any basis for what I'm writing here?  Yes.  In two words, the optative.  The optative is a rare mood of the Greek verb in the New Testament.  I've read that there are 63 of them total.  In other words, I haven't counted them all up myself.  Papers have been written that categorize their various usages.

Overall, the optative is a mood that expresses wish or hope.  It is used to express wishes and is sometimes used for what is called a benediction, which I think that some of you can relate with, where you express to an audience at the end of a presentation that you hope they have a fine evening.  Paul shifts to the optative at the end of 1 Thessalonians 3, and by doing so, he does introduce some of what he will address in the next section of the epistle.  It also serves as a benediction to the end of the first part of the book.  Someone night confuse verses 11-13 for a prayer, especially when one includes verse 10.
10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
As an apostle, I think we should think that Paul knew things that we don't and can't know, that God reveals to him.  When he writes in the indicative mood, "praying," he communicates the requests with two aorist infinitives:  "to see" and "to perfect."  He makes it back on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4).

Prayer must be in the will of God.  Prayer must be of faith, so we believe that we will receive.  Jesus said (Mark 11:24), "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."  What you believe that you will receive is reality.

Paul shifts then in verse 11 to the optative with "direct our way to you," followed by another optative, verse 12, "increase," and, third, "abound."  There are three of our 63 optatives in the New Testament.  Verses 11-13 are wishes or a benediction to end the chapter.  They contrast with the prayer of verse 10.

Prayers are not wishes.  We wish for things that we are not sure about.  We want them and that will direct what we might do to see those wishes accomplished.  We have no guarantee that they will come to pass.  God might affect them to occur.  If we wish them, then they must be the right thing.  We just don't know we will get it.  That's why they are communicated by the optative.

Paul makes wishes.  We can make wishes.  There are things that we wish.  We can express those wishes.  We should.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Shabir Ally / Thomas Ross Debate: "The New Testament Picture of Jesus: Is it Accurate?"

Lord willing, on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, I will be debating Dr. Shabir Ally, the acclaimed defender of Islam, at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.  Shabir Ally does about as good a job defending Islam intellectually as just about anyone can do.  Furthermore, his debates are watched by very large numbers of people, including multitudes in countries closed to the gospel because of the influence of Islam in those nations.  I would appreciate your fervent prayer, and even fasting, for the glorification of the gospel and of God's truth in this debate, for God's blessing and strengthening me in my presentation and in my preparation, for deep conviction on the unconverted both who will attend the debate physically and those who will watch it afterwards, for the details to work out, and for the foolishness of all teaching and teachers of wickedness and lies to be apparent to all.

If you are a Muslim and are reading this blog post, please study carefully The Testimony of the Quran to the Bible (available here as well in Arabic) and consider whether or not your belief system is really the truth.

If you are a member of a like-minded separatist Baptist congregation, and would be interested in sponsoring debates in your area, I would be interested in debating the topics below with prominent advocates of openly non-Christian belief systems.  Depending on the nature of the proposition, I would (obviously) be either in the affirmative or the negative.

1.) The Gospels are historically reliable (affirmative).
2.) Through centuries of corruption, the original message of the Bible has been lost (negative).  For many Muslims this idea is their central reason for rejecting the Bible, and it is also very important for many secular humanists.
3.) The New Testament Picture of Jesus: Is it Accurate? (affirming accuracy).  I would be happy to do this one again with an atheist like Sam Harris as well as debating this topic with a Muslim like Shabir Ally.
4.) Archaeology and prophecy validate the Bible as the Word of God (affirmative).  While I have already debated this topic with the Dan Barker, the President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, I would like to have a discussion with someone who takes the negative in a manner different from Dan Barker's affirmation of mythicism, since mythicism is horribly unscholarly and intellectually indefensible.

5.) The Old Testament (or the New Testament) is mainly fiction, not fact (negative).  Again, I have already debated this topic for the Old Testament with Dan Barker, but his mythicism is a very weak method of attempting to disprove the Bible, and I would like to do it with an atheist that makes stronger objections.

There are also some others topics that I think would be well worth debating with atheists or Muslims.

I would also be interested in debating leading advocates of non-Christian belief systems in Christendom on topics such as:

1.) Speaking in tongues is essential for salvation (negative; with a Oneness Pentecostal such as David Bernard).

2.) The Bible teaches forensic justification by faith alone (affirmative; with a leading Roman Catholic apologist such as those from Catholic Answers or a leading official of the Roman Catholic religion).

3.)  Jesus Christ is God (affirmative; with a leading advocate of Arian views, such as those in the Watchtower Society and other cults).

4.) The lost must repent of their sins or they will eternally perish, and repentance always results in a changed life (affirmative; with a false "Baptist" of the Hyles-type).

5.) The Hebrew Scriptures predict the suffering of the Divine Messiah, Jesus (affirmative; with a leading advocate of Judaism, Islam, or another religion that denies this fact).

6.) Unless one is baptized, he will be eternally lost (negative; with an important advocate of this position).

7.) The Greek critical New Testament text is consistent with the Biblical promises of preservation (negative; with an advocate of the critical Greek New Testament text such as James White; while denying Scripture's teaching on preservation is very evil, all who hold this position are not unbelievers in the way that all who deny the Deity of Christ are unbelievers).

There also could be some other debates that are worth doing with advocates of non-Biblical "Christian" theology.

While I am interested in debating leading advocates of the positions above, that does not mean that I will necessarily desire to debate every single person who would be willing to debate me, nor that I will necessarily have the time or be able to coordinate such debates with all challengers.  However, I would be willing to debate all the topics above, and others, with the appropriate persons.

Again, if you would be interested in sponsoring such a debate, please contact me and let me know through my church.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Who Causes Division? The Claim for the High Ground of Unity

If you don't know what else to say, and you're losing the argument, claim the high ground of unity and accuse your opponent of division.  Running for president in 2000, George W. Bush famously said in an interview, "I'm a uniter, not a divider."  Of course.  He was also a compassionate conservative, which contrasts with conservatives who are just conservatives, only without the compassion.  The assumption by Bush was the left's criticism of conservatives, that they aren't compassionate.

I believe in unity.  I wrote a book on it.  In A Pure Church, I wrote the sections on unity and I exposed the primary passages on unity in the New Testament.  You can't understand separation without understanding unity.  Unity has been, however, perverted, and I have found that people aren't even talking about unity when they say the word.  It's like the word "love" has been distorted beyond recognition.  It's mutated into something entirely different than actual love, and the same has been done to unity.  It has occurred incrementally over many years, so that it went undetected, but it has drifted far off the path of truth into perversion.

How it has worked and works has been and is as the following.  There is established truth, doctrine and practice, from scripture and believed and traceable through history.  Let's say that I believe that.  Someone diverts from that.  I say something.  He says I'm divisive.  I accept his position and it's now accepted.  I don't want to be divisive.  He changes further, I say something.  He says I'm divisive.  You see where this is headed.  The divisive one is the one who keeps changing.  He's claiming the high ground of unity, when he doesn't have it.  He is the divisive one.  Saying I'm divisive is a strategy or technique, one or the other.  It's not the truth.  It's useful for justifying himself and warding off criticism or separation.

When someone is different than what I believe and practice, I don't just accept it.  It's different.  There can't be two right views.  That's not acceptable.  At the most generous, I ask him to show it to me scripturally.  I await the scriptural support.  I can change if I'm wrong, and I have done that.  Let's say for this thought experiment, it's not out of left field, so I ask, when has this been believed and by whom?  If it's true, I expect it to have history behind it as well.  If it's new, that's a lesser problem than not having scripture, but it is a problem.

On the other hand, if he doesn't have scriptural support, but rhetoric or hypotheticals or excuses, then he's the one causing division.  He's departing from scripture.  At that point, if I don't accept, and he says, you're divisive, I get what's happening.  I'm not divisive.  He's just going to use that.  It's not true, it's just a device he's employing, a kind of lie.  This is normal now.

The typical arguments I get today go after my consistency in application, something to the effect of, "I just don't think you're right," speaking of me, or "I need to study it out more, but what I do know is that I don't take your position."  Another one is that I don't have a right to question, because I'm not some kind of Baptist pope.   Some men are "past arguing."  They are too busy with success to argue.  They aren't going to argue.  If I want to cause division over such a doctrine or practice, I can, but they aren't going to argue.  They've got too many more important things.  It's too bad I've got to divide over such a thing, and they wish it weren't so, but they guess I'll just have to divide then.  Even if they did have the time to prove me wrong, I wouldn't accept it anyway, I'm so stubborn, so why even try.  You can't help a divisive person anyway, so why even respect what he says.

The problem too, as I've experienced it, is various forms of psychobabble.  It's pride, intellectual, spiritual, or whatever kind of pride, where I think I know more than other people.  I've got some kind of either insecurity that makes me have to be right all the time.  A very prominent, well known national figure told me, I can't put my finger on what it is, but there's something wrong.  I'm not kidding.  His experience told him something was wrong with me, and he didn't need to tell me because he's been around the block several times and he just knows these things in an intuitive non-concrete sort of way, so I should just believe him.  He can't explain, but I should take his hunch seriously.

Very often men play the victim, why do you have to pick on them?  They get criticized all the time, so join the club.  It's tough enough already and now my criticism in addition.  One man would face his critics with, I've got more people in my bathrooms at any given service than you do in the auditorium.  They don't have to answer, they don't want to answer, and they won't answer.

Division is from the truth.  Someone who separates over the truth wants unity.  You can't have unity without the truth.  You protect the truth by separating.  No truth-no unity, no separation-no truth.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 8 of 9: Exposition of John 15:6-11

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
The one who does not, as a summary of his life, abide (aorist tense), or continue faithful to Christ, is cast into hell fire, where he will be continually burned (present tense) for all eternity. The branch without genuine connection to the Lord pictures an unregenerate person with only an outward profession of Christianity. John 15:6 does not picture a loss of reward for a disobedient believer. Other than John 15:6, the verbs “cast forth” (ballo) and “burned” (kaio) are found together only in Revelation 8:8 and 19:20. Neither reference speaks of believers being cast forth or burned. Revelation 19:20 (cf. 20:11-15; 21:8, “the lake which burneth (kaio) with fire and brimstone”), however, demonstrates that the lost will be “cast (ballo) . . . into a lake of fire burning (kaio) with brimstone.” Furthermore, out of 125 instances of the verb “cast forth” (ballo) in the New Testament, believers are never once said to be cast forth by God, but the lost are, over and over again, said to be cast (ballo) into the fires of hell (note Matthew 3:105:132529-307:1913:424818:8-9Mark 9:42 (cf. vv. 41-48), 45, 47; Luke 3:912:5814:35Revelation 2:2212:491314:1918:2119:2020:31014-15). Thus, the verse indicates that a lack of fruit is evidence of a non-living connection to the vine. The present tense of ballo, in “cast” them into the fire, refers vividly (cf. the present tenses in Matthew 3:107:19Luke 3:9Revelation 2:22) to the unconverted being cast into eternal torment. The judgment of the lost in hellfire is associated with a similar plant and fruit-bearing image in John 15 as in Matthew 3:107:19Luke 3:9. These unregenerate, apostate, “withered” and fruitless branches (cf. Jude 12; Job 8:11-13James 1:11), of which Judas is the contextual example, are often “cast forth” (also ballo, here aorist, as in Mark 9:4547Revelation 20:15) in a certain sense in this life, through outward apostasy from the church, to which they had been outwardly united (cf. Matthew 13:47), whether voluntarily or through church discipline, but their ultimate rejection and separation from the elect will take place at the day of judgmentAt that time the wheat and chaff, the branches truly united to Christ and those only professedly so, will be “gathered” (sunago, cf. Matthew 3:1213:3025:32Luke 3:17) to their respective destinies of eternal joy or torment. The branches without union to Christ will glorify God’s justice in their miserable damnation; they will not glorify God here by good works, but they will glorify His justice by their being burned eternally (Ezekiel 15:2-5Romans 9:22).
Christ in this verse says “if a man” abide not, rather than “if ye abide not,” for, Judas having been separated from them, the remaining disciples were all genuine believers.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
This verse helps provide an understanding of the character of abiding in Christ; it is related to Christ’s words abiding in one. Christ’s own receive His words (John 17:8). Here again the aorist verb tenses represent the characteristic of a whole life. The promise, “ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done,” shows that the Lord will answer the prayers of His children, as their prayers are directed by His Word. Consider as well that while all believers have Christ’s words abiding in them, there can be different degrees of this abiding. All believers have received the Word, as Christ prayed for them (John 17:8), but they continue in it to different degrees, resulting in different degrees of fruitfulness.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
They already were His disciples, having become such at the moment of their conversion, but their bearing much fruit would evidence this. Fruit bearing is not an uncertain event; by bearing fruit, they “shall” certainly be His disciples in the future, as they certainly were at that time. The Father is certain to receive such glory from them, because the ones He has chosen unto life He has also chosen unto fruitfulness, v. 16. All believers bring forth fruit, and “every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 3:10). This is the consistent teaching of the entire Bible (Matthew 3:8107:16-2012:3313:82621:19344143Mark 4:7-82911:1412:2Luke 3:8-96:43-448:813:6-7920:10John 4:3612:2415:24-5816Romans 6:21-22Galatians 5:22 (contrast 5:19-21); Ephesians 5:9Philippians 1:11Hebrews 12:1113:15James 3:17-18). For this purpose of fruit-bearing the Father prunes His saints, v. 2. Since they were good trees, with living connection to Christ, they would bear good fruit as evidence thereof (Luke 6:43-45). Those who are “disciples indeed” will abide, persevere, or continue in His Word, John 8:31.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
They were to abide or continue faithful, continue to love Christ, for “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22). That the aorist of meno in this pericope represents a characteristic of what is true in general and at all times, rather than the simple action of a particular point in time, is evidenced in this verse. The Father’s love for His Son is certainly something true always, not something restricted to a particular moment, but it receives an aorist in this verse, as does Christ’s love for His elect, which is likewise unrestricted temporally; so we would expect the same sort of aorist for “continue/abide” here in relation to the action of the disciples.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
Genuine converts will keep Christ’s commandments, and thus evidence their continuing love for Christ, just as He continues to love them, John 14:2123. Christ’s obedience manifested His love for the Father (cf. 14:31) and His Father’s love for Him as the sinless Messiah and Mediator, and His eternal Son. The Savior showed He loved the Father by persevering or abiding obedience; so do the saints show their love. Saints abide in Christ (v. 4), in His love (v. 9), and keep His commandments (v. 10). Although these propositions are not strict equivalents, as the tense differentiations in vv. 9-10 between the keeping of the commandments and abiding in Christ’s love, and the differentiation between the tenses for Christ’s abiding in the Father’s love and keeping His commandments demonstrate, they all go together. They are a package deal (cf. 1 John 3:24).
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This symbol of the vine was revealed by the Lord so that His joy might remain, continue, or abide in His saints, and they might have full joy. Both things are certain for the saint as a characteristic of life, for the aorist verbs are of the same sort as those earlier in the passage (cf. John 17:1316:24). Their abiding obedience and fellowship with their Lord would take place through the Comforter Christ would send upon leaving them, and as the Spirit would abide in them, He would bring them joy (Acts 13:52Galatians 5:22).

See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.