Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Woe is me

Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." -Isaiah 6:5

Isaiah responded in this way after seeing a vision of a thrice holy God, he starts by crying out a 'woe'. This is an expression of a cry of grief or despair, this was not a cry of excitement and joy. Albert Barnes describes Isaiah's woe in this manner, " Wo is me! - That is, I am filled with overwhelming convictions of my own unworthiness, with alarm that I have seen Yahweh."

A true understanding of the holiness of the Almighty One will cause the sinner to proclaim 'woe is me'. To see how holy God is causes one to see how sinful we truly are.

Matthew Henry goes into more detail in his commentary, 'In this figurative vision, the temple is thrown open to view, even to the most holy place. The prophet, standing outside the temple, sees the Divine Presence seated on the mercy-seat, raised over the ark of the covenant, between the cherubim and seraphim, and the Divine glory filled the whole temple. See God upon his throne. This vision is explained, Joh_12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ's glory, and spake of Him, which is a full proof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open. See God's temple, his church on earth, filled with his glory. His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world, for it is all God's temple. And yet he dwells in every contrite heart. See the blessed attendants by whom his government is served. Above the throne stood the holy angels, called seraphim, which means “burners;” they burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory against sin. The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God's commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory. This awful vision of the Divine Majesty overwhelmed the prophet with a sense of his own vileness. We are undone if there is not a Mediator between us and this holy God. A glimpse of heavenly glory is enough to convince us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Nor is there a man that would dare to speak to the Lord, if he saw the justice, holiness, and majesty of God, without discerning his glorious mercy and grace in Jesus Christ.'

If meditating on the holiness of God does not cause you to cry out 'woe is me', you do not understand or know the God of the Bible.

How did Isaiah see God? Matthew Henry tells us, 'See God upon his throne, and that throne high and lifted up, not only above other thrones, as it transcends them, but over other thrones, as it rules and commands them. Isaiah saw not Jehovah - the essence of God (no man has seen that, or can see it), but Adonai - his dominion.'

It is interesting to note the Seraphim and the placement of their wings; two covering their faces, two covering their feet, and two being of use for flying purposes. Again, Matthew Henry elaborates, 'Special notice is taken of their wings (and of no other part of their appearance), because of the use they made of them, which is designed for instruction to us. They had each of them six wings, not stretched upwards (as those whom Ezekiel saw, Eze_1:11), but, 1. Four were made use of for a covering, as the wings of a fowl, sitting, are; with the two upper wings, next to the head, they covered their faces, and with the two lowest wings they covered their feet, or lower parts. This bespeaks their great humility and reverence in their attendance upon God, for he is greatly feared in the assembly of those saints, Psa_89:7. They not only cover their feet, those members of the body which are less honourable (1Co_12:23), but even their faces. Though angel's faces, doubtless, are much fairer than those of the children of men (Act_6:15), yet in the presence of God, they cover them, because they cannot bear the dazzling lustre of the divine glory, and because, being conscious of an infinite distance from the divine perfection, they are ashamed to show their faces before the holy God, who charges even his angels with folly if they should offer to vie with him, Job_4:18. If angels be thus reverent in their attendance on God, with what godly fear should we approach his throne! Else we do not the will of God as the angels do it. Yet Moses, when he went into the mount with God, took the veil from off his face. See 2Co_3:18. 2. Two were made use of for flight; when they are sent on God's errands they fly swiftly (Dan_9:21), more swiftly with their own wings than if they flew on the wings of the wind. This teaches us to do the work of God with cheerfulness and expedition. Do angels come upon the wing from heaven to earth, to minister for our good, and shall not we soar upon the wing from earth to heaven, to share with them in their glory? '
'And one called out to another and said, Holy Holy Holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory' - 'How this song was sung. With zeal and fervency - they cried aloud; and with unanimity - they cried to another, or one with another; they sang alternately, but in concert, and without the least jarring voice to interrupt the harmony.
2. What the song was; it is the same with that which is sung by the four living creatures, Rev_4:8. Note, Praising God always was, and will be to eternity, the work of heaven, and the constant employment of blessed spirits above, Psa_84:4. Note further, The church above is the same in its praises; there is no change of times or notes there. Two things the seraphim here give God the praise of: -
(1.) His infinite perfections in himself. Here is one of his most glorious titles praised: he is the Lord of hosts, of their hosts, of all hosts; and one of his most glorious attributes, his holiness, without which his being the Lord of hosts (or, as it is in the parallel place, Rev_4:8, the Lord God Almighty) could not be so much as it is the matter of our joy and praise; for power, without purity to guide it, would be a terror to mankind. None of all the divine attributes is so celebrated in scripture as this is. God's power was spoken twice (Psa_62:11), but his holiness thrice, Holy, holy, holy. This bespeaks, [1.] The zeal and fervency of the angels in praising God; they even want words to express themselves, and therefore repeat the same again. [2.] The particular pleasure they take in contemplating the holiness of God; this is a subject they love to dwell upon, to harp upon, and are loth to leave. [3.] The superlative excellency of God's holiness, above that of the purest creatures. He is holy, thrice holy, infinitely holy, originally, perfectly, and eternally so. [4.] It may refer to the three person in the Godhead, Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit (for it follows, Isa_6:8, Who will go for us?) or perhaps to that which was, and is, and is to come; for that title of God's honour is added to this song, Rev_4:8. Some make the angels here to applaud the equity of that sentence which God was now about to pronounce upon the Jewish nation. Herein he was, and is, and will be, holy; his ways are equal.
(2.) The manifestation of these to the children of men: The earth is full of his glory, the glory of his power and purity; for he is holy in all his works, Psa_145:17. The Jews thought the glory of God should be confined to their land; but it is here intimated that in the gospel times (which are pointed to in this chapter) the glory of God should fill all the earth, the glory of his holiness, which is indeed the glory of all his other attributes; this then filled the temple (Isa_6:1), but, in the latter days, the earth shall be full of it.'
- Matthew Henry

Isaiah sees the glorified Christ in His glory, exalted on His throne, filling the temple, and cries 'Woe is me', he follows that up with 'for I am ruined'.  This response is defined as 'to be dumb or silent, to be brought to silence'.

John Gill says "for I am reduced to silence", I am forced to be silent; he could not join with the "seraphim", being conscious to himself of his vileness, and of his unworthiness to take the holy name of God into his polluted lips, as follows: 'because I am a man of unlcean lips'.
How many of us can say, 'I do not have unclean lips'? Gossiping, slander, hateful speech, fits of anger, backbiting...these all proceed from 'unclean lips'.  Once more, we turn to commentary from Matthew Henry, 'I am a sinner; particularly, I have offended in word; and who is there that hath not? Jam_3:2. We all have reason to bewail it before the Lord, (1.) That we are of unclean lips ourselves; our lips are not consecrated to God; he had not had the first-fruits of our lips (Heb_13:15), and therefore they are counted common and unclean, uncircumcised lips, Exo_6:30. Nay, they have been polluted with sin. We have spoken the language of an unclean heart, that evil communication which corrupts good manners, and whereby many have been defiled. We are unworthy and unmeet to take God's name into our lips. With what a pure lip did the angels praise God! “But,” says the prophet, “I cannot praise him so, for I am a man of unclean lips.” The best men in the world have reason to be ashamed of themselves, and the best of their services, when they come into comparison with the holy angels. The angels had celebrated the purity and holiness of God; and therefore the prophet, when he reflects upon sin, calls it uncleanness; for the sinfulness of sin is its contrariety to the holy nature of God, and upon that account especially it should appear both hateful and frightful to us. The impurity of our lips ought to be the grief of our souls, for by our words we shall be justified or condemned.'

We should all be as Isaiah was, crying out in woe, being struck silent before a thrice holy God when we come before His throne, acknowledging our sins then sitting in utter silence of our shame. The beauty of this vision ends so gloriously and magnificently - 'Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."  Is. 6:7-8

No sooner had Isaiah, in his brokenness, confessed his unclean lips and his sins were atoned for; the words of confession had barely left his mouth and were immediately followed by the burning coal touching his lips; this is a picture of grace. This signifies the tender mercies of God; He reveals His holiness to those who belong to Him by taking them deeper into who He is, this in turn causes us to see our deepest sins as the holiness of God brings the vileness of man to the surface. We cry out just as Isaiah did, 'I am ruined, I am undone, I am loathsome, vile, broken over my horrific sins against this God who is grandeur, majestic, exalted high above the heavens and the earth; and God responds with such grace, love, mercy and kindness..why? Because He gets glory!! We praise Him when He lifts the weight of sin from us and causes our heavy hearts to once again be lifted up with the pulley of His amazing grace. The blessedness of forgiveness is worthy of praise and adoration of the God who forgives sin and restores His people....

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens;

Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!
Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created.
 He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away
Praise the LORD from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills; Fruit trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and winged fowl;  Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and virgins; Old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.
And He has lifted up a horn for His people, Praise for all His godly ones; Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise the LORD!
-Psalm 148

Monday, April 23, 2012

Owning Up

"It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are 'defeated' by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated, we are simply disobedient. It might be good if we stopped using the terms 'victory' and 'defeat' to describe our progress in holiness. Rather we should use the terms 'obedience' and 'disobedience'. When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me. We may, in fact, be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey. We have chosen to entertain lustful thoughts, or to harbor resentment, or to shade the truth a little.
We need to brace ourselves up and realize that we are responsible for our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We need to reckon on the fact that we died to sin's reign, that it no longer has any dominion over us, that God has united us with the risen Christ in all His power, and has given us the Holy Spirit to work in us. Only as we accept our responsibility and appropriate God's provisions will we make any progress in our pursuit of holiness."

Jerry Bridges, from his book "The Pursuit of Holiness" published by Navpress

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What does arsenokoites really mean?

There is a debate between true believers and deceivers that this word does not refer to homosexuals, that Paul was not referencing to homosexual activity when he spoke this word in 1 Corinthians 6:9 . Another claim made for denying that Paul was speaking out against homosexuality is in stating that men were having sex  with temple prostitutes who were both male and female, and that this was limited to shrine temple prostitution based on Jewish philosopher Philo's writings, so it does not apply to homosexuals who are in a loving relationship.  This is a horrific twisting of the original meaning of arsenokoites and complete twisting of the context of the verse. There is no doubt that arsenokoites does indeed refer to men lying with men, regardless of the situation.  Are we to listen to a philosopher or are we to listen to God? Homosexuality was indeed rampant in Paul's day and at the time of Paul writing this epistle, so to assume Paul was clueless to this sin is erroneous.  We will see this in a bit in commentary from Guzik.

First, from Strong's concordance -  'arsenokoites': a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity
Definition: a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity; a sodomite, pederast.
From Strong's exhaustive concordance, 'homosexual'- From arrhen and koite733 arsenokoítēs (from 730 /árrhēn, "a male" and 2845 /koítē, "a mat, bed") – properly, a man in bed with another man; a homosexual. Homosexual is the English translation that is used to best fit the original Greek. Those who argue 'homosexual' is not in the original language fail to understand the true meaning of arsenokoites, and origin of the word 'homosexual'. 

We move on to Thayer's Greek lexicon for 'arsenokoites' -STRONGS NT 733: ἀρσενοκοίτης ἀρσενοκοίτης, ἀρσενοκοιτου, ὁ (ἄρσην a male; κοίτη a bed), one who lies with a male as with a female, a sodomite: 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10. (Anthol. 9, 686, 5; ecclesiastical writings.)
Thayer's Greek definitions defines 'arsenokoites' as 'one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual'. Even if you drop the 'modern' terminology - homosexual - you still get the same meaning.

Let's look at commentary concerning this verse, starting with John Calvin, who wouldn't even put a label on this except to call it what God calls it, abominable, "The fourth description of crime is the most abominable of all -- that monstrous pollution which was but too prevalent in Greece." Same sex activity was so very prevalent among the Greeks and so widely accepted, just like we see today.

Albert Barnes commentary states "Abusers of themselves with mankind - ἀρσενοκοῖτοι arsenokoitoi. Paederastae or Sodomites. Those who indulged in a vice that was common among all the pagan; see the notes at Romans 1:27. " Albert did not have a clue as to the word homosexual, but he defined it perfectly.

Clarke's commentary states "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom - The unrighteous, αδικοι, those who act contrary to right, cannot inherit, for the inheritance is by right. He who is not a child of God has no right to the family inheritance, for that inheritance is for the children. If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17. There are here ten classes of transgressors which the apostle excludes from the kingdom of God; and any man who is guilty of any one of the evils mentioned above is thereby excluded from this kingdom, whether it imply the Church of Christ here below, or the state of glory hereafter. Several of the evils here enumerated will not bear to be particularly explained; they are, however, sufficiently plain of themselves, and show us what abominations were commonly practised among the Corinthians. " He, like Calvin, could not even speak of the evils of men with men, that's how degrading and defiling this perversion is. True believers can hardly stand to utter the word 'homosexual'.

Theologian John Gill cuts right to the chase in his commentary on 'arsenokoites' by bluntly stating "Nor abusers of themselves with mankind; sodomites." That's pretty cut and dry and black and white, but isn't that how it should be concerning this abomination?

Guzik's commentary states "Since this is such a clear condemnation of homosexuality, those who would like to justify the practice say Paul is speaking of homosexual prostitution, not a “loving, caring homosexual relationship.” But taken in context, there is no doubt God is speaking of homosexual acts of all kinds with the words malakoi (homosexuals, which literally refers to male prostitutes) and arsenokoitai (sodomites, a generic term for all homosexual practice).
i. Paul was not writing in or of a “homophobic” culture. Homosexuality was rampant in Paul’s culture; fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman emperors were bisexual or homosexual. At the very time Paul was writing, Nero was emperor. He had taken a boy named Sporus and had him castrated. He then married him (with a full ceremony), brought him to the palace with a great procession, and made the boy his “wife.” Later, Nero lived with another man, and Nero was declared to be the other man’s “wife.”
ii. In this list of sins, homosexuality (not some “special” version of homosexuality) is described. But it is described right along with other sins, many of which those who so strongly denounce homosexuals are themselves guilty of. Can fornicators or adulterers or the covetous or drunkards rightly condemn homosexuals? Of course not.
iii. Christians err when they excuse homosexuality, and deny that it is sin. But they also err just as badly when they single it out as a sin God is uniquely angry with.
" Paul probably had more understanding of the deterioration of a culture spiraling out of control as made evident by rampant sexual immorality than any of us do.

The People's New Testament commentary on 'effeminate' says "This and the next phrase refer to a shameful crime quite prevalent among the heathen, the first submitting themselves to the foul sensuality, and the second actively abusing themselves with men, contrary to nature. Both are Sodomites. None guilty of any one of the list of vices given can be an heir of heaven." Again, we see an outright denial of entering God's kingdom by those who practice abominable things.

Albert Barnes lived from 1798 - 1870, John Gill 1697-1771, John Calvin 1509-1564, David Guzik is among the living, he is the director of Calvary Chapel Bible College, Germany, and the People's New Testament Bible Commentary was written in 1891. My point for bringing this up is this, most of these commentators never heard of the term 'homosexual' and yet, they had an understanding of what it meant, men with men. Where did they attain this knowledge? By going into the Greek and defining arsenokoites,  and by studying other verses throughout the Bible that speak out and/or condemn this sexual sin, verses like Leviticus 18:22, Genesis 19, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Genesis 18:20, 2 Peter 2:6, Jude 1:7.
We also cannot take Paul's words out of context, he was giving a list of sins that prohibit entrance into God's kingdom if continued on in stating "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. " Nowhere does Paul limit any of these sinful acts to a certain time period or to a specific event.
No matter how you label it, the Bible makes it clear, men with men is an abomination. This isn't to say all sexual sin is not just as grievous, however, the increase in sexual perversion is a sign of the rotting culture, it is also a sign of forthcoming judgment.
There is a wonderful study done by James B. DeYoung that points to the erroneous writings of Boswell and others who have severely twisted the Apostle Paul's meaning  and his writings, I highly recommend this read for all who either believe the lie or need to know the truth so they can rightly debate this. You can read a very detailed study on this subject byJames B. De Young Professor of New Testament Western Conservative Baptist Seminary here.

"Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. " Jude 1:7

" Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground." Genesis 19:24-25

God condemns ALL sex outside the covenant of marriage He ordained between a man and a woman, which definitely would include men with men and women with women. No matter how one may try and justify homosexuality by taking verses out of context or twisting their original meaning, in the end, the fact is to be between a man and a woman within the covenant of marriage...there are NO exceptions.

There is hope for sinners through the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, He made atonement for sin and saves to the uttermost all who believe in Him. To believe in Christ is not a mere verbal profession, it is a forsaking of sin and a submitting to Christ as Lord and Savior. None of this is possible if you are not born again, and being born again is not humanly possible.  That is why 'free will' is an accursed gospel, we cannot regenerate ourselves, nor can we choose to believe because we are dead in sin {Eph. 2:1, 5}. Dead people choose nothing.
Cry out to God for His mercy. Most of us fear God because of wrath which is the consequence of sin, but few understand they have committed horrendous acts  against God by sinning willfully and repeatedly against His word.  May God be merciful and break sinners over their sins, drawing them to Christ and saving them from wrath, freeing them from sin's bondage.

See also my recent post entitled 'men with men' which is related to this post

My source for this study was http:// and

Friday, April 20, 2012

Are you 'in Christ'?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  - 2 Corinthians 5:17

There is much talk this day of being a Christian, and yet, continuing on in sin.  To tell such a person that it is not possible to be a Christian and continue on in sin is to force 'rules' and 'laws' on them, after all, we are under grace right? Indeed,  salvation is by God's grace, but living the Christian life does not give one a license to sin; the Apostle Paul speaks out against such a heresy in Romans 6:15, ' What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. ' There is widespread misconception that surrendering to the authority and lordship of Christ is not necessary, you can live any way you desire and still go to heaven. Such a view should cause one to question and examine themselves to see if, in fact, they are in the faith.  Obviously, such a person has no understanding of denying self, nor do they understand the power of God when He regenerates dead sinners.

The first thing I noticed from 2nd Corinthians 5:17 is that the new creation is based on a condition, one must be 'in Christ'.  Is this a mere profession, a claim made by those who say they are Christian? Here is what theologian and Presbyterian minister Albert Barnes says concerning this phrase-
 "The phrase to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in him as the branch is in the vine - that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. Joh_15:2, “every branch in me.” Joh_15:4, “abide in me, and I in you.” “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me.” See also Joh_15:5-7, see the note on Joh_15:2. To be “in Christ” denotes a more tender and close union; and implies that all our support is from him. All our strength is derived from him; and denotes further that we shall partake of his fullness, and share in his felicity and glory, as the branch partakes of the strength and vigor of the parent vine."

The preposition 'in' means 'a fixed position, a relation of rest'. There is an intimacy with Christ, it's not just a relationship, it is a union and communion with Him; a reconciliation that bonds.  Resting in Christ means trusting in Him, relying on Him, living for Him. It is a total dependency on Him for every breath we take,  every circumstance, everything that takes place, whether good or bad, trusting in Him to see us through. It is a life totally surrendered to Him...His will, His way. There is no room for 'self' here, it's all Christ or nothing. There is no room for the love of the world, material possessions, personal goals and agenda, pet sins; all must be forsaken if one is to truly be 'in Christ'. There is no way anyone is in Christ if they have not been born from above by God. This is not a mere verbal profession spoken by someone with good intentions, the evidence that you are a new creation is proof you are in Christ. You cannot have one without the other, you cannot be in Christ and not be changed by that. There is a widespread false teaching that insists you can be Christian and not be changed, that repentance means only a change of mind. Yes, repentance does mean a change of mind, but what does a change of mind lead to? A change in behavior, a changed life. This is the new creation, the rebirth of the dead sinner by God will lead to a different way of thinking, speaking, and living.
'The old has passed away' - this is a reference to the old way of life, the bondage to sin. Again, we turn to Albert Barnes for commentary -
"In regard to all, it is also true that old things pass away. Their former prejudices, opinions, habits, attachments pass away. Their supreme love of self passes away. Their love of sins passes away. Their love of the world passes away. Their supreme attachment to their earthly friends rather than God passes away. Their love of sin, their sensuality, pride, vanity, levity, ambition, passes away. There is a deep and radical change on all these subjects - a change which commences at the new birth; which is carried on by progressive sanctification; and which is consummated at death and in heaven."
Is this not speaking of dying to self, to what we once loved and lived for? Sin's grip is gone, it no longer rules the life of the born again believer. We die to sin and our old way of living, and 'behold, the new has come'.   I feel it worthwhile to add Barne's commentary for this as well, it is worth reading -
"  That is, all things in view of the mind. The purposes of life, the feelings of the heart, the principles of action, all become new. The understanding is consecrated to new objects, the body is employed in new service, the heart forms new attachments. Nothing can be more strikingly. descriptive of the facts in conversion than this; nothing more entirely accords with the feelings of the newborn soul. All is new. There are new views of God, and of Jesus Christ; new views of this world and of the world to come; new views of truth and of duty; and everything is seen in a new aspect and with new feelings. Nothing is more common in young converts than such feelings, and nothing is more common than for them to say that all things are new. The Bible seems to be a new book, and though they may have often read it before, yet there is a beauty about it which they never saw before, and which they wonder they have not before perceived. The whole face of nature seems to them to be changed, and they seem to be in a new world. The hills, and vales, and streams; the sun, the stars, the groves, the forests, seem to be new. A new beauty is spread over them all; and they now see them to be the work of God, and his glory is spread over them all, and they can now say:
“My Father made them all.”
The heavens and the earth are filled with new wonders, and all things seem now to speak forth the praise of God. Even the very countenances of friends seem to be new; and there are new feelings toward all people; a new kind of love to kindred and friends; and a love before unfelt for enemies; and a new love for all mankind."

The way we think, what we love, live for, and desire centers solely on Christ as He becomes the center of our being, our reason for living and dying; He is our life. This world and the things we once loved are now repulsive whereas Christ and His gospel used to be repulsive to us; we now are consumed by the One who loves us and gave Himself for us. There is indeed evidence that this transformation has taken place, the old you is gone and the new you strives to please, honor and obey Him. This is so much more than a mere verbal profession, it is a way of life!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Each one had six wings...

This is a wonderful reminder from Grace Gems...

Each one had six wings!

(J.R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible")

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphim, each one had six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying." Isaiah 6:1-2

There is something unusual and very impressive in the description of the seraphim in this vision. "Each one had six wings!" Wings are for flight--it is the mission of angelic beings to fly on God's errands. The six wings would seem to signify special readiness to do God's will. But they suggest here, more than their normal use--to fly.

The modern Christian would probably use them all for flying--and would be intensely active. We live in an age when everything inspires to activity. We are apt to run, perhaps too greatly, with our 'wings'.

But we should notice that two of the seraphim's wings were used in covering his face when before God--teaching reverence. Two of them also were used in covering his feet--humility. The other two were used in flying--activity. Reverence and humility--are quite as important qualities in God's service, as activity!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Wedding Garment

and he *said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless.  - Matthew 22:12

I was reading a book about Jesus' parables by Dr. Boice and came to the parable about the invitation to the wedding feast. I took special note of the man who came dressed inappropriately, and his utter speechlessness when he was asked about his garments.  There are so many today who are wearing the same garment as the man in this parable, and yet they think they have a place at the banquet.  Let's look at what Dr. Boice says concerning this verse....

'What is the wedding garment? It is the righteousness of Christ provided freely to all who will repent of sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.  If we are clothed in that righteousness, we will be able to stand before God and rejoice in our salvation. If we are not clothed in it, we will be speechless before Him. 
I am interested in that detail - 'the man was speechless'- because that is the same thought Paul expresses in Romans 3:19 when he says that 'every mouth will be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God'. During the long years of his ministry, Donald Grey Barnhouse developed a way of presenting the Gospel that used that text. When he was speaking to a person who wasn't sure he was a Christian, Barnhouse would ask 'suppose you should die tonight and appear before God in heaven and He should ask you "What right do you have to come into my heaven?" What would you say? Barnhouse had learned from experience that there were only three possible answers a person might give. 

Many would cite their good works, saying, 'well, I'd say I've done the best I can  and I've never done anything particularly bad.' That is an appeal to one's record. But, as Barnhouse pointed out, our record is one of sin and thus "no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law" {Romans 3:20}. It is our record that got us into trouble in the first place. 

A second group of people would respond as did a woman whom Barnhouse once met on a ship crossing the Atlantic. He asked, 'if God demanded of you "what right have you to come into my heaven?" what would you say?' She responded ,'I wouldn't have a thing to say', in other words, she would be speechless. Her mouth would be silenced and she would be held accountable to God. Jesus says that will be the case of all when God actually does ask that question. In this life we may get by with the delusion that our record is pretty good and that God will be satisfied with it. But in that day, when we see God in His glory and understand what true righteousness is, our folly will be apparent to ourselves as well as to all other beings in the universe, and we will be reduced to silence - IF we are not clothed with the wedding garment of our Lord's own righteousness. 

 The third and only acceptable answer, is, of course. "What right do you have to come into my heaven?" 'None at all, so far as I myself am concerned. But Jesus died for my sins and has given me the covering of His own righteousness in which alone I dare to stand before You. I come at your invitation and in that clothing.' 
Will God reject such a one? He will not, for it is such persons He has bid come to Him.' - Dr. Boice, from his book 'The Parables of Jesus' pages 72-73, published by Moody Press

How many today are not properly clothed; they are lacking miserably the 'wedding garment', the righteousness of Christ. They are relying upon their works, their decision, their opening of their heart to 'let Jesus in'. They are relying upon a water baptism, a sacrament, a mere verbal profession with no understanding of the doctrine of regeneration. The free will theology and the salvation by works theology are both equally damning to the soul. We cannot embrace either one and must warn sinners of these deceptive lies. May our great and awesome God be merciful to sinners, may we cry out "Father, in wrath, remember mercy!"

"When the Father sees a sinner casting aside their own righteousness, and simply trusting in His dear Son, He is well pleased." ~ J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The God who punishes His own

We live in a time when God is all love, seldom do we hear of His anger and hatred of sin; even when it concerns His people. This is a timely piece of warning from Gracegems for all, especially God's own...

The sins of God's people!

Thomas Vincent, "God's Terrible Voice in the City" 1667. Thomas Vincent, himself a witness of the 'Great Fire of London' in 1666, writes to explain why this severe divine judgment fell upon the godly, as well as on the wicked.)

"The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:6

If these judgments have fallen upon God's people--we must know that they have their sins, which have deserved them. Possibly some have begun to comply with the wicked in their wicked ways. It may be, that they had . . .
  grown more loose in their walking,
  and formal in the service of God,
  and their hearts more set on the world.

The sins of God's people have more heinous aggravations than the sins of the wicked, being committed against . . .
  clearer light,
  dearer love,
  sweeter mercies, and
  stronger obligations;
and therefore provoke God the more to wrath. Hence He threatens His own people, especially, to punish them when they transgress, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth--and therefore I will punish you for your iniquities." Amos 3:2

Besides, God's people have need of awakening judgments . . .
  to arouse them,
  to humble them for sin, and
  to loosen and wean them from the world!
It is in love and faithfulness, that God inflicts such judgments upon them.

"Before I was afflicted I went astray--but now I obey Your Word." Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted--so that I might learn Your decrees." Psalm 119:71

"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

Friday, April 6, 2012

So Homosexuality isn't a sin? Oh really?

This is amazing, I have been reading some comments concerning a John MacArthur youtube video that speaks out against homosexuality. There are several who've commented stating homosexuality is NOT a sin and is NOT immoral, and these folks insist they are saved.  Articles like this  help promote such gross misunderstanding of what the Bible clearly states about homosexuality.
The first verse we need to look at is found in Leviticus 18:22 '  You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. '  Let's look at commentary from several men, starting with John Gill, "By carnal knowledge of them, and carnal copulation with them, and mixing bodies in like manner: this is the sin commonly called sodomy, from the inhabitants of Sodom, greatly addicted to it, for which their city was destroyed by fire: those that are guilty of this sin, are, by the apostle, called "abusers of themselves with mankind".

Matthew Henry states " A law against unnatural lusts, sodomy and bestiality, sins not to be named nor thought of without the utmost abhorrence imaginable, Lev_18:22, Lev_18:23. Other sins level men with the beasts, but these sink them much lower. That ever there should have been occasion for the making of these laws, and that since they are published they should ever have been broken, is the perpetual reproach and scandal of human nature; and the giving of men up to these vile affections was frequently the punishment of their idolatries; so the apostle shows, Rom_1:24."

David Guzik comments 'Simply put, God calls homosexual sex an abomination, even as He does in Romans 1:24-32. Additionally, homosexuality was part of the idolatrous perversions which were allowed in Israel at its times of backsliding (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12, and 22:46). Homosexual practice truly is an abomination in our present culture. 43% of homosexuals say that they have had 500 or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Only 1% of homosexuals say they have had four or less sexual partners in their lifetime.
               Homosexuals seem to specialize in anonymous sex with no emotional commitment. At one time, London AIDS clinics defined a woman as promiscuous if she’d had more than six partners in her lifetime. They gave up trying to apply a workable definition to male homosexuals when it became clear that they saw almost no homosexual men who had less than six sexual partners a year.'

Dan Fortner states ' In verse 22 the Lord God stamps his "X" upon homosexuality. In verse 23 he expands his denouncement to that which is the child of homosexuality—Bestiality! These acts of horrid wickedness are both the result of divine judgment and the cause of it (vv. 24-28. -from his sermon entitled 'abominable customs')

And lastly, from Andrew Bonar, ' Ver. 20--23. Moreover, thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her. And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. Thou
shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast, to defile thyself therewith; neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie
down thereto: it is confusion.' The word “confusion" means probably audacious PRIVATE AND DOMESTIC depravity.  And such is the human heart that all these forms of depravity were not too bad to be anticipated by the Lord, who knew the heart. He knows the virulence
of the poisoned spring. The Syrian Hazael wonders that any should fancy, far less say, that he could be capable of a murderous deed; but the Lord Jehovah, looking on the unrenewed heart, forms this estimate of it, even in the case of his own Israel, viz. they might be tempted not
only to adultery (ver. 20), and to present  their children to Molech, in reckless inhumanity, and perhaps in order to be quit of them (ver. 21). By all this they brought public reproach on the name of Jehovah ("profaning his name"); yet even beyond this would they go. Some
might be led (ver. 22) to the grossest and most shocking lust man with man, and (ver. 23) man or woman with beasts. How awful is the Lord's judgment of the human heart! Surely in an unrenewed soul there is a secret connexion with hell and the devil, even as in a regenerate soul there is a secret connexion with heaven and with God!'

I would also give 'honorable mention' to Dr. Donald E. Curtis and his writing entitled 'The Boundaries of Godly Sexuality'; in reference to Lev. 18:22 he says, ' Following the book The Joy of Sex came The Joy of Gay Sex and The Joy of Lesbian Sex. As the outer boundary began to crumble with the destruction of children, as sex became autonomous, sexual experience between members of the same sex was an unavoidable next step. Here is why: if your sexual goal is pleasure independent of marriage, and your sexual freedom comes from denying its wrongness, there is no foundation left to judge an alternate practice'.

Can you see how this kind of thinking permeates our culture today?

This is just from one verse! Yet they claim the Bible does not speak out against homosexuality. God lays down limitations on moral behavior in Leviticus 18 and clearly forbids same sex sex. If this were the only verse that spoke out against homosexuality, it would be enough; however, there are more.

We now travel to the New Testament and stop in the Gospel of Matthew, specifically chapter 15:19-20. There is also a misconception that Christ never spoke out against homosexuality, but indeed He did.  "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  These are the things which defile the man." Zeroing in on fornication, we find this definition, according to Thayer's Greek Definitions, ' illicit sexual intercourse
1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman
Our Lord covers all the sexually immoral bases here; any sex outside the covenant of marriage which is between a man and a woman is forbidden by God; it defiles, or makes unclean. Revelation 21:27 makes it clear, nothing defiled or unclean will enter into God's kingdom.  
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to speak this in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, ' Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. ' You would think these verses would be self-explanatory! I find it interesting what Paul states in verse 11, 'Such were some of you', obviously, he is addressing born again believers who have repented of their wickedness and no longer practice the sins that they were once enslaved to. 

So how is it a homosexual can claim their sin is not sin and they are a Christian? The god of this world has blinded them, they are deceived, just like our first parents were. Satan uses the very same technique that worked so well for him in the garden, 'did God really say?' Isn't it amazing that this form of deception is still working quite well to this day? It doesn't help that we sinners absolutely love our sin; even when it makes us miserable, we still cling to it with white knuckles and suppress truth with all our might. Praise God for grace!!

Sin is damning to the soul, whatever your sin of choice is, you are bound to it and cannot free yourself. The Lord Jesus became sin for us, even though He knew no sin. He was the perfect sacrifice and appeased God's wrath for the sins of those who repent and believe entirely on what He has done...His death, His burial, and His resurrection. Christ atoned for sin, He was the propitiation for sin for all who will believe. He has completely finished His work and saves to the uttermost those who cry out for mercy and forgiveness from a heart broken over sin.
God is not only loving, He is holy and He is righteous...He must judge sin because of His righteousness and His holiness. When you only view one attribute of God, you fail to comprehend and understand who He truly is which leads to a failure to understand His white hot anger at sin, His hatred and repulsiveness of it. God absolutely hates sin, from the littlest white lie to the grossest act of sexual perversion; it is all an abhorrence to a God who is so very holy, exalted high above His creation: Psalm 96:6 states this about God, "honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." Honor translates from the Hebrew word 'hod' meaning grandeur, an imposing form and appearance, beauty, excellency, glorious, and majesty. It gets better- majesty translates from the Hebrew hadar and means magnificence, splendor. When, one day, we lay eyes upon this Eternal Majestic being, we will be without words to describe what our eyes are taking in. That is why the meaning of ‘see’ is so exceptional; the eyes are flung wide open, in utter amazement, mesmerized by what they are taking in...a remarkable, breathtaking, never before seen sight; it is awe-inspiring, this grandeur, delightful, sweet, majestic God, in all His holiness, sitting exalted on His throne: our breath will leave us, our hearts will race, our eyes will be fixated on what we simply cannot describe and will not want to turn away from. We will be like quivering jell-o, falling at His feet, crying out praises, not wanting to ever leave His presence or take our eyes from Him.  The train of His robe fills the temple in heaven; and you think He will wink at homosexuality?!? Seeing a vision of this majestic and powerful Deity caused Isaiah to come undone; he saw how vile he truly was when he saw this magnificent vision of a God who is first and foremost holy...holy...holy. What chance do you think an unrepentant sinner has before the throne of such a mighty powerful and holy God?