Friday, July 30, 2010

Rudimentary Apologetics, Part 2

Jesus Christ was the perfect, final, and glorious manifestation of God, John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:1-3. When Jesus came to earth, He came to reveal salvation to men, to redeem men, to reveal the will of the Father to men; all things that could not be learned apart from being instructed. Jesus came to glorify the Father by obeying His revealed will. The Father’s will was that Jesus should suffer death for the sins of the world, so that anyone who believes in Jesus may be given the right to become a child of God. When asking “what is God like?” or “who is God?” we need look no further than Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rudimentary Apologetics

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer (apologia) to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear, 1st Peter 3:15.

Here is the foundation of Christian apologetics. We, the body of Christ, are to have an answer, a defense, a logical and biblical reason for the hope that is in us; not wishful thinking or tilting at windmills. We must know what we believe, and why we believe it to answer those in opposition; and we must not err by being aggressive and arrogant, as Peter cautions. We are to storm strongholds by the Spirit’s power (2nd Corinthians 10:5), but our duty is to take the enemy alive; we are fighting to preserve life!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Unbiblical Missionaries?

I had a conversation with a fellow believer not so long ago regarding Christian missionaries. I was startled when I heard him say that he thought the modern concept of missionaries was unbiblical. To clarify, what he meant was that missionaries who leave home (say the United States) and go to Hong Kong (for example) to preach the gospel should support themselves by their own industry rather than burdening a church. He felt that such missions trips were a recent creation (200 years old or so), and that it reflected a poor light on the gospel when someone was living off of the substance of others.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eight, Part 5

8:21 [though] the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth
In a later revelation the prophet Jeremiah writes, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. The answer being: “only God,” Jeremiah 17:10; 1st Samuel 16:7. This is a hard fact to swallow, since we desperately wish to believe that mankind is essentially good by nature, and outside perturbation is responsible for our lawless behavior. Given proper moral, economical and agricultural circumstances man can rise above outside contamination, master himself, and grow into the moral and self-determined creature he truly is within.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eight, Part 4

8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast
In the times before the tabernacle and the temple men would build altars to God, and there sacrifice to Him. Abel (by implication) did this when he offered the firstlings of his flock, Genesis 4:4. Abram did this after God gave him the promise of the land of Canaan, Genesis 12:7. It was there that Abram called on the name of the Lord, Genesis 13:4. Through the mediation of the blood, sinful man could have fellowship with God Almighty, for the shedding of blood atoned for sin. Two more times Abram (later Abraham) would do this; Genesis 13:18; 22:9. Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps and likewise built an altar, Genesis 26:25. Jacob also followed suit, Genesis 33:20; 35:7. Both times Jacob sacrificed offerings in acknowledgment of God’s provision and faithfulness.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eight, Part 3

8:9 then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.
The writer of Hebrews says, “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland,” Hebrews 11:14. The dove had been loosed from the ark and from Noah, yet she found no place to perch and rest. The ark offered safety and solace; two things which the world, currently swept by the ravages of the Flood, could not. Therefore she returned to Noah, and Noah took her in. Christians should be as the dove, and as the writer of Hebrews confesses, not growing too comfortable here, but recalling that this earth is a passing thing; as are our lives. When we come to God, finding no rest in this world, He stretches forth His hand and takes us in; within is safety and solace. Charles Spurgeon once lamented that we were like birds chained at the foot too long; once someone has set us free to fly from this world and its cares we don’t want to. How many of us recall the country (state of living) out of which we have been called, and returned to it? The writer of Hebrews later declares, “if they truly called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return,” Hebrews 11:15.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eight, Part 2

8:4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountain of Ararat.

Contrary to secular skepticism, the ark that bore Noah to safety may indeed still be imbedded on the heights of Ararat in modern day Turkey. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote of its presence during the first century AD. Marco Polo also confirmed its presence in the mountains of Armenia. In 1876 Sir James Bryce, scholar and explorer, climbed Mt. Ararat and discovered at 13,000 ft (2000 feet above the timberline), a piece of hand-tooled wood that he believed was from the ark. George Hagopian (then a 10-year old Armenian boy in 1904) claimed to have also found the ark with his uncle. He described it as a flat-bottom, petrified barge without nails. He also claimed to have returned to the site a second time two years later. A Russian pilot in World War I claimed to see the ark; news which excited the Czar enough to send parties to search for it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eight

A point of interest I would like to draw the reader to before beginning Genesis is a passage in Psalm 104. This Psalm begins with the greatness and glory of God, and then moves on to describe the events of Creation, beginning with a parallel between Genesis 1:3-8 and Psalm 104:2-3: “Who coverest thyself with light as a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind.” This passage agrees with the Genesis account regarding days one and two of Creation. Yet the psalmist adds in verse 4, “Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire.” The verb “maketh” in the Hebrew means “to form or create.” In this inspired interlude that parallels the Genesis account do we possibly find mention of the creation of the angelic majesties before the third day?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 7

This final passage (Hebrews 10:32-39) is an exhortation to endurance. We all have need of it. The Jewish Christians in question needed to be reminded that they should be busy in this life learning the will of God, and that will is revealed in His Son. God has spoken to us in His Son, and this is His final word, Hebrews 1:2. Soon enough the enduring Christian will receive the promise, and that promise is Christ's speedy return, the blessed hope on which every Christian throughout the ages (including the Apostles) worked in light of. They wanted to be found in their Master's will and going about their Master's business when He returned. To this end the Holy Spirit uses Habakkuk 2:3-4 to spur the Hebrews into fervent faith and action; the Lord is quickly returning, and those whose lives are lived by faith will reap rich reward.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 6

Hebrews 10:36-39
[36] For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
[37] “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
[38] Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
[39] But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

To overview chapter 10: verses 1-4 describe the insufficiency of animal sacrifice. While animal sacrifice was established to atone or “cover” sin, it perpetuated the memory of man's sinful state before a holy God and anticipation of sin's removal. It was prophesied that the Messiah, the Christ would come and do just that. Verses 5-10 provide the framework for this, quoting Psalm 40:6-8 and applying it to the coming advent of Jesus Christ who would be born as Savior. The Jews knew that the sacrifice of an animal would atone for them; they were saved from their sins by shed blood, Leviticus 17:11. Now a man was born who would save them from their sins by abolishing the system of works in Judaism and establishing a new covenant ratified in His own blood. The offering of Christ before the Father was efficacious once for all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 5

Hebrews 10:32-35

[32] But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:
[33] partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became a companion of those who were so treated;
[34] for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
[35] Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

The Hebrew Christians were faltering. They needed to be reminded of the efficacy, the purity, majesty and perfection of Jesus Christ. The entire epistle of Hebrews glows with the grandeur of Christ's superiority to angels, Moses, the law, the priesthood, and animal sacrifice. They would be departing from the truth and returning to a shadow of what had already appeared. The cross of Christ was a great burden, and still is for many today; which is largely the reason for so much compromise within the professing church as liberals and universalists try to reconcile the doctrines of the faith with outside influences. The antidote, the writer is stating, is a clear and powerful picture of Jesus Christ as our Mediator, High Priest and Apostle.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 4

Hebrews 10:29-31
[29] Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
[30] For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”
[31] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The more one knows, the more one is held accountable for that knowledge. Being saved by grace through faith in Christ is infinitely more valuable and efficacious than animal sacrifice; if the Hebrew Christians reverted to offering animal blood on Jewish altars they were, in essence, trampling the Son of God underfoot and insulting the Spirit of Grace; compare with Ephesians 4:30 and 1st Thessalonians 5:19. It would be worse than offering defiled animals in place of unblemished ones, as it was during Malachi’s day, Malachi 1:6-8. Instead, the Hebrews would revert to offering redundant sacrifice after God finished sacrifice with the offering of His Son; it is a rejection of God’s salvation, an insult to His trustworthy name. God has warned that He will judge His people. Peter writes: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1st Peter 4:17.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 3

Hebrews 10:26-28
[26] For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
[27] but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation that will devour the adversaries.
[28] Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

The next section begins with an ardent warning about living in a state of willful sin after receiving the truth. Verse 19 informs us that through the blood of Christ we have boldness to enter the Holiest. The concept is one of a close-knit fellowship with God; you are dwelling with Him in the Holiest. Verse 26 warns that it is only by this same blood that one is cleansed from willful sin. Since sin separates, a believer who indulges in willful sin is without the Holiest; they retain salvation but must come to Christ for cleansing, so they may walk with Him in renewed fellowship, 1st John 1:7. The writer includes himself in this passage by saying “we,” intending to convey the idea that what he is about to relate could even come upon him through habitual sin. A willful sin would be to continue living in the lifestyle (or to practice the vice) that Christ died to set us free from after receiving salvation by faith.
All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.