QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 96
divine power has given us everything we need for life(eternal?)
and godliness. It is through our knowledge of Him that we have great and
precious promises that (have?) enabled us to escape the this world and share in His divine nature...What is Peter refering too in "great and precious promises" the Holy Spirit??
This is a rather lengthy answer because I consider this to be an especially critical area of understanding.
They have to do with what God “promised” concerning the Gospel (Rom 1:2). They relate to “eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the world began” (Tit 1:2). In fact, the promises of which He speaks are summarized in this single promise: “And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25).
Under the Old Covenant
There were promises attached to the Old Covenant itself. They did not relate to the coming Savior, nor were they intended to be part of the New Covenant. The New Covenant was established upon “better promises” – “better” than those attending the Old Covenant.
First, the word “promises” is not found in Genesis through Malachi (KJV, NKJV, ASV, BBE, YLT). The NASB version uses the word “promises” one time: “Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass” (Josh 21:45). Here “promises” is translated from the Hebrew word “daw-bawr,” which means “a matter of thing that is spoken.” STRONG’S This word is used 2,582 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis through Malachi), and rarely refers to a Divine commitment. It generally means something that God has said, whether a commandment (Gen 8:15-16), or of God simply “talking” with someone (Gen 17:3). There were individual promises made during the Old Covenant – such as God promising a land to Israel (Num 14:40; Deut 9:28), the numerical increase of Israel (Deut 1:11; 12:20), and bringing Israel into the land of promise (Neh 9:23).
Under the Law, there were blessings that would be realized if the Law was perfectly kept at all times, with no deviation from that perfection. They were quite extensive. If the people hearkened “diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day,” (Deut 28:1), the Lord would set the people “on high above all nations of the earth.” These blessings would come upon the people, overtaking them, IF they would “hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God” (Deut 28:2). They would blessed in the city and in the field. A blessing would be upon the fruit of the body, the fruit of their cattle, the increase of the kine (oxen), the flocks of their sheep, their basket and their store. They would be blessed coming in, and blessed going out (Deut 28:1-6). The Lord would smite their enemies (Deut 28:7). He would “command a blessing upon their storehouses, and all” they set their hand to do. He would bless them “in the land” which the Lord gave them, and “establish” them as a “holy people unto Himself, IF” they would “keep the commandments of the Lord,” and “walk in His ways” (Deut 28:8-10).
These blessings did not depend upon Jesus, but upon the perfect obedience of the people. They were never associated with a coming Savior, or a New Covenant – NEVER! Jesus never appealed to these promises as an incentive, and neither did the Apostles. These were not the “better promises” upon which the New Covenant was founded.
Those who hold out these promises to the people of God are in great error. All of them are centered in this world. None if them can transfer into glory. All of them become obsolete when one dies.
Some of the Better Promises
Prior to Christ, many of these “better promises” were given. They were not tied to the Old Covenant, but spoke of a time that would follow the era of the Old Covenant. None of these promises were realized prior to Christ coming into the world, suffering death, being raised from the dead, ascending into heaven, and being enthroned at the “right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3).
* The people would hearken, or pay attention, to the real Prophet, Jesus Christ – “unto Him ye WILL hearken” (Deut 18:15).
* The Lord would circumcise the heart of the people in order that they would love Him, thereby making them different – “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul” (Deut 30:6).
*God would give them a new heart and a new spirit, thereby changing their motivations – “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezek 36:26).
* They would walk in His statutes and keep His judgments, being noted for their obedience – “And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them” (Ezek 36:27).
* His laws would be written on their hearts and put into their minds, causing them to be in fundamental agreement with God – “I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts” (Jer 31:33).
* Their stony heart would be removed, and they would receive a heart of flesh, making them to be noted for tenderness instead of hardness and rebellion – “and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26).
* They would have one heart, producing undeniable unity among them – “And I will give them one heart” (Ezek 11:19).
* God would put His Spirit in the people, and cause them to walk in His statutes – “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezek 36:27).
* They would all know the Lord, being acquainted with His Person and ways – “they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD” (Jer 31:34).
Prior to Christ, many of these “better promises” were given. They were not tied to the Old Covenant, but spoke of a time that would follow the era of the Old Covenant. None of these promises were realized prior to Christ coming into the world, suffering death, being raised from the dead, ascending into heaven, and being enthroned at the “right hand of the Majesty on high”
* Because of their cognition of their salvation, they would obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing would flee away – “And the ransomed of the LORD . . . shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa 35:10).
* They would have a heart to know Him, preferring Him above all else – “And I will give them an heart to know me” (Jer 24:7).
* They would have a pure language, and serve the Lord with one consent, not borrowing from the world, and living in the wrong direction – “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent” (Zeph 3:9).
* Their eyes would not be dim, and their ears would hearken, making them perceptive of the things of God – “And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken” (Isa 32:3).
* The heart of the rash would understand, and the tongue of the stammers would be eady to speak plainly, giving them the ability to express themselves properly – “The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly” (Isa 32:4).
* With joy they would draw water out of the wells of salvation, rejoicing in their acceptance by God – “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isa 12:3).
* There would come a time when salvation and safety would be realized – “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer 23:6).
* A Divinely appointed exchange program would be put into place – “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified” (Isa 61:1-3).
* The sins and iniquities of the people would no more be remembered – “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb 8:12).
* A righteousness would be given by God to people, so that no condemnation of them would be possible – “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the LORD” (Isa 54:17).
None of these promises were contingent upon keeping the Law. All of them would be realized in the coming Messiah, or Anointed One.
“ . . . are yea . . . ” Other versions read, “are Yes,” NKJV “is a ‘Yes,” NRSV “find their Yes in Him,” RSV “made certain and put into effect,” BBE and “have been fulfilled in Him.” NLT
When Jesus is “received” (John 1:12), these promises are also received. Their fulfillment is realized by those in whom Christ dwells by faith (Eph 3:17). None of them are contingent upon flawless obedience to the Law. All of them are dependent upon faith, for Christ dwells in our hearts “by faith.” The above promises, and more, are all “YES” in Christ Jesus. “All the promises of God” begin with the promise of the conquering Seed of the woman (Gen 3:15), and conclude with the second to the last verse in the Bible: “Surely I come quickly” (Rev 22:20). All of them accrue to us in Christ Jesus. None of them are excluded for those who are in fellowship with the Son of God.
These promises are to be possessed and enjoyed in Him. When Jesus is “received” (John 1:12), these promises are also received. Their fulfillment is realized by those in whom Christ dwells by faith (Eph 3:17). None of them are contingent upon flawless obedience to the Law. All of them are dependent upon faith, for Christ dwells in our hearts “by faith.”
Partaking of the Divine Nature
The unchangeable purpose of God is to conform us to the image of His Son –
thus becoming partakers of the Divine nature (Rom 8:29). On a practical level, this purpose is realized by means of the promises of God – the ones that are “Yes” in the “Son of God, Jesus Christ.”
This is categorically stated by Peter, and with great pungency. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:4). Other versions read, “through these,” NKJV “by them,” NASB and “through them.” NIV That is, the promises are the appointed means through which we “participate in the Divine nature,” NIV become more and more like Jesus.
When Jesus addressed the seven churches in Asia, He gave them some “exceeding great and precious promises” – precious incentives through which they could be conformed to His image.
* “Be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev 2:10).
* “He that overcometh will not be hurt of the second death” (Rev 2:11).
* “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Rev 2:17).
* “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star” (Rev 2:26-28).
* “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels” (Rev 3:5).
* “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name” (Rev 3:12).
* “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).
* “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev 3:21).
* “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son” (Rev 21:7).
Ponder the exceeding great and precious promises that Jesus gave the beatitudes.
* “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3).
* “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt 5:4).
* “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5).
* “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt 5:6).
* “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7).
* “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8).
* “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9).
* “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10).
* “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt 5:12).
Those who take these promises seriously will realize their fulfillment, for they are all “YES” in Christ Jesus.
friend regularly prays for Israel, specifically, the Ultra Orthodox. She
believes that Christ will not come again until Israel (ie the Jews) repent and
accept Christ as Messiah. Is there any Biblical truth that supports this belief?
Must the Jews acceptance of Jesus as Messiah precede Christ's Second Advent?
God has promised that Israel will be brought back to Him (Isa 1:25-25; 2:1-5; 4:2-6; 11:11-13; 37:31-32; 44:1-5; 60:1-5; Jer 3:14-18; 23:3; 31:31-37; 32:42; 33:7-8; Ezek 16:62-63; 20:41-43; 36:27-35 . . . etc). The veil will be lifted from their eyes, and they will see Christ as their Savior (2 Cor 3:15-16). That is the point established by the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapter of Romans. Jesus said Jerusalem would be trodden under foot by the Gentiles "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). Paul said that "blindness in part is happened unto Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom 11:25). The "Deliverer," Jesus, will yet turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Rom 11:26). Paul said the reason for His Apostleship to the Gentiles was to provoke the Jews to jealousy (Rom 11:13-14).
This magnificent work will not require a lengthy process. The prophets spoke of a nation being born in a day (Isa 66:8).
It is not proper to think about Christ's coming NOT occurring until Israel is converted. This is not the manner in which the Spirit directs our thinking. Christ's coming is sure, and we are to be ready for it, and watch for it. Israel's conversion is sure, and we are to pray for it and anticipate it. Trying to speculate about how these two fit together is not time well spent. That is not how Jesus or the Apostles approached the subject of His return, and it is not how we should approach it.
I do not believe in tithing, I believe in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tithing has been a universal practice among God's people from before the Law. It was never questioned, doubted, or denied by any believing person -- not before the Law, during the Law, or after the Law.
Abraham tithed several hundred years before the Law (Gen 14:20) -- and a point is made of it in Hebrews 7:4-9. The book of Hebrews also makes a poignant observation, saying that the tribe of Levi also paid tithes at that time, even though he was not yet born -- doing so in the "loins of Abraham" (Heb 7:5-10). Jacob, also prior to the Law, when blessed by God, replied "I will surely give the tenth unto Thee" (Gen 28:22).
Under the Law God bound the tithe on the people in order for the support of the Levitcal priesthood, because they had no inheritance in the land (Num 18:24). The Levites tithed to the Lord from the tithes they received from the people (Num 18:26). Paul appealed to this method of supporting the Levitical priesthood as a principle to be followed in supporting those who preached the Gospel (not merely professional preachers -- 1 Cor 9:13-14).
When rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and bigotry, Jesus said they paid tithes -- then told them that is what they should have done, not leaving the weightier matters undone (Matt 23:23).
The book of Hebrews states that He who is living, who is Christ, is receiving tithes: "Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives" (Heb 7:8).
Concerning Jesus getting paid, He said He did not come to be ministered to, but to minister (Matt 20:28). Notwithstanding, we are told of "Joanna," "Suzanna," "and many others, which ministered unto Him of their substance" (Luke 8:3). Paul also said he chose to minister the Gospel "without charge" (1 Cor 9:18), yet told the Corinthians, "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service" (2 Cor 11:8) -- taking contributions from others to minister to the Corinthians. He also reasoned, "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?" (1 Cor 9:11).
This matter is not as simplistic as you would have it. The fact that you have had to deal with covetous men does not warrant a diatribe against tithing or the support of those who really do preach the Gospel, and have been called to do so. Some have chosen to minister without any form of remuneration. I have done so for fifty years. Prior to retiring, I was an executive for a leading manufacturer, supporting myself and my family, together with several others. But God did not demand that I do this, nor does He demand anyone else to do it. God gave the tithe, and never has rescinded it. There was a reason for it, it was not a harsh and unbending Law. In Israel it was put into the form of law because of the hardness of their hearts.
I am grieved that you have been subjected to covetous men. They will answer for their wickedness. However, this does not warrant saying what you have about tithing. Tithing is such an integral part of man's relationship to God, that even Abraham and Jacob honored it -- without having to be told to tithe. Jesus commended the Pharisees for tithing -- He rebuked them for what they did NOT do. Hebrews states that He who is living IS receiving tithes.
This is a matter you will have to settle before God. He is the One who has spoken of the tithe. Jesus is the One who commended the tithe, and is now receiving it. If men like Abraham and Jacob, without a known word from God, assumed the tithe ought to be paid, it seems to me that you must ask yourself why you have assumed it should not be paid after being exposed to their record, and the manner in which the Spirit reasons with us about the tithe.
My prayer is that you will be blessed with satisfactory answers and the blessing of God.
Wednesday night at Bible study at church, we were studying Romans 13 and the
regular leader was not in the class. It got out of control as many of the
members began to express the fact that they broke the law with such things as
speeding but almost with an attitude that it was OK since many of the laws of
the land were not consistent with the original intent of the founding fathers of
our country. It seemed that they were saying, what I should do was between me
and God and if He doesn't convict me, it is all right.
Any comments you might have regarding the importance of our obeying the laws that have been enacted by our legislators today whether they are Christians or not since they are our governing authorities "established by God" would be appreciated.
You are right about things getting out of hand. The whole line of reasoning you described is in the wrong direction. Those in Christ have a mind to the intentions of the "heavenly Father," not the "founding fathers."
God has spoken about our respect for governmental authority: "Therefore submit yourselves to EVERY ORDINANCE OF MAN for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is THE WILL OF GOD, that BY DOING GOOD you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God" (1 Pet 2:13-16). This coincides with Romans 13:3-4. Paul admonishes Titus, "Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, TO OBEY, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men" (Titus 3:2).
In view of these rather clear words, you should tell those who insist on breaking laws -- any of them that do not require disobedience to God -- and then justifying their action, not to tesify, speak in the name of the Lord, or claim to be a "Christian." The reason should be apparent from what these texts have stated.
The only exception to this rule is when the authorities require us to violate the commandments and will of the Lord. That, to my understanding, is the only exception for "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
in the group I meet with on Saturday morning took issue with the fact that as
believers, they are a part of the same kingdom as the powers of darkness if in
fact believers and unbelievers are all a part of the Kingdom of God. Their
thinking, as was mine until I read your devotion, was locked in to thinking
there were only two kingdoms, a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of light. I
believe their thinking was that the kingdom of God and the kingdom which will
only include Jesus and his followers were synonymous. I believe you are saying
that is not true. Is that right?
Any additional scripture references and commentary that would support your position that even the forces of evil are a part of the kingdom of God would be appreciated.
Both views are right -- there are two kingdoms, and we can only be part of one of them. It is also true that both of these kingdoms are under God, and "His kingdom ruleth over all" (Psa 103:19). He is the "King over all the earth" (Psa 47:2). When it comes down to the bottom line, Jesus taught us to pray, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (Matt 6:13).
Jesus said the Kingdom of God was like a man who cast a net into the sea. That net gathered all manner of fish -- some of which were ultimately discarded. He said this was like "the end of the world" when the angels would "sever the wicked from among the just." His point is that both of them were in God's kingdom (from the higher view), just as the good and bad fish were in the same net (Matt 13:47-50). The parable of the tares of the field taught the same thing. There was a single field in which both tares and wheat were sown and grew. Ultimately that field was purged of the tares -- or, the kingdom will have the wicked removed from it (Matt 13:40-43).
The "kingdom" into which believers have been translated is "the kingdom of God's dear Son" (Col 1:13). It is not the only domain over which Jesus presides, for "angels and authorities and powers have been made subject to Him (1 Pet 3:22), and "all power is given: to Him "in heaven and on earth" (Matt 28:18). His kingdom, however, is the domain in which He is giving eternal life to as many as have been given unto Him (John 17:2). It is the domain in which salvation is being ministered and administered. For that to be effectively done, however, and in a higher sense, the adversarial powers are also subject to Him, else they would do us in.
Technically, we are part of "the Kingdom of God;s dear Son," having been delivered from the domain of darkness.
we fail to arise to walk in newness of life ,,, Life in tune with the Spirit,
immersion in water has no meaning. If we do not die to sin, we cannot Live.
Those who do walk in newness of life have not been "baptized." They have not been put into Christ's death, and thus have not shared in His resurrection. Real baptism is "into Christ," AND "into His death" (Rom 6:3). We have been planted, or united, with Christ in the "likeness of His death," and that was followed by being "in the likeness of His resurrection." The "likeness" of Romans 6:5 is the "form of the doctrine" of Romans 6:17. It is baptism -- a baptism that is observable and marked by a specific time. There can be no question that this is when we "obeyed" -- as "obeyed the form of the doctrine." This was done, as Peter commanded, in "water" (Acts 10:48). In His Epistle, Peter associated baptism with "water" (1 Pet 3:21), and we should not hesitate to do so.
Expressions like "wet baptism" and "dry baptism" do not deliver the message God is sending. For that reason, it is not wise to use them. Further, to limit baptism to some type of unseen spiritual experience moves it into the area of uncertainty. The teaching of Scripture provides for great confidence in those who have been baptized into Christ -- that God was active at that time, putting them into Christ's death, and into Christ's resurrected life as well. Colossians refers to this as having "faith in the operation, or working, of God" (Col 2:12).
I know you do not question the validity of baptism in water. You must also be assured that when such obedience is accompanied by faith, God will put the person into the death of Jesus, then raise them to walk in newness of life, for God does raise the dead. If that newness of life is missing, the reason is the person was not baptized into Christ's death. If that was not the case, they did not believe, regardless of any profession to the contrary.
Romans 6:23 declares the wages of sin is death. What
is the Old Testament equivalent to this? Where in the OT is the idea that death
comes because of sin, and after death comes judgment?
Prior to Christ, there was little exposition of the truth that death proceeds from sin. It was revealed in embryo when the Lord told Adam, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen 2:17). Also, the consignment of humanity to "return" to dust implied this association (Gen 3:19). Isaiah suggested death would result from sin -- a death from a special judgment (Isa 3:11). Ezekiel associated death with sin (Ezek 18:4,20).
The law frequently connected sin with death ("worthy of death"), but it was in the sense of a judgment carried out by men (Deut 17:6; 19:6; 21:22; 22:26). Infractions of the Law were often met with the demand that the infractor be "put to death" (Ex 21;12,15,16,17,20, etc.). However in all of these judgments, the depth of sin itself was never expounded. Nor, indeed, was the fact of separation from God, together with its implications, clearly comprehended. People were told their sin separated them from God (Isa 59:2), but the eternal ramifications of that were rather hazy, to say the least.
The same is true of judgment. Solomon said some things about judgment (Eccl 11:9; 12:14), but it is nothing to compare with the light shed on the subject after the enthronement of Jesus. Holy men knew the Lord would "judge the earth" (1 Chron 16:33), but associated it more with what we might call temporal judgments. In very spiritually primitive times, Job sensed the fact of a coming judgment (Job 14:17; 21:30). David affirmed God's throne was established for judgment (Psa 9:7). He knew that when the Lord confronted humanity, there would be judgment (Psa 50:3). However, God simply did not reveal much on these matters prior to Christ's triumph over the devil and removal of sin. Generally, judgment was viewed as the punishment of the wicked, and the revelation of secret matters.
As your study will confirm, there was not much revealed about the nature of sin, death, and judgment prior to Christ. The fact that "life and immortality" are brought to light through the Gospel (2 Tim 1:10) sheds more illumination on these subject than was ever known before. This circumstance has proved to be an area of confusion in the Christian community. Quite frequently men will go to Job, David, and Solomon for expositions of sin, death, judgment, and other matters relating to what occurs after death. In this, they make a tragic mistake, for God simply did not expound these matters prior to Jesus taking away the sins of the world. That is why Solomon despaired when he spoke of death, seeing it as an intrusion that made life vain.
Can you imagine Paul saying, ""Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Eccl 1:2; 12:8). He said, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). The difference of perspective is owing to the greater light that has now been shed on these matters.
For example, Paul's delineation of sin and death in Romans 5:12-21 has no parallel in Moses and the Prophets. It is true that once we are acquainted with his greater insight, we can perceive more clearly some of the introductory statements made by Moses and the prophets. However, without that greater light, little understanding can be derived from their writings. There simply are no Old Testament statements that equate with those Apostolic statements. Older statements were introductory, and the others are an exposition.
should be the percentage of unbelievers who come to an assembly of believers and
the maturity (spiritual, not chronological) of the believers? If a mature
church in the United States went 2 years without seeing an unbeliever in the
assembly, would there be any reason for concern or alarm?
The answer to your question is "NO." That is a relationship, or quotient, that has been established by men, not God. What if you are speaking of an underground church in China, or a cluster like the prophets Obadiah hid in two groups of fifty? What if you are speaking about a church located where "Satan's seat" is? Not to mention that we are never presented with this scenario in the book of Acts, where the actual growth of the church is traced, or the Epistles, that are directed to churches.
Second, it presupposes that spiritual maturity would fail to accomplish "seeing an unbeliever in the assembly." Are you suggesting that such a thing is possible. Is it really possible for a person or group of persons to grow up into Christ in all things without it being detected? Is it possible to be "filled with all the fulness of God," and yet it have no impact upon those around us? Can such a people really keep their mouth shut, or have no desire for the lost to be sought, found, and saved? Is that really possible? Emphatically, it is not! Maturity is infinitely more than knowing the skeletal facts of the Kingdom, and having a cursory knowledge of the Bible. It involves a fundamental change in the character and disposition of the people. It involves Christ being formed in them, so that they are more like Jesus than like Adam. That kind of light cannot be hid -- it cannot! However, institutional light is easily hidden, because it really is no different from the rest of the world.
This issue is only raised because of the present condition of the churches. It is the only reason men like Rick Warren have been able to hawk methods and techniques. However noble their purpose may be, there are massive groups of believers around the world to which their writings do not have the slightest application. There are literally millions of people outside of the USA who are dying for their faith, having their buildings burned, and their property confiscated because their faith is so glaringly evident. Rick Warren's book, and others like it, would be used to light their fires, as they are huddled in holy clusters away from their persecutors. This is because it does not deal with the core issues that are addressed in Christ Jesus.
Jesus told his first disciples that if they followed
him he would make them fishers of men. Surely those who still seek to follow
him will learn to be fishers of men. Will that learning merely be by osmosis
without any intention? Do we ever look at Jesus' life to learn how he
approached people. Why did people frequently ask him spiritual questions? (How
can a man be born when he is old? Why are you, a Jew, speaking to a Samaritan
woman? Where do you get living water? What must I do to inherit eternal life?
What is the greatest commandment in the law?) How often do unbelievers ask the
average Christian spiritual questions? How often do unbelievers ask Christians
for a reason of the hope within them? I don't know about you, but I would like
to live, converse, or relate with unbelievers in such a way that they asked me
You have struck on the heart of the matter. First, Jesus' disciples did not ask him how to catch men. Jesus said He would MAKE them fishers of men. That was the consequence of walking with Him -- and we too have been "called into the fellowship" of Christ (1 Cor 1:9).
Second, people came to Jesus, inquiring concerning eternal life, the great commandment, etc., because they saw something refreshingly different in Him. His teaching was not like that of the Scribes. At that time, they did did not ask His disciples such questions. When, however, the Lord Jesus was enthroned, the eyes of their understanding were opened, and the Lord was fully with them, it was quite a different story.
Believers are told to be "ready" to give an answer to anyone asking for a reason for their hope. The postulate is that spiritual life -- real spiritual life -- will compel such inquiries. That is precisely why the body of Christ is to be built up, brought to maturity, and filled with "all the fulness of God." If this does, in fact, occur, God will take it from there, and growth, productivity, and powerful influence WlLL be exerted. That is the nature of spiritual life. That is what Jesus does when He dwells within a person. That is what the Spirit does when He is not quenched.
Anyone with an honest and good heart shares your concern for the failure of the professing church to expand. That failure, however, is not owing to it not adopting a proper method of expansion. Neither, indeed, is it because the people are not being taught HOW to expand -- because not even the Head of the church provides such instructions. The condition we face is that of a lifeless church. On the one extreme, it is like Ephesus, who was punctilius in determining who was right and who was wrong, but had left its first love. On the other extreme, it is like Laodicea, who itself was nosiating to Jesus, and about to be thrust from His presence.
The biggest mission field that faces God's servants is the church itself. For the most part, in our Western world, it is a powerless behemoth lumbering through soceity without drawing the slightest attention to the Lord of glory. Once it is awakened, strengthened, and has heaven in its eye, something of great consequence will occur within society. Until that takes place, we are shut up to reading books and simulating church growth.
you believe that it is possible for us to be so in tune with Jesus, so on fire
for Him, so in love with Him and the life He gives to us, that we could go a
whole 24 hour day WITHOUT sin? I'm not talking about being under anesthetic or
being asleep either!!! I'm talking about living, talking, mingling, serving,
enjoying life in a sinless state for 24 hours!!!
Sin is not approached in this manner in Scripture. We are admonished to "sin not," and told that we are not debtors "to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (Rom 8:12). The scope of sin, however, involves infinitely more than things we do. There is "the law of sin and death" that is inherent in our earthly constitution (Rom 8:2). There is the "old man" who is to be "put off" (Eph 4:22). There is the "thought of foolishness" that is sin (Prov 24:9). There is "not knowing" what we should pray for "as we OUGHT" (Rom 8:26). There is the matter of ignorance, which alienates us from the life of God (Eph 4:18). There is the matter of our "vile body," also referred to as "the body of this death," which itself is summarily excluded from the Kingdom of heaven (Phil 3:21; Rom 7:24; 1 Cor 15:50). There is the fact that we often have to be told what to do (Luke 17:10). There is not thinking like God (Isa 55:8). There is being "dull of hearing" (Heb 5:11), wounding the conscience of a weak brother (1 Cor 8:12), not becoming teachers after due time (Heb 5:12), being lukewarm (Rev 3:16) -- and a host of other things.
It may be conceivable that a person could live without sinning within a 24 hour period -- IF we narrow our concept of sin, and make allowance for weakness, doubt, and the likes. But even then, we would only be speculating. Should such a thing be possible, we would not require a Savior for those 24 hours, and no Intercessor.
That sinless 24 hour state necessarily postulates that during that time we saw everything with perfect clarity, overlooked nothing, perfectly resisted every temptation, saw every Satanic device, with absolute perfection controlled all of our thoughts, fulfilled every opportunity set before us . . . etc.
It would mean that for 24 hours we were fully conformed to the image of God's Son, completely and thoroughly thought like God, our ways were completely like God's, we were "already perfect," had fully "apprehended" that for which we have been apprehended, and could say to John the Beloved, "I have no sin."
Will those who have accomplished such things please step forward. And if any do, in fact, step forward, what shall we say is their accomplishment? What will happen that achievement after the next 24 hours? Is there some special recognition of a 24 hour flawless life that is affirmed by God Himself? Has He declared this to be an achievable goal for any of His children. Is this how He has reasoned with us?
For starters, I suggest we cut the time down to one minute. And let only those who are acutely aware ofd the Lord, with a full and thorough comprehension of God's nature and requirements, and who are in perfect synch with His thoughts and ways, make the assessment.
Far better to speak of sin precisely like the Spirit does. "Sin not," "resist the devil," "strive for perfection," "put on the whole armor of God," "reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin," etc. Let us affirm we are not debtors to the flesh, and that there is grace to help in the time of need. At the end of the day -- whatever day it is -- if you have no need for forgiveness, log it down as a monumental accomplishment. But candidly, I do not think such a think such an imagined achievement will be logged in the heavenly record.
would be your approach to witness to this 88 yr. old that has lost all hope as
her body and her life now seems to be gone? I pray each day before I go over to
I would ask her if she has thought about life after death -- about standing before the Lord, and the possibility of appearing there "faultless" and with great joy (Jude 1:24-25). Assure her that the Lord has made provision for that to take place, and that it is within her reach. Ask her if she has ever thought about "heaven," and what her thoughts are. If she is willing, let her do some talking. There is a hope of life in "the world to come." That is what she needs to hear.
The preeminent question, of, course, pertains to Christ. Have her tell you what she thinks of Christ, and whose Son He is. You can take it from there.
causes someone to stay with a carnal mind. What makes someone love the Word
beyond this world.
They are subjecting themselves to worldly influences. These may not be immoral influences, but they are influences in which God is not the most prominent one. The "carnal mind" is the mind that is not set on the things of God, as admonished in Colossians 3:1-2. The carnal mind is fed, just like the body. When you give it things it likes, it becomes robust and dominating. When you refuse to do so, it grows weak and can be overcome.
The thing that enables a person to love the Word of God more than this world is spending quality time in it. When this is done with the heart and sincerely, God will provide an appetite for the Word. We "live by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). That is because the Lord works in us through the word. It is then that it will dwell in us richly. Faith comes from our exposure to the Word (Rom 10:17), and it comes from God (Eph 6:23).
do you do if you feel inadequate for the task you have been given by God and God
will not give you more details about it.
You ask the Lord to search you, see if there is any wicked way in you, and lead you in the way everlasting -- just like David did (Psa 139:23).
Another secret to success in this area is to simply exert yourself by faith to do what God requires. It will be like a lame man picking up his bed and walking (John 5:8-9) -- or a dead man coming out of the tomb like Lazarus (John 11:43-44) -- or a man with a withered hand stretching it out (Matt 12:13). It will be impossible from the human point of view -- but there is another view that takes God Almighty into consideration. When you do this, the Lord will give you the power to accomplish what He has said. The ability does not come, however, until you believe God enough to attempt to do what He has required.
do you deal with a spirit of casualness?
This is something to be put to death by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:13). It is done by suffocating the spirit of casualness -- devoting your life to things where casualness cannot survive. Faith and prayer are essential to this whole process. They are both called into action when you determine, by God's grace, to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12). God will work under these circumstances, helping the individual to rid himself of the spirit of casualness. It will not volunteer to go away.
can help to poor people?
First, you must have a real desire to help poor people. When this desire is present, and to the best of your ability, you help the poor by providing the needs they cannot supply themselves. In matters of the heart, this can include encouragement in the Lord, exposure to the Word of God, and offering to take them to a place where they can be spiritually fed. In outward matters, the three areas of need are food, clothing, and shelter. You simply do what you are able to do in these areas. God will; then work with what you do.
are five places in the Bible where God showed himself?
God appeared in various forms more than five times. The following is a lsiting of twenty-five times God showed Himself. This is not a complete listing.
To Adam -- Genesis 3:8-21
To Abraham -- Genesis 12:7-; 17:1-2; 18:2-33;
To Isaac (Twice) -- Genesis 26:1-5; 26:24
To Jacob at Bethel (twice) -- Gen 35:7,9
To Moses at the burning bush -- Gen 3:2-4:20
To Moses at SInai (twice) -- Exodus 19:16-24; 33:18-34:6
To Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel -- Exodus 24:9-10
To Moses and Joshua -- Deuteronomy 31:14-21
To Israel (six times) -- Exodus 16:10; Leviticus 9:23;/. Numbers 14:10-12; 16:26; 16:42; 20:6
To Gideon -- Judges 6:14-18
To Samuel -- 1 Samuel 3:21
To David -- 2 Chron 3:1
To Solomon (two times) -- 1 Kings 3:5; 9:2
To Isaiah -- Isaiah 6:1-5
To Ezekiel -- Ezekiel 1:1,26-28;
And most fully in Christ Jesus -- Matthew 1:23
faith in Christ is necessary for Salvation, and Abraham had only faith in God.
How was he saved?
It is true that Abraham had "faith in God." I am not sure it is technically proper to say "had ONLY faith in God." I believe I know what you mean, but am persuaded it may lead some to believe Abraham in no way believed in Christ. Faith is also said to be "faith in His name" (Acts 3:16) and "faith in His (Christ's) blood" (Rom 3:25). That is to say, Gods considers faith in Himself to include a persuasion of the truth of all He has said and done.
Abraham's faith in God moved him to rest implicitly upon His promise, which particularly referred to the Lord Jesus. As it is written, "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ" (Gal 3:16, NASB).
Jesus Himself clarified that Abraham did, in fact, associate the promise of God with the Messiah. The details of the coming "Seed" were not spelled out to Abraham, but enough was said to move Abraham's faith within the large circumference of Divine promise. Jesus said to those claiming Abraham was their progenitor, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8:56). That is, while Abraham remained in the body, his faith reached forward in anticipation of the One through whom the human dilemma would be rectified. Following his departure from the arena of flesh and blood, he came more fully into the blessedness of that perception. "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56, NIV).
Prior to the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, the promises of God were focused upon the coming Savior, who was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Pet 1:20). Referring to the Scriptures themselves, Jesus said they were a resounding testimony of Himself. "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). Peter said that the sum and substance of the writings of the prophets was "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet 1:10-11).
This circumstance moved God to consider those who have faith in Himself, to also have had faith in Christ, of whom God had spoken. Their faith was vindicated when the blood of Christ reached backward covering prior transgressions (Heb 9:15), and fulfilling the declared blessedness of the forgiveness of sins (Psa 32:1-2).
While this is a technical point, the Spirit is very precise in the way in which He refers to Abraham. He does say Abraham was "saved," although that certainly is the truth of the matter. He rather says, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness" (Gen 15:6). There can be no question but that this circumstance takes Jesus in consideration, for it is adduced as an example of those to whom righteousness is imputed in Christ Jesus (Rom 4:3-4,9, 20-25; Gal 3:6-14; James 2:23).
If Jesus Christ had not come, Abraham's faith, together with all of the other patriarchs, would have been in vain. God viewed their faith in prospect of the Lord Jesus Christ, even though their understanding of the Savior was at a much lower level. Abraham was, in fact, justified through means of his faith in the coming Messiah.
Thayer is a bit of an art - an art that I have not even approached mastering.
He (Thayer) defines the word _paramuthian_ (3889; see I Corinthians 14:3) as
being any address or spoken word delivered for the purpose of arousing,
stimulating, calming or consoling the hearer. As I ruminate on that, especially
in comparison to its parallel words _oikodomen_ and _paraklesin_, _paramuthian_
sounds to me like "a word fitly spoken." In other words (qb's, to be more
precise), a word delivered at just the right time with just the needed effect on
emotional or spiritual state of the hearer. I would be interested to hear how you would describe this particular aspect of (what is in the context of I Corinthians 14) a primary component of the prophetic gift.
The prophetic gift involves more than words. We are told that the kingdom of God does not consist of words, or talk, but "of power" (1 Cor 4:20). The person who prophesies speaks with an intention: TO edify, exhort, and comfort. Each of these have a certain effect upon the people of God -- and the effects are the Divine objective.
Edification strengthens the individual, making more stable and solid, and able to stand. It lends itself to spiritual maturity. Exhortation moves the individual into action, constraining those who receive it to leave the plains of idleness and slothfulness, making proper adjustments in their lives. Their feet are thus directed into proper paths.
Comfort, or consolation, is to the soul what the calming of the turbulent sea was to the disciples. It is like clearing the fog from a window, so that things be more clearly seen. The person who is comforted begins to see things from a heavenly perspective, and is no longer confused by circumstances. Elisha's servant was comforted when his eyes were opened and he saw the Syrians surrounded by a mountain full of horses and chariots of fire "all around Elisha" (2 Kgs 6:17). Comfort is to spiritual life what the focusing ring is on an SLR camera.
Comfort soothes the wounds of battle, enabling a person to get up after being knocked down (2 Cor 4:9; Prov 24:16). Thus Paul was comforted by the coming of Titus, who brought him a timely word concerning the Corinthians (2 Cor 7:6). God, after all, is said to comfort those who "are cast down" (2 Cor 7:6).
Comfort is realized when words are spoken that provide a Divine perspective of otherwise troubling circumstances. It delivers in words what is elsewhere affirmed: "He cares for you" (1 Pet 5:7). It is the heavenly elixir through which recovery is realized, whether from the weariness of battle (2 Cor 1:8), or from debilitating sin (2 Cor 2:7). It awakens that indispensable hope, by which we are saved (Rom 8:24).
There is something else to be seen in this matter. Prophecy is a gift from God, which means He has a heart to encourage His people, enabling them to gain a proper perspective of the things they confront. He moves godly men to do this by speaking in concert with heaven. God is greatly to be praised for such a precious provision!
people just placed into preaching positions? Do they experiment at it to see if
they are supposed to preach? I have asked preachers (or at least people who
called themselves preachers) how they knew that they were called to preach only
to be told by all of them, " If you have been called you will know it." Well, I
can tell you this, I'm sure that, by hearing their preaching, most of those who
told me that, if they were called to preach, were not called to preach by God
because what came out of their mouths was not the Word of God.
Preachers are "sent" by God, which is the point of Romans 10:14-15. God "sent" the deliverer Moses, the captain Joshua, the Judges, the proper kings, the Prophets, and all of the Apostles. It is the Lord who maintains the administration of the church and all of its various functions, as declared in First Corinthians 12:2-7.
There is no revealed means by which men can know they are called to preach. I also have heard men who say they were "called" to preach, who were obviously mistaken in their assessment of the situation. Their claim is something like one farmer who boasted he was "called to preach." After hearing one of his dissertations, a certain listener began to doubt he was really "called." When he asked the self-proclaimed preacher how he was called, the man replied that one day when he was plowing in the field, he saw the letters "GPC" emblazoned in the sky. "Immediately," he said, "I knew what the letters meant: "Go Preach Christ." The listener responded that after hearing him preach, he felt he had misinterpreted the "call." He suggested to the "preacher" that the letters more probably meant "Go Plow Corn."
I have pondered this matter much, and offer the following as my own persuasion concerning being "called to preach." There are, in my judgment, three requisites that must be found within the perimeter of such a call.
1. The man must have something to say.
2. He must perceive a need for this to be said, and have a burning desire to declare it.
3. There must be an opportunity for him to declare the message, or "preach."
If these three do not come together, I doubt that a genuine "call" has been experienced. If, for example, the person has something to say, yet does not want to say it, and is provided with no opportunity to say it, then he has not been called. On the other hand, if he has a desire to say something, but really has nothing to say, and even an opportunity to speak, a call has not been realized.
One might cite the case of Jonah, who was given a message, had the opportunity, yet did not want to speak. It ought to be noted that until he did want to speak the message, he did not come into the city. Those three factors had to come together.
I do not believe it is proper for any person to spend a lot of time wondering if he has been called to preach. He ought to get up close to Christ, ingest the truth of God, walk in the Spirit, and live by faith. In that posture, if a call is issued from the Throne for him to preach, he will have something to say, will want to say it, and an open door will be realized.
is the meaning of the 7 churches of Revelation?
The seven churches in Revelation were very real churches in Asia Minor. It is my understanding that in these churches nearly every possible condition of the churches is found. Some have felt they also represent successive ages. That view, however, is not supported by the text.
The manner in which Jesus speaks to these churches is an index on the way in which He assesses the churches. To each of them Jesus revealed as aspect of His own nature (2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14). He gave a personal diagnosis of each church (2:2-4,6, 2:9; 2:13; 2:19-23; 3:1,4a; 3:8-10; 3:14-17). Each church was exhorted to do something (2:5; 2:10; 2:16; 2:24-25; 3:3; 3:11; 3:18-19). Jesus gave a blessed promise to each one of them (2:7; 2:10-11; 2:18; 2:24,26-28; 3:4-5; 3:9,12; 3:20-21). Anyone with a capacity to hear the things of God is admonished to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (2:7; 2:11; 1:17; 2:29; 3:6;3:13; 3:22).
You will find enough in those views to keep you busy, keep you on your spiritual toes, and expand your own understanding of life in Christ Jesus.
is our purpose on this earth?
It depends upon how you view the matter. From one perspective, God has made some to serve honorable purposes (like Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:5), and some for dishonorable purposes (like Pharaoh, Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17) -- Rom 9:22-23. God raised some up to be prophets (Amos 2:11). He raised up Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean to punish wayward Israel (Jeremiah 21:7; 25:9). He raised up Cyrus the Persian to lead Israel in the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 1:2-4). He raised up Paul to deliver the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21; Galatians 1:15-16). To summarize this view, God made man to serve Him, and bring Him glory -- either willingly or unwillingly.
From a more general view, God made man to be the head over His creation (Genesis 1:26). Even though that purpose was tragically effected by man's sin, it is still the objective of God, and will be realized by those who are in Christ Jesus. They will "inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). At this present time, and in a guarantee for all those who are in Christ Jesus, "the Man Christ Jesus" is presently governing the world (Hebrews 2:5-9). Those who are joined to the Lord here, and suffer with Him, are promised they will reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12).
For those in Christ Jesus, the true purpose of God is beginning to be realized. It is stated in this way, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should BRING FORTH FRUIT UNTO GOD" (Romans 7:4).
Stated succinctly, God made man for Himself and for His glory. In this world, and through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, He is preparing them for the time when the present heavens and earth will pass away (2 Peter 3:10-12). It is then that the real purpose will be realized, and we will be with the Lord forever. From God's viewpoint, our purpose on this earth is to prepare us for that time. From our viewpoint, our purpose is to prepare ourselves for that time by living by faith and walking in the Spirit.
an individual needs to repent of something and they are well aware of this need,
but are just absolutely unwilling to do so, how do they initiate repentance?
In faith, you must rely upon Jesus Christ. You are not capable of repentance "intellectually" -- at least not the repentance that is "unto life" (Acts 11:18). Christ has been exalted "to give repentance" (Acts 5:31). He can turn the heart away from one's iniquities (Acts 3:26). God grants, or gives, repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25). Those are the facts in the case. At some point, you must turn your reasoning from the necessity of repentance to the glorious possibility of repentance -- else you will despair.
While Paul was possibly describing another situation -- the unwilling entrance of evil thoughts -- he did precisely describe your situation in the words: "For I have the desire to do what is good, but cannot carry it out" (Rom 7:18).
Your desire to repent is an honorable one -- honorable before God. You must not regard it as though it was of nominal value. Your desire to repent is like the desire of the lame man by the pool of Bethesda. Jesus walked past multitudes of impotent people and addressed him face-to-face. "Do you WANT to be made well?" The man replied that he did not have anyone to assist him. To him becoming "well" appeared nearly hopeless. Jesus said to him, "Take up your bed and walk." This man had nothing to recommend him but a desire, and when that desire came to its zenith at the words of Jesus, "immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked" (John 5:7-9). In other words, when he exerted his will at the word of Jesus, he received the power to do what Jesus said. Had he asked someone to take him home to think about the matter, he would have remained impotent.
Capitalize upon your desire, not what you think of that desire. The Lord has already revealed His desire that you repent. Jesus has been already exalted to ensure that you can repent. If you can see it, Jesus has stacked the circumstances, so to speak, in favor of your repentance. Taking that desire, you can let your request be made known to God, as specified in Philippians 4:6. There are words in Scripture that precisely state what you desire: "turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the LORD my God" (Jer 31:18). Other versions read, "Restore me, and I will return." David cried out, "renew a right spirit within me" (Psa 51:10).
Do not think for one moment that God will ignore the desires of your heart. He has given His Son to ensure the road to Himself is cleared of any obstacles.
asked me, "If God presides over nature, just what are "natural events." Are
these some aspects of "nature" that are not governed by God?" I guess it depends
on your view of how God works in the world. The Bible points out many times how
God intervene's on Man's behalf in ways that surprise people. I see this as a
miracle. It certainly can be considered a miracle that the universe exists, but
with the precision that God gave it, the universe runs very well without
constant prodding. Natural events would be those that happen without the direct
intervening of God. Most storms, for instance.
God not only intervenes, He maintains and governs -- particularly through Jesus: "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Heb 1:3), and "in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:17). The universe is not running on automatic pilot, or by independent "laws of nature." That is a wholly erroneous postulate, and we do well to throw it in the theological garbage can where it belongs.
The Psalmist knew "the voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve" (Psa 29:9), and that all the brute creation is waiting on the Lord to feed them (Psa 104:27-28). Jesus said the fowls of the air were fed by the Father (Matt 6:26), and that He "clothes the grass of the field" (Matt 6:30). Our Lord also said a single sparrow "will not fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father" (Matt 10:29). The notion that anything in the creation occurs independently of God could not possibly be more wrong. If that is really how you view God's "works in the world," then you need to quickly abandon that idea. It borders on blasphemy, and sharply contrasts with particular revelation.
is generally accepted by most if not by all scientists and informed laypersons
that weather is a function of nature. Using the laws of nature, weather
patterns, including storms, can be forecast with significant short-term
There are at least nine references in Job to the Lord's involvement with "nature."
1. He Wraps waters in the clouds -- Job 26:8
2. He Imparts weight to wind, and metes the waters by measure -- Job 28:25
3. He Sets a limit for the rain and a course for the thunderbolt -- Job 28:26
4. He Draws up drops of water which distill as rain from mist -- Job 36:27
5. He Commands lightning to strike its mark -- Job 36:32
6. He Says to the snow, the gentle rain, and the heavy rain, "Fall on the earth" -- Job 37:6
7. He Saturates thick clouds with moisture and disperses clouds -- Job 37:11
8. The clouds are swirled about and guided by Him that they may do whatever He commands on the face of the whole earth -- Job 37:12
9. He Quiets the earth by the South wind -- Job 37:17
The Psalms also speak of the Lord's association with "nature."
1. "The voice of the Lord" is connected with the waters, trees, animals, fire, the wilderness, reproduction in the brute creation, and the flood -- Psa 29:3-10.
2. The Lord is also depicted as visiting the earth, and watering it -- Psa 65:9-12
3. The clouds are His chariot and He walks on the wind -- Psa 104:3
4. Thunder belongs to Him -- Psa 104:7
5. The hills are watered from His chambers -- Psa 104:13
6. Animals seek their food from God -- Psa 104:21
7. He prepares rain for the earth and makes grass to grow on the mountains -- Psa 147:8
8. Fire, hail, snow, clouds, and the stormy wind fulfill His word -- Psa 148:7
The Prophets join in the testimony.
1. God commands the clouds not to rain on certain places -- Isa 5:6
2. His voice produces a multitude of waters in the heavens, He causes vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth, He makes lightning for the rain, and brings the wind out of His treasuries -- Jer 10:13; 51:16.
3. He withholds rain, causes it to rain and one city and not on another, and on one piece of ground and not upon another -- Amos 4:7
4. He calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the earth -- Amos 9:6
5. He has His way in the whirlwind and the storm -- Nah 1:3
God's book does have some statements on meteorology. It not only makes for good reading, it helps to adjust the focus of our thinking so we can speak correctly and unto edifying on these more mundane subjects.
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