Friday, May 18, 2012

Bible Truth #381 - Mark 4:10-12

Mark 4:10-12 (NASB)
10  As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables.
11  And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,
12  so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.”

Jesus had just finished teaching the crowd the parable of the Sower and after the crowds had left Him, the apostles and some other followers asked him about the parable. Jesus’ reply is profound. He told them that the mystery of the Kingdom of God had been given to them, but NOT to those who are outside.

This is the same parable and apostles’ and disciples’ response recorded in Matthew 13:10-11 with at least one BIG difference. In Matthew His Word is recorded that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven is given to “you” (the apostles and disciples) but it is not given to them. Here in the Gospel of Mark Jesus better identifies who “them” are. He said, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,...”

Those who are outside? Who is Jesus talking about?

It is patently obvious that if there are those on the outside there are those on the inside. The apostles and disciples (other followers in addition to the apostles) who asked Him the question about the meaning of the parable are those on the inside and the mystery of the Kingdom of God has been given to them, which includes understanding. The rest who are inside is everyone chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). These are God’s Elect. These are they to whom God will issue a call to salvation, and everyone God calls, He will justify and glorify (Romans 8:29-30). Since these who have been chosen have already been given to Christ, they shall come to Christ (John 6:37). The Father will draw them and those the Father draws, Jesus will raise up (John 6:44). God does not draw each and every man who ever lived or will live, nor are all men called (1 Corinthians 1:26).

Those “who are outside” as Christ has identified, will hear only the parables but will never understand. The mystery of the kingdom of God must be given to a man, he will never figure it out on his own. He is unable because it is a spiritual truth, and since his spirit is dead (Ephesians 2:1, 2:5; Colossians 2:13) he will never understand, nor accept anything from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). Whatever he hears with his physical ears will always be foolishness to him. He has been blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Jesus went on to quote Isaiah 6:10 thus proving that He was fulfilling prophesy by not opening their eyes and ears by quickening their spirits. It was clearly God’s intention that “those who are outside” see the Christ but not perceive, and hear the truth but not understand, otherwise they would return and be forgiven, and God had no plan or intention to forgive them! Why? Because they were not chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). God loves only His Elect and we are the only ones He has forgiven. Those who are outside” reject the Son and will not see life because God’s wrath remains on them (John 3:36).

We become children of God not by human decision (John 1:13).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bible Truth #380 - 1 Timothy 1:12-17

12  I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.
13  Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
14  The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
16  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
17  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Let me begin on this passage by pointing out in verse 12 Paul writes that Jesus Christ appointed him into service. The Greek word that is translated into “appointing me” is tithemi. Every definition of that word has to do the One doing the “appointing” having complete control over the one being appointed. In this instance it is the Lord Who has complete control. In every other instance tithemi is used (103 other times) it speaks of the same usage.

Some examples: Neither do men light a candle, and put (tithemi) it under a bushel (Matthew 5:15); For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put (tithemi) him in prison (Matthew 14:3); Joseph of Arimethea took the body of Jesus and laid (tithemi) it in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:60). In each of these examples and every other usage of the word, the subject has complete control over the object.

Then notice in verse 15 that Paul wrote that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He did not write that Jesus came into the world to save every sinner, nor did He come into the world to save all sinners. Jesus came into the world to shed His blood and die for some sinners. And who would that be? Answer, those placed in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Jesus said as much during the Last Supper, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. (Mark 14:24)

Paul continued and wrote that he was shown mercy so that Christ could display His unlimited patience... For everyone? No! Paul was shown mercy so that Jesus might display His unlimited patience in Paul for those who would believe.

Now we get back to the old argument of who will believe unto salvation. God’s Word tells us only those in whom the Father works will believe (John 6:29; Philippians 1:29). But those who believe in decisional salvation say that a lost man has the capability to believe and can choose to do so. I refute that with passages like:

Genesis 6:5 - every imagination of the heart of an unregenerate man is only evil, continually.
Jeremiah 13:23 - as a black man can not change the color of his skin neither can an unregenerate man do good.
Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:
John 1:13 - we become children of God NOT by human decision.
John 3:20 - an unregenerate man hates Jesus and will NOT come unto Him.
Romans 3:10-12 - there are none righteous, none who understand, none who seek God, none who do good.
Romans 8:8 - anyone in the flesh (which is every lost man) can NOT please God, which includes believing and repenting.
1 Corinthians 15:2 - an unregenerate man can believe, but it's in vain.
2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5 - an unregenerate man is not saved because of anything he has done, like believe.

The bottom line is that a man does not become a Christian by choosing Christ, NO ONE chose or will choose Christ (John 15:16). God does the choosing and He did it long before anyone was born (Ephesians 1:4).

Bible Truth #379 - Luke 24:13-16

Luke 24:13-16
13  And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.
14  And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place.
15  While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.
16  But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.

All through the New Testament we see how God works in sovereignly bringing people to the Truth or preventing people from seeing or knowing the Truth. Jesus Himself said more than once that God has kept things hidden to some and revealed them to others (Matthew 11:25-27; Luke 10:21, Luke 10:22).

Elsewhere God opened doors and determined that Paul would preach freely in some locales like Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12) or when He prevented Paul from going into other areas to preach as what happened when he tried to go to the Province of Asia, Mysia, and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7). Not only does God save who He wants to save, He decided who will even have the opportunity to hear the Gospel because He determined the time and place for every man to live (Acts 17:26). Many have gone their entire lives without hearing the Gospel and it is because of when and where God determined their birth. Where is THEIR opportunity to be saved? Or where is the opportunity for infants or the mentally infirm to be saved? But I digress, that’s another topic (Bible Truth #319).

It is no different with the seed of the Gospel. Once the Gospel has been shared, once the seed has been sown, it is God Who causes it to grow, or not (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). God sovereignly works in the lives of those He chose to open their eyes when He quickens their dead spirit through faith, the faith that God gives (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8) as a gift. God simultaneously gives belief (John 6:29; Philippians 1:29), repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), and understanding (Luke 24:45, 1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Timothy 2:7). If God does not work in a man, His wrath remains on him. (John 3:18, John 3:36)

So it should be no surprise that these two disciples, maybe brothers since they were staying together and invited Jesus into their home to eat and spend the night, did not recognize Jesus because Jesus did not WANT to be recognized. That was His plan and no matter how much the disciples may have wanted to know it was Jesus talking to them, Jesus had other plans. And His plan will not be thwarted (Isaiah 14:27). Even though their eyes were opened so they recognized Jesus, it was just a short while later, after they returned to Jerusalem and found the 11 apostles and some others, that Jesus appeared to them again, and this time He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). None of the apostles or hundreds of disciples could understand the Law and the Prophets as it pertained to Jesus until that moment.

Not only can an unregenerate man not open his blind eyes and deaf ears, neither can a believer see or understand a truth unless God wants him to see or understand it. The centuries-old debate between Arminians and Calvinists are proof of that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bible Truth #378 - Acts 14:8-10

8  And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:
9  The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
10  Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

Where did this cripple get the faith Paul perceived he possessed? Do you think he generated it from his own will? The answer is no. Any kind of faith, whether faith to be healed or faith to be saved, is a gift from God (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8).

What was the difference between this man and many others present who were simply doing what they customarily did on the Sabbath? Answer - God was working in this man (John 6:29) and drawing him to the truth. And what does Jesus say about God drawing a man? “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44).

When reading that, please don’t stop the reading of that verse with the text before the semi-colon. Jesus continued and said, “...and I will raise him up on the last day.” There is no option and there is no availability of salvation; the Father draws, and those the Father draws, Jesus raises up. He doesn't raise up only those who accept, He raises each and every one the Father draws. Do you know why?  They have already been given to Jesus (John 6:37) and it happened before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

But the point of this Bible Truth is that the Holy Spirit showed Paul this man had the God-given faith to be healed. It was not self-generated, God gave it to him.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bible Truth #377 - Acts 13:36

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay;

Paul was preaching to the Jews and Gentiles in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch because he was asked to deliver a word of encouragement, so he did. Part of his message included that statement: after David had served God’s purpose he died. The same can be said not only of every King of Israel but of every man who ever lived or will live. God works out everything according to His purpose (Ephesians 1:11).

- God fulfills his purpose for me (Psalm 57:2, Psalm 138:8)
- God orders the steps of man (Proverbs 16:9)
- A man may think he makes plans but it’s God’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21)
- God directs our heart like a channel of water wherever He pleases. (Proverbs 21:1)
- Not only are our steps directed by the Lord, our very life is not our own, it’s God’s (Jeremiah 10:23)
- God, when speaking through Jeremiah to His CHOSEN people, and by application to His Elect, said that the thoughts He has toward us were of peace and not evil, to give us an EXPECTED END (Jeremiah 29:11)
- We become children of God NOT by human decision. (John 1:13)
- A man can’t even believe in Jesus Christ until God works in him and MAKES him believe (John 6:29)
- God is working in us to will and to do according to HIS good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)
- We were created for His good pleasure (Revelation 4:11)

The point is that our very existence is at God’s pleasure. He can do with us as He pleases, AND DOES.

As an addendum, it should be noted that Paul & Barnabas returned the following week and it is written that the whole city turned out to hear him, and all those appointed to eternal life, believed (Acts 13:48), and all those not appointed to eternal life, did not believe.

We become children of God NOT by human decision (John 1:13).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bible Truth #376 - Romans 6:1-4

1  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
2  May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
3  Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
4  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

We have been buried with him? Yes! Written in past tense. It has already been done. Paul was writing this of EVERY believer, including those who would be saved 100 years from the time he penned those words, or 2,000 years. It makes no difference how far into the future.

Well how can a man who is saved today be buried with Christ when Christ was buried in April of 32 AD? When Christ was raised from the dead, how can this saved man walk in newness of life when he hadn’t even yet been born? The answer is that man can do it because he was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Because he was chosen in Christ, when Christ was crucified and buried, also accomplished before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), he was in Christ, as ALL believers are.

Even as those who believe in a lost man’s ability to choose Christ say that God looked down through history, He looked down through the corridors of time and saw who would choose Christ and God then put those people in Christ, are they not admitting that God looked down through the corridors of time and saw who WOULDN’T choose Christ and DIDN’T put them in Christ? If a man wasn’t in Christ, then Jesus didn’t die to redeem him!

Do you believe the Bible, regardless what it says and that it has no error in it? Or do you believe the Bible ONLY when it’s plausible and logical? That it a very important issue. You may reply, “Why that’s silly for you to ask a question like that. You know good and well I believe the Bible regardless.” Well the only way you can find out if you really do believe the complete Word of God is by examining your reaction to that which goes against the the flesh, and goes against human emotion, and defies logical explanation. Will you say, “That makes no sense. Why would God tell a man to repent and believe if he couldn’t do it?” Or will you say, “I don’t understand it, but God’s Word says it and I accept it on faith and believe it.” That will tell you, and other believers, just how much faith God has given you (Romans 12:3).

The bottom line is that God chose a bride for His Son and put them in Christ before the foundation of the world. When Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world, we were in Him. That is why Paul can say that we HAVE BEEN baptized into His death and as Christ was raised from the dead, we also were raised and can walk in newness of life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bible Truth #375 - Genesis 4:1-7

1  And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2  And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3  And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5  But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6  And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Why was Able's sacrifice accepted and Cain's not? If God knew Cain's heart, why didn't He give Cain the same heart He gave Able? He could have but He didn’t. He gave both brothers the heart He intended to give them because God formed both of their hearts (Psalm 33:15). God turns hearts as He sees fit to accomplish His purpose (Psalm 57:2, Proverbs 21:1). God is the one Who, for some, takes out their heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). He gives His people a heart to know Him (Jeremiah 24:7) and fear Him for their own good and for the good of their children (Jeremiah 32:39). God opens some hearts and keeps other hearts closed (Acts 16:14). God turns hearts to hate His people, whether they be children of Israel or Christians (Psalm 105:25). And He does all of this while making men believe they have free will!.

But, why was Able’s sacrifice accepted and Cain’s not? Answer - it was God’s plan. It is an example to us of how to offer sacrifice and how to worship. Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground but Abel brought the firstlings (first born) of his flock. I am assuming that Cain did not bring some of the first fruits, he simply brought some of what was left over, or some of what he could “spare” as an offering. God hates that! He wants us to bring the best we have, the first fruits.

Some also say that Cain’s sacrifice was not a blood offering and that is why God did not respect it. Others may say, “Well how was he supposed to get a blood offering?” He was a farmer and didn’t have livestock.” Maybe there was a problem with his willingness to trade or barter with Abel. Maybe it’s possible that in his greed he did not want to give Abel a fair trade and decided to give God what he thought was fair. The bottom line is that there was a problem with his heart because God left him alone in his depravity where he gave Abel a heart to please Him.

Just a reminder here that man in his fallen nature has only evil desires and thoughts emanating from his heart (Genesis 6:5) and hates God (John 3:20) - this is the Totally Depraved nature of man. If God simply leaves man alone, he will be like Cain. It is God’s work in a man that must take place before man will do anything “good” and pleasing to God (John 6:29, Romans 8:8).

But I wrote that the story of Cain and Abel was an example to us of how to offer sacrifice and how to worship. Do I really think it’s possible Cain and Abel were purely for an example to us. Yes, and if it was it wasn’t the last time. Remember all the stories and teaching that came from the Exodus of the nation of Israel out of Egypt and their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. God tells us twice that all these things happened to them as examples for us (1 Corinthians 10:1-11), not simply to teach them but to teach us. Everything that occurred fell out upon them by design, caused by a force other than themselves - orchestrated, planned, brought about.

The story of Cain and Abel is an example of what pleases God and what does not. He wants our obedience, not sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). When we obey, our bodies become living sacrifices and this is what God wants from us (Romans 12:1).