Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hate Week Essay #3: The World will hate you

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

The kind of hate we discussed on Monday was the kind of righteous holy hate that God has against sin, divorce, lying, and the 6 other things the Proverbs listed. On Tuesday I followed that up with looking at our hate against those things that God hates, which, mirroring our God, is also a righteous hate (hopefully).

But the world's hate comes from a completely different fountain. It comes from satan's river of hate, and the world not only drinks from that fountain, but is immersed and submerged in it.

For what reason does the world hate Jesus? He explained that in John 7:7b

but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.

The Gospel is a command. It is a command for repentance and to obedience to God. People are commanded to repent because, as the other part of the Gospel so clearly says, people's works are evil and do not please God. They will be judged one day.

No one likes to be told they are sinners, evil, and judged as wanting. In fact, the reprobate mind (as the unsaved possess) cannot understand those things. Therefore they will hate the one who tells them. They hated Jesus for it, and they hated it so much they killed Him.
Gill's Commentary: how they had expressed their hatred, not only by words, calling him a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a sinner, a Samaritan, a madman, one that had a devil, yea, Beelzebub himself, but by deeds; taking up stones to stone him more than once, leading him to the brow of an hill, in order to cast him down headlong, consulting by various means to take away his life, as Herod did in his very infancy;
And as Paul alluded to here, they will hate the Apostles and disciples for it.

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16).

Stephen told the Jewish leaders the truth, and they were cut to the heart, but as Ellicott's Commentary explains, it wasn't a righteous anger over their own sin, it was a hatred of the one who told them.
They were cut to the heart.—Literally, were sawn through and through. The word describes a keener pang than the "pricked" of Acts 2:37, producing, not repentance, but the frenzy of furious anger.
The world has a killing hatred of Christ and His people.

Some Christians think that if we make the church friendly, those who are seeking will eventually relax into repentance. But it is not so. There is no one seeking after God, no not one, Romans 3:11 says. Therefore there are no seeker friendly churches. And secondly, the Gospel is tampered with to make it palatable to those whom people think are seeking. But the Gospel is a violent thing, it commands what doesn't want to submit, it reveals what doesn't want to be revealed. It judges, it forces. Any Gospel that's changed in any aspect is no Gospel at all.

Paul said in Galatians 1:8,

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

No, we must carry the exact message the King sent to His Ambassadors, whether it's received eagerly or in rejected in hatred.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible reminds us not to be deterred.
If the world hate you - The friendship of the world they were not to expect, but they were not to be deterred from their work by its hatred. They had seen the example of Jesus. No opposition of the proud, the wealthy, the learned, or the men of power, no persecution or gibes, had deterred him from his work. Remembering this, and having his example steadily in the eye, they were to labor not less because wicked men should oppose and deride them. It is enough for the disciple to be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord, Matthew 10:25.
They hated Jesus. At some point, someone will hate you (and me) for sharing the Gospel, or for witnessing with our life and deeds. And that is good, for we would be like our Master. It's hard to slough off the world's hatred, but this world is not our home. We are from a far country, where no hatred exists, only love and devotion to our Master.



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hate Week Essay #2: Wisdom hates what God hates

Yesterday at the opening of Hate week, we looked at what God hates. If God declares in His word that He hates something, it's incumbent upon us to know what it is and to hate it too. We are made in His image, so we should love what He loves and Hate what He hates. We must obey Him and glorify Him. If we do the things He hates, we don't obey Him, love Him, or glorify Him. Therefore, we look into these things, as unpalatable as they are.

It couldn't be clearer in Proverbs 8:13.

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Matthew Henry explains from his Whole Commentary on the Bible, opens with saying that hating what God hates gives men good hearts. Then,
v. 13. True religion, consisting in the fear of the Lord, which is the wisdom before recommended, teaches men, 
1. To hate all sin, as displeasing to God and destructive to the soul: The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, the evil way, to hate sin as sin, and therefore to hate every false way. Wherever there is an awe of God there is a dread of sin, as an evil, as only evil.
2. Particularly to hate pride and passion, those two common and dangerous sins. Conceitedness of ourselves, pride and arrogancy, are sins which Christ hates, and so do all those who have the Spirit of Christ; every one hates them in others, but we must hate them in ourselves, 
The froward mouth*, peevishness towards others, God hates, because it is such an enemy to the peace of mankind, and therefore we should hate it. Be it spoken to the honour of religion that, however it is unjustly accused, it is so far from making men conceited and sour that there is nothing more directly contrary to it than pride and passion, nor which it teaches us more to detest.

*The froward mouth speaks false doctrines, and bad counsels and deceits.
*The froward mouth is the mouth that speaks perverse things

As the Geneva Study Bible says succinctly, "So that he who does not hate evil, does not fear God."

Kind of puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Hate evil. This is wisdom.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Hate Week Essay #1: What the LORD Hates

Since it was Valentine's Day last week, I decided to write an essay each day on the topic of Love, as it appears in the Bible. I also write about other things as they came up, so not to worry if essays on love aren't your thing. There were other essays published too, on other topics for your perusal and hopefully edification.

Since last week was Love, why not this week, the topic of Hate?

Hate? Yes, Hate does appear in the Bible in different facets and aspects, just as Love did.

I always publish a photo along with the essay, because people are visual. But how to represent hate pictorially? I definitely did not want graphic photos of people doing hateful things. I also did not want a dark and gloomy picture every day. In the end I decided on spikes and prickly things, things that can hurt you if you stepped on them or encountered them. I made scripture pictures of gum balls (seeds from Sweet Gum tree, as below), cacti, pine cones, pine needles, Spiky, prickly things. Like hate is.

This first essay during Hate Week is examining things God hates. If God hates something, isn't it important for us to look into that so we know what He hates?

God does hate things. This is hard to understand because one of his attributes (perfections) is love. But He does hate things, sin for example, (Psalm 5:4.) Sin is the opposite of who He is, which is a Being without blemish of any kind. Sin affronts Him, angers Him.

God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16 says it just that plainly. Since marriage takes two and makes them one flesh, and since it is a picture of His Son and the Bride, tearing one flesh apart and separating the picture of the Groom from the Bride is something God hates.

Proverbs 6:16-19 has other things God hates,

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

The way the Proverb begins is a method in ancient days of speaking to gain attention, an idiom. It doesn't mean the writer is unsure of how many things God hates.

Then the numeric saying goes on to describe a man of Belial. We remember the New Testament verse from 2 Corinthians 6:15,

What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

Strong's Concordance reminds us that the word Belial means "lord of the forest," Beliar, a name of Satan. So the Proverb describes a man of satan, a satanic character.
The numeric saying in 6:16–19 serves as an easy-to-remember rule of thumb for evaluating character. In the modern day 6:25 applies to pornography as well as to acts of adultery. Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 237).
Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible provides more information about this man of Belial and his sins which God doth hate:
1. How a man of Belial is here described. He is a wicked man, that makes a trade of doing evil, especially with his tongue, for he walks and works his designs with a froward mouth (v. 12), by lying and perverseness, and a direct opposition to God and man. He says and does every thing, 
(1.) Very artfully and with design. He has the subtlety of the serpent, and carries on his projects with a great deal of craft and management (v. 13), with his eyes, with his feet, with his fingers. He expresses his malice when he dares not speak out (so some), or, rather, thus he carries on his plot; those about him, whom he makes use of as the tools of his wickedness, understand the ill meaning of a wink of his eye, a stamp of his feet, the least motion of his fingers. He gives orders for evil-doing, and yet would not be thought to do so, but has ways of concealing what he does, so that he may not be suspected. 
He is a close man, and upon the reserve; those only shall be let into the secret that would do any thing he would have them to do. He is a cunning man, and upon the trick; he has a language by himself, which an honest man is not acquainted with, nor desires to be. 
(2.) Very spitefully and with ill design. It is not so much ambition or covetousness that is in his heart, as downright frowardness, malice, and ill nature. He aims not so much to enrich and advance himself as to do an ill turn to those about him. He is continually devising one mischief or other, purely for mischief-sake—a man of Belial indeed, of the devil, resembling him not only in subtlety, but in malice.

Why wouldn't God hate that? Of course. Yet before our salvation we were all men of Belial, speaking and thinking and acting in ways that God hated. We did those things every day and thought them normal. We justified them. We cherished them. We even reveled in those very sins that God hates. Yet He saved us. God hated what we did but because He is mercy and grace and love and wanted a Bride for His Son, He saved us, electing to save our souls from eternity past before we even performed our graceless deeds of Belial.

God is indeed love.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

The command for joy in the unlikely book of Ecclesiastes

In the book I'm reading called Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches us to Live in Light of the End, by David Gibson, Gibson reprinted an essay by Presbyterian minister James Russell Miller (1840-1902) called Beautiful Old Age. The writing is lyrical in the way that educated men of two centuries ago could write.

As Gibson closes out his book, we learn that Ecclesiastes teaches us that our entire being should be emanating joy. "Not to live gladly, joyfully, and not to drink deeply from the wells of abundant goodness that God has lavished on us is sin, and it is sin because it is a denial of who he is."

Further, Gibson shares,
Douglas Jones reflects on Deuteronomy 27-30, which highlights the need for covenant faithfulness, but then he points out how in this passage we stumble across the need to be faithful in joy and gladness (Deut 28:47), and we are dumbstruck. "Since when was that the pivot of reality? Certainly this has to be a divine typo."
I understand what he means. Living in joy and enjoying the blessings God has given us is not a suggestion, it is a command. We read those urgings repeatedly in Ecclesiastes. Gibson said that no parent likes to see their child's new toy remain in the box, pristine and untouched. Parents would rather see the action figure banged and dented through many pleasurable hours of enjoyment and adventures. Real relationship involves seeing another person take pleasure in gifts given, in this case, the delights of God's creation, and food and drinks and relationships and rest. (He does explain that this is not license to sin nor to live licentiously).

Here is the essay. I pray you enjoy it as much as I did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beautiful Old Age

This may scarcely seem a fitting theme to introduce in a book meant chiefly for the young, and yet a moment’s reflection will show its appropriateness and practicalness.

Old age is the harvest of all the years that have gone before. It is the barn into which all the sheaves are gathered. It is the sea into which all the rills and rivers of life flow from their springs in the hills and valleys of youth and manhood. We are each, in all our earlier years, building the house in which we shall have to live when we grow old. And we may make it a prison or a palace. We may make it very beautiful, adorning it with taste and filling it with objects which shall minister to our pleasure, comfort, and power. We may cover the walls with lovely pictures. We may spread luxurious couches of ease on which to rest. We may lay up in store great supplies of provision upon which to feed in the days of hunger and feebleness. We may gather and pile away large bundles of wood to keep the fires blazing brightly in the long winter days and nights of old age.

Or we may make our house very gloomy. We may hang the chamber-walls with horrid pictures, covering them with ghastly spectres which shall look down upon us and haunt us, filling our souls with terror when we sit in the gathering darkness of life’s nightfall. We may make beds of thorns to rest upon. We may lay up nothing to feed upon in the hunger and craving of declining years. We may have no fuel ready for the winter fires.

We may plant roses to bloom about our doors and fragrant gardens to pour their perfumes about us, or we may sow weeds and briers to flaunt themselves in our faces as we sit in our doorways in the gloaming.

All old age is not beautiful. All old people are not happy. Some are very wretched, with hollow, sepulchral lives. Many an ancient palace was built over a dark dungeon. There were the marble walls that shone with dazzling splendor in the sunlight. There were the wide gilded chambers with their magnificent frescoes and their splendid adornments, the gaiety, the music, and the revelry. But deep down beneath all this luxurious splendor and dazzling display was the dungeon filled with its unhappy victims, and up through the iron gratings came the sad groans and moanings of despair, echoing and reverberating through the gilded halls and ceiled chambers; and in this I see a picture of many an old age. It may have abundant comforts and much that tells of prosperity in an outward sense—wealth, honors, friends, the pomp and circumstance of greatness—but it is only a palace built over a gloomy dungeon of memory, up from whose deep and dark recesses come evermore voices of remorse and despair to sadden or embitter every hour and to cast shadows over every lovely picture and every bright scene.

It is possible so to live as to make old age very sad, and then it is possible so to live as to make it very beautiful. In going my rounds in the crowded city I came one day to a door where my ears were greeted with a great chorus of bird-songs. There were birds everywhere—in parlour, in dining-room, in bedchamber, in hall—and the whole house was filled with their joyful music. So may old age be. So it is for those who have lived aright. It is full of music. Every memory is a little snatch of song. The sweet bird-notes of heavenly peace sing everywhere, and the last days of life are its happiest days—

“Rich in experience that angels might covet,
Rich in a faith that has grown with the years.”

The important practical question is, How can we so live that our old age, when it comes, shall be beautiful and happy? It will not do to adjourn this question until the evening shadows are upon us. It will be too late then to consider it. Consciously or unconsciously, we are every day helping to settle the question whether our old age shall be sweet and peaceful or bitter and wretched. It is worth our while, then, to think a little how to make sure of a happy old age.
We must live a useful life. Nothing good ever comes out of idleness or out of selfishness. The standing water stagnates and breeds decay and death. It is the running stream that keeps pure and sweet. The fruit of an idle life is never joy and peace. Years lived selfishly never become garden-spots in the field of memory. Happiness comes out of self-denial for the good of others. Sweet always are the memories of good deeds done and sacrifices made. Their incense, like heavenly perfume, comes floating up from the fields of toil and fills old age with holy fragrance. When one has lived to bless others, one has many grateful, loving friends whose affection proves a wondrous source of joy when the days of feebleness come. Bread cast upon the waters is found again after many days.

I see some people who do not seem to want to make friends. They are unsocial, unsympathetic, cold, distant, disobliging, selfish. Others, again, make no effort to retain their friends. They cast them away for the slightest cause. But they are robbing their later years of joys they cannot afford to lose. If we would walk in the warmth of friendship’s beams in the late evening-time, we must seek to make to ourselves loyal and faithful friends in the busy hours that come before. This we can do by a ministry of kindness and self-forgetfulness. This was part at least of what our Lord meant in that counsel which falls so strangely on our ears until we understand it: “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”

Again, we must live a pure and holy life. Every one carries in himself the sources of his own happiness or wretchedness. Circumstances have really very little to do with our inner experiences. It matters little in the determination of one’s degree of enjoyment whether he live in a cottage or a palace. It is self, after all, that in largest measure gives the color to our skies and the tone to the music we hear. A happy heart sees rainbows and brilliance everywhere, even in darkest clouds, and hears sweet strains of song even amid the loudest wailings of the storm; and a sad heart, unhappy and discontented, sees spots in the sun, specks in the rarest fruits, and something with which to find fault in the most perfect of God’s works, and hears discords and jarring notes in the heavenliest music. So it comes about that this whole question must be settled from within. The fountains rise in the heart itself. The old man, like the snail, carries his house on his back. He may change neighbors or homes or scenes or companions, but he cannot get away from himself and his own past. Sinful years put thorns in the pillow on which the head of old age rests. Lives of passion and evil store away bitter fountains from which the old man has to drink.

Sin may seem pleasant to us now, but we must not forget how it will appear when we get past it and turn to look back upon it; especially must we keep in mind how it will seem from a dying pillow. Nothing brings such pure peace and quiet joy at the close as a well-lived past. We are every day laying up the food on which we must feed in the closing years. We are hanging up pictures about the walls of our hearts that we shall have to look at when we sit in the shadows.

How important that we live pure and holy lives! Even forgiven sins will mar the peace of old age, for the ugly scars will remain.

Summing all up in one word, only Christ can make any life, young or old, truly beautiful or truly happy. Only He can cure the heart’s restless fever and give quietness and calmness. Only He can purify that sinful fountain within us, our corrupt nature, and make us holy. To have a peaceful and blessed ending to life, we must live it with Christ. Such a life grows brighter even to its close. Its last days are the sunniest and the sweetest. The more earth’s joys fail, the nearer and the more satisfying do the comforts become. The nests over which the wing of God droops, which in the bright summer days of prosperous strength lay hidden among the leaves, stand out uncovered in the days of decay and feebleness when winter has stripped the branches bare. And for such a life death has no terrors. The tokens of its approach are but “the land-birds lighting on the shrouds, telling the weary mariner that he is nearing the haven.” The end is but the touching of the weather-beaten keel on the shore of glory.



Kay Cude Poetry: Facing Fear

Kay Cude Poetry. If you enjoy this one, search on the blog for previous entries of Kay's poems.

Used with permission. Click to enlarge and read.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Love week essay #7: Conclusion

All this week we've explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God's love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John's epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Yesterday we explored the difficult concept of loving our enemies.

In #6 we looked at how Love fulfills the Law


The number one topic of songs, they tell me, is love. The world, which does not know love, sings about it. In 1984, Foreigner sang I Want To Know What Love Is. As Wikipedia describes,
The song hit number one in both the United Kingdom and the United States and is the group's biggest hit to date. It remains one of the band's best-known songs and most enduring radio hits... and is listed as one of Rolling Stone Magazine's greatest songs of all time.
When Mick Jones of Foreigner wrote the song, he later described it as one of those things where, at 3:00 in the morning, it all suddenly came to him. He said it 'was like a higher force' just gave it to him in toto 'as a gift'. Later, he attempted to enhance the song in a spiritual way, contacting The New Jersey Mass Choir to perform another version, which also earned numerous awards and lots of radio play.

If ever there was a man of Ecclesiastes howling into the darkness of his soul for clarity on love and meaning of life, this song is it. I sang it myself as an unsaved young women who had the same yearning amid the strong sense of vanity and emptiness. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS I'd sing at the top of my lungs, and I really meant it.

In His grace, He eventually showed me. Love is Christ. God is love. There is no other love that is real, permanent, eternal, and sure as the love of God to His person of the Trinity and to us, whom He has invited into His circle through Christ. The world does not know love. They want to know what love is.

Love is explained and shown in the Bible. Read it. It is shown in answered prayer. Pray it. It's demonstrated among brethren, receive it. It fulfills the commands when you choose it.

Psalm 103 is a song of love toward our God. He is great and worthy of all our love and attention and obedience and praise.


Friday, February 16, 2018

love week essay #6: Love fulfills the law

All this week we've explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God's love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John's epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Yesterday we explored the difficult concept of loving our enemies.

Today we look at how love fulfills the Law. First, the scriptures.

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)

As we have looked at previously, love is a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian. It marks him or her out from the world. Yet we go even further, that the kind of love Jesus expects of us to display is a law-fulfilling love. The two commandments are to love Him, and love people.

But how can God command us to feel something, one might ask. We can't command feelings, can we?Again, as we have looked at previously, love isn't a feeling that comes on its own like the wind and blows away when it wants, leaving us either filled and romantic, or dry and loveless. We have the will to choose to love. We gain that will by adhering to the precepts of the Father, who said to love all, even one's enemies. The will to love comes from the fountain of grace that indwells us, AKA the Holy Spirit.

Now, commandment one is to love the God with all our strength, soul, and mind. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Love doesn't harm a neighbor. Love protects a neighbor. Love doesn't slander him, or murder him with ill thoughts, or take his wife. Love doesn't harm a neighbor by harboring covetousness over his new car/riding lawnmower/pool. Love wants the best for people, always.

It is upon us to rely on the Spirit, ask the Spirit, pray for the Spirit to cultivate in us Godly desires that squeeze out even the desire for violence against our neighbor, violence even in the form of sinful thoughts, never mind sinful actions. The goal is to love one's neighbor enough so that any desire for harm against him is not even present in our heart.

When we do that, when we love our neighbor as purely as possible, it cycles us back to the first Law, loving God with all our strength,mind, heart, and soul, because we are obeying Him.

Love fulfills the Law.

Now I need to get to work. It seems I have a lot of heart work to do... :) Do you?

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Resources

In this devotional, Alistair Begg wants us to Make Him Glad with our Love

Hugh Binning's book Christian Love is recommended at Banner of Truth Trust, Monergism, Reformation Trust, and other sources. Here is the book blurb-
In this Treatise of Christian Love, the Scottish Covenanting minister Hugh Binning movingly presents the need for Christians to show by their love for one another that they belong to Christ. Basing his remarks on John 13:35, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another, he argues, 'This badge that Christ left to his disciples: if we cast this away on every disagreement, we disown our Master, and disclaim his token and badge.'
Binning describes the excellence of Christian love, demonstrating its nature from 1 Corinthians 13. He gives strong reasons why Christians should love one another, and shows that love is rooted in Christian humility and meekness, after the pattern of Christ himself.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Florida alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz needs the Gospel as much as any of us do

We've been progressing through the attribute of love as God loves and expects it of His children. It's love week here at the End Time.

I'd planned next week to explore hate. Not everyone's favorite subject, I'm sure, but we've all experienced it, either prior to salvation when were at enmity with God or afterward when we had fleshly flashes of it.

Today, sadly, we as a nation are once again mourning in the aftermath of a massacre shooting. This was the worst kind, a school shooting.

Yesterday alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a public school of about 3,000 students outside Boca Raton, FL. In the recent past we've endured:

February 14, 2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - Parkland, Florida. 17 people killed and at least 14 others injured.

January 23, 2018 - Marshall County High School - Benton, Kentucky. Two killed and 18 injured.

December 7, 2017 - Aztec Hight School - Aztec, New Mexico. Two killed and shooter kills self.

September 13, 2017 - Freeman High School - Spokane, Washington. 1 student killed, 3 injured.

April 10, 2017 - North Park Elementary School - San Bernardino, California. Adult kills student and teacher, then self. Two others injured.

That is a list of just the shootings within the last year, and of course you and I know there are many more, and not just school shootings. In the aftermath, we see quotes like this one from CNN.
"This has been a day where we've seen the worst of humanity. Tomorrow is gonna bring out the best in humanity as we come together to move forward from this unspeakable tragedy," he said. 
I would disagree, and the Bible would support me on this. It isn't the worst of humanity. It's humanity.  I would disagree, and the Bible would support me on this. It isn't the worst of humanity. It's humanity. It's easy to think of Cruz as an enemy and hate him. But we have met the enemy, and he is us.

The ground of this pure and unspoiled earth became blood soaked shortly after the Fall, when Cain slew Adam. Even prior to that moment, Eve and Adam behaved violently by disobeying God, moving forward in enmity. They broke His one and only command, thus causing the fall of man from his position God had declared as "very good." After that, man has not been "very good" but "very bad". The technical term in Christianity for very bad is "depraved sinner". After the Fall, this became a world of death instead of a world of life. (Romans 5:17).

Ligonier explains our depravity:
So often we are quick to blame others for our failures and shortcomings. We even mask how we do this by employing the "if-only" rationale to excuse our sin. "If only I had been raised differently…I had a better job…you hadn't provoked me…my husband would listen to me…my church were better…." The list is endless and usually contains genuinely flawed people and circumstances that are blameworthy.
But no circumstance, other person, or activity can ever justify my sin. I sin, Jesus said, because my heart is sinful. That is a shattering reality. But we must humbly face it if we want to be spiritually healed.
Alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz shot people because he is a depraved human. But we're all depraved. The difference is that prior to salvation we have no hope of resisting that depravity. Afterward, it is a constant battle, albeit aided by the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But it's in all of us. Ask Abel. There is none good, no not one. When the hate against God that's inside us grow to such monstrous proportions one cannot restrain it any more, we unleash it in terrible ways. Gossip, slander, adultery, extortion, oppression, murder. It's all there in all of us.

It is exactly why we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
Praise God He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. The Gospel is life.


Love Week Essay #5: Loving our Enemies?

All this week we've explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God's love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John's epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Today we'll look deeper into that, loving not only those who are easy to love, or loving who we are supposed to love, but loving those who actively hate us. Enemies.

I'll take a moment here to let you all know something. I enjoy writing, but that's not the only reason I write blogs every day. I process the Word by writing. When I post a blog essay, I'm not telling you all how to be Christian, though there is some exhortation with each essay. Mainly, I am preaching to myself. I don't find it easy to love the way the Bible tells us, even to friends and brethren. I certainly don't find it easy to love enemies. I fail in many ways, every day. So please don't ever think that I have it all together!

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35).

And again in Matthew:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Barnes' Notes explains:
We are bound to love our enemies. This is a law of Christianity, original and unique. No system of religion but Christianity has required it, and no act of Christian piety is more difficult. None shows more the power of the grace of God; none is more ornamental to the character; none more like God; and none furnishes better evidence of piety. He that can meet a man kindly who is seeking his hurt; who can speak well of one that is perpetually slandering and cursing him; that can pray for a man that abuses, injures, and wounds him: and that can seek heaven for him that wishes his damnation, is in the way to life. This is religion, beautiful as its native skies; pure like its Source; kind like its Author; fresh like the dews of the morning; clear and diffusive like the beams of the rising sun; and holy like the feelings and words that come from the bosom of the Son of God. He that can do this need not doubt that he is a Christian. He has caught the very spirit of the Saviour, and he must inherit eternal life.
It's easy to love those who love us. It's simple to treat others lovingly who treat us well. Jesus said even the Gentiles (who do not know love) do the same.

A Christian's love must be different than what is expected. It has to be different from the kind of love the world is used to. It must be perfect.

But how can our love be perfect? We're imperfect sinners!

John MacArthur here in his sermon Love Your Enemies part 3:
The point is this: you are to be like God.  You say, "Well, that standard is too high."  You're right, and that's exactly what He wanted the Pharisees to know. You can't make it. ... What Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount is the same thing, "Be perfect."  They're supposed to say, "But I can’t be perfect." And that’s when He says, “Right; and if you fall short of perfection, you need a Savior." And that’s where Jesus comes in, and brings to you what Peter calls the divine nature, and makes you like God, a partaker of His nature. Then God, in a miracle of salvation, does for you what you could never do for yourself – be like God. When you came to Jesus Christ, positionally, you were made like God. You were given His eternal life, His righteousness, you became like Him in that sense. And now you need to bring your behavior into harmony with your position.
Oh no! I still can't!

John MacArthur continues:
Listen: a Christian is not someone who keeps the Sermon on the Mount. A Christian is somebody who knows he can't, do you see – and comes to Jesus Christ for forgiveness for the sin of falling short, and receives from Christ the forgiveness, and then the power to begin to live these principles. That’s the point of the message.
If that makes you cry, good. It did me. His standards are holy and high, and we can't make it. It makes me cry out Abba! Father! Help me! Help me to love like you would have me do! And He will.



A note about the photo: It was taken by a friend of mine who works with the American Legion, an American veteran, who was in NYC for a conference on the day of 9-11. He took this photo the day after. He gave this picture to me and spent some time telling me how the day was for him and his colleagues. It was an emotional day for all of us, though it's hard to believe it has been 17 years since then. I watched in shock as the towers fell (and knew many were dying at that moment), the pit in the ground in PA where the plane dove in, the Pentagon ruptured and a Navy man who lived in our town was killed inside. Whether it's an individual enemy at work, or a national enemy out to destroy America, and every enemy in between, it is very hard to love your enemies. Yet Jesus did, while He was being nailed to the cross, He pleaded for mercy upon those who nailed Him and wanted Him dead. The truth is, before salvation we were all enemies of God and we all have that depravity in us that wants God dead. Praise Him that before we knew Him, He first loved us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love week essay #4: Hooked on a Feeling?

Happy Valentine's Day! Here are some famous songs about love for you!

All You need is Love
I Wanna Know What Love Is
Love Stinks
Can't Help Falling in Love
Addicted to Love
Can't Hurry Love
I Will Always Love You
I Just Called to Say I Love You
Love is A Battlefield
I Think I Love You
Psalm 136

Wait, wut? Psalm 136? Yes! It is a tremendous song about God's steadfast love. I wrote about it in Love Week essay #1, here.

The world tries to understand love but the world never will know it unless that seeking person is saved by grace through faith. When we abide in Jesus we can then know love. (1 John 4:8).

Still the world sings songs and wonders where it all went. All too often, We've Lost that Loving Feeling and wonder what to do After the Love is Gone.

We must understand that love is not a feeling, but a position, a decision.

Author Mary Kaasian says in her essay Love is a Choice,
 Although it is often felt in the heart, love is primarily an act of the will. Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than in the way God loves us. In the Old Testament, two Hebrew words describe God’s love for his people. The first Hebrew word for love, ahab, means: “to desire, to breathe after; to be inclined toward, to delight in.” The Lord God delights in us and is inclined toward us. He desires–“breathes after”–us with affectionate (ahab) love. Although Ahab is an intense word, it’s only used a handful of times with regard to the Lord. There’s another richer, more powerful word that’s used repeatedly throughout Old Testament Scripture to describe God’s love for us: the Hebrew word chesed. 
Chesed speaks of a love that is firmly rooted in choice. It involves loyalty, steadfastness and commitment to a promise. It’s a love that doesn’t depend on the response or behavior of the receiver but rather on the steadfast character and commitment of the giver. Ahab has to do with feelings, whereas chesed implies a mind-set and mode of interaction based on unwavering loyalty to a commitment.
The world will tell us (in its songs) that we are slaves to our feeling of love. We're hooked on a feeling, addicted to love, finding or losing that feeling. That it makes us Crazy, Fools, and love even has its own Power.

All that makes Love its own god.

Only God has as much power as pagans think love has.

We don't love the way the world loves. We who are saved have the ability to remain loving in the Christ-like way because it's a choice in which the power of God in us through the Holy Spirit allows us to persevere. The Gentiles fall in and out of love, find it and lose it, wax and wane within it, because feelings are ephemeral, temporary, and deceptive.

The only love that endures in a pagan is self-love.

A Christian's love is counter-cultural to the world because the Bible teaches us to consciously deny our self-love and focus our love on others, even unto death. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-45-

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

Christian marriage between one man and one woman is a major way that God wants to demonstrate His kind of love in the world. He demonstrates in the picture of marriage, the counter-cultural, upside down attitude toward love wherein it becomes a choice and not a snare. When marriages endure through the act of the will and not fail or succeed because we're reflexively responding to a feeling, it's His way and not the world's way.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.a 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body.

Wives, submitting? Husbands loving, even unto death? Yes, because we are members of His body. The Gentile is cut off from His body and therefore thinks that love is a feeling, when it is actually a choice.

Love well today, on this Hallmark holiday exalting the world's version of love. Love as Jesus taught, which is a choice toward others, sacrificial, permanent. Love your friends, wives love husbands and husbands love your wives, love your children, and love your enemies. Because love isn't a feeling, it's a permanent choice in Christ.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:7-9).



Our Daily Bread

I really liked this morning's devotional from Spurgeon. Spurgeon wrote in the last paragraph. "in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above".

The Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 reminds us of this. In verse 6:11 we read that we are to pray: "Give us this day, our daily bread". The word in the Greek for 'our daily' means "for the coming day, for subsistence", bringing emphasis to Spurgeon's note that we have no store of strength.

Blessedly, the table of bread is eternal, ever flowing to sustain His people. Spurgeon notes that we will "never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy." Like the manna in the desert, sustenance will ever appear, daily.

This Morning's Meditation

C. H. Spurgeon

"And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life."—2 Kings 25:30.

JEHOIACHIN was not sent away from the king's palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants.

We do not need tomorrow's supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy.

We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day's supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the veriest glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin's case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love week essay #3: Love is not a feeling

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10).

S. Lewis Johnson said of those verses in his sermon The Divinity of Love part 2, "Now, there are three parts to the section. The apostle exhorts us to love in verses 7 and 8, he talks about the manifestation of authentic love in verses 9 and 10,"

God's love is not a feeling, at least, not like we experience love. In human life, love waxes and wanes from fervent to fleeting and everything in between. It is erotic, brotherly, and sacrificial (eros, phileo, agape). Songs are written about love, people die for love, they live for love. Which is all very amazing, because we do not understand it until we are saved and thus experience God, who is love.

SL Johnson again, on the three kinds of love, (eros, phileo, agape)
One of the commentators somewhere to try to bring it down to our level has said the first word that has to do with sexual love, we might say, is all take. And then the second word is the weaker word, is give and take. And then the final one is all give and that is the true biblical kind of love. The apostle uses that third term that is the will of an individual and the expression of his love in a sacrificial kind of way to put it very simply.
At some point God communicated His perfect love for Himself in the form of the Father-Son-Spirit toward His creation and specifically toward His created humans. DA Carson here says,
What is of interest to us for our topic is the way the texts distinguish how the love of the Father for the Son is manifested, and how the love of the Son for the Father is manifested — and then how such love further functions as lines are drawn outward to elements of Christian conduct and experience. These function in various ways. There is space to reflect on only one of them.

In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you" (15:9). Thus, we move from the intra-Trinitarian love of the Father for the Son to the Son’s love of His people in redemption. Jesus thus becomes the mediator of His Father’s love. Receiving love, so has He loved. Then He adds, "Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love" (15:9b–10).
Consider the gift, privilege, and grace of God's love to us. Here, John Gill,
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
As the Father hath loved me,.... As his own Son, and as Mediator, from everlasting; and in time, in his state of humiliation, throughout the course of his obedience, and under all his sufferings; which he testified more than once by a voice from heaven; which he showed by concealing nothing from him as Mediator, by giving all things into his hands, by showing him all that he himself did, by appointing him the Saviour of the body, and making him the head of the church, by exalting him at his right hand, and ordaining him to be judge of quick and dead. 
So have I loved you: Christ loves his as his spouse and bride, as his dear children, as members of his body, as branches in him the vine, as believers in him, and followers of him; which he has shown by espousing both their persons and cause, by assuming their nature, by suffering and dying in their room and stead, and making all suitable provision for them, both for time and eternity.  
And there is a likeness between the Father's love to him, and his love to his disciples and followers: as his Father loved him from everlasting, so did he love them; as his Father loved him with a love of complacency and delight, so did he, and so does he love them; and as his Father loved him with a special and peculiar affection, with an unchangeable, invariable, constant love, which will last for ever, in like manner does Christ love his people; ...
Bless the LORD for His love - of and to Himself among His Persons, and through His Son to us. How grateful we should be that we can know love, for God is love and apart from Him, we know not what love its at any time.

EPrata photo



Monday, February 12, 2018

Love week essay #2: What did Apostle John mean when he wrote 'God is love'?

Christians know Jesus and thus, they know His love. But many people don't understand His love, biblically.

Others who aren't saved, if they know nothing else in the Bible, they know the verse "God is love" from 1 John 4:8...which they use to reject any discussion of sin, wrath, or judgment, half the Gospel. But unsaved people can't love. (1 John 4:8)

So what does Apostle John mean when he writes 'God is love'?

Here is a reposted essay from the blog at Grace To You explaining the verse.

The Nature of God’s Love: John MacArthur on God’s Love Defined Biblically

“God is love” (1 John 4:8). 
That’s a transcendent thought that finds its ultimate expression in the cross of Christ. The most famous verse in the Bible confirms that God’s love was the motive for sending Christ: “For God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16). 
But God’s love didn’t first appear two thousand years ago—that’s where it climaxed. The truth is that all of history bears the undeniable marks of God’s loving nature. From Genesis to Revelation, His great love is displayed on multiple levels and in countless glorious ways. In fact, His unchanging love is older than time itself. 
God’s Love Before Time 
John MacArthur points out that right from the beginning—in fact, before the beginning—God’s love was the driving force that set the scene for His creation: 
In eternity past, within the perfect fellowship of the Trinity, God the Father purposed, as a love gift to His Son, to redeem a people who would honor and glorify the Son (cf. John 6:39; 17:9–15). Thus, though God existed in perfect Trinitarian solitude, He created a race of beings out of which He would love and redeem those who would in turn love Him forever. [1]
It’s overwhelming to consider that God’s plan of redemption originated in eternity past and that His predestined strategy is fueled by His great love (Ephesians 1:4–5). 
God’s Love in Creation 
God’s love is also on display in the perfect world He created for us. The creation account repeatedly features the phrase, “and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 18, 21, 25; cf. 1:4, 31). And in His immense love, He created mankind as the capstone of His very good creation (Genesis 1:27–28). That theme continues throughout Scripture. The earth is full of God’s lovingkindness (Psalm 119:64). “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9). “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). 
But there was a greater purpose behind God’s creative work. He did not create the world as the main attraction, but as the theater where His redemptive plan would take place and His love would be put on display. Even the corrupting blight of sin on God’s creation is integral to the display of His love: His redeeming love would forever remain hidden without sinners to redeem.

God’s Love in Humanity 
Furthermore, God’s love is also evident in the fact that He created people rather than robots. God is all powerful, all knowing, and perfectly capable of creating a race of creatures to do His bidding. But He is also relational and created man to reciprocate His love. 
He designed sinners to know and love Him by an act of their wills (cf. John 7:17–18), though not apart from the work of His Spirit (cf. John 1:12–13; Ephesians 2:5; Titus 3:5). God’s greatest commandment is that people love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29–30). [2] 
What a privilege it is that we, as sinners, can actually enter into and enjoy a loving relationship with our Creator as His responsive creatures. God is under no obligation to reconcile with His rebellious subjects, but He is “rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). His love is the means by which we can willfully love Him—“We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Is God’s Love Inconsistent? 
But what about those who don’t love God? Is His love exclusive to Christians? Or does God love everyone equally? For many, those questions are vexing, as they wrestle with the theological implications of God’s love. 
We recently brought those questions to John MacArthur. You can see what he had to say in the following video:



There is a universal aspect to God’s love. This general love of God for all people is most evident in the fact that He delays His wrath upon unrepentant sinners (Genesis 15:16; Acts 17:30–31; Romans 3:25). And while God’s saving love is exclusively bestowed on His elect, He powerfully displays His love for the whole world by offering the gospel to all people (Matthew 28:19).
But that general love of God is temporary—it extends no further than the Day of Judgment. By contrast, God’s saving love is exclusively and eternally lavished on those who believe. It is a love so glorious that the apostle Paul could scarcely contain his superlatives when describing it: 
God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7) 
God is love. But His love is manifest in different ways over time, and bestowed according to His redemptive purposes. It’s a blessing to all men, but a comfort for only His elect.





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This Grace to You article originally appeared here. Copyright 2007, Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Love Week #1: Psalm 136, "for His steadfast love endures forever"

I was listening to RefNet.fm (Ligonier's 24-hour Christian station) and Psalm 136 was read aloud. The recurring phrase "for His steadfast love endures forever" seeped into my soul and covered it like a balm. The whole Psalm was refreshing in its praise of God. I pray you have an opportunity to find an audio of the Psalm and hear it. Though it was not sung as it originally was, spoken aloud it had a ring of love and truth that was not otherwise impactful to me as I'd read it myself in the past.  I dug deeper and looked into the origin of the Psalm and found these study notes. I pray you are refreshed and encouraged as you read them sometime yourself.

Psalm 135-136, from John MacArthur Study Bible Notes.

These two Psalms complete the "Great Hallal." The composer and occasion of Ps. 135 are unknown but likely postexhilic. Psalm 135:15-20 is strikingly similar to 115:4-11.

Psalm 135

I. Call to Praise (135:1-2)
II. Causes for Praise (135:3-18)
  1. God's Character (135:3)
  2. God's Choice of Jacob (135:4)
  3. God's Sovereignty in Creation (135:5-7)
  4. God's Deliverance of Israel (135:8-12)
  5. God's Unique Nature (135:13-18)
III. Concluding praise (135:19-21)

Psalm 136

This Psalm, extremely similar to Psalm 135, closes the "Great Hallal*." Unique to all the Psalms, Ps. 136 uses the antiphonal* refrain "for His steadfast love endures forever" after each stanza, perhaps spoken by the people in responsive worship. Author and occasion remains unknown.

I. Call to Praise (136:1-3)
II. Causes for Praise (136:4-22).

  1. God's Creation (136: 4-9)
  2. God's Deliverance (136: 10-15)
  3. God's Care and Gift (136:16-22)
III. Concluding Praise (136:23-26).



*antiphonal = of music, especially church music, or a section of a church liturgy) sung, recited, or played alternately by two groups.

*Hallal = praise, hallelujah

Saturday, February 10, 2018

IF:Gathering - My updated review four years later

Four years ago I posted a few articles looking at and critiquing the women of She Reads Truth (SRT) and IF:Gathering.

This week a reader emailed a question to me. She wanted to know what I thought of the women of IF and SRT now, after four years had gone by. She asked mainly about She Reads Truth. I'll update my thoughts on that movement on another day, but today I'm going to focus first on the IF:Gathering:

She asked great questions and valid ones, to be sure. I had thought about doing an update, and her question spurred me to do it. In God's providence and timing, last week the two women of Sheologians, Summer White and Joy Temby, did a podcast reviewing IF:Gathering. Yay! I listened to it. I am including notes on their insights and review. My thoughts will follow.

As a side note, the Sheologians ladies mentioned how difficult it is to do discernment ministry. Not that the Sheologians, or even I, focus solely on discernment. But whenever we feel called to write about a person, teaching, or movement in the discernment spheres, it is hard. It is hard on the soul to listen and hear such things said about our God or against our Jesus. It is hard to write negatively. It is hard to think of the people that will be hurt by the conclusions we come to. It's hard - but it's important. So we do it.

We don't do it lightly. I pray, I do hours of research, of course consult the Bible, and I check in other discernment ministries, like I did with the Sheologians. I work hard to be accurate and fair, being biblical without compromise despite a certain person's or movement's popularity. That said, here is a synopsis of Sheologians' PLUSES and PRAISES of IF:Gathering-

  • They said that the IF ladies produce a conference well, and they know a lot about organizing and using social media and the internet to get their message out.

  • They mentioned that the Huffington Post did an article about the women and their movement a few years ago, noting in the article the movement's emphasis on social justice. Sheologians said that if even a secular publication notices a Christian movement, it's something. I'll make a few notes about the social justice and popularity below.

  • The Sheologians noted that the IF website and live gatherings are known for their beautiful long tables laden with flowers backlit by fairy lights, gifts, womanly takeaways, and Pinterest-perfect backgrounds and tablescapes. Summer White wondered, what is the IF:Gathering attracting people TO? If you stripped away all of this, would they still come? Is the movement focused solely on aesthetics? Summer said that Jennie Allen addressed this in her speech, downplaying the aesthetics part of their movement and was relieved because of Jennie's assurances.

Note- Not an IF:Gathering, just a simulation of one*

  • The Sheologians praised the IF:Gathering emphasis on the local church as important, and liked that the IF ladies stated that biblically equipping women is their goal. Summer White said that in Jennie Allen's speech, Allen said that it is the church that must grow. That if the IF:Gathering disappears, who cares as long as local church is strong. This was the right priority, they said.

Sheologians' MINUSES and CONCERNS of IF:Gathering

  • Many minutes went by in Jennie Allen's speech without scripture, no Gospel talk, no talk of sin. When sin was mentioned, it was framed as part of our 'brokenness' or just that the devil was after you.

  • When Allen did mention sin 20 minutes into the speech, she made joke about sin, undermining confession of sin and undermining local church by joking about not confessing sin to people you're in an actual relationship with.

  • The Sheologian women noted that Jen Hatmaker and Sarah Bessey have spoken at the conference. Both these women are overtly and obviously heretical. This is a problem.

  • Too much of a focus on emotionalism at the conference. There was a wrackingly grief laden testimony from a women whose small child died. Sheologians agreed that faith through grief can help, but there seems to be an over-emphasis with IF ladies. Also, that is the extent of it, there is no scriptural digging. Lots of emotion but not a lot of Jesus. They noted that story time is only beneficial as long as it ultimately points to Jesus.

  • Women do not need more emotionalism, we get that in our daily life we need to be pulled away more than running to it.

  • Jennie Allen got the Trinity wrong in her 2014 book Restless. She wrote that the Holy Spirit is a form of Jesus Christ. He most definitely is not, Summer White said. He is the Third Person of the Trinity. He is God.

  • There's a lot of 'God told me', which is another mixed message since they talk a lot about women being in the scriptures, so why the emphasis on God directly telling them things, Summer White mused.

Sheologians' Conclusion

Ultimately the Sheologians noticed that the IF Ladies say one thing and do another. They say they want to promote the local body, but joke about confessing sin to people you actually worship with.

You can't preach the importance of the local body when you're going to remove the necessity of confessing sin to people you're in a relationship with.

You can't preach importance of local body when you invite speakers who also undermine that doctrine with their heresies and various declarations against the church.

They could not take the IF ladies' stated commitment to the Bible seriously when they constantly speak of directly hearing from God.

MY THOUGHTS

My warning about the IF:Gathering remains the same as four years ago, if not more fervent. Imagine, a woman who writes a book misrepresenting the Trinity formed a movement that same year where they intend to equip other women. This cannot be.

Direct revelation, ergo, Bible not sufficient

Their continual stance IS direct revelation. Regarding direct revelation, Jennie Allen revealed at the first IF:Gathering how IF got started. The ladies' penchant to say 'God told me' that Summer noticed is in actuality not just a millennial-youth casual phrase. It is based on something terribly unbiblical. Here are Founder Jennie Allen's words, transcribed from a Youtube clip that is still up, link below:
For one second I want to give you a behind the scenes of where this all came from. About 7 years ago, a voice from the sky…[nervous laughter] which doesn’t often speak to me, but that day, there was this whisper. It was the middle of the night actually. It was ‘gather and equip your generation. … and for two days my bones hurt.
Doesn't OFTEN speak to her?

Jennie went on to advise that
not all voices from the sky are God, FYI, but if it IS God he will give you what you need to accomplish what he spoke.
And this women who can't figure out the Trinity can figure out which voice from the sky is God's and which is the devil's?

clip here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3FA_3gJ1oI&t=

If the clip disappears, let me know.

Margaret Feinberg was a speaker this year at IF:Gathering 2018, and is known for her book "God Whispers: Learning to Hear His Voice" and is a woman who even a liberal book reviewer called an evangelical mystic.

To me, this destroys any credibility the IF Ladies have in urging women to dive into scripture. Obviously for the IF women, it’s important to dive into scripture, as long as there isn’t a voice from the sky giving other orders or whispering into your ear. Then the Bible goes by the wayside.

Popular

HuffPo wrote of the movement back when it first started, piercing the notice of even that secular publication. I always go back to Luke 6:26 which I call the curse of popularity.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for according to these things their fathers used to treat the false prophets likewise.

Their first conference sold out in minutes. They were popular even at the start and are gathering even more steam as time goes on. This to me is suspicious, because of the verse. People don't generally clamor in droves to a solidly Gospel Bible study, in fact, they reject it. Whenever something is instantly wildly popular, be suspicious.

Social Justice

The IF:Gathering is based on social justice, not a Gospel emphasis. They want to equip women with the biblical grounding SO THAT they can be 'unleashed' (whatever that means) to go out and promote "healing and reconciliation in the world." The following is transcribed directly from their own words, an affirmation to the US Federal Government on their non-profit IRS returns,
To gather a new generation of women, equip them with the tools to know God more deeply and live out their purposes and unleash a movement to promote healing and reconciliation around the world.
2014 HuffPo article: ‘IF:Gathering’ Of Evangelical Women Focuses On Social Justice In Austin, Texas
This new wave of evangelical women is fueled by an ever-growing online culture of high-profile women bloggers and savvy social media types who have laid the groundwork for the new focus. [in Christianity of social justice]
While Christians are called to display kindness and charity to those less fortunate, and to meet saints' needs, it is not our calling to rectify the sins of man globally. Social Justice is not the Gospel. Here is GotQuestions on Social Justice.

Emotionalism

Though we as women do feel things deeply, and it is our calling and privilege to nurture, we go overboard with the emotions sometimes. Emotional testimonies are not the Gospel.

The IF:Gathering IRS statement of purpose unfortunately includes an attitude of feelings regarding Bible verses rather than equipping women through teaching its intended meaning. Here is their statement of purpose transcribed. Links are below in the resources section.
"IF:Equip- A holistic, strategic, deep way to connect online with a like-hearted community and relevant resources. We hope to prepare women around the world to know God more deeply and to live out their purposes by sharing comments and feelings about daily passages posted online."
Associations

The Sheologians made mention of several speakers whom the IF ladies had invited to speak at their annual gathering that illustrated problematic associations. Associations are not by themselves an indicator of solidity in a teacher or program, but it is to be taken into consideration. The Bible strictly warns to stay away from those who promote heresy. Mark and avoid them, (Romans 16:17), shut the door and do not even let them into the house. (2 John 1:10).

False teachers corrupt the divine standard and pollute the word, drawing away the unwary and are out greedily to kill, steal, and destroy. Therefore coffee klatches, sympathetic conversations, and mild-mannered toleration is not the biblical method for dealing with them, and are unwise in the extreme to employ.

In its first IF:Gathering, the speakers included feminist heretic Sarah Bessey and Bible-rejecter and church hater Jen Hatmaker.

This year's Gathering, which concludes tonight, includes


A list of 2018 participants is here in pdf form.

IF:Gathering's Board of Directors for each of tax years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 consisted of Larry Cotton with his wife Diann also as a Director. Sadly from the NY Times last week we learn that Pastor Cotton, who led Austin Stone Community Church, was "placed ... on leave last Friday while it investigates "his qualification for his current role of leadership." This was due to Cotton's alleged participation in the coverup of a 1998 allegation of sexual abuse by a youth against one of the other pastors working with Cotton at the time, Andy Savage. While the statute of limitations has run out and Savage will not be prosecuted, the fallout of the accusation includes investigation of Cotton into his possible part in the incident and alleged coverup, so he is relieved of ministerial duty. It will be interesting to see what the IF Ladies, especially Jennie Allen, who called both Larry and Diann mentors, will say or do, if anything.

Associations matter.

I believe enough credible and long-term information exists to illustrate that submitting to Bible studies generated by these women is not healthy for your spiritual life. That pursuing unleashing, global reconciliation, and social justice is not the Gospel call to women for a long-term or even short term lifestyle. That these ladies are to be avoided. There are other women to learn from.

My stance is that women do not have to learn from women. They can and should learn from men. But if you feel compelled to search for women to learn from, Bible studies or devotionals to obtain, here are a few choices. I also enjoy and take inspiration from  the older missionary stories, such as Gladys Aylward whose story is captured in A Little Woman or Elisabeth Elliot, or biographies of theologians' wives such as Martin Luther's wife Katherine Von Bora, or Susannah Spurgeon for example.

Ladies, please stay away from IF:Gatherings.

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Resources and Links


2014 IF:Gathering public non-profit IRS returns, EIN 46-1978383

2015 IF:Gathering public non-profit IRS returns

2015 IF:Gathering public non-profit IRS returns (change of accounting period)

Mission&Vision Source of information about of non-profits and private foundations.
If Gathering > Financial Report
Financial Report If Gathering From 2013 To 2016
click to enlarge


The End Time on IF:Gathering 2014

*Painting above is titled Elegant ladies taking tea by Delphin Enjolras, not an IF:Gathering

Friday, February 9, 2018

Bible Reading Plan: Isaiah's seven time hotter sun*

In the Tribulation, agriculture will wither under a scorching sun.
Dorothea Lange, Abandoned farm north of Dalhart, TX. 1938.
At the end of the end days, during the Tribulation where all men living on the earth will be judged in wrath, there will be three sets of successively worsening judgments (or four sets, if the Seven Thunders of Revelation 10:1-4 are judgments).

There will first be the 7 Seal Judgments of Revelation 6, they open the Tribulation. Then the wrath of God is demonstrated through 7 Trumpet Judgments of Revelation 8-9. These are terrible judgments, but by God's grace, some repent through them. After that there are the 7 Bowl Judgments. Revelation 15 opens with the 7 Bowl Judgments.

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. (Revelation 15:1).

These are the most terrible of all. They are so bad that no one is even allowed in the heavenly throne room sanctuary until they are concluded.

And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. (Revelation 16:7-8)

One of the Bowl judgments God pours on the people of the earth the plague of a hot sun. By this point in the Tribulation, no one is repenting. They know that God is sending His wrath onto the world, but they shake their fist at Him and refuse to repent. By this time, battle lines have been set in eternal stone. In Revelation 13 people either took the mark of the beast and thereby signaling their worship of satan, sealing their doom, (Revelation 14:9-10), or they refused the mark, thereby signaling their worship of the Lamb who lives forever, sealing most to their martyrdom.

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (Revelation 16:8-9).

God makes the sun hotter, so hot that men will be on fire if they are exposed to it. God is powerful and controls the sun!

Let us look to a happier time, the Millennial Kingdom. God's Prophets had much to say about this period in earth's history, also. The Kingdom will be set up on earth after the Tribulation is over, and the Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints have been resurrected. Those who refused the mark of the beast and lived will populate this kingdom, too. Because they are mortal, they'll re-populate the earth. It is at this time the resurrected Old Testament saints whom Jesus promised land and an earthly kingdom with Him (the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Messiah) on the throne, will have all their promises fulfilled. This is Israel's gift.

In Isaiah 30:23-25 we read that during this time of the Millennium Kingdom,

And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.

John MacArthur says of this time:
In the Messianic Kingdom of that future day, agriculture, cattle raising, food production, and water resources will prosper. The prophet predicted the redemption of nature. (cf. Rom 8:19-21)
In Isaiah 30:26 we read of further blessings:

Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

The light of the sun will be seven times hotter?

MacArthur again:
The benefits from the natural bodies of light will be much greater. Increase of the intensity of their light will work to people's advantage, not to their detriment as in Revelation 16:8-9.
In the Millennial Kingdom, a gentle, bright sun seven times
warmer will flourish the earth's crops
When we read that God is sovereign overall creation, He is sovereign. He created the sun. As the Potter, He can make it do what He wills. During the Tribulation, it will be a mechanism for judgment, scorching men, who curse it. In the Millennium, the sun will be a mechanism for prosperity, and men will bless their Creator for giving them plenteous sunshine, healthful, glowing, and beautiful.

We groan, and cannot wait for redemption of our mortal bodies into glorified vessels worthy of seeing our Holy God. The creation groans too. When the creation is redeemed, it will rejoice also.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21).

This is how the creation will be set free. The sun will shine upon peaceable kingdom, over a flourishing agriculture, making men and crops thrive. Our Creator is majestic in power and sovereign over creation. He is to be worshiped, loved, praised. Our Jesus who was with God at the creation and who sustains all creation and without whom nothing was made that was made, is our hope. He is the hope of all creation. Our eternal Hope, who reigns forever.

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Further Reading

The Glorious Return of Jesus Christ, part 1

Devotion: Three reassuring Signs 


*This post first appeared on The End Time in June 2015

Hate Week Essay #3: The World will hate you

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you . (John 15:18) The kind of hate we discussed on Monday was the kind ...