Sunday, June 25, 2017

Know the Time of Your Visitation

June 25

Know the Time of Your Visitation

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation (Luke 19:41-44)

Jesus heart is broken over the impending judgment of Jerusalem. Here God is actually crying because of what is about to happen to His people. This certainly is not the picture of the capricious arbitrary deity presented to us from some pulpits. God weeps over sinners destroying themselves. Twice Jesus says that ignorance brought destruction upon Jerusalem. In verse 42 Jesus said:

Exclaiming, Would that you had known personally, even at least in this your day, the things that make for peace (for freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin and upon which your peace—your security, safety, prosperity, and happiness—depends)! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (The Amplified Bible)

They did not know the things that would keep God’s protective presence and all that comes with it. What happened to Jerusalem was totally unnecessary and could have been avoided. Jesus also said, “….because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” Truly it is a lack of knowledge that destroys people (Hosea 4:6).
The word “visitation” is the same word used concerning the office of an overseer, elder or a bishop in the church who is assigned by God to feed and protect His people. God was overseeing His people and offering them an opportunity to be helped and saved, but they refused Him. Therefore, in 70 AD Jerusalem was destroyed.
God offers all of us the opportunity to repent and be delivered from sins that bring destruction. However, this opportunity, if rejected too often, will be lost. Let us not be ignorant of the time of our visitation.


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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Are all Elected Officials ordained of God? (Part 2)

June 6

Are all Elected Officials ordained of God? (Part 2)

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God (Romans 13:1-2)

Those who misinterpret the above passage to teach that every elected official who is in office has been placed there by God often tell us that to deny this belief and resist ungodly policy such as the murder of innocent unborn children, homosexual marriage, unnecessary spending and tax increase are actually resisting God Himself.
However, I have challenged them with this question: “When the authorities tell us to stop preaching in Jesus Name, should we humbly submit to the powers that be?” This is exactly what the “powers” did to the apostles in the early church. Notice their response:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:27-29)

Now were Peter, John and the rest of the apostles in disobedience to God? Should they have disobeyed God and obeyed men and in that way they would be obeying God by disobeying Him? What if the authority tells us to bow down to a false deity? Should we humbly submit? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego seemed to disagree with modern day ideas as they actually resisted the powers. Yet, God blessed them for this resistance of authority (See Dan. 3:13-18). It was not God’s will for these boys to “obey God” by submitting to the king's request.
We must interpret Scripture with Scripture in order to get its correct and fullest meaning. Too many theologians attempt to build a doctrine on only one passage, and usually based on eisegesis of that text. This too often mischaracterizes God and makes Him responsible for the ungodliness happening in our government systems. On the other hand, God’s people should become politically active in our nation and always vote for candidates whose values are closest to those advocated by Scripture.


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Monday, June 5, 2017

Are all Elected Officials ordained of God? (Part 1)

June 5

Are all Elected Officials ordained of God? (Part 1)

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God (Romans 13:1-2)

Many Christians in the United States believe that every elected official, no matter how godly or ungodly, was placed in office by God. This is despite the fact that the USA has elections to choose their leaders. This idea is often based on a faulty understanding of our opening passage.
In the USA our elected officials are where they are by THE WILL OF MAN and not God. Romans 13 is speaking about the fact that God ordains the AUTHORITY, or rather, the POSITION and not necessarily the PERSON. If we believe that every single person in a position of authority was there by God’s divine will then God is responsible for murderers such as Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Idi Amin Dada, and numerous other dictators who tortured people and massacred others.
We are in essence saying that it was the will of God that leaders who advocate policies that go directly against God's will (abortion, homosexual marriage, etc.) were placed in office by Him. If it was God's will to have certain liberal politicians in office then it is also God's will to have baby killing continue and homosexual marriage promoted as well as have taxes so high that one would have less to support the gospel with. Those are all God's will if God is the One who put these individuals in office.
In the context of the passage God set up authority for the purpose of law and good being done in the land, For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.” (Rom. 13:3-4a).
In the context it is not saying that every person placed in authority is ordained of God, unless one wants to contend that there is some mysterious good in killing and starving the people you are ruling over, or aborting children and promoting the legalization of gay marriage.
No, the office of PRESIDENT is ordained of God. The office is ordained of God. The one who sits in the office is not always ordained of Him. However, we are required to pray for everyone that is authority (1 Tim. 2:1-6)


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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Old Books: The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart

Golden Nuggets from Really Old Books:

The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. (Exodus 10:27; King James Version)

In a number of places within Scripture God is said to harden people’s hearts and then punish them for having committed those sins that comes as a result of such hardening. Some men, especially those of the Calvinist persuasion, claim that God does this efficaciously (the belief that God sovereignly and supernaturally produced the hardness in Pharaoh’s heart. It is the false idea that Pharaoh had no ability to resist God’s hardening).
Bible passages of this nature lead some people to believe that God controls all events, to include the sinful acts of men, for mysterious divine purposes. Only recently I have discovered that there is another group of people who profess Christianity but deny the divine inspiration and/or infallibility of God’s Word because of passages of this nature.
As a resolution to both erroneous extremes stated above, I and many others over the years have suggested that this “hardening” was permissive rather than causative. What we mean is that there is a principle in the Bible in which God is said to do that which He merely allows, permits or does not prevent from occurring. There are some Bible translations that recognize this truth and have interpreted the Scriptures to reflect it. For example, here are two Bible translations of our opening passage:

And Yahweh let the heart of Pharaoh wax bold, - and he was not willing to let them go. (The Emphasized Bible by J. B. Rotherham)

But JEHOVAH permitted Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened, so that he would not send them away. (A Translation of the Old Testament Scriptures from the Original Hebrew By Helen Spurrell)

Just recently I found another translation by a Jewish Rabbi, Dr. A. Benisch published in 1852. Here is how he renders the passage:

But the Eternal allowed Pharaoh's Heart to be hardened, and he would not let them go (Ex. 10:27; Jewish School & Family Bible, Volume I by Dr. A. Benisch)

It would appear that interpreting God’s role of hardening in a permissive rather than in a causative sense is nothing new or novel. However, those who desire to maintain a view of God’s sovereignty that make Him the author and distributor of evil strongly and vehemently oppose this view. Those who believe that God is good but that the passages above do not reflect this truth, thus, believing that the Bible is uninspired and full of contradiction, also argue against understanding the Bible in this sense.
While there is nothing we can do to change the perspective of those who have closed their ears to our proofs, we can continue to present evidence to encourage those who know that God is good in every sense of the Word, who believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God, but often struggle with how it depicts God in several places as one who hardens hearts, sends evil and lying spirits, inflicts sickness and disease, and other acts that fail to demonstrate the natural understanding of a benevolent deity.
Citing from some really old books helps us in this faith building endeavor. Most men of those times, unlike our superficial single focused theologians of today, took time to investigate these Biblical issues and found that God can indeed be vindicated upon the established truth that the Bible is only stating a principle in which God is said to do what He merely permitted. In his 1867 book on Bible Illustrations James Lee (M. A.) helps to clarify this matter for us:

V. 10. 'The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart.'—These words have not a little perplexed many a reader of the Bible. God is often said in Scripture to do what He only permits to be done; e.g., 'The Lord said unto Shimei, Curse David,'—meaning, the Lord permitted Shimei to curse David. 'Is there evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it ?'—and the Lord hath not permitted it. Nor is this style of speaking unpracticed by ourselves. How common is it for people to say of an over-indulgent parent, 'He—she—ruined the children.' How? By not restraining them; and as the result (though not inevitably) the children ruined themselves. So, not softening Pharaoh's heart, the Lord hardened it; Pharaoh doing really what the Lord did consequentially.
To this explanation, however, two objections will be raised: 1st. That if Pharaoh only did what he was permitted to do, how could he in equity be punished for it 1 This objection takes for granted either that the Lord was under obligation to prevent Pharaoh, or that the Lord permitting, necessitated Pharaoh to do as he did; both which must be denied. For while men are bound to hinder sin all they can, and their not hindering it when it is in their power to do so, is a crime of greatest magnitude; God, on the other hand, is bound to none, and therefore may give men or withhold from them His restraining grace, as His wisdom sees best. We must here recognize His uncontrollable, unimpeachable, and most righteous sovereignty. And so far from the Lord's permission necessitating Pharaoh, that surely is against all reason. When a parent permits his child to have his own way, no one will say that the parent necessitates the child to take his own way.
The second objection is, that the Lord 'raised up' Pharaoh to do as he did, ch. ix. 16; Rom. ix. 17. But the reply to this is obvious. For God's 'raising up ' Pharaoh refers not to his creation, but preservation. Pharaoh fell down under Divine judgment, and the Lord 'raised him up'; i.e., permitted him to stand or continue the adversary of His people. And is there aught in this to exonerate Pharaoh, by shifting the cause of his rebellion from himself to God? God
did not make Pharaoh rebellious; He only forbore to make him obedient, giving him up to his own wicked heart, so that he became more and more hardened, until he was destroyed.— Anon.
Lee, James Bible Illustrations: Consisting of Apothegms, Maxims and Proverbs, Volume 1 (James Lee (M.A.), 1867), pp. 168, 169

We certainly don’t expect the above to change the heart of those people who use Bible passages that appear to teach that God efficaciously hardens hearts as proof of their view that God controls every single event, be it good or evil. Neither do we expect it to change the heart of those who use such passages to question the inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures. But we do believe that it should bless those of us who believe that God is very good, that the Bible is indeed the inspired and inerrant Word of God, but that it requires some passages to be interpreted in a permissive rather than in a causative sense. Be blessed.


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