Getting the wrong end of the stick: Who’s responsible?

The evil powers is the only explanation of the world as it is today and has been through history. The greastest conflict in human history is the conflict between good and evil. The Bible is a record of that confict.

Ephesians 6

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Human history begins with the Fall of man. The world became the kingdom of satan, and satan became the god of this world. We are all born as children of wrath, slaves of the devil. Popular thinking ridicules this. The god of this world has increased the blindness. In this regard, I examine a few relevant biblical texts:

Matthew 13

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

Though seeing, they do not see;
 though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
 you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I isolate the verses in italics – Matthew 13:12-13, 16-19, and focus on the underlined words related to “understanding (seeing, hearing).”

12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.

Commentary

Verse 12 – The one who has little understanding will have even less, and the one with much understanding will have more. Verse 16 – The disciples understood what the most exalted prophet or righteous person of the past had never understood. The disicples were “blessed” with this understanding, that is, it didn’t come from themselves but from God.

In Verse 18, “what was sown in the heart” the “evil one” snatches away? I understand this to mean that the devil steals what is little understood – “does not understand it” in verse 18. Recall verse 12 “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” The reason for this is that everyone born into this world is a child of God’s wrath; love it or hate it.

No one – who believes in the devil – will dispute the fact that his intention is to to steal and destroy “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). What might raise not a few hackles is that God (also) comes to kill and destroy. Our focus is on the destruction/obstruction of understanding. Here is Isaiah immediately after his devastating vision of the Lord:

Isaiah 6

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
 be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ (Matthew 13 above quoted Isaiah 6:9).

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
 hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Above, I bracketed “also”: “God (also) comes to kill and destroy,” because God decrees/ordains all that comes to pass. Understanding (God decrees and all things) is of the Lord. And misunderstanding? This is of Satan, under God’s decree. The understanding of God’s sovereignty over both good and evil comes from God.

The significance of being a prosperous vile worm: A preacher at Whitney Houston’s funeral service

One Methodist pastor told me that sermons on sin were the old days and people need to be encouraged rather than be condemned. Besides, he said, many of his congregation are either elderly, sick or hurting in one way or another. What they needed was a boost of their image (not his exact words). They need to be told that when God looks at them, he jumps with delight (his words). (See And he opened to them the scriptures: a harsh sermon).

At the beginning of the sermon at the funeral service of Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, Feb. 18, 2012, the “Prosperity Gospel” preacher started off by saying that he is going to preach the Gospel. Whoopee, that’s the stuff. Alas, he then said “Look at somebody and say ‘I’m significant.’” Yeah, you are so wonderful; that is why God saved you. Later on he said, “I don’t want anyone to leave here broke…You know there are lots of folks who say ‘I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel.’ I don’t know what other Gospel there is.” So God has a great plan for your life – to make it significantly prosperous – in the moola department – in front of Whitney’s coffin, who had it all. She got lost in the health and prosperity of it all. (See Wretched TV – With Todd Friel – Whitney Houston’s Funeral – Prosperity Gospel?

So, this asinine individual has told you that God has a great plan for your life. You poor sod. There was one “who was aroused to concern during his (Robert Murray M’Cheyne) sermon on “Unto whom coming as unto a living stone.” As he spoke of the Father taking the gem out of his bosom, and laying it down for a foundation-stone, she felt in her soul, “I know nothing of this precious stone; I am surely not converted.” This led her to come and speak with him. She was not under deep conviction; but before going away, he said, “You are a poor, vile worm; it is a wonder the earth does not open and swallow you up.”

If this wretched woman, who knew her spiritual poverty and thus nothing of this “precious stone,” is called “vile worm,” what shall we call this preacher for whom the Gospel was precious lolly. At best another “vile worm?”PREACHER WHITNEY HOUSTON FUNERAL

What happened after Robert Murray M’Cheyne called this woman a “vile worm?”

These words were blessed to produce a very awful sense of sin. She came a second time with the arrows of the Almighty drinking up her spirit. For three months she remained in this state, till having once more come to him for counsel, the living voice of Jesus gave life to her soul while he was speaking of Christ’s words, “If thou knewest the gift of God,” etc., and she went away rejoicing.” (The biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar).

What was it that Whitney Houston, that prosperity pastor and those he preached to needed to know? The true Gospel of Jesus Christ, where we must, says Paul Washer, not begin with man but with “the character of God. Who is He? He is righteous God. Man is the complete opposite of righteousness.” “The most horrifying news according to the scriptures,” says washer, is that “God is good” and “we are not.” “The problem is this: if God is righteous he cannot pardon. His righteousness must be satisfied. I hear these evangelists say, ‘instead of God being just with you, he is loving.'”

Washer continues:

“God cannot lay down one attribute in favor of another. And so for God to pardon a wicked people, he must firsts satisfy the demands of his own justice. He must be appeased…In pagan religions, the deity demands that re people appease his wrath; in Christianity, this righteous God becomes a man, walks on this earth, lives a perfect life, the sins of his people are imputed to Him, and He crushed under the justice the people deserves. Our God appeased Himself. Our God satisfied His own righteousness on that tree. And that is why the Gospel is so splendid… (Jesus) was crushed under the wrath of God.”

And William Symington:

The Lord our God is holy. He is free from every vestige of moral pollution ; he delights in whatever is pure ; he hates whatever is of an opposite character. Now, sin is opposed to the holiness of God ; it is essentially impure, filthy, abominable. It follows that it is the object of his supreme detestation ; he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. But how can this be made to appear, without the punishment of sin ? It is not enough that a penalty be annexed to transgressions, that a threat be appended to the violation of his law; if the penalty is not inflicted, if the threat is not executed, there is still room left to suppose that sin is not the abominable thing that was supposed; the blasphemous thought may nevertheless spring up in the bosom of moral creatures, that God, after all, approves of sin, and secretly connives at the commission of it. To vindicate the holiness of the divine character, the penalty annexed to disobedience must be executed. But its being executed on the transgressor is incompatible with the transgressor’s being forgiven. To the pardon of sin, then, consistently with the purity of God, the punishment must fall on the sinner’s substitute. In other words, the divine holiness proclaims the necessity of Christ’s atonement. Thus, and thus alone, can the sinner be saved without sin being palliated, or the perfect moral purity of the Holy One being sullied.”

Excerpt From: Symington, William, 1795-1862. “On the atonement and intercession of Jesus Christ.” New York : Robert Carter, 1847.

Only a remnant of modern professing Christians accept Washer’s and Symington’s words.

Related: Twisting God’s word: forgiveness and the sin nature Adrian Stanley, Helmut Thielicke, Joel Osteen and Rabbi Hirsch to the rescue.

Fear of others’ opinions

Fear of Man’s Opinion
BY J. C RYLE

“The fear of man” will indeed “prove to be a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). It is terrible to observe the power which it has over most minds, and especially over the minds of the young. Few seem to have any opinions of their own, or to think for themselves. Like dead fish, they go with the stream and tide: what others think is right, they think is right; and what others call wrong, they call wrong too. There are not many original thinkers in the world. Most men are like sheep, they follow a leader. If it was the fashion of the day to be Roman Catholics, they would be Roman Catholics, if it was to be Islamic, they would be Islamic. They dread the idea of going against the current of the times. In a word, the opinion of the day becomes their religion, their creed, their Bible, and their God.

Read on http://www.monergism.com/blog/fear-mans-opinion.

Abraham, a Christian? I’ll be stoned!

As many who read Christian blogs know “Christ” is English for the Greek “Christos, which is Greek for the Hebrew “Mashiach” (Messiah).

Muslims say Abraham was a Muslim. If you mean he submitted (Arabic “Islam”) to God, yes, he was. Jews say he is the father of God’s chosen people – the Jews. Yes, he IS. Abraham, of course, wasn’t Jewish, but a “wandering” (Deuteronomy 26:5).

So, how can Abraham be Christian, a follower of the Messiah – who, two thousand years after Abraham, took on flesh in Jesus? Because Jesus said so, and called those who disbelieved him – members of God’s chosen people – children of the devil.

John 8:46-59
Which of convicts me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God hears God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeks and judges. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom make thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honourme; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Where did Abraham “rejoice to see my day, and saw it.” One place was:

11 And the ANGEL OF YAHWEH called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the boy; do not do anything to him. For now I know that you are one who fears God, since you have not withheld your son, your only child, from ME.”

John 8:51
Truly, truly, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Psalms 95:8-11
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation,

and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me,

proved me, and saw my work.

10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation,

and said, It is a people that do err in their heart,

and they have not known my ways:

11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath

that they should not enter into my rest.

Are you for the most part in some misery?

The bruised reed is a person who for the most part is in some misery, just as those were who came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as its cause, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken. He is sensible of his sin and misery, even to his bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, he is carried with restless desire to have supplies from another, with some hope, which raises him a little out of himself toward Christ, though he dare not claim to have gained any present interest of mercy. This spark of hope being opposed by doubts and fears rising from his corruption makes him like smoking flax; so that both these together, a bruised reed and smoking flax, make up the state of a poor distressed man. This is such a person as our Savior Christ terms “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), who sees his wants, and also sees himself indebted to divine justice. He has no means of supply from himself or the creature, and thereupon he mourns, and, upon some hope of mercy from the promise, and examples of those that have obtained mercy, he is stirred to hunger and thirst after it.

(Richard Sibbes, “The bruised reed”). Free PDF here http://www.onthewing.org/user/Sibbes%20-%20Bruised%20Reed%20-%20Updated.pdf

Joel Beeke: “What the Puritans Would Say to Theological Teachers and Pastors Today.”

Here is one of many wonderful messages by Joel Beeke: “What the Puritans Would Say to Theological Teachers and Pastors Today.” Date: 1/13/2014

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=3171558328

How different the “asperity” (asp – snake) pastors/theologians – prosperity ones are one kind – infesting the world.

The text of the lecture appears in the Puritan Reformed Journal, p. 183 ff.
https://prts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/PR-Journal-6.1-final1.pdf

Headings

1. Invest Precious Time in Prayer.
2. Depend Radically on the Holy Spirit.
3. Embrace the Thorns of affliction.
4. Cultivate Personal Holiness (Professionalism is resumé-driven).
5. Digest the Bible one verse at a Time.
6. Feel the momentous dignity of ministry.
7. Love the Triune God and His People.

The last two are not in the PDF.

8. Focus on Jesus Christ.
9. Love and romance your spouse.

This advice is also for all Christians.

Brit Lesbian to American anti-LGBT, “I’ll pray for you.”

I’ve heard (North) Americans lamenting that Richard Dawkins can talk drivel but, with his posh Brit accent, melt any audience.

American monergist (Calvinist) James White and a British synergist (Arminian) church-planting “couple” (man and wife, for you moderns) were on either the “Unbelievable” show or the JanetMefford show, where the wife laced the conversation with mellifluous interjections “but James… (in a “my dear American boy, tone), which seemed, if not to deflate James, to unsettle him a tad. You know; it’s that colonial thing.

Then there was the encounter between American, Robert Gagnon and Brit, Jayne Ozanne, on a recent “Unbelievable” show (24 April, 2015). Blurb – “Prof Robert Gagnon has become a well-known voice advocating the traditional biblical view on sexuality. In a highly charged show he debates the scriptural issues on sexuality with Jayne Ozanne, the director of Accepting Evangelicals who came out as gay earlier this year.”

Indeed, a highly charged show. Ozanne said she would pray for Gagnon to see the light. The unbiblicality and effrontery of it all! But what made it worse – no, not a lesbian dressing down a man – was that stabbing colonial thing: “I’ll prrrray for you.”