Tim Challies – The Particular Temptations of Young Men

Young men have it tough. In so many ways, this world seems to have been custom-crafted to take advantage of their weaknesses, their flaws, their immaturities. Solomon lamented this in his day, telling of the seductresses and prostitutes who laid in wait for young men. He told as well of the immaturity and ungodliness of young men that made them especially prone to sadly blunder or joyfully sprint into the traps and snares laid for them. Today he might write about ever-present amusements, the proliferation of porn, the rise of sexting, the sense of meaninglessness that so often pervades the minds and spirits of young men.

I love to spend time with young men, to counsel them, and to assure them that this time in their lives has great significance. As we speak, I find a number of common temptations they face while passing through their teens and twenties.

Purposelessness. Purposelessness may be the foremost struggle for young men, the one that feeds so many other vices. I don’t think we, as older Christians, have done well in communicating the purpose of these years. I don’t think we have helped young men see their importance in laying a solid or shaky foundation for the years to come. In the years of youth it may be difficult for young men to know their purpose, to know how best to fill their time. Enthusiasm often outstrips opportunity and ability. They have not yet proven themselves worthy and capable of accepting significant responsibility, so we give them little to do, we entrust to them only the simplest and least significant tasks. We fail to teach them that even today they are building the house they will have to live in for the rest of their lives. With little sense of purpose, they wile away the years instead of embracing them. They squander the years instead of making the most of them.

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W. Robert Godfrey – Can Christians Pray the Imprecations of Psalm 69?

Psalm 69 presents familiar elements of lament and praise, but in a particularly pointed and vivid way. The suffering is poignant, the praise strong, the imprecations severe, and the anticipations of Christ detailed. The psalm is primarily a series of supplications with elaborations explaining the circumstances that have produced these prayers (vv. 1–29). The psalm concludes with a call to praise God as the One who hears and answers prayer (vv. 30–36).

The first prayer is an individual cry for rescue: “Save me, O God!” The psalmist presents his need in the poetic image of a man who is drowning. The waters surround and threaten him so that his life seems at its end (vv. 1–2). Added to the imminence of death is the sense that God has not heard his prayers. He is worn out in calling on God. His misery is highlighted by the irony that although he is drowning, he is thirsty (v. 3). As another poet said, “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” The psalmist clarifies the danger he faces by speaking of enemies of great number who hate him for no reason (v. 4 NIV). By “no reason,” he does not mean that the enemies have no allegations against him, but only that they have no valid accusations. Yet the psalmist does acknowledge that he is suffering for his sin against God (v. 5).

The second prayer is for the people of God, that the psalmist’s suffering would not bring shame and confusion to God’s people (v. 6). The psalmist recognizes that he is scorned and abused and that he is alienated even from those closest to him (vv. 7–12). But he knows that he suffers for God’s sake (v. 7) and in His service. He is zealous for God (v. 9) and sincerely repentant for his sins (vv. 10–11), yet he is ridiculed by many, from the exalted judges in the gate to the most contemptible members of society: “I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me” (v. 12). But this abuse is malicious and unfair. He hopes it will not deceive those who love God.

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Richard Greenham – Reading and Understanding the Scriptures

Introduction

Those things that God has joined together no man may sever asunder. Therefore, preaching and reading of the Holy Scriptures, being of God joined together in the work of our salvation, may not be severed asunder. In all sciences, arts, and trades, teachers and masters are ordinarily required for the sound learning and profiting of them. We must be persuaded much more that it is necessary to have guides to go before us in the way to salvation.

That preaching is the most principal means to create and beget faith and repentance in God’s people must be granted (Deu 18:18; 33:10; Lev 10:11; Mal 2:6-7; 2Ch 36:15; Isa 50:4-5, 7-8; 53:1; 55:10-11; 57:19; 58:1; 61:1, 62:6-7; Mat 13:3; 28:19-20; Eph 4:11-14; Rom 10:14-15; 1Co 1:21; 1Pe 1:23-25). And where this ordinary means of salvation fails, the people for the most part perish (Pro 29:18; Hos 4:6; 2Ch 15:13; Isa 56:9-10; Mat 15:14; Luk 11:52). But it is likewise proved that the reading of the Scriptures publicly in the church of God and privately by ourselves is a special and ordinary means, if not to beget, yet to increase faith in us (Deu 6:6; 11:18; Neh 8:8-9; Psa 1:2; Joh 5:39; Acts 13:15; 15:21; Rom 15:14; 2Pe 1:19). The manifold fruit that comes of the reading of the Scriptures prove the same.

Reading rather establishes than derogates from preaching; for none can be profitable hearers of preaching that have not been trained up in reading the Scriptures or hearing them read. Many inconveniences come from the neglect of reading, as that the people cannot tell when a sentence is alleged out of the canonical Scriptures, when out of the Apocrypha; when out of the Scriptures, when out of other writers; or that they cannot discern when he speaks his own or a sentence of the Scripture.

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Michael Boling – Rebellion: Brought to You by the Letter I

1 Samuel 15:23 – “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Most are familiar with King Saul, the first king of Israel. He was a man who at first glance would have seemed to be a perfect fit for this position. He came from a wealthy family, was a man of great stature, and apparently good looks. Perhaps he was the Kennedy of his day. Despite all those outward qualities, his life was full of continued rebellion against God’s commands, ultimately resulting in his demise as king and subsequent suicide.

1 Samuel 15:23 strikes right to the heart of what seemed to constantly derail King Saul, namely the sin of rebellion, an attitude we all quite often fall prey to if we were honest. In this post I will explore what rebellion looks like, how it is related to the equally nefarious attitude and practice of divination, with particular attention paid to how we can fight against this perniciously sinful attitude.

First, let’s take a second to define the term of rebellion as used in 1 Samuel 15:23. The word used in 1 Samuel 15:23 that is translated as rebellion is the Hebrew noun mĕriy meaning simply “rebellion.” To grasp what this term means, we can look at the root word from which it is derived, namely the Hebrew verb marah, meaning “to be contentious, be rebellious, be refractory, be disobedient towards, be rebellious against; to show rebelliousness, show disobedience, disobey.” This term marah was used to describe the waters that came forth from the rock at Meribah when Moses responded to the grumbling and contentious attitude of the Israelites by striking the rock. One can quickly see what rebellion is all about, specifically the attitude of grumbling and disobedience to one in authority.

When looking at the life of King Saul, this spirit of rebellion becomes quite apparent. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for King Saul came when he once again disobeyed God’s clear command. The particular situation noted in 1 Samuel 15 is when King Saul refused to completely eliminate the Amalekites to include their livestock. He took it upon himself to skirt God’s commands by sparing the life of the Amalekite king as well as the choicest of their livestock. He compounded his sin by lying to Samuel, a combination of actions that resulted in God turning His face from Saul. There is no sadder situation that to find yourself rejected by almighty God.

Another interesting element of 1 Samuel 15:23 is the statement that “rebellion is as the sin of divination.” Essentially, Samuel is equating rebellion as being no different than divination, sometimes translated as witchcraft. The word translated as divination or witchcraft is the Hebrew qecem meaning “to practice divination, divine.” What is being “divined” is guidance from an authority other than God or His Word. For King Saul, his rebellion was nothing more than divining guidance based on selfish motives. Apparently he believed that obeying God’s commands was unnecessary if done for the “right reason.” Saul figured he would be able to cover his blatant disobedience by offering the spoils he kept as a sacrifice to God, an action God completely rejected. What God desired was obedience rather than sacrifice. Instead of having a heart after God, Saul was had a rebellious heart, one that yearned to be THE ultimate authority, an attitude that comes from the Enemy who himself is permeated within by the spirit of rebellion against God. Ronald Youngblood aptly notes, “Selfish refusal to submit to the commands of the sovereign Lord results in slavery to malign forces in the demonic realm.”[1]

God was blazingly clear to the people of Israel as to His approach to those who practiced divination. Since rebellion is noted as being like divination, it is important to note what God said about this practice.

The following passages provide a sampling:

“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer” (Deut. 18:10)

“And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.” (2 Kings 17:7)

“And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” (Jer. 14:14)

It is quite clear from these passages that the practice of divination was an abomination to God.

Rebellion also receives chastisement from God throughout Scripture. One passage in particular that describes the spiritual condition of those who dwell in the spirit of rebellion is Psalm 68:6 which states:

“God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”

The Psalmist paints a rather vivid mental picture in this passage noting the life led in rebellion against God is the same as living in a dry land. The concept of a dry land as outlined in this passage specifically refers to a place that has been scorched where no growth or essence of life resides. Such a life is in stark contrast to the life of the righteous noted in Psalm 1:3:

“He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. “

Unlike the one with a rebellious spirit who rejects God’s commands, the righteous man delights in the law of the Lord. It is this delight in the word of God that results in a life that is planted by rivers of water and that bears fruit. What is this river of water one may ask? We can begin to find out what this means by looking at John 7:38 – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” So first off to have rivers of water flowing from your life requires a faith in Christ. The wicked then are those who live in the dry land.

Isaiah 44:3 declares “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Once again we see this contrast between a land that is dry (a rebellious land) and rivers of water poured out on those to whom God has granted His Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 58:11 continues this them by noting “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Sustenance and life is found only in the Lord who gives us strength. He is the one who provides us with the life giving water through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some practical ways we can avoid a rebellious spirit are:

1) Seek after God and His will – Since a rebellious spirit comes directly from the enemy, it is evident that to combat rebellion in our lives and to reject any element of the spirit of divination requires the work of the Holy Spirit, molding and shaping our hearts to yearn after God. Rebellion is devoted to self, the emergence of “I” in opposition to yielding self to God’s perfect will. Dealing with rebellion requires “I” be removed from our spiritual alphabet to be replaced by the word “You” with the declaration “It is you Lord I desire to glorify and obey”.

2) Acknowledge God’s sovereignty – “I” desires to be lord in opposition to God’s sovereignty. The child of God must dedicate themselves to what Paul notes in Galatians 5:24:

“those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

The Puritan divine John Owen described this as mortifying the flesh. To belong to Christ means we are in relationship with a holy God. Rebellion, a construct of the flesh with its god hating passions and desires, must be put off and replaced by a heart that seeks after God. This is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit writing God’s word on our hearts, again that source of living water. When we acknowledge God’s sovereignty, we see His proper place as Lord of our lives and in turn we recognize that we are the creation, not the Creator. That posture places us in the proper position to be molded and shaped with God deftly removing the sin of rebellion from the clay of our lives. We no longer have a desire to serve other gods because we know the God we serve is THE Lord of all.

3) Put on the Full Armor of God – God provides the believer with armor by which we can resist the wiles and schemes of the enemy. Since the Garden of Eden, the enemy has used the age old yet effective tactic of rebellion against God. When we don at all times the full armor of God, we are able to withstand the temptation to usurp God’s authority with “I”. As believers who are engaged in constant and fierce combat with the forces of evil in this world, we must daily put on the complete armor of God. Our Commander in Chief (God) has provided us with the tools by which we can effectively engage the enemy. As with all manner of weaponry, they are only effective when used properly and in concert with one another.

4) Repent of the Sin of Rebellion and Pray – If you are struggling with a rebellious attitude it is time to repent and flee that youthful lust and passion. Repentance is far more than saying a quick prayer and then continuing to walk in that dreadful sinful habit. Conversely, repentance requires movement from a particular wrongdoing and movements towards righteousness. This movement towards righteousness cannot take place on your own strength. This is where prayer is so vital. We need God every minute of every day. Rebellion is a tough battle to fight for it is at the very root of all sin. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit replacing a rebellious attitude with a love for God and His will to move from that place of darkness (rebellion) to a place of light (obedience). Prayer and the vigilant study of God’s word are vital to this process.

5) Assess Your Surroundings – Often a rebellious attitude stems from what influences us. For instance, if you find yourself associating with those who display a rebellious spirit, it is likely time to evaluate those friendships. If you listen to music or watch programming that promotes a rebellious spirit, it is time to evaluate what you set your eyes and ears upon. It is vital to be around fellow believers who will lift you up in prayer, disciple you, and help you walk in the ways of the Lord. Proverbs 13:20 reminds us “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Those who are rebellious against God fall into that category of “fools” so find yourself a man or woman of God who is wise, someone who can mentor you and walk beside you.

Rebellion is like divination – powerful words yet so true. Rebellion is a work of the enemy and engaging in a rebellious attitude against God and His will is the same as saying you embrace the enemy rather than hiding in the shadow of almighty God. May we reject the sin of rebellion and the many ways it reveals its ugly head in our lives. Seek after the things of God, draw near to Him, read His word, pray, put on the full armor of God, and surround yourself with godly men and women. In doing so, you will be equipped to put off the fleshly desire to thumb your nose at God which is the sin of rebellion.

References:
[1] Ronald Youngblood. “Commentary on 1&2 Samuel” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.3: Deuteronomy through 1&2 Samuel. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 677.

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Lex Meyer – God of the Living

The Gospels record an incident when the Sadducees challenged Yeshua with what they thought would be a very difficult question. They were hoping to trap Him when they asked about marriage during the time of the resurrection.

“The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: ‘Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.’”
– Matthew 22:23-28

As usual, Yeshua’s response silenced the opposition, causing them to leave without the satisfaction they had hoped for.

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’ And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.”
– Matthew 22:29-33

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Jonathan Sarfati – Genesis: Bible Authors Believed it to be History

Ever had someone tell you, ‘You’re missing the whole point! The purpose of Genesis is to teach that God is our Creator. We should not be divisive over the small details. Genesis teaches the theological truth of “Who?” and “Why?” not about the “How?” and “When?”’ Or else they say that the Bible is a book for faith and morality, not history.

An obvious answer is, why should we trust Genesis when it says God created if we can’t trust it on the details? After all, Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?’ (John 3:12). So if Genesis can’t be trusted on an earthly thing, such as Earth’s age, the sequence of creative acts upon it, or the Flood that covered it, then why trust it on a heavenly thing such as who the Creator was? Also, if Genesis 1 were merely meant to tell us that God is creator, then why simply not stop at verse 1, all that’s necessary to state this?

However, the critic has overlooked something even more important—Genesis is written as real history. This is why the rest of the Bible treats the events, people and time sequences as real history, not parables, poetry or allegory.

What does the rest of Scripture say?

The age and unique creation of Adam and Eve mattered to Jesus

When teaching about marriage, Jesus said:

‘But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female. … For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one’ (Mark 10:6–8).

Here, Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 about a real first man and first woman who became the first couple, and this was the basis for marriage between one man and one woman today. Not a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or more than two people. Evolution teaches instead that a whole population of humans evolved from a population of ape-like creatures.

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Louis Berkhof – Christ’s State of Exhaltation

1. THE SUBJECT AND NATURE OF THE EXALTATION. As already indicated in the preceding, there is a difference of opinion between Lutheran and Reformed theology on the subject of the states of Christ. The former deny that the Logos, and assert that the human nature of Christ, is the subject of the states of humiliation and exaltation. Hence they exclude the incarnation from the humiliation of Christ, and maintain that the state of humiliation consists in this, “that Christ for a time renounced (truly and really, yet freely) the plenary exercise of the divine majesty, which His human nature had acquired in the personal union, and, as a lowly man, endured what was far beneath the divine majesty (that He might suffer and die for the love of the world).”[Baier, quoted by Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, p. 383.] They hold that the state of exaltation became manifest first of all to the lower world in the descent into hades, and further to this world in the resurrection and ascension, reaching its completion in the session at the right hand of God. The exaltation, then, consists in this that the human nature assumed the plenary exercise of the divine attributes that were communicated to it at the incarnation, but were used only occasionally or secretly. Reformed theology, on the other hand, regards the person of the Mediator, that is, the God-man, as the subject of the exaltation, but stresses the fact that it was, of course, the human nature in which the exaltation took place. The divine nature is not capable of humiliation or exaltation. In the exaltation the God-man, Jesus Christ, (a) passed from under the law in its federal and penal aspects, and consequently from under the burden of the law as the condition of the covenant of works, and from under the curse of the law; (b) exchanged the penal for the righteous relation to the law, and as Mediator entered into possession of the blessings of salvation which He merited for sinners; and (c) was crowned with a corresponding honor and glory. It had to appear also in His condition that the curse of sin was lifted. His exaltation was also His glorification.

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William Cunningham – The Person Of Christ in the Early Church

The subjects which we have been considering, in connection with the Arian controversy and the Nicene Creed, come under the head of Theology, in the most restricted meaning of the word, as descriptive of that branch of divine truth which treats directly of God, or the Divine Being; and, accordingly, they are often discussed in the older systematic works under the head De Deo Uno et Trino. It is an important feature of the information which God in His word gives us concerning Himself, that in the unity of the Godhead there are three distinct persons, the same in substance, and equal in power and glory; and men who know not or who deny this, cannot be said to know the true God as He has made Himself known to us. The topics involved in the controversies, to which we now proceed very briefly to advert, come under the head of what, according to the modern divisions generally adopted upon the continent, is called Christology, as distinguished from Theology in the most restricted sense of the word, and were usually discussed in the older systems under the head “De persona Mediatoris.” They respect the constitution of the Saviour’s person, not as He existed from eternity with the Father, but as He was when on earth working out the salvation of sinners, and as He now is in heaven at God’s right hand.

So far as the Socinians are concerned, the controversy is virtually terminated by the proof of Christ’s true and proper divinity. Though some ancient heretics denied Christ’s humanity, and though one or two modern Arians have held that the super-angelic creature whom they regard as the Son, or Logos, informed or dwelt in Christ’s body, and thus served as a substitute for a human soul; yet it may be said, practically and substantially, to be universally admitted that Christ was truly and really a man, possessed of a true body and a reasonable soul.

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John Bunyan – Light for Them that Sit in Darkness

Of this man’s seed hath God, according to His promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus. ACTS 13:23

These words are part of a sermon which Paul preached to the people that lived at Antioch in Pisidia, where also inhabited many of the Jews. The preparation to his discourse he thus begins — ‘Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience’ (v 16); by which having prepared their minds to attend, he proceeds and gives a particular relation of God’s peculiar dealings with his people Israel, from Egypt to the time of David their king, of whom he treateth particularly —

That he was the son of Jesse, that he was a king, that God raised him up in mercy, that God gave testimony of him, that he was a man after God’s own heart, that he should fulfil all his will (v 22).

And this he did of purpose both to engage them the more to attend, and because they well knew that of the fruit of his loins God hath promised the Messiah should come.

Having thus therefore gathered up their minds to hearken, he presenteth them with his errand — to wit, that the Messiah was come, and that the promise was indeed fulfilled that a Saviour should be born to Israel — ‘Of this man’s seed,’ saith he, ‘hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’

In this assertion he concludeth — 1. That the promise had kept its due course in presenting a Saviour to Israel — to wit, in David’s loins — ‘Of this man’s seed.’ 2. That the time of the promise was come, and the Saviour was revealed — ‘God hath raised unto Israel a Saviour.’ 3. That Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, was he — ‘He hath raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’

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Horatius Bonar – Divine Compassion

“It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Genesis 6:6

The manner in which God here acknowledges man as his handiwork is specially to be noted. The words are, “It repented the Lord that he had made man upon earth.” It is not said generally, “that man had been made”; but definitely, that “he had made man.” He had spoken of man in his primeval goodness, as coming from his hand; so now he does not fail to remind us that it is this same man, this very race, that has now become so worthless and hateful.

He might have drawn a veil over this point, so as to prevent our being so vividly reminded that man was truly his own workmanship. But he does not. Nay, he brings the sad fact before us, — a fact that seems to reflect upon his own skill and power. He does not disavow creation. He does not disown man. He does not speak or act as one ashamed to be known as the Maker of one so miserably apostate, so incurably depraved. Even when making known man’s extremity of guilt, he openly owns him as his creature. He does not keep silence on the matter, as one desirous that it should be forgotten or unnoticed. He brings it directly forward, as if to call attention to the fact.

When man fails in some great or favourite project,—as when an architect plans and builds a palace, which, by reason of some essential defect, almost immediately tumbles down, — he is anxious that its failure should not be proclaimed, and that the work thus ruined should never be known as his. He cannot bear the reproach which is sure to fall upon him; he shrinks from the responsibility which has been incurred; he cannot afford to lose the reputation he may have gained.

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