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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Love in Bullet Form

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love does not envy
  • Love does not parade itself
  • Love is not puffed up
  • Love does not behave rudely
  • Love does not seek its own
  • Love is not provoked
  • Love thinks no evil
  • Love does not rejoice in iniquity
  • Love rejoices in the truth
  • Love bears all things
  • Love believes all things
  • Love hopes all things
  • Love endures all things.
  • Love never fails

But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Cor 13

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Running For The Prize (Life After Justification)

1 Cor. 9:24 All run, but only one receives the prize.

Phil.3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize.
 (Literally: According to a mark, I press toward the prize)

One of the all-too-common accusations against the gospel of the free grace of God (salvation by grace alone through faith alone) is that it’s merely an excuse to sin. Well, apart from that being nonsense and addressed by Paul with a “God forbid!” (Rom 6:2, etc.), it is wildly and eternally dangerous should a Christian believe it.

There are two reasons for this. First, when a Christian (still having an old nature in these corruptible bodies of death) tries to live according to his flesh, he finds himself vexed and miserable. Secondly, he is forfeiting a “better resurrection.” There is a judgment for Christians. There is a prize to be won. There is a “better resurrection.” This is what we will briefly address in this note.

In the great “faith” chapter of Hebrews 11, we are told that the patriarchs and matriarchs eschewed the riches and rewards of this world for the riches and rewards of an age to come. We are told “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Although the free gift of eternal life (deliverance from the curse in resurrection), the absolute cleansing of sin and its consequences, is secure in the perfect, holy, and finished work of the Son of God through his death, burial (lack of decay) and resurrection, we must consider our resurrection and how we will fare as we “run for the prize” of our calling.

The great men and women of faith didn’t suffer just to suffer. They didn’t look towards eternity and decide, “hey, I think I’ll give up everything now, just ‘cause.”

There is reason the first three chapter of Ephesians are used by Paul (and the Holy Spirit) to explain the creation of the “one new man” of this current age and the last three chapters are used to explain how we are to strive to live our lives as members of that Body. Secure in Christ forever, but striving for a prize.

Our sin in Christ is atoned. We are “perfected forever” by the one sacrifice of Christ, never to be repeated (Heb 10:10-13; etc). We rest in that love and forgiveness. But from there, we press on to win a “prize.”

This is an enormous topic, but I would encourage those who are not resting in the finished work to put your faith in the one, perfect, eternal sacrifice of the Son of God. For those who have found that place of rest, I would encourage you to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Let us strive to “walk in the newness of life.” consistent with the hope and calling of this age.

In each dispensation, there is the discovery of a calling accompanying the gift, and something to be pursued beyond the gift. The gift can never be forfeited, but that which follows may be forfeited. We live in the "present age" (see related posts) and we run for the prize of OUR calling according to the road set before us by our apostle, Paul, in the epistles for this age.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thoughts on The Olivet Discourse

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" – Matthew 24:3

  • Note that this entire section is a response to a very specific question… when will the Lord come into His kingdom (Greek: parousia – the presence of a King). This is a specific word and is not associated with the post-Acts epistles. The events laid out in Matthew 24 correspond with the three sets of judgments in the Revelation. The “revelation” is the revelation of the King in His return to establish His throne. This is the “parousia” of the King. 

  • Charting the wording of Matthew 24 against the sequence of events in each of the judgments (seals, bowls, trumpets) will show this. Christ will return according to the prophets and according to the Feasts of Jehovah (given to Israel). The Acts age started with the Jewish feast of Pentecost and will culminate (after the present Age of Grace) with the Feast of Trumpets (“the last trump”).

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. – Matthew 25:1a

  • Matthew 25 is a continuation of the answer started by the Lord in Matthew 24. The words “at that time” reveal that the subject is yet future and coincides with the “coming” (Parousia) and “the end of the age.”

  • The first parable concerns “virgins” needing to be ready for the return of the bridegroom. In Jeremiah 31, in the New Covenant, we see that Israel is His virgin (Jer 31:4). The “remnant of Israel” (31:7) is “believing” Israel. There are three at the wedding: the bridegroom, the bride and the guests (see Matt 22 for a picture of the guests). There are two spheres of blessing connected to Israel: the land and the New Jerusalem (the greater reward anticipated by Abram, by faith – Heb 12). In the culmination there is a wife and a bride pictured separately (Rev 19:7; 21:2) each connected to the bridegroom; one connected with the New Jerusalem. 

  • The guests of Matthew 22 are seen in Rev 19:9 (“called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”). Compare Mt 22:10. In Matthew 8 the Lord spoke of those who would be called specifically out of the gentile world to sit down in the Kingdom (8:10-11). The warning that follows concerning the “cast[ing] out into outer darkness” and the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is directed at “the children of the Kingdom” (v.12). These children are (a) of Israel (not gentiles) and (b) not “destroyed” but “cast out.” This takes us to the next parable.

“And the unprofitable servant cast ye forth to the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth.” –Matthew 25:30 

  • This parable concerns a master who returns to take account of His inheritance. The one who “hid his talent in the earth” is cast into the “outer darkness.” We know from Matthew 8 this means that he is (a) a child of the Kingdom and (b) not a gentile. We will leave that parable there and move on noting that we have thus far been dealing with Israel.

And whenever the Son of Man may come in his glory, and all the holy messengers with him, then he shall sit upon a throne of his glory; and gathered together before him shall be all the nations, and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd doth separate the sheep from the goats… - Matthew 25:31-31

  • This is not a repeat of the last parable; it is wholly different. It concerns “the nations” (i.e. the gentile nations). This is a parable that points us to Joel 3 (“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them [judge them] for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”). This occurs at the re-gathering of Israel into the land. This points us again to Jeremiah 31 (the New Covenant) and other similar passages (Zech 9-14; etc.). 
  • The nations are judged at His return / parousia (Mt 25:31) as to how they treated “the least of these [His] brethren.” (v. 40). It helps here to read another kingdom judgment passage, Isaiah 66
  • . There we see that there will be some cast into the place where “the fire is not quenched and where the worm dieth not.” We must note that this does not refer to “souls” cast into “fiery torment” but rather of “carcasses” (dead bodies) cast into a literal fire (Is 66:24).
  • The warning of difficult times upon Israel was given in Matthew 24
  • (the signs of His coming). The warnings are taken from the prophets sent to Israel (vs. 15, 29, etc.). The end concerns the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 51).
  • The events upon His return in regard to the gentile nations are given in Matthew 25
  • During the “tribulation” pictured in Matthew 24 (and in the Revelation) the Jews will be greatly persecuted (“the time of Jacob’s trouble”). The Lord Jesus is the Son of David and a Jew “according to the flesh.” These are the “my brethren” of whom He speaks.

The Matthew 25 judgment has no cross, no faith, no blood, no resurrection and no Christ!

  • The sheep and the goats judgment involves only works that apply to the oppressed (clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and those in prison). [Note: no rituals of religion or works of the law are listed.] The parable does not reveal how those who are hungry (etc.) will be judged. The ones being judged have no idea they are performing kindnesses for the sake of Christ’s brethren (although they will know they are helping Israel, God’s people).

Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. -Gal 3:7-9

  • The promise to the “sheep” nations is that they will “inherit the Kingdom” that was prepared “FROM the foundation of the world” (v. 34). These blessing are known through the prophets (Gal 3:7-9; etc.). This must be a future, specific judgment. Those at this judgment have not yet been judged. It therefore cannot be a judgment of all men of all time. It must concern things known “FROM the foundation of the world.”
  • The “goats” are not punished for any religious crime or failure. They are not punished for any sin of commission. They are unaware of the judgment they are facing. That is, if this was a judgment of all men of all time (as it is commonly interpreted) and if those who die unredeemed are immediately in “fiery torment” (as is commonly taught), then this parable would make no sense. Those judged are not cast into “everlasting fire” until after the judgment. If this was a judgment of all sinners of all time and if sinners go immediately into fiery torment upon death, this parable would make no sense.
  • The “goats” are sent to “eternal punishment.” The word “eternal” means “cannot be reversed.” We know they have not been in a holding tank somewhere waiting for judgment; the Bible allows for no such place. As noted, they did not know their fate until the “Son of man” returns.
  • The title “Son of man” like “Son of David” is connected to Christ’s earthly reign. Study the response of the Lord to the Israelites who cry “Son of David” (Mt 9:27-29; 20:30-34) to the same cry from a Gentile in Matthew (Mt 15:22-26). As the “Son of David” He responds to call of His earthly people and heals them directly. He ignores the gentile, calls her a dog, and only responds when she calls Him “Lord.” He then heals, not her, but her unseen daughter (i.e. the one healed need not be touched or even in His presence).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More on This "Yeshua" Business

Follow-up post on THIS POST

Let me start by again noting that I have no problem if people want to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as “Yahushua” or “Yeshua” (we’ll see why it differs). Lately, I’ve been finding myself calling out to him as (phonetically) “Ee-ay-sooce’.” But all of these names are Anglicized versions of non-English words. “Jesus” is a westernized rendering of the Anglicized “Joshua,” the Lord’s name according to the flesh.

So what’s the problem? The problem arises when people and groups start to distinguish between real Christians and those who apparently and secretly worship Satan based on the name we use for God or for the eternal Son of God. As one writer chastised us in a group, “Yahushua Ha maschiach is the only way , truth , and life in the Father Yahuwah!” He went on to argue, “jzeus [sic] christ [sic] is not the messiah !!!!!!!” Exclamation points in the original.

There is a tremendous irony at work here. Both “Yahushua” and “Yahuwah” are Anglicized versions of Hebrew. The Hebrew for Joshua (Jesus) is יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (right to left). The English translation of the name of the covenant God of Israel (note that) is “YWHW.” No vowels. As to the “proper” Hebrew pronunciation, we cannot be sure. But I can be sure of this, whatever the proper pronunciation of the names might be, “Yahushua” and “Yahuwah” are not them. If we tried to spell the Anglicized “Joshua” phonetically it would be “yehôshûa.” “Yahushua” is bastardized Hebrew. We write his name and pronounce it in English.

What do these people do with the countless languages in the world? The Bible itself speaks to us in three languages. I wonder what these people think of the deaf and mute communities?

In Greek (the language his Apostles were inspired to write) it's "ιησους," which is pronounced roughly, "ee-ay-sooce’." The writers of the gospels, Acts, epistles and the Revelation used the Greek. Were they heretics? They used “ theós” for God as well. The guy who was accusing us of worshiping a false Messiah (another Anglicized word for a Hebrew word, by the way), uses “Father” with “ Yahuwah.” The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one. “Father” is obviously English. The Lord Jesus used “Abbâ” which is Aramaic. Would he condemn him? Well, probably.

I don’t know what these people do with all the pronouns used in scripture; Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Surely pronouns can’t be “high” enough for them.

Salvation by pronoun: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” -John 5:24

I'll skip the original language for Messiah for our purposes here, but the Anglicized Hebrew phonetically would roughly be "mâshı̂yach." He got that wrong too. And, of course, the Greek we render as "Christ" ( Christós ), was used by the Apostles as well. I suppose these people have a copy of scripture in its original languages and that's what they read? Doubtful. ANd even if they did, they’d probably go through and correct the apostles, crossing out ιησους and writing in Yahushua (in English, of course).

Peter declares, “ ιησου χριστου του ναζωραιου [Jesus Christ of Nazareth] ... for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Paul declares that if we profess with our mouths the “κυριος ιησους [Lord Jesus],” we will be rescued from death. I wonder what the “Yahushua” crowd do with Peter and Paul... and with the Angel Gabriel, for that matter.

“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name ιησους [ee-ay-sooce’, Jesus].” Now, Gabriel could have greeted Mary in Hebrew, but The Holy Spirit saw fit to preserve it for us in Greek.

Scripture warns of “false Christs” and of “another Jesus.” Now, the Holy Spirit uses Christós and ιησους in those instances, so it’s not a matter of simply getting the name correct, it’s the Person behind the name we need to understand.

We must believe on the true Christ, the Son of God, the Holy One, the Savior who came down from heaven, took on a body that was prepared for him, was born of a Virgin in the line of David, lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary sacrificial death, did not decay in the tomb, and arose from the grave, conquering the curse of death and decay, to live forevermore.
He is Joshua, Yahushua, Ee-ay-sooce, Jesus. Call upon his name, believe on Him of whom the scriptures speak, trust in nothing else apart from his death, burial and resurrection and you will be rescued from the curse of sin, death and decay! If you will, You will rise again one day in a perfect body “like unto his glorious body” (Phil 3:21).

For a greater explanation, please click to see the pamphlet: What is a Christian?

Monday, December 26, 2016

We Must Worship in Spirit and Truth

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.- John 4:23

Worship in Spirit

In spirit and truth. If I want to worship as a true worshiper, I must worship him in spirit and in truth. But what does that mean in practical terms? This can be a very extensive topic, but I just want to focus on the large picture. In each age, the Lord wants his people to worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH.

"Spirit" refers to that which originates with God. The breath of life is given by God and taken by God. The Lord on the cross cried out "into your hands, I commend my spirit" and he "gave up the spirit" as he "breathed his last." (As God, the Lord Jesus willingly gave the life that no man could take from him.)

The spirit is distinguished in scripture from our flesh (our outward tent) and from who we are (our soul). Adam, for example was created from dust (flesh). He became a "living soul" when the breath of life (the spirit which originated with God) was breathed into him. Taking a step back, that means that a soul can be "not living." Scripture tells us, "the soul that sins, it [he] shall die." We'll have to leave that there and cover it in a separate post.

So to worship in Spirit, we must do it from that which is created as a direct creation by God. In this sense angles are called "spirits." That is, we cannot worship him in the flesh. Self-flagellation, penance, etc. these are works of the flesh and God has no use for them as forms of worship. We must walk in the "new man." We are born into a decaying tent with a fallen nature. In Christ we have a new nature and we are a new creation.

Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. -Eph 4 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. - 2 Cor 5

We must come into the light, walk worthy of our new calling and walk according to the spirit (Ephesians).

Worshiping in spirit may seem at first glance the more complicated of the two requirements, but I believe it is worshiping in truth that seems to elude us in this age.

Worship in Truth

There are some obvious things about worshiping in truth that I am not going to address. We must know who God is. We must know what he's done for us. We must know and obey the gospel of the free grace of God. But often in our day we see things that look like truth, sound like truth, have language that appears as truth... but the worship is rejected by God as not according to truth.

And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. - Exodus 32

Look at Aaron and the Israelites here in Exodus 32. Here, a redeemed people, with a chosen leader, want to worship Elohim and YHWH (Jehovah). They have the right names. They proclaim correctly what he did (brought them out of the land of Egypt). They even built an altar. We immediately see that much of their activity is done in the flesh (engraving, molding, eating, drinking, playing) and not in the spirit. It appears "religious" (a golden calf), but God is not impressed with man's religion, he wants truth. They sacrificed, they engraved, they molded... all in the name of the true God. But he never asked them to do any of those things.

In our day, many do things in the name of the true God, but not according to his instruction. They may even follow patterns in scripture, but many of these patterns were never given to them. We don't sacrifice sheep despite the commands along those lines. We don't circumcise. We don't follow Sabbaths (plural). We don't got to the Temple, etc. To do these things would be to try and worship according to another's truth.

So there is truth that is stated as always true (e.g. God is one) and there are truths that are particular to one group but not another (e.g. Passover). We must worship according to everlasting truths and according to the truths given to us.

It may be beautiful. It may be religious. It may stir feelings of worship. It may use the right names and attributes of God. It may even be found in the pages of scripture, but if it is not in line with both everlasting truth and particular truth, it is not worship.

Hindus may worship. Muslims may worship. Animists may worship. Professed religious Christians may worship. But all these deny eternal truths about God and his one way to resurrection life. Even some Christians who may understand the eternal truths, try to worship God according to practices not given to them.

All of scripture is FOR us, but not all scripture is TO us. So if you come across a command to build an ark, don't feel obligated.

Truth is independent of time ("it's an ancient practice!"), independent of man's authority ("the church teaches it!"), independent of numbers ("millions worship this way!") and independent of anyone's opinion ("it works for me!"). None of these arguments will make something into truth.

For true worship we must have a new nature (given as a free gift by God), we must be walking in that new nature, we must know eternal truth and we must practice truths particular to us. We are imperfect beings (and God knows we are but dust), but to truly worship him, we must seek to follow these guidelines as closely as possible in these bodies of death.

Golden Calf Redux
  1. They had the right God (YHWY, Elohim)
  2. They had the right doctrine (he redeemed them out of the land of Egypt)
  3. BUT... they didn't come to him the way he prescribed
  4. God rejected their worship
Let us worship in our new nature (in spirit) and in the way he has prescribed for us in the age in which we live.
  1. We can have the right Savior (Christ)
  2. We can have the right doctrine (he redeemed us out of the world)
  3. BUT... we often come to him in ways he did not prescribe for this age
  4. God may reject our worship

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel... -Ephesians 3

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ... Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances—“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion,false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. -Colossians 2

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Monkees, The Messiah & Me

God's Prerogatives

Earlier this year, at Daystar Church, Pastor Allen taught from 2 Cor 4 starting with the verse below . The reminder to confess our full dependence on Him alone to accomplish His will, shook some cobwebs in my mind.
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Cor 4:7)
The first thing I must do is to state what I am not saying. I am not saying that we are to use the rudiments of the world to accomplish the will of God. That is not our prerogative. What I do acknowledge is The Lord is free to use our weaknesses and our own desires to draw us unto himself. Often that involves bringing us to an end of ourselves, the revelation of the futility of our efforts or carnal pursuits, thus, opening our eyes to our need for him. Other times, The Lord may use an interest we have to draw us into the truth. Again, that is HIS prerogative, not ours.

I placed my full knowledge of salvation and my resting in the finished work of Christ on October 5, 1991. I won’t replay the details here. What I want to do is back up a few years to look at how The Lord was calling me to Himself before that eternal day. Having been raised in a religion to which I had pledged my undying loyalty, The Lord decided to plant the gospel seed in unexpected ways, using unexpected people. My heart was not fertile ground and needed softening.

I can never undervalue the role my brother Joe had in turning my thoughts to the gospel of grace or the importance of the radio ministry of the late Dr. Oliver B. Greene. I have written and spoken of these elsewhere. The short story I am about to share is not meant to glorify the things of the world. My hope is that it will accomplish two things:

  1. give glory to a patient God who sought to reach me even through my foolishness
  2. give encouragement to those who plant seeds, but who may not see the fruits of their labor immediately (or in this life)
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (1 Cor 3:7)

God Disrupts Life Behind the Curtain

When my family moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 1980, I was in quite a cultural conundrum. I didn’t fit in, in any way, and my only social outlet, baseball, only covered a limited part of the year. Fortunately, I met some other transplants in my neighborhood also looking for new social outlets. With new friends from New York, Chicago and Boston, we created a makeshift street hockey league. We pooled equipment, drafted some locals, and set about to play some street hockey!

The games went on from the fall into the winter months, until baseball came along again in February. One of my hockey mates, another Italian kid, this one from Boston, was also on my baseball team. I kept up with the other kids during the school year and one day they came around my house with an adult friend to take the whole gang over to little Luper Park in a nearby Greensboro neighborhood for a little backyard baseball. I was eager to join.

I excitedly jumped into his open hatch back. The rest of the gang was crammed into the other seats. The guy popped in a cassette and on came... The Monkees! Well, I knew all the words. I had been a hardcore Monkees fan since I could remember (I was 15 at this time). As I’m singing, I hear a voice call back, “hey, who’s singing back there?”

“I am,” I replied, “I’m a huge Monkees fan.”

“You’re kidding?” came the incredulous response from the driver. That opened the door to getting to know him a little better. I knew he was a friend of my friend, what I didn’t know is that he was a youth pastor (well, without understanding the concept until many years later, I’m assuming that’s who he was).

Time, games, and Monkee songs passed and I was invited to a retreat weekend with their church. All I can remember was that it was a Presbyterian church of some kind. I remember that weekend for two distinct reasons. During one of our gatherings, I heard the gospel of grace faithfully proclaimed for possibly the first time. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but I knew I was under some kind of conviction. I didn’t have the vocabulary to identify what I was experiencing, I can only define the feelings now that I have been enlightened. Looking back at the sand, I can see the footprints.

Another Faithful Servant

The other thing I remember is a girl named “Amy." I was a very shy boy, but I took a shine to Amy. We became retreat friends and spent a lot of time together. I had a big crush on her. When we returned to Greensboro, we tried to stay in touch, but being at different high schools, we eventually drifted.

Fast forward several years to 1986. The Monkees, with revived popularity due to the rebroadcast of their TV show on MTV that year, announced a new tour! Well, of course I got tickets to see them when they came to nearby Chapel Hill. I bought three tickets. One for me, one for my friend Ron, and another for a girl who decided she had no interest in The Monkees and even less interest in me.

So, I was stuck with a ticket. I don’t remember how or where or why I ran into Amy just days before the concert, but I did. We spent time catching up and I asked her if she had any interest in seeing The Monkees. Lo and behold she did! We went to the concert that night and had a great time. As I drove her home, she turned the conversation to the gospel. As I’ve written about elsewhere, I had been exposed to it during my freshman year NC State in 84/85 and had been wrestling with it, trying to truly understand it. Amy did her best to answer my questions, and she suffered well my bumbling retorts.

Something was different about Amy. She was no longer the flirtatious 15-year-old I had met at a retreat or the coy girl I had gone roller-skating with. She was committed Christian who saw past my own facade and saw my need for Christ. We parted on great terms, but we both knew the issue of the gospel was a chasm that prevented us from pursuing anything more beyond that show in Chapel Hill (at least that's how I felt).

So, neither the church retreat speaker nor Amy nor the guys who shared the gospel me with at NC state... and later... nor Oliver B. Greene nor Donald Grey Barnhouse nor J. N. Darby nor E.W. Bullinger nor Charles Welch nor Stuart Allen nor countless others.... ever saw the fruit of their faithful work.

The latter list of teachers lists six men who were all deceased at the time their words affected my life (most dead before I was born). Not to mention the witness of men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Hus, Gaebelein, Scofield, Anderson, Chafer... and so many more that I cannot list them all.

You may never know in this life how merely being faithful to the truth has affected the lives of others. So strive to be faithful and let God give the increase!

Remember: So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (1 Cor 3:7)

And you never know what The Lord may use to introduce truth into someone’s life. Be faithful. You “have not run in vain or labored in vain.” The great Apostle Paul still speaks to us. And going all the way back to the beginning, the faithful servant Abel is forever remembered by the Lord for his “more excellent sacrifice.

God testifying of his gifts; and through it he [Abel] being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Quick Post on the Use of "Yeshua HaMashiach"

I want to be clear that I have absolutely no problem with the use of the (Anglicized) "Yeshua HaMashiach" (and similar) to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. My beef is with movements which (a) demand all use it and (b) think somehow it is superior. Several growing movements demand we refer to the Savior that way, and demand vehemently. Many of these people say it is the sign of the truly regenerated.

Truth be told, it's not scriptural.

The English word "Yeshua" is an Anglicized version of the Hebrew for "Joshua." No problem, but the NT was written in Greek. Even if you include Aramaic, we know Paul never used anything except "Iēsoûs Christós" (transliterated Greek). The other Apostolic epistles only know the Greek as well.

Some argue that Greek exclusively means "son of Zeus." I don't see any justification for this, but if they hold to that, I suppose they reject the New Testament. And, if they did value the written word as they say, they would never use the Anglicized version and use only the Hebrew.

When Paul visits Mars Hill (Acts 17), he doesn't tell the Greeks that Zeus is the true God he points them to the "Unknown God" (unknown to Greeks). When Barnabas is called "Zeus" (Acts 14), he and Paul tear their garments and proclaim:

You should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

Thus proclaiming that all Greek gods are false. There is no thought here that Paul (who wrote in Greek) was trying to exalt Zeus. Nonsense.

"Yeshua HaMashiach" is itself an Anglicism. Is writing phonetically (and not in Hebrew) OK while translating into other languages is not?

Another distraction from the necessity of faith. 

Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazaraean, whom *ye* have crucified, whom God has raised from among [the] dead, by *him* this [man] stands here before you sound [in body]. *He* is the stone which has been set at nought by you the builders, which is become the corner stone [Psalm 118:22]. And salvation is in none other, for neither is there another name under heaven which is given among men by which we must be saved. -Acts 4:10-12 (Darby)

Peter proclaims in Acts 4:10-12 that it is in the name of "Iēsoûs Christós" by which men must be saved, and by no other name. This is given to us by Luke, in Greek. Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. As the Lord chose to draw by His word, and the words chosen by the chosen Apostles are in Greek, I accept their translation. Peter spoke to Jews. Whether he spoke in Hebrew or in Greek, it is preserved for us in Greek.

In the Acts 4 passage, Peter quotes the Psalms, which were written in Hebrew. It is given to us in Acts in Greek. God preserving truth through translation.

Yeshua HaMashiach folks rarely use (Anglicized) "Adonai" with his name. I say "rarely," but honestly I've never encountered one who has. The Apostles were not so shy to call him "Lord" (Greek: kýrios). Ask one of these folks if Yeshua is his "Lord." If they answer in the affirmative, inform them they must be worshiping Germanic tribal leaders as the word "Lord" has its origins from the Old English taken from the Germanic custom ("hlāfweard" to "hlāford").

I will cover this with a formal entry in the days to come.


Addendum: The Septuagint translates "Joshua" as "Iēsoûs." I don't believe the Jewish translators were trying to get people to worship Zeus.

"Ptolemy wrote to the chief priest, Eleazar, in Jerusalem, and arranged for six translators from each of the twelve tribes of Israel." -Joel Kalvesmaki, Ph.D.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thoughts on "The Good Samaritan"

Writing these notes helps me work through scripture as I think (write) out loud. I have been in the process of undoing my theological assumptions since I became a Christian (25 years ago this October). So, today, I’m taking a fresh look at the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

My first reaction is that I’m upset with myself for not immediately recognizing it as a parable. Of course I know it’s a parable, but I have failed to treat it as such. Parables are not nice stories to make a point, they are given to hide truth from the shallow and to challenge the seeker to go deeper. That’s not my opinion, it is what the Lord says of them.

To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ (Luke 8:10)

I have to give a hat tip to A.C. Gaebelein, but I really should have seen it myself. The Lord’s parables must be seen through the prism of his stated earthly ministry (“I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” - Matt 15), confirmed by Paul (“Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers” - Rom 15:8). All men since Adam are cursed with death as the result of his sin and our own (Rom 5:14) , so there is an application to believers, but in the context (there’s that word again!) of Luke 10, the Lord is speaking to a “lawyer” who addresses him after he has sent out the 70 and after he has declared a judgment against those people and cities (in Israel - see Matt 10:5-7) who rejected him.

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.” (Luke 10:13-14)

As with all these notes, I will not try to break down the entire passage nor will attempt a complete word study. This will be a bird’s eye view of the parable. The “big picture” in light of the chapter.

The lawyer, “testing” the Lord and “seeking to justify himself,” asks the Lord a question. The more I read it, the more it is apparent it is meant to be a trick question. “Who is my neighbor?” The scribes, lawyers and pharisees were always on the lookout for a chance to confound the eternal Son of God, and, as in all such cases, he was unsuccessful here. And as the Lord has done with his other “parables of the kingdom” (the promised Kingdom for Israel), he speaks words that will only be understood by the sincere, humble seeker (“Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” - Matt 13).

So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Back to Luke 10: we have a number of characters:

  • the traveler (sojourner)
  • the thieves
  • the priest
  • the Levite
  • the Samaritan
  • the inn-keeper 

We also have:

  • oil
  • wine
  • the inn 

Going down from Jerusalem to Jericho

Scripture presents Jerusalem as the eternal city of God. One always goes “up” to Jerusalem. In this passage, when you leave Jerusalem you go “down” to Jericho. Israel is in the world. She is among the nations which have stolen her covering, beaten her and have left her for half dead (there is an application here for all men dead in sin as well).

The first to come along is the priest (those who bring the animal sacrifices “which can never take away sin” - Heb 10:11) and a Levite (those who attend to the earthly tabernacle which was but a picture of the one who would “tabernacle among us [Israel]” - John 1:14). The shadow is done away with when the reality arrives. When the Samaritan arrives, he does what the sacrifices and earthly ordinances cannot, he starts the healing process and pays the entire debt. The finished work of Christ is pictured here. I will only reference it, assuming the reader understands the implications.

The Lord was called a Samaritan (John 8:48) and he was rejected by his own brethren (Israel) and sent outside the camp (Heb 13:3). And this is the one who brings wine (a picture of his blood) and oil (a picture of the Holy Spirit). The wounded man starts healing as he lives in a temporary dwelling (the inn) “looking for a city... whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). The Samaritan promise that he would “come again” and pay any debt incurred after the initial debt was paid. The wounded man pays nothing.

Israel is a nation constantly under assault, hated without a cause. She is in the world, residing in a temporary dwelling awaiting the arrival of her Messiah. As sinners, we were rescued from death by the one who was rejected by Israel. He has paid all of our debt (Heb 10:14), washed us in his blood and sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13)! Israel will experience her full healing when he “comes again” unto believing Israel (Rom 11:25-27). we will experience our complete healing when “this mortal shall put on immorality” and “this corruptible shall put on incorruptionin resurrection (1 Cor 15:54)!

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them [Israel],When I take away their [Israel’s] sins.” (Rom 11:25)

Israel's Future Delivery

Israel shall be delivered, but not by her priesthood, sacrifices or tabernacle. She will be delivered by her rejected son, when he “comes again.” She will be healed completely, all debts paid. The pure blood of the Lamb of God will take away all of her sins and she will enter into the New Covenant which is promised to Israel alone.

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10)

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive study. It provides me a framework to seek out the words used in light of other scripture, in light of the Lord’s earthly ministry to Israel; his promises to them (“to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” -Rom 15:8).

I believe the Lord and the Holy Spirit put a period on the idea that the Lord is not interested in works, but rather in pure devotion to him (which results in works) by following this parable with the account of Martha and Mary. One can go about busily serving the Lord as we see fit, yet there is one thing more needful.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Let us be careful not to get caught up in “serving” to the point that we neglect to sit at the foot of the Savior. It is there we are taught. It is there we find fellowship with him. It is there we find rest from our labors as we rest in this age of grace. We must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Lots of places to go from here, but I will leave it there for now. The links above provide additional thoughts on some aspects noted.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him...

I cannot leave this parable without addressing the “compassion” within it. Surely, as ambassadors of Christ (and the Body, with Christ as our head - Ephesians), we are emulate his character. Christ had compassion for those in his midst. But that compassion always included (and was predicated upon) a sorrow at the lost state of Abraham’s seed in that age. As we look at our world with eyes of compassion (whether feeding the hungry or seeking to bring healing) we must never forget the eternal picture. Compassion must lead to the application of the wine (the blood) and the introduction of the oil (the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit). That is where true healing begins and ends.

True compassion sees beyond the nakedness of the body and the hunger of the body to the nakedness of sin and slavery to fleshly desires. When we cover the naked and feed the hungry in temporal terms, we must remember to present the covering of Christ. We never encourage the covering of our nakedness with the “filthy rags” of our own works (Is 64:6). We must feed the hunger of the soul with “the true bread which comes down from heaven” (John 6:58). This is the true cover which covers and the true bread which satisfies forever!

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Compassion serves the present with an eye on eternity.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Revelation is for Israel

A brief look at Revelation 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15 and the “nations” in the Revelation in light of Israel’s centrality in the book.

It is my contention the whole of the Revelation is given to Israel through John, an Apostle to the Circumcision (the Jewish people); commissioned to the Circumcision (Gal 2:7-9). To that end, I want to take a very quick look at the “nations, kindreds, people, and tongues” in the Revelation, in context.

This is an important question, because as we seek to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15), we must know the to whom the Word is speaking and the conditions under which the words are spoken. If not, we could end up building arks for a flood that isn’t coming or refusing to minister outside of Israel, etc.

Traditional, Classic dispensationalism has the first three chapters of the Revelation (as well as the end of the book) as given to the current age Church (and to gentiles in general); the Jewish section starting in chapter 4. I believe, however, that the very book is framed for Israel. Revelation 1 and Revelation 22 frame a Jewish context for a coming Jewish age. And, although distinct for Israel, as with all scripture, it is profitable for all men.

REV 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth [land] shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

I believe "land," meaning primarily scriptural Israel, is a better translation than "earth" (e.g. Rev 1:7). Young's Literal Translation and Darby's Translation (among others) translate it that way. It makes sense. The "kindreds" in Revelation 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15 are not differentiated with "of the land" as they are in Rev 1:7.

Obviously, those who pierced him are Israel (Acts 2:36; Zech 12:10; John 19:37; etc.)

Let’s look at the kindreds, tongues, nations, etc.

REV 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation

REV 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands…

REV 10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

REV 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

REV 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…

REV 17:15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

While the book is given by an Apostle to the Circumcision (John, Gal 2:9) to believing Israel, it does not exclude noting gentile nations and their fates in the coming age. The scripture is filled with prophesies about gentile nations. Jonah is a great example of gentile salvation having nothing to do with the law (as the law doesn't lead to salvation anyway).

Jonah is from Galilee unlike any other prophet (save the Lord). In John 7:52, the Apostle records for us the objection of the Pharisees to Jesus’ claim to be a prophet, “Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Since Jonah prophesied to Gentiles, he was excluded from the prophets of Israel. The point being, the dispensation of the Law, along with the age of the prophets, clearly centers on God’s work through his people, Israel, yet we still see God working among the Gentiles.

The Lord Jesus taught during that age, “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), but it was not limited to Jews. Salvation has always been by grace through faith. When the Lord states, “Not even in Israel have I found so great faith,” he speaks of a Gentile (the Roman Centurion). The Lord can work through Israel, have Israel at the center, and still minister to Gentiles.

Let’s take a closer look at the context of Rev 5:9, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

Who are “THEY?” And what does it mean they are redeemed “OUT OF” every kindred, etc.?

Rev 5, And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

First, we see the Tribe of Judah and the genealogical connection to David. These are very Jewish references. Remember, the Lord in his earthly ministry responded quickly to Jews who called on him as “Son of David” (Matt 9), yet he ignored a gentile woman who called out the same way (Matt 15), telling her that he was “sent to none but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” It was only when she acknowledged him as “Lord” (which he is to all men) that he responded.

Then we have the “four and twenty elders,” this also speaks of Israel. But the clear reference is in the last verse. Those here were redeemed “out of” (Greek: ek) the nations (Gentiles). These are of the Jewish diaspora. This is solidified in the promise “made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Israel is promised in Exodus in the past and prophesied in Zechariah in the future as serving as a priesthood for the nations.

Exodus 19: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Zechariah 8: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages [tongues] of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

This is also the promise of the New Covenant give to Israel alone. Jeremiah 31-33 (among other scriptures) speaks of a future day for Israel. David and his descendants shall sit on the throne and the priesthood restored in the land. But what of the oft-quoted promise in 1 Peter concerning a “holy nation” and a “royal priesthood?”

1 Pet 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

We must ask, who are the “ye” in this verse?

Peter tells us: 1 Pet 1:1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the choice sojourners of the dispersion…”

The “dispersion” (the diaspora) referenced are scattered Jewish believers. Peter, like John, was “an Apostle to the Circumcision.” James, also, was in this company and he addresses his epistle “to the Twelve Tribes who are in the dispersion” (James 1). These are believing Jews during the Acts age and not members of the One Body of this age.

So we can see in Revelation 5, that John is speaking of believing Jews of the diaspora, called out of the gentile nations, in a future age. When he speaks of the other nations throughout the rest of the prophecy, they are placed in contrast to “true Israel.”

  • Israel’s reward is earthly. Our reward is in the far above the heavens. 
  • Israel’s hope is the hope of the earthly covenants. Our hope is to be with him in the above heavens. 
  • Israel is to one day be a royal priesthood. We have no priesthood. 

When we rightly divide the Word of Truth, it becomes clear and we do not trespass on the hope or calling of another.

The Revelation begins and ends with John, it begins and ends with Israel.

At the end of the Revelation, Rev 22, we see the reconciliation of the creation started in chapter 21. That is, we see access to the tree of life (Paradise) restored, the healing of "the nations" (éthnos, non-Jews), and the beginning of the "ages of the ages" (v.5). But the chapter is the final frame of the whole book (John, reference back to Rev 1) and is thus still given to Israel.

We see again David, “the Alpha and the Omega” (1:8; 22:13), the bride, the plagues, the prophesies of the book, etc. It is a book for and about Israel from an Apostle to the Circumcision.

Note: since the Lord told the malefactor on the cross that he would be with Him in Paradise, and Paradise is not accessible until Rev 22, I'd say this is where and when he sees the promise fulfilled. As a gentile (the believing malefactor), this makes sense to me.

One day, all the families of God will come together, in the age beyond the Revelation:

Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.


UPDATE: I received a reasonable objection to my last point in regard to the age beyond the Revelation and the interpretation of Eph 1:10 based on the Greek (anakephalaiomai). Here is my response for your consideration:

Charles Welch comments on his headship, "In Eph. 1: 10 the word translated in the A.V. 'gather together in one,' and in the R.V. 'sum up,' is anakephalaiomai, which contains in verbal form of the word kephale, which is translated 'Head.' This passage therefore must be considered together with the others which give the title of Head to the Lord. The word can be translated, 'to head up,' or 'to gather together under one Head,' and although this rendering may not be elegant, it will preserve the truth for us, which is of more importance."

Also, "Chapter 1:10 speaks of the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, being gathered together under one Head. In verses 21, 22 we read that the Lord has been raised "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one..."

I looked at several translations and at the Greek. [pâs = all types], suggesting different things. When time is fulfilled, as Young's Literal has it, "to bring into one the whole in the Christ." So, it is supposition to look into eternity future and conclude the current headship culminates in the coming together in the future, but I think it is implied. Ephesians announces the current dispensation of grace and the headship of Christ in this age and the age to come.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Thoughts from Genesis on Death and the Sabbath

Personal Study 2007

The Warning to Adam In Genesis 2:16-17 

Adam stands as the head of the human race and is warned: 

“And Jehovah [Yahweh] Elohim commanded Adam, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou shalt freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest of it thou shalt certainly die.”
Here we see the covenant God (Yahweh) who is also creator God (Elohim) both commanding and warning Adam. These were given before the creation of Eve (2:22) yet the command and punishment apply to her (3:2-3). She was in effect “in Adam” just as we were “in Adam” (I Cor 15:22). However, when she disobeyed, sin did not pass unto all men (although she was still held accountable for her individual act – Gen 3:16). She was beguiled and was first in the transgression (cp. 1 Tim 2:13-14), but it was Adam’s sin that placed the curse of death upon all men (Rom 5:12). 

Note in Genesis 2 that Adam is only warned that he would die. Eve recounts this warning to the serpent in Genesis 3. There is no other warning; no fiery torment, no bodiless torture. The clay that was a dead soul and which “became a living soul” (i.e. Adam was a non-living soul made of dust before God breathed in him) was warned that he would be subject to death (and return to dust) if he transgressed the Law of the garden. 

Paul’s recounting of this event in Romans 5 is significant in that it too only mentions death (“by one man sin entered into the world and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…”). Paul’s oft-quoted pronouncement in Romans 6:23 sums up the argument this way “the wages of sin is death…” and death alone. The idea of “spiritual death” is human tradition. Adam’s fate was to return to dust (decay; see corruption).

The Law in the Garden (and the Sabbath)

In Paul’s Acts ministry and in his prison ministry he refers to destruction and death in regard to the end of sinners. This is wholly consistent with Genesis. Paul never expands on the doctrine of “sin = death” (he merely confirms it), but he does expand on the Law in the garden. Obviously, no one but Adam and Eve have ever been subject to the law concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The consequence of sinning in that day, however, is the same in all days. “The soul that sinneth, [he] shall die” (Ezek 18:4,20). It is concluded that all men, long after the Garden was sealed, are guilty of sin. 

“For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
We have never sinned in the same way Adam sinned (nor could we). We have never been subject to the Law of the Garden (nor could we). We are all under the curse of death because of Adam’s sin (we were in him) and because of our own sin (for all have sinned). 

But what about the Sabbath?

Sabbath-Keepers make a big deal about the Sabbath being given to man in Genesis 2. In some respects they are correct. The Creator did set aside the seventh day and He did declare it holy. However, Adam was never warned about violating the Sabbath. There was no punishment attached to it nor were there instructions given for its observance. 

The Sabbath (day 7) was truly created for man (day 6) not man for the Sabbath. Trees and Fruit (Day 3); Man (Day 6); Sabbath (Day 7). In Genesis 2 there was no sin in the Garden. Man had not yet been cursed with sweaty work (Gen 3:17). The Sabbath was given to an innocent man in the same manner as he was given abundant fruit to eat and access to the Tree of Life. In the pronouncement of the curse, the Creator God and Covenant God (Yahweh Elohim) only lists the sin of disobedience to the Law regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
“Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed be the ground on thy account; with toil shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life…”
There is no mention of a violation of the Sabbath in the charge against Adam. In Genesis 2 the Creator God (Elohim) not the God of covenant (Yahweh) sanctified the seventh day. In the Garden there was no altar, no sacrifice and no provision for violation of the Sabbath. In the Garden there was only one command and it came from God as both Creator and Covenant-keeper, thus this covenant had a consequence (death). But we must note again that the covenant of the Age of the Garden made no mention of the Sabbath for the Sabbath was created (day 7) and sanctified for man not man (day 6) for the Sabbath. 

The penalty of death is attached to the Sabbath in a very specific manner in the Law of Moses. There the penalty is attached to “the Sabbath of Yahweh” (God in covenant). The Laws regarding the Sabbath are given and expanded upon by Moses in Exodus 20 and beyond. 

  • There was no command (or penalty) given Adam regarding the Sabbath. 
  • There was no command or penalty given Noah regarding the Passover. 
  • There was no command or penalty given to Abraham regarding the Holy of Holies. 

Yet all these had covenant with God. We must keep God’s covenants in their context and according to His declarations (what, where, when, why and with whom).

Not all God’s covenants are the same. In the case of Adam’s covenant in the Garden and the covenant God made with the children of Israel at Sinai, the covenants were conditional (two-sided). In the case of Abraham (land), Noah (no more floods) and David (throne), the covenants were unconditional (one-sided) because faith had sanctified the recipients.

The Sabbath at Sinai

Clearly from Exodus 19 we can see that God made a very specific two-sided covenant with a very specific people. The Law of Sinai was given to no one but to Israel and both the promises and penalties contained in that law were given only to Israel. 

“And now, if ye will hearken to my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then shall ye be my own possession out of all the peoples -- for all the earth is mine -- and ye shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak to the children of Israel.”

Part of that covenant was in regard to Sabbaths (plural). The sanctifying of the seventh day was intended for a people who were to serve as priests for the nations. The covenant and penalties pertained only to that select group under than specific covenant. The covenant here is referred to by Yahweh as “my covenant” and the Sabbaths in the next verse are referred to as “my Sabbaths.” (Note: in Mark 2 the Lord Jesus states that he is “Lord also of the Sabbath” for he is “Kurios” or “owner” of the Sabbath. He could say that it is “My Sabbath” for he is God Almighty, Lord of the Sabbath.)

“And Jehovah [Yahweh, God of covenant] spoke to Moses, saying, And thou, speak thou unto the children of Israel, saying, Surely my sabbaths shall ye keep; for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that it is I, Jehovah [Yahweh], who do hallow you.”

Note that God speaks only to Israel and that he hallows not only the Sabbath (as he did in Genesis) but also that people. The keeping of the Sabbath Law was a sign of that Old Covenant, a covenant that dealt with the promise of a priesthood (“ye shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation“) not a promise of resurrection life. 

“Keep the sabbath, therefore; for it is holy unto you; every one that profaneth it shall certainly be put to death: yea, whoever doeth work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his peoples.” 

The penalty for violating the Sabbath Law was death for profaning it; being “cut off” for working on that day (compare the warning to gentile believers in Rom 11: 13-22). As a nation, the violation of the Sabbaths (plural) also meant failure to keep the covenant as they promised in Exodus 19:8 (“And all the people answered together, and said, All that Jehovah[Yahweh] has spoken will we do!”). With that assurance, God called Moses to Sanai to deliver the covenant conditions.

To be clear, the God of covenant spoke these very specific words: “I am Jehovah [Yahweh] thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

This was a covenant with a very specific group (and their generations – Ex 31:13). That covenant dealt with not only the Sabbath of Genesis 2:9 (the seventh day) it also dealt with the Sabbaths of years and other “high” Sabbaths. The warnings and promises given through the prophets concerning the Sabbath were rather specific as well.

Jeremiah: “Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.”

Isaiah: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”

Compare that with the silence of the Apostle Paul on the subject (with the exception the warning of Col 2:16 against judging based on Sabbath-Keeping). The earthly house of this tabernacle conferred upon us by Adam should rest. The principle of the Sabbath still applies. There is a time to rest this earthly tabernacle and a time to concentrate on the Lord and the things of God. But to do so out of fear of a law (either that of the Garden or that of Sinai) is to function outside our calling, expecting blessings which are not ours to gain.

NOTE: The Sabbath-Keepers also spend a lot of time accusing non-observers of making "Sun-day" the Sabbath. Seems they are ready to attack on that point. Well, no argument here. Sunday is not the Sabbath. The Sabbath was created on what we call Saturday. But I hold that, even to that point, the day begins with sundown in “the land” (Israel). And in any regard (noting the points made in this study) no Sabbath observance is required in this age, no matter where it falls.

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 
-Col 2:16-17

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thoughts on Matthew 26 - The Poor and The Passover

Personal Study 2008

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

  • How many people in the church in this hour have committed themselves to the (public) poor? Surely this is commendable, but it is not the call of God’s people (Israel or the church which is His Body). God is always first in any calling. We are called to defend the faith and commit it to “faithful men” not commit the faith to “educated men” or to “philanthropic men.” 

  • It is wonderful that this account follows the parable of the sheep and the goats. The clear statement of the Lord Jesus is very helpful. It is not the “works” done for the nameless poor that commend one to God, but rather one’s willingness to honor Christ; particularly honoring his death and “burial.” How often does the church ignore His “burial?” Our Lord’s time in the grave is part of Peter’s message at Pentecost (Acts 2-3) and part of Paul’s message in Acts 13. Lack of decay is central to the atonement, an undoing of the curse.

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

  • The scriptures reveal that Judas was the most outspoken advocate of the poor (Jn 12:4-6), yet we know his heart was full of evil. He did not honor the Lord first. 

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?" He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.' So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

  • Is it obvious that this was the Passover during the Feast of Unleavened Bread? This was a Jewish ordinance given to Israel as part of the Old Covenant. The Lord tells us in Matthew that He was sent to “none, but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” (15:24). The “gospel of the kingdom” was not to be sent to gentiles (Matt 10:5-6). This Passover meal is absent from John’s gospel. John tells us that his gospel is to “whosoever believeth” and that it contains what we need to know to have eternal life (Jn 20:30-31). John omits the Last Passover (Lord’s Supper). 

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

The body and blood are clearly symbolized in the bread and wine. He had not yet been to the cross.

  • The connection to the covenants is also clear. Just as the blood of a lamb was shed to protect the Israelites from death, so too will the blood of the new covenant provide shelter for Israel. The New Covenant is only given to those under the Old Covenant. This is given to those God brought out of the land of Egypt (Jer 31; Heb 8). Ø The New Covenant (NC) is not salvation; its provisions and promises can be read in Jeremiah 31. The NC is for Israel alone. We are not part of the NC. Does anyone believe that we live in an age in which no man has need to tell his neighbor about God for that knowledge is universal? Among other characterizations of the NC, that alone should put to rest this notion of the church which is His Body being under the NC.

  • The Lord’s Supper spoken of by Paul was given to the Corinthian church (the church of the Acts age) and is the Passover meal. Gentiles in that age were “grafted in” to Israel (Rom 11); not the other way around. The Jew was still “first” in that age. The expectation was soon coming King (see notes on Matt 25). Ø Since the twelve would “sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes” the Lord promises that He will drink of the vine with them in that Kingdom. The Lord taught His disciples concerning the kingdom for 40 days following His resurrection (Acts 1). Their expectation was that He would return upon Israel’s repentance (“Will you AT THIS TIME restore the Kingdom to ISRAEL?”). Peter promised His return if Israel would repent (Acts 3). Because of this, the eleven elected a 12th immediately before Pentecost.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Prayer in The Present Age

Original from July 2014 (slightly revised). Applying the principle of Right Division to prayer.
Prayer is the breath of the new nature.

It doesn’t need any artificial props and helps - anything of that kind. And you don’t have to put it on. It should be a spontaneous function of the new nature. Prayer is fellowship and conversation with God. .. So it’s up to us to take the low place, and not tell God how to run His Universe, as we’re so inclined to do, but to be occupied with Him. -Oscar M. Baker (What is Prayer?)

I guess I have wrestled with the concept of prayer all my life. From my days in religion wherein prayer had a mystical aura and prayers often resembled an Athenian calling on the gods to intervene on his behalf (or on behalf of loved ones) to times when I doubted that God would ever act in this age of grace.

I have studied, discussed and agonized over this topic for countless hours since becoming a Christian almost 25 years ago and I’m certain I’ll continue it until I fall asleep or receive my resurrection body.

In my early days in Christ, my prayers were most often just a crying out for God, a desire for his comfort and presence, a crying out for mercy. That simplicity (often in ignorance, I admit) was soon to be complicated by religious systems which teach that prayer is a means to manipulate God’s grace, mercy and love into personal gain (or simply for personal advantage).

I left one system of prayer, briefly entering into a more pure mode of prayer, and quickly into another system. I had lost the privilege of prayer and was seeking how I could make it more effective on my account. Over the years, as I discovered the vanity of such an approach, I have pondered “what is prayer?” and what to expect of prayer for the Christian in the Body in the present age.

What is prayer for? Why are we told so often to pray?

Prayer is intended to humble us by putting us into the place of helplessness and dependence. Prayer is meant to put us with our faces in the dust before the Mighty God. Instead of that, what do we find? We turn that place which is meant to humble us and keep us in the low place, into a Throne, from which we dictate to God what He shall do in our affairs, how He shall help to carry out our plans, what He shall do among the governments and political affairs of the world. That is the outcome of the pride of the "old man" within us. So that we, who cannot manage our own affairs, do not hesitate to take on ourselves the management of the universe, and "move the hand that moves the world." 
–E.W. Bullinger (The Christian’s Greatest Need)

Before I start on what to expect of our prayers in this age, I need to start with what NOT to expect.

Scripture presents God’s response to prayer as varying throughout the pages of scripture. Therefore, expectation varied. Abraham could cry out in prayer according the specific promise he had been given in regard to an heir and being the father of a nation (Gen 17). Isaac had expectation based on that promise. Isaac could pray according to promises given to him that were not given to Ishmael. That is, Isaac could pray in expectation according to the promises given him in a way Ishmael could not.

Israel could cry out to God in light of his promise that his covenant of an earthly priesthood, and the promise of a kingdom in Israel, would stand as long as the sun and the moon stood (Jer 31:35-36). But in the current age (Eph 3:1-12; Titus 2:12) , even Israel can no longer expect answers to the daily promises of God (Deut 28; 2 Chron 7; etc.) even though the ultimate promise will be fulfilled. We often see the promises to Israel claimed for the Body (but rarely the curses, of course). This does not reflect a desire for God’s presence, grace and mercy; it often seeks gain. It is an attempt at robbery. Just as we would never claim Abraham’s place as the head of a special nation, neither should we claim the promises made to that nation.

In the NT, can I claim Peter’s promise that he could walk on water? No. That was a promise specific to Peter at a specific time. If I enter a boat with no life jacket with the expectation that I can claim that “Bible promise,” I am going to be sorely disappointed (and wet). And even if I could claim that promise, would walking on water accomplish anything apart from personal gain? In its place, Peter’s experience (which he never “claimed” again) pointed him to the Lord in dependence, not to his accomplishment.

The snake-handling pastor who recently met his demise from a snake bite never learned the Bible principle of rightly dividing the Word of Truth. He tried to claim someone else’s promise. I hope he doesn’t expect to sit on one of Israel’s twelve thrones. If so, he’s going to be quite surprised when the music stops and there is no throne for him upon which to sit. He can pray and claim these promises all he wants, but they are not his to claim. Wrong age. Wrong promise. Wrong hope.
The great fact to be faced here is that God has never, at any time, in any manner, or in any place told you or me to walk upon water, to move a mountain, to heal the sick, to cleanse lepers, to raise the dead, to cast out demons. We cannot "act in faith" in regard to any of these things. If we try, we will be motivated by our own desires, acting in self-will. –Otis Sellers (Concerning Prayer)
I cannot claim the promises of Abraham or the promises of Israel for my nation. I cannot expect promises to others (including those given to the twelve disciples of the Lord in the Gospels) to be applied to me. My prayers should only reflect the age in which I live and the promises given to me.

Of all the papers I’ve ever read on the subject of prayer in this age, I still believe that Sir Robert Anderson’s summation in Note IX of the appendix in “The Silence of God” is the most useful. Here is an excerpt:
And here the striking fact claims attention that while the record of the Pentecostal dispensation presents us with the practical counterpart of all such promises, the Epistles, which unfold the doctrine of the present dispensation, and describe the life which befits that doctrine the life of faith inculcate thoughts about prayer which are essentially different, and which are entirely in accord with the actual experience of spiritual Christians.
The “actual experience of spiritual Christians” is that surely God does not do whatever we ask simply because two Christian agree on it (Matt 18:19), nor does He automatically respond because Christians are physically touching each other (or a TV screen or radio speaker, etc.). The reason for this is that Matthew 18:19 has nothing to do with prayer and it was not universally promised to all believers. It is a promise given to the twelve in regard to righteous judgment in the future kingdom, in Israel, when they will judge Israel from twelve thrones (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30). I have no right to claim their thrones, I have no right to claim their authority.

Anderson is correct that our view of prayer is to be found in the epistles. If Sir Robert applied his reasoning to the epistles, he would have to separate the epistles written during the Pentecostal age to either Jews specifically or to both Jew and Gentile (separate but equal) from the epistles written to the “one new man” (The Body) in the current age. Paul teaches that some principles and truths “carry through” and some do not ("testing the things that carry through/differ" -Phil.1:10). These must be discerned. To wit, we can rest on the truth that “God is love” carries through all ages, but the practice of going “to the Jew first” or that the good news is to “the Jew first” do not.

Principles may carry through. We can apply the pattern of discipline in Matthew 18, but we surely cannot claim the authority to bind and loose, neither can we claim the authority of his approval of our decisions. We note that the end of the passage regarding two or three gathered in his name, although often applied in the area of prayer, has nothing to do with prayer. Is God not in the presence of the one who goes into his prayer closet (as instructed by the Lord in regard to prayer in Matthew 6:6)?

So we cannot claim a promise or command given to others nor can we expect conditions of one age to necessarily carry over into another. We also cannot take passages which have nothing to do with prayer and apply them to prayer. As Anderson notes, our experience over time should testify to the realities of the conditions in which we have been placed in this age.

The most serious offenses in regard to prayer are those committed by Christians who claim promises that were never made to them, and those who take passages that have nothing to do with prayer and apply them to this subject. This is done habitually, and there are as a result of this misapplication many who are disillusioned and sorely distressed at the seeming failure of God to make good on what they call "the plain prayer-promises of the Bible." –Otis Sellers (Concerning Prayer)

A full study of the ages is left for another day. For now, let us assume, based on our daily experience with prayer that God does not do whatever we ask merely because two of us agree or because there is some mystical power in physically touching each other. [Note: the word translated “touching” in the KJV is the Greek word “per” and merely means “with respect to” (Strong’s) or “concerning” (Thayer’s). There is no magic in holding hands or touching a TV screen.]

So what is our expectation in the present Age?

So why does it seem that God doesn’t seem to be moving on our behalf as he has in other ages? No pillars of fire. No withered limbs restored before our eyes (note that so-called faith healers always seem to heal things we can’t see). People are not regularly raised from the dead. These are overt signs for Israel grounded in God’s promise of her coming earthly kingdom. But that plan is currently on hold. We don’t have their promises or their destiny; hence we shouldn’t expect their miracles.

It is not that God cannot perform these miracles in this age, it is simply not the pattern of this age nor does it accomplish his goals for this age of grace. There is no blank check as Israel had. Our prayers and expectations must reflect this truth.

The answer to why God doesn’t seem to move today as he often did in scripture is found in the age in which we live; to wit, the present age of grace.

For the purposes of this note on prayer, I am going to assume an age of grace (as most of my readers will understand that we are living in the dispensation of the grace of God, hidden from before the foundation of the world, as revealed by Paul in Ephesians 3).

So what should we expect of prayer if there are no pillars of fire? I will use my most recent medical experience to try and explain my current understanding of prayer and the expectation we should have in regard to answers to our prayers.

When I discovered that I had a life-threatening condition (double aortic aneurysm) which required immediate open-heart surgery, I went to the Lord in prayer. My friends and family joined me in prayer. My Christian friends prayed over me “claiming” the promises of Matthew 18. They “agreed in prayer” and “touched” me.

Suddenly! Nothing happened. I went into surgery not visibly different than before all the “claiming” and “touching” and “agreeing.” The usual excuses are given, “not God’s will,” “selfish nature of the prayers,” “God answered, but said ‘no’,” etc. There are scriptural bases for these answers (sometimes God does say “no”), but they would contradict Matthew 18 if Matthew 18 was about prayer and about this age. The promises given there are unconditional to whom they were given.

God was capable of healing me. There was nothing wrong in praying that God would heal me. But God was under no obligation or covenant to heal me. So I suffered the surgery.

As I lie in recovery, often in great pain, I knew my prayer had been answered. That is, I felt the presence of God. I saw the fruition of a promise that was given to me, in the Present Age, in Philippians 4:7 (“in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”).

Of course, that will not fully satisfy every question we have, and it did not satisfy all my questions. It was only when I experienced the debilitating post-surgery cough (seven weeks of it) and fully meditated on the events that led to the discovery of my fatal condition that I began to better understand how God responds to the prayers of his own in this age.

Although God does not destroy San Francisco in this age as he did Sodom, although we don’t raise the dead as Peter did, or heal the sick as Paul did, that does not mean that God does not move in this age or that he is unable to move on our behalf. He surely can and does (above all we can ask or think)! But in this age, God moves in grace and he moves in a way that is consistent with his purpose for this age; men must come to God by faith because of the grace he offers, not solely out of fear or because they witnessed a pillar of fire, etc.
By contrast we can say that God is not now demonstrating His power, majesty, justice or judgment. He is demonstrating His grace. This is His present purpose. –Otis Sellers (God’s Present Purpose)
I had my cough for seven weeks. It was seriously hindering my recovery. It kept me from going for walks (a very necessary exercise for my recovery). So I turned to the Lord and earnestly prayed. The Lord allowed me to go through the surgery, he was with me when I was suffering in pain, he opened my family’s eyes to the brevity of life and the need to express our love in word and deed while we can… but why this cough? Why had it puzzled my doctors?

Within a few days the cough was gone. It wasn’t immediate. There was no cloud of smoke. Nobody laid hands on me. I knew it was an answer to prayer; my prayers and the prayers of my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

As I look back over the circumstances that led to the discovery of my condition, the ordeal of surgery itself and the inexplicable cough that I had to endure, I believe my concept of prayer has advanced (if only slightly). God works in ways that we cannot see with physical eyes.

God is working in grace

He moves in ways we cannot understand. We will see the fruits of our prayers in ways we do not always expect. In some cases, we will not understand his will until a future age. The biggest mistake we can make, I believe, is to map out in our minds how we believe God should answer our prayers. Leave the request with him and expect the unexpected. His grace is beyond comprehension and his love beyond description.

Paul refers to the unfathomable riches of God’s grace in this dispensation (Eph 3:8-9). The Holy Spirit uses the Greek word “anexichn” which gives the sense of being “untraceable” (Strong’s) and “beyond comprehension” (Thayer’s). We must see God with our spiritual eyes. We must trust him to act according to his eternal purpose. That’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s a lifelong endeavor.

My study of prayer will continue until I fall asleep in Christ, but until then I hope to trust him more and more as I leave my requests with him.

Here is one of the finest summations of prayer in this age I have ever read:

The prayer of the Pentecostal age was like drawing cheques to be paid in coin over the counter. The prayer of the Christian dispensation, that is, of the life of faith, is to make known our requests to God, and to be at peace. If the matter were one within the power of a friend to deal with a friend whose wisdom we could trust and of whose love we were assured should we not be content to say, after telling him all," Now you know my feelings and my wishes, and I leave the case entirely in your hands." And this is just what God invites. –Sir Robert Anderson (The Silence of God)