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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dirty Me, Dirty Me, I'm Disgusted With Myself

Open Your Hymnals to "Dirty Me"

One of the running jokes in the Andy Griffith Show episodes featuring the backwoods Darling family occurs when Andy and the family are choosing a song to play. Someone names a song which is followed by something like "oh no, that one make me cry." One of the songs offered by Andy was titled, "Dirty Me, Dirty Me, I'm Disgusted With Myself." Well, joke or not, it sounds like a song the modern church sorely needs.

One of the most insidious doctrines which has poisoned Christianity is this strange idea that we don't love ourselves enough. I would argue that the chief obstacle to people coming to Christ is self. Even the few people who think they're just too far gone for Christ to save have a "self" problem. I can't find anywhere in scripture where lack of self-love is listed as a problem and numerous places where pride (which God hates) is at the root of our difficulties.

The Psalms recounts how David's pride led him to sin and how an understanding of the depth of his sinfulness and dependence on God led him to peace and joy. 

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me... Restore to me the joy of your salvation... My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." -Psalm 51

Society faces a lot of problems and we can trace every single problem back to selfishness or an obsession with self. Often depression is the result of an obsession with self. Depression due to life's circumstances or possibly as a result of medical factors can be addressed by faith or medical intervention respectively. However, depression resulting from an obsession with self can only be solved by an acknowledgement that we're all deficient. We all sin. We're all worthy of condemnation. 

There is none that does good, no, not one.

I do not wallow in the thought of my own sin, but rejoice in what God accomplished on my behalf on the cross, in the grave and in rising again! While I hate that I still struggle with sin, I rest in knowing that this struggle will one day be over forever! 


A Lost Doctrine


We are deficient in thought, in word and in deed. A doctrine of Christianity that is often neglected or denied is the doctrine of the Two Natures of the Christian.  We must understand that "in my flesh dwells nothing good." Nothing. Every act borne out of the flesh, no matter how it appears on the outside is corrupted by self at some level.

The nature we receive in our regeneration from above is said to "groan" to be out of this earthly tent. It groans for a new body in resurrection.


2 Cor 5:1-2,4 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven... For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

Rom 8:23 [All of creation groans] Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

There is a war in the breast of every Christian. It is certain that it is not the new nature which longs for self-love, but the old nature.

In teaching us how to love others the Lord teaches us to love others as we [already] love ourselves. In teaching husbands how to love their wives, Paul teaches us to cherish them as we [already] cherish our own flesh. "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it..." 


Just a Few Examples


Here is how a few men of God responded to the revelation of the holiness of God:



Isaiah: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”


Paul: To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given


Peter: When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

And when we understand this about ourselves, it allows us to be merciful and long-suffering with others... for we all need the grace and mercy of God in light of his holiness. The longer I walk with the Lord, the longer I meditate upon his Word and his Person and his Work, the smaller I become and the more I think, "Dirty Me, Dirty Me, I'm Disgusted With Myself" and these words become more precious:



For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Romans 5:6, "Christ died for the ungodly," is the foundation of the good news of eternal life. It is a thought that we should come back to every time someone tells us we don't love ourselves enough. I love myself too much, but that love only condemns me. It is God's love for this conceited man that I need to ponder... and then rejoice in that it can never be fully comprehended.

We live in the Age of Grace. The grace of God is a wonder to ponder. Our apostle, Paul, cannot define it, it is son vast and deep.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ... (Eph 3:8)

The Lie


Scripture is the story of The Lie versus the The Truth. At the heart of The Lie is what Satan told Eve, she would be as God (Gen 3:4). He appealed to her self-love which, until then, she had not known. Adam, loving his relationship with Eve above his relationship with God, also fell.

Scripture speaks of three dangers which haunt believer, all rooted in self-love: lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Our three enemies (the world, the flesh and the Devil) all use our inherent self-love to lead us towards destruction. Beware. 

“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

If you don't know the joy of sins forgiven and the hope of freedom from sin, the first step is to acknowledge your sinfulness. Then seek the one who loves you despite your failings and the one who paid for your sins by dying on a cross (while you were yet his enemy), lying in a grave for three days without seeing decay (undoing the curse of sin), and rising again in an eternal body. That is the hope of the Christian: because of what He alone has accomplished, we will some day rise again in an eternal, sinless body!

Follow this link to read more about the gift of eternal life in Christ: The Good News


Don't be like this creature:

‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High. ’






Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Animals Are Souls and You Are Not Immortal


Our creeds should be guided by doctrine, not our doctrines by our creeds.


“Do animals have souls?” Is a question I’ve heard over the years, and, unfortunately, it is often answered in the negative despite the Bible being clear on this matter. I’ve heard several teachers I admire over the years dismiss the idea with a mocking, “Of course, animals do not have souls.”


As noted the Bible is clear that animals are souls and have spirits. I think the problem, however, has its roots in a few assumptions which preclude what the scripture has to say. Most Christians do not understand the “soul,” nor the “spirit” and assume that only man must “have” a soul for only he is immortal. These are all assumptions from tradition and creeds, not from scripture. The Bible is very clear on these matters, but since it upsets the catechism, it must be “reinterpreted” to fit the accepted understanding.


1. Animals Are Souls (Hebrew: Nephesh; Greek Psuche)



It’s suggested that “living ones” is a better translation of the Hebrew and Greek, however, we see in scripture that a soul can die (“The soul who sins shall die” Ezek 18:20). More problematic it is said of the first man, Adam, that he “became a living soul” (Gen 2:7). The Hebrew (transliterated) reads “chay nephesh.” Adam did not become a “living living one.” Well, he sort of did, but it’s an awkward way to say it. Better understood, the dust God called “Adam” was formed, God breathed (spirit) into him, and he became a living soul.


In Gen 1:21, God is said to create “every living creature” (Gen 1:22, kole chay nephesh). This is exactly what Adam is. Animals were created “living souls.” The KJV translates “nephesh” as “soul” 475 times. Gen 1:24 reads the same.


In Numbers 9 “nephesh“ is translated “dead body” (and elsewhere). 475 times translated as “soul,” yet some places translated “dead body.” This is because who we are is a combination (not triune as God is) of body, soul and spirit. YOU are a soul, YOU are your body, YOU live because of spirit (breath) in you. YOU can be alive and you can be dead. Your body can be alive or it can be dead. Who you are (soul) can be alive or dead.


When we read of those cast into the fire that is not not quenched, where the worm does not die, it is not “nephesh” cast there, it is “peger,” carcasses (Is 66:24, Strong’s 6297). The living shall look upon carcasses, not upon “souls” being tortured.


Paul, in 1 Cor 15:45, quotes Gen 2:7 when writing of Adam. There he uses “záō psychḗ.” Psychḗ is translated “soul” 57 times in the KJV. Animals are souls. They are living beings with breath (spirit), as we shall see.


2. Animals Have Spirit* (Hebrew: Rûach/neshâmâh ; Greek: Pneûma)



*”spirit” needs its own deeper study, it is a word/concept which encompasses many things. This is just an overview within the context of this study.


Ecclesiastes 3:19, “For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath (rûach)...” (NKJV)

Adam was formed from the dust as a non-living soul, until God breathed (nâphach) into him “the breath of life” (neshâmâh chay), then he “became a living soul” as we have seen. We are souls, and when alive, we have spirit. When we die, the spirit (temporal life, which is from God, which originates from God) goes back to him who gave it.


We see this at the cross when the Savior commits his spirit unto the Father, Lk 23:46, (“Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.”) . Luke tells us, “Having said this, He breathed His last [gave up the spirit].” We know from scripture that the Lord’s body was in “the belly of the earth for three days and three nights” (Mt 12:40). And we know, his “soul” was in “Hades (hell)” until the resurrection (Acts 2:31).


  • His body was in the grave/earth
  • His spirit was committed to the Father in heaven
  • His soul was in Hades/hell [the abode of the dead]


The Lord Jesus is not a triune being on his own (and neither are we).


3. Temporal Life in the Flesh to Eternal Life by the Spirit



The breath of life is a gift of God. Spirit is that which is directly created or from God. This is why both angels and demons are both termed “spirits.” When scripture speaks of the “spiritual,” it is that which is from God (spiritual things, spiritually minded, spiritually discerned, etc.).


Also note here that “sons” also refers to that which is a direct work of God. Fallen angels are called “the sons of God” in scripture, yet we must be “become the sons of God” by believing on his name (Jn 1:12). We are born of the flesh / corruptible seed, but we “must be born again” by the Spirit (God) and the Word.


That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6


Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 1 Peter 1:23


We are born in corruption. We are born mortal. We are born in terrestrial bodies of death. As we have seen in previous studies this is why we must have resurrection. “The wages (curse) of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). In Adam, all die. In resurrection we “put on immortality” and “put on incorruption.” (1 Cor 15:54). Then and only then do we become immortal.


The true faith putteth [setteth forth] the resurrection, which we be warned to look for every hour. The heathen philosophers, denying that, did put [set forth] that the souls did ever live. -William Tyndale (An Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue)


4. A Soul Is Not Immortal



Scripture only uses the word “immortality” (Greek: athanasía) in two passages in the original languages. There are a few places in the epistles where “incorruptible” is translated as “immortality,” but we’ll leave that alone for our scope here.


The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who alone (mónos: sole, single, only) has immortality ... 1 Tim 6:15-16a

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Cor 15:54


The context of 1 Cor 15 is the exchanging of the “terrestrial” body for the “celestial” body. It is the great Resurrection chapter. When we are resurrected, then we become immortal. Until then, we are mortal (we die) and we are corruptible (we decay). The subject of resurrection and the significance of the Lord’s lack of decay in the tomb are covered in other studies.


The lie of Satan was and still is “You shall not surely die... you shall be as [Elohim]”(Gen 3:4-5). Immortality is the promise of false religions and offered as a reward for the works of our hands. God alone is immortal. “In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall [future] all be made alive!” 1 Cor 15:22



I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. John 8:24

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


Conclusion



Animals are souls. They have spirit while they are living. We are souls. We have spirit while we are living. When animals die, they decay back to dust. When we die, we decay back to dust. Animals are not immortal. We are not immortal. We are flesh, born of flesh. This is why we “must be born again” (John 3) by the Spirit, by the Word of God (Rom 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23, etc.). When we “believe unto salvation” (Rom 1:16; 10:10) we “become the Sons of God” (John 1:12). Our lives/souls are then “hid in God” (Col 3:3). When we believe the gospel, our lives are “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13; 4:30).


Since God alone is immortal, he alone can grant immortality. He has clearly told us in his Word that immortality is secured by faith in the finished work of the Son of God and will be experienced by those who follow him in resurrection.



When we speak of “redemption,” we mean the redemption of the body, the exchanging of the old body for the new (2 Cor 5:1-8). This is why we do not eagerly seek death, we eagerly seek the “day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). He have that redemption now as permanent possession (Eph 1:7), but we will not experience it in full until the day of redemption (Eph 1:14). We are his “purchased possession” awaiting redemption of the body; we have “passed from death unto life” by faith alone (John 5:24). For this we praise him!


[Christ] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.


Friday, January 13, 2017

The Most Misquoted Verse in Scripture (2 Cor 5:8)


The words "is to be" are not in 2 Cor 5:8, they are merely imposed on the text by those with a pretext.


Possibly the most misquoted verse in the New Testament


Below this entry I’ve posted a previous short study of mine from 2015, but I wanted to add more detail as to the context in which we find the verse.


A radio ministry I follow has been going through 2 Corinthians and the teacher is passing from chapter 4 into chapter 5. Another radio ministry I follow was recently through that section of scripture. Both misquoted a well-known verse, but they are not alone. I hear the verse misquoted and taken out of context probably more than any verse in the New Testament.


Some dynamic equivalence Bible translations suffer from biases on the part of the translators. Instead of a direct translation (formal or static), the writers impose thoughts on the verse which they believe are inferred. Well, if you believe some verse already teaches something before you get to it, it very well could influence how you expand the meaning. But enough on Bible translations, the problem with the verse I’m addressing is that even while most translations don’t impose certain words on it, it is almost always quoted with these words by individual Christians imposing their own inference.

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. - 2 Cor 5:8 [NKJV]

I am convinced that one of the least studied and most misunderstood doctrines in Christianity is the doctrine of death and related topics (the curse, resurrection, etc.). It’s also one of the most important. So much of proper Bible interpretation hinges on an understanding of death.


I previously covered death with an overview which can be read HERE. But in this short note, I’d like to single out the oft-misquoted verse above, 2 Cor 5:8.


You will almost universally hear this verse quoted this way, “Absent from the body IS TO BE present with the Lord.” You may have already quoted it to yourself that way (I quoted it that way for years)... but such a verse does not exist.


For you Greek geeks, here it is in the Greek (from the Textus Receptus and Westcott and Hort):

θαρρουμεν δε και ευδοκουμεν μαλλον (mâllon) εκδημησαι εκ του σωματος και ενδημησαι προςτον κυριον (TR)

θαρρουμεν δε και ευδοκουμεν μαλλον (mâllon) εκδημησαι εκ του σωματος και ενδημησαι προςτον κυριον (WH)

mâllon = Strong’s #3123 = much more, rather, to a greater degree (Compare Rom 5:15, “For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”)


Yes, the Greek is identical. I just wanted to deal with that issue as it is important to some.


As these notes are designed to be short, I will just pick one passage from 2 Cor 4 for our context:

“‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you*.” 

The context (as was the final chapter of 1 Cor) is RESURRECTION.


*Something else to ponder, how could they all be presented with Paul at the same time if they all died at different times?


Resurrection is clearly the context of 2 Cor 5:1-8 as well. The great hope since Adam has been resurrection. The great hope of Christ was resurrection. The great hope of Romans is resurrection. The great hope of 1 Cor 15 is resurrection. And the great hope of 2 Cor 5 is resurrection.


Paul speaks of a perishing house or tent (a temporal body) that groans for a new building (resurrection body). We do not yearn to be “unclothed” (v.4 without a body), but rather to be in our new body.


2 Cor 5:4 states in whole, “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.” Paul does not want to be unclothed (without a tent), but clothed in a new tent.


 Paul has already taught in the great resurrection chapter, 1 Cor 15, that we do not “put on immortality” or “put on incorruption” until the resurrection. The great WHEN/THEN of 1 Cor 15.


So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory."


In resurrection and not before. As noted in my study on death, the curse is death and decay. These are what Adam is cursed with (passed on to all men including to us), and what Christ reversed.


So Paul speaks of the hope of resurrection in 2 Cor 4 and continues to 2 Cor 5. He states to those of us who are stuck between grasping on to this life (fearing death) while groaning for a new, sinless body that when we understand the glories of the new body, fear of death dissipates. Paul states that he will be pleased RATHER to be absent from this current earthly flesh and present with the Lord, in resurrection, in his new tent, in his new flesh. Fear of death fading.


Before you read 2 Cor 5:1-8, note what immediately precedes it:


Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.


Yes, they were suffering in this body, facing death, but that is merely “light affliction” in light of resurrection, “knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.” Knowing that truth is what helps us loosen our grip on this earthly life.

We are confident, I say, and pleased rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. [Darby]

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. [NIV]

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. [KJV]

Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then* we will be at home with the Lord. [NLT]

*Note from our study, that the “then” of immortality is the “when” of resurrection (1 Cor 15).

We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. [NASB]

There may be one translation out there that has incorporated “IS TO BE” because of its ubiquitous use, but from the Greek manuscripts to the ancient translations to modern dynamic equivalence, you will not find those words. Absent from the body is only be present with the Lord in resurrection. That is the what the whole of scripture teaches.

“Prefer to be,” not “is to be.”


“I prefer to be absent from work and to be at the Phillies game” does not mean “Absent from work IS TO BE at the Phillies game?” No. Must I leave work before I go to the Phillies game? Of course. But I can leave work at any time and not show up at the Phillies game for hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia...


Chapter Headings for 2 Cor 5:
NKJV (1979) Assurance of the Resurrection; 
NLT (1971): New Bodies; 
NIV (1973): Awaiting the New Body; 
NASB(1963): The Temporal and Eternal... 


But the more recent translations take a turn away from resurrection
ESV (2008): Our Heavenly Dwelling; 
HCSB (1999): Our Future after Death.


The 1599 Geneva Bible states of verse one, "He continueth in the same argument." Paul having been speaking of resurrection in Chapter 4. No, chapter headings are not inspired, but an unbiased reading reveals that the topic is resurrection, not "bodiless souls."



============================================================

The true faith putteth [setteth forth] the resurrection, which we be warned to look for every hour. The heathen philosophers, denying that, did put [set forth] that the souls did ever live ["eternal soul"]. And the pope joineth the spiritual doctrine of Christ and the fleshly doctrine of philosophers together; things so contrary that they cannot agree, no more than the Spirit and the flesh do in a Christian man. And because the fleshly-minded pope consenteth unto heathen doctrine, therefore he corrupteth the Scripture to stablish it. -William Tyndale


And when he [More] proveth that the saints be in heaven in glory with Christ already, saying, "If God be their God, they be in heaven, for he is not the God of the dead;" there he stealeth away Christ's argument, wherewith he proveth the resurrection: that Abraham and all saints should rise again, and not that their souls were in heaven; which doctrine was not yet in the world. And with that doctrine he taketh away the resurrection quite, and maketh Christ's argument of none effect. -William Tyndale


============================================================

DECEMBER 2015 STUDY

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Cor 5:8 - KJV)

Here is how this verse is often quoted, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord” and “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Both are very incorrect renderings of the verse and ignore the context of the passage (2 Cor 1-8). The verse is often used as a standalone verse to try and confirm a doctrine foreign to scripture, that is, the doctrine of “bodiless souls.”


The context of the passage is resurrection. Paul is groaning for his new body. The doctrine of resurrection was laid out carefully by Paul in 1 Cor 15. There, he writes that we do not conquer death or the grave until our resurrection. We are not born immortal, we must become immortal (“[God]... alone is immortal” - 1 Tim 6). And that immortality (eternal life) is realized in resurrection.


For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor 15:52-54 - NKJV) “Then” and not before.


So, with 1 Cor 15 in mind, let’s again look at 2 Cor 5. Paul starts out by noting that we are in bodies of death and we groan for new bodies,

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven...” (vs. 1-2)


Paul is groaning to be “clothed” (not be be “naked,” v.3). He is desiring a “house which is from heaven.” This heavenly house is contrasted with an “earthly” house. This is exactly what Paul teaches in the great resurrection chapter of 1 Cor 15. The victory Christ secured for us in his death, burial (no decay) and resurrection is not realized until our resurrection. It is THEN (and only then) that we can say, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades [grave], where is your victory?”


So where is our eternal life upon our death? 


It is where it is today, hidden in God

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:3-4)

Remember, You don’t HAVE a soul, you ARE a soul.


To teach some sort of immortal, bodiless soul, demotes the resurrection (his and ours) to almost a footnote, as Tyndale argued. Both Peter and Paul start their public ministries emphasizing the Savior’s lack of decay in the tomb (Acts 2:27,31; 13:35-37). Why? Because the resurrection of Christ was the undoing of the curse of Adam. Adam brought death and decay upon creation. Christ (the last Adam, 1 Cor 15:45) rescues us from the curse of death and decay. That is the victory of resurrection!


I won’t go through all of 1 Cor 15 here, but you must read that chapter and understand it before approaching 2 Cor 5. In context, 2 Cor 5 is clearly about our resurrection bodies. “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2 Cor 5:4). Mortality swallowed up of life occurs in resurrection. We groan, not to have no house, but to be in our heavenly house, clothed in our “celestial body” (1 Cor 15).


2 Cor 5:6, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord ...” So, while we are in these bodies of death (Rom 7:24), we are “absent from the Lord,” we long to have a body “like his body” (Phil 3:21), which only happens at our resurrection or at his appearing.


  • Absent from the Lord” (v.6) = being in your earthly body; 
  • Present with the Lord” (v.8) = being with him, in glory, in your new body.


So, finally, let’s read the misquoted verse and consider its context, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Note the text reads “rather to be.” It does not say “absent from the body IS TO BE present with the Lord.” It’s a final comparative, not a standalone statement. The context is the groaning to be clothed upon with our new house. The text expressly rejects a desire to be “unclothed” (having no body).


  • Absent from the Lord = Being in our terrestrial bodies = the old house
  • Present with the Lord = Being in our celestial bodies = the new house


Final note on the Greek text; the word “rather” is a translation of the Greek word “μαλλον” which is roughly pronounced “mâllon.” Strong’s concordance tells us this suggests “to a greater degree.”


We live for God. We cherish the gift of life, but in light of resurrection life in the new house, we desire to be in that new body to a greater degree. Paul doesn’t groan for death, he groans for his new body. Imagine preaching that we should groan for death!


Absent from the terrestrial, earthly body either means to be in the grave or to be in your celestial, heavenly body. Read 1 Cor 15 and then 2 Cor 5, learn to groan in this body and learn to desire to be in a new, heavenly, sinless body “like unto His glorious body.” I promise you, the death, burial (lack of decay) and resurrection of Our Lord will take on new significance. It becomes EVERYTHING!


The conquering of the grave by the Lord Jesus Christ will move to center of your spiritual life and the hope of getting your new body in your resurrection will make you groan for that day even more! Resurrection Sunday (Easter) will take on new significance!


  • Adam (first Adam) = sin = curse = death and decay
  • Jesus (last Adam) = payment for sin = undoing of curse = resurrection from death and decay


If you don’t know the guarantee of this hope of a new body, CLICK HERE





Saturday, January 7, 2017

This Hymns Business - Part 3

For His Mercy Endureth Forever


In Part 1 and Part 2 of this little series, I made note (as part of the accusations against contemporary worship or CW) the charge of CW being repetitive. Previously, I simply noted that repetitive is in the eye of the beholder. One of the common pejoratives leveled is to call all CW “7/11 music.” That is, “7 words, repeated 11 times.”

Although I would dispute the accuracy of such a generalization, let me take just two examples of how applying this standard to all music presents an interesting dilemma for the hymns-only folks.

I would first point to the only songbook we know is inspired of God, the Psalms. In Psalm 136, the words “For His mercy endureth forever” repeat 26 times; “5/26” if you will. Compared to 7/11, that’s fewer words repeated more times (with the understanding that Psalm 136 has additional verses). And how many times have we been told to find comfort in the fact that the words “fear not” appear scores of times in scripture?

We note that the Reformation is built upon six words, “the just shall live by faith,” a scripture which appears three times in the Word of God. When God repeats something, we pay closer attention. We would not accuse God of “vain repetition,” nor would we approve of man’s vain prayers. But when there is a scriptural., eternal truth about God or the faith, repeating it to emphasize it (not used as some sort of magical incantation) is surely edifying.

Let me point to just one example from the “sacred hymns,” this time going all the way back to 1899 for “O How He Loves Me.” We will start by looking at the chorus:

Oh, how he loves me,
Oh, how he loves me;
I know not why, I only cry,
Oh, how he loves me.


All kinds of problems there for the hymns-only crowd. Lots of “he loves me,” crying, and it’s repetitive. If we look at the verses, the problem only gets “worse” (using their criteria). The phrase “oh, how he loves me” is sung every other line, 10 times total for the song. The word “me” appears 16 times (and there are also a number of uses of “I,” “my” and “mine.”) “Love” or “Loves” appears 14 times.

Turning back to the original article, in which the author chose to compare “One Thing Remains” with “Rock of Ages” (we made our own comparisons in the previous notes), I’ll stick with the “offensive” CW song he chose and compare it with the “sacred hymn”O How He Loves Me.”
  


"One Thing Remains" 

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing… Remains

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me [3x]

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death, In life, I’m confident and
covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can
separate my heart from Your great love...



“Oh, How He Loves Me” 

I have a Friend, a precious Friend,
Oh, how he loves me;
He says his love will never end,
Oh, how he loves me;

Refrain: Oh, how he loves me,
Oh, how he loves me;
I know not why, I only cry,
“Oh, how he loves me .”

Why he should come I cannot tell,
Oh, how he loves me;
In my poor broken heart to dwell,
Oh, how he loves me; [Refrain]

He died to save my soul from death,
Oh, how he loves me;
I’ll praise him while he gives me breath,
Oh, how he loves me; [Refrain]

He walks with me along life’s road,
Oh, how he loves me;
He carries every heavy load,
Oh, how he loves me; [Refrain]

He has a home prepared for me,
Oh, how he loves me;
With him I’ll spend eternity,
Oh, how he loves me; [Refrain]


Now, if you can tell me how the second is discernibly more “sacred” than the first, I’d be interested to hear it. And I could surely find “deeper” CW and more shallow “sacred hymns.” As this study set out to emphasize, what matters in our music should be “is it biblical?,” and/or “does it edify (strengthen) our faith?” 


Music is meant to strengthen what is already there, it is not primarily a teaching tool. This is why the Mormons can sing the hymns (including the wonderful “Rock of Ages”) and not be moved and why I can sing “One Thing Remains” and be edified.

For those who think the hymns or the hymns-only position is somehow a sign of biblical orthodoxy or doctrinal purity, you’d love the Mormon position on music. Read all the pages and see how much they love and revere the “sacred hymns.” Mormons do not allow contemporary music for their “sacrament meetings.” 

“Some religiously oriented music presented in a popular style is not appropriate for sacrament meetings.” (LDS Handbook 2).

I’d rather gather with the truly regenerated saints, than with hymns-heavy LDS adherents. Wouldn’t you?



Final note: I do agree that there are many hymns which express deep faith and edify, but I cannot take the position that “hymn=good” or “contemporary=bad” lest I fail to test the spirits, lest I swallow false doctrine, lest I start to judge by standards not found in scripture. Music should be doctrinally correct, understandable and edifying. Beyond that, you’re creating your own “truth.”




Friday, January 6, 2017

This Hymns Business - Part 2

In Part 1 of this little study, we briefly looked at some of the accusations against contemporary worship (CW) and the parallel arguments for the use of the hymns (H). The study was inspired by yet another article on the superiority of the H.

The article juxtaposed a popular CW song (“One Thing Remains”) with a classic H (“Rock of Ages”) to show the supposed shallowness of all CW compared to the depth of all the H. Again, I have nothing against the H, and I agree that many contain excellent doctrinal content, but each must be judged on its own merit. I gave my example of CW v. H by comparing “This I Believe” with the H “In My Heart There Rings A Melody.” The latter being somewhat generic and applicable to all kinds of heretical groups. It also contains rather weak sauce in its refrain, “In my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody of heaven’s harmony; in my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody of love.”

If I posted those words and said they’re from a CW song, the knives would come out from the H-Only crowd.


We could make these comparisons all day. What is missed is that we should be doing this with all music. In the end, some H and some CW will be deeper than other H or CW. In either case, the doctrine should be what matters. I don’t mind “In My Heart There Rings A Melody,” just don’t tell me it’s superior to Keith Green’s There Is A Redeemer simply because it’s a hymn.

Just to close that chapter, I’d gladly compare CW song “Your Love Never Fails” to H such as I Serve A Risen Savior featuring the refrain, “You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart.” 


That’s rather subjective, isn’t it? It could be seen as weak and not terribly biblical. Musically, it sounds like a 30s drinking song too.


Truth be told, many of the proponents of H are probably as opposed to contemporary arrangements as they are to the songs themselves. Many CW churches use updated versions of the H. So, even though the content is the same, they object to the music. With that in mind, let’s quickly look at the common accusations again.

  • CW is “me” centered
  • It’s not very deep
  • The music is not “high” music
  • It tends to be loud
  • The songwriters sometimes have suspect lives
  • It’s repetitive

On first blush (and I acknowledge this list in mine, based on experience), none of these is particularly biblical. Many of the H are “me-centered.” The Bible knows nothing of “high” music. The Psalms speak of loud music (“Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!” - Psalm 150). How many of the H are based on music written by unbelievers? Neither Fanny Crosby nor William Booth wrote music, they sometimes incorporated known tunes of their era (Booth saying that the familiarity of the tunes attracted interest). How many classical music composers led suspect lives? Repetitive is in the eye of the beholder.


It’s fine if you prefer H (or even if you hate CW), but we do not have a biblical basis for judging someone based on his preference in this area (as long as the content of the songs are biblically accurate). The writer of the article which led to these short studies belongs to a church which denies eternal security. Obviously, singing “Blessed Assurance*” hasn’t helped him in that area.

I was listening to a radio network which plays only H. Fine. I sometimes enjoy hearing H. The DJ came on and before introducing the next song he named the network and added, “where the drums don’t drown out the message.” Now, on the face of the statement, he’s wrong. That is, if you attend a CW service, not only will you most likely hear every word, the words are probably splashed in huge letters on a screen (yes, some people freak out over screens too - see also “not a biblical issue”).

But what came next was even more stunning, he played an instrumental! That is, he played a song with NO message! I know a lot of hymns and I did not recognize the tune. For all I know, he could have simply been playing the music of some godless or heretical composer. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by instrumentals? No, by the Word of God.

These little studies are not exhaustive (nor are they meant to be). I simply want to start looking at music, literature, art, preaching through the lens of doctrine and not through the ever-changing, subjective moods of the flesh. That works both ways.


*The chorus of “Blessed Assurance” (“This is my story, this is my song/ praising my Savior all the day long;/this is my story, this is my song/ praising my Savior all the day long) could easily be a CW worship chorus. 

Secular music, do you say, belongs to the devil? Does it? Well, if it did I would plunder him for it, for he has no right to a single note of the whole seven. Every note, and every strain, and every harmony is divine, and belongs to us. - William Booth




Thursday, January 5, 2017

This Hymns Business - Part 1

There is a subject that I have seen debated since the day I became a Christian. That is the question of music in The Body (the church). It’s a very large topic, but I’d like to break it into small, digestible bits. But if you want to save time and avoid reading these notes, music in The Body should be judged the same way we should judge everything: by scripture, by doctrine.


My only dog in this fight is truth. I enjoy both the hymns (H) and contemporary worship (CW). I judge each the same way: doctrinally from an Evangelical, biblical perspective. To that end, I like some H and some CW; I don’t like some H and don’t like some CW. Similar to my previous note on the names of the Lord, I really don’t care what you use, as long as it’s based on ultimate truth and as long as you don’t use non-biblical reasoning to condemn others who choose differently.


The arguments against using (CW) are generally the same (and it’s fair to say the attacks on CW are far more common than any on the H). If we turn these back on the H themselves, well, they don’t always fare well. It seems that where leeway is given some H, the same is not accorded to CW.


The accusations against CW are usually:

  • It’s “me” centered
  • It’s not very deep
  • The music is not “high” music
  • It tends to be loud
  • The songwriters sometimes have suspect lives
  • It’s repetitive


Of course, the first step would be to judge the criticisms, are they biblical criticisms? A second angle we need to keep in mind, what is the role of music in the Body? Instead of necessarily taking the accusations and assessments individually, I’ll incorporate them as they seem fit.


For today, I will simply start with the worship song used at the meeting of The Body which I attended today, compared with a popular hymn often used in “traditional” services.

 We gathered around the song “This I Believe,” the chorus to which is:


I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus


Let’s compare that to the traditional hymn, “In My Heart There Rings a Melody” (1924)


In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with heaven's harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody of love.


I guarantee you, the Mormons have a lot more problems with the former over the latter. If I told you the second was CW, the critics would howl at its shallow nature, its man-centered construction and its kowtowing to the “simplistic love” of modern heretical thought.


Next time we’ll look at the criticisms in light of reality and, more importantly, in light of scripture. The biggest mistake we can make is to accept ALL H just because they are H or to accept ALL CW just because they are CW. Let truth reign over all.


Monday, January 2, 2017

The Woes of Isaiah in Bullet Form

Isaiah warns Israel with a series of woes. These were for Israel and her Gentile neighbors, but we can look at the principles. The first section lists the "charges" against the nation and nations, and the second is a list of national "sentences." This list is not exhaustive and consists of a summation of the prophet's words. As always, refer to the original for context and study!

The Charges

  • Forsaking the Lord; you have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned your backs on him
  • You've become a sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great
  • You've become a brood of evildoers
  • Your children are given to corruption
  • You have a haughty, prideful look
  • You parade your sins like Sodom
  • You take over house after house and field after field, until there is no room left for anyone else in all the land
  • You rise early to chase after intoxicating drinks
  • You stay up late intoxicated
  • You have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands
  • You drag around your iniquity with cords of vanity and your sin with a cart rope
  • You call evil good and good evil
  • You put darkness for light and light for darkness
  • You put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter
  • You forgive the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent
  • You prey on widows and rob orphans
  • You're a champion at mixing drinks
  • You are arrogant
  • You heap sin upon sin
  • You make unjust laws
  • You issue oppressive decrees
  • You cry out like a noisy sea
  • You go to great depths to hide your plans from the Lord
  • You do your work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”
  • You look to the world and its wisdom for help and not to the LORD
  • You argue with your Maker

The Sentence

  • You bring disaster upon yourself
  • You will be paid back for what you have done
  • Your leaders will hunger, the people will thirst
  • Death will come upon nobles and the masses
  • You will be humbled
  • You will be abandoned
  • You will be blown away like chaff
  • You will be rebuked
  • You will be thrown to the ground
  • You will be broken
  • You will be put to shame
  • You will be betrayed
  • You will be destroyed
  • The makers of idols will be put to shame and disgraced

God is merciful, compassionate and ready to forgive and restore both nations and individuals. He is long-suffering and not willing that any should perish. He awaits for nations and individuals to call upon his name that he may forgive, heal, restore and bless! Isaiah himself was convicted of his personal sins in the light of God's glory and he cried out, "I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips!"

But God showed Isaiah the remedy for his condition, "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him [Christ] the iniquity of us all." The one-time sacrifice of Christ forever sanctified those who believe and has secured our eternal redemption! He paid the full price!

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.

For more on the only rescue plan from the penalty for sin CLICK HERE





The New Covenant in Bullet Form


“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” (Hebrews 8)


The New Covenant, as late as the writing of Hebrews was still future (“the days are coming”). The New Covenant is not the gospel of this present age. It is a covenant to and for a future Israel. It was not given to The Body in the Present Age

Grace is not a covenant.

Jeremiah 31
  • At that time, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people”
  • “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.” 
  • I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt
  • You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice. 
  • You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria; The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food. 
  • For there shall be a day, When the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, To the Lord our God.
  • Behold, I will bring them [Israel] from the north country, And gather them from the ends of the earth, Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child And the one who labors with child, together; A great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping, And with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, In a straight way in which they shall not stumble; For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn. 
  • Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion 
  • Turn back, O virgin of Israel, Turn back to these your cities. How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth 

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.
  • If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever. 
  • Thus says the Lord: “If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the Lord. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that the city shall be built for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate...