Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

The Holy is the third Person in the Holy Trinity, (the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost,) yet we hear Him spoke of far less than the first two Persons. At times, He is left out all together. The apostle Paul was shocked in Acts 19:2 when he was told by some Ephesian believers that they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit. We find today that there are many believers in that same boat. The Holy Ghost may have been preached to these modern day believers, but often His person and ministry are so understated, that a believer may discount Him entirely. Therefore, for the next 5 or six posts, I will be focusing on the Holy Spirit.

The Personality of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a Person, just like the Father and the Son. He has all the same elements that the Father and the Son have as well. He has a mind (Romans 8:27) and He intercedes to the father on our behalf. He actively searches out the human mind. (1 Corinthians 2:10) He has a will. (1 Corinthians 12:11) He has the power to forbid, (Acts 16:6-7) as well as the power to permit, (Acts 16:10.)

The bible records the Holy Spirit speaking to Phillip, (Acts 8:29,) Peter, (Acts 10:19,) some elders in Antioch, (Acts 13:2) and to seven churches in Asia Minor, (Revelation 2-3.)

The Holy Spirit loves, (Romans 15:30,) and grieves, (Ephesians 4:30.) It is important to note that the grieving attribute of the Spirit is actually an extension of His love. One can really only be grieved by those he loves.

Finally, the Holy Spirit prays, (Romans 8:26.) When I have times of trials in my life, I am always comforted by calling a Christian friend of mine and asking them to pray for me. There are even certain people who remind me that they have been praying for me almost every time I see them. How much more comforting is it to know that the Holy Spirit Himself is offering up a prayer on my behalf. In fact, even when I cannot think of the words to say, He says the words for me.

So we see that the Holy Spirit is in fact, a Person. The bible, over and over again, assigns personality traits to Him that we also see in ourselves. He is relatable, just like the Father and the Son.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Genesis 2:4 – Genesis 3:8

The Fall of Man

Mankind was the pinnacle of God’s creation. He was made in the image and likeness of God. This is evident in the fact that he resembles the trinity. (He is made up of body, soul and spirit.) He is the only creature who possessed self-consciousness and he resembled the form that Jesus would later manifest himself in.

It is estimated that the most brilliant genius uses only one percent of his total potential brain ability. This means that Adam was probably at least one thousand times superior to today’s smartest and brightest intellectuals. Adam may have even possessed E.S.P. We find him apparently communicating with the animals and he seemed to be completely in tune with himself and his surroundings. He was completely unique, meaning that no other creature created by God was like him or at his level. He was declared the king of creation and charged with subduing the earth, naming the animals and caring for the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 1:28-31; 2:8-15, 19, 20)

Adam was commanded by God to abstain from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, lest he die, (Genesis 2:17) but he was encouraged to partake of the tree of Life and all the other trees in the garden. (Genesis 1:29; 2:9, 16) He was given a helpmate and the first wedding in history was performed, presided over by God Himself. (Genesis 2:22-24)

This brings us to introduction of Satan.
He is subtle and cunning and he demonstrates this in chapter 3. He comes to Eve in the form of a serpent. Important to note here is that Eve did not seem to find it strange at all that the serpent was talking to her, indicating that Man and animal may have been able to communicate before the fall. The serpent was not simply the snake that we think of it today. It had legs and was perhaps the most beautiful and wisest of all the animals. Some have even suggested that the serpent may have had wings and stood upright before the fall.

First he convinces Eve to doubt God’s word when he asks Eve, “yea, hath God said…” Eve then tries to match wits with him, (which is a foolish mistake for any Christian.) Through his cunning and wit, the serpent tricks Eve into adding to God’s word. God did not tell Adam and Eve they could not touch the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, only that they could not eat of it. (Note that these are two tactics that Satan loves to use even today. He convinces us to doubt God’s Word and has convinced many that it is OK to add to or take away from God’s Word.)

Finally, the serpent flat out denies God’s Word by saying, “ye shall not surely die.” God never has and never will tell a lie.

Eve gives in to the three lusts of the flesh that the apostle John speaks of;
1. The lust of the flesh. – “The woman saw that the fruit was good for food.”
2. The lust of the eyes. – “And that it was pleasant to the eyes.”
3. The pride of Life. – “And a tree… to make one wise.”

Satan had managed to trick Adam and Eve through his subtlety and cunning. He had told the truth, but only a half truth. Eating of the fruit really did open there eyes and they did know of good and evil, but not as God did. God knows Evil because he is so good. Man is now the opposite; he recognizes good because he is so evil. We have the knowledge, but we have buyers remorse. The price was simply too high.

Although Eve had actually eaten the fruit first, Adam is declared to be the original sinner because he is the head of the human race and responsible for it’s actions.

Adam first tries to hide his nakedness. It’s unclear if he simply did not realize he was naked before this, or if there was some sort of drastic change in his physical and spiritual condition. Either way, his protection is now gone and he tries to remedy the situation by sewing together fig leaves.

Realizing his fig leaves are not going to cut it, Adam tries to hide himself from God. This is the tragedy of Sin. Not only does it cause us to be separated from God, but it also causes us to go one step further and actually avoid God completely.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Scripture Twisters - Matthew 7:1

"Judge not, that ye be not judged." --Matthew 7:1
There is currently a great piece about Matthew 7:1 posted over at Echo Zoe. Go check it out.

Genesis 1:1 - Genesis 2:3

Disclaimer: After further studies, I have added thoughts and points to my overview of Genesis 1:1 - Genesis 2:3. For the benefit of those who have already read the original, I have highlighted the changes in red.

The Creation

The Bible opens with a doctrinal truth in it’s first four words: “In the beginning, God” This teaches us right from the start that God is God. He was there before the beginning of time and will be there at after the end of time. These four words, combined with the rest of the first verse refute atheism, for creation is the work of God. It refutes evolution, for the universe was created and did not evolve. It refutes materialism, for the universe did not always exist. It refutes polytheism, for there is only one God and it refutes pantheism, for God is apart and independent of His creation.

From there it goes on to teach us that God is the creator of the Heavens and the Earth, establishing that God is also very powerful. This is made obvious by the shear vastness of the universe that He has created. My favorite demonstration of the vastness of our universe is the paper stack model. It says that if the thickness of a single piece of paper represents the distance from the earth to the sun, (approximately ninety-three million miles,) then to reach the next closest star, you would need a seventy-one foot high stack of paper. To cover the diameter of our milky way galaxy, you would need a 310 mile high stack. To reach the edge of the known universe, you would need a stack of paper thirty-one million miles high.

The following is the Biblical model for the order by which God created the earth:

Day 1 – God created Light. The Spirit moved upon the earth, creating the energy that now acts to keep everything in working order. The three types of energy that God set in motion here are gravitational, electro-magnetic and nuclear.

Day 2 – God separated the water into two forms; regular land based water and atmospheric water, (water vapors in the sky around us.)

Day 3 – God created Plant life. This is the first life form that God actually created to inhabit the earth. This day refutes the false doctrine of Theistic evolution, that tries to combine creationism and evolution.

Day 4 – God creates the sun, the moon and the stars and gives them three purposes; To act as signs of the wonder of God, to give us seasons, (giving us a calendar to plan our work) and to give us a light source.

Day 5 – God creates Fish and Birds.

Day 6 – God creates land creatures and man. God saves his greatest creation for last. He makes man in His own image and after His likeness. Man is the greatest of God’s creations for multiple reasons; He is aware of his existence, capable of praising God, able to subdue the earth and fill it and he is tasked with naming all the animals and given dominion over them.

Day 7 – God rests. This is the only place the Bible tells us that God rests. It is not because He is tired, but rather to foreshadow and to demonstrate God’s desire for man to rest on the Sabbath and to keep the seventh day of the week set aside, only for Him.

It’s worth mentioning that the most likely explanation for the length of the days are literal twenty-four hour days. This is backed the fact that the Hebrew word for day here, “yom,” almost always means a literal twenty four hour day when used with a numerical adjective or with the phrase, “evening and morning.” (Both are true of this passage.) Combine that with the fact that the Bible later confirms it in Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17.

We already know that verse 1 refuted many anti-Christian worldviews. One view left to refute is that which states that the world is millions, (or even billions) of years old. The Bible suggests that the earth is no more than 12,000 years old. There is plenty of scientific evidence to support this, but perhaps the simplest indication is found in the earth’s population statistics. If man appeared over one million years ago, the present world population would be thousands of times greater than it actually is. In fact, our entire galaxy could not provide the needed space for so many. The present world population is around 4.3 billion. Assuming the average life span to be seventy years and the average generation length to be thirty-five years, then starting with one family, the present world population would result in about thirty doublings. These doublings would carry us back in history from today to around 3500 b.c. This date is suggested by several creationist scientists to mark the time of the Flood. Thus, the creation model dovetails beautifully with known world population statistics. But what of the evolutionary model? Morris writes: "Now, if the first man appeared one million years ago, and these very conservative growth rates applied during that period, the world population would be at present 10 (27000 zeros following) people. However, no more than 10 (with 100 zeros) people could be crammed into the known universe!" (Scientific Creationism, p. 154)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Genesis 6:1 - Genesis 9:29

The Condemnation of all Things

The people of the earth, by this point, had grown increasingly wicked. They had grown to think only evil at all times. They were consorting with demons and demonic activity. Many even believe that the “sons of God,” spoken of in Genesis 6:2,4 were fallen angels who took human wives and had children with them. All said and done, the world had been overrun by every type of sin, corruption and violence. Because the world had now ceased to reflect God’s glory, he decided to change his previous course of action toward humanity and determined to destroy it by a mighty universal flood.

Noah was one of only a few men who the Bible says, “walked with God,” (Genesis 6:9) and he had found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God instructed Noah to build a floating barge with the measurements of 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits (approximately 450 feet by 75 feet by 45 feet.)

God told Noah to cover the inside and the outside of the ark with pitch. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word translated “pitch” is “kaphar,” the same word that is most commonly translated to “atonement.” (Covering with blood) Just as the oily pitch protected Noah and his family from the flood judgment, so the blood of Jesus Christ protects the believer from the sin judgment.

God brought a male and a female of every type of animal to Noah to be placed on the ark. (This included seven pairs of clean animals, such as the ox and the lamb.) Then He told Noah, his three sons, Shem, Ham and Jepheth, his wife and his son’s wives to get on the ark. They did so and as Genesis 7:17 tells us, it was God who shut the door to the ark, sealing the salvation of Noah and his family personally. The Flood lasts for 371 days and the ark finally rests upon the mountains of Ararat. God now tells Noah and his family to “be fruitful and multiply upon the earth.” (Gen 8:17; Gen 9:1)

God now establishes a rainbow covenant with Noah. The elements of this covenant are:

1. God would never again destroy the earth of men through a flood. (Genesis 8:21-22; Genesis 9:9-17)
2. God would require the life of a man who murders another man. (Genesis 9:6)
3. The order and seasons of nature are confirmed. (Genesis 8:22)
4. The fear of animals for man is prophesied. (Genesis 9:2)
5. The flesh of animals for man’s diet is permitted. (Genesis 9:3)

The Bible goes on to tell a story of a time when Noah becomes from his own vineyard and exposes himself within his tent. His son, Ham and Grandson, Canaan view his nakedness and Canaan especially, incurs the wrath of his grandfather for the part he played in this.

Noah predicts the future physical and spiritual life styles of his sons and their descendants and goes on to die at the age of 950. As evident by the fact that no spiritual accomplishments are recorded during his last 350 years, it seems Noah may have experienced, as Paul describes it, being set on a shelf by God. (1 Corinthians 9:19-27)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It Should Have Been Me

Abortionist George Tiller was shot to death around 10:00 am Sunday, May 31, while in his Wichita, Kansas church, Reformation Lutheran Church, where he was serving as an usher. Tiller was a lightning rod for both sides of the abortion issue as a symbol of death on one side and a symbol of civil liberties on the other. Pro-Life organizations had long decried Tiller's activities at the Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, Kansas.

I wasn't going to comment on this, but I suppose I've changed my mind. I've notice a disturbing trend of Christian reveling in the fact that this man was murdered. I am happy that thousands of abortions will not take place that otherwise might have, but my glee stops right there.

First of all, Romans 12:19-21 teaches us that revenge does not belong to us. It belongs to God. The proper Christian response is not to murder murder enemy, it is to love your enemy, (Matthew 5:42-44.) Not only is this a biblical doctrine, but it's just plain common sense.

I've heard Christians making the argument that OT passages such as Numbers 35 speak about taking blood for blood. That is a valid point, however, slightly mis-applied. The commandments that God gave in the OT regarding taking a man's life for slaying another man's life were civil laws, given to the state of Israel. In other words, it is the governments responsibility to administer this justice. There is a difference between a justifiable killing and premeditated murder. The government does the former, Tiller's assailant did the latter.

All that being said, there is an even more important issue at play here. That is the pride of those who are glorying in this man's murder. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he is "the chief" of sinners. In other words, he considers himself to be the worst of sinners. In 1 Corinthians 15:9 he tells us that he is "least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle" and in Ephesians 3:8 he says that he is "the very least of all the saints."

What we can learn from the Apostle Paul is that we are no better than Tiller was. He murdered babies, but we murder people all the time in our hearts. We scoff at God when we disobey Him. We lust, steal, blaspheme, lie, covet, etc. We are nothing more than a filthy sinner who God has placed his Grace upon and saved. I am the chief of sinners. I am not worthy to be called a saint and I should have died in George Tillers place.

James 4:10 says to "humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord." I suggest we follow James' advise and start to realize that we are sinners, just like George Tiller was. The fate of our souls should be the same as what I suspect the final fate of Mr. Tiller's soul is; eternal torment in the lake of fire. It is only by the Grace of God that we are saved, lest any man should boast.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Genesis 4:1 - Genesis 5:32

Adam's Descendants

Adam and Eve carried on from their banishment from the Garden and bare two children; Cain first, then Abel. Abel kept watch over the sheep and Cain farmed the land. As such, each brought from their own work when giving offerings to God. Not only was Cain’s offering bloodless, but it was already cursed by God. Therefore, God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abels lamb sacrifice, (a wonderful foreshadowing to the acceptable sacrifice of Jesus Christ.)

Cain becomes very angry and manifests this anger by murdering his brother. Abel becomes the first martyr in the Bible. As a result, Cain is driven from the blessings of God.

Cain and his descendants went on to form a quasi-successful civilization. Cain built the first city and named it after his son, Enoch. His great, great, great grandson, Lamech becomes the first recorded polygamist, the first recorded songwriter and the second recorded murderer. Lamech’s son, Jabal becomes the inventor of the tent and the nomadic lifestyle. He devised a system to domesticate and commercially produce animals apart from sheep. Lamech’s other son, Jubal becomes the inventor of stringed and wind instruments. Lamech's third son, Tubal-Cain becomes the inventor of metallurgy, both in iron and bronze.

The next major event in the Bible is the flood. All together, there are nine generations between Adam and Noah. The most notable is Enoch.

Enoch is one of only two men who walked with God before the flood. Apparently God told Enoch quite a bit. He named his first son Methuselah, which, in Hebrew, means, “When he is dead it shall be sent.” Apparently God told Enoch that he would not pass judgment on the world until Methuselah had died. Methuselah lived for 969 years, giving mankind plenty of time to repent.

Enoch also spoke out passionately on the coming judgment. In Jude 1:14-15, we read, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” The writer of Hebrews tells us that Enoch was a man of great faith and Genesis 5:24 tells us that Enoch did not die, but rather was taken to heaven by God, (a foreshadowing of the fate of millions of Christians at the second coming of Christ.)

Once Methuselah had died, the stage was set for the next major event in the Bible. The worldwide flood and the condemnation of all things.