Fundamentalists and the Southern Baptists

Fundamentalism and the Southern Baptist Convention #1

Fundamentalism is the key issue in the SBC, don’t kid yourself, this belief system and Scofieldism, is always the elephant in the room with Convention meetings and sermons, although not mentioned generally, instead you hear fancy acroynms and military terms like task-force and other theological and church administration jargon (which is of course the way they were trained mainly instead of primarily on Bible). You can see this bold assertion with two recent events centered around now famous Southern Baptist, a sermon on Fundamentalists by the newly elected President of the SBC, and a new movie which you may have seen about the most famous Southern Baptist of all time, Billy Graham–both out of North Carolina.
If you saw and listened carefully on TV the film “Billy Graham, an Extraordinary Journey”, you head how there was a crisis in the early ministry of Evangelist Graham as in their words “he was disturbed to the core of his beliefs in literal Bible by the old fundamentalists who did not believe all of the Bible, from cover to cover as he did.”
And if you have sought to learn something of the new Southern Baptist generation of preachers and pastors typified in the beliefs, blogs, and sermons of the newly elected President of the Convention, J.D. Greear, hopefully you have run across his message of “Don’t be a Fundamentalists (Calvinist or otherwise)”.
1. An Introduction to “Billy Graham, an Extraordinary Journey” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=VO9MwG0VZX0 .
2. President of the SBC in 2018, J. D. Greear on “Don’t be a Fundamentalists (Calvinist or otherwise) at https://jdgreear.com/blog/dont-be-a-fundamentalist-calvinist-or-otherwise/ .

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Book of Revelation, Christ for Individuals, volume 2 of the Learn Christ Commentaries, Southern Baptist Convention, What Happened to God's People of the SBC

Number the People of God or Worship Christ, Revelation 4-7?

Chapter 3:  Number the People of God or Worship Christ, Revelation 4-7?

 

Before we thank God that we are not as the Mormons, the Church of Christ, the Roman Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, and some non denominational churches who claiming to be the only Church and the only Christians have numbered the people of God in a circle about themselves; before we thank God that we are not as the hypocrites, the Jewish people of the First Century who also claimed to be and still do to be the elect of God in spite of the rejection of Jesus Christ, we should also consider our own guilt of a priority for numbering what we consider to be the people of God over the Worship of Christ.  This chapter explains that!

Church people like other people have the two great needs of (1) guilt relief and (2) self identity.  Even in the churches these needs are not met according to God’s ordained methods in the Bible: (1) confession and forgiveness of sin and (2) personal identification with Christ through repentance and faith.   Therefore you expect in the larger American society there must be substitute solutions for these two great needs.  Guilt relief can be found in the church when the appearance of relief is chosen over the reality by justification through attendance, and self identity rather than with Christ can be found by identifying primarily socially with the other members of the church who may or may not have properly identified with Christ or found proper guilt relief.

These artificial means of guilt relief and self-identity are enhanced by the pastor and the people when they like so many others in history attempt to number the people of God in a circle about themselves.  It seems pathetic to us who objectively witness it when a very small church has so rationalized in such a manner as to think they are the only people of God in the whole world.  Of course, Elijah felt the same way when things were not going so well; except he felt as if he was the people of God of one, one individual—

“Lord, they have killed the prophets, and digged own thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what saith the answer of God unto him?  I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.  Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”  (Romans 11:3-5  KJV)

“THERE IS A REMNANT”, that is what I mean when I say “Seven Christian Thousand”.  It may be six thousand, it may be eight thousand or nine thousand.  It is only that today as the today at the present time of which the Apostle Paul wrote in the First Century there is a small number of the real people of God as compared to those who call themselves the people of God, and the seven thousand Jews in the land of Israel during the time of Elijah only serves to remind us how small the remnant may be as compared to all those who claim to be the people of God. 27-1:  Worship the Almighty God on the Throne,  Revelation 4.

The theme of Revelation 4 is the worthiness of LORD God the Father to be worshipped, and is best expressed by the last verse of that chapter—

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power:  for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”  (Revelation 4:11  KJV)

It reminds us of the Model Prayer where Jesus taught disciples how to pray to God the Father, beginning with “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…” and ending with “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.”

  1. The book of Revelation as other books of the Bible is a self revelation originating from God and delivered through the Lord Jesus Christ by way of some messenger. The Apostle John looked toward heaven, and “a door was standing open in heaven” (Rev 4:1).  John only heard a voice through the open door, saying “Come up here” and I will show you things that are going to happen in the future after this present time.
  2. The first voice John heard in Revelation 1:10 was the voice of Jesus, and turned to see Jesus standing in the midst of the seven lampstands, Who then delivered to John the messages to the seven churches. The “first voice”, also like a trumpet, from the open door of heaven is another voice (Rev 4:1), and the voice which identified himself in Revelation 19:10 as a fellow servant.
  3. The trumpet-like voice invites John to “Come up” in order what? To see “the things which must be hereafter” (Rev 4:1), the things of eschatology and the future. So that immediately after timely messages to the seven churches comes eschatology, seven as they are typical of all churches. {There were actually more than seven churches in the Asia Minor of the first and second century.} We can find a message for our church, denomination, and ourselves in the book of Revelation.  We are not trying to ignore eschatology as you see by the extensive discussion in the last chapter, but we are saying the first priority is a timely message from Christ to the churches and then eschatology; and then beyond that to a timely message from Christ TO INDIVIDUALS.  {Hence the volume 3 title, “Christ for Individuals”, in this volume of the LEARN CHRIST COMMENTARIES.}
  4. “immediately I was in the spirit” (Rev 4:2)—this is hard to understand, for John was already “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” in chapter 1.  It would naturally lead one to believe that this was a day after Sunday.  Recall that the Sabbath Day of the Old Testament became after the Resurrection the Lord’s Day of Sunday.  Sunday is really the new testament Sabbath; and by the way, according to Jesus, it is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
  5. God the Father on the Throne: “behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Rev 4:2,3):

(1).  The reflections of light from Him on the throne were so great that John could in writing only compare it with “like a jasper and a sardine stone”; and

(2).  The rainbow that surrounded the throne of God, obviously reflecting the grace of God, and it reflected like an emerald.  I believe God and heaven are much closer to earth than we can possible imagine, in another dimension that we can not see since the wavelength dimensions of our visual sight are very short anyway; and that this is the actual rainbow that we are seeing on the earth all the time.  After all, the Bible tells us that God sits on the circle of the earth, and that the clouds are His footstool.

  1. Worship God on earth as God is worshipped by the elders in heaven—”thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”: Revelation 4:4,5.

(1).  Here starts the numbering of God that is unique, or almost unique to the book of Revelation as first it is mentioned that around the throne are 24 seats and then exactly 24 elders in those 24 seats.  The number of leaders before the throne of God are exactly the number that God planned to be there, and that number is twice the number of God’s ordained leaders of the First Century:  there were 12 Apostles and there are 24 seats with 24 elders before the throne of God.

(2).  They were clothed in white raiment.  The white raiment obvious represents as we learn later in the book of revelation being washed white in the blood of the lamb.

(3).  They had on their heads crowns of gold.  This obviously represents the reward of God for their service and persecution; and with their position before the throne, also represents their leadership in heaven.

(4).  The sound was as awesome as the sight and sound of lightnings, thundering, and voices came out of the throne.

(5).  Seven lamps were burning in front of the throne which the Apostle John—and note only the Apostle John—identifies as “the seven Spirits (or spirits) of God” (Rev 4:5).  I emphasize that these are words from the Apostle John that he added when he wrote the book of Revelation, and therefore are based on some things that were explained later to him in the revelations of the book of Revelation.  Since we know that there is only One Holy Spirit of God, we are more inclined to lean toward “spirit” instead of the “Spirit” that the King James translators used.  Unfortunately there is only one Greek word, the word “pneuma” literally meaning wind, for both the Holy Spirit and other spirits like human spirits.

  1. Worship God as all living creatures of heaven and earth worship God: Rev 4:6-9. It does not matter so much what the living creatures, unfortunately called “beasts” in KJV, look like as the fact that  all the living creatures besides humans here on earth are worshipping God.  To really pray from the heart the “thy will be done on earth” part of the Lord’s Prayer (more appropriately called he Model Prayer), we should be worshipping God more nearly the way He is worshipped in heaven.  God could use more of our thought time, more consistent time talking to Him, and much less time–like zero—taking His name in vain.}
  2. They keep up this tireless worship of God both day and night and forever; and
  3. They say: “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”  (Rev 4:8)  This is the same Alpha and Omega of Revelation 1:8 that John moved forward after the giving of the whole book and immediately after John talks about Jesus Christ. You see these words about Jesus and God the Father are preliminary summaries of the main messages of all the book of Revelation as is of all the books of the Bible.
  4. This is glory, honor, and thanks to the God Almighty on the Throne from all living creatures not human.
  5. It is glory, honor, and thanks to the Everlasting God. By the way contrary to the way of much of the “praise” worship and songs, Jesus never taught people to pray to Him, only to God the Father through Jesus.  And since praise must be a aspect of prayer and worship, this is inappropriate.  Also Jesus taught to pray without vain repetition as the heathens do, and notice some of these simple praise songs which repeat three or four words over and over.  That fits more in the vain repetition category, and less in the pray with understanding category. This should also eliminate that vain babbling of so-called tongues in worship as Paul was particularly talking about this matter in Corinthians when he wrote that we are to speak in the church with understanding (that is, so others can understand) and pray and sing with understanding).  On the first day of Pentecost after the Ascension of Jesus, when the Jews from every country of the Roman Empire spoke in tongues, it was not unknown tongues.  It was the tongue  of a certain country.  In other words if some Jews were there from Spain, they heard in Spanish; if from France they heard in French, et cetera.  Of course, the really unsound doctrine of this charismatic movement in worship is that it tries to make this emotionalism of speaking in truly unknown tongues synonymous with Sanctification.  Sanctification is not that easy.  According to the sound doctrine of the Bible in spite of popular practices otherwise, sanctification is the third aspect of salvation after initial belief and new birth whereby the Christ follower becomes more and more like Christ until at the Second Coming, “we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”  This sound Biblical sanctification takes hard work, thus the Apostle Paul says “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.  Would that it could happen instantly at one worship service or evangelistic meeting or even each Sunday, but that is hardly consistent with the Bible.  And what you will most generally find is that this kind of worshipper quickly forget during the week as far as real life changes, what happened to them during that worship.  It is an unsound doctrinal substitute for the sound doctrine of the Bible.
  6. It is synchronized with worship from the leaders. Andrew Blackwood wrote a wonderful book on public prayer entitled LEADING IN PUBLIC PRAYER in which he offers this abbreviation to remember the Biblical aspects of proper public prayer, ATCSS.  It stands for Adoration of God, Thanksgiving to God, Confession to God of sin, Supplication to God for such basics as daily needs, and Submission to the will of God.  You can follow those aspects through the Model Prayer, and it would also be a good basis for your daily personal prayer, expanded of course, and put in your own words and thoughts.
  7. Worship God as all living creatures and leaders in heaven worship God: Revelation4:10,11

“The four and twenty elders fell down before him that sat on the throne, and worshiped him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power:  for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”  (Revelation 4:10,11  KJV)

(1).  God the Father created all things of heaven and earth; and

(2).  All things were created for God the Father.  The ultimate purpose of the Christian calling is to glorify God, thus W. O Carver calls his commentary on Ephesians,  THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE CHRISTIAN CALLING.  Ephesians is the best, short book of the Bible to cover all aspects of the Christ life, both BIC (before in Christ) and AIC (After in Christ), and besides my own commentary on Ephesians, ONE COMMENTARY ON EPHESIANS, it is one of the best. Anyway “great things He has done”.

3-2:   Worthy is the Lamb of God, the Christ, to be Worshipped, Revelation 5.

Oh yes, don’t misunderstand, Christ is to be worshipped.  This chapter is outlined as follows:

(1) The need for someone to open the book that was in the right hand of God the Father, Revelation 5:1-4:

(2) The Lamb of God takes the book while all living creatures around the throne of God worship the Lamb, Revelation 5:5-10;

(3) Thousands of angels join in this worship of the Lamb, Revelation 5:11-12; and

(4) All living creatures of the universe of heaven and earth join in the worship of the Lamb, Revelation 5:13,14.  How did they worship Christ?  With a new song with many different words and much meaning for understanding!

3-3:  Correlation of the events from Jesus of Matthew 24 with the Seven Seals on the Book of Revelation 6.

It actually takes six chapters for the Lamb of God to open all seven seals of the book, Revelation 6-11; but six of the seals are opened in Revelation 6, and then the seventh seal is opened at the beginning of Revelation 8, but it takes 8-11 to discuss it since that seventh seal has seven trumpets.  Revelation 7, after the first six seals and before the opening of the seventh seal, is an important insert about God’s numbering of His own people.

As is the nature of prophesy throughout the Bible where high points are given by one Prophet then elaborated on by another Prophet, Jesus as recorded in Matthew 24 gives the high points of the future with seven aspects of the Time of Sorrows, and in the book of Revelation these are expanded into the Seven Seals on the Book with the Seven Seal having seven trumpets.

The disciples asked Jesus privately about eschatology—

“Tell us, when shall these things be?  and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”  (Matthew 24:3  KJV)

First, the beginning of the Time of Sorrows:  Matthew 24:4-8.

Then the continuation of the Time of Sorrows: 24:9-14.

Then the Abomination of Desolation of Daniel, in 80 A.D. the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem, and for all practical purposes the Jewish religion of the First Century: A.D.:  Matthew 24:15-20.

Then Great Tribulation of believers:  Matthew 24:21-13.

A Final Tribulation on all flesh and on the universe shortly before the Second Coming:  Matthew 24:29.

The Second Coming of Christ:  Matthew 24:14-31.

One place that the Apostle John moves progressive revelation on eschatology forward, based on and going beyond what Jesus taught in Matthew 24 is in allowing us to see these six categories as continuing events.  Of course, you must remember that the book of Revelation is coming from the Ascended Christ so that Jesus the Ascended Christ is elaborating on what Jesus the Son of God taught before His crucifixion and resurrection!  Events of the beginnings of sorrows continue while the time of sorrows goes deeper, the destruction of the temple continues as destroyed while the tribulation of the First Century takes place, also the time of sorrows; and so on through the six categories:  (1) The Beginning of Sorrows; (2) The Continuation of Sorrows; (3) The Abomination of Desolation; (4) Great Tribulation on flesh only; (5) Final Tribulation on the universe and flesh, and (6) The Second Coming of Christ with the Gathering of the Elect. We will briefly compare the six categories of Matthew 24:4-8, the beginning of sorrows, with the six categories of the six seals of Revelation 6:1-10. To summarize the six seals of Revelation 6:1-10:  (1) white horse rider with bow and power to conquer; (2) red horse rider with power to cause a world war; (3) black horse rider with famine; (4) pale horse rider with power od Death and Hades; (5) the souls under the altar slain for the word of God given robes; (6) The Great Day of the LORD with the shaking of the whole universe.

Matthew 24:4-8                                            Revelation 6:10-7:17

  1. The beginning of sorrows 24:5-8 1.  white horse rider with power to conquer:  6:1,2
  2. Continuation of sorrows 24:9-14                         2.  red horse rider with power to take away peace from the earth:  6:3,4
  3. Abomination of Desolation 24:15-20                    3.   the black horse rider of famine and hunger in Jerusalem   6:5,6
  4. Great Tribulation on flesh only 24:21-13               4.  pale horse with power to kill one fourth of population 6:7,8
  5. Last Tribulation on flesh   24:29                          5.  The Cry of Martyrs during the tribulations     6:9-11, 7:1-17
  6. The Day of the LORD and Lord 24: 5.  The universe crumbles and men cry for relief     6:12-17

Should it be a surprise that we have a one to one correlation between the events of Matthew 24 and the six seals of Revelation 6.  You see how easy it is if we keep Scripture, including the book of Revelation, in the total context of the Bible.  The beginning of sorrows finds expansion in the first seal as the rider on the white horse with a bow went out to conquer; the continuation of sorrows correlates with the rider on the red horse who has the power to take peace from the earth; the rider on the black horse that delivers famine and hunger is an expansion of what happened in Jerusalem during the Abomination of Desolation, the period the Romans surrounded and then destroyed Jerusalem,  as a quart of wheat sold for a day’s wage.

3-4:  Seven Christian Thousand.

It is in Revelation 6:9-7:17 that we see the primary theme of the book of Revelation as we witness the three ways in which Christ and God the Father number their own people:  (1) First the martyred souls under the altar who are told to be patient until the number of those to be so martyred is complete; (2) Then 144,000 Jews from the twelve tribes of Israel; and (3) The vast multitude from every nation that no man can number. That is no really many Jews among the people of God is the Jews of each generation that were truly of the remnant, or people of God, was only seven thousand like God said during the time of Elijah.  If you divide seven thousand into 144,000; or— 14 X   7  equals    20.57  generations.

From Earthquakes to Final Tribulation. 

Notice also that the sixth seal of Revelation 6:12-17 goes all the way from the simple earthquakes of the beginning of sorrows to the sun darkened of the Final Tribulation that is on the whole universe as well as man—

“For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”  (Revelation 6:17 KJV)

“…(all men living) hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains…”  (Revelation 6:15  KJV)

“And the heaven departed as a scroll”  (Revelation 6:14  KJV)

“And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth…”  (Revelation 6:13  KJV)

“the moon became as blood”  (Revelation 6:12  KJV)

“the sun became black as sackcloth…”  (Revelation 6:12  KJV)

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake…”  (Revelation 6:12  KJV)

Considering these in reverse order, or in the original order of Revelation 6:12-17, what you have is:  (1) The lesser earthquakes of the beginnings of sorrows to at the end of time becomes one great earthquake that shakes the whole earth; (2) The sun becomes dark just as predicted by Jesus and by the Old Testament Prophets as an event before the Great One Day of the LORD and Lord; (3) Also the moon ceases to give light; (4) The stars fall from heaven, another event before the Great One Day; (5) The old heavens began to pass away in preparation for a new heavens; (6) The whole old earth is shaken in preparation for the coming of the new earth; and (7) This is the One Great Day of the LORD and Lord.

Satan.  We already know from the clear teachings of II Thessalonians that Satan has been bound for a figurative one thousand years since the first Day of Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection.  That is when the Holy Spirit came in great power putting a restraint on the successful works of Satan in terms of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  As Paul tells, when the Holy Spirit is withdrawn at the peak of the increase in lawlessness, then Satan will be empowered to do all his dirty works.  It is much like the happenings between God, Job, and Satan as recorded in the book of Job.  God gave Satan permission to take away Job’s possession, family, and his health.  In the case of the release of Satan, God for a short time gives Satan the leeway (with the Holy Spirit removed) to harass the whole globe as he did Job.

The Prophet. Another thing that the book of Revelation demands in the way of last events is a last False Prophet to support the last great world leader, the son of perdition, who is also under the control of Satan; and while the Mormons are by no means the only group that could supply such a False Prophet, they are a good example of one of several such good groups.  Each President of the LDS is considered God’s modern day Prophet on earth so much so that any time he speaks on secular or religious matters it is revelations from God.  Well, one of those Prophets, Brigham Young, according to the criterion established by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy for a false prophet is a false prophet.  If he foretells something as Brigham Young was foolish enough to foretell that men were on the moon, which was proven to be false when the Astronauts landed there. and it doesn’t come true, then he is a false prophet.

The Son of Perdition. While there are several sons of perdition mentioned in the Bible including Judas, and meaning that these are men under the control of Satan, the ultimate son of perdition like the ultimate false prophet is reserved for the last events of the last times; and the Apostle Paul writes of this son of perdition in II Thessalonians 2:1-5.

From this passage and from the total context of the Bible the dominant theme of eschatology must be kept in mind of the ONE DAY OF THE LORD AND Lord.  Sometimes you do not get that impression from reading books on last things nor even listening to sermons or lessons, but for every one time that matters like a thousand years, the battle of Armageddon, Satan, and the False Prophet and Man of Perdition are mentioned, the One Day of the Lord is mentioned at least ten times.  There is no more consistent theme in all the Bible other than on God Himself, on Jesus and salvation, than on the subject of the One Day of the Lord.  And it is with the subject of the One Day of the LORD and Lord that Paul in II Thessalonians 2 also mentions the Man of Perdition.

“Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him, that you may not be quickly shaken from you composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”  (II Thessalonians 2:1,2  NASV)

The sequence of primary last events are here—

  1. The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. The Gathering of Christians to Him that are alive at His Second Coming.
  3. The One Day of the Lord when all these things will happen of the Second Coming, the gathering of Christians, and judgment on Satan, the Man of Perdition, and the False Prophets with all unbelievers. Some people think that hell is horrible; but there is something far worse than hell about which the last chapters of Revelation tell us.  We are told that death and hell are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone with Satan, the False Prophet, and the Man of Perdition.
  4. The One Day of the LORD and Lord preceded by an Apostasy of Christians. “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” (II Thessalonians 2:3  NASV)
  5. Then the Son of Perdition is revealed which the NASV calls the “man of lawlessness” and “the son of destruction”.

“…and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.  Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?”  (II Thessalonians 2:3b-5  NASV)

What we learn here about the Son of Perdition as foundational for the more we will learn in the book of Revelation—

(1).  False worship sets the stage for him to exalt himself above those false objects of worship.

(2).  He leads in the ultimate deception as he takes the primary seat of honor in the very temple of God.

(3).  He displays himself as God!

Honesty Versus the Lie.   Every time an individual or a group of individuals in a church or any other organization contribute to a lack of honesty, to half-truths, distortions, and lies {the Mormons with their four Bibles that distort truth and sound doctrine are not the only ones, only the best example of the worst unsound doctrine}, they are also contributing to the release from bondage of Satan to again deceive all the nations as he did the Roman Empire in the First Century.  Seem strange, then read again II Thessalonians 2 where the mystery of lawlessness is at work centered around the believing of a Lie.  Evidence of the big lie comes when churches or other organizations like that of Sardis have a reputation of being alive while the reality is that they are dead.  It can also happen to an educational institutions, a state, or a federal government.  It can happen to any leader, secular or religious, as a divergence develops between their reputation and the reality. Here as an aspect of sin or lawlessness, we are dealing with what Elton Trueblood calls “intellectual honesty”.  It is a lie when appearance is promoted through PR that is a distortion of reality.

You see the reason the reputation can be so different from the reality is that while man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart of an individual or organization.  The way of the world is the way of appearance.  The way of God is the heart.  The way of the world is the appearance of the building and the organization, the way of God is the inward motivation and strength of the spirit.  This is the reason Jesus said, “Judge not by appearance; but judge righteous judgment.”

We see the ultimate the appearance of religion versus the reality as we listen to what Jesus had to say to religious leaders about the First Century Hebrew religion—

“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  (Matthew 15:7-9  KJV)

  1. Since this was a quote for Isaiah, it was the indictment of God against the Hebrew religion years before it took place; and it figured in significantly to the rejection of Jesus by most of the Jews.
  2. They were practicing vain worship. Isn’t that horrible to assemble sabbath day after sabbath day, to speak the name of God, and to even proclaim that it is in the name of God; and for it all to be vanity.  Worthless worship!
  3. The mouth and the lips of the worshippers were speaking the right words, even the appearance of the words was right; but their hearts were far away from God.
  4. Along with vain worship was the teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The doctrines of the Bible had been subverted into the commandments of men.

3-5:  Exegesis of Revelation 4-7.

4:1   John saw a door standing open in heaven.  The eternal secrets of heaven were about to be revealed.  John is going to be told what shall happen “after these things”; but what has happened after the things?  Only the things of the problems in the seven churches, and this interpretation is verified by the words with which this verse starts—”After these things…”  You see these problems in the Christian churches were as much revelations of secrets as the seven seals and seven trumpets to follow, because these churches and Christians did not realize that they had these problems.  Only whole church thought it was alive and was dead, had a reputation among many churches of being alive; but the secret revealed to them is that they were dead.  Another had left their first love, the original concept of the God of the Bible, and did not know it.  One thought it was rich, but it was poor; and so on…

4:2   The Throne is important, sitting in heaven; for when the old earth passes way and the new earth comes with the New Jerusalem, this same throne of God will be lowered with the 1500 mile high city and God on that throne.

4:3   Even as much of the news of the new earth has the appearance of jasper, clear and sparkling so the God the Father who sat on the Great White Throne had that appearance.  It is the appearance of purity and righteousness.

4:4   You can see that the new Jerusalem is going to be a place where God and the 24 elders rule all nations as the new Jerusalem is going to be lowered to earth.  That is, it will close the gap between heaven and earth!

4:5   The seven “spirits of God”, spirit not Spirit, are the spirits of the prophets, the spirits of the angels.

4:6-8  All living creation is represented in the four living creatures, like a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle; and the point is that all living creation worships the Almighty God.

You know that even as seven represents completion so the opening of the seventh seal on the book of heaven will wrap up all the events of Matthew 24 and of history.  The Seventh Seal in short is the Second Coming of Christ; but the story of the end is spread out in that there are seven trumpets to be sounded, in that history is reviewed from beginning to end from the perspective of God and of God’s heaven!  After this review of history from the perspective of God, the Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet of the Seventh Seal is the Second Coming of Christ.

The first six trumpets represent the Judgements of God against the earth in answer to the prayers of the saints—

“And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.  And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”  (Revelation 8:1-4  KJV)

Recall that the original prayer of the souls under the altar of Revelation 6:10 was, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  (KJV)

As the first angel sounded the first trumpet fire and blood was cast upon the earth destroying one third of the trees and all the green grass; as the second sounded a mountain size ball of fire was cast into the sea destroying one third of the ships and one third of the life in the sea; at the third a bitter star poisoned the fresh water of earth so that many died; at the fourth trumpet the light of the sun, moon, and stars was darkened by one third; at the fifth trumpet the angel of the bottomless pit is released with his scorpions to torment men that who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads—”They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss, his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon”  (Revelation 9:11  NASV); at the sixth trumpet an army of two hundred million which killed one third of the men on earth; and at the sounding of the seventh trumpet the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 11:15-19).

How do these seven trumpets of the seventh seal compare with the broad outline of eschatology of Matthew 24?  After the Abomination of Desolation of 70 A. D., Jesus tells of:  (1) A Great Tribulation on flesh only but so terrible that if it were not shortened no flesh would survive; (2) The arising of many false Christs and false prophets; (3) The death of many men as carcasses for the gathering of the eagles, another great tribulation but this time one that affects the environment as well as flesh; (4) The shaking of the heavens with lessened light from the sun, moon, and stars; (5) Second Coming of Christ in power and glory; and (6) The angels gather the elect of God together from heaven and from earth.  And once again you see how the aspects of each category spill other from one sequence in history to another as first there is a great tribulation on flesh only which took place in the First Century, and indeed had already begun to happen in the history of Revelation where you find the martyred souls under the altar, similar to the Great Tribulation of the very last days that is on the universe and flesh.

You also see how the seven trumpets are simply more details on the eschatology of Jesus of Matthew 24.  Also the aspects of the fire and brimstone of the seven trumpets elaborate on the earth melting with a fervent heat of the Apostle Peter and of II Peter 3:

“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men….But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements of the earth shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  (II Peter 3:7,10  KJV)

The fervent heat starts on earth as the first trumpet of the seventh seal sends hail and fire to earth that burns all the green grass and one third of the trees; the heat gets hotter as with the second trumpet the mountain of fire affects the ocean life and ships; a burning and bitter star falls into the fresh water at the sounding of the third trumpet; and the heavens began to be effected— sun, moon, and stars—with the fourth trumpet; with the fifth trumpet as the bottomless pit opens to let out the angel-king, more of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened by the smoke from the bottomless pit; and from the army of two hundred million came fire that destroyed one third of the men living on earth.  This is the Greatest Tribulation on the universe and man for which the Great and shortened tribulation was only a foretaste.

The Apostle Peter in reference to why God was withholding the sounding of the seventh trumpet with the end of time and the Second Coming of Christ writes about the patience and mercy of God—

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one days is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  (II Peter 3:8,9  KJV) Yet during the judgments from the sounding of the fifth trumpet rather than repent as God is seeking by the delay in final judgment, they continued not to worship God!

3-6:  Patience and The Thousand Years.

Although we will encounter the famous one thousand years of Revelation in Revelation 20, so called by many as the “millennium”, since the Bible has so little to say about this “one thousand years” with references only in Revelation 20 and here in II Peter 3:8,9, it behooves us to take note of what Peter writes in progressive revelation before the Apostle John writes Revelation and Revelation 20.  Peter is making a point of the patience of God, and that to God one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like one day. However, in spite of this Bible relativity whereby to God one day can mean anything from a day to a thousand years and vice versa, I think we should take the thousand years during which Satan is bound as literal, starting when Satan could deceive the nations no longer when the influence of the Roman Empire was destroyed in the world, or approximately somewhere between 400 and 1400 A.D.  Since I think that Joseph Smith had to have supernatural help in the generation of so many lies, distortions, and half-truths as are represented in the three unique Bibles of the Mormons, I think Satan had to be released somewhere before or about the time of the famous golden plates on which was recorded the book of Mormon.  That would mean that Satan had to be released somewhere before 1820.  If we speculate Satan’s release as approximately 1800, then one thousand years before this would be at approximately 800 A. D. when Satan is bound in that he can no longer deceive whole nations.  (Satan was not bound in that he could no longer deceive individuals, only nations!)  I like this date of approximately 800 since it places it closer to the destruction of the Western Roman Empire than to the destruction of the Eastern Roman Empire.  After all, since Christ told us that no man knows the exact time, what we are doing is using God ordained signs in the book of Revelation and in the rest of the Bible to speculate.  It is the trends that we must look for that will conclude the end of time.  The two great and detrimental trends of rejection of the knowledge of God and of the increase of intellectual dishonesty in lies, half-truths, and distortions.

The Apostle Paul had something to say about this increase in dishonesty with a corresponding rejection of the knowledge of God, and identified the trends as the “latter times”.  (This “latter times” reminds you of what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 4.)

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”  (I Timothy 4:1-3  KJV)

Notice that on the positive side that those “which believe” are also those who “know the truth”; and that with a seared conscience, seductive spirits, and faith departure also comes “lies in hypocrisy”.  (Since we know which denomination called by them a Church abstain from meats and forbids to marry, we also know which Church besides the LDS is active in “lies in hypocrisy” with the seared conscience, faith departure, and seductive spirits and doctrines of devils.  Also recall that it is devils that are being worshipped in Revelation 9:20 that keeps them from repenting in spite of the torments of scorpions from hell of the fifth trumpet, and in spite of the slaying from the army of Satan of one third of mankind.

Table 3:  The 4 Phases of History in Revelation Based on the

Teachings of Jesus in Matthew 24.

Beginning of Sorrows

Matthew 24:5-8

Great Tribulation

Matthew 24:9

Period of Offences

Matthew 24:10

The Falling Away

Matthew 24:11-14

1. Many False Prophets Come. False Prophets
2.  Many Deceived. Many Offended Falling Away
Betray One Another Lawlessness Abounds
Hate one Another Man of Sin Revealed
3.  Wars and rumors of wars Lovers of self and money Holy Spirit withdrawn
4.  Nation against Nation Despisers of good Satan released
5.  Famines Battle of Armageddon
6.  Pestilences Love of many waxes cold
7.  Earthquakes Shaking of heaven and earth
Great Tribulation from the World and Satan Turn Away from the truth and turn into fables Physical tribulations from God in Final Tribulation
Abomination of Desolation Form of godliness  (religion) with inward power of God Elements melt with fervent heat
Great Tribulation shortened for sake of Elect Blasphemers, proud, arrogant, and trouble makers Gospel to every nation
False rumors about the Second Coming Second Coming of Christ and great gathering in the clouds

 NOTE:  This message/chapter is Chapter 3 of the Learn Christ commentary, volume 2 entitled “Christ for Individuals”.  If you wish you can free download this chapter, Number God’s People at

www.biblecombibleman.com/NumberGodsPeople.pdf.  

 

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Friends of Jesus in this Age of the Bible and Computer, What Happened to God's People of the SBC

Open Letter to the SBC on “Confusion in the Congregation”.

NOTE:  This SunGrist blogger while knowing it is impossible to say it as thoroughly from the Bible and as eloquently as my former Pastor and the Preacher that licensed me to preach at Bellevue Baptist Church in 1957, efforts are made hear to share some things that the Dr. R. G. Lee, former President of the SBC might say to the Pastor’s Conference and Convention meeting in Dallas this week.  We already know what he predicted for leadership to follow in his own church and for the SBC, for in his book Bread from Bellevue Oven, there is one message entitled the “Menace of Mediocrity ” where Dr. Lee says “times will get so bad that wrens will make prey where eagles dare not perch”.

 

CHAPTER 24      Confusion in the

Congregation

In John 13-17 Jesus did not spell out in so many words what Friends have come to in the Comfort of the One-ness.  Jesus left that to the Apostle Paul, the Apostle called out of due time; and although the 11 Apostles voted to elect Matthias to fill the slot vacated by Judas Iscariot, Jesus had in mind another Apostle to be His chief editor of the New Testament.  It was so important to the work of the kingdom of Christ and of God, that Jesus Himself, the Ascended Christ, made a visual appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus, and then met with Paul in Saudi Arabia for a personal period of instruction. {And by the way, as far as we know from Scripture, Paul is the only Apostle that Jesus after Ascension met with. Of course, there were also the meetings with the Apostle John on the isle of Patmos.}  Recall, however, that Jesus said in the 13-17 passage that there were many other things which He needed to tell the Apostles, but they were not ready for them yet!

Jesus said:

“I still have many things to say to  you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)

Jesus said them to Paul, and Paul wrote 14 books of the New Testament and sponsored through John Mark and Dr. Luke 3 others; and in the writings of Paul you find a lot on “One”, but based on a past knowledge of the Old Testament which he re-read at Tarsus for 7 so-called silent years when he came to summarize what Jesus had taught him in the first 10 letters in the famous book of Ephesians, you really see a lot about ONEs and the one baptism.  However it is in Hebrews with the focus on Hebrews 12, that we truly come to identify exactly the One-ness as the kingdom of Christ.

CONFUSION, THEN AND NOW, IN THE CONGREGATION

When we preach, speak, or prophesy in the church, the Bible says in Corinthians, it is either to “edify”, “exhort”, or “comfort”.  We should not speak in the church or to the church unless it is to edify, exhort, or comfort.  On many special occasions like a funeral we come to comfort; and we hardly know whether the life of a loved one or the Bible messages is more comfort.  Such a noted life, lived seriously for Christ and for so many years, is a comfort to the family.  Certainly to family and friends alike, that life has been an exhortation, a building up for us by example, and a comfort to us in the best of church membership.

However, we do have Bible treasures in earthen vessels, and however inadequate from the human standpoint, we do know that Bible like that in Hebrews chapter 12 is more than adequate for the comfort of such a special assembly. As you listen for a few minutes on “Comfort in the Kingdom” no uncertain sound will you hear these comforts like also mentioned in First Corinthians 14 where there can be confusion without a certainty in the sound.  Although not nearly as beautiful as the music or as distinct in the sound as a trumpet, you will find many positive and straightforward words of comfort this morning from the Bible.  The Bible comforted your loved ones, I know that; and it can comfort you even as it comforted them.  Even if you do not choose to accept the same Bible truths for comfort, you can accept some comfort by the acknowledgment that your loved one found comfort in such Bible passages as Hebrews 12:18-29.

  1. The subject of Hebrews 12 is the Unshakable and Eternal Kingdom of God and Christ.

There are shakable kingdoms, and then there is the one unshakable kingdom. Kingdoms have come and gone throughout history, from Nineveh to Babylon, to the United Kingdom of David, to the split kingdoms of Israel and Judah, to Persia, Greece, and Rome.  Some like Rome have lasted hundreds of years and seemed invincible, but now are only the subject of history books and of sites to visit ruins, testifying again to the shakable nature of all kingdoms except one. In more modern times, it was the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal who led in the exploration of the new world; then Great Britain and France with their colonization, and finally the United States which recently has looked more and more shakable, having lost so many of the recent wars fought.

  1. There is a brief moment of confusion in climbing the vast peaks of the Comforts of Hebrews 12 even as the children of Israel with which Hebrews 12 starts had moments of discomfort in climbing Mount Sinai before the comforts of the message from God Himself came; and I must add in all intellectual honesty that the congregation before Mount Sinai never overcame the discomforts of the loud sounds of the voice of God and the loud trumpet, nor overcame the sight of the fire and smoke and lightnings that surrounded the presence of God on earth with His feet on the Mount; nor did they overcome the taste and smell of the smoke, nor the touch of the mountain itself as they feared knowing as God promised that man or beast if he touched the mountain past a certain identified point would die.  Never in history had the great God of this universe, the only God and Creator made Himself available to a whole congregation like this; the people were keenly aware of this, and they were afraid.  In fact, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:21,that when God made this special appearance on earth, that the sight was so terrifying looking up at Mount Sinai where God stood that Moses Himself was terrified.

The Bible in Hebrews states:

“And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.'”  (Hebrews 12:21)

  1. Now, our confusion is somewhat different from that congregation in front of Mount Sinai on that historical special assembly in that we come to quite a different but awesome reality. That awesome reality is not apparent in the introduction to the passage of Hebrews 12:21 as all four physical senses—sound, sight, taste, touch–are evident from God on Mount Sinai; nor is the confusion of Hebrews 12:18-29 further alleviated, at first until you think more deeply about it, in verses 22-24 although we begin to feel comfort as such positive spiritual realities are mentioned as:
    • the New Jerusalem, the city of the living God;
    • the heavenly Jerusalem which the book of Revelation tells us will be lowered down from heaven to become the New Jerusalem on earth with the New Israel and the New Earth under the new heaven; {is that not right, are you not able to immediately picture what these realities are even though you do not know what we are coming to as the overall great reality, much greater than the congregation before Mount Sinai}–and the list goes on:
    • an innumerable company of angels, you know automatically that this is the great number of the legions of angels Jesus will bring with Him at the Second Coming in order to conduct the Great Gathering of souls from the four corners of the earth–stop a moment, while it is true this great legion of angels will come to do the bidding of Jesus at the Second Coming, in reality in the comfort of these benefits of Hebrews we are talking about realities and comforts that we already have {the passage does not say “what are we coming to” in the future but rather “what have we come to” right now}, so that presently we must consider later how these legions of angels as ministers of God and God’s will help us now;
    • to the total church body of which all believers, past and present are a member, the church of the Firstborn, the assembly written in heaven {just those eternal words cause comfort to arise in our heart, although we still do not know what Paul is taking us to}. However he through the Holy Spirit continues to pile up the realities of comfort in spite of some confusion. It is much like life in the midst of the trials and battles where the noise and the sight of the battle is finally overcome in moments of vision and the music of comfort with such realities; and I must add right now, that these are not spiritual realities for the future, these are present realities.  What we are coming to under the leadership of the Spirit and Paul is a great summarizing reality that presently exist, is already ours here on earth, and which can comfort any believer right now because you do not have to wait for it.

Rapidly let us complete the list of smaller comforts in order to comprehend the large encompassing reality of the kingdom of Christ.

(5).  “to God, the Judge of All”:  you see God already exist and lives and knows and watches and loves and yet makes preparation for Judgement.  About the only aspect of the kingdom where God knows and Judges is that the evidence of His judgement as far as the separation of the your loved ones and the goats, the tares in the churches from the wheat in the churches is not yet evident.  However, once again, like all the other benefits, it is a present judgment that has already happened.  With your name written indelibly in the Lamb’s book of life in heaven, you do not have to wait for God to make a final decision; of course, we will all feel better when we find ourselves there, and Paul does add “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

(6).  “to the spirits of just men made perfect”:  {Once again this is men, women, children, and youth as “men” is generic for male and female.}  Oh yes, God is a Living God of the Living.  He had to remind Moses of that.  People who die and have died in the Lord are still living with God.  God is the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob:  the God of the living Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.  The God of the Living parents, friends, and some fellow church members who appear to us as having fallen asleep.

(7).  “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant”:  I think I heard an “Amen” Jesus is alive.   Jesus Mediating work is alive as right now He is at the right hand of God the Father on the Great White Throne, making intercession for our sins and continuing to wrap up the administration of the New Covenant for the New Earth and the New Jerusalem.

Third, Okay, has the confusion of Hebrews 12:18-29 been overcome as to what we have come to.  We knew at the beginning that we have not come to Mount Sinai like God’s people in the wilderness.  We have a list of aspects now of what we are coming to, knowing that whatever this great and present entity of comfort to us is, it has to include:  (1) New Jerusalem, (2) the heavenly Jerusalem,

(3) lots of powerful angels that can carry out the will and ways of God and Christ, (4) the one church or body of Christ, (5) God with an emphasis on the God of Love as also a Judging God, (6) to many saved and justified human spirits that have been perfected, (7) to Jesus and the New Covenant.

Well, maybe not quite all the confusion is gone until we see it in the writing of Hebrews 12:18-29, so that we should quickly go to the next to the last verse, verse 28 of the passage and of Hebrews 12.  THERE FOR OUR COMFORT IT IS IDENTIFIED AS TO WHAT WE HAVE COME TO INSTEAD OF MOUNT SINAI.  WE HAVE COME TO THE UNSHAKEABLE AND ETERNAL KINGDOM OF CHRIST AND OF OUR GOD, a kingdom already here on this earth now; and a kingdom once for all established by Christ on earth when He came the first time to live and work.  This is it!   Listen to the words carefully.

The Bible reads in Hebrews 12:28a:

“therefore…therefore, I pause….there is a great conclusion to follow, and here it is, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken….” Granted we don’t have all the benefits yet; but “we are receiving”.  We are in the very process while still here on earth of receiving the kingdom benefits. We are coming to what we are already receiving, that is, “a kingdom which cannot be shaken”.  Mount Sinai was shaken; Moses and the children of Israel were shaken; the whole earth at the end of this Age with the heavens is going to be shaken.  However the eternal kingdom of Christ is a reality that can not be shaken since it has in it the eternal God the Father and the eternal Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. Even as we can not fully appreciate what we have come to in the unshakable kingdom without comparison to the fear and confusion of the first people of God at Mount Sinai, so also we can not appreciate the present realities of our unshakable kingdom until we also see how shakable this kingdom and kingdoms of earth that we live on and with are now.

(1).  Paul uses the reality of the historical Flood Judgement of God one time before as an example for future shaking when he reminds readers of the reality of the Great Flood on earth that destroyed all men, women, and children except 7 people with Noah.

(2).  Paul uses a quote from Haggai 2:6 in the Old Testament to describe the reality of a great shaking of this present earth and the heavens.

(3).  Paul with the help of the Holy Spirit, and with prior teachings from the Ascended Christ in Arabia, gives the God and Christ authorized interpretation of the “shaking” and the “yet once more” found in Haggai 2:6.  Don’t you just love the comfort of knowing truth which comes so clearly when we allow the Apostle and Prophets, like this in Haggai and Hebrews, to explain the Old Testament quotes.  You just know not only is “no Scripture of any private interpretation”, but also that you just read the authorized interpretation.  Admit it, there is a lot of comfort in that also!  In short what it means is:  all things we see on earth that are the creations of man, that is mammon that is made with the hands of man, is going to be shaken to the point of destruction–Peter would call it the elements melting with a fervent heat; and what remains of the old earth and old heavens in the new heavens and the new earth is going to be the unshakable kingdom of God!

“therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken….” {bottom line and bottom subject of Hebrews 12 and in particular the passage of 12:18:29}

(4). Now if you needed anything else, and no doubt many do, in order to appreciate the shakable nature of this earth and the kingdoms of this earth, you must along with your concept of God as love also appreciate that “our God is a consuming fire”; and a consuming fire God is a God of Judgement as well as love and justice.

  1. We Begin to Feel the Comfort in Hebrews 12 as some of the confusion dissipates.

Roman Numeral Two:  Now, we can appreciate the comfort in the first part of Hebrews 12, the Hebrews 12:1-17 passage.  And I think we will realize to the point of comfort that Hebrews 12:1-17 is an elaboration of the kingdom.  What was listed as specifics in Hebrews 12:22-24 as present realities of the unshakable kingdom of Christ and God has previously been words of comfort in more detail in the first part of Hebrews 12 even as the whole book of Hebrews about Christ, the Falling Away, and the New Covenant of salvation has been preparation for Hebrews 12 itself.  {Yes, Paul the lawyer steeped in the word of God and the teachings of Jesus and with the guidance of the Spirit was also a lawyer like logician in the use of reasoning and the intellect.}

  1. We derive further comfort from the realization that the Cloud of Witnesses of Hebrews 12:1,2 is the same general assembly of the Firstborn of our list of comfort of Hebrews 12;22-24:

“therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We are not alone as a practitioner of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: we are not alone in the faith of sound doctrine and in the stand of faith for a sound doctrine.  We have Jude and many others enumerated in Hebrews 11 as our witnesses to Contend for the Faith.  Although sometimes in our beliefs which must separate us from the majority, and even more so as we go deeply in the time of THE FALLING AWAY beyond the Perilous Times separate us from even church members, we must feel like the Prophet Elijah as times had become so bad in the falling away of Israel than Elijah thought he was the only true follower of God that was left.  God had to assure him that there is were seven thousand left who had not bowed their knees to Baal.  As the United States follows the example of Israel and comes down to only seven thousand believers in the whole nation, perhaps you will know none of them and become lonely; and at that time the Comfort of Hebrews 11 and 12, and the Comfort specifically of the great cloud of witnesses gone before will be increasingly a comfort to you.

(1).  The Comfort of Elijah.  The Bible tells us that Elijah was a man of like passions as we are, and he prayed that it might not rain on the earth for three and a half years.  We have the Comfort that we can pray like that and get real results.

(2).  The Comfort of Abraham.  When God made Abraham the father of many nations, Abraham was made our father of faith.  Like Abraham, we believe in God through faith.

(3).  The Comfort of Jesus.  Later we will see in Hebrews 12 how that since Jesus endured such hostility of sinners while on earth, that we must expect the same thing; but we know that not only did Jesus go through the same things that we do–there hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man; but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape that you might be able to bear it”–and beyond that, Jesus is at the right hand of God making intercession for our sins.

  1. The Comfort of Jesus as the Author and Finisher Our Faith of Hebrews12:2 is the Jesus, Mediator of the New Covenant, of Hebrews 12:22-24. While we are on the subject of Comfort from Jesus, let us go on to the Comfort that we receive from Jesus being the Author and Finisher of our Faith; and in order to appreciate this you must see how Jesus existed as a person of the Godhead long before He walked on this earth.  In fact, Jesus already existed when God the Father and God the Holy Spirit created the heavens and the earth.  As a matter of Biblical fact, Jesus Christ was the mediating cause during Creation. One Bible scholar has given this definition of the Trinity: “God the Father the originating cause; God the Son is the mediating cause, and God the Holy Spirit is the effecting cause.”  You see that in reverse in prayer.  You see that moving forward in salvation as God the Father thought up salvation, God the Son wrought salvation in His death on the cross, and God the Holy Spirit effects salvation in the life of the individual believer.  You also see it as true in Creation. God the Father said “let there is be light”, “let there  be firmament in the midst of the waters”, “let the earth bring forth living creatures”, and etc.  “let there is be…let there be…let there be”–sometimes I wish we could have heard the sound of heavens as God spoke those words but we like the children of Israel at Mount Sinai could not stand the sound.  Jesus the Mediator could stand the sound and whatever God the Father said, Jesus became the mediating cause in the works of Creation.

(1).  Now the same Jesus with the power to create and sustain all the universe is also THE AUTHOR of our SALVATION.  Jesus wrote the book on Salvation if you want to put it somewhat crudely…but true.  It was Jesus that provided the whole story of salvation: the story of how God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; the story of how the power of God overshadowed the virgin Mary and that person who was born of this was born of the Spirit of God, was the Son of God; the story of how Christ subsequently taught and performed miracles and of these signs of faith from God that none other can duplicate or ever will; the story of how Jesus did on the cross for the sins of the world–no one took His life against His will but according to the will of Jesus and God; and the story of how Jesus arose from the dead on the third day thereby becoming the Firstborn from the dead.

(2).  It is difficult to separate Jesus the Author from Jesus the Finisher of our Faith.  Somewhere in the Gospel story of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ back to the right hand of God the Father to ever live to make intercession for our sins, Jesus passed from simply being the author of our salvation to being the author and Finisher of our salvation.  For example, shortly before the crucifixion Jesus told His first disciples, and subsequently the message was recorded also for us to read in the Bible…Jesus told His disciples that when He was gone He would send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit to take His place on earth and to do His work.  That is obviously part of the finishing work of Jesus as the Spirit of God convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; as the Holy Spirit teaches us all things and brings things to our remembrance; as the Holy Spirit gives us a spirit not of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind; and many other benefits of Comfort from the Holy Spirit which were mentioned in the last chapter.

  1. The Comfort of Chastening from God the Father of Hebrews 12:5-11 is the way that the just men of the list are made perfect. We however must hasten on to cover quickly the other comforts of Hebrews 12; and on how there is a Comfort of Chastening from God the Father you need to hear from the Word of God :

“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son {wow, what a blessing to be called by God the Father, “son”}…My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD {capital letters like this are always for God the Father}…the chastening of the LORD, not be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there of whom a father does not chasten?  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.  Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit {you see the Comfort of Chastening is for our benefit, for our PROFIT, and what that profit is specifically comes later in the passage–it is in order that there might be PEACEABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS in our lives}…that we may be partakers of His holiness {that makes it worth it, doesn’t it to have chastening…that is indeed comfort to know that chastening is God’s means for us to become partakers of His Holiness.}  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

You see that is another way to look at the Comfort of Chastening: that is our Trainer to make us partakers of the Holiness of God, to bring in our life the Peaceable Fruit of Righteousness.  “No cross, no crown” were the words from William Penn.  Or as someone said, “all sunshine makes a desert”.  We need, in short, the Comfort of Chastening from God the Father Himself; and further we need to be reminded that much of this chastening comes from the hostility of sinners.  You see part of the context just read of Hebrews 12:5-11 is the introduction of Hebrews 12:3 and 4:

“For consider Him who endured such HOSTILITY FROM SINNERS against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” 

  1. The Comfort of Correct Choices, that is “make straight paths for your feet “of 12:12-15, is the same straight path that leads to eternity in the “heavenly” Jerusalem of the List.

Once again I wonder if any words could express it more eloquently on the Comfort of Correct Choices than the Apostle Paul and the Spirit of God do on Hebrews 12:12-15.

“therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…”

(1).  This is akin to what I like to call my “smart” lecture: do what is smart by choosing straight paths for your feet.  The way you walk and live is up to you, and consists of many individual choices that can be called the choosing of straight paths for your feet.  In other words, chose paths to walk at each intersection or decision point that are consistent with the best that you know from the Bible, the best you know of the example of Jesus and the cloud of witnesses that have gone before you.

(2).  This choosing of straight paths for your feet is both preventive medicine and healing for your physical body: (1).  It is a cure for hands that hang down and for feeble knees; (2) It keeps what is lame from being completely dislocated; and (3) it provides for the healing of the lame limbs, the arms that hang down, and the feeble knees.  What do you think of this?  I hope the exhortation of the first chapter in Isaiah 43: they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”  The waiting on the LORD God through Jesus Christ and in prayer and in Bible reading and study is the equivalent of making straight paths for your feet.

(3).  Pursue peace with all people.

(4).  Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  There is a way to walk in a straight path, to walk toward the holiness of God and Christ.

(5).  Watch carefully that you do not fall short of the grace of God.  In other words do not fall short of full salvation.  In other words, do not fall away from God and Christ although there is will inevitable come the general apostasy of the Falling Away from God and Christ. {Note that this is not a falling away from the churches and denominations; no doubt attendance will increase as people see the other approaching signs of the end of time, it is a falling away from sound doctrine, a falling away from God and Christ.}

(6).  Don’t let any root of bitterness cause trouble among your religious associates, and a root of bitterness can cause many to be defiled by unbelief, and be lead astray.

  1. The Spiritual Blessing of Esau and Eternity, which may trade for morsels of bread, is the City of the Living God, the New Jerusalem of the List of Blessings. Since so much has already been said about the Church of the Firstborn which is the same as the City of the Living God, the New Jerusalem, the unshaken kingdom, and the Mount Zion, we will not dwell on this portion of Hebrews 12 except to quickly enumerate the stages of Comfort.

III.  Comfort!  Another Enumeration of the Benefits of Kingdom Citizenship.

This is what you have come to!   This is where you are if you are a believer among the fruit that remains.  These are more things of encouragement that will comfort you along the way to becoming a Friend of Jesus!

(1).  You have come to Mount Zion and the City of the Living God.  Now this a city to seek for, and the great cloud of witnesses of the Bible that have gone before us by the way they lived and acted showed that they had found no permanent city on earth.  They bore testimony to the fact that they sought “an eternal city whose builder and maker is God.”

(2).  You have come to the heavenly Jerusalem.  Remember that the Apostle John saw a new heaven and a new earth, and he saw the city of the heavenly Jerusalem being lowered to the earth from heaven after the old earth and universe were destroyed by a consuming fire and the new heaven and earth had been created by God.  I suspect that since John said that “there was no more sea”, the new earth will be where the waters existed before the consuming fire melts all the elements of the earth.

(3).  You have come to an innumerable company of angels.  Jesus told his disciples during the period of His crucifixion that at any time he could call a legion of angels to His rescue; and at the birth of Jesus, it was announced of the birth of Christ by a host of angels; but the real home of the angels–an innumerable company of angels–is in heaven where the Church of the Firstborn is also located.

(4).  You have come to the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn who are registered in heaven.  Don’t place your faith and salvation in trust of any local church or denomination: place your faith in Jesus and in the Assembly of the Firstborn that is registered in heaven.  It is not any church membership or registration here on earth that you should be concerned about; but rather in the registration in heaven.  The Apostle John told in Revelation how there is a book in heaven called the book of life in which is written all the names of those who have truly believed in Christ, and that book if the registration book for the CHURCH, the Assembly of the Firstborn in heaven.

(5).  You have come to God, the Judge of all.  Last week President Reagan was buried, one of the most powerful and respected men of our time; but God judges all, the Presidents, and ex-Presidents, men of status and wealth, and men of poverty and middle class.  God judges all men according to the same standards of holiness and according to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The great separation will happen at that time as the believers receive a resurrected body like Christ, and the unbelievers are consigned like Satan to the lake of fire and brimstone.  Later we will read in Hebrews 12 how our God is a consuming fire.  Yes, God is love and holiness; but God is also a consuming fire.  God is patient and has been patient; but the ultimate day of justice comes at the end of time.  The Bible tells us about these unbelievers of all times that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

(6).  You have come to the spirits of just men made perfect.  You see this the cloud of witnesses enumerated in Hebrews 11 like Abraham, and Moses, and Elijah.  They obeyed God’s method and plan of salvation rather than trying to work up their own salvation: that plan is justification by faith.  It is like the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans under the inspiration of the Spirit of God: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel {or for any other nation or individual} is that they might be saved; for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted unto the righteousness of God which is by faith”.   You will certainly want to join them in the Assembly of the Firstborn by faith.

(7).  You have come to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant.  Paul has elaborated in the preceding chapters of Hebrews how Jesus is the author and finisher  of the New Covenant.  The New Covenant that was promised to Abraham through His seed which is one, that seed being Christ; and the new covenant is very similar to the New Testament, that is that Jesus by His blood or His death on the Cross provided a way of salvation for all that believe.  “If you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, you SHALL BE SAVED.”

Confusion Created by the “Heaping Up” Of the Falling Away

I wish we could say that none of our leaders in the SBC, conservative Bible churches, or among the fundamentalists leaders who took over the SBC are in the Bible warning about the Falling Away–in other words teachers and preachers that are heaped up in pulpits and classes and on TV who will tell people what they want to hear.  Yes, read II Timothy 4:4,5 carefully.  It states that church members after they have come to the point of no longer enduring sound doctrine–and I hope you see we are already there–”out of their own desires” will they heap up to themselves teachers with itching ears.  They fill the pulpits and classrooms with what they want, not what they are led by Christ and the Spirit to call and appoint.   This heaping up has two aspects:  the heaping out of the church, pulpit, and classrooms of teachers of sound doctrine; and the heaping in of itching ears teachers who will speak what the congregation wants to hear.  Now, if you think your church or denomination is bankrupt of such heaping in and heaping out in the heaping up process, then you are deceiving yourself; for there is no way that any church or country can escape the inevitability of the world wide Falling Away.  Bottom line what this is saying is that your pastor or Bible teachers are making contributions to the “heaping up” process, and therefore of the Confusion in the Congregation.  In fact like the children of Israel who did not want to listen directly to God, your people prefer to listen to their pastor who will most often tell them what they want to hear!  And at heart much of the confusion which we find in congregations of the Southern Baptist Convention today, with all the fighting and continued warfare, come from decades of pastors soothing the congregations with words like “patience, it will all be okay”.  Fighting and a spirit of fighting has never been good; and pastor James reminds us where fighting and warfare really come from, not from some noble cause like the fundamentalists would have you believe, but “from the spirit within us that lusteth to envy.”  (James 4:1-6) Where envy is allowed to dominate, confusion is in the congregation; where the fighting spirit has gained control confusion is in the congregation; and where you see the heaping up of teachers with itching ears, you know that more confusion is on the way!

You are welcome to free download a copy of this chapter/message in PDF at http://biblecombibleman.com/ConfusionInCongregation.pdf .

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Erosions of Sound Doctrine, Southern Baptist Convention, The 19 Writing Prophets

Paul and Erosions of Sound Doctrine.

NOTE:  About the photo, the colors are lovely only for scenery; however such a beautiful edifice is not functional as a church in all weather because of the erosions and a hole in the middle.  “what Happened to God’s people in the SBC”, Paul dealt with that also after the central message of the 19 Old Testament Writing Prophets.

CHAPTER 2     Paul and Erosions of Sound Doctrine.

I know that the Apostle Paul cried quite often about what happened to him before he became a Christian, how he persecuted the church. No doubt he confessed his sins, God forgave his sins, God forgot his sins; but to a certain extent–at least in Paul’s memories–the load was still on his back. Let us be careful here–this matter is very practical for daily Christian and church life–there is no need for Paul or us to carry around any “care” of any kind, including past weights and sins. The Apostle Peter made that clear.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”    (I Peter 5:6,7)

However, in spite of forgiveness; in spite of God’s forgetfulness; in spite of the getting of Paul’s cares off his back, something remained in his memory and on his back related to his persecution of the church. I don’t think we have all the answers, but we do not it clearly remained. Paul wrote that he was not any worthy to be called an Apostle because he persecuted the church of God. Of course, we did know that part of the problem was because Christians had difficulties initially accepting Paul as an Apostle. Some were afraid of him because they knew as Saul how he had dragged Christians into prison. Remember Ananias when God told him to go talk to Saul, “Lord, I’ve heard about this man, and how much harm he has caused the saints in Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:13)

Even though God forgives our past sins and forgets them, casting them as far as the east is from the west and promising to remember them no more, I think there are certain inevitable laws that exist here on earth such as the law of gravity, the law of supply and demand, the law of inertia, and the law of sowing and reaping. We simply continue to reap certain consequences of our past here on earth and in the history of earth. And no matter how much we cast our cares on Christ, realizing the assurance of forgiveness and forgetfulness, the memories even if in our subconscious remain. Listen to it straight from one of Paul’s letters.

“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:9,10)

When we consider doctrine, alias the teachings of the Bible, and especially as related to our past and present weights or sins, we need something of the attitude of the Apostle Paul as reflected in I Corinthians 15:9,10.

  1. By the grace of God, past and present I am what I am.

This assumes that he has confessed his sins, asked and received forgiveness and God’s forgetfulness.

  1. Considering himself the least in his group, the least of the Apostles, only made Paul work even harder to prove that the grace of God toward him was not wasted.

He worked harder than all the others. Even there, he pauses to acknowledge that in the work it was not really him, but the grace of God that was working in him.

2-1: Doctrine, often a Tight Shoe that Crimps our Style.

Now, I have mentioned all this in order to say that doctrine is often a “Tight Shoe” that puts a crimp in our walking and living style, especially that doctrine that I discuss now that seems to have become a major problem for us in the more recent years. It is by no means a new problem as I can recall it from the 1960’s in Tucumcari, FBC, and Portales at Emmanuel Baptist Church as well as other places. Which doctrinal problem am I speaking of? That of, marriage, divorce, and the biblical requirements for pastors and deacons. In particular we think of two scriptures in I Timothy 3:2 and 3:12.

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”     (I Timothy 3:2)

“Let deacons be the husbands of one wife…” (I Timothy 3:12)

Now, before we proceed on the “Tight Shoe” of this doctrine, realizing that our nation is approaching the point where over 50% of marriages end in divorce and knowing that some of our most respected and active churchmembers have been divorced as well as close loved ones; and at the same time knowing that we must hold high the standard of marriage from our Creator from the beginning, in spite of the allowance in the time of Moses of a writ of divorcement because of the hardness of the peoples heart, we must preach, teach, and write the whole counsel of God, being concerned quite often about the totality of doctrine, You know what our most important concern must be: the erosion of our endurance for sound doctrine. This matter of marriage and divorce in general and specifically as related to the qualifications for pastors and deacons is just one example of the battles that we must fight today and in the future of the soundness of doctrine. As the Apostle Paul wrote in II Timothy 4:3,4.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (II Timothy 4:3,4)

Wow! I will come back to this latter as a main point; but before I pass on I want to ask you the question, “Are we there already?” Have we significantly eroded our endurance for sound doctrine, and do we continue to significantly erode that endurance. Do we often find what we want in the Bible instead of an exegesis of what is really in there? And do we go looking for teachers that will tell us what we want to hear? Clarence W. Kerr writes in GOD’S PATTERN FOR THE HOME.

“Decade by decade the problem of divorce becomes more and more acute. It is hard for us to realize that a century ago divorce was well nigh unheard of in this country. We are not saying that there were not marriage problems, but few of them reached the courts of the law. Now our divorce rate vies with death as a dissolver of the marriage relationship. If the rate keeps on increasing as it has, it will not be long until each license for a new marriage is counter-balanced by a certificate of divorce for the legal dissolution of another. The problem is more acute in Christian America than in many pagan lands.”

2-2:  Marriage, Divorce, and Qualifications of Leaders.

What do reliable commentators say on this Doctrine of Marriage, Divorce, and Qualifications for Pastors and Deacons? Okay, enough meddling, let us get into some comments for respected commentators. And I remind you, don’t change horses in mid-stream. Don’t change you reliable commentators when there is a possibility that you have encountered a doctrine that is a tight shoe on your feet. Now for me, the most reliable of all commentators is Dr. B. H. Carroll. Dr. Carroll was the founder of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth where he established a seminary that would teach all the way through the Bible. Many of you know that Commentaries on those lectures have been written, published, and re-printed as AN INTERPRETATION OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE.

  1. Carroll, as a high school friend of mine presently teaching at Southwestern reminded me, is part of our Christian and Baptist heritage. Here is Dr. Carroll on I Timothy 3:3 and I Timothy 3:12.

“First, ‘the husband of one wife.’ Does that mean that he must be the husband of a wife–is that what it means? In other words, that an unmarried man ought not to be a pastor?…We had an old deacon once that put his foot right on it that it meant: ‘I am willing to give that young preacher a place, I am willing to recognize him and even ordain him to special mission stations to preach, but no unmarried man can be pastor of this church.” And continuing about deacons Carroll writes.

“The deacon. So far as moral qualifications go, there is little difference between the qualifications of preacher and deacon.”

  1. How about Barclay and his commentaries, I know many of you like him.

“The Christian leader must have been married only once. The Greek literally means that he must be ‘the husband one wife.’ Some take this to mean that the Christian leader must be a married man, and it is possible that the phrase could mean that…But in this context here we can be quite certain that the phrase mean that the Christian leader must be a loyal husband, preserving marriage in all its purity. In later days the APOSTOLIC CANONS laid it down: ‘He who is involved in two marriages, after his baptism, or he who has taken a concubine, cannot be an episkopos, a bishop.”

  1. How about your pastor as a Bible commentator?

He has labored as your overseer or pastor for 15 years, through the hard times and the easy. You listen to him teach and preach every Sunday and more. Why should you suddenly stop listening to him because you feel a tightness in your shoes? I don’t understand why any active member of this church, even if honestly persuaded of another interpretation can not say to the pastor, “I don’t agree on this matter, but I am willing to go along with your leadership.”

2-3: What Can Happen if We Erode our Tolerance of Sound Doctrine. Now, let me come to the main point of the message (chapter), and that is some of the dangers of tampering with this doctrine or any other doctrines of the Bible.

  1. It can hamper Friendship with Jesus.

Recall how that Jesus in John 14-16 in some of the most significant and last teachings to the Apostles emphasized how that He wanted them to pass from being servants, who did not know the will of the Master, to being friends who knew the plan of the Creator. And Jesus told what the qualifications are for being a “Friend”. Parenthetically, you know if I had to make a choice between being a pastor, a deacon, or a Friend of Jesus, I think I would chose being a friend of Jesus. For one thing Friendship with Jesus which comes from love and keeping the commandments or teachings of Jesus, gives great boldness on the day of judgment.

It is true that those that inherit the office of the deacon also inherit “great boldness in the faith”, but I think I would prefer boldness on the day of judgment. Just think about the matter of memories, sins, weights and the judgment day. The Bible tells us “it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment”. We are told in the book of Revelation that all the books of our works are going be opened on the day of judgment, the recorded memories of all that we have done. And the world will be judged out of those books. But don’t fear! There is another book, the book of life, and if our names are written in book because of our faith in Jesus, the previous books will be set aside and the book of life with our name in it will be the only book that gives us basis for boldness on the day of judgement.

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”  (John 15:14) “Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone love Me, hew ill keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make OUr home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words…”      (John 14:23,24)

  1. Eroding our tolerance for sound doctrine can deny our heritage in the New Testament Church, in Church History, in Baptist faith and beliefs, and in the Southern Baptist Convention.

I can recall at Quachita Baptist University in 1961 when writing a senior research paper. I asked the Professor, Dr. Blackmon, if I could write on “Baptist Distinctives”. I took a step back and thought to myself, “you old reprobate”, when his replay was “Is there any such thing?” But you know after over 40 years in the ministry as both a military chaplain, a pastor of churches, and a Bible professor he had a point, that on the practical level in talking to members of different denominations on doctrine it is quite often hard to tell the difference. And if this was true in 1961, with the trend obvious of erosion of tolerance for sound doctrine, what must be the situation in this day and time. You know that I have interim pastored approximately 16 churches in New Mexico from the size of Yeso Baptist Church, twice, to the size of First Baptist Church of Tucumcari, also twice; and I use to have the habit as a young man–don’t worry, I don’t do that anymore–of asking people in the congregation on Sunday night to list 10 major doctrines of the Bible. What I was looking for was the great truths on God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, salvation on the cross, heaven, hell, the second coming, the Holy Spirit as a Comforter, and so on; but what did I get: go to Sunday School, go to worship, tithe, be on time–all good practices but hardly major doctrines of the Bible. We can allow tolerance for sound doctrine to erode by (1) negligence, (2) ignorance, or (3) just plan purpose or desire.

(1).  Neglect of the Bible.

We just do not study the Bible itself as much as we ought to. As Dr. Wolber use to say, “Study your Bibles, they will shed a lot of light on the commentaries.” Large corporations are now telling their employees that whereas the reading level of the average American a few years ago was sixth grade, now it is the third grade; and that is the reason that you see USA TODAY written for a third grade reader level. That is also the reason we enjoy it so much. Now, do you think that this obvious lack of reading and reading skills does not affect also Christians reading of the Bible. Certainly it does.

(2). Ignorance of the Bible.

How many times have we heard things like a old farmer outside Hot Springs, Arkansas tell me. It is in the Bible that “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”. I don’t know where, but it is in there. The problem is that we do not take the effort to check of understanding of the Bible by reading and re-reading it. By looking it for ourselves.

(3). Desire to erode sound doctrine.

We hate to think it but some are in the category of the seared conscience of the Bible, who simply desire to distort, mis-interpret and mis-apply the teachings of the Bible. It was also the Apostle Paul who warned about this group of eroders. Isn’t it amazing that this is also in I Timothy, I Timothy 4:1,2.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” (I Timothy 4:1,2)

Obviously this seared conscience is related to doctrine–in this case the doctrine of demons. In conclusion we will look at some doctrines from demons such as the doctrines of Balaam, of the Nicolaitines, and of the Prophetess Jezebel.

  1. Eroding our endurance of sound doctrine can put us in the category of those that desire to hear something new, seeking after other teachers. Boy, that scripture in II Timothy 4:3,4 should get our attention lest there be any hint that we may be doing the same thing. Here is a point by point summary of II Timothy 4:3,4 of the “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”: (1). The time must come, or is already here, but God forbid that we are a part of it, when Christians and churches will have no, zero, endurance for sound doctrine; (2). At that time, or at this time, how then will Christians or churchmembers make decisions about what doctrines are valid. The answer is there! “according to their own desires”. What they want to believe because of a life style, or preference, they will come to believe; (3). Their ears itch, and this is rather difficult. You would think that the itch or hitch is in the conscience or in the heart or even in the mind. But since it follows the desire for different doctrine, we can conclude that there is an immediate link between the emotions, that is the desires for different doctrines, and the itch in the ear. (I wonder if tight shoes can cause an itch in the ears!) But it is a line of continuity: the emotions and the itchy ears lead to the next step; (4). They will heap up teachers that say what they want said. They won’t find just one, but call them, and elect them, and seek the preaching and teaching of preachers and pastors of a similar low tolerance for sound doctrine.
  2. Eroding our tolerance for sound doctrine can indicate that concretely we do not care that much for the Inspiration of Scriptures.

Our adherence to sound doctrine, even when the shoe is tight and hurts, really proves how much we believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures as the Word of God. We hear a lot in this day and time about “fundamentalists” and about being “conservative” on the Bible; and many give it lip service; but how do they stand on issues like this about marriage, divorce, and the qualifications of pastors and deacons. This is the proof of the pudding. This tells how much we believe the Bible is the Word of God!

  1. Such erosion of endurance from sound doctrine can put us in the category of the less desirable church examples of Revelation 2 and 3.

There were more churches in Asia Minor than the seven listed, but these were typical of all the churches in Asia Minor and typical of our churches today. If we erode our endurance for sound doctrine, we can place ourselves in the category of the five out of seven that were on the verge of having their pastor removed by Christ and having the churches place in the church (candlestick) removed.

(1). The church at Ephesus had left their first love even though there were many good things to say about, and recall that a loss of love can also mean a loss in the Friendship of Jesus. They did have enough endurance for sound doctrine to hate the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitans, a heresy of doctrine related to Christian behavior and to church leadership. Jesus threatens that if they do not repent to come and remove their candlestick, their place among the other churches.

(2). There were a lot of good things to say about the church at Pergamum, but there was among the minority a doctrinal problem, called the doctrine of Balaam, Balaam being the prophet of the Old Testament who showed for profit how Balak could seduce the children of Israel to go after other gods and to sexual immorality. And the second doctrinal problem was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. If the church had voted on these two doctrines, it appears that the majority would have suppressed the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Of course, in this church Christ promised to distinguish between the majority of sound doctrine and the minority, saying that He would fight against them with His Words.

(3). Likewise Thyatira had a doctrinal problem: Jezebel, as she called herself, a prophetess as she called herself, was being allowed to teach unsound doctrine in the church. There, Jezebel was playing the role in the church that Baalam played for Balak, misleading the church in false worship and sexual immorality. Again this must have been a minority that had lost this endurance for sound doctrine, because Christ threatened only the prophetess and the few who supported her, to the rest of the church (Revelation 2:24) that did not have this doctrine He would put on them no other burden.

(4). What can we say about the church at Sardis? Wow, there were in trouble! They had a name, a reputation in the community and possibly even in the association, state, and convention; but they were dead. It sounds like the attendance was good, which within itself can keep the spirits up; but that the doctrine was bad. It definitely looks like if that church had voted the majority would have voted in terms of holding on their reputation, ignoring the call to repentance from Christ and the call to hold fast to the sound doctrines which they had heard. Why do we conclude that? Because it said that there were a few, obviously a minority, that had not defiled their garments.

(5). The problem in the church at Laodicea was that they were neither hot nor cold, either a love problem or a doctrinal problem, or both. It is obvious that they were proud of their accomplishments, saying they were rich, that they needed nothing and nobody. It is hard to know how the vote would have gone in that church!

  1. The Erosion of Sound Doctrine can be an assist to the way Satan works.

Boy, how hard Satan tries. He was gullible enough to believe that he could erode Jesus’s confidence in the sound doctrines of God during the temptation in the wilderness. He even quoted Scriptures out of context.

(1). The Doctrine of the Priority of Word of God over physical well-being. Satan told Jesus prove that the are the Son of God by turning these rocks to stone. Jesus was out there to fast for 40 days and nights, and in doing so to concentrate on the Word of God. You remember Jesus famous reply, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

(2). The Doctrine on the testing of God. Satan said, “It is written in the Scriptures that the Son of God has been given angels to care for Him, if you are the Son of God throw yourself down from the temple to prove that you will be rescued and that you are the Son of God. (Matthew 4:5-7)

(3). The Doctrine of Worship of God over Satan. The last temptation, Satan took Jesus to a high place–here you see some of the power of Satan–and said “all that you see I will give you if you will worship me”. The supreme affront to God is to worship Satan. Jesus replied quickly, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.: (Matthew 4:10)

In short, if Satan were at work in your church today, he would not deny truth per se; for that is too obvious. What he would do would be to quote scripture out of context and mis-apply it! And don’t you think that any place that the work of God has been going on steadily for 15 years, that Satan is going to neglect it. The prince of this world, who is a lion that goes about seeking whom he can chew on, maim and destroy, will be active where Jesus is, where the work of God is going on. It simply remains for Christians who can discern the spirits to figure out where Satan is working!

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine is an assault on the character of God.

We often say and pray–and certainly it is true–that God forgives us when we confess our sins because it is recorded in the Bible; but ultimately the real reason is because it is based on the character of God. It is the character of God that wants to forgive sins when they are confessed. And you can say the same of any doctrine in the Bible. All the principles, doctrines, teachings, and instructions of the Bible are based on the character of God: that is the reason we call it the Word of God or the Book of God. It reflects what God is and what God wants us to be. Now when we in any way malign, distort, or erode the doctrines of the Bible we are making an assault on the character of God. God can certainly withstand the assault, but can we?

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine is an attack on the Bible as the Word of God.

Here is where we prove how deeply and sincerely we believe the Bible to be the Word of God. Do we believe it is inspired only in the sense of many books like Robert

Browning or the poets are inspired, or do we really believe that it is divine in origin, absolute in authority, and sufficient in its message?

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

Notice that if the first given reason for the existence of the Bible is heed, “for sound doctrine”, some of the others will follow like reproof and correction will not be needed, and the righteousness and Christian maturity will follow behind sound doctrine.

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine indicate superficiality, instability in the faith, and immaturity.

When a church changes it mind because of the practices of the people or because of the pressures of the world in the American Society, they start fitting into the category of those that are blown back and forth by every wind of doctrine.

“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive…” (Ephesians 4:14)

You can quickly see what the opposite of this erosion of sound doctrine is, in what precedes 4:14. The very purpose that God sent pastors, teachers, apostles, and evangelists is for the work of the ministry–in which each member has a part–for the building up of the body of Christ, and to promote unity among all Christians.

  1. Erosion of sound doctrine isolate a church from church history, Baptist History, and the heritage of the Southern Baptist Convention; and at the same time it puts us more in the mainstream of American Society where now over 50% of all marriages end in divorce. You just cannot get away from the conclusion that all we trust as commentators, preachers, and statements of faith in church and Baptist history lead us to the sound doctrine of marriage for life and pastors and deacons as the husband of one wife, notwithstanding any teacher or preacher of itchy ears that we might dig up to justify our lives and desires.
  2. Erosion of sound doctrine is an affront to and grieves the Holy Spirit who came to take the place of Jesus on earth, reproving the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Where you can see that affront to the Holy Spirit most obviously is in the matter of righteousness. I am not talking about the legally declared and external righteousness of Jesus with which we are cloaked through justification by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the actual outworking of righteousness, or right doing, in our lives that is the natural consequences of the inworking of the Holy Spirit. It is ordinarily called sanctification, the process by which the Holy Spirit increases the actual righteousness in our lives.

2-4: “The Office Should Seek the Man, not the Man the Office.” When Paul wrote that he was not worthy to be an Apostle but by the grace of God that is exactly what he was, he was saying in another way what I read from B. H. Carroll, “The Office should seek the man, not the man the office.” Paul did not seek to be an Apostle. The only thing he was seeking was to do the service of God, and he thought by persecuting Christians he was doing exactly that. Jesus on the road to Damascus struck him down, spoke to him, caused him to temporarily be blind until Ananias came to talk to him; and then let Paul know that he was a chosen vessel to deliver His message.

  1. Paul practiced what he cautioned over Christians on the attitude about yourself in the church, writing for each member not to think more highly of themselves than they should.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think, but to think soberly, as

God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)

We need to be able to see ourselves in the eternal perspective of God’s truth and timeline. All of this truth and doctrine in the Bible existed long before we were born. We have, by the grace of God, inherited the Word of God from over two thousand years of writing, interpretation, teaching, and preaching. We are inheritors of Church History, Baptist History, and the History of the Southern Baptist Conventions. Primarily, we are Creators and re-creations of God. It is nothing personal, and it should not be taken personal, if doctrine is a tight shoe that we must wear; for it existed long before we were on the face of this earth!

  1. Pride is what can serve to mislead us on doctrine.

What Paul was talking about when he said that he was not worthy to be an apostle was humility and pride: what he was talking about in urging Christians to think soberly of themselves was pride and humility. Pride is the internal enemy that can mislead us to do what we desire or want to do on the matters of doctrine. It is true that we live in a changing world. Each decade now we seem to live in a new world of technology and information explosion. Our friends change, we lose many of them to death. Our environments change; but we must remember that in a world where truly there is a social evolution, God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. And there are certain things that God hates or despises: those things do not change. At the head of the list if pride, or a proud look.

(1). “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure.” (Psalm 101:5)

(2). “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12)

(3). “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

(4). “These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness that speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) Notice how connected the proud look at the beginning with the sowing discord among brethren in the church at the end are and with the matter of the erosion of sound doctrine!

  1. We can easily put ourselves in the category of the religious leaders of the time of Christ who had substituted the commandments of men for the doctrines of God. It was on the very issue of marriage and divorce where Jesus condemned the Pharisees, Sadducees, and their historical traditions of the world of putting the commandments of men in the place of the doctrines of God.

“The Pharisees came and asked Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ testing Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.’ And in the house His disciples asked HIm again about the same matter. So He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12)

God does the joining; and no matter how we may desire or rationalize or seek other teachers, God intended that there be no separation of what He joined together.

2-5: Creations, Christians, and Christian Leaders.

We naturally expect a progressive of expectations from God as history developed from all humanity to Christians to Christian leadership. You would think normally that the requirements, standards, or expectations from God would become more stringent.

  1. God’s expectations for all Humanity.

As far as we can tell, since before Moses recorded it in the Pentateuch, there were only two requirements that God placed on all humanity, before the recorded of the written law. It was word of mouth or custom and tradition that carried those two requirements forward until Moses wrote the book of Genesis.

(1). Both requirements were given by God so close together that it is almost difficult to tell which was first; however it appears at least the germ of the first great expectation for humanity is given first.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)

The full explanation of all the implications comes later in the recorded Word.

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

In a few paragraphs we will find that Jesus amplified on this, re-enforced it, laying the requirements once again on the chosen people of God and Christians in particular in spite of the lapse on the requirements by the nation of Israel as Moses for generations allowed a “writ of divorcement”. Surely the standard that Christ and God placed on Christians had to be greater than that on all humanity. However, first and briefly, let us look at the other great expectation that God placed on all humanity, a commission for dominion over all the universe.

(2).  Second Great Commission to all Humanity.

This great expectation follows immediately behind the first. In fact, in the next verse.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thin that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

  1. Clyde Turner in THESE THINGS WE BELIEVE calls man (man in the generic sense of male and female) the “crown of Creation. Notice that immediately after the first great expectation from God in Genesis 1:17–the joining by God of the man as a male and female–the record states that “God blessed them”. Do you think this is incidental? Don’t you think that somehow the blessings of God on societies of history in their efforts to have dominion over all creation is contingent of how well they live up to the first great expectation. Look at the United States for example: no other country on the face of the earth in inventions and creative efforts has extended humanity’s dominion of the earth as has the United States, and in such a shorter period of time; and surely we must see the connection to the Christian heritage and roots (biblical foundations) where the marriage vows were honored–up until recent history where over 50% of marriages end in divorce–in respect to the great expectation of God.
  2. Jesus in His teachings on earth re-enforced the original expectation of God, and surely we will find for the chosen people of God and for Christians in particular a greater expectation from God about marriage than on all humanity. Indeed as we have read the history of the chosen nation of Israel, often the prophets would warn them against polygamist marriages; and what distinguished the people of God from the heathen (Gentiles) around them was often God’s great expectations for marriage. Moses at one historical point did allow a “writ of divorcement” because the people out of their own desires were bugging him out of a hardness of heart. {NOTE: I would caution you to see that this was probably due to a majority vote or will from the nation of Israel.}

(1).  The Writ of Divorcement Under Moses.

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away, may not taker her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

How Moses must have travailed before the law was passed to allow for these divorces, and how that the people must have murmured. You can see the “hardness of heart” in the indifference to the feelings of the wife who is flippantly given a piece of paper and passed around the land from one household to another. [1]. Even here in the case of a divorce, God does not recognize the right of the first husband to re-marry the wife he divorced.

[2]. Such an act of re-marriage, like pride and a proud look, is considered an abomination to God. You see, He sees and knows.

[3]. This is not a personal preference: the husbands and wives have an objection to society–”not cause the land to sin”.

(2). Even then the law was not completely insensitive to the needs of a wife, Deuteronomy 24:5. Immediately after the giving of the law of the “writ of divorcement”, consideration was given for a new wife.

“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one years, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” (Deuteronomy 24:5)

(3). How Jesus dealt with the original requirements of marriage, and surely we would expect for the chosen people of God during the life of Jesus and for Christians in particular for the expectations to be greater than those originally on all human humanity.

“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:3-6)

At this time there were two groups of rabbis divided on the issue of divorce, the

Shammais that advocated divorce only in cases of sexual immorality and the Hillels that allowed divorce for any trivial reason (which sounds like the United States now). Once again Kerr writes in GOD’S PATTERN FOR MARRIAGE:

“Jesus had already expressed himself briefly on this matter. We find it in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:31,32: ‘It was said also, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.”

And on fornication and adultery Kerr adequately summarizes the Bible and church history for us.

“Let us note, however, that in the Bible, the word ‘fornication’ is not used in the restricted sense that we use it. (Unlike the dictionary definition of fornication as committed by unmarried couples.) Jesus used the word ‘fornication’ twice, in the passage already quoted, and in Matthew 19:9, ‘And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.’ Quite evidently Jesus used the word ‘fornication’ in a class sense as referring to all illicit sexual intercourse, including both fornication and adultery as we understand the terms. Such is the general Biblical use of the word. It is for this reason that such modern translators of the Bible as Weymouth, Goodspeed, Moffatt, and those of the Revised Standard Version use such words as ‘unchastity’ or ‘unfaithfulness’ rather than ‘fornication’ in the translation of these verses to which we have referred.”

But Jesus goes back to God’s original and great expectation. God made a man to be male and female; they become one flesh; and the union between husband and wife takes priority over parents. Also Jesus cautions them again that no judge, or law, or society should allow a divorce on a marriage that God has joined together. Is this last part–”what therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder”–a more stringent requirement than what was originally laid down by God at Creation in Genesis. Yes, we can not find no other statement so that we appears to be a higher standard placed on man and societies.

(4).     Now surely you would expect the most stringent requirement of all to be placed on Christian leaders, on pastors and deacons.

[1].  I Timothy 3:2.

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”

Blameless is certainly a highest of all expectations from God, and comparable is the

“husband of one wife” Here we must consider what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

[2].  John 4:16-18.

“The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.” (John 4:16-18)

What does this mean plain and simple? It means that Christ and God do not accept any wives or husbands past the original, except in the case of sexual immorality. Does it mean that person can not be a Christian, and receive forgiveness? No, we notice that all the indications is the record of John 4 is that the woman believed, and furthermore she had a good Christian testimony in that many of the Samaritans believed because of what she told them about Jesus. You see it would not matter how we interpreted I Timothy 3:2 above, or mis-interpreted it, or the similar requirement for a deacon, the most strict standard of one wife would still be on Christian leadership. (This is a basic principle of Bible interpretation, to compare scripture with scripture in order to get the full meaning; and this is part of the reason that the Bible states that we will know of the doctrine if we do His will.)

[3]. Titus 1:6.

“If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”

Once again blameless is right in there with the husband of one wife. Don’t you see the connection that there can be no possible grounds on which a pastor or deacon can be accused as related to any doctrine. In the book THE CHRISTIAN PASTOR, Wayne Oates has a chapter on “The Personal Qualifications of the Pastor” in which he discusses these scriptures. By the way, Wayne Oates was years was Professor of the Psychology of Religion at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also this book has been used at southern baptist colleges and seminaries to teach pastors and prospective pastors. Wayne Oates thoroughly discusses the three possible interpretations.

“First, polygamy and concubinage were prevalent practices in the communities of which the early churches were a part, and the writers evidently were insisting that their leaders be an example of the Christian principles of monogamic marriage.” “Secondly, this passage may be interpreted less directly to mane that the early Christians preferred a married minister to a single one.” “Thirdly, this passage may be interpreted in the light of another prevalent social problem at the time of the writing: divorce.”

Then Wayne Oates gives us a good and short history of the church on this matter as well as Baptist beliefs.

“The statements of Paul in I Corinthians, chapter 7, reflect that the early churches were very tender and sensitive to the plight of people who became involved in pagan marriage prior to having become Christians.

They most certainly did not consider divorce or even remarriage as an unpardonable sin for which they would break fellowship with an individual Christian. However, the early Christians had a higher standard, and seemingly legalistic attitude about divorced persons, especially those who had remarried, becoming the shepherds of the rest of the ‘flock of God’. By their word, no divorced man who had remarried could hold such a place of responsibility. This seems to be a harsh measure, but the study of the present-day experience of divorced men in the ministry vindicates it as the kindest measure in the long run.” [4]. I Timothy 3:8-13.

“Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Wow, those are most stringent requirements on deacons; and you will notice once again the “blameless” and “husband of one wife”.

  1. Since this chapter is on Paul and Doctrine, we must also give Paul another say about marriage.

“For the woman that hath a husband is bound by the law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress, but if the husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress though she be joined to another man.” (Romans 7:2,3)

Kerr can be used again to summarize much of what Paul wrote on marriage.

“Marriage was designed of God to be a monogamous, holy institution. In I Corinthians 7:2 Paul writes of each man having ‘his own wife,’ and each woman having ‘her own husband.’ The holiness of the relationship, under God, is likened to that existing between Christ and His Church. (Ephesians

5:31,32) Christian believers are admonished to marry only believers. In I Corinthians 7:39 Paul writes of marrying ‘only in the Lord.’ His admonition in II Corinthians 6:14, ‘Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers,’ surely applies to marriage. Marriage is designed above all else to be a holy relationship.” 2-6. “Believe” in the Letters of Paul Continued.

The numbering of these references below takes up where the believe references in the writings of Paul left off at the end of chapter 1.

  1. Romans 6:8. Here is something we “believe” as disciples. We believe that we shall only live with Christ to the extent that we have also died with Christ. Of course, the died with Christ like in Galatians 2:20 is another way to say repentance or to express the one salvation of the one baptism. {NOTE: Isn’t it amazing that we have so many problems related to these major doctrines of faith, believe, baptism, and salvation when the Bible is so straightforward and repeats itself so often. It is another sign of the contemporary departure of Christians and church members from God, Christ, and the Bible. The Falling Away is not from church, church attendance will no doubt go up as more see end events; however the Falling Away from God, Christ, and the sound doctrine of the Bible will escalate.
  2. Romans 9:33. Wow, what a statement of faith here! “Whoever” believes in Jesus will not be ashamed; God will not allow that individual to be ashamed in His presence and eternally; and this confidence–the opposite of ashamed–is based on the words and Word of God.
  3. Romans 10:4. Sure, today you do not seem but a few Jews who believe in Christ. Paul says they have much religion and zeal, but they need salvation. Further they are ignorant Paul says, ignorant of God’s way of acceptable righteousness through faith in Christ. Everyone who believes receives the righteousness.
  4. Romans 10:9. What is necessary for the salvation of the one baptism, only. To believe in your heart the Gospel story of Jesus, that which requires the most faith is to believe that God raised Him from the dead–this is faith in God and Christ; and two to confess with your mouth that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
  5. Romans 10:11 and Isaiah 28:16. How about that the “whoever believes in Christ shall not be ashamed” is a quote from long ago in the book of Isaiah, noting that faith in Christ has always been the plan of God for the one baptism of salvation.
  6. Romans 10:14. Praying or calling on Jesus for salvation demands “believing” first; and “believing” demands the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus.
  7. Romans 10:16. Very few Jews of Old Testament times believed the reports of the Gospel of Jesus and the Jesus of the Gospel given to them by Prophets like Isaiah.
  1. Romans 13:11. Yes, even more true today than when Paul wrote: our completed salvation of glorification and heaven is much nearer now than when we first believed.
  2. Romans 14:2. There are some fine points of distinction on beliefs like on the eating of certain meats and other religious practices, not on major doctrines.

Feel free for free to download this chapter 2 of volume 3 of the Learn Christ commentaries, “BELIEVE AND BE BAPTIZED, the Life and 14 New Testament Letters of the Apostle Paul.

(1) In Word or other .doc at http://www.biblecombibleman.com/ErosionSoundDoctrine.pdf.docx

(2) in PDF at www.biblecombibleman.com/ErosionSoundDoctrine2.pdf .

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God's Message to the SBC People from the 19 Writing Prophets, The 19 Writing Prophets

Message of the 19 Writing Prophets to God’s People of the SBC.

Subtitle:  A Message from over 2000 thousand years ago and from God that speaks directly to my southern baptist friends.

We that have been active as southern baptist people for over 60 years do not need at this time, DTS graduates like John MacArthur and his disciples to explain to us what is happening today in the SBC, and in philosophical terms like Socinianism or theological liberalism.  The SB cup is already running over with theology, philosophy, and liberalism; what is demanded is more Bible and less philosophy and theology, especially from Scofield’s philosophers/theologians that have claimed a false literalism while they have torn apart the SBC.  The following message is Chapter 6 of the LCC commentary, volume 5 of The 19 Writing Prophets of the OT, desktop published 7 years ago in 2011 and free distributed on the Bible websites of SunGrist.

CHAPTER 6     Psalm 78: What Happened to God’s People?

While THE Message is consistent throughout the Prophets that “God’s people are not acting like God’s people”, and God will send disaster, the aspects of parts of that message have the many faces of vain worship, injustice and mistreatment of the people in the land, spiritual adultery, violation of the covenant with God of Mount Sinai, rebellion, and idolatry and covetousness. That the people called by God’s name would do these things is always difficult to face up to, then and now. And it is not that you have to take a part of the Message from one Prophet, say David, and then another part from Daniel, and so on through the Prophets until you have pieced the whole message together. Most of these faces of “God’s people are not acting like God’s people” are repeated in all the Prophets: that is the significance of THE MESSAGE. What is different is the eloquent means of expression chosen by each Prophet, something which today we call “style”. Also there is a shade of difference in the social and political circumstances of God’s people at the time of the delivery of the message from the Prophet. Even the worship of God’s people was bad and “vain”; and I hope we see an obvious comparison between then and today as we see God’s people putting on a show of mouth movement in active worship and lip movement in exciting praise and song, realizing that there is a superficiality to such displays as can also be called a vain worship while “the heart is far from God”.

6-1:  Vain Worship with Mouth and Lip Service.

The vain worship was with much mouth and lip service while the heart was far away from God. Isaiah said it was true in the Israel of the divided kingdom of approximately 760 A.D.; Jesus said it was still true of the religion of Judaism of His time; Paul tried to deal with in I and II Corinthians such excited worship of God in public where everyone had a word, a song, and a praise so that there was much disorder as each worshipper went their own way glorifying themselves {and it seems that this has always been a characteristics of the Pentecostal types–get holy and active and religious for 30 minutes on Sunday and then you will not have to worry about it during the rest of the week.}

  1. Vain Worship in Isaiah.

“Who said God’s people during the time of the Prophet Isaiah were practicing vanity in their worship services”, meaning they might as well not be doing it since vanity means that it counted for nothing in the sight of God? Well it is God Himself who expresses this, and Isaiah only records it.

“Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men…’” {we must include this as an aspect of the Message which has been consistent throughout history, from the Prophets, from Jesus, and Paul dealt with such extra-biblical revelations with unequal respect for those revelations in the letter to Corinth–it is also related to an inadequate respect for the Word of God that came from the Apostles and Prophets whereby churches and some charismatic leaders develop the attitude that the Word of God “came to them only, or came out of them only”}. (Isaiah 29:13)

Dr. Charles Meister, late and president emeritus of ENMU, is respected both for his commitment to Christ and for his scholarship in American Studies; however when Dr. Meister would see in the greatness of America the many churches of America, I am afraid that he had conveniently overlooked the consistent message of the Prophets, of Jesus, and of Paul of how much–perhaps most of this time of the Falling Away–of that worship is useless, vain, and is paid no attention to by God at all. It fascinates me how some dedicated Christians today expect to receive benefits from the prayers of a local church that has long ago taken its heart away from God, selling out to unsound doctrine and even the intolerance toward sound doctrine. Except for a moment of fame in the public record for prayer, where did that prayer go? If the heart is far from God, how far do you think the prayers or going to be? Or is it that you think if enough people in a local church express enough heartless prayers to God, the combined effect will be good? Foolishness! It is about time we face up to the period of history that we are in: it is no longer the SBC of 20 years ago; America has drastically changed under the influence of sin and the waxing cold of the faith of many church members; and you just can longer expect the benefits of spiritual blessings that were once experienced in the churches. Israel had the same problem: there was the Temple God had blessed and for which God had given the instructions for building, and even the place where He agreed to have His name called, at one time, and where He could be met in worship in a special way; there was His city, Jerusalem, and from the time that He took the Hebrew children out of Egypt, they were not only lead in a special way with miracles, wonders, and signs, but also they were called by Him by His name; but now, this was “Ichabod”, times had changed. Israel had rebelled with no promise of repentance; Israel had forsaken the covenant that was made with a promise of either blessings from God if kept or curses from God if broken. In fact, you would have to say that with a very few and short exceptions, the whole history of Israel was a history of forsaking God and His covenant and of rebellion toward God. Especially is this true as we come to the 700 year plus history that runs from Isaiah through the rest of the 16 Writing Prophets to Malachi. Most of this time Israel to the north and Judah to the south {often still called as the one Israel by the Prophets} either faced the guaranteed disaster of captivity by Assyria or Chaldea, or were recovering form that Captivity, again in the intrabiblical period and into New Testament Times facing or dealing with Greek and Roman Captivity. {The Prophets state over and over the reason for these disasters of captivities was because they refused to heed the Word of God.} The problem is that the crossover point in American history and American History of Christianity, or call it American Church History, happened approximately 20 years ago, by and large undetected by the majority of churches and church members. And don’t you think it was the same way in the Israel of Isaiah, their worship was vain and yet they thought it was adequate; and we can only account for their in terms of “blindness”, then and now. A failure to really know what is going on. If you think this goes too far, try to find a message of teaching today on the Falling Away. The silence bespeaks of a lack of unsound doctrine itself! And this is another part of the message that we must consider in this chapter, the spiritual blindness to the real truth.

  1. The vain worship in Ezekiel takes on the aspect of showing “much love with the mouth”.

“As for you, son of man, {again I hope you realize that God is Himself talking to the Prophet Ezekiel, remember it previously was God speaking more to the people of Israel, although in both of these cases since the words were written down, both heard them}, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’  {Sorry but I think of this when I hear the people of Prestonwood in justification of a new satellite building in Frisco in order to go from 23,000 to 30,000 members, and overtaking both Bellevue and Lakewood, say it is “the message” that is important–isn’t that the equivalent of what we hear from many church member today, come to our church or synagogue and hear the Word of the Lord.  Sounds good, right; but they were not sincere, they really like many today went for entertainment, and that is exactly what God is telling Ezekiel that is happening to him.}

“So they come to you as people do {today and then they will fill the space}, they sit before you as My people {listen they sit before the preacher as if they are the people of God, and they do have some superficial reasons for such a justification}, and they hear your words {here is more wasted mouth and lip service, this time from the Prophet of God speaking the Word of God on deaf ears}, but they do not do them {this is another part of the message of the Prophets that we must list–they hear the words of the Prophets and Apostles but do not do them; and do we not immediately think of James where early Christians were also “hearers of the Word only and no doers”}

“…for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain…” (Ezekiel 33:31b)

If we add what Isaiah said about vain worship as mouth and lip service while the heart is far from God to what Ezekiel tells us about the same mouth and lip service which attempts to make a show of “much love” for God, then we realize where the hearts are while their hearts are far from God, they “pursue their own gain”.

“Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrumentality they hear your words, but they do not do them.” (Ezekiel 33:30-32)

Entertainment, that was what a lot of worship then and now was and is all about. People want to shout, and jump up and down, get entertained by the preacher and continue to entertain themselves. It is like a lovely song and how many lovely and exciting and excitable songs do we hear in worship today; it is like one with a pleasant voice, and so many do have well-developed and pleasant voices {even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with their pleasant voices we could enjoy today, if we did not know by their doctrines and covenants that they are under two curses from God, that of substituting for the Gospel with their Gospel of Restoration and adding to the Scriptures with their four other Bibles, which they claim is Word of God, but which we know to be extra-biblical and of Satan}. Loud instruments and emotions played an important role in worship then as now! However the bottom line of this worship, in Isaiah and Ezekiel, is that it is vain worship: “they hear your words, but they do not do them.” Doctrine is not doctrine without applications even as teaching is not real teaching without results!

  1. The Prophet David in Psalms also spoke of vain worship of the mouth and lips, using the eloquent words of “flattered Him with their mouth” and “lied to Him with their tongue.

Would that we had time to look at all of Psalm 78 where the Prophet David first recounts all the blessings of God on His people in the wilderness, starting with rescue from Egypt and law and covenant on Mount Sinai, the care and guidance in the wilderness, and also recounting yet how they rebelled and when God slew thousands of them, they sought to return to God. Even then….”even then” the Prophet David writes in Psalms 78:35-37.

“Then they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer. Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, and they lied to Him with their tongue; for their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant.” (Psalm 78:35-37)

Can you imagine the vanity of any individual of God’s people that has the gall to attempt a flattery of the Most High God? Yet in vain worship with mouth and lips only, not matter how charismatic, where the heart is far away is within itself an attempt to flatter God. It also leads to the Falling Away as the children of Israel did in the wilderness after seeing the works and care of God for 40 years. It as Paul writes in Hebrews, a matter of “an evil heart in departing from the living God.” Does history repeat itself, in the wilderness and with the majority of God’s people there who were neither allowed to enter the promised land nor eternal rest, and in the Falling Away of this generation; yes, and Paul writes to caution against that in Hebrews, stating that this children of Israel were examples for us of what not to do, and then writes in II Timothy of the inevitable of the intolerance toward sound doctrine of the Falling Away, also in II Thessalonians of the inevitable of the Falling Away before the Second Coming. And church members, the hope of being saved from the Falling Away and the consequences of the Falling Away because of the young people is a false hope: when the time comes, and it is near, for the completion of the Falling Away–when in the words of Daniel the power of the Holy people is completely shattered–then the young people 19 years of age and younger are exempt, never having the 40 years of seeing the works and miracles of God as you have, that is, if the second Falling Away of our generation is like the first falling away of God’s people in the wilderness.

6-2:  Spiritual Blindness to What is Happening.

You know how Jesus also had much to say about this spiritual blindness to truth of perhaps the most religious generation and people that have ever lived, the people of Israel during the lifetime of Christ. You know how Paul had even more to say about it in the book of Romans, lamenting how “brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved…”, also writing in Romans how “blindness in part as happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in”. {By the way part of our blindness in America today is that we missed the transition in history between the Fullness of the Gentiles where the Gospel is spread to every nation, and the beginning of the Falling Way where church members: (1) become intolerant toward sound doctrine; (2) massively on TV and in church pulpits pile up a fortress of itching ear teachers with extra-biblical revelations;

(3) are motivated in the choice of their church leaders and in particular worship leaders by their own “wants” and “desires”–most often to feed their “cares of this world”; (4) they turn away from the truth, and I might add the truth about the truth in favor of baldness, they “blind yourselves and be blind” (Isaiah 29:9); and (5) they turn into the fables of Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, special revelations, and fundamentalism.}

  1. “Blind yourselves and be blind” in Isaiah.

“Pause and wonder!” {Yes, that is what it is time for the church in America to do today–pause and wonder, if there are still enough eyes to see and hears to hear left in the churches! Did I warn you of the eloquence of Isaiah and others of the Prophets?} Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with intoxicating drink. For the LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely the seers.” (Isaiah 29:9,10)

You know the number of foreigners who came to American years ago to tell of the American character, and of how America was good because her pulpits were ablaze with the righteousness of God and for man. No more, history has changed; and our churches are blind to that massive change in history. I don’t know how they can be completely blind except the extent to which and the areas in which they chose to be blind; for there is still extensive “cover-up” of what is wrong in churches, especially is there a cover up of church splits, divisions, arguments, bad church behavior, and the oft running off of men of God who will truly preach sound doctrine.

Recently I heard a message from Frank Graham, pastor of the 23,000 member Prestonwood Church and former president of the SBC, on “The Truth about Grace”, or some similar title. I had become interested from the objections expressed on the interned to his coming to deliver a speech to Southern Seminary, since it was purported the writer that Graham was anti-Calvinist and Southern Seminary had Calvinism as an official doctrine. I think almost everything Graham said from the Scriptures was true, except perhaps his misapplication of a verse in Romans to maintain that every man on the face of the earth is given “a measure of faith”; but the problem with Graham is the same as with other fundamentalists like Falwell, Adrian Rogers, and Charles Stanley, it is with what they live out of Scriptures, even while claiming a stance of moderation and balance on Scriptures. The plain truth from Scriptures is that both Arminianism and Calvinism is true. You can see that from one single incident in the life of Paul and as recorded in the book of Acts. Paul was on the way to prison in Rome; the ship was in a storm; and God appeared to Paul to tell him positively that no a soul on board would be lost, which Paul repeated to the crew. {You see this is the foreknowledge and fore ordained of God, in short Calvinism.} However when some members of the crew decided to abandon the ship in favor of a life raft, Paul told them if they made that decision {Arminianism} then they would not be saved. How can both be true? Based on the Scriptures, they are; and both are to be preached as part of the Word of God, in spite of the puny natures of our minds that can not likewise understand many other paradoxes like how light can be wave and particle. And I wonder if the person like Graham or his fundamentalists buddies are not as guilty of disrespect for the Word of God by preaching partial truth as is the man who teaches extra-biblical revelations. To distort the Word of God is to distort the Word of God whether you do it by omission or by extra-biblical revelations. And you know, I just can not see why this message on grace was so important, and defensively to be preached, to Graham unless what he did not say was more important. If he is trying to claim that there are certain periods during which God does not withdraw the gift of grace from certain peoples, then he is missing much of the message of the Prophets to God’s people and much of the message of the Falling Away.

(1). Isaiah presents several reasons for this blindness among God’s people, one of which is that the Word of God is a sealed book.

Oh yes, they read the Scriptures each Sabbath in the synagogue; and it was part of the worship service to read from the Word of God–they heard it often and was even part of what came out of their lips and mouth in worship, singing some of the words of the Psalms if not expressing other Scriptures. However, then as today, especially in the famous Bible belt where they is much carrying around of the Bible, classes to supposedly study the Bible–which most often turn into apologies for ignoring those verses and an expression of extra-biblical opinions much like the Gnostics who had their select groups that received wisdom which other church members could not from the Bible. In short, the Bible today is a sealed book in the face of much discussion “about” the Bible. It is possible to teach and preach “about the Bible” without actual teaching and preaching the Bible; and Americans today at the same time of the unsound doctrines of the Falling Away have become expert at talking about a Bible whose truths are really sealed away from them. What makes you think you are any better or more religious than God’s people in the day of Isaiah, or the religious of Jesus’ time, or those in the church at Corinth, and Galatia, and others to whom the Apostle Paul wrote?

“The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate {oh, we have our literate college and seminary graduates, and even the doctors of the Jesus Seminar}, saying, ‘Read this, please’. And he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’ Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Read this, please’ And he says, ‘I am not literate’” (Isaiah 29:11,12)

Recently I heard the pastor of the FBC of Dallas lament how “nothing significant had happened in that church for the last twenty years”. {Isn’t that amazing that it approximately canonicity with both the beginning of the Falling Away and the takeover of the SBC by the fundamentalists.} At least, he was honest, and on the radio too, not trying to cover-up which is the more common practice of pastors today, and other church members; but also lamented how much Bible study actually went on in his church. “Oh”, he pleaded, “there is no shortage of Bible study”. Well, this is also what Isaiah is talking about here among God’s people of his own time. {And you will notice that this is Isaiah himself speaking, of course under inspiration, as contrasted to the Isaiah 29:13 and on, where the Lord God Himself is speaking.}

(2). Another reason for the blindness among God’s people is that they no longer listen to the real Prophets and seerers. There were many other prophets during the time of Isaiah that preached “peace, peace, while there was no peace” that were listened to more than Isaiah, and especially was this true of Jeremiah who ever day made the trip over to the temple gates to preach a message to God’s people that they refused to listen to. Jesus reminded Israel of “which of the Prophets did you not persecute”. Not only did God’s people not listen to the Prophets but quite often they showed their disdain for the message and the messenger by outright persecution. We think of Fox’s Book of Martyrs, well we should also think of God’s Book of Martyrs, and of how many of the Writing Prophets were both ignored and persecuted. Today that bespeaks more of them than of the Prophets; and yet we are repeating history during this time of the Falling Away of unsound doctrine and the love of many waxing cold as sin and lawlessness abounds.

  1. Jesus taught in parables that these blind people of God might not understand or see.

Jesus even introduced the concept Paul had to develop more fully that the Scriptures of the Bible itself are written in parables, “all things come in parables” (Mark 4:11), in order that only a few selected by God may have the grace to see and understand. {Once again Frank Graham is in trouble for a failure to admit of the sovereignty of God, not overcome by any Arminianism or Calvinism, whereby God gives by measure some faith and some grace to differing men.} By the way on the matter of blindness and seeing what Prophet do you think Jesus quotes from? Yes, Isaiah, and Isaiah 6:9,10 as if in this subject of blindness of God’s people we are dealing with both a major theme of Isaiah and the other Prophets, but also of Jesus and the whole Bible. {Somebody has to explain why most of Israel rejected Jesus, and how as Paul said in the reading of the OT itself, even though God ordained them as custodians of the same, their is a veil over their eyes.}

“so that ‘seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’” (Mark 4:12 and Isaiah 6:9,10)

We are enlightened a little more here on the process of how one can see and not see, in that another kind of seeing is added to the second seeing, that is a matter of perception “see and not perceive”–the worse kind of seeing which really does not allow a perception of what is being seen. In our times, it is the seeing of many Scriptures in the Bible belt and in best sellers even in New York, without either the perception of the end of the Fullness of the Gentiles, nor of the perception of how far our church are into the Falling Away. The Second Coming will still catch us unawares because we fail to perceive the prerequisites–the Falling Away, the visual of the man of sin, the son of perdition, the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit, and how the present intolerance toward sound doctrine, with an unhealthy superior tolerance for the American Democratic faith with a confidence in the majority, is so a great sign of the Falling Away with rebellion against God in churches and out toward God’s own teachings on marriage, also reinforced by Jesus and the Apostles, how the taking of God’s name is so common among church people, and so on.

What a shame here in Mark and Isaiah that it is not the heathen or even the Gentile that is being addressed: it is God’s people that see but do not perceive; it is God’s people that often and in many worship services hear and yet do not understand, likewise read the Scriptures and do not understand as the reading and study is not consistent with the ASI; it is God’s people who do not exercise the turning around of repentance, the opposite of rebellion; and the tragedy of all tragedies, it is God’s people who do not have their sins forgiven.

6-3:  Substituting for Doctrines the Commandments of Men.

Jesus in the quoting from Isaiah 29:13b added the word “doctrine”, which is nothing less than “teachings with results”. Isaiah recorded the heart rendering words from God Himself as to how a proper fear or respect for God had been replaced by the teachings of men.

  1. The Commandments of Men in Isaiah 29:13b.

“And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” (Isaiah 29:13b)

So many ways there are that the commandments and traditions of men {Jesus Himself added the traditions to the commandments} can be substituted for true worship and for the true Word of God: (1) like at Corinth when everybody has a song, and a word, and a praise and with disorder; (2) when the ladies in the church break their silence demanded by Scriptures in the home and in the church, to come up with extra-biblical revelations and a select and unique wisdom beyond that of the Word {you know I think that if you investigated closely the messages of women like Joyce Meyer who rebels against God’s Word on silent women in the church, and in their messages on the everyday life, or the extraordinary life, or even delve more closely into the good life from the best selling book of Joel, you would find that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and other things, especially the forbidden “pride of life” as well as other covetousness has been added back to the Gospel; (2) the superficial and superfluous teachings that came out of a church or a church member when they think, contrary to what Paul wrote them in Corinthians, that the Word of God either came to them only or came out of them; and anytime “we have always done it this way”–that is tradition–takes the place of the authority of the Scriptures.

  1. Jesus condemned in His own time the common practice among the religious of God’s people to substitute the teaching of men for the doctrines of God as given in the Revealed Word of God.

Most often it was the religious leaders of God’s people that Jesus condemned for a substitution of Scriptures, the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. You see what danger you are in when rather than read the Scriptures for yourself as God and Jesus and the Apostle ordained, you allow other men’s interpretations and commandments, even customs, to come between you and the God of the Bible, between you and your own “priesthood” as a believer. {We can mark much of both the fundamentalists takeover of the SBC, with all the subsequent problems of warfare in the last 20 years such as between Bailor, Southwestern Seminary, SBC leaders and the Texas Baptists, and the Falling Away from the time we also find the disappearance of the “priesthood of believers” as a taught and preached Bible doctrine as well as a full understanding of both Inspiration of Scriptures and applied respect for those Scriptures.} It is prayed that the five volumes of the LEARN CHRIST FROM THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS, with a blessed by God spiritual understanding of both the real way to learn Christ, and of how the Scriptures must be those biblical, not extra-biblical, that come from the 12 Apostles and 16 Prophets. {Of course, we would add the others like David, Solomon, Moses, Job, etc.} Jesus condemned this practice of too much respect for the teachings and commandments of men so often, and in so many ways, that it is difficult to know where to start and where to end. However, our real problem today is that we have difficulty in dealing with any hypocrisy, especially a hypocrisy that would come form those we have respected as religious leaders, the same religious leaders that comfort us by convincing us in some form that we are the very elect of God. {It is on the twin doctrines of the “Priesthood of Believers” and “Proper Respect for the Word of God” that the SBC was allowed by God to make a significant contribution not only in the one church, its certain members supplying at one time a head or mouth to the total body, but also to the Fullness of the Gentiles and the preaching of the gospel to every nation which will bring the end of time and this age; and it is the disappearance with intolerance toward sound doctrine that has brought down the SBC beyond possible hope of restoration, the final nail in the coffin coming as the fundamentalists, not even real southern Baptists, brought their spirit of warfare into what we once had and appreciated.} Oh yes, they try to make up with their mouths and lips what is lacking in heart, and they try to divert you from where their hearts went when they drifted from God to personal gain, with the Gospel of Prosperity, extrabiblical revelations, and dynamic worship services for show more than substance! I remember approximately 15 years ago when the effects of the fundamentalists takeover started hitting the local churches like in Alamogordo, New Mexico. You remember about the same time southern Baptist rejected the leadership of men like Winfred Moore in favor of the fundamentalists like Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers {not even real southern Baptists} went after the seminary professors, forcing many of them to go to Bailor or form a new Seminary in Arlington. Well, a good ole fundamentalist boy from an El Paso church, interested more in getting his retirement from the retirement board than for the total body of Christ, and in the furtherance of his own career, told the church members at Alamogordo, “Just be patient and it will work out”. They did, and it has worked out in a detrimental way. I am sure by now, he has his career and retirement completed; and participates in the gigantic effort to cover up what has happened to perhaps the all-time most evangelical and dedicated to Christ denomination, the late, great SBC.  Do such preachers, pastors, and denominational leaders not remind you of the false prophets of the time of Isaiah and Ezekiel? {The same ones who said “peace, peace, while there was no real peace”.}

Yet back to the teachings and preaching of Jesus, with OT quotes, on the substitution of the teachings of men for doctrines of God. I just do not know how we have been able to ignore them and overlook them!

(1). Jesus words and quote to the scribes and Pharisees who came from Jerusalem, Matthew 15:1-9.

These religious leaders started the quarrel with the disciples, who did not according to “the tradition of the elders” wash their hands elaborately before the eating of bread; and then when Jesus entered the fracas became a matter of how they had distorted by their tragedians the OT Scriptures on something as basic as honor for mother and father. They had actually found a way for convenience and profit to negate the commandment itself in that name of a teaching of men to replace the commandment. Jesus took them on with, “Thus you have made the commandments of God of no effect by your tradition”. Then he calls them hypocrites!

“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:7-9 and Isaiah 29:13)

Would that today we had the intolerance, counter to the toleration of the American Democratic Faith, to call such religious leaders “hypocrites” {you see I guess, that history does not repeat itself and that we in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, could not possible have any denominational leaders who we would chose to call “hypocrites”–I understand a listener at one of Bush’s speeches called Bush such, and they almost arrested him}; would that we had the respect for the minority over the majority–also counter to the majority emphasis of the American Democratic Faith–to call false prophets and false teachers these extra-biblical revelators with itching ears. Even as we do not have the Learn Christ of the Apostle Paul, and the respect for the Bible of the Apostles and Prophets unless it is modified by the tragedians of men, we also do not have the courage of the Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith; and likewise we have a false concept, also borne on the wings of the American Democratic Faith, where peace is not the peace of Jesus, but rather the peace of the world.

(2). Jesus had to tell the religious leaders of His day, in this case especially the Sadducees, who based on the OT Scriptures denied a resurrection form the dead, that they neither understood Scriptures of the power of God.

Isn’t it tragic when you need to tell those who have specialized in religion and the Bible, some at the best and most prestigious of colleges and seminaries and with doctors degrees, that in all their effort and their studies they have failed to understand the very Scriptures on which they tried to specialize. Herein, we often fail in that we have regard for education and specialization for religious leaders even as for doctors and lawyers. This will not work, because the Bible is unlike any other avenue of skill and knowledge. Rather than help in understanding the Bible, as Paul makes clear in Corinthians, the wisdom of this secular world actually makes it impossible to understand the Bible. What you will find is that those with doctors degrees and other credentials of schools are more concerned about how they fit into the academic community than they are with faithfulness to the Word of God; and to think that the academic community is isolated from the world and the wisdom of the world is very foolhardy indeed. It does not take long for a Seminary, even the Southwestern Seminary with the good beginnings of Carroll teaching through the Bible and then Scarborough, that must respect the academic community to fall under the influence and control of that academic community. Hey, they can not continue to earn their salaries if they do otherwise! When Carroll left the death bed message for Scarborough to keep the Seminary attached to Christ, it was noble and worth a goal; but with the dominance of the fundamentalists control of the SBC and the advent of the Falling Away, like the largest churches, the seminaries have become leaders in the Falling Away.

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)

(3). Do we have religious leaders today, like the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus called hypocrites in Matthew 23:13, who shut up the kingdom of God for themselves and their hearers?

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against me; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13)

Would it not be a marvel, even a miracle, if religion and the religious leaders, did not repeat in this day and time. Can you not think of any religious leaders who by their very religious teachings, doctrines, and practices actually hinder their church members from salvation. Rather, they place on their listeners much vain legion and unnecessary loads. Where are we and what are we doing? Either taking it because they comfort us on our sins, which we intend to continue anyway, or they convince us that in spite of all we are the very people of God, the elect; and how many ways do such religious leaders today have to say that!

(4). Do we have religious leaders and groups today who will come into the homes of widows and others in need to make loud and charismatic prayers, in pretense and with vain worship although much mouth, for personal gain and status. {It seems that the charismatic fundamentalists have found a new way to worm into homes at the death of loved ones to make long pretenses prayers, even expecting immediate healing of the loved ones form their prayers which hardly ever happens, and for the loved ones to sit up in beds to speak in tongues, and to tell marvels of heaven. Somehow these charismatic fundamentalists, more the kind that we use to call missionary Baptists, have gotten in bed with hospice organizations, and are repeating the havoc of their unsound doctrine on unsuspecting widows and their relatives.}

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses {yes, that is exactly what this new breed of fundamentalists are doing}, and for a pretense make long prayers {yes, they will prayer as long as you will allow, and sing, and shout and make it down right miserable for the poor sinner that is suffering and dying on their death bed–perhaps one of the greatest hypocrisies of all time}. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.(Yes, your day is coming!} (Matthew 23:14)

(5). What extent some of these fundamental instant new birth advocates go to in order to make one convert to their extra-biblical teachings, that convert becoming as bad as their example, or worse. You know we can fill a pew and a church with empty people, and the Mormons and Roman Catholics are testimony alone to the fact that though evangelistic and fervent, this is not sufficient to overcome any and all extra-biblical teachings.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15)

(6). Why is it all times and all nations through history have had blind guides for leaders in the Scriptures, and yet we in our day and in the US have none? Those who go to church, worship, are active even with matters of outward performance like the paying of the tithe; and yet they use such religiosity and church membership as a clique to “neglect the weightier matters of the law”, the matters of “justice, mercy, and faith.” And you will find that also as a consistent part of the message of the Writing Prophets.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say…For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”  (Matthew 23:16,23)

6-4:  Hearers of the Word and Not Doers.

Perhaps before reading this volume on the message of the Prophets, you thought that being a doer of the word as well as a hearer was only part of the message of the Apostle James. Not the Prophet Ezekiel ha the equivalent message as God actually tells him the secret of what God’s people are really doing: “they hear your words, but they do not do them.” (Ezekiel 33:32) They seek personal gain in their worship. They show much love for God only with their mouth, with instruments, with song and pleasant solos and choirs. The Prophets as part of their the message recorded the disasters themselves, and also the reason for the disasters as part of the message. In spite of very religious practices, such as the giving of the tithe and temple attendance, the weightier matters of the law like justice, mercy, and faith have been neglected.

6-5:  Restoration and Promised Blessings.

McComiskey in his “introduction” to volume 3 of the Minor Prophets–where Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are discussed–after words of “how can the gloomy forecasts of captivity for Israel and Judah lift the heart today” speaks of the good parts in the Message of the Prophets.

“They speak of the love of God as well as his justice. Their prophecies are not all doom, but are often rich with hope. Hosea based his hope on God’s compassion. Joel envisioned a new era for the people of God. Amos spoke of the restoration of David’s collapsing monarchy. And Micah foresaw the coming Ruler whose hyperbolae would be the insignificant town of Bethlehem.”

6-6:  Joel as a Launching Pad for the Good Parts of the Message.

Like we used Jonah and Amos for a launching pad for the bad parts of The Message of the Writing Prophets, we will use Joel as a launching pad for some of the good parts. We are reminded of the message of Joel previously discussed, and in particular the words of Joel 2:12 — in spite of the impending judgment of the invading army, if they will repent, who knows if He will change His plan of Judgement.

“‘Yet even now, says the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. Who knows whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God?” (Joel 2:12-14 RSV) While we are groveling with all the parts of The Message that God’s people are not acting like God’s people in many ways, we should also consider such positive matters as (1) There can be a return to the Lord at any time unless He has made a cutoff decision, like He did after 40 years to the children of Israel in the wilderness, or as after the time of Christ when He cutoff Israel by blindness unto the Fullness of the Gentiles is complete, or like He can do for any individual when with “an evil heart of unbelief” they go beyond the now time of he Holy Spirit, and when the period of the Falling Away comes for Gentiles with sin and lawlessness when they really can no longer hear, heed, or endure sound doctrine; and (2) We must consider the whole character of God as gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and does relent of His decisions for punishment. You will recall even the message of Jonah, no doubt the oldest of the Writing Prophets while Job as the oldest Prophet; and how that message continued the element of God relenting when He heard the prayers and repentance of the city of Nineveh.

  1. Relenting of punishment in Joel.

God promised several disasters, like locusts, and then relented. Of course, we have a history of God for that in Jonah and when seeing repentance in the great city God relented of the punishment of destruction.

  1. If God’s people who are called by His Name will repent, they can know that He is in the midst of them and that He is our God.

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied {the material prosperity that God promises is really more like a lack of hunger, we might call it a prosperity of daily bread, quite unlike the Gospel of Wealth and Prosperity with success of today}, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2:26,27) This is not only a promise that follows repentance and calling on the name of the LORD by the chosen people, but it is a promise and prediction that will come to pass; however, it becomes more spiritual than physical. Although there is a promise of physical blessings on a nation as that nation honors God, there is the spiritual blessing that starts with Joel 2:28 as the Holy Spirit is democratically poured out on all flesh.

  1. The Promise of a all God’s People Blessing of the Holy Spirit {this is also an historical event, the Coming of the Holy Spirit on earth in a special way, and to stay until withdrawn during the Falling Away} at the Beginning of the Last Days. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out of my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions {perhaps Obadiah was a young man as he saw a vision}. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28,29 RSV)
  2. The Promises of the New Heaven and the New Earth, after the Day of the Lord destroys the old heaven and the old earth.

Quickly even as the “last days” of Joel 2:28-32 and Acts 1 end with the old heaven and earth rolling up like a scroll and the advent of the new heaven and earth, so from that point on in Joel (2:30) the emphasis is on the end time.

“So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it. And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and the water the valley of Shittim.” (Joel 3:17-18 RSV)

It amazes me that we don’t readily see that with a new heaven and a new earth that John saw in the book of Revelation, and the new Jerusalem that John saw lowered down from heaven to earth, that there is the new Zion of the holy mountain; and a new chosen people of God, complete in number of Jews and Gentiles. This is the wrap up of all time as we know it. Where we have so much difficulty with the Prophets is in the failure to realize the message of Romans as to who the real nation of Israel is, consequently also the new Jerusalem, Zion, and etc. Restoration to the Lord is individually available most of the time, and available to nations of God’s people at certain periods and for certain intervals as determined by God.; for we know: {Many of these things God told Moses about Himself at the renewal of the covenant on Sinai as Moses had requested to know God better, to see God, and to hear the proclamation of the name of God, which God permitted all except seeing Him face to face, which no man could do and live!} (1) God is Gracious and Merciful; (2) God is Slow to Anger; (3) God is Abounding in Steadfast Love; (4) God in response to repentance and prayer does “relent” of a judgment for punishment passed on individuals, cities, and nations; (4) God promises Spiritual Prosperity and Material Prosperity {daily bread} in the Message of the Writing Prophets; (5) the greatest blessing from God besides Christ and salvation is the Coming of the Holy Spirit, also related to salvation, to planet earth to take the Place of Jesus; and (6) then there is the everlasting promise of the New Heaven and the New Earth, with a new temple and a new Jerusalem and a new government, the government of Christ’s kingdom.

6-7:  Acts of God, Disasters as part of The Message of the Prophets.

While we like to talk today, at least in legal terms, of physical disasters in terms of “acts of God”, we as a people of God today are not convinced truly that drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes are sent by God; and especially do we not want to believe that military disasters at the hands of a foreign enemy like 911 are brought by God as more immediate punishment for the sins of God’s people in a nation. But is it true? If we are faithful to a conservative and Spirit led interpretation of the Writing Prophets, do we come to see physical disasters like a plague of locusts or a volcanic eruption as an effort by the God of the Universe to get our attention, if not a specific punishment for a specific period of sins. And how do we fit such immediate acts of punishment from God in natural disasters into the giant scheme of the universe falling to pieces immediately before the Second Coming, a process that I like to call “slow destruction by automatic control”, that spoken of by Paul in Hebrew as “the whole creation groaneth” until now, and also in the punishment of God sent on the whole world in the Flood which was a “shaking” of the earth only as contrasted to the final shaking which will be of the heavens and the earth. {You know what I mean as you read often in Scriptures of continuous signs throughout history of “blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke”, and even more often of the diminished lights of the stars, the sun, and the moon.}

But should we not be looking more in the NT for such guidance on disasters from God: say for example as from the Apostle Peter as he writes of how “all the elements will be destroyed with a fervent heat”; as for example from those parts of Hebrews (chapter 12) mentioned above from Paul; and even from Jesus in Matthew and Mark where He also teaches of how “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers (even gravity and gravitation attraction) of the heavens will be shaken {we might call it the final and great shaking of heaven and earth}” (Matthew 24:29), immediately after the tribulation of those days caused by: (1) the Falling Away; (2) the increase in sin and lawlessness with a subsequent waxing cold of the hearts of God’s people; (3) the withdrawal by God of His Holy Spirit from the earth with the loosing of Satan; and (4) the increased physical and natural tribulations caused by the disintegration of the universe {physics likes to call it entropy whereby the organization of the universe runs down, but they like think of it in terms of many more years than indicated by the history of the Scriptures}. Well by answer to look to the NT more than the Writing Prophets for insight on disasters from God is twofold: (1) we will simultaneously look at the OT and NT, goodness let us utilize all that God has given us in full truth; and (2) we have not begun to fathom the benefits of God’s revelations in the Writing Prophets on physical disasters, and we are far from convictions that God yearly works to control history through many means, including physical disasters. For example, you may be surprised to realize how descriptive, even far beyond the NT, is a chapter of Isaiah on the final shaking of heaven and earth.

6-8:  The Final Shaking of the Heavens and the Earth in Isaiah 24.

All of Isaiah 24 {you may find in some of it an more immediate punishment, but you can not miss the words of “all the earth” in most of it} is of the impending and inevitable judgment of God on the whole of the earth, the whole of which you will want to read for the real details of the final shaking, although now we briefly look at only a few verses.

“Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty {you do not see limited emptiness in those words, and this work of destruction by the LORD reminds one His work of creation at the beginning in the sense that God speaks and it happens–isn’t it strange that the same “wise of this world” that find millions of years as a necessary explanation for Creation, also find millions of years as necessary for the running down of the universe, all precipitated by an inward desire to eliminate God from the formula} and makes it waste {well, you have little doubt as to the ultimate outcome of the old heavens and the old earth even before you read of the “elements melted with a fervent heat” of the Apostle Peter}, Distorts its surface {God distorted the surface of the earth during the Flood, starting from an eruption of a mountain range in the Ocean with a subsequent continent drift as once all the continents were attached, and it will be distorted again in some marvelous way that we can not fully comprehend as God ushers in a new heavens and a new earth} and scatters its inhabitants {the inhabitants of the whole earth will be scattered}…” (24:1)

“The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered”  {while you can see a little immediate punishment and disaster from God on Judah and Jerusalem, recall it was the Prophet Isaiah that got the ball rolling on prophesies of doom for Jerusalem, taken up also by Jeremiah and then also by Ezekiel who was already in Captivity in Chaldea before the Fall of Jerusalem, you must see also the “entirely” and the “utterly”, and keep it in the context of the whole earth started in verse 1}. The LORD has spoken this word. “ (24:3)

It is “the earth” that mourns in 24:5, also the earth that fades away; the world in 24:5 also has the same fate as the earth {we might think of the world as the organizations, buildings, and all creations of man}; it is the “haughty people of the earth” (opposite of humility, that is it is the prideful people} that languish; and when we read of how “the earth is also defiled under its inhabitants” in 24:5 we think of both how the population of the world destroys through global warming, etc., and also of the curse that God placed on the earth in Genesis when sin first entered His creation; and you see this in 24:6 in the words “the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate {isolated from God}; and you can learn what was revealed to Peter also in the 24:6 where “the inhabitants of the earth are burned”, and in fact you have a little more insight in that “few men are left”; and while it would be quickly agreed in the nature of most OT prophecies of disaster that have both an immediate fulfillment and a more distant one, the 24:7 through 24:16 would apply to the impending disaster form God on Jerusalem and Judah, you can not miss the transition back in 24:17 to all “inhabitants of the earth”.

Why does God through His Word do that, that is pass the judgment of a disaster that is both more immediate and at the end of time? Well, I think one reason is that God wants His people to realize that little comes suddenly or without prior warning; that God is not fickle, and that what He does is consistent and has a plan that started even at the initial stages of the earth.  In other words, there is an automatic plan of control for the continuous shaking and ultimate destruction of the this earth with the heavens above, under the positive and direct control of God; and even immediate judgments with natural disasters is a small part of that automatic go to the end destruction.  In other words, the destruction by God as punishment for sins of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. was just a small part of His overall plan to punish at the end of time the sins of all people.  God in all cases and in the big case is the same! (Isaiah 24:19-23)

The Physical Disaster of all Physical Disasters to God’s People in the Writing Prophets was in 586 B.C. with the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the scattering of the people of the southern kingdom of Judah into Captivity. There is the Locusts of Joel, Amos, and Nahum, some of which we have already looked at. The disasters as guaranteed from God to get attention and for threats are early in the history of Israel, as God tells through Moses and the Song of Moses  (Deut 32) how “I will heap disasters on” the people of God when, as they inevitable will, based on their inclinations and behavior, break God’s covenant.

6-9:  The Destruction of the Universe in Zephaniah.

Isaiah with Joel and Amos were not the only Prophets to speak of the ultimate disaster brought by God of the destruction of the universe, Zephaniah did also and that is the bulk of His message. It is as if by the time of Zephaniah, that people had bought on the inevitable judgment through Daniel that there would be a probational covenant of a probational time to start at the Crucifixion of Christ, and run for three and one half years. Surely the people in reading their own history must have known that always and continuously broke the covenant of God, that God punished them, and they were also always asking for forgiveness, at least a few, in order to be rescued from the punishment. Already the remnant of the remnant, that only a few of God’s people of every and each generation would be put in the book of remembrance must have begun to dawn on them, although Zechariah and Malachi would near the end of the OT times make it clear. It is as if no longer looking for justice, faith, and mercy in more immediate days of the LORD, they were looking for consolation and blessing in the ultimate Day of the LORD, at the end of the age.

 

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