Monday, April 27, 2015

The Trinity

John 1:1-3, 14
(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(2) The same was in the beginning with God.
(3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made
(14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

1 John 5:7
(7) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

The scriptures reveal that there are three distinct persons that make up "the Godhead" (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9). Christians have long referred to this Bible doctrine as the Trinity. Those that deny this truth make an issue out of the word “Trinity” not being found in the Bible. The word “incarnation” is not in the Bible. The word “rapture” is not in the Bible. The word “Bible” is not even in the Bible! But there is certainly nothing wrong with using such terms in reference to Bible doctrines. The Trinity is a fundamental of the Christian faith and is therefore only denied by cults and heretics.  
Those that deny the Trinity accuse us of worshipping three Gods. No, we believe that there is only ONE true and living God (as the Bible clearly says in many passages). But we also believe that the true and living God exists in three co-equal Persons (as the Bible also clearly teaches in many passages). The heretics say that doesn’t make sense to them (human reasoning is their final authority, not the word of God). I know why they cannot receive it and why it is foolishness to them (1 Cor. 2:14)! There are many things about my infinite God that my finite mind cannot humanly comprehend but I believe what the Spirit reveals to me about God through His word.
Is it any wonder that 1 John 5:7 is one of the most attacked verses in the Bible?! Corrupt manuscripts and modern versions that are based upon them omit the verse. Even the Old Scofield Reference Bible has a marginal note that says, “It is generally agreed that v.7 has no real authority, and has been inserted.” Generally agreed among whom? Who cares! My final authority is not the "scholarship" of men but the pure words of God. There is manuscript evidence for this verse but the KJB itself is the best evidence that it belongs in the word of God! Believing and rightly dividing the KJB will save us from apostasy, heresy, and deception.  
The scripture was given as a progressive revelation. The Trinity is intimated in the OT (examples: Gen. 1:26-27; 11:5-9; Isa. 6:1-8; 7:14; 9:6-7; Dan. 3:24-25; Mic. 5:2) and clearly revealed and emphasized in the NT. The following lists provide examples and are by no means exhaustive.
Father, Son, and Spirit are called God:
1) The Father (Phil. 2:11)
2) The Son (Heb. 1:8)
3) The Holy Ghost (Acts 5:3-4)
Mentioned together in the same passage as three distinct Persons:
1) Baptism of Christ (Matt. 3:16-17)
2) Christ promising the Comforter (Jn. 14:16)
3) Kingdom Commission (Matt. 28:18-20)
4) Apostolic benediction (2 Cor. 13:14)
5) Unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:4-6)
Same attributes applied to Father, Son, and Spirit:
1) Eternal (Father, Ps. 90:2; Son, Mic. 5:2; Spirit, Heb. 9:14)
2) Omnipotent (Father, Job 42:2; Son, Rev. 19:6; Spirit, Rom. 15:19)
3) Omniscient (Father, Jer. 17:10; Son, Rev. 2:23; Spirit, Heb. 4:12)
4) Omnipresent (Father, Jer. 23:24; Son, Matt. 18:20; Spirit, Ps. 139:7)
5) Holy (Father, Jn. 17:11; Son, Rev. 3:7; Spirit, Eph. 4:30)
6) True (Father, Jn. 7:28; Son, 14:6; Spirit, 1 Jn. 5:6)
The Trinity working in Unity as the Godhead:
1) Creation – The Spirit moved (Gen. 1:2), God spoke, Christ (the Word) created all things (Jn. 1:1-3); God said, "Let US make man in OUR image" (Gen. 1:26)
2) Incarnation – The Father gave (Jn. 3:16-17), the Spirit placed the seed (Matt. 1:18; Lk. 1:35), and the Son was born of the virgin (Matt. 1:18-25)
3) Resurrection ("But God raised him from the dead", Acts 13:30) – Father (Gal. 1:1), Son (Jn. 10:17), Spirit (Rom. 8:11)
4) Salvation (Father, Eph. 1:3-6; Son, Eph. 1:7-12; Spirit, Eph. 1:13-14)
5) Prayer – We pray to the Father (Eph. 3:14), in name of the Son (Eph. 5:20), in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18)

Friday, April 17, 2015

How to Pray

Things to Come: A Journal of Biblical Literature 
September, 1898

Question and Answers 

Question No. 183
"I am much perplexed by much that is said and written about prayer. Private prayer I mean; i.e. when and how I ought to pray, or whether I ought to be definite in my prayer and to what extent?" 

The answer to your question will be found in the definition of the term "prayer". What is prayer? Our hymn says truly, "Prayer is the Christian's vital breath." Or, it may be more accurately expressed by saying Prayer is the breath of the new nature. Just as the natural breath is the sign and evidence of physical life- so prayer is the mark and sign of the possession of spiritual life. The analogy is complete. Natural life commences with breathing and the breathing produces a cry. It is so with the New Birth. A New Life is imparted- "the breath of life" is breathed- a cry is produced and prayer goes forth "God be merciful to me a sinner." From that moment the breathing continues as the spontaneous outcome of the New Life. We require no more rule for the one breathing than the other. No knowledge of Physiology is required for the one, and no knowledge of theology is necessary for the other. Indeed one has often listened to discourses on Physiology till one has exclaimed, "Pray say no more or I shall be afraid to breathe!" So it is with the breathing of the new nature. The moment it becomes the subject of discussion or of rule- its essence is gone. We are such formalists by nature that we need nothing to encourage formalism in our prayers. Our efforts should be used in the opposite direction. The moment we reason about prayer we make it artificial. But true prayer is spontaneous. Our business in natural life is to breathe and not to think about it. Our business in spiritual life is to breathe (i.e. to pray) and not to think about it. The moment we begin to think about our prayer we are occupied with the means and lose the end. We are reminded of an old rhyme which we recently heard, but which illustrates our meaning exactly: - 

"The centipede was happy quite
Until the toad, in fun
Said, Pray which foot goes after which?
Which moved his mind to such a pitch
He lay distracted in the ditch
Considering- How to run."

We immediately pointed the moral and put it into the following form: - 

The praying soul was happy quite
Until some one did say
Prayer must be this, and that, and thus!
Which put his mind in such a fuss
That here and there in vain he'd rush
To find out- How to pray!

Nothing can be added to this great truth or to its lesson. As to "definiteness in prayer," well, if we were omniscient we would be very definite, but believing that God knows what is best, we are content to very definitely ask Him to do all He knows to be best. Unfortunately most Christians think they know better than God, and hence very definitely decide what they want Him to do. And this- in spite of the fact that He has told them that "we know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Rom. viii.26). 

For our part we have but one desire in this matter, and that is that He would do all His will! By our increasing knowledge of Him (Eph. i.17) we are so convinced of His infinite love and infinite knowledge, and infinite power that to substitute for these the definiteness of our "infirmities" (Rom. viii.26) would be our infinite loss. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Five Results of Justification

(Romans 5:1-11) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: {2} By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. {3} And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; {4} And patience, experience; and experience, hope: {5} And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. {6} For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. {7} For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. {8} But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. {9} Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. {10} For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. {11} And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
By inspiration of God the apostle Paul reveals and expounds the doctrine of justification by faith in Rom. 3:21-5:21. In the above passage we find some of the blessed results of being justified by faith. Notice that the first word in v.1 is “Therefore”. What is said in the passage is based on what was said in the previous two chapters concerning justification. Notice that our justification is spoken of as a done deal (“being justified”). The blessings that “we have” (v.2,11) are the result of this justification. We did not earn the great blessings spoken of in this passage. They are ours "through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.1, 11)

We receive justification through faith alone without works. But our justification is BY the faith of Christ (Rom. 3:22; Gal. 2:16). The apostle Paul speaks of the “faith OF Christ” seven times in his epistles. The doctrine of justification by the faith of Christ is only found in Paul's epistles. Jesus Christ was obedient to His Father's will (Phil. 2:8). The Father made Him a promise before the world began (Titus 1:2). He had faith in the Father's will, promise, word, and plan. By His faith He accomplished what the Father sent Him to do. His faith is perfect and proven. Because we are justified by His faith there is no need for our faith to be tried in respect to justification like the tribulation saints (Jam. 2:14-26). Our justification is not a process. It is instant and permanent. 
Being justified by faith, WE HAVE: 

1. Peace with God
As lost sinners we were enemies of a righteous and holy God (Rom. 5:10; 8:7-8). I believe that deep down all lost sinners have a sense of that reality to a degree in their heart (of course, Holy Ghost conviction intensifies that reality). That is why so many are going about trying to do what they can to make peace with God. But it is not possible for sinners to make peace with God by their own works. He will not accept anything that we try to offer Him. We do not need to make peace with God because Christ made that peace for us when He died on the cross for our sins! He made reconciliation for us (Rom. 5:10). Peace with God is only available "through our Lord Jesus Christ". He made the "atonement" for our sins through His blood (Rom. 5:11). An atonement is basically a payment that is made to bring two disputing parties together (at-one-ment). The payment is made by the offending party to the aggrieved party. Since in our case, we could not make the necessary payment, the aggrieved party actually became one of us so that He could make the payment for us! The word atonement is used 81 times in the OT and just once in the NT. The blood sacrifice of animals atoned for the sins of the people but is was not permanent. The atonement that Christ made with His blood is permanent! In the OT an atonement was made but in the NT "the atonement" is received. The moment that we receive Christ by faith we instantly and permanently have peace with God through the reconciliation and atonement that Christ accomplished through the blood of His cross! Our peace WITH God can never be altered (this is different from the peace OF God).

2. Access to God
It is by GRACE that we have a right standing before God. As a result of this standing we have full and free access directly to God by faith. This access to God has not always been available to man. Before Adam fell into sin he walked with God in the Garden of Eden but after the fall God drove man out of the garden. When the law was given to Israel the people "stood afar off" and were warned not to come near Mt. Sinai "lest they die". In the tabernacle and then later the temple there was a thick veil that separated the people from God's presence in the most holy place. Only the high priest could enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. As Gentiles we were even further off from God. There was a middle wall of partition that kept us out (figuratively in the ordinances of the law and literally in the temple). But in Christ we are made nigh to God by His blood (Eph. 2:11-18). The apostle Paul is the only writer to use the word "access" (note that our access is by the faith of Christ, Eph. 3:12). This access is not through any man, any church, or any religion. It is only through being a member of the Body of Christ. As children of God we can go to our Father at any time and for any reason and know that He loves us and welcomes us into His presence. He accepts us as He does Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:14-16)!

3. Hope of the Glory of God
The first three results relate to our past, present, and future. "Peace with God" takes care of the past: He will no longer hold our sins against us! "Access to God" takes care of our present: we can come to Him at any time for the help we need! "Hope of the glory of God" takes care of the future: one day we will be glorified together with Him! The hope of the Church is the certain expectation and anticipation of Christ coming for us and being glorified together with Him. No matter what our circumstances may be, we can "rejoice in the Lord alway" because of this blessed hope that the Holy Spirit makes real in our heart. Anybody can rejoice in the good times. Do you rejoice in tribulations (Acts 16:25)? Because of this hope we can glory in our tribulations. Do we glory or gripe? We must suffer before we are glorified (Rom. 8:17). It is important for believers to KNOW that God uses the tribulations of life to help us grow spiritually. We will not glory in tribulations if we do not KNOW that (Jam. 1:2-4). Tribulation works patience and patience works experience (we experience that God's grace is sufficient) and experience works hope. Although we must endure tribulations in this life God has promised that we will not have to endure THE great tribulation that will come upon this world when He pours out His wrath (Rom. 5:9-10). When Christ comes secretly for the church He will save us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 5:9) and we will not only be with Him but we will be like Him (Phil. 3:20-21)! We shall be saved by His life. Because He lives, we shall live (Rom. 4:25). A.C. Gaebelein wrote, "All believers are exempt from the wrath to come because they are one with Him who is the administrator of the judgments of God." 

4. Love of God 
It has been the rule, not the exception, for God's people to be persecuted in this world (2 Tim. 3:12). Our suffering and persecution does not mean that God does not love us or that He is punishing us (Phil. 1:28-30). God has already proven His love for us (Rom. 5:6-8). We are not ashamed to live by faith because the love of God is made real in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that is given to every believer upon salvation. He is the earnest and the seal (Eph. 1:11-14).

5. Joy in God
The world knows nothing of real and abiding joy for it is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Because of all that we have through justification by faith we can "joy in God" every day (Phil. 4:4)! Consider Paul's circumstances when he wrote Philippians! Real joy is not based on what is going on around us but on Christ who lives within us. NO amount of tribulation and suffering can diminish what we have in Christ.
These five results concern our unchangeable STANDING in Christ and confirm that we have eternal security as members of the Body of Christ.

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