Cattle On A Thousand Hills Doesn’t Make The Promise We Think It Makes

Awful GlorySo often evangelicals encourage each other to expect the Lord to bless them materially by saying, “After all, our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills.”  This remark alludes to a verse fragment in Psalm 50. They imply (if not outright declare) that they have unfettered access to material abundance because they claim God as their Father.

Some Scriptures, such as Matthew 6:25-33, assure us that our Heavenly Father will provide the things we need. The Lord indeed takes care of His own, sometimes even giving us much more than we actually need. For example, as I type this article, I’m looking at two of the three blouses my sister sent me as an Easter gift (I wore the other to church yesterday). The Lord definitely blesses His children.

But let’s look at how Psalm 50 uses the clause about God owning the cattle on a thousand hills. Back up to verses 1-6, in which Asaph draws a picture of the majestic Lord summoning His people Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: April 14 — April 20

Easter Cross Sampler

Elizabeth Prata, writing in The End Time, reminds us that Grace IS Amazing as she reflects on her own conversion to Christ. It’s good to look back on who we were without Him so that we can delight in how He changes us for His glory.

For an insightful assessment of 21st Century Christianity, read Mike Ratliff’s False disciples and a compromised gospel in Possessing the Treasure. He apples doctrine drawn from God’s Word to address a very contemporary problem among professing Christians. I highly encourage you to give serious thought to his perspective.

In his article for Knowable Word, Ryan Higginbottom writes Context Matters: The Prodigal Son to challenge our traditional understanding of this beloved parable.

How Do Christians Lose Their Saltiness? Jordan Standridge challenges our misguided attempts at being “all things to all people” with this hard hitting piece for The Cripplegate. What excellent incentive to live in holiness!

Maybe my French heritage leads me to recommend Sam Wegener’s The Bells of Notre Dame Will Be Silent This Easter in Caffeinated Theology, or maybe it’s because The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is of my favorite novels. More likely, it’s because we need to pray for spiritual awakening in France.

The Ligonier Ministries blog features What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean? by the late R.C. Sproul. What a timely article after yesterday’s observance of Good Friday.

Would it shock you to hear that Mr. Rogers Deserved Hell? John Chester’s blog post for Parking Space 23 explains this jarring statement with a personal anecdote followed by reasoning from Scripture. Don’t forget to click the link to his companion post about rightly understanding John 3:16.

Jared Olivetti writes Lies & Sex as his contribution to Gentle Reformation. If you’ve fallen for any of these lies, please remember that God gives grace to repentant sinners. Then start walking in truth and purity.

Reflecting on the church growth movement, R. Scott Clark of Abounding Grace Radio cautions, Choose Your Metaphors Carefully: The Church Is A Pasture Not A Business. Having been in churches that adopted church growth models, I praise the Lord for this Biblical depiction of God’s intention for His Church.

Christians shouldn’t need Michael Coughlan’s warning to be Careful With Your Mocking: SSTA! in the Things Above Us blog. Sadly, some discernment bloggers do succumb to the childish temptation to make personal attacks on false teachers.

Let’s have a second post from Elizabeth Prata, shall we? Tap dancing on the fence confronts us with the either/or nature of following Jesus. If you suppose that you can be a Christian without sacrificing your hopes, desires and even your very life, I beg you to read this essay.

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Saturday Sampler: April 7 — April 13

Teacup Sampler

Check out Fred Butler’s insightful remarks on Hip and Thigh as he answers the question Are Evangelical Continualists The Same As Mormon Continualists? His response should sober us.

As long as we’re asking and answering questions, let’s give attention to Should You Attend a Catholic Wedding or Funeral? by Michael Coughlan of Things Above Us. I didn’t expect him to take the same position I hold. But I appreciate his clear reasoning and his fidelity to the Lord.

I can’t agree with Grace Hody of Biblical Woman as far as women attending seminary (though I’m thankful she adds caveats about female seminary students not seeking vocational positions). That said, I definitely endorse the main points she makes in Why Should Women Study Theology? God has graciously provided wonderful alternatives to attending seminary classes that any woman with an internet connection can (and should) utilize.

Read Questions and Answers on SharaC’s blog, Into the Foolishness of God, for a helpful discussion on claims that the Bible is difficult to understand.

Elizabeth Prata, author of The End Time, answers the question: Am I doing something wrong if  I make a huge decision and don’t wait to hear from God? As a former Charismatic, I can attest to the bondage that waiting for “a word from the Lord” places on people. Elizabeth offers sound principles for decision making in this superb essay.

Writing for Morning by Morning, Liz Wann teaches on the importance of Seeing God first in Scripture as opposed to making the Bible primarily about ourselves. She draws from the exchange between God and Moses at the burning bush to illustrate her point. Fascinating insight!

Although we hear it often, Mike Ratliff’s warning to Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing in Possessing the Treasure. He contributes to the conversation by taking us to Scripture that illustrate the qualities of sound teachers.

Denny Burk asks Are biblical manhood and womanhood cultural constructs? He responds to Woke theology that somehow equates gender roles with “whiteness.”

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So, If Lust Is Sin, What About Same Sex Attraction?

Cordened churchIf you missed my blog posts Monday and yesterday,  you might want to go back and read them before continuing on with today’s article. Although I wrote both articles with the question of same sex attraction in mind, I wanted to lay some groundwork by examining temptation in general. I firmly believe that temporarily removing homosexuality from the conversation helps us think more Biblically about this matter.

Monday I differentiated between external temptations and temptations that originate from our own lusts. I tried to show that internal temptations merely Continue reading

Any Temptation And God’s Grace

Untitled-1Yesterday I made the distinction between external temptations and temptations that originate from our own sin nature (you can find the blog post here). In future parts, I’ll explain specifically why I wanted to draw this distinction, but at this point I’d prefer to confine my remarks to generalities.

As I demonstrated yesterday, temptations often come about as a result of our innate depravity. This fact cannot be overstated. Yes, it’s an uncomfortable truth that flies in the face of self-esteem, and our post 20th Century sensibilities cry out against it with a vengeance. Recognizing ourselves as wretched sinners except for God’s grace repulses even the most doctrinally sound Christian.

But let me take you back to Continue reading

It Depends On The Temptation

Cinderella's  ClosetHebrews 4:15 tells us that Christ, our  high priest, sympathizes with our weaknesses because He was tempted in all things, yet was without sin. What a comforting verse! This world indeed tempts Christians to seek personal comfort, exercise authority and put God to the test — the same temptations Satan used in his failed efforts to dissuade Christ from going to the cross (Luke 4:1-13, Mark 8:31-33, Luke 22:39-46).

But have you ever noticed that all of His temptations came from outside of Him? In His nature, Jesus never envied or boasted or lusted. His thoughts remained pure. We know they were pure because Continue reading

Flashback Friday: He Did It For Himself

I originally posted this article on April 30, 2016.

Cross of GloryAs Christians, of course we take great joy in the fact that Jesus shed His precious blood to pay the price for our sins. Indeed, the knowledge that He made that sacrifice fills us with awe, as we wonder why He would do such a outrageously generous thing.

Back in the 1980s, some evangelical churches taught that He redeemed us because He saw something in us worth saving. That explanation certainly boosted people’s self-esteem, but nothing in Scripture substantiated it. On the contrary, Ephesians 2:1-10 plainly tells us that nothing in us in any way merits the grace He has shown by taking our sin on Himself.

So if Christ had nothing to gain from us, why did He die for us? Obviously He loves us, although I don’t understand why He does. But Ephesians 2:7 offers an even fuller understanding of what motivated Him to such an incredible demonstration of love.

So let’s spend a little time looking at verse 7. Even though I’ll do my best to comment on this verse, I  hope you’ll take the time to look at the cross-references I’ll provide, as they offer deeper insight into the text. Scripture best interprets itself, so these cross-references will help you grasp the teaching in this verse.

But first let’s go back to the passage itself, shall we?

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~~Ephesians 2:1-7 (ESV)

Paul begins verse 7 with the assuring statement that  God will, in the ages to come, give a fuller revelation

  • of the immeasuarable riches
  • of His grace
    • in kindness toward us
    • in Christ Jesus

Commentators differ on whether the “ages to come” denote succeeding generations of Christians who would understand the Ephesians’ conversions as a demonstration of God’s rich mercy or to the ages that will begin when Christ returns. The former interpretation finds support in 1Timothy 1:16, where Paul claims His own conversion as  an example of God’s mercy. Compare Titus 3:4-7, which states that the believers in the church Titus pastored experienced the same mercy as did the Ephesians. Yet 1 Peter 1:3-13 implies that God will display His mercy and grace at the time that Christ reveals Himself universally. I tend to favor the  latter understanding because Christ’s return is part of the Gospel.

God’s purpose in showering believers with grace and mercy benefits us, but ultimately it refers back to His character. Vincent’s Word Studies says that the grammar of the Greek phrase translated here as “He might show” implies that God does all this for His glory first, and then for our benefit. The primary emphasis on His glory,  over and above our blessing, must not be ignored!

The Lord showed similar mercy to Israel, not because they deserved it (they certainly didn’t!), but for the sake of His reputation (Ezekiel 36:21-23, Deuteronomy 7:7-8, Psalm  106:8, Psalm 115:1-2, Ezekiel 20:41). God bestows His mercy on us, just as He did on Israel, out of concern for His reputation among unbelieving nations. For this reason, as well as because of the way verse 7 flows from preceding verses, I tend toward the opinion that these “immeasurable riches” will coincide with Christ’s return when all will see Him (Matthew 24:30).

At the Lord’s return, He will at last become the focal point of all creation. While we will enjoy the privilege of spending eternity in His glorious presence, all the attention will center  exclusively on Him. Our only worth will come from His inexplicable love for us. And even that love, precisely because it refers back to His kindness, manifests  His glory. Truly, when He died for us, He did it for Himself.

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