Category Archives: Context

Saturday Sampler: March 12 — March 18

Flower mask samplerMichelle Lesley often receives questions from the ladies who read her blog. Responding to a frequently asked question, she writes The Mailbag: Should Christians drink alcohol? She keeps her response, as always, thoroughly grounded in the Word of God.

Speaking of Michelle, be sure to listen in as she discusses The New Apostolic Reformation with Andy Olsen on Echo Zoe Radio. She explains what the movement is and how its teachings are worming their way into even sound churches.

In his post, How Jesus Called Out False Teachers and Deadly Doctrine, Tim Challies reminds us that our Lord never sacrifices truth in the name of love.

Those of you who read the Monday Bible Studies on this blog know I sometimes include word studies. Hey, I’m a writer — I like words! But most of you also know I firmly believe in interpreting the Bible in context. For that reason, George H. Guthrie’s piece, How Word Studies Go Bad: A (Slightly Funny) Example both amuses and teaches us to be careful when we do word studies.

Guthrie’s article inspired Peter Krol of Knowable Word to write Bible Word Studies Gone Bad to help us determine when it’s advantageous to study an individual word in a Scripture passage.

Take time to read The “Vaguely Christian But Still Cool” Starter Pack that Rebekah Womble has on her Wise In His Eyes  blog. Her words are clever as well as sobering.

Tom, who blogs at ExCatholic4Christ, gives us Creeds, Confessions, and lists of beliefs to make us think a bit. I disagree with him about the Nicene Creed as to its level of sophistication, but over all I believe he makes some valuable points.

In Losing my salvation, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time reveals something that she and John MacArthur have in common. Actually, you and I share this trait with them, whether we admit it or not.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

David, Saul’s Robe And President Trump

Pray For AmericaReading through 1 Samuel today, I noticed something in a familiar story that made me think about attitudes that people have toward President Trump. Let me begin by quoting the passage, which narrates part of David’s flight from Saul.

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord‘s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord‘s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. ~~1 Samuel 24:1-7 (ESV)

From there the narrative goes on by saying that David was conscience stricken, and confessed to Saul (from a safe distance, mind you) that he’d cut a piece from Saul’s robe. His confession, however, wasn’t 100% humble, as he used it pretty much to say, “You owe me.” In response, Saul acknowledged that God would indeed give David the kingdom.

This story has several components, and in emphasizing one aspect I certainly don’t mean to neglect the greater context of God’s sovereignty in humbling Saul. But as I read it this morning, David’s insistence on regarding Saul as the Lord’s anointed fascinated me.

Saul had rebelled against the Lord on several occasions, causing God to take the kingdom from him and transfer the kingly anointing to David. David had yet to ascend the throne, and Saul had tried relentlessly to keep that from happening. In short, Saul was determined to kill David in order to remain Israel’s king. He had absolutely no regard for God’s decision to give David the kingdom.

David knew that Saul was a corrupt man. Completely aware that God had judged Saul by rejecting him as king, David still remembered that Saul remained on the throne at that moment. For that reason, David respected Saul’s office as being given by the Lord. He refused to assassinate the king, even though he had first hand experience of Saul’s wickedness.

As I read 1 Samuel 24:1-7 today, I couldn’t help thinking about attitudes that even Christians have been exhibiting toward President Trump. I understand the frustration of having a president who, in your estimation, will severely harm the country. I felt the same frustration eight years ago, and dreaded a Hillary Clinton presidency. I nevertheless prepared myself to trust that, if Clinton won, the Lord would have sovereignly given her that position (Romans 13:1).

I don’t pretend to approve wholeheartedly of Trump either, so please don’t misconstrue this blog post as a ringing endorsement of him. Some of his policies have pleasantly surprised me; others have disappointed me. Certainly, I believe he has low moral character, and therefore don’t see him as a champion of Christian values.

Furthermore, I honestly don’t know whether God placed Trump in the White House to restrain evil or as an instrument of judgment. Neither do you, incidentally. But I know from the Word of God that, precisely because God did put him there, I must respect him as David respected Saul.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: February 26 — March 4

cross-sampler-02Commenting on something she read in The New York Times, Elizabeth Prata has an essay in  The End Time discussing Practical magic’s resurgence that I believe is worth your attention.

In Learn to Discern: The Corruption of Christianity (the latest in a series in Growing 4 Life), Leslie A. shares an essay by her brother,  Pastor Dean. Dean examines six popular trends which have dangerously weakened the visible church.

Once again, Rebekah Womble knocks it out of the park on her blog, Wise In His Eyes. This time, I recommend her blog post, Women, Don’t Feed on Fluff for its Scriptural guidelines on discerning whether an author or teacher is worth our time (and money).

As Reformed Christians commemorate this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we must consider the differences between us and Roman Catholics. Blogging for The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge asks Which Jesus does your Roman Catholic friend believe in? This post offers helpful guidelines for witnessing to Catholic friends and family.

Michael J. Krueger has been writing a series for Canon Fodder. His latest installment, Taking Back Christianese #8: “It’s Not My Place to Judge Someone Else”, takes on the common misapplication of Matthew 7:1.

Lisa Morris of Conforming to the Truth cautions us about The Upside Down Truth About Quick Bible Devotions. Ladies, we can do better.

Are you observing Lent this year? If so, Michelle Lesley lists 40 Things to Give Up for Lent as an encouragement to think Biblically about the season. If you wonder why (after writing so strongly against observing Lent Tuesday) I’ve included her article on this Saturday Sampler, read what she has to say.

Even through Brian Lee’s article, Repent of Lent: How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad For Your Soul, appeared in The Federalist three years ago, it raises points about the practice that mustn’t be overlooked. Perhaps this is the most Biblical treatment of Lent I’ve read so far.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Inviting Unbelievers To Church

Finding hymns on YouTube lately has become frustrating. In efforts to update them, recording artists frequently omit verses (usually ones that mean the most to me). I just spent an hour going through numerous versions of My Jesus I Love Thee, none of which included verse 3.

I need a break from the Sunday Hymns feature on this blog, so I’ve decided to replace them with short videos from solid Christian teachers. Pastor Gabe Hughes has an excellent series called WWUTT (When We Understand The Text) that addresses a wide variety of issues by examining Scriptures on those matters in 90 seconds.

Today’s WWUTT video answers the question, “Should I invite unbelievers to church?”

Perspectives In Titus: Paul’s Mission And God’s Plan

Bible And WorshipLadies, today we begin our weekly Bible Studies, this time exploring the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to his protege Titus. If you haven’t read Titus yet, please go to this link and read the epistle (it’s only three chapters) to get some context. Or, if you prefer, read it in your own Bible or Bible app. But please take time to read it before continuing in today’s lesson.

Rather than introducing Titus today, which would arguably give us good background in studying the book, I’m going to tell you about him when we get to verse 4. Instead, let’s spend time discussing Paul’s salutation,  which will orient us to the apostle’s mission as it fits into God’s eternal plan. These three verses will in turn lay a foundation for Titus in his ministry to the churches in Crete.

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; ~~Titus 1:11-3 (ESV)

Paul wastes no time in describing himself as God’s servant. Do not miss this very important point! As we will see when we meet Titus, Paul is writing to a young pastor, instructing him on godly ways to conduct ministry. By establishing himself as God’s servant, Paul indicates the fundamental attitude Titus needs to adopt. The authority God gives them must be regarded as a vehicle for serving Him.

Furthermore, Paul demonstrates his servant’s attitude as he states his position as an apostle, or ambassador, of Jesus Christ. The term “apostle” denotes being sent out as someone else’s representative. Therefore, Paul serves God by representing the interests of Jesus Christ.

But Paul represents Jesus Christ for the sake of God’s chosen people. That’s an added layer. So he serves the Lord essentially by serving others. Yet he serves those others by exercising his authority to teach them. He ministers to develop their knowledge of the truth, as he will explain momentarily.

Before Paul tells us how he delivers the knowledge of the truth to the elect, however, he explains that this knowledge accords with godliness. The Greek word translated in the ESV as “accords with” has, in this context, the meaning of having an end result. Thus, Paul regards doctrine as a gateway to holy living. He elaborates on this point in Chapters 2 and 3, especially in Titus 2:11-14.  God calls His elect to understand right doctrine so that we can live in holiness.

This godliness, he says in verse 2, leads to hope of eternal life. Here, the word for hope, in contrast to the anemic wishful thinking that we commonly call hope in our culture, actually means assurance. Paul wants his ministry to assure Christians of eternal life. He emphasizes this assurance with an appeal to God’s promise.

Notice that God’s promise is predicated on two points, neither of which we can discuss in detail right now. First, Paul asserts that God doesn’t lie. We can expect eternal life because God has promised it. Second, God made this promise before time began. He didn’t make it on the spur of the moment, in other words. This promise has always been firmly established in God’s will.

Verse 3 continues Paul’s thought by adding that God brought His promise about at the time He decreed. Apparently, Paul just can’t pass up an opportunity to celebrate God’s sovereignty!

Finally, Paul returns to his point that he serves God by bringing the knowledge of the truth to the elect. He accomplishes this task by preaching God’s Word. Those of you who read The Outspoken TULIP  often know that I’d love to write an entire blog post on this one clause! So tune in  next Monday, and we’ll talk about just that.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: January 15–January 21

bible-samplerThe cult of Scientology is back in the news. In her compelling blog post, An Unexplored Mission Field, Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised describes how this organization’s basic teachings contradict Biblical Christianity. But she goes further by reminding us what our response should be. Her article, ladies, helps us understand the real purpose and proper use of discernment.

In Don’t Worry Be Godly – Pt 2, Clint Archer of The Cripplegate concludes his series on anxiety. His practical application of Scripture encourages me. I think those of you who struggle with anxiety will appreciate this teaching.

Leslie A. recently had an unpleasant encounter with facial tissue while trying to survive a nasty cold. Her experience results in Velvet Soft, an interesting essay in Growing 4 Life that examines the need for discernment regarding “Christian” books and entertainment. Don’t necessarily assume they’re really Biblical.

Is Sexy a Sin? Candi Finch answers that question in her essay for Biblical Woman.

Speaking of important questions, Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day asks Do You Consider Yourself A ‘Red Letter’ Christian? She explains what that term means and why it’s unbiblical.

Including a lesson on understanding Scripture verses in context, Rachel at danielthree18 writes Theology Thursday: All Things are Possible with God to prevent us from misapplying this beloved sentiment. And just when I’d planned to jump off the roof of our apartment building to try flying! Man, Rachel, you’re such a killjoy!

The division over President Trump is sad, and even sadder when professing Christians express animosity toward him. Therefore I appreciate Michelle Lesley for outlining 7 Ways to Pray During the Trump Administration, which carefully takes us through God’s Word to give us a Biblical attitude.

Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes writes Let Me Be a Woman to review Elizabeth Eliott’s book of the same title. Even without reading the actual book, I gained great encouragement from Rebekah’s review. I think you’ll also learn some things about being a godly woman by reading it.

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Apples And Pulpits

betty-portrait-paintedHave you ever noticed the parallel between Eve’s temptation in the Garden and women who qualify (or flat-out reject) 1 Timothy 2:12? I don’t remember where I first read about this parallel, so I can’t properly give due credit, but I must acknowledge that this notion didn’t originate with me. That said, I believe we need to consider the possibility that women who seek to teach men or who aspire to pulpit ministry commit the same sin that Eve committed.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Eve and her husband had been given full access to every tree in the Garden, with only one exception (see Genesis 2:15-17). She should have been thankful for the Lord’s abundant provision, but Satan twisted God’s Word so that she questioned God’s goodness…or at least her understanding of His Word.As I’ve studied arguments for the ordination of women, I’ve  noticed the same type of Scripture twisting.

Let me show you just a couple examples of how professing Christians try to explain away 2 Timothy 2:11-12.

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)

The website for Brethren In Christ Church (I find amusing irony in the sexist name of the denomination) offers this explanation:

Paul’s seemingly prohibitive statement about women in public ministry is likely a response or plan of action to deal with women who were new Christians, talented, and endowed with spiritual gifts of leadership, but not yet trained and seasoned for leadership in the congregation. These new Christian women likely were also mixing pagan practices and Christian doctrine. One must keep in mind that prior to this time, only the men had the privilege of learning through formal study. Paul’s assertion in verse 11 that “women should learn” was indeed a new day for the believing woman.
Responding to the women’s lack of training and maturity, Paul therefore declares, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she is to keep silent (2:12 NRSV). The literal translation from the Greek is, “I am not presently permitting a woman to teach or to have authority over men….” The verb used is present active indicative. It was never intended to be a prohibitive statement or a prescription for all times, places, and cultures. If it had been written for that purpose, there are Greek verbs and tenses which would have been used to clarify the intention. (Source)

The appeal to Greek verb tenses almost convinces me, except for the fact that the apostle Paul based his restriction, not on 1st Century custom, but on God’s original order of creation and Eve’s vulnerability to deception (see 1 Timothy 2:13-14). And as for  “mixing pagan practices with Christian doctrine,” might I suggest that “Christian” feminism pretty much does the same thing by adopting worldly standards?

A website called Circle Of Christian Women evaluates 1 Timothy 2 in the context of wives and husbands rather than women in general:

1 Timothy 2:12 is not a blanket rule for all women of all churches. If it were, then the women could not speak at all, for the same verse that tells them not to teach also tells them to be silent.

If all women had to keep silent in church, then that would be promoting disobedience to God, for they could not prophesy, pray, testify, sing, exhort, do personal work, or even get saved.

Whenever an interpretation to a verse contradicts the rest of the teaching of the Bible, we know this interpretation is incorrect, for the Holy Spirit will never contradict His own Word.

This is the chief verse that is used to oppose women preaching and yet it says nothing about preaching, nor does it say anything about a public worship or church service. But, on the contrary, this verse is giving instructions to wives as to how they were to conduct themselves in regard to their husband. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:35, “And if they will LEARN anything, let them ask their husbands at home.” Now he states in 1 Tim. 2:12 that the woman should learn in silence, and should not usurp authority over the man. Paul is dealing with more of a home problem than a church problem.

This verse still applies to us today. It is wrong for a woman to usurp authority over her husband (in church, home, or any place else) as was the case in Paul’s day. She should not try to teach him or speak words that would cause discord and confusion, but should rather be silent and in subjection to her husband.

It is also to be understood that if anyone, whether man or woman, is usurping authority over the God-given leadership of the church, she or he is to be silent, and not to teach, or act in such a way that would create discord in the assembly.

Um, no. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, if anything, places further restrictions on women in church, and certainly doesn’t soften the impact of 1 Timothy 2:12. This argument just makes no sense, and it completely ignores the context of the verse. Like Eve, such people fall for Satan’s question, “Did God actually say…?” Despite all the wonderful ministries the Lord opens to women (including the joys of teaching other women and children) they want to also teach and lead men, unwilling to accept the only restriction that Scripture places on them.

As a redeemed woman, I trust God’s wisdom in “denying” me the right to teach men. Maybe men could learn something from me. But that’s really beside the point. Unlike Eve, I choose to appreciate all the wonderful ways the Lord does permit me to serve Him, realizing that He has every right to withhold certain spheres of service. May I serve, not by coveting ministries that He assigns exclusively to men, but in gratitude for the wide variety of opportunities He gives me.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin