It’s Time To Rethink Discernment

Psalm 19V14 B&WYes, I’ve been beating this drum about the problems with discernment ministries (particularly online discernment ministries) for over two years now, and some of my posts pretty much say they same things. In truth,  I write most of these articles in an attempt to clarify my own thoughts on the matter. If I’m selfish for taking you along for the ride, please pray that the Lord would convict me.

The advantage of struggling with this publicly is Continue reading

According To Scripture: Study #17 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

Okay ladies, we’ve reached the final installment of our Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15. It’s been a thrilling study, but today’s section might well be the most exciting part of all! So let’s look at this closing passage of our chapter and see what gems we can excavate from the Holy Spirit’s words through Paul.

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. ~~1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (ESV)

Last Monday we learned that the Christians who haven’t died when Christ returns will receive transformed bodies when the dead receive their resurrection bodies. Now, in verse 54, Paul turns to the topic of the new heavens and the new earth. When the perishable body puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality, we will at last witness the full accompaniment of God’s plan.

He paraphrases Isaiah 25:8, which promises that the Lord will swallow up death forever. Hebrews 2:14-15 illustrates this triumph over death. And Revelation 21:4 proclaims that when Christ finally establishes the new heavens and new earth, death will be permanently abolished.

Moving to verse 55, we see that Paul quotes Hosea 13:14 as evidence of Christ’s victory over death. (So much for Andy Stanley unhitching the resurrection from the Old Testament!) Death had been victorious over mankind since Adam’s sin, as we’ve seen earlier in this chapter, but Christ’s resurrection and its consequent assurance of our resurrection supplanted death’s victory with an infinitely greater victory!

Paul elaborates on this point in verse 56. Death stings because it is the full consequence of sin. It brings us all before God’s judgment throne. Those who die apart from Christ suffer the eternal pain brought about by sin.

Sin has such tremendous power because it violates God’s law. Romans 2:14-16 demonstrates that all people, whether they’ve read the Bible or not, instinctively know His law. Furthermore, as Paul testifies in Romans 7:8-10, knowing the law has a funny way of increasing our desire to sin.

God alone deserves thanks for this victory over death. With verse 57, Paul makes sure his readers never lose sight of the Lord’s centrality in salvation.

God doesn’t give this victory to just anyone; He reserves it for Christians. He gives us the victory, as Barnes makes clear. Notice that he never bothers to address the eternal bodies of unbelievers in this section, preferring to concentrate on the wonderful hope we have as believers.

Regarding this wonderful hope, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown point out the present tense of the word here translated as “gives,” calling the victory “a present certainty.” More than the cherished hope of believers, this victory is an accomplished fact.

Most importantly, God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Going back to verses 3 and 4, we remember Christ’s atoning death that paid the penalty for our sin and His triumphant resurrection. Our resurrection happens only because of what He did.

In conclusion, Paul urges them to stand fast in the doctrine of resurrection, not allowing skeptics to sway them from their faith. Verse 58, in fact, provides the practical application of everything he’s said in this chapter. He wants them to be firm in their faith so that false teachers (such as those who deny bodily resurrection) can’t sway them from the Gospel.

Further, he encourages them to abound in their work for the Lord. Since Colossians 3:23 tells servants to work as if they’re serving the Lord, I believe we can infer that all our work is for Him. Yet there’s a special sense of work in furthering the Gospel. The promise of resurrection assures us that such work isn’t wasted.

Whew! We’ve made it through 1 Corinthians 15! I don’t know about you, but I have a much richer understanding of both Christ’s resurrection and ours as a result of this Bible Study. We’re going to take an indefinite break from Monday Bible Studies while I rest and reevaluate whether or not to keep writing these studies (very few people read them). If we do another study, however, I have my eye on Colossians. Tell me what you think.

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Looking At The Cross Costs Something

When you first heard that Jesus died for your sins, how did you respond? Did you shrug it off as a somewhat perplexing idea? Maybe you felt a measure of relief, but didn’t really think the knowledge of His sacrifice required more than a thank you and a smile from you. Perhaps you thought you needed to augment His work on the cross, making yourself worthy of salvation.

Or maybe you had comprehended the true weight of your sins against a holy God, and therefore received the message of the cross with an attitude of grateful amazement. You wondered why the Lord would bestow such grace on you. And, although you realized your total inability to pay Him back for His grace and mercy, you wanted to show your  gratitude by acknowledging His claim on your whole life.

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Pointing Fingers, Naming Names And Condemning False Teachers Isn’t All There Is To Discernment

Burning False TeachersYeah, I get it. Evangelicals flock to popular false teachers because few pastors identify these false teachers clearly. Furthermore, the leaders of far too many women’s “Bible” study groups use material from evangelical celebrities who routinely mishandle God’s Word. Certainly, we need to be deeply concerned.

John MacArthur often says that the biggest problem in the church today is the incredible lack of discernment. Even churches with solid pastors who rightly handle the Word of God have people who listen to radio teachers known for compromising truth. Women in doctrinally sound churches persist in claiming that God spoke to them personally.

So I definitely see the need for discernment bloggers. In fact, the Lord used several discernment blogs to Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: October 21 — October 27

Saturday Sampler graphic

Most evangelicals I know don’t seem to understand the significance of Reformation Day (October 31). Praise God for Michelle Lesley, who explains its importance in The Mailbag: What is Reformation Day? Please don’t ignore this blog post. And don’t ignore the Reformation.

Women like being in control. But, as Jessica Pigg writes in Biblical Woman, we need to make sure we’re Building for Eternity rather than for ourselves.

What does it mean to glorify God? Over on The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge answers that question with three challenging examples. You might be surprised and intrigued by what he has to say.

Praise God for John Divito’s marvelous article, Living the Cessationist Life, written for Founders Ministry! As a former Charismatic who loves the Holy Spirit, I wish all my Charismatic friends understood these things about Him.

Maybe Leslie A’s When It’s Time to Reap hits home for me because I turned 65 last month.  But it sure wouldn’t hurt younger women to consider the Biblical wisdom she dispenses. Her Growing 4 Life blog features many helpful posts on how to live in ways that honor the Lord.

I’ve written a lot this week about the importance of thinking critically and Biblically. By writing The Brains God Gave You, SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God encourages me that I’m not alone in seeing the need for Christians to evaluate things more thoroughly.

Living in the Greater Boston Area has familiarized me with the name of Anne Hutchinson, and I knew her theology was less than Blblical. But Elizabeth Prata really enriches our understanding of the damage a rebellious woman can do in Puritan Wives: Anne Hutchinson – Screeching usurper, or passionate devotee? And if you’re tempted to think an essay about a 17th Century New England woman has no relevance to current Christian controversies, remember that Elizabeth calls her blog The End Time for a reason. Who does Anne Hutchinson remind you of?

Go to The Domain for Truth to read SlimJim’s excellent article, Physical Beauty without Good Works is Dead. If you’re a single gal, read this as an encouragement. If you’re a mom to teenage or college age boys, have them read it. Several times. Until it oozes out of their pores! Did I mention it’s an excellent article?

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Flashback Friday: Our Teacher: Grace

3D CrossThis article first appeared in The Outspoken TULIP on September 5, 2016. I sure needed to read it today. Maybe you do too.

The doctrine of grace indeed teaches that Christians neither earn nor maintain salvation by our own efforts. Hebrews 12:2 identifies Jesus as “the founder and perfecter” of our faith, Who promised that those to whom He has given eternal life cannot be snatched from His hand (John 10:28). Therefore, a believer who lapses into sin, even for extended periods, has not lost his salvation because salvation depends solely on Jesus’ work on the cross. Our works of obedience contribute absolutely nothing to the transaction!

Some people, however, misunderstand the doctrine of grace to mean that we can give in to various temptations because God forgives us. That misunderstanding needs to be addressed. Not only does it deceive false converts into supposing that God tolerates their sin, but it ignores His holy nature.

In the past few years, the wonderful resurgence of Calvinist teaching has regretfully spawned counterfeit teachers who distort Scripture. Grace, in their eyes, becomes a permission slip to sin, particularly in regard to sexual behavior (though it’s also used to excuse other forms of sin). And such theological laxity leads to an acceptance of professing Christians allowing for premarital sex, cohabitation and “committed” homosexual relationships.

Scripture never presents such a view of God’s grace! As a matter of fact, the very apostle Paul who taught that grace emancipates us from the demands of the Law (Galatians 3:1-14) also insisted that grace leads us to live in holiness.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

As this passage demonstrates, the Lord doesn’t save us merely because of His mercy and compassion (although He certainly is merciful and compassionate). He wants His people to reflect His holiness, and consequently He gives us the grace that teaches us to reject our old patterns of sin (sexual and otherwise) in favor of living in holiness.

Grace changes us, so that obedience to the Lord becomes our objective. Not that obedience secures our salvation, but rather that it gives evidence that the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us, transforms our hearts so that we desire His holiness. We don’t dress sin up as something acceptable, expecting the Lord to smile indulgently down on our blatant rebellion against Him. Much to the contrary, we understand the magnitude of His grace, and therefore realize our indebtedness to Him. And, although we can never hope to repay our debt, gratitude swells in our hearts, filling us with a desire to honor Him.

The Lord paid completely for our salvation, and nothing on our part either brings it about or causes its revocation. But a cavalier attitude towards His grace betrays a lack of understanding that He is holy and has redeemed very unholy people. Therefore it undermines His very purpose in redeeming us! Praise Jesus that grace takes us out of sin and enables us to share in His holiness!

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