Is God Too Loving To Display Wrath?

Many people distinguish between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, almost as if He was two different Beings. According to their theology, the New Testament version of God has evidently reformed His wrathful ways, becoming entirely loving to the point of indulging human sins. Anyone who suggests that God still expresses wrath is, as a reader of this blog recently stated, toxic.

Certainly, we’d all prefer to focus on God’s love. I would! Nobody really takes pleasure in the idea that they anger God when they sin against Him, especially if He reserved the right to unleash His anger in a day of final judgment. So we isolate His love and mercy, convincing ourselves that He’s put all thoughts of wrath behind Him. Thus we snuggle into a nice, comfortable view of God that insulates us from all fear of judgment. As Andy Stanley famously said, we can “unhitch from the Old Testament.”

Such “unhitching” may be convenient, but it has an arrogance about it that we ought to acknowledge. Essentially, discarding the possibility of God’s wrath tacitly declares that we have authority to determine His nature and, consequently, His behavior toward us. As we shape Him into what we think He should be, we make Him manageable and keep ourselves in control of our relationship with Him.

More to the point, does the New Testament really annul the wrath of God? A thorough reading of the New Testament quickly puts that notion to rest — especially once you get to Revelation and read about the judgments that God will pour out during the Tribulation. I’ll not cover that section of the Bible right now. Instead, let me go to a passage in Romans about God’s love in saving us from His wrath.

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Saturday Sampler: August 21 — August 27

I’ve been on both extremes of viewing my salvation that Elizabeth Prata describes in If in fact the Spirit dwells in you… This study of the assurance of salvation, published in The End Time, addresses both over-confident false converts and insecure believers. A diligent student of God’s Word, Elizabeth uses Scripture in its context to help readers discern their standing with God.

If John and I could have had children, homeschooling would have been the only option we’d consider. In contrast, Tim Challies allowed each of his children to choose. His youngest has decided to complete her final two years of high school at home. The Day We Became Homeschoolers shares her surprisingly mature reasons for deciding that homeschool is best for her. It gives first-person evidence that public schools in Canada indoctrinate children. As you read, bear in mind that the United States generally follows Canada’s lead.

If Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins, why does the Bible indicate judgment for believers? Clint Archer answers this question by writing Reckonings & Rewards: Back to the Future, Part 6 for The Cripplegate.

Answering a question from one of her readers, Michelle Lesley writes The Mailbag: When OMG a 3CV? This blog post will make you think about how you use the Lord’s Name both in casual conversation and in your personal prayer time. I’m not sure we take the Third Commandment as seriously as we ought, so I applaud Michelle for writing this piece.

Reflecting on his recent Twitter exchange with Beth Moore, Josh Buice explores the topic of how Christians express love. Do I Love Beth Moore? Y/N appears in the G3 Ministries Blog, thoughtfully working through Biblical types of love as opposed to worldly expectations and presumptions. He reminds me that clear communication depends on clearly defining terms before demanding a yes or no answer.

J. Alan Branch contributes to For the Church with a fascinating retelling of how Joseph Smith twisted a passage in Isaiah to cover up for one of his many outlandish claims. How Dangerous Hermeneutics Can Inform False Teachers is about more than a nasty episode in Mormon history, however. It points to the necessity of proper Bible interpretation to avoid error.

Yoga Mats In The Sanctuary

Why would a church that had “Bible” in its name offer a yoga class?

In the past several years, many evangelical churches have either encouraged their people to attend so-called “Christian” yoga classes or they have offered such classes themselves. Strangely, few Christians seem bothered by the historical link between yoga and Hinduism, apparently accepting the popular assumption that the physical exercises can be separated from their spiritual origins. Sadly, Hindu yoga practitioners almost universally refute this idea. Appealing to the Hindu scriptures, a writer for Yoga International explains:

According to the scriptures, hatha yoga is a complete path leading to physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual illumination. Hatha yoga practices combine asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), concentration, and meditation. The word hatha is itself an indication of the goals and objectives of this practice: ha means “sun,” and tha means “moon.” Thus, “hatha yoga” is the practice that enables a practitioner to balance his or her solar and lunar energies. Hatha yoga practices create a state of harmony in body and mind by balancing the solar and lunar, masculine and feminine, active and passive aspects of oneself. Unless you combine the disciplines associated with breathing and meditation with the physical postures, you cannot expect to achieve this harmonious state. And without this inner harmony, we waste a great deal of our time and energy fighting the distractions and disturbances arising from both the inner and outer worlds.

People in so-called “Christian” yoga classes may very well use the yoga poses as nothing more than stretching exercises, but eastern yoga practitioners would argue that they don’t practice true yoga if they make this separation. On that point, we’d do well to avoid misrepresenting our exercise routines as yoga.

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A Landmark Anniversary And Thoughts About Marriage For People With Disabilities

Okay, so for most of you, August 24, 2002 was just an average summer Saturday. You probably can’t remember what you did that day, nor do you really care. I understand. Saturdays come and go usually without much fanfare, and 2002 was, after all, 20 years ago.

But on that Saturday, my life changed dramatically. I entered the church as a single woman, and left it as Mrs. John A. Kespert. Your average summer Saturday turned almost everything in my life upside down and inside out as I started living with a man for the first time since my father died 39 years earlier. These past 20 years have taken me in directions I couldn’t have imagined, sometimes exposing my sin and sometimes showing me the grace of the Lord in the midst of trials. I’ve seen John’s feet of clay, and I’ve seen his Christlike character.

Landmark occasions all but demand some sort of retrospective commentary. But how does a blogger sift through 20 years of memories to come up with a post that will minister to her readers?

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Saturday Sampler: August 14 — August 20

What Can a Heart Do? by Tim Challies might strike you as a little odd in the first few paragraphs, but keep reading. It’s a fascinating article that will give you plenty of food for thought.

If you need help understanding eschatology as much as I do, Clint Archer’s current series in The Cripplegate is a blessing. Granted, The Great Tribulation: Back to the Future, Part 5 may not exactly feel like a blessing, as Clint himself admits. Still, it blessed me to have him walk me through the Scriptures to give me a handle on the chronology of end time events. I can’t recommend this blog post too highly!

What does the Bible really say about lawsuits? Michelle Lesley explores that question by writing The Mailbag: Should I Sue? Her response looks at Scripture, discussing its context, and from there examines some possible ramifications of filing a suit. She also directs us to seek both Biblical and legal counseling in order to make a wise and godly decision.

Leslie A recently had a conversation that made her think about Our Best and Highest Endeavor as Christians. The point she makes in this post in Growing 4 Life is so simple, and yet it makes a case for a practice that (to our shame) we often neglect. Think about her point, asking the Lord if you need to grow in this matter.

Just after I published my article on shut-ins, Michelle Lesley ran a Guest Post: Ministering to the Sick: More than a Checklist by Melissa Morris. Melissa speaks as someone all too familiar with catastrophic illness, so she provides a helpful insider’s perspective.

Inspired by teaching in her home church, Elizabeth Prata writes ACTS: A prayer method for The End Time. Even if you know this popular approach to prayer (I’ve been using it for over ten years), you may find her interpretation of it refreshing. The Scriptures she uses are especially beautiful, and well worth your consideration.

Leopard Print Mini Skirts On 75-Year-Old Women Don’t Exactly Depict Reverence

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, ~~Titus 2:3 (NASB95)

My mom dated a few men after Daddy died, which was definitely understandable. She was only 49 when she began dating — much too young to forget about romance. My sister and I correctly sensed that the first one didn’t like children, which was undoubtedly why we didn’t like him.

But we absolutely adored his mother! At age 75, she had flaming red hair, which she styled in one of the trendy short cuts so popular in 1965. I still remember her leopard print mini skirt and her thigh high brown leather boots. Why couldn’t our own grandmother dress like that? Best of all, she shared our enthusiasm for the Beatles! Mom taught us the word “flamboyant,” using it to describe her. And I so hoped that I would be as flamboyant when I got that old.

That lady amused us. We’d laugh at her obvious attempts to appear young and with it, aware of the incongruity between her age and her demeanor. As much as we delighted in her mini skirts and embrace of our music, something deep down told us that she wasn’t behaving with the dignity befitting an elderly woman.

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Shut-Ins Mustn’t Be Shut Out

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. ~~Romans 12:4-5 (NASB95)

Before I say anything else, let me be perfectly clear. If you are able to get in a car and go anywhere, you have no excuse for missing church. Attending a local church and actively serving as a member of that church is absolutely essential, and I’m by no means writing this article to suggest that you should stay home on Sunday mornings and “do” church by watching a live streamed service. For most Christians, physically being with the Body is a no-brainer.

That said, John and I have been unable to attend our wonderful church for almost three years because of various circumstances — most notably my back problems. I’m improving, and we hope the Sunday will come when we once again enter that building to worship the Lord with our cherished church family.

For now however, the Lord has graciously provided live streams of the Sunday morning service and the Wednesday night Bible Study. Additionally, one of the elders comes to our apartment on Friday mornings to teach Bible Study and occasionally give us the Lord’s Supper. The church administrator emails us the Sunday bulletin and the weekly Prayer Guide. In return, we stay faithful in our giving, praying daily for the church. As far as I can, I use this blog to represent our church, asking the elders to oversee it. Despite being shut-ins, therefore, John and I feel connected to our church.

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Saturday Sampler: August 7 — August 13

In her post for TheoThoughts, Lisa Spencer challenges certain tweets from the Woke crowd by writing Can we only imagine? on race and ethnicity in the eschaton. She introduces this piece with a disclaimer that some of her points are only speculation. I’m not sure about that. Practically everything she says lines up with Scripture as far as I can tell. And her emphasis on the main focus of God’s Kingdom is absolutely beautiful!

As a pastor’s wife, Melissa of Your Mom Has A Blog joins her husband when he counsels married couples. She draws on her counseling experience — as well as her own 23 years of marriage — to write Dishes and Divorce: Why Little Things Can Lead to a Breakup. Even if you’ve been married for a while, her insight can serve as encouragement to keep your marriage healthy.

In his G3 Ministries Blog, Josh Buice confronts the latest trend among evangelicals. Dear Christian, Stop Being Winsome challenges the idea that we must avoid offending people, even if that avoidance requires us to compromise truth. He lists several examples from Scripture of behavior that was decidedly not winsome.

Do you struggle with the sin of complaining? I sure do! So I appreciate Leslie A for writing It’s All in How You Look at It in Growing 4 Life. It’s amazing to see how this woman gets such profound spiritual lessons out of mundane things like clouds and reading glasses.

Gentle Reformation features An On-Going Battle by Kyle E Sims. He gives a hopeful and encouraging perspective on the seemingly endless struggle against sin. I read it soon after a discouraging time of confessing sins that I’d thought I’d made significant progress mortifying, finding a wonderful sense of relief and joy in God’s grace. Maybe this post will offer you similar reassurance.

Once again. Beth Moore has drawn attention to herself by justifying her rebellious action of preaching in a Sunday morning church service. In an essay for The End Time, Elizabeth Prata explains that The Bible is clear: Women cannot be pastors or teach men. This even includes Beth Moore. Elizabeth is, in my opinion, the leading authority on this particular false teacher, having researched her extensively for over a decade.

In his post for Knowable Word, Peter Krol writes Context Matters: The Whole Armor of God to show how that famous passage from Ephesians 6 fits into the epistle as a whole. I especially like his emphasis on the Lord’s strength as we battle against spiritual forces.

Leslie A has a second blog post this week, again drawing on her simple experience as a grandmother to make a spiritual application. A Lesson from the Candy Store warns us about the ways false teachers easily deceive us.

Throwback Thursday: “But My Experience Is CHRISTIAN!”

Originally published August 9, 2018:

Experience Bible

If you want attention on Facebook, simply post something to the effect that God no longer speaks directly to people. Even better, include a quote by Justin Peters. You’ll get impassioned (though occasionally nasty) diatribes in your comments feed for days!

Once in a while, someone will argue from Scripture. I respect such people, even if I disagree with their application of God’s Word. At least they want to remain Biblical in their stand for continualist teaching.

The vast majority of continualists, however, rely primarily on their personal experiences to refute the notion that God only speaks to us from His Word now that the Apostolic Age has ended. For them, personal experience is the final word, against which no one can argue. Indeed, anyone who dares to argue must be condemned as a hypocritical Pharisee who has been deceived by Calvinism. As such, claims that God speaks exclusively through Scripture must be dismissed.

I’ve written several articles demonstrating from God’s Word that the closed canon of Scripture necessitates that God has given us all the revelation we need until Christ returns, and I anticipate writing more such articles in the near future. As long as professing Christians attack the sufficiency of Scripture, we absolutely must stand firm on the ground that we need nothing more than what the Holy Spirit has provided through Sacred Writ.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

As a former Charismatic who remained a partial continualist for several years,  I well understand the difficulty of thinking that a cherished experience might not have been a personal revelation from the Lord. When I challenge my continualist friends to examine their experiences and consider the possibility that God didn’t directly speak to them, my stance hurts them. Believe me, I get that!

But it doesn’t work to refute cessationist teaching by appealing to personal experiences. As I demonstrated yesterday,  personal experience fails as an evangelism tool because Mormons, atheists and liberal “Christians” can come back at us with experiences supporting their beliefs. Experiences can always be challenged with conflicting experiences.

It’s ineffective, therefore, to use personal experience as a substantiation for either Charismatic or continualist teaching. Sure, such stories tug at the emotions, but they don’t often direct people back to the Bible. Please, continualists, use God’s Word to make your case.

Eat Some Of The Ice Cream, But Don’t Give Up

“That’s it — I’m done!”

John has lost count of the times I’ve declared those words out of frustration and hopelessness. Maybe you’ve also thrown up your hands and made similar pronouncements. Indeed, life can feel overwhelming, especially with all the horrible things happening lately. Sometimes we feel like crawling into a cave with a quart of chocolate double fudge ice cream while we pray for the Rapture. We get tired of trying to maintain godly attitudes when everything around us is falling apart. Believe me, ladies: I understand the desire to just give up!

As Christians, however, we know that the Lord calls us to persevere when life gets tough. Titus 2:2, as a matter of fact, instructs older men to set the example of being sound in doctrine, love and perseverance for the rest of the Church. As women, we have the responsibility to follow this example. We must keep most of that ice cream in the freezer and trust the Lord to take us through the difficulties and sufferings that surround us.

But what exactly is perseverance, and why should Christians persevere through trials? That cave with the ice cream seems a whole lot more comforting, and we really get sick of pushing through one trial after another. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to urge Christians to persevere?

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