Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday

I recently saw a cartoon that a member of the church I pastor sent me. It showed a man and his wife watching television. The man said, "This Middle East violence is really getting frightening." The wife responded, "Thats Black Friday!"

We hear of the "casualities" and the "war stories" every year the day after. You know what you saw and heard and there is no need to go over the horrid stories again.

Black Friday is a product of the greed and materialism of America. What else would motivate someone to stand in line or push and run over people for their "prized" item? What else would cause a woman to bite the hand that is trying to steal the prize catch out of her grasp? They take it home to little Johnny or Susie to play with a few moments and then discard it in the graveyard of toys they have accumulated over the years.

Black Friday warriors need to understand three things. First, if they would wait they could get their prized treasure on sale later. Second, realize what they are buying is second or third tier items. Third, what would Jesus think of their action? What if they studied their Bible like they trained and strategized for Black Friday?

I am disgusted with the whole thing. This is why I like Operation Christmas Child Christmas Shoeboxes. Here you have children from all over the world who have nothing, waiting in line to receive their shoebox of toys with much appreciation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Sealing of the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:13–14, In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  (14)  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Dr. John MacArthur had this article of the sealing of the Holy Spirit...

The sealing of the Holy Spirit is a promise to those who have received Jesus Christ, God has sealed [them] in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. Every believer is given the very Holy Spirit of God the moment he trusts in Christ. “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwell-s in you,” Paul declares (Rom. 8:9a). Conversely, he goes on to say, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (v. 9b). The body of every true Christian is actually “a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in [him]” (1 Cor. 6:19).

When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his life. Life in Jesus Christ is different because the Spirit of God is now within. He is there to empower us, equip us for ministry, and function through the gifts He has given us. The Holy Spirit is our Helper and Advocate. He protects and encourages us. He also guarantees our inheritance in Jesus Christ. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). The Spirit of God is our securing force, our guarantee.
The sealing of which Paul speaks here refers to an official mark of identification that was placed on a letter, contract, or other important document. The seal usually was made from hot wax, which was placed on the document and then impressed with a signet ring. The document was thereby officially identified with and under the authority of the person to whom the signet belonged.

That is the idea behind our being sealed in Him [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise. The seal of God’s Spirit in the believer signifies four primary things: security, authenticity, ownership, and authority.

Security. In ancient times the seal of a king, prince, or noble represented security and inviolability. When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius, along with his nobles, placed their seals on the stone placed over the entrance to the den, “so that nothing might be changed in regard to Daniel” (Dan. 6:17). Any person but the king who broke or disturbed that seal would likely have forfeited his life. In a similar way the tomb where Jesus was buried was sealed. Fearing that Jesus’ disciples might steal His body and falsely claim His resurrection, the Jewish leaders obtained Pilate’s permission to place a seal on the stone and to guard it with soldiers (Matt. 27:62–66).

In an infinitely greater way, the Holy Spirit secures each believer, marking him with His own inviolable seal.

Authenticity. When King Ahab tried unsuccessfully to get Naboth to sell or trade his vineyard, Queen Jezebel volunteered to get the vineyard her way. “So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal” and sent the letters to various nobles who lived in Naboth’s city, demanding that they arrange false accusations of blasphemy and treason against him. The nobles did as they were instructed, and Naboth was stoned to death because of the false charges. The king then simply confiscated the vineyard he had so strongly coveted (1 Kings 21:6–16). Despite the deceptions contained in the letters Jezebel sent, the letters themselves were authentically from the king, because they were sent with his approval and marked with his seal. The seal was his signature.

When God gives us His Holy Spirit, it is as if He stamps us with a seal that reads, “This person belongs to Me and is an authentic citizen of My divine kingdom and member of My divine family.”

Ownership. While Jerusalem was under siege by Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah was under arrest by King Zedekiah for prophesying against the king and the nation, the Lord gave special instructions to His prophet. Jeremiah was told to buy some land in Anathoth for which he had redemption rights. The contract was agreed on, and the stipulated payment was made in the court of the palace guard before the required number of witnesses. In the presence of the witnesses the deed was signed and sealed, establishing Jeremiah as the new legal owner of the property (Jer. 32:10).

When the Holy Spirit seals believers, He marks them as God’s divine possessions, who from that moment on entirely and eternally belong to Him, The Spirit’s seal declares the transaction of salvation as divinely official and final.

Authority. Even after Haman had been hanged for his wicked plot to defame and execute Mordecai, Queen Esther was distressed about the decree that Haman had persuaded King Ahasuerus to make that permitted anyone in his kingdom to attack and destroy the Jews. Because the king could not even himself revoke the decree that was marked with his own seal, he issued and sealed another decree that permitted and even encouraged the Jews to arm and defend themselves (Esther 8:8–12). In both cases the absolute authority of the decrees was represented in the king’s seal.

Those who possessed the sealed decree of the king had the king’s delegated authority set forth in the decree.

When Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit they are delegated to proclaim, teach, minister, and defend God’s Word and His gospel with the Lord’s own authority.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Does God Change His Mind?

Does God Change His Mind?


Can God engage in Divine repentance? If God is immutable, if He does not change at all, does that mean He never changes His mind? The Scriptures seem to indicate He does and He doesn’t.

Let the Scripture speak…

(Exodus 32:11) And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

(Exodus 32:12)  Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

(Exodus 32:13)  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

(Exodus 32:14)  And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

God relented or repented. God changed His mind. These Scriptures seem to indicate that God can change His mind. Yet we have others that indicate God doesn’t change His mind.

(Numbers 23:19)  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

(Numbers 23:20)  Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

(1 Samuel 15:29)  And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

Is there a contradiction in Scripture?

The Bible uses human terms to describe God. The Bible speaks of Him becoming angry, having arms, hands, a face, and feet. God is not a man that He should relent [change His mind] 1 Sam. 15:29

In regard to Exodus 31:14 it would appear that God changed His mind because Moses showed God a better way. It is unthinkable that God can be corrected by infallible man.

Did God overlook the consequences of punishing His people? Without the help of Moses God would have made a hasty and foolish mistake?

This is blasphemy to talk in such terms. If we try to find too much theology in narrative passages we can easily go beyond the point of the narrative into serious errors.

These Biblical narratives in which God seems to repent, or change His mind, are almost always narratives that deal with His threats of judgment and punishment. These threats are followed by repentance of the people or by intercessory petitions of their leaders. God does not or can be talked into changing His mind. He does not punish sinners who repent and turn from their evil ways.

Who is ultimately repenting in Exodus 32: 11-14?  God never repents in the sense that He turns away from sin or from error. God is never corrected by man or given any insight by man.

Dr. John MacArthur says, “Moses' appeal for God to change His mind, to relent, succeeded because God had only threatened judgment not decreed it. A divine intention is not an unchangeable divine decree. Decrees or sworn declarations (cf. Gen. 22:16-18; Psa. 110:4) or categorical statements of not changing or relenting (cf. Jer. 4:28; Ezek. 24:14; Zech. 8:14-15) are unconditional and bind the speaker to the stated course of action regardless of the circumstances or reactions of the listeners. Intentions retain a conditional element and do not necessarily bind the speaker to a stated course of action (cf. Jer. 15:6; 18:8-10; 26:3, 13, 19; Joel 2:13; John 3:9-10; 4:2).

William McDonald in the Believer’s Bible Commentary says, “Moses recognized that the people had sinned so he did not seek to justify their actions. As a result God relented of His threatened course of judgment. The word “relented” does not mean that God changed His mind but that He embarked on another course of action. The Hebrew word nāḥam suggests relief or comfort from a planned, undesirable course of action.”

If God can change His mind, what is there to say that He will not change His mind about my salvation?