ON MY FATHER'S SIDE

A Song by The Barn Again Gang


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5ddoyfn6g4


See the perspectives of Jesus ON His mother's side
and On HIS FATHER'S SIDE

Followers

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

7 Daily Steps To Trust In The Lord With All Your Heart

7 Daily Steps to Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart


John UpChurch | Senior Editor
7 Daily Steps to Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Perhaps you’ve been told that as a Christian you must learn to “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” But this famous passage from Proverbs 3 contains more than just a general statement about living. Instead, you’ll find the steps you need each day to truly walk with God.
Follow these 7 daily steps to make sure you’re leaning on the Lord:

1. Don’t Depend on You

We live in a world where trust must be earned and seems to be in short supply. But Solomon, the famous king who wrote Proverbs, knew that trust is exactly where we must start:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)
Most of us have faced disappointments, which have taught us that we can only depend upon ourselves. But living the life God has called us to means unlearning that lesson. Instead, we’re meant to rest in God’s understanding.
We may know in our minds that He possesses all wisdom:
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” Romans 11:33
But sometimes trusting Him completely like that can be tough. So, each day we must consciously lay aside our own plans and expectations—and surrender to His plans.
What if we don’t feel like we can trust Him like that? That’s where step 2 comes in…

2. Cry out to God

Surrendering to God begins with our lips and our thoughts. We need more than a commitment to depend on Him; we need to cry out to Him to show that dependence.
“in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6)
When we pray, we admit that His ways are higher than ours. We show that we’re leaving our troubles and burdens and dreams in His capable hands. In fact, the Bible promises that when we reach out to Him in prayer, He hears us:
“Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. ” (Psalm 55:17)
We handed the keys of our lives to Him, and we know that He’s able to lead us. But in order for that to work, we have to…

3. Run from Evil

So much in this world can clutter up our relationship with God. John, the writer of the fourth gospel, describes them as the desires of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride in our lives (1 John 2:16). In other words, our blessings can easily become our stumbling blocks when we think of them as what we deserve or what we need to be happy.
Instead, life works best when we remember the true source of our blessings—God—and focus on the things that please Him:
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7)
Sometimes, the only way to live the life God wants us to live is by separating ourselves from the bad influences that keep dragging us down. That works the best when we start pursuing something else in their place:
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
Is that easy? Not at all. Fleeing from the evil desires that pull at us means spending a lot of time crying out to God and leaning on Him. But our Creator promises to honor our commitment to Him when we shun evil:
“This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:8)
When we pursue Him, we find life—abundant life. Running from evil and pursuing God doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Instead, it means we have to make a serious change:

4. Put God First in Your Life

It’s easiest to put ourselves first. When something good happens, we want to congratulate ourselves with a reward. When something bad happens, we want to console ourselves or find someone to blame. In other words, we often have a “me-centric” starting place.
And when it comes to money, the struggle is even harder. But Solomon, who had quite a bit of wealth himself, knew that his money didn’t belong to him:
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9–10)
If we can trust God with the first of our wealth, we’re truly showing how much we depend on Him. Handing over the first part of our paycheck takes a huge amount of faith, after all. But doing so means being God-centric.
To get there, though, make sure you…

5. Check Yourself by God’s Word

Let’s be honest. We aren’t so good at evaluating ourselves. We will go to great lengths to excuse our behavior, our actions, and our sins. Who needs a defense attorney when we can pretty much find a reason for any bad thing we do? The prophet Jeremiah captures this very well:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
If we’re ever going to truly trust in God and flee evil, we have to know exactly where we stand. We have to find an objective measure that tells us the truth. And that truth comes from God and His Word.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll always like what we see or how we see it:
“My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke” (Proverbs 3:11)
That’s right. Sometimes it takes something bad happening or seeing ourselves in a bad light before we finally admit that we need to change. And the more we’re in the Bible, the more likely this is to happen.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
When we have Scripture planted firmly in our hearts, God will often use that to deal with us.

6. Listen to the Holy Spirit

When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the church, He told His disciples that this Counselor would be their spiritual compass or GPS:
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
As we go through our day, this same Holy Spirit guides us, too. That means we don’t have to go it alone or hope we’re getting it right. No, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and protects us:
“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14)
After all, the gift of the Holy Spirit to us believers reminds us that we can truly…

7. Rest in God’s Love

When we face a difficult world each day, we can sometimes wonder if God even cares. Why do bad things happen? Where is God when I need Him? Solomon reminds us that God never takes a break or leaves us to fend for ourselves:
“because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:12)
Even in the midst of turmoil, God sticks with us and uses those challenges to shape us. When we understand that, our perspective completely flips. No longer do we see our setbacks as failures; we see them as moments when God, as our loving Father, works on us.
And that’s exactly why we can trust in the Lord with all our hearts. He cares for us each and every day. He gives us what we need to thrive. He pours blessing after blessing upon us.
Of course, following each of these daily steps isn’t easy. That’s why Jesus said we have to deny ourselves and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Trusting God takes a whole-hearted commitment from dawn till dusk. But we’re never alone in it:
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

That None Should Perish


                                           THAT NONE SHOULD PERISH

The Lord wants all people to come to repentance and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and savior so that none should perish. The Lord never intended man to suffer the loss of eternal life and suffer eternal torment in hell. He wants all men to be saved that was why He sent His only begotten Son- Jesus Christ to suffer an excruciating death on the cross as expiation and ransom for mankind's sins. But there is a price for God's grace of salvation and that is, to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and surrender our lives to Him. Those who will refuse God's offer of the grace of salvation will be condemned to spiritual death and eternal punishment in the flames of hell together with Satan and his minions. We are all encouraged by God to spread the Gospel of salvation to the whole world so that none should perish. Most people fail to realize the gravity of the situation. They make all kinds of rationalization not to avail of God's grace of salvation most often because of self pride and they don't want to give up their sinful lives. They want to please themselves and not God and want to enjoy the pleasures of wanton living. Thus they give all kinds of excuses not to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and surrender their lives to Him. One of the most common excuses is "all streams lead to the same ocean." That means all religions, philosophies and beliefs lead to salvation of man's soul. This is farthest from the truth. Acts 4:12 states that, "There is no other name under heaven that was given to men by which we must be saved." John 14: 6 says, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me." We must do our utmost best to spread the Gospel of salvation so that none should perish.

Intimacy With God


                                       INTIMACY WITH GOD

What do Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Paul have in common. They all walked in the will of God and had great intimate relationship with Him. Enoch did not die. He was taken up to heaven by God because he walked with God. Of all the people of the earth during the time of the global deluge, only Noah, his wife and his sons and his sons wives survived the cataclysm all because of Noah's intimacy with God. Thus God used Noah, his wife and his sons and his sons wives to repopulate the earth whose entire population was wiped out during the deluge. Abram was called by God to settle in the land of Canaan and become the father of God's chosen people. Thus his name was changed to Abraham by God. Abraham believed God and all His promises and they were all credited to him as righteousness by God. Tested by God, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son to God in obedience to God's command. David killed the giant Goliath and firmly established the greatness of God and Israel. It was said that David heart was after that of the Lord and God rewarded him with a mighty kingdom. Paul was a recipient of Jesus Christ apparition on the road to Damascus. Thus the once dreaded scourge of the early Christians was designated by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles. From then on, Paul immersed himself to the propagation of the early Christian church, suffering so many trials and deprivations but unwavering in his efforts to spread the word of God to the whole world and expand the fledgling Christina church. We owe to Paul the rapid expanse of the Christian church as we know it today.

We have to follow their examples if we want to have great intimacy with God. We should walk by faith not by sight and must do everything for the glory of God alone. We must imitate Christ in all that we must do and become totally selfless like Him. And if God so desires, we must be willing to sacrifice our very lives for the sake of others. And after our life has ended, we will be welcomed by God with open arms and we will hear these words from His lips, "well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome to My kingdom." 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

One Hundred Bible Lessons - Alban Douglas - Lesson 15


                                    ONE HUNDRED BIBLE LESSONS - ALBAN DOUGLAS
                                                   LESSON 15

                                             THE COMMANDS OF CHRIST

                
                                            INTRODUCTION

The idea for this lesson came from an issue of the "Herald of  His Coming" which lists 147 commandments seven under each of the 21 headings.
(The Great Commission Prayer League lists 173 commandments of Christ taken from the Epistles and Revelation, whereas this lesson confines itself to the Gospels).
This is a day of extreme lawlessness with many believing that Christ abolished or fulfilled the law and left us with one vague commandment - love.


                                 I - REPENTANCE

Repentance is twofold: turning from sin and turning to God.
Matthew 4: 17 "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Luke 13: 24 "Strive to enter in at the straight gate: for many... shall not be able."
Matthew 6: 33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness."


                              II - BELIEF

We are to believe the Gospel, believe in Christ and in the Father.
Mark 1: 15 "Repent ye, and believe the Gospel." This was spoken by Jesus not John.
John 14: 1 "Ye believe in God, believe also in Me." This is a definite command.
John 6: 29 "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent."



                            III - THE NEW BIRTH

The new birth is the mysterious operation of the Spirit that converts.
John 3: 7 "Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again."
Luke 10: 20 "Rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
Matthew 12: 33 "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit." Conversion is the only solution.


                           IV - RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT

Each Christian is to be Spirit indwelt and empowered.
John 20: 22 "He breathed on them and said unto them, 'Receive you the Holy Ghost."
luke 24: 49 "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power."


                          V - FOLLOWING JESUS

The believer has no choice but to follow Jesus implicitly.
John 12: 26 If any man serve Me, let him follow Me."
Luke 9: 23 If any man will come after Me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
John 21: 22 "Follow thou Me."
Luke 5: 27 (Christ to Matthew) "Follow Me."


                       VI - PRAYER

The Christian's life is to be characterized by prayer.
Luke 21: 36 "Watch ye therefore, and pray always."
Luke 22: 40 "Pray that ye enter not into temptation."
Luke 10: 2 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest."
Luke 6: 28 "Pray for them which despitefully use you."   


                       VII - FAITH

The believer is made great because he has faith in a great God.
Mark 11: 22 "Have faith in God." This is absolutely essential.
John 20: 27 "Be not faithless, but believing." Away with unbelief.
Matthew 14: 27 'Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Saint Must Walk Alone

The Saint Must Walk Alone


A.W. Tozer |
The Saint Must Walk Alone Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Most of the world's great souls have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.
In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation), that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.
Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.
Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There, alone with a horror of great darkness upon him, he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.
Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There, while he watched his sheep alone, the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.
The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.
Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and all the prophets did write, treading His lonely way to the cross. His deep loneliness was unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.
'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
'Tis midnight; in the garden now,
The suffering Savior prays alone.
'Tis midnight, and from all removed
The Savior wrestles lone with fears;
E'en the disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.
- William B. Tappan
He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of the tomb, though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to what they saw. There are some things too sacred for any eye but God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.
Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and `Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"
Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him, and fled."
The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share inner experiences, he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.
The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own soul - and who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord's house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, "He has seen a vision."
The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none, he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd - that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum bonum.
Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.
The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the brokenhearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world, he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. "God will not suffer you to lose anything by it," he told them. "You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you." This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.
The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.

Does God Ever Change His Mind?

Does God Ever Change His Mind?


Sam Storms | Senior Pastor, Bridgeway Church
Does God Ever Change His Mind? Wednesday, February 25, 2015
All people are fickle, in varying degrees. I suspect we’d be shocked to learn how many times in the course of a normal day we change our plans, reverse course, or pull out an eraser to delete an appointment or a task we had set for the week. Changing our minds feels so natural to us as humans, it’s hard to envision life without it. In most instances the changes are harmless and typically result from unforeseeable circumstances, as well as the alterations that other people make that directly affect us. But what would it mean for God to change his mind? Does he? Could he? Or are all his plans and purposes immutable?
The importance of defining our theological terms with precision is most evident in the case of divine immutability. Here is a word that in contemporary evangelical circles evokes either protest or praise. Some see it as a threat to the biblical portrait of a God who does indeed change: he changes his mind (“repents”) and he changes his mode of being (“the Word became flesh”). Others are equally concerned that a careless tampering with this attribute of God will reduce him to a fickle, unfaithful, and ultimately unworthy object of our affection and worship. It is imperative, therefore, that we proceed cautiously, and yet with conviction, in the explanation of the sense in which God both can and cannot change.
Immutability as Consistency of Character
The immutability of God is related to, but clearly distinct from, his eternity. In saying that God is eternal, in the sense of everlasting, we mean that he always has existed and always will exist. He was preceded by nothing and shall be succeeded by nothing. In saying that God is immutable we mean that he is consistently the same in his eternal being. The Being, who eternally is, never changes. This affirmation of unchangeableness, however, is not designed to deny that there is change and development in God’s relations to his creatures. Consider the following:
  • We who were once his enemies are now by the grace of Christ his friends (Romans 5:6-11).
  • The God who declared his intention to destroy Nineveh for its sin “changed” his mind upon its repentance (more on this below).
  • Furthermore, this affirmation of immutability must not be interpreted in such a way that “the Word became flesh” is threatened (John 1:14). We must acknowledge (our salvation depends upon it!) that he who is in his eternal being very God became, in space-time history, very man. Yet the Word who became flesh did not cease to be the Word (no transubstantiation here!). The second person of the Trinity has taken unto himself or assumed a human nature, yet without alteration or reduction of his essential deity. He is now what he has always been: very God. He is now what he once was not: very man. He is now and forever will be both: the God-man. It is a simplistic and ill-conceived doctrine of immutability that denies any part of this essential biblical truth.
Thus, to say without qualification that God cannot change or that he can and often does change is at best unwise and at worst misleading. Our concept of immutability must be formulated in such a way that we do justice to every biblical assertion concerning both the “being” and “becoming” of God.
Clearly, then, to say that God is immutable is not to say that he is immobile or static, for whereas all change is activity, not all activity is change. It is simply to affirm that God always is and acts in perfect harmony with the revelation of himself and his will in Scripture. For example, Scripture tells us that God is good, just, and loving. Immutability, or constancy, simply asserts that when the circumstances in any situation call for goodness, justice, or love as the appropriate response on the part of the Deity, that is precisely what God will be (or do, as the case may be). To say the same thing, but negatively: if God ought to be good, just, or loving as the circumstances may demand, or as his promises would require, he will by no means ever be evil, unfair, or hateful.
Immutability means that the God who in Scripture is said to be omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent has not been, is not, and never will be—under any and all imaginable circumstances—localized, ignorant, or impotent. What he is, he always is. To be more specific, God is immutable in respect to (1) his essential being (which is to say that God can neither gain nor lose attributes); (2) his life (God neither became nor is becoming; his life never began, nor will it ever end); (3) his moral character (God can become neither better nor worse); and (4) his purpose or plan (God’s decree is unalterable). Let’s look briefly at each of these in turn.
Constancy of Being, Life, Character, and Plan
Immutability is a property that belongs to the divine essence in the sense that God can neither gain new attributes, which he didn’t have before, nor lose those already his. To put it crudely, God doesn’t grow. There is no increase or decrease in the divine Being. If God would increase (either quantitatively or qualitatively), he would necessarily have been incomplete prior to the change. If God were to decrease, he would be, necessarily, incomplete after the change. The Deity, then, is incapable of development either positively or negatively. He neither evolves nor devolves. His attributes, considered individually, can never be greater or less than what they are and have always been. God will never be wiser, more loving, more powerful, or holier than he ever has been and ever must be.
This is at least implied in God’s declaration to Moses, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14), and is explicit in other texts:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
When we talk about the immutability of God’s life, we are very close to the notion of eternality or everlastingness. We are saying that God never began to be and will never cease to be. His life simply is. He did not come into existence (for to become existent is a change from nothing to something), nor will he go out of existence (for to cease existing is a change from something to nothing). God is not young or old: he simply is. Thus, we read:
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end. (Psalms 102:25-27)
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalms 90:2; cf. Psalms 93:2)
Immutability may also be predicated of God’s moral character. He can become neither better (morally) nor worse than what he is. If God could change (or become) in respect to his moral character, it would be either for the better or the worse. If for the better, it would indicate that he was morally imperfect or incomplete antecedent to the time of change, and hence never God. If for the worse, it would indicate that he is now morally less perfect or complete than before, and hence no longer God. It will not do to say that God might conceivably change from one perfect Being into another equally perfect Being. For one must then specify in what sense he has changed. What constitutes God as different in the second mode of being from what he was in the first? Does he have more attributes, fewer attributes, better or worse attributes? If God in the second mode of being had the same attributes (both quantitatively and qualitatively), in what sense would he be different from what he was in the first mode of being?
To deny immutability to God’s purpose or plan would be no less an affront to the Deity than to predicate change of his being, life, and character. There are, as I understand, only two reasons why God would ever be forced or need to alter his purpose: (1) if he lacked the necessary foresight or knowledge to anticipate any and all contingencies (in which case he would not be omniscient, contrary to the claims of open theism); or (2) if, assuming he had the needed foresight, he lacked the power or ability to effect what he had planned (in which case he would not be omnipotent). But since God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge, there can be no error or oversight in the conception of his purpose. Also, since he is infinite in power (omnipotent), there can be no failure or frustration in the accomplishment of his purpose.
The many and varied changes in the relationship that God sustains to his creatures, as well as the more conspicuous events of redemptive history, are not to be thought of as indicating a change in God’s being or purpose. They are, rather, the execution in time of purposes eternally existing in the mind of God. For example, the abolition of the Mosaic covenant was no change in God’s will; it was, in fact, the fulfillment of his will, an eternal will that decreed change (from the Mosaic to the new covenant). Christ’s coming and work were no makeshift action to remedy unforeseen defects in the Old Testament scheme. They were but the realization (historical and concrete) of what God had from eternity decreed.
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
(Psalms 33:10-11; cf. Psalms 110:4)
The Lord of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand. (Isaiah 14:24)
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, “My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,”
calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:9-11).
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21)
But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does. (Job 23:13)
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath. (Hebrews 6:17)
Can God Change His Mind?
No treatment of the doctrine of immutability would be complete without a discussion of the problem posed by God’s alleged “repentance.” If God’s plan is unalterable and he is immutable, in what sense can it be said that he “changed his mind”?
The Hebrew word typically translated “change his mind” or “repent” is nacham. This word actually has a rather wide range of meanings, including everything from experiencing emotional pain such as grief or sorrow (cf. Genesis 6:6-7; Exodus 13:17; Judges 21:6, Judges 21:15; 1 Samuel 15:11, 1 Samuel 15:35; Job 42:6; Jeremiah 31:19), to the experience of being comforted (cf. Genesis 24:67; Genesis 27:42; Genesis 37:35; Genesis 38:12; 2 Samuel 13:39; Psalms 77:3; Psalms 119:52; Isaiah 1:24; Jeremiah 31:15; Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 14:22; Ezekiel 31:16; Ezekiel 32:31), to the more extreme notion of relenting from or repudiating a course of action previously embraced (cf. Deuteronomy 32:36 = Psalms 135:14; Judges 2:18; 2 Samuel 24:16 = 1 Chronicles 21:15; Psalms 90:13; Psalms 106:45; Jeremiah 8:6; Jeremiah 20:16; Jeremiah 42:10), as well as retracting a statement or changing one’s mind regarding a course of action (cf. Exodus 32:12, Exodus 32:14; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalms 110:4; Isaiah 57:6; Jeremiah 4:28; Jeremiah 15:6; Jeremiah 18:8, Jeremiah 18:10; Jeremiah 26:3, Jeremiah 26:13, Jeremiah 26:19; Ezekiel 24:14; Joel 2:13-14; Amos 7:3, Amos 7:6; Jonah 3:9-10; Jonah 4:2; Zechariah 8:14).
This compels us to acknowledge the ambiguity of the English word repent and cautions us to be careful in ascribing it to God. Human beings repent of moral evil. We transgress God’s law and acknowledge our sorrow for having done so and our determination to change how we behave. Obviously, whatever else God’s “repenting” might mean, it does not mean he has sinned and is changing his ways. If that were the case, he would hardly be worthy of the title God; still less would he be worthy of anyone’s worship. This is why most English versions (except the KJV) use the word “relent” or “retract” or something similar.
Let’s look specifically at two passages, both of which use the word nacham.
God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19)
And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” (1 Samuel 15:28-29)
Note well that 1 Samuel 15:11 and 1 Samuel 15:11 say that God “regretted” making Saul king. Yet here in 1 Samuel 15:29 and Numbers 23:19 it says that God cannot repent, “change his mind,” or “regret” an action he has taken. Scholars have generally said that there are four possible ways of responding to these texts:
  • The statements in 1 Samuel 15:11, 35 and 1 Samuel 15:29 (as well as Num. 23:19) are contradictory.
  • The statement in 1 Samuel 15:29 (and Num. 23:19) must be interpreted in light of 1 Samuel 15:11, 35.
  • The statements in 1 Samuel 15:11, 35 must be interpreted in light of 1 Samuel 15:29 (and Num. 23:19).
  • The statements in 1 Samuel 15:11, 35 use the word nacham to mean “regret” or “feel emotional sorrow,” whereas in 1 Samuel 15:29 it means “deviate” from or “change one’s mind” concerning a stated course of action; thus, in point of fact, there is no inconsistency between verses 11, 35, and verse 29.
Open theists contend that Numbers 23:19 means that whereas God generally can repent, in this particular case he chooses not to. However, were that true, Bruce Ware asks, “does it not follow from this text [Num. 23:19] that, while it is generally true that God can lie, in this particular case he chooses not to? That is, the parallelism of lying and repenting indicates that just as God cannot lie, he cannot repent. The question becomes, then, can God ever lie?”1 Assuming that all would answer the latter question no (cf. 2 Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18), it would appear that “the parallel relation of God’s repentance with lying would lead one to conclude that this passage is teaching more than simply that in this particular historical situation God chooses not to lie or repent. Rather, just as God can never lie, so He can never repent.”2
One should also take note of the contrast made between God and man. God is said not to be like humans, who both lie and repent. Ware observes:
Does not the force of this claim evaporate the instant one reads it to say, in this particular situation God is not like a man and so does not repent? Do men (i.e., human beings) always repent of what they say they will do? If so, the contrast can be maintained. But if human beings sometimes carry out what they say and sometimes repent and do otherwise, and if God, likewise sometimes carries out what he says and sometimes repents and does otherwise, then how is God different from humans? The only way the contrast works is if God, unlike men, never repents. It is generally true, not merely situationally true, that God does not repent.3
This applies as well to the texts in 1 Samuel 15. In other words, “to say that God sometimes repents (e.g., 1 Samuel 15:11, 1 Samuel 15:35) and sometimes doesn’t (1 Samuel 15:29) would be to argue that he sometimes lies and, in the same sense as with ‘repent,’ sometimes doesn’t. But the truth is that God never lies, and so this text requires also that he never repents.”4
Two additional observations are in order. First, many have appealed to a common figure of speech known as anthropopatheia or anthropopathism (from the Greek anthropos, “man,” plus pathos, “affection, feeling”). Thus, an anthropopathism is a figure of speech in which certain human passions, feelings, mental activities, and so on are predicated of God. This, of course, is related to the more well-known figure of speech called anthropomorphism (again, from the Greek for “man” plus morphe, “form”), in which there are ascribed to God human body parts (e.g., eyes, mouth, nostrils, hands). Ware defines anthropomorphism as follows: “A given ascription to God may rightly be understood as anthropomorphic when Scripture clearly presents God as transcending the very human or finite features it elsewhere attributes to him.”5 Thus, God is figuratively portrayed as “relenting” from a course of action or “changing his mind,” but in literal fact he does not. Open theists often contend that we adopt this approach to the problem because of an extrabiblical presupposition concerning the nature of God derived from the Greek ideal of perfection. This alien, philosophical criterion is imposed on Scripture rather than allowing God’s Word to shape our concept of God himself.
However, contrary to this assertion, most evangelicals appeal to anthropopathism because of what they believe Scripture explicitly teaches concerning the omniscience and immutability of God. It is the “analogy of faith,” Scripture’s harmonious interpretation of itself, not Greek philosophical presuppositions, that governs their treatment of such problem texts. Passages such as Numbers 23:19 and the others cited earlier are unequivocal: God is not a man. Therefore, he does not lie. He does not change his mind the way people do. He does not promise and then fail to fulfill. Those who appeal to anthropopathism insist that we are justified in interpreting the unclear in the light of the clear and utilizing a figure of speech generally acknowledged as entirely legitimate.
Second, and even more importantly, we must recognize the difference between unconditional divine decrees and conditional divine announcements (or warnings).6 The former will occur irrespective of other factors. The latter may occur dependent on the response of the person or persons to whom they apply. Occasionally something explicit in the context will indicate which of the two is in view. Most often, however, statements of divine intent are ambiguous. That is to say, one must determine from other data whether the declaration or determination of God is unconditional or conditional. For example, what we find in the case of Jonah and the Ninevites is most likely not an unqualified and unconditional declaration of purpose. Consider carefully the nature of this passage from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 18:5-12):
Then the word of the Lord came to me: O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: “Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.”
But they say, “That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.”
That God declared his intention to destroy Nineveh, only to withhold his hand when they repented, is thus no threat to the doctrine of immutability. On the contrary, had God destroyed Nineveh notwithstanding its repentance, he would have shown himself mutable. William Shedd explains:
If God had treated the Ninevites after their repentance, as he had threatened to treat them before their repentance, this would have proved him to be mutable. It would have showed him to be at one time displeased with impenitence, and at another with penitence. Charnock... remarks that “the unchangeableness of God, when considered in relation to the exercise of his attributes in the government of the world, consists not in always acting in the same manner, however cases and circumstances may alter; but in always doing what is right, and in adapting his treatment of his intelligent creatures to the variation of their actions and characters. When the devils, now fallen, stood as glorious angels, they were the objects of God’s love, necessarily; when they fell, they were the objects of God’s hatred, because impure. The same reason which made him love them while they were pure, made him hate them when they were criminal.” It is one thing for God to will a change in created things external to himself and another thing for him to change in his own nature and character.7
All this is simply to say that God’s immutability requires him to treat the wicked differently from the righteous. When the wicked repent, his treatment of them must change. Therefore, according to Strong, God’s immutability “is not that of the stone, that has no internal experience, but rather that of the column of mercury, that rises and falls with every change in the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere.”8
Thus we see that it is a principle of God’s immutable being (as revealed by him in Scripture) that he punishes the wicked and recalcitrant but blesses and forgives the righteous and repentant. If God were to reveal himself as such (as, in fact, he has done), only to punish the repentant and bless the recalcitrant, this would constitute real change and thus destroy immutability. God’s declaration of intent to punish the Ninevites because of their sinful behavior and wickedness is based on the assumption that they are and will remain wicked. However, if and when they repent (as they did), to punish them notwithstanding would constitute a change, indeed reversal, in God’s will and word, to the effect that he now, as over against the past, punishes rather than blesses the repentant.
Conclusion
What all this means, very simply, is that God is dependable! Our trust in him is therefore a confident trust, for we know that he will not, indeed cannot, change. His purposes are unfailing, and his promises unassailable. It is because the God who promised us eternal life is immutable that we may rest assured that nothing, not trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword, shall separate us from the love of Christ. It is because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever that neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, no not even powers, height, depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39)!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

One Hundred Bible Lessons by Alban Douglas - Chapter 14


             ONE HUNDRED BIBLE LESSONS by ALBAN DOUGLAS - CHAPTER 14

                                 LESSON NUMBER 14 - THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST

                                
                                                  INTRODUCTION

In this lesson, we attempt to summarize the main teachings of Christ while on earth. Christ, in His earthly ministry, gave three long discourses:
1) The sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5-7;
2) Olivet Discourses, Matthew chapters 24-25; and
3) The Discourses in the Upper Room, John chapters 13-16, and probably 17; plus many other shorter messages.
Someone has said that Jesus touched on 18 subjects in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7: 28, 29 "The people were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
Luke 4:32 "And they were astonished at His doctrine for His word was with power."
Luke 4:22 "And all bear Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth." In some ways, His teachings were new, revolutionary and contrary to human reasoning.


                                   JESUS TEACHING ABOUT SALVATION

In His conversation with Nicodemus, He told him that he had to be born again, John 3: 1-15.
In His talk with the Samaritan woman, He made her thirsty for Himself, the living water.
In John 6, He revealed Himself as the true bread that could satisfy true soul-hunger.
In Luke 7: 47-48, Jesus taught that He had the power to forgive sins of the penitent.
In John10, the discourse on the Good Shepherd, Jesus revealed that He was the only door to salvation, and that no man could be saved except through Him.
In Matthew 11: 28-30, Jesus gave an invitation for the laborers and the weary-laden to come to Him for salvation and soul-rest.
This wonderful salvation invitation is further expanded in Luke 14: 16-24 to include the wanderers on the highways and byways- the poor, maimed, faltering and the blind.
The best loved of all salvation stories is the recovery of the Prodigal son in Luke 15.


                         II-     JESUS TEACHING ABOUT DAILY CHRISTIAN LIVING

In Matthew 5: 33-48 we are taught: 1) not to swear; 2) to turn the other cheek and 3) to love our enemies.
In Matthew 6: 1-4; 19-21, about giving- 1) to be done secretly 2) an eternal investment.
Jesus taught a great deal about prayer- Matthew 6: 5-13; Luke 11: 1-13; John 14: 13-14; 16: 23-24; It was to be: 1) done in secret; 2) continuous; 3) unlimited in scope and power.
Jesus taught that we must forgive others before He will forgive us: Matthew 5: 23-24; 6: 14-15.
Jesus practiced fasting and taught it: Matthew 6: 16-16; Luke 4: 2 before the temptation.
Jesus cautioned against setting attentions on the necessities of life but taught that these (daily needs of food, clothing and shelter) will be provided by the Lord if we sought first the kingdom of God, Matthew  6: 25-34.
Jesus taught that it was necessary to confess Christ as Lord openly, Matthew 10: 32-33; John 9: 38.
Jesus instructed His converts to go home and witness to their relatives first, Mark 5: 19.
Jesus' teaching rang with assurance of salvation to the saved, John 3: 16, 18, 36; John 5: 24.
A great deal of the Upper Room discourses speak of the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides, conducts, energizes and strengthens the believers, John 14: 16-26.
Jesus did not promise His believers and disciples an easy time but mentioned persecution freely and promised help and grace for every trial, John 16: 1-6; Luke 12: 11-12.


                 III - JESUS TEACHING ABOUT PHARISEES AND FALSE TEACHERS

Jesus was very loud in His denunciation of false teachers and hypocrites.
In Matthew 23: 13-36 He says, "woe unto you, scribes, pharisees and hypocrites" eight times, verses 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27 and 28, calling them blind guides and fools.
In John 8: 44, Jesus told them that they were of their "father the devil" - strong language.
In Matthew 16: 6, Jesus warned His disciples to "beware of the leaven of the pharisees and of the sadducees" who taught false doctrine denying the resurrection, etc.
Jesus taught that these false church leaders did their utmost to make converts but these were "twofold more the child of hell" than they were: Matthew 23: 15.
Matthew 7: 15-20 is a warning from the Savior to beware of false prophets that are ravening wolves dressed in sheep's clothing.
Luke 20: 45-47 is a clear warning to the disciples to beware of the scribes.


              IV - JESUS' TEACHING ABOUT STEWARDSHIP

Jesus taught the right use of money and treasure in Luke 12: 16-34. The treasure was not for the rich man's personal gratification for he was a "fool," the true treasure (verses 33, 34) was that which was sent to the Lord ahead of time.
When the woman gave two small coins in Mark 12: 41-44, Jesus commended her very highly because she was not rich: she had given in spite of being very very poor.
In Matthew 25: 14-30, Jesus taught us to use our God given talents for His glory.
In Luke 19: 11-27, Jesus gave to His disciples the command to "occupy till I come," we are to use the money that He gave us for the Lord's glory and extension of the kingdom.
Christians are stewards of their money, time, talents, gifts and opportunities.


             V - JESUS' TEACHING ABOUT HEAVEN AND HELL


Our Lord spoke of hell and eternal punishment as least 70 times in the Gospels.
Matthew 25: 41 "Depart from Me , ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
It was Jesus who gave us the clearest picture of the torments in hell in Luke 16: 19-31, Mark 9: 42-48 in a solemn warning to avoid hell.
In the Upper Room discourses, Jesus left the reassuring word that He was going away for a little while to prepare the mansions and return to receive us, John 14: 1-3.
To the dying repentant thief Jesus said, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise."
Jesus pictured heaven as a home with the Father God, Matthew 6: 9, Luke 11: 2.
Jesus came from heaven to die and bring many sons home to heaven, Hebrews 2: 10.


             VI - JESUS TEACHING ABOUT FRUIT BEARING

John 15: 1-17, the heart of the Upper Room discourse deals with the vine and the branches; with the desire that we should bear "fruit", "more fruit"; "much fruit."
In the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13: 6-9, the tree (Christians) that does not bear fruit was to be cut down, destroyed and cast into the fire.
In Matthew 7: 16-20 Jesus teaches that "by the fruits ye shall know them."
In the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13: 1-23, Jesus expressed His desire that each Christian should bear fruit- some thirty fold, others sixty fold and others one hundred fold.
As Christians we should be purged in order that we will bear more fruit, John 15: 2.
The purging is a bitter experience of 'digging and dunging" Luke 13: 8, but essential.
Luke 6: 43-46, we as Christians are to bear the fruit of the Spirit and win souls for Him.


             VII - JESUS' TEACHING ON PROPHECY

The Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 to 25 deals mostly with prophetical subjects.
Matthew 24: 1-3 deals with the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in A.D. 70.
Matthew 24: 4-14 deals with the deteriorating career of this age in which we live.
Matthew 24: 15-26 deals with the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble.
Matthew 24: 27-31 tells of the return of the Lord in glory. Further details are added in the parable of the fig tree, verses 32-51, and the ten virgins of Matthew 25: 1-13.
Matthew 25: 31-46 tells of the judgment of the nations, the separation of sheep and goats.
The seven mysteries of Matthew 13: 1-52 are different views of the kingdom of heaven.


                              CONCLUSION

I suppose the teaching of Christ could be summed up in one word- love.
He summarized the 600 commandments that the orthodox Jew lived under two commandments; 1) love the Lord and 2) love your fellowman, Matthew 22: 37-39.
Love has been the supreme mark of a Christian: John 13: 35, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if you have love one to another."
In John 15: 13 Jesus, referring to His substitutionary death on the cross, says that He was demonstrating the greatest love possible to an individual.
Jesus prayer of intercession in John 17 is a plea for unity. See verses 11, 21, 22, 23. Not necessarily organic union but unity in purpose in winning lost souls.
Jesus left the church, His body, on earth to witness in His absence, Matthew 28: 19; Mark 16: 15.
Jesus' doctrine tells us not only to love the lovely but to love everyone, even our enemies, for He already loves them: Matthew 5: 44; 1 John 4:19; Romans 5: 8.


            SOURCED FROM 100 BIBLE LESSONS BY ALBAN DOUGLAS