Browsing Category "Biblical Mindset"
13 Jul
2013

Refuting Universal Salvation

the worldI’ve found that the verses the Universal Salvationists use to support their theory can be easily explained by considering the times of the apostles.  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” 1 Cor 15:22.  When Paul says ‘all’, he is telling us that Jesus came for the salvation all people, as opposed to God’s plan being restricted to only the Jewish nation.  It was a really amazing concept back then, that God had it in His plans to spread His offer of salvation to the entire world, Gentiles too.

The book of Acts is all about how Jesus came for the entire world, not just the Jews.  Read about the vision of Peter in Acts chapter 10, and also read Acts, chapter 15, to see how this shook everyone as completely strange.  They didn’t know how to react to such an outpouring of love from the Father.

“For God so loved the world” doesn’t mean the entire world will be saved, but that God made His plan of salvation available to the entire world.  Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.  And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.”

Room for Speculation?

Maybe there is a bit of room to speculate, and only speculate, that perhaps all people will have equal opportunity to hear of God’s plan for salvation, and that perhaps that will be after the resurrection of the dead.  I am gathering this speculation from Acts 3:23, when Paul is speaking about the restitution of the world, he quotes Moses saying, “and it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people”.  It is somewhat understandable that one might speculate that perhaps every soul will have opportunity to either accept or reject the prophet.  However it is perhaps more probable that the verse simply means that every soul which did happen to have opportunity to hear the prophet, and then reject him, will be destroyed.

Also, looking at John 5:28, 29, we see that those who have done good here and now, go to eternal life at the resurrection of the dead, and those who have done evil here and now, are condemned at the resurrection.  “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”   This verse makes me strongly doubt the gospel will be preached after the resurrection of the dead.

And even if this speculation were correct, one would still need to account for Jesus declaring that the road to destruction is broad and many go in by it, Mat 7:13, and so very many other verses about the small number who are saved.  And for a direct answer from Christ concerning the question at hand, just see Luke 13:23 & 24.  After reading those verses we can be done with the entire discussion because Jesus doesn’t leave us with any mysteries.  “Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

I also argue that Scriptural language such as ‘everlasting destruction’, ‘utterly perish’, ‘eternal fire’, and ‘unquenchable fire’ certainly carry a sense of finality.  Some Universal Salvationists say hellfire will be used to refine the sinner.  This language of finality shows us the fire consumes utterly, which is not at all the type of fire that refines.  Scripture strongly and irrefutably declares that there are no other chances for the fire cannot be quenched.

Fair Verses Grace

‘But that’s not fair’, some cry out to God.  May I humbly submit to you that it is very fair that we who sin should, indeed, perish.  When we despise God by sinning, we do not deserve the life God has granted us.  As the Lord gives, it is His to also take away.  It would be fair if God would simply destroy us the instant we engaged in sin.  Wouldn’t the world be a far better place if God would just be fair to us?  No more war, no more adultery, no more child porn, no more hatred.  It’d be a perfect world if God were only fair.

How thankful we should be that God is not fair!  He graciously gives man time to repent; even the incredibly wicked man often has numerous days to turn to God.  Each sunrise is a testimony to the outpouring of mercy from the Lord upon both the just and the unjust.  And I am so thankful that God was not fair to His only begotten Son.  For He did not spare Him but, rather, “He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”  2 Cr 5:21.  The Savior of the world took the blame for our crimes.  That is not fair.

14 May
2013
Posted in: Biblical Mindset
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A Faithful Witness; Costly Gold

“…Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you” Rev. 2:13.   This word, ‘martyr’ is Strong’s G 3144 and is used 34 times in the New Testament.  It’s original meaning was simply ‘a witness’.  The KJV translates this word into ‘martyr’ twice, in Acts 22:20 referring to Stephen, and in Revelation 2:13 referring to Antipas.  A more literal translation would be “…Antipas was my faithful witness, who was slain among you”.

Witness.  Martyr.  I’d rather be a witness than a martyr, yet Scripture does not distinguish between the two.  They are one in the same.  Witnessing was not a light decision in New Testament times; the activity was dangerous and the cost had to be counted.  Yet Jesus counsels them (and us) to buy from Him “gold tried in the fire” because to him who overcomes Christ Himself will give ‘hidden manna’ and ‘a white stone’ with a new name written on it.  This is desirable, precious, rare and perfect gold.  So rare and precious, in fact, that it has never been physically handled.

FruitBut how does one go about purchasing this gold from Christ?  There is much to consider when we are counseled to buy something.  First we must decide if we really want it.  It is recommended to us as something that will benefit us, but do we trust the Counselor?

Before purchasing an investment, we look over the creditials of the broker recommending the investment.  Has he demonstrated that this investment is worthy of our purchase, has He demonstrated that He is worthy of our consideration?

Once we have determined this then we start to desire this thing we intend to buy, we desire it so much, in fact, that we are willing to give up something else in order to attain this other thing we desire.  We go without in order to afford the thing we desire, believing it will bring us a solid future investment.  So how do we purchase this gold from Christ?

1. We trust the Counselor that it is a worthy investment.  Have faith…

2. We desire the gold He offers.  Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.

3. We set aside other things in order to afford this one thing.  Count the cost and carry our cross.

4. We ask Him for it.  Ask and you will receive.

Finally, we ask Him for it.  The final step to purchasing something is the actual transaction.  We must let Him know what it is we desire to buy, and He will give us the desire of our hearts; this heavenly gold we have set our heart on.  He gives us good things, bread and not a stone, fish, not a serpent.  This is good gold, though costly.   We ask carefully, with calculation.  We have already counted the cost, we understand what it is we are asking.

In Matthew 20:20-23, a woman asked our Lord if her sons might sit at His side in heaven, Jesus told her she did not know what it was that she asked; had she really counted the cost?  She was asking for heavenly gold; that costly gold.  Yes, she understood; it would cost her sons extreme tribulation.  We must be caculated when we ask the Lord of such things.  We seek gold.  Careful, Christian, ask only when you are ready.  Lord, might I be worthy of less of me, more of you.  Might I be counted worthy of tribulation for your Name’s sake.

Scripture Reveals How to Surrender the ‘Pride of Life’

Jesus, what must I still lay on the alter to surrender to your Lordship?  What is in me that is dulling the power of my prayers?

And the Lord provided 1 John 2:16, “for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  And the Lord highlighted “the pride of life” for a number of minutes.  What is this “pride of life”?  

If the “lust of the flesh” concern sinful indulgences of the body, and the “lust of the eyes” are the things one can see and covet.  So the “pride of life” is the indulgence of the ears, the thirst for applause, the hunger for a name of high regard.   As Matthew Henry comments, “A vain mind craves all the grandeur, equipage, and pomp of a vain-glorious life; this is ambition, and thirst after honour and applause. This is, in part, the disease of the ear; it must be flattered with admiration and praise.”      

I confess, Lord, this “pride of a life” is a temptation which has daily overcome me.  Like fingernails running down a chalkboard, it is repulsive.  But Lord, how do get rid of this prideful sound? 

And in answer, the Lord provided Romans 8:13, “for if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”Stained Cross

How to Put Pride to Death

But how do I put to death my pride, Lord?  How is that possible? 

And the Lord answered again, this time with John 19: 1-30.  I just read this chapter to my 6-yr-old the day before, except I was using a different bible.  I did not intend to go here again today, but the Lord providentially used it again, perhaps as a way of cementing His voice into my soul. 

“And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe.  Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands.” John 19:2,3

Jesus, God of entirety cloaked in human flesh, beaten, scorned and mocked.  Jesus, Creator of the bird and fox, Provider of the bird’s nest and the fox’s hole, had Himself no place to lay His head.  “Hail, King of the Jews!”.  At this point, the fate of the Teacher came to a crown of thorns and a purple robe stained red, with no place to lay His head. 

Room for Only One Voice

The path is so narrow, without room for empty praise, and there is only one Voice ahead.  When I deceive myself with vain glory, bring to mind the praise You endured, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and replay that terrible scene in my head, Jesus.  Mortify my elevated self with these words, ‘a servant is not greater than his master’.

I ask something of a miracle, Lord, that praise would fall on me in the same way as rejection.  That both praise and rejection would only bring to mind the scorn of the cross lifted up; God Almighty in designed subjection to the dust of the earth and flesh, the blood, the thorns, and the hard wood.  Increase, Lord, as I decrease.

Lord, Make Me Rich

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” 1 Tim 6:9

What does ‘desire’ mean here?   The transliteration for this Greek word is ‘boulomai’ and can be described as:

1) to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded     2) of willing as an affection, to desire

Heavenly Father, lead me not into temptation.  Keep me from riches, keep me from any possibility of living ‘comfortably’ without depending on You for my provision.  I confess I am weak and prone to straying from your good way.  I long to be closer to you, that my every thought and desire would be about the work of Your kingdom and Your purposes.  Deliver me from evil, from anything that would compete with my affection for You, from anything that would cloud my sight of the path you have chosen for me.  

bread from heavenJesus, give me this day, my daily bread.  As you fed the children of Isreal in the desert their daily manna from heaven, might I also gather only for this day, for if I store more it will surely rot.  Give me the blessing of waiting on you for my provision.  I greatly desire the experience of praising your hallowed name for answering my prayers, and knowing I can trust in You for tomorrow.  I want You to be my Storehouse and my Strong Fortress, my Bread and my Cup.  May I gain the peace that comes with contentment and trust. 

Holy Spirit, I humbly request you would work mightily in me, that I would follow after righteousness and godliness, seeking first the Kingdom of God.   Make me rich in faith and patience and good works, like the first believers who fought the good fight of faith in the firey trials, looking always ahead toward the substance of things hoped for, seeing clearly the evidence of things unseen.  Amen.

What Does the Bible Say About Why We Exist?

God so Loved the WorldWhy do we exist?  Because of three little words.  We exist because “God is love” 1 John 4:8b.  Love is a complex concept but I will discuss two attributes of love that greatly pertain to our creation.

One attribute of love is that it must have exchange; love involves more than one party; it involves both a giver and a receiver. God created us because He is who He is.  He is love, and we are an outpouring of Him, created in His image; He is the giver and we are the receivers. 

1 John 4:8b, “God is love” also answers why we were created in His image, yet immeasurably inferior to Hiim, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you visit him?” Psalm 147:4.  He is great and we are not, yet because He is so rich in love He is still mindful of us.  God Almighty created us because it glorified Him to do so; our creation, and our humble frame, fits ideally within His attributes.  He is love and we are an expression of His love. “For I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yes, I have made him” Isaiah 43:7.

Another important element of love is that it involves choice, without choice it is simply not love but a series of robotic mechanics.  If God made man to automatically love God, the world would be peaches and cream but love would not exist.  And this is an impossibility since the Reality is that ‘God is love’, and praise Him for it, since perfect love is far greater in glory than a loveless utopia.  And so, 1 John 4:8b can also explain why evil exists.  God is perfect and love is perfect, therefore love exists.  Love must have exchange and choice; man did not return God’s love, but instead chose hatred toward God, therefore evil exists.

So what is an appropriate response to all this love from the Creator?  Love and worship.  The bible says we exist to glorify God and to love Him forever. “…for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” Revelations 4:11. ”Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment’” Matthew 22:37,38.

If this seems unbelievable or unattractive, perhaps you haven’t personally experienced God’s love.  Man chose emnity toward God from the very beginning, and so there is great suffering and corruption today “by man came death” 1 Corin 15:21, so much so that many look around at all the destruction and blame God, doubting the goodness and love of the Almighty.  But where man (the receiver) failed to return His love, God (the Giver) found a way to love greater still, to give even more.  Find out how to personally experience God’s love by continuing this article here.

Is God Selfish? An Atheist Knows Not What He Says

I watched a street preacher speak to a crowd with an atheist ready to pounce.  He wanted to know why ‘good’ people don’t go to heaven, feeling hell was unjust, and he called God selfish, and he called God a curse word.  I was impressed with the preacher’s calm demeanor and his loving persistence with the man, and the crowd, which was clearly antagonistic.  

“The Heavens Are Not Pure in His Sight”

The man in the video, full of sin like every man, boasts about his own goodness (after all, he did go to Ethiopia to help humanity).  He wants God to judge him based on his own goodness.  And God will judge him based on his own goodness just as he desires, but what a foolish desire for “God puts no trust in His holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in His sight” Job 15:15.   Jesus, who was sinless, gave all for humanity, and graciously offers a way for God to judge us by His own righteousness.  We are welcome to trust in our own goodness, as that man desires, but we are also welcome to trust in His goodness.  

This is a gift freely offered, but instead of an appropriately thankful response, Jesus continues to get sneers and condemnation from mankind.  The man’s accusation is rooted in ignorance of who God is, who we are, and how horrific sin is.   Sin is costly.  That man offers no answer to the severity and magnitude of the rampant injustice on earth.  God does.  

God is Just: Do Not Hope He Will Sweep Your Sin Under the Rug

How does it feel to be wronged by someone else?  Does it hurt, does it hurt a great deal?  What if God were to just brush it aside like that man wants Him to, is that just, is it good and unselfish?  As the victim of someone else’s sin, you need objective  justice, not a perpetrator telling you it was good for them and besides, it’s minor and relative anyway so it’s okay, no biggie.  Who’s to say it’s minor?  The perpetrator of course, but not objective truth, not goodness, not God.  It is right that your pain is not swept under the rug, but expressed in a just way.  Punishment is necessary, this is basic justice and it is good and right; “without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin”  Heb 9:22.  Blood was shed, justice was paid in full, at the cross, unless we chose to stay under God’s just wrath.  Even if the perpetrater, and all the world, brushes aside your pain as relative, Christ does not, He knows better than anyone the painful terror of that sin.   

Is Sacrifice Selfish?

What do you call a man who take a bullet for you?  Do you call that selfish?  Would this man say these things if he were on the hill that dark night at Calvary when the moon turned red?  Would he be yelling at Christ telling Him that He was so #%@! selfish?  Would he say that to the bloody Christ, the one man in all of history who was truly good and innocent?  Sin is costly!  If God is good, then every lie I told, every wrong thought, every wrong deed is costly; and the payment is hell.  But praise God, the good news is that I don’t have to pay it because Christ already did.  May God have mercy on this man’s soul, may he someday hear what is was that Christ said over and over again while paying for our sin on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Is this our idea of selfish?  Would that man yell those things if he were standing in the crowd witnessing this?…

“You Know Not What You Ask”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:22-24

Almighty God, Your love overwhelms me, Your compassion unmeasurable; crucify my flesh, my will, fill me with You that I would love more fully, help me to understand with Your compassion.  

Jesus, teach me to suffer long, to endure, to wait on You, to live at peace with Your timing, to practice temperance.  Help me to understand Your gift, the pain You willingly bore for me and for all who believe.  From this understanding, produce in me meekness, mercy, and charity. 

Holy Spirit, grant me goodness, for I go to the source.  Hold back my tongue, until Your fruit manifests from it.  Give me faith to see as You open doors of utterance that I may speak the mystery of the gospel with clarity and boldness.

“But Jesus answered and said, “You know not what you ask.”  Matthew 20:22a. 

Last Saturday I met a godly woman, married three years, who told me her husband has health problems and is in constant pain.  This pain is a terrible pain, not a dull throbbing pain, but an almost unspeakable pain that continually disrupts even basic living.  This was something her young husband lived with daily, making anything he tried to accomplish extremely difficult. 

My heart ached for her and her husband, but attempting to put myself in their shoes by imagining what life must be like was very hard to do.  It is very hard to know anything other than what I do know; I hardly know pain of any sort, and I do not know chronic pain at all.  I lack empathy because I lack experience.  Jesus, how hard it is to leave myself and experience even a bit of the depth of compassion that dwells within You.  Lord, give me compassion.  

“But Jesus answered and said, “You know not what you ask.” Matthew 20:22a

Early the next morning after meeting my new friend, on Sunday at 6:30 a.m., I suddenly felt a lot of pain in my stomach.  It continued throughout the day, much of the day I was alright but many times the pain was very intense.  I realized it was only constipation so I was determined to avoid the emergency room, however I found the pain unbearable late Sunday night.  The pain was so intense I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t pray, and I certainly couldn’t sleep; for hours I couldn’t think about anything other than the pain, and I couldn’t do anything other than moan and rock back and forth on the couch.  All I could do was endure for the time God allowed it to continue. 

While I was on the couch that night, Jesus graciously and continually brought to my mind that I know nothing about pain, but that others do know pain, and they know it routinely.  My heart ached more fully for those who are so acquainted with pain. 

He also reminded me that He isn’t the author of pain, but that it could be blamed on something which is nothing, the nothing which is the gap, the great separation between man between God, and that all of creation groans and will continue to groan until He restores all things. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22   My spirit is at peace with Christ even as my body is wasting away, separated from Him physically. 

God wasn’t chastising me that night, though He does chastise His children.  All I felt from God while rocking in pain was grace and purpose and answered prayer.  I was the one, after all, who asked for more understanding; I was the one who asked to be closer to Jesus, the One most acquainted with pain, the One most acquainted with the gap which He did not create. 

Corrie ten Boom’s father once said, “It is no easy thing to stand in the palm of God’s Hand”.  When pain is so severe it consumes, Lord, You cradle us in the palm of Your Hand.  We gain strength to endure by trusting You are at work, graciously producing in us good fruit which You will use for Your good purposes.  Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, all these are good fruits sown by the Spirit and tilled by Christ.  Praise be to the One who will return to reap His harvest.

Many Shall Run To and Fro

“The word of the Lord came to…”  The word of the Lord came to Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, and other men of God; this exact phrase is used 18 times in the KJV.   Do you realize the word of the Lord has come to you?  “The word of the Lord” has come to all who believe by means of His holy book.  He speaks to all His children using His words, typed on paper and bound with thread.  He is living and active and so are His words in our lives; He is near you. 

“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord”  Jeremiah 11:1.  I read this on November 24th, and the above observation struck me hard.  The word of the Lord has come to me.  As I was falling asleep that night I told God that I know He is speaking, and that I hear His voice.  There is nothing more exciting or fulfilling than hearing the word of the Lord.

The next day I was making the bed and praying, lowly asking the Lord to confirm His call regarding this online prayer journal.  If I am going to spend time on something, even if it’s just a little bit of time, I want to know the Lord has directed me to it in the first place.  God does what God does because He is King of kings, sovereign and perfect.  If He wants to confirm something, He will.  If He doesn’t want to confirm something, He won’t.  He chose to confirm His call about this blog that day.

After my petition for confirmation, I opened my husband’s bible (the only one by the bed at the time) immediately read a very relevant passage.  I had no idea I was going to read that particular passage, it has been years since I read that passage; it wasn’t on my mind whatsoever.  The passage was Daniel 12:3b & 4, “…and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”  

It is likely that this prophetic passage is referring to the Internet; “knowledge shall be increased.”  The Hebrew word for “increase” רבה (ra^ba^h) refers to an exponential increase, so knowledge shall be multiplied. It will increase in abundance, exponentially, which is exactly what is happening during our times due to technological advancements.  I asked if I should continue to record this prayer journal online, and the Lord directed me to the prophetic passage about the Internet.  It was as if the Lord was conversing with me, directly and immediately answering my inquiry.  

“Many shall run to and fro…’  The hustle and bustle of people and their knowledge, the never ending chatter of men wise in their own eyes.  This is the internet, a tower of godless knowledge, a tower of Babel built in vain; man’s prideful increase is so pitifully simplistic to the infinite Almighty.  But God’s righteousness, His mighty deeds, are eternal, and pointing people to that righteousness, whether by the internet or by any other means, will not be in vain.

Study to Show Thyself Approved

Last night I asked the Lord in prayer if He would give me a fresh hunger and love for His word and for truth.  Immediately after my petition, without any desire to find this or that, but with only the desire to read scripture before falling asleep for the night, my eyes rested squarely on 2 Timothy 2:15, 

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. 

The Lord speaks through His word, many times in mysterious ways. The more we believe He is near, the more we hear.

I read chunks and pieces of scripture daily, without it I would be a mess, but I am no studious workman rightly dividing the word of truth.  George Muller read the bible through over 100 times in his lifetime; he was a studious workman of the bible.   I would never give up reading and meditating on chunks and pieces of scripture throughout the day as needed, but I can testify that the Lord is convicting me to also become a student of the bible.