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Showing posts from November, 2018

God the Father from the Gospel of John

The best Bible teachers in the world, although they believe the Word of God, apply it daily, and live godly lives, cannot take a strong text of the Bible and make it stronger. They can only make it weaker. The more they teach the Scripture, the weaker it becomes. It’s like adding water to the soup. We, however, have come to like it weaker.

In my many years with Christian evangelicalism, I have found that the movement has adjusted the Scriptures to fit the culture, instead of conforming our lives to fit the Scripture. Conforming our lives to fit Scripture seems impossible, so we conform the Scripture to fit us. We expect our teachers to help us in the task. At the same time, we want to appear to be doing the opposite.

We have an uncanny ability to have two understandings of a doctrine or a Bible text. We are bi-level. We can recite the right answers, even quote the verse - and then we have a “gut feeling” that is different from the quoted verse.

For instance, if I ask for the gut feel…

Our Sympathetic High Priest

This is an article by my daughter Heather.

Often as we read the Scriptures a familiar verse can strike us with fresh insight. Recently this happened to me as I saw the significance of one verse in light of another. Together, they gave me a greater appreciation of the character of God.

The first verse is Hebrews 4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin."

To know that Jesus was tempted in all points just like I am is a good thing to learn. He understands temptation, so He can be a sympathetic high priest. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that He was tempted like we are—but that is what the Scripture says.

In fact, He understands temptation better than we do, because He successfully resisted the tempter and never gave in.

Perhaps you have heard the illustration of two people out in the winds of a hurricane. The one blows over like a thin reed, w…

Loving Awful People

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:43-47)There is nothing distinctly Christian about loving those who love you, or loving the lovely. To convey this point, Jesus chose a class of people despised by the Jews (tax collectors) and said, “Tax collectors love like that. They are not believers and they are not moral, but they love those who love them.” So when a Christian loves those who love him, all he is doing is something that is natural to man. That is not a Christian characteristic. Rather, it is something God cr…

Hardships & Complaining

This article was written by my daughter-in-law Nancy for The Hammer magazine. It is a good follow-up to Bessie's post on being critical.
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. (Numbers 11:1)What was it that the Israelites were complaining about? This verse tells us that they complained about their hardships. A hardship is something that is difficult to bear; it is some circumstance that causes discomfort or suffering. In other words, they were not complaining about petty problems, but real hardships.

Often we think that complaining is wrong if it is about things that are really not so bad. We’ve all heard people who have a higher standard of living than we have complain about their finances. We tell ourselves that they have no right to complain because they are better off than we are. We think it is acceptable to complain if there really is something to complain about. We excuse the complaining that …

In the Eye of the Beholder (Bessie Wilson)

This is an article written by my wife Bessie for The Hammer magazine.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:1-5)Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” We have all heard this verse quoted so often to quell criticism that our mouths are closed and the person using the quote goes away satisfied.

There are two dangers in the misuse of Jesus’ statement:

1. We fail to read on to the end of verse five to see that we need to see clearly before we “remove the speck from your brother’s eye.…

Cognitive Understanding & Experiential Knowing (Head Knowledge vs. Heart Knowledge)

Many years ago in a suburb of Washington, DC, a woman came up to me after my talk. I asked her if she was a Christian.

She replied, “I am a Methodist.”

I said, “You did not answer the question.”

“Aren’t Methodists Christians?”

“You tell me. For words to be synonyms, they have to be interchangeable. For instance, all rocks are stones and all stones are rocks. Now, are all Christians Methodist?”

“No, some are Presbyterian and some are Baptist.”

“Here is a stickier question: Are all Methodists Christian?”

She thought for a moment and then said, “No, I don’t think all Methodists are Christians.”

“Well, then, you did not tell me much. You did not tell me whether you are one of the Methodists who is a Christian or one who is not.”

“Well, what is a Christian?” It turned out that she realized that she was not a Christian and became one.

It is my purpose to give a short definition of a Christian and then how you can tell if you are one.

A Christian believes certain truths about man:
Man is …

The Heart (Bessie Wilson)

This is an article written years ago by my wife Bessie.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23)

Whether we know it or not, all of us have had heart trouble. Whatever part of the spiritual anatomy the heart represents, the Scripture is clear that it is the seat of the emotions, one’s very being, from which thoughts, words, and actions proceed. Jesus said, “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean” (Mark 7:20-23).

The prophet Jeremiah gave God’s diagnosis: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind” (Jer. 17:9-10a).

Therefore, the heart must be changed. He who did the diagnosis provides the remedy. This is God’s promise i…

The Christian Life: Relaxing the Law

Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:17-20 RSV)Jesus taught that there are three eternal destinies:

1) Least in the kingdom
2) Great in the kingdom
3) Never in the kingdom

In the rest of Matthew 5, Jesus taught how He fulfilled the law. He fulfilled it by going back to the motives of the hearthatred, lust, and love. This has to do with the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is never less than …

Perspective for Husbands

This is an excerpt from Perspective magazine.

Dear Friend,

Sixty-five years, forty-five of them as a student of the Bible and thirty-eight years of marriage, have brought a deep, settled conviction. In the economy of God, 100% of the responsibility for sustaining a marriage belongs to the husband. No failure or sin on the part of the wife is his justification to forsake her.

St. Paul is explicit:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her…that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Eph. 5:25-28)This instruction admits of no condition whereby a husband may leave his wife. Christ will not forsake His church, no matter how she fails. God, speaking through His prophet Malachi, puts the blame for divorce strictly on the husband:
And this again you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because He…

Are Women Human?

Excerpt from the essay, “The Human-Not-Quite-Human” by Dorothy L. Sayers, pp. 47, Are Women Human? Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1980

Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!” who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly g…

The Word of Authority

To what or whom does the Christian look as his ultimate authority?

First, authority never resides in a “what.” It always resides in someone, not something. The highest law of our land is the Constitution of the United States. We mistakenly speak of it as the final authority, but it is actually only an expression of the authority of the people.

Similarly, God, not the Bible, is the final authority for the Christian. The Bible is the primary expression of that authority, but is not the only expression. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Heb. 1:1-2). Jesus Christ’s time on earth was the other main expression of God’s authority. However, since Christ is a person, He is more than just an expression—He Himself possesses God’s authority. How do we know this? He made the worlds, and they are sustain…