Thursday, September 24, 2015

Papa, Don't Preach

To: Jorge Mario Bergoglio
       alias "Pope Francis"

Most Hellish Father:

We see from the headlines that you have now presumed to set your foot on the soil of the United States, having just left the embrace of your fellow Catholic and fellow Communist, Fidel Castro of Cuba. We are further informed, by your vassals and lackeys in the press, that it is your intention to visit with the current President of the United States, and that your supreme and outrageous impudence will result in you addressing a joint session of the American Congress this week.  

It is extremely unlikely that you will ever see this note, but the note must be written.

Please be aware, Mr. Bergoglio, that the plaudits and worship you are now receiving in the mass media, and from so many of America's elected officials, do not represent the sentiments of all Americans.   There are hundreds of thousands of us who know the true history of your so-called "church," and millions more who recognize you for the heathen, Godless imposter that you are, and that all of your predecessors were.

(Of course, we are also aware of the millions of Americans who revere you, and who belong to your "church."  American Catholics are our friends, neighbors, and, often, family members.  [Indeed, the majority of Catholics, in America and elsewhere, would probably leave the "church" were it not for family loyalty, and their unwillingness to alienate their relatives.]  We have no ill will toward these people, many of whom are persons of high character and great amiability, and some of whom are actually Christians, despite the "church" they attend.  We are not "anti-Catholic;" we are opposed to the hierarchy and teachings of the Roman institution, not its members.)

Among those of us who have studied the history of the Roman Catholic institution, and the history of the Papacy, you will find no warm welcome, no tearful outpourings of praise, no enthusiasm at all.  You, Mr. Bergoglio, are merely the latest in a long line of Baalite frauds and tyrants who have headed the most wicked "church" on earth.  (Let us be clear.  Islam is the most evil religion in human history; but the so-called Roman Catholic Church is the most Satanic religious organization ever to curse this sin-sick planet.) Like all religious liars, you are one of the "many antichrists" of whom John the apostle warned in 1 John 2:18.  No, we don't think that little Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina is the Antichrist spoken of in Biblical prophecy: you're not that big, or that important.  But an antichrist you are, and we resent your presence on our soil.

You have already begun to smirk, during this visit, as is your habit. And well you might: you have made a mockery of the principle of "separation of church and state" that is invoked by theophobes and anti-Christians whenever a genuine follower of Christ raises his or her head.  In a way, America might even be said to be an officially Catholic country, ever since Ronald Reagan appointed an ambassador (not merely a representative) to the "Holy See" in 1984 - - - a diplomatic recognition extended to no other religion.  And now, the members of your "church" have so infested the government that some people claim your control is complete: the current vice-president, six of the nine justices of the Supreme Court, and nearly a third of the members of Congress are Catholic.  Your institution has sunk its claws very deep into America: congratulations.  But do not be so deluded as to think that some of us don't see this.

You will address the Congress, which is a ghastly violation of American principles in itself; and you will lie, because you, like all popes, are a professional liar.  In your case, the lies will include an excoriation of capitalism and a tacit endorsement of Communism, but other popes have had different perspectives.  Your political statements are irrelevant, however: you are not here to promote Communism, or social justice, or humanitarian sentiment.  You are here to flex your muscles, to exhibit and enhance the power of the Roman Catholic Church.  To further its interests, popes would endorse (and have endorsed) everything from Third Reich Naziism to Marxist Communism.  The Roman Catholic Church is the great chameleon of history: today capitalistic, yesterday Communistic, tomorrow something else: but always looking to control and enslave the minds and hearts of the gullible and faithless.

Enjoy your visit. Chuckle at your hirelings in Washington and elsewhere.  Manipulate the young and the old, the rich and the poor, because that's what popes do.

But don't expect those of us who have a personal acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ, and a knowledge of His perfect word, the King James Bible, to applaud your effrontery.  We have but three words for you, taken from a wretched rock and roll song by a slattern who was raised Catholic:

Papa, don't preach.

*"Most Hellish Father" was Martin Luther's preferred form of address to Pope Leo X.  The title was accurate and appropriate in Luther's time, and it is accurate and appropriate today.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Brand loyalty?

From time to time, those of us who believe strongly in the authority of the King James Bible are scoffed at, for a number of reasons.  That's okay; we're used to it.  But one of the silliest criticisms of our belief goes something like this: "You only like the King James Bible because you were raised on it. Your family used it.  It's traditional.  It's a matter of brand loyalty, like preferring Coke over Pepsi, or Ford over Chevrolet."
king james bible
Really?  Is it that simple?

It would be foolish, of course, to deny that some people "prefer" the King James Bible because of family or church tradition. For people who haven't carefully considered their presuppositions, tradition is very often a determining factor, not only in religious matters, but in such things as political party affiliation.  But that doesn't simply apply to people who use the King James Bible; it applies to those who grew up in a family or church that used the New International Version, or the Revised Standard Version, or any other.  It certainly applies to most people who don't read any Bible at all: if one's background is devoid of Christian influence and activity, one is likely to remain in that state, unless and until they experience a genuine conversion. That's simply human nature.
King James Bible
But for those of us who have a deep commitment to the unique authority of the King James Bible, it goes far beyond "brand loyalty," or family tradition.  Many of us were raised with Roman Catholic versions, or the Book of Mormon, or the Torah and Talmud.  But at some point after receiving Jesus Christ as our Saviour, according to John 1:12, we learned about the things that distinguish the King James Bible from all other versions, and all other "holy books," and reveals it to be God's final and complete propositional revelation in the English language.
King James Bible
This is, to be sure, a minority position in the contemporary Christian church.  "Liberal Christians" take a very low view of any version of scripture, claiming that the Graf-Wellhausen "documentary hypothesis" and other theories reveal that the Bible was written by men, not God.  Evangelical and most fundamentalist Christians claim that, although the King James has a "glorious heritage," it is outdated and incomprehensible, and that God's words can only be found in "the original autographs," the actual pages penned by the prophets and apostles.  The fact that "the original autographs" have not been available for thousands of years seems to trouble them not at all, and they happily embrace any new version of the inferior and spurious Greek texts that they believe to be faithful to these "autographs" that they've never seen.  No matter how inaccurate, unreliable, or simply silly a "new Bible" is, it will always be embraced by many of today's Christians.  That doesn't make them bad people, but it says something about their lack of discrimination.

Those who, on the other hand, believe in the unique authority of the King James Bible have very specific reasons for their position.  Some of these involve the unreliable Greek manuscripts upon which 99.9% of the "new Bibles" are based (there have been over 200 new English versions of the New Testament, or the complete Bible, since the publication of the English Revised Version of 1881).  The subject of these Greek manuscripts would require a separate post, and is but one of the reasons King James Bible believers hold their views.  In fact, King James Bible believers are quite radical - - - or, in terms of this blog, "renegade."  We even believe .... get ready for it ... that the King James Bible is superior to the "original autographs."
King James Bible
I will pause momentarily to allow for the guffaws and curses of any "Biblical scholars" who have stumbled upon this blog.  Maybe I'll eat a sandwich while they're recovering.

Okay. Now, when I say "superior," I am not saying that the original manuscripts were not God's perfect, propositional revelation: they certainly were.  And when copies of copies of those manuscripts were translated into the Greek Textus Receptus (the manuscript upon which the King James New Testament is based), the Textus Receptus was likewise authentic and reliable.  Later, when Luther translated the New Testament into German, or the words came into such English versions as Wycliffe or the Bishops' Bible or the Geneva Bible, they, too, were reliable and authentically divine in their provenance.  But the King James is "superior" to the original manuscripts (which "scholars" hold up as the only final authority), for several very simple reasons.
King James Bible
For example: the King James Bible is written in the universal language of the 21st century; the "original Greek" is spoken by less than 1% of the world's population.  English is the primary "official language" of the United Nations (for what that's worth); it is also the language spoken by commercial airplane pilots, ships' captains, and harbor masters throughout the world.  When a Lufthansa jet departs Mexico City for Paris, the pilot communicates with the control tower in English.  Chinese schoolchildren begin studying English in kindergarten.  I'm not claiming that "everyone speaks English," of course; but with the advent of instant international communication, particularly via the Internet, it is becoming the true universal language.  When the Greek originals were written by Jews such as Paul and Peter, they were not written in Hebrew or Latin, although Latin was the "official" language of the Roman Empire; they were written in Greek, which was both the scholarly language, and also (in the Koine form) the language of the man on the street. Greek was  the universal language then; today, it's English.
Charlton Heston
In addition, the King James Bible is orthographically arranged in a readable style.  The "original autographs," in Greek, did not have paragraph or even sentence divisions; the letters all ran together. (wouldyoubothertoreadabookprintedinthatmannertoday?ofcourseyouwouldn't.)  Although this is not an "original Biblical manuscript," this is what such texts looked like:

Practically and historically speaking, the King James Bible has, furthermore, been responsible for more conversions to Jesus Christ, and more Christian outreach, than all of the other English versions put together.  Someone will say, "That's because it's been around longer."  But that's only a partial truth: for the 300 years between the publication of the King James, and that of the English Revised Version, preaching and distribution of the Bible was much more limited than it is today.  In the past forty years or so, the combined sales of the "new versions" have far outstripped those of the King James Bible, and these new versions have been preached over the airwaves, and on the Internet.  And yet, the results, or fruits, of these versions have been puny indeed compared to the impact of the King James Bible.
Charlton Heston
There are many other reasons.  One of the simplest is this: we have the King James Bible, but we don't have the original manuscripts.  No scholar on this troubled globe has laid eyes on even a fragment of a genuine "autograph" in nearly two thousand years.  But we can read, study, memorize, and rely on the King James Bible.

Someone, no doubt, will tax me with the following objection: "Everything you're saying applies to any English version, not just the King James!  Even The Message is easier to read than the originals!" But The Message has not had a tithe, not a hundredth, of the impact of the King James; and, anyway, this post is not an exhaustive list of reasons why we owe allegiance to the King James Bible.  This post is simply a response to the charge of "brand loyalty" - - - and the superiority of the King James Bible to the "original autographs" is but one arrow in our quiver.

There are many more, to be discussed in due time.  For the moment, we can thank God that He has graciously provided us with His final, authoritative propositional revelation in our own language - - - whether the majority of Christians realize it or not.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Netanyahu: Happy New Year

Perhaps the only great world leader currently in office, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wishes the Jewish people a happy Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Hebrew year 5776.  As Israel is besieged by her enemies, which now include the United States, those of us who are Bible-believing Christians stand with God's nation, and wish the Jewish people all of God's blessings in the coming year.  God bless Israel, and God bless the Jewish people!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Weaker Vessel

For several years, this blog has examined, in excruciating and often repetitive detail, the savage, inhuman contempt for women, and treatment of women, by the "religion" of Islam.  This has been necessary, not only because new barbarities assail us in the headlines nearly every day, but because there are still those who regard Islam as "just another religion," or "the religion of peace."  But it begs the question, in a Christian blog: Exactly what is the Biblical Christian view of the female sex?

This is, of course, a question that would be answered differently by different Christians.  (By "Christians," we are not referring to Protestants, Baptists, or any other group: we are referring to women and men who have received Jesus Christ, individually, by an act of the will, according to John 1:12, and have been born again, as Jesus prescribed in John 3:3-7. We're not simply referring to "church people," although Christians go to church.  But as someone has aptly said, going to church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger.) So I'm speaking for myself, and not for the body of Christ as a whole; and since my own understanding is limited at best, I'm going to the Bible for answers.  

We've already touched on this subject in "The Difference Between Men and Women ", which has consistently been one of the most popular (or, at least, frequently read) posts on the blog; I suggest that, if you haven't read it, you do so before proceeding with this one.  In a later post, we'll discuss the Biblical view of the male sex: but, since God chose to mention the woman before the man in such passages as Ephesians 5:21-28, Colossians 3:18, 19, and 1 Peter 3:1-7, we'll follow His example here.

The Christian church has often been accused of being "hostile to women," or "anti-feminine," or "seeing women as less important than men."  That is definitely true of the hierarchy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and I have neither the inclination nor the patience to defend that institution.  (I emphasize "hierarchy and teachings" to distinguish the Roman Catholic leadership from the "pew-sitters," the decent, intelligent individual members of the church.)  If someone wants to accuse the Vatican of such things, they'll get no argument from me.  But here I'm talking about the Biblical view of women, not the oppressive or simply goofy excesses of any one group or denomination, be it the Catholics, the ancient Pharisees, or the Puritans, who followed John Calvin instead of Jesus Christ as they burned the witches.

Every self-styled "feminist," and some genuine, sincere feminists as well, can rattle off the verses in the New Testament that, taken out of context, seem to demean women.  Every feminist knows the verse that says Let your women keep silence in the churches (1 Corinthians 14:34); indeed, that's probably one of the only verses they do know, and they invariably ignore the context.  Every Christophobe knows that the Bible says a woman is to be "in subjection" to her husband; but they don't know what else it says. And most enemies of the Bible knows that it refers to woman as "the weaker vessel," which makes them absolutely livid.  But we're going to look at the overall picture of women in the Bible, and not pluck out the most sensational verses we can find. 

One of the basic principles that we need to keep in mind is very simple (although provocative), and was alluded to in the post previously cited. It's the fact that women are, by nature, more "spiritual," or inclined toward spiritual things, than men.  Man was created from dirt: from "the dust of the earth" (Genesis 2:7).  He's "earthy;" he's concerned with things of this world, and his own experiences - - - whether he's a ditch-digger or a philosopher.  The woman, however, was created from human flesh (Genesis 2:21-22). Whether she's a child on the playground, or a waitress in a restaurant, or the Prime Minister of her nation, she is more spiritually-minded than her male counterparts.  This fact is as certain as the difference between an X and Y chromosome; probably more certain.  That doesn't mean she's necessarily "religious," or a believer in God; but whether she's a Christian, a Wiccan, or an atheist, she's inherently aware of spiritual realities, or at least curious about them. Even a female materialist will ascribe spiritual importance to something: the late Ayn Rand, a militant atheist, found it in philosophy and the Romantic school of literature.

So, taking it from there: yes, the Bible uses the phrase "the weaker vessel."  And as the feminists yell, "We are not!", let's look at the context.  God has just given wives some instructions on how to deal with their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-6).  Then, after that hated passage about "subjection," He turns to the men: Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7). 

"According to knowledge" means that a husband should be aware of, and sensitive to, the various aspects of his wife's character, nature, and temperament (and biology): he shouldn't deal with her on the basis of his own presuppositions.  He is to honour her, not use her as a doormat or a servant or a sexual convenience, but as a fellow-heir of God's grace, "inferior" in no way.  (The entire verse is instructing poor, earthy, stupid men, like me, on how to treat their wives properly; it's hardly an "anti-female" passage.) But please notice: at no place does the King James Bible say that the woman is "the weaker vessel." It's a simile: "deal with her as you would deal with a weaker vessel." (I'm not correcting or re-writing the Bible; I'm pointing out a simile.) And, like so very many things in scripture, this phrase has several meanings.

Some commentators say that "weaker" really means "more precious, more valuable."  A fine crystal goblet is weaker, and should be handled more carefully, than an aluminum beer can.  In this use of the word, the woman is seen as more complicated, more multi-faceted, and perhaps more beautiful than a man. The sculptor Robert Mickelson has captured this concept in one of his amazing glassworks:

In some ways, of course, women are physically weaker than men.  But we're not talking in this post about whether women should be soldiers or firefighters.  (A feminist once said that women would be good soldiers because they have "greater lower body strength."  To which a well-known columnist replied, "Making them what?  More attractive in retreat?") Men are capable of physical tasks that women aren't, and vice-versa.  (Having just made a joke at the feminists' expense, we'll give them equal time: a feminist bumper sticker says "If men had babies, abortion would be a sacrament!") Assuming that the above application is correct, and that "weaker" does mean "more fragile, more valuable," what else does the phrase mean?

We've said that women are, by nature, more spiritually-minded than men.  We've said what that means, and what it doesn't mean.  This begs a logical question: If women are more spiritually-minded, then why does the Bible (never mind your church tradition) forbid women to become preachers?  Why are women excluded from the "clergy?"

Before answering, I'd like to point out that this is the only occupation from which women are excluded in the Bible.  The Bible doesn't say that women can't be doctors, lawyers, or politicians.  It says that married women are to be "keepers at home" (Titus 2:5), and are responsible for overseeing home and family matters. (This is where we get the term "housekeeper."  The Bible sets our vocabulary, and the dictionaries try to keep up with it!) But, despite what some of my beloved brethren think, this does not mean that a woman is forbidden to have a job or career, as long as it doesn't interfere with her family duties.  God's ideal woman is described in Proverbs 31:10-38.  The woman in that passage takes care of her home, even sewing the clothing for herself and her family; but she also conducts business, buying and selling real estate, and selling some of her needlework; she also finds time for charitable work outside the home.  Anyone who says that a woman's place is "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" doesn't know the Bible, even if he's a Baptist evangelist or a Catholic priest.  God isn't weird, and He isn't unreasonable.  Anyway, what about the women that never marry, or never have children?  But the preachers don't talk about them.  It's inconvenient.

Throughout my adult life, every primary care physician I've had has been a woman, and they've all been excellent.  I have had dealings with female attorneys and female judges in several different settings, and I've found them as skillful and competent (and sometimes more skillful and competent) than their male counterparts.  I thank God that He's allowed these smart, capable professionals to play a part in my life.  As for female politicians, they're a reality, and we all have our favorites; but, if you're part of the "barefoot and pregnant" brigade, find me two men who could have answered history's call more competently than Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher.

And yet, the Bible is very specific and clear in reserving the ministry of the Gospel, the pastorate, as an exclusively male province.  Someone says, "If women can be Presidents and doctors, why not preachers?"  Because this is their most significant area of weakness: this is where women are indeed "the weaker vessel."

We've already said that women are more spiritually-minded than men.  But every strength has a corresponding flaw, and the flaw in a woman's spiritual-mindedness is discernment.  Women, from the time that Eve was hoodwinked by the serpent, have lacked the same spiritual discernment that most men have - - - whether Christian or agnostic.  Women are more easily fooled or deceived in spiritual matters.  I repeat, in spiritual matters.  I'm not impugning their acuity in other areas.

Here's one of the passages most despised by feminists: Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (1Timothy 2:11-12).  That's the part that they quote.  But, just for novelty's sake, why don't we look at the reason, given in the very next verses? After all, "a text without a context is a pretext."  Here's the complete thought: Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (1Timothy 2:11-14).  Does that mean that Adam didn't sin?  Of course not.  But he didn't sin because he had been deceived; he chose to sin deliberately. To be blunt, he chose to obey his wife's suggestion, rather than God's commandment.

It stands to reason, then, that if women are prone to deception in the spiritual area, God wouldn't put them in the position of preaching and teaching His word, at least to adults.  I know this is offensive to some people, but your opinion or my opinion are less than worthless, when God has expressed His opinion.

Another voice is raised: "But the Bible says a woman is to keep silent in church!"  Does it?  Does it really? No, this is, again, a matter of context.  It doesn't say that a woman can't sing or stand up and give a testimony of her salvation, or stand up and request prayer.  It's much more specific than that.

The early church, during Apostolic times, practiced "speaking in tongues."  This was a supernatural gift given as a means of praise and revelation before the completion of the Biblical canon; the gift is not given today.  The church at Corinth was plagued by all sorts of problems, including incest, drunkenness, and general spiritual immaturity.  This was also manifested by certain women who got "carried away" with the gift of tongues, and were disrupting church meetings.  So, in his first letter to that church, Paul addressed the problem, in 1 Corinthians 14 - - - the entire chapter dealing with the proper and improper use of this gift.  In that context, he said, For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church (1 Corinthians 14:33-35).  He was saying that a woman shouldn't disrupt the service with an improper use of the gift on tongues.  That's the context, but not one "feminist" in a hundred knows it.

This matter of women's capacity for deception goes much further than just a hackneyed gripe against Christianity.  Look at the world's "great religions" and their founders.  Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Islam, Hinduism ... which of these had a female founder?  On the other hand, look at the "religions" that women have started.  Madame Blavatsky's Theosophy.  Mary Baker Patterson Glover Eddy's "Christian Science."  Aimee Semple McPherson's "Church of the Foursquare Gospel."  I say this quite objectively: it seems that every time a woman tries to start a religion, it turns out to be a cult.  

(Men start cults too, God knows: far more cults than women have ever founded.  From Brigham Young to Jim Jones, men have cursed the earth with many cults. But that's not all that men do.  They also create "religions" regarded as respectable, if not believable; and, most importantly, they preach and publish God's true and authoritative word, the Holy Bible.)

Where are the great female theologians?  (I don't have much use for "theologians" of any sex, but I'm attempting to make a point.) This world has seen great female authors, artists, scientists, and political figures; but where is the female counterpart of Martin Luther, or Abraham Heschel, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Yusuf Ali, or even the Zen Buddhist Alan Watts?

So, in this day and age, how are women deceived in the spiritual area?  Well, not all of them are!  (This can't be emphasized enough.  Women who have received Christ, and have His word, are not invariably going to be deceived; it's not inevitable!  In fact, with the indwelling Holy Spirit and the word of God in their hand, they have all the advantages for finding and knowing the truth.) But they have an innate tendency to be deceived, just as earthy, sweaty, scheming men have a tendency to scoff and disbelieve and be cynical.  (Neither sex is perfect!) When a Christian woman is deceived, it's usually through a misunderstanding or misapplication of scripture.  This makes all the sense in the world, because it's Satan's favorite method of fooling someone.  He even tried it with Jesus Himself: in all three of his challenges to Jesus in the wilderness, he quoted scripture: the accounts are found in Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4.  In each case, Jesus defeated him with His superior command of the scripture.

But, in the context of this post, it should be noted that Satan did exactly the same thing with Eve.  There was no scripture to quote at the time, of course, but he began by questioning what God had said.  He didn't say "Hey Eve, let's run away and have an affair!"  He didn't say, "Come on, Eve, let's have a few drinks and see what happens!"  He was wiser than that; he knew that Eve wasn't that gullible.  But he also knew that she believed God; so he approached her that way: Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1).  He started with Eve's belief in God's words, and twisted them, and ultimately contradicted them ... and she was deceived.

And that's how Christian women are deceived today, at least if they're sincerely attempting to follow the Lord.  They read their Bible, and study their Bible, and the Holy Spirit gives them light to understand it.  But there are some passages, and some subjects, in the Bible that are difficult for anyone to understand: and it's very easy for Christian women to misinterpret a passage, or believe the interpretation of some spiritual liar or huckster.  (The followers of Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen are primarily women; anyone familiar with the religious scene in America knows this.)  Or a woman might seize a particular verse, and take it out of context, and build her whole life around it, or make a crucial decision on the basis of a misunderstanding.  Notwithstanding Verdi's "La donna è mobile," I have never believed that women are particularly fickle; in my meagre experience of six decades, I have found them to be remarkably constant and loyal.  But this strength can become a weakness when they have a misunderstanding of scripture in their heads. "I don't care what you say, preacher: Jesus said 'I am the door,' so I just know that He had to have a doorknob!"  Once a woman gets a scriptural misconception in her mind, it's very difficult to dislodge.

And that's the area in which women are "weaker" than men.  However, just as each strength has a corresponding weakness, many weaknesses have a corresponding strength.  If women are more susceptible to being deceived, they're also quicker and more willing to believe the truth than men.  That's why the Western world is full of homes in which a Christian wife serves her Lord as faithfully as possible for thirty or fifty years, while her husband scoffs and refuses to bend the knee to Christ.

One day, of course, these difficulties and distinctions will be moot, when Christians are gathered around the Throne of God in perfect unity and equality.  In fact, on a spiritual level, they're moot already, although they can present the difficulties we've mentioned.  Because, as Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:26-28).  

In a future post, we'll discuss the nature of the male sex, and it won't be a particularly pretty picture! Both sexes have their strengths and weaknesses.  But individuals of either sex are of equal value to God, Who sent His only Son to be tortured to death, so that we might live.  In light of that sacrifice, and that victory, such matters as our various shortcomings become very insignificant indeed!

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Sing, O barren.  - - -  Isaiah 54:1

Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are "plants of His own right hand planting," yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The text is addressed to us in just such a state. "Sing, O barren, break forth and cry aloud." But what can I sing about? I cannot talk about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. Ah! I can sing of Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits which the Redeemer has aforetimes paid to me; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love wherewith He loved His people when He came from the heights of heaven for their redemption. I will go to the cross again. Come, my soul, heavy laden thou wast once, and thou didst lose thy burden there. Go to Calvary again. Perhaps that very cross which gave thee life may give thee fruitfulness. What is my barrenness? It is the platform for His fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the black setting for the sapphire of His everlasting love. I will go in poverty, I will go in helplessness, I will go in all my shame and backsliding, I will tell Him that I am still His child, and in confidence in His faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud. Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that thou art really ashamed of being barren, thou wilt be fruitful soon; now that God makes thee loath to be without fruit He will soon cover thee with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is painful, but the Lord's visitations are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in Him is our fruit found.

- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Monday, August 10, 2015

Do you want God's will? Really?

It's probably the most frequently asked question in the Christian life: "How can I find God's will? How do I know what God really wants me to do in this situation, or in my life as a whole?"  Anyone who's ever received Jesus Christ, according to John 1:12, has probably asked such a question within a week (or a day) of his or her conversion.  It's certainly one of the most important questions we can ask.  But .... do we really want to know the answer?

I once heard a young pastor say, "The Bible never speaks of how we can know God's will; it only speaks of doing His will."  The pastor was well-intentioned, and he was half right; but the first part of his statement was incorrect.  The Bible tells us quite clearly how we can know God's will. But the pastor was onto something: it involves a desire, and a determination, to do His will. 

A Christian, like anyone else, has so many important choices to make.  "Shall I attend this college, or the other one?"  "Should I marry this person, or not?"  "Should I move to another city to take a job, or stay here, and continue what I'm doing?"  "I feel like God might be calling me to a certain ministry.  How can I know for sure?"  The questions are endless, and any Christian knows that he or she needs God's wisdom, and God's guidance, to answer them.

This isn't a matter that can be fully explored in a single post on a blog. Books could be written about it, and, in fact, are written about it, on a regular basis.  Some of these books are useful; most are a waste of time.  But the one Book that has the answers - - - or, rather, tells us how to find the answers - - - is immediately available to all of us.

Not surprisingly, the Bible has certain principles, or guidelines, in this matter of "finding God's will for our lives." The problem is that we all too often ignore what it says.

The starting point, of course, is Romans 12:1: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:1-2).  Until we've done that - - - really given our bodies to God, to do with as He pleases - - - the "will of God" is simply a matter of idle speculation.  We can have all the right beliefs, and have an intellectual loyalty to our Saviour; but until He's got our bodies, it's a moot point.  It'll be different in Heaven, when we're in a perfected state; but down here on the ground, our beliefs don't determine our actual behaviour unless we've given God our bodies.  It's our bodies that walk down the wedding aisle, or enroll in a school, or report for a new job. That's so fundamental that Christians miss it: they often think, "Well, as long as I believe the Bible, and profess the right things, I can pretty much do what I want with my body."  That's not only illogical; taken to extremes, it can lead to the kind of body/soul dichotomy that the Gnostics preached.

But most of us aren't going to become Gnostics.  We're just trying to live the Christian life.  And this matter of the will of God often puzzles us.

We reach a crossroads in our life: should I go this way, or that?  The Bible itself is perfect, and tells us exactly what we need to know: but the Bible doesn't tell me whether to live in Pittsburgh or San Diego.  It doesn't tell me whether to marry Sharon or Louise, unless Sharon or Louise are unbelievers: it's pretty clear about that!  It doesn't tell me whether to buy a new car, or repair the old one.  But that doesn't mean that God doesn't care about such decisions, and there's a specific verse that tells us how we can know such things.

Before getting to that verse, however, there are some others that we need to consider.  Because God has already told us His will in no uncertain terms; and, if we ignore these instructions, we can hardly expect him to give us guidance on these very specific matters.  How are you doing with these things?

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication (1 Thess. 4:3). There it is, big as life: the will of God for your life.  If you're ignoring that verse, don't expect God to tell you about the new car.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thess. 5:18). Are you doing that?  Are you thanking God, not just for the blessings, but for the trials and heartbreaks as well? It's not easy sometimes.  But if you're not doing it, don't bother asking Him whether you should move to another town.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men  (1 Peter 2:13-15).  I know, I know: I don't like it either. But if you're harboring rebellious thoughts, or are engaged in rebellious acts toward the government (tax evasion comes to mind), don't think that God's going to tell you who to marry.

I could list many more such verses, but the point is clear: God has already revealed His will for our lives in some very specific areas.  If we ignore those commands, what right have we to ask for guidance on the day-to-day stuff?

Of course, if you've never come to Jesus Christ in the first place, and been born again (John 3:3-5), then God isn't obligated to reveal His will to you in any matter. Because He's already said, The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). If you haven't obeyed God's will that you come to Him for salvation, then that verse is all of His will that He's obligated to reveal to you.  

So, what's the verse that promises that we can know His will?

Jesus Christ speaking:  If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17).  In context, Jesus is explaining the authority by which He speaks: His doctrine, His teachings, were not something He'd made up, but were the teachings of God the Father.  But included in the verse is that fascinating promise:  If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine .

If you're willing to do His will, He'll make sure that you know what it is. Our problem is that, very often, we wouldn't do His will, even if He made it perfectly clear.

God has a nasty habit, when we're praying, of breaking into our prayers, and changing the subject. A woman prays, "God, my husband is such a loser.  It can't possibly be your will for me to be married to such a spiritual weakling!"  And God replies, "How are you doing with that gossip problem, child?  How about that problem you were having with the credit cards?"  And the woman doesn't want to hear that!

A man says, "God, I've been offered a position teaching adult Sunday School.  Should I accept?" And God replies, "Son, are you still paying $500 for those season tickets at the university football games?  That money might come in handy for some missionary."  The man argues with God: "But Lord, that's my alma mater!  That's where I make business contacts!  And I can even witness for you in that skybox at the stadium!  Anyway, that's not what I asked you!" And God remains silent about the Sunday School class.

"If any man will do his will...."  That's the secret, and we can't afford to kid ourselves about it.  We can't claim to want God's will in one area, while ignoring it in another.  And, to return to the earlier examples: if God tells you to marry Louise, and you really prefer Sharon, will you obey Him?  If God tells you to stay where you are, when you really want to strike out in some exciting new direction, will you stay there?  Conversely, if God wants you to go in a bold new direction, will you do it, or stay in your "comfort zone?"

It's one thing to want God's will in a certain matter.  It's another to be willing to do it, whatever it is.  And if you're willing, truly willing (no playing games), then He has another promise for you: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left (Isaiah 30:21).

God wants us to know His will, even more than we want it ourselves.  And He's always ready to reveal it to us.  But it'll be on His terms, not on ours!