A Voice in the
September 21, 2002
Q/As related to: 1 Timothy Studies
"Do It" and the Law
If you read the N.T., except for the animal sacrifices, which the writer of Hebrews reviews could "never" make the observers of it "perfect" (Heb10:1), the rest of the Law is upheld in the N.T....things like not stealing, committing adultery, murder, etc. Paul reviews the Law's summary, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal5:14, Lev19:18) and then reviews the difference between God's law, and the works of the flesh. (Gal5:18-26)
Indeed, he says, "if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal5:25) Those you mention are busy trying to be "spirit-filled", but seem to see no need to "walk" in the "fruit of the Spirit" (vs22-23)
No...the Law does not save us...it shows how sinful we are. (Rom5:20) And it gives "teeth" to God's judgment against sin. (Rom5:13) But on the other hand, when we are saved, we are saved "unto good works" (Eph2:10) What is the measure of "good works"? Among other things, that which Paul lists in Gal5:22-23 as being the "fruit of the Spirit", which, by definition, is opposite of those things which the Law condemns. (Gal5:19-21) If a person claims to be "in the Spirit", but does not walk Christ-like, it proves the person to be a fake. (1Jn2:4) Unless one's faith results in works, if there are no works...the works which result from a "live" Christian... the lack of those manifesting works shows the person to be "dead". "Faith apart from works is dead". (Jacob2:20,26) "Death" equates with being "unsaved". When we were unsaved we were "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph2:1,5, Col2:13)
READER FURTHER QUESTIONS:
I seem to hear more and more pastors/teachers all the time talking about "Doing It", following God's word, His example, upholding His commandments..........but I often wonder does that still have an unspoken postscript...........oh well not that part of His word, because that was done away with, or that was only for the Jews.
This has really been hard for me, and I would appreciate a response and any insight if you have the time.
But, just because Christ died and fulfilled the Law, doesn't mean that we now have freedom to break all the Law's tenets. No. He died to "set us free from" the Law and the sin which the Law defined. (Rom8:2) In other words, we are no longer bound to sin...we are no longer "slaves" to sin. (Rom6:16~~)
When today's preachers proclaim messages that God accepts us "just as we are" ...by context...sin-and-all...they are proving that they, themselves, are still under sin's bondage; otherwise they would not be preaching that way.
Hymenaeus and Alexander (1Tim1:20)
But Paul uses the same terminology regarding what to do with them, that he uses regarding those involved in sexual immorality in Corinth, where he says to "...deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1Cor5:5)
This subject seems rather timely...based on some e-mails that have come to VW within the past week. Please notice that in 1Cor 5:5 Paul is consigning the sexually immoral over for satan's 'thrashing'. And here in 1Tim he uses the very same terminology regarding those who "thrust away" the Faith. Now, if a person thrusts away Faith (one of the definitions of "doctrine"), what's left? False doctrines. The teaching of something "different". An "other gospel", for which, its -MESSENGER- is called, "accursed". (Gal1:8-9)
Does Paul encourage "graaeeesss" towards such people, to engage in 'dialogue' and "be-loving-to-our-brothers"? No! Turn them over to satan. For what reason? So that they can "be taught" not to blaspheme. Whatever H&A's specific sins may have been...generically we can understand from this passage that, teaching false doctrine and believing something "different" is tantamount to "blaspheme". There is no 'graeeesss'.
Now, I said this topic was "timely". I'll just share one of the examples. I know you-all experience them, too. And it seems to encourage some, who might be 'alone' where you are, to realize it is happening to others, too (I've also gotten several of those e-mails from you subscribers this past week, saying that you're going through some of the same struggles...just realize in your 'aloneness', you are not alone, you have the Lord Jesus in your hearts through the Holy Spirit) ...when I share some things:
This past week I received a couple of e-mails from somebody proclaiming a renewed urgency for "survivalist" preparations. We no longer have "Y2K" to be in a panic about. And these people had no specific belief about the Rapture...'whatever' you may happen to believe about it...be prepared to "survive". Their reasons for seeking to survive were because of the coming judgments. Back during the Y2K panic, we spoke how Christians should be "wise" in everyday preparations, anyway, as a 'normal' matter-of-course. One never knows when 'anything' might happen...power outages, earthquakes, or any other events that might render any local economy to be on-the-blink for awhile...so it is always wise to have certain essentials "on-hand" to last a period of time...for 'whatever' the emergency may be. But these were writing like all the survivalists of the Y2K panic era. Claiming to be "Christians". And yet, even though condemning the USA's apostasy and proclaiming its imminent demise, not proclaiming the need to Repent and get saved...but of stockpiling food, water, and such things.
Now...to keep this short... A 'couple' e-mails came in short succession, one-after-the-other. The two were 'different', but contained mostly the same info, from note-to-note. It began looking SPAM-ly. And so, I replied to one of them, chiding the senders for not proclaiming the Gospel (since they claim to be Christians), and a few other choice comments, as I am known to do to some of these...asking, then, for them to take VW's address off their list.
OK...to-the-point... they replied, chiding me for my "unloving" -attitude-. Words to the effect that I shouldn't be chopping "brothers" to pieces, but that I should understand that different people have differing views. They then answered a couple of points I had made, and then stipulated that, If I would reply with a better 'attitude', that they would then be willing to "discuss our differences". Needless to say, I have not replied, nor will I.
You see...what Paul says about our attitudes towards those proclaiming false doctrine is contrary to today's world mentality. The world is busy "stopping HATE". Trying to eradicate "hate speech". And you see...if we stick to God's Word firmly, without wavering, and do like Paul teaches... "Shun a man of heresy after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is corrupt and sinning, being self-condemned." (Tit3:10-11) the world considers -that- to be "hate"!
Well, yes... "Do I not hate them, O Jehovah, who hate you? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies." (Ps139:21-22)
Years ago when my unequal yoke had just left, one of those proclaiming graeeesss continually, encouraged me one evening to read Ps139... I suspect, he hoped it would help boost my self-esteem, and help me feel loved. But when I saw him the next time, sharing what the Lord was impressing upon my heart from these two verses, he was totally taken aback. As I think back on that incident now, I really think he didn't know quite what to make of the fact that those verses of 'hate' were included in such an otherwise 'loving' chapter of 'self-affirmation'!
But yes... I hate what God hates. God is a "jealous Mighty God" (Ex20:5) when it comes to any "other gods". Any false doctrine that is not Scriptural, is from a different spirit than God's Holy Spirit. Following false doctrines is every bit the same as idolatry; it is a following of another god... the one that came up with that false doctrine. "..doctrines of demons.." (1Tim4:1)
If a person with false doctrine is truly a "Brother" (in Christ), and we turn them over to satan's thrashing (which seems to be something God allows satan to do...note Job -1:12,2:6 & Peter -Lk22:31), their "spirit will be saved". (1Cor5:5) If they are not a "Brother", then, rejecting/shunning them, sending them to satan, sends them to the one who is their master anyway. And they will "die in their sin". (Jn8:21) But we will have remained "pure" (1Jn3:3) before the Lord. Over and over the Scripture speaks about us being "holy" unto the Lord. (1Pt1:16, 2Pt3:11,etc) And remember, the word "holy" means to be "separated from"... -NOT- 'joining' in together with the world and false doctrine.
If we refuse to be holy, God will allow satan to thrash us, so that we might be "taught" to not blaspheme. Ever wonder why it seems that satan is given so much lee-way over you (or someone you know)? If you are trying to be "ecumenical" and displaying "graeeesss" to others proclaiming false doctrines...perhaps 'that' is why? Think about it!
Prayer vs Fellowship with Jesus? (1Tim2:1-8)
But notice that Jesus says "..Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.." (Jn16:7) Also, notice in Rom8:26-27 that it is the Holy Spirit who actually carries our prayers to God, through Jesus Christ.
However, first of all, none of this will be a reality for you if you have not received Christ as your Savior (Jn1:12), having responded to His call (Jn6:44) in repentance. (Ac2:38, Rom2:4, 2Pt3:9) It is not enough for you to have "moved" from one religion/denomination to another, if you have not been saved. Eternal Life with God does not carry the labels Catholic, Charismania, Protestant, Baptist, etc. Eternal Life is "in His Son". (1Jn5:11,20) If you read 1cor ch2, you will see that the "natural man" is NOT ABLE TO understand God's spiritual things. And that, also, certainly includes "prayer"...because, prayer, being of the Holy Spirit, can only happen for a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. (Rom8:9)
A person who is truly saved by Jesus Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit will -know- prayer, and as Jesus promised, He -does- "come" to the person, through the Holy Spirit. And when that is the case, prayer isn't so much a bowing on one's knees and uttering "words"...but of being in Christ's 'presence' through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
Yes...we are to bow our knees "..to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". (Eph3:14) But when God makes His presence known to His child, it is not so much that I pray to the Father, but have fellowship with Jesus...or wait to be filled by the Spirit. But when one is in God's presence, one is in -God's- presence...Father, Son -and- Holy Spirit. Just in the same way that when we fellowship with a fellow-human...we do not typically think of differentiating that: Now I am interacting with this person's soul, but yesterday we had a spiritual relationship, and perhaps, tomorrow...physical. No. When we interact with people we do so with the -entirety- of their being; body, soul and spirit. There is not really a distinction to our minds. In the same way, when we are in fellowship with God, we are in fellowship with -all- of God...because, after all, "..Jehovah our God, Jehovah is One." (Deu6:4)
In response to the December article on "The World's Hate" there were more-than-the-usual number of responses, from people who have been through the struggles of dealing with the 'foxes in the henhouse'. And more specifically, in the past two studies in 1Timothy, the qualifications of pastor/overseers and deacons, the exhortation that leaders should not be "new converts" (3:6), and that they should "first be tested". (3:10) We spoke of their qualifications, and the reasons... but did not address anything to do with "how to" test, or the pitfalls to watch out for from the "foxes/wolves".
I don't know that the Scripture gives any specific 'outline' for how to ascertain the verity of another's claim to Faith in Christ. There is no "form" printed in the Bible that, if we have the other person fill-in the blanks, based on the person's answers, once they get to the end of the form, if they answered all the questions correctly, we are assured of their salvation. Even though there are some pharisaical types who do this sort of thing, such is not found in the Scriptures. And I suspect that is because anybody can "lie" and answer the questions with the "right words". Foremost, we know that the Holy Spirit "witnesses" to the matter. (Rom8:16) And so, I'm not going to presume to give such an outline, either.
However, some informal observations are in order:
Just because somebody proclaims or promotes the Gospel, does not make them a Believer. The 'spirit-filled' girl followed Paul and Silas, proclaiming, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." (Ac16:17) Now, one might have thought that such 'agreement' and 'support' would be welcome, and she would have been one of the 'mature' believers in their evening Bible studies. But no! Paul was "greatly disturbed" (vs18) over it because it was of satan, and cast the demon out. How did he know it was of satan?
How does anyone know when such a situation is a 'demonic' scenario? Remember, the Believer is indwelt by -God's- HOLY Spirit, and there is a witness to things that are of God. And equally, contrarily, there is a witness when things are -not- of God, but of satan. And in accordance with Jesus' description of the Spirit, that "you..do not know where He comes from and where He goes..so is everyone who is born from the Spirit" (Jn3:8), so is this matter of the "witness". Many people who speak of "feeling" the spirit are likely 99% of the time feeling demons or mere -emotions-. Certainly, when God's Holy Spirit is at work, there is a 'feeling'...but it is not an "emotional" feeling. Certainly, in some situations, the working of the Spirit may 'elicit' emotions. But the actual -work-, itself, is -NOT- an 'emotion' (but notice that charismania tells its followers to "feel-the-spirit", as they mantracize and work themselves up into 'emotional' states). And beyond that, there are no words known to me to convey an understanding of the matter to anybody who is not saved. If you are a Believer, you know what I'm talking about, because that is part of the characteristic of being a Believer...having God's Holy Spirit. And if you don't, by definition, you are not saved. (Rom8:9) You "cannot" understand it, because it is "spiritually discerned" (1Cor2:14), and you are of the world.
Let's look at two scenarios: First one, a person makes a "claim" to having been saved. Do you take their -word- for it, at-face-value? Yes and no. Certainly, when a baby is born, it is going to cry, announcing to the world its arrival into the land of the living. And spiritually, when a person is saved, they will also, "confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus". (Rom10:9) But how does one ascertain what they "believe in [their] heart"? Because true Salvation is a matter of the "heart". (Rom2:28-29)
Jesus said, "You will know them from their fruits...every good tree produces excellent fruit, but a corrupt tree produces evil fruit...from their fruits you will know them." (Mt7:16-20) He goes on to make a disclaimer regarding Rom10:9... it is not enough to proclaim, "Lord, Lord" (vs22) How do we know what's in the heart? By what comes out of the mouth, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt12:34) And you will know them by their deeds, because "faith without works is dead" (Jac2:17,20,26) because we were not saved in order to remain "JUST-AS-WE-ARE". That doctrine is one of today's major-big-time scourges of apostasy of the so-called "church"! No! We were saved "UNTO GOOD WORKS". (Eph2:10)
Thus: If a person claims to be saved, but his mouth still spews forth swill, that's a pretty good sign that he is not saved. Just like a good spring does not send out foul water (Jac3:11), so, too, a saved tongue does not remain in the gutter. Ditto regarding deeds and actions. If a person's preponderance is of the flesh, it can be observed that he still has retained the "nature to sin". (1Jn3:9)
[Except for the cases where a Believer is being "carnal", immature or backslidden. Please see: Aug'97 commentary "Twelve Kinds of People"]
Now, one reason Paul speaks of the "new convert" is because of the "changelings" we have spoken of in the past. You know, from Sci-Fi... those creatures whose natural state is a conglomerate of a sea of gelatinous sludge, but they can take on the shapes of both inanimate objects, as well as living creatures. However, by their nature, they can hold those foreign shapes for only 'so-long', before they must revert to their slime state for rejuvenation, before they can take on the foreign shape again. It is the same with those we call the "pretend" [c]hristians. The wolves who come into the church. They can manage to -pretend- being 'righteous' (2Cor11:13-15) only so-long...and then, eventually they -WILL- revert to their natural state in some manner or another. "...according to the true proverb: A dog returns to his own vomit, and, a sow, having been washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (2Pt2:22)
So, when a person newly makes a -claim- to being "saved", receive them, and begin nurturing them in the Lord and His Word. But also be on guard. And as we learned in 1Timothy ch3, do -NOT- 'yet' put them into service. Give it 'time'. Time for them to grow to maturity; and time to 'prove' that they are, indeed, (true) believers.
And then... as I've been reminded again recently, these 'pretenders' have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves. Let's speak of one scenario (something which actually happened): Some pretenders intially on the mailing list, and e-mailing all sorts of "supportive" comments, making (e-mailly) 'loud' proclamations, like the 'spirit-filled' girl at Philippi. They send a check, and in connection with it, make 'suggestions' that a little more "love" is needed in the teaching from VW, to not be so 'harsh'. I mentioned this to you-all last summer: I returned the check, saying that I will not be 'bought' to submit to the whims of the enemy, contrary to God's call. They become unsubscribed.
Then, recently, I hear from them again...this time, -apologizing- for the past, making (e-mailly) 'loud' accolades as to how I had been 'right' back then about what I had been trying to warn them about (about 'another' issue... not the "love" and "check" thing), and re-subscribe. So now, they want to send a check again, hoping I will keep it this time...
Let's take a break here, and let me explain that, in my spirit, in spite of their loud acclaims... IN MY SPIRIT I -know- that 'something' is -still- NOT RIGHT with them. You see, that "witness" of the Holy Spirit.
OK...knowing what the Holy Spirit is telling my spirit, I am, thus, not 'comfortable' about accepting the check... so, suggest that they 'wait' awhile. Let's just make sure that things are being done for the right reasons; without flair and announcements; "..do not let your left hand know what your right hand does.." (Mt6:3), etc. (And for you who know how I can be 'strong' often, I think you would have agreed, had you read it, that my 'suggestion' to them was done very 'gently')
You see, the 'suggestion' was my "test". If they were truly Believers, and were truly repentant about the past, the Spirit would witness with their spirits that this was a good thing for right now. But what happens, instead, is that they get angry, unsubscribe (again), whining and complaining that 'certain' (me) Christians don't "forgive one another". Now, not only am I lacking in "love", I'm also "unforgiving"...according to them.
First of all, their apologies for the prior anger, words and issues was not due me, but the Lord. (I am merely the messenger) And for all their apologies and 'loud' accolades for how -I- was 'right', and praising -me- up-and-down, their true spirit was "tested". If they had been truly repentant over the past, they would not have blown up 'now'.
Jesus said, If a brother sins against you, and repents... forgive him. (Lk17:3-4) However, if repentance is accompanied by whining, complaining, further anger and self-justification... the words and acts following the -claimed- 'repentance' prove the repentance to have been false. It was not real. While I received these people back with grace for a couple of e-mail exchanges, my spirit 'knew' between-the-lines that 'something' was not yet right. So, I kept my spiritual 'eyes' open; wondering, waiting...so that they might be 'proven' over time, one way or the other. (I expected the 'time' to be, in this case, perhaps, 'months'...but it all happened within less-than-a-week!)
It's like... how often do you hear somebody saying something like, "I'm sorry, will you forgive me? ... but -YOU- DID such-n-such, too. Are you going to apologize to me now? Hmm? Hmm?" You see, such an apology is NO APOLOGY! The person does not -really- see that what they did was wrong; but in their mind, some of the blame resides with the person to whom they are supposedly asking forgiveness.
I've shared [anonymously] about this recent experience, as I do from time to time other things that I have seen over my lifetime. From time to time some passer-by (at the website) will e-mail, trying to strike up dialogue, pretending to be a (true) Believer. If they are a pretender, I will usually know it from their very first note; or if I'm not 'sure', I will be suspecting it. Then, as a couple of exchanges happen, I will become sure. I will have either 'baited' them with a "test" comment/question, or their own words will reveal their true heart. So then, the "test" will have verified for my own spirit that, indeed, I was hearing the Holy Spirit correctly...and it will provide 'evidence' to show the person 'why' I close communications with them. In practically every case I have been able to show the person their own words, and how their spirit does not agree with Scripture. Yes, they often get angry. Some (particularly the charismatics) will even begin swearing and cursing, and sometimes start spamming me with obscenities, once their facade has been exposed back to themselves. (Yes, I make use of the e-mail's "filter" options periodically)
So, you see...when considering a person for church 'office', -time- not only verifies for the congregation as to the person's true spirit, it also provides 'evidence' when they express the desire to serve, and you have to answer 'why' they cannot. And when they become angry (if they are not saved, they will get angry), you will have their own words and deeds to show them. (Yes, a book -is- judged by its cover, because what is inside the book is the basis for its cover.)
Now, if they truly -are- saved, but are just having a slow growth, and are rejected for service, their saved heart should understand...as we studied in those lessons...even the janitor needs to be of high spiritual calibre. If they are a (true) Believer, they will understand. If they are not, their anger/wrath (Eph4:31, Col3:8) will prove (to everybody) their true heart. You don't put an unqualified person in the cockpit of a 747 jet; neither do you put the unsaved, young or backslidden person into ministry (either to teach or sweep the floors). The training to become a pilot takes 'time'...both for training, and 'testing' to verify his 'qualifications'. Same, and even more important because it is people's eternal souls at stake, for Church leaders.
The individual specifics will vary from person to person, and between different situations. But the overall pattern I think you will find to closely resemble what I've just shared here. When others communicate their own experiences with me it seems to follow a similar pattern: 1) They experience things which they wonder about, 2) In their spirit/s they 'know' something is not right and there is turmoil, and 3) given 'time', the nature of the problem becomes revealed through Scripture and further manifestations from the ones they are questioning; or if it is a church, situations will arise where they either leave of their own accord, or are asked to leave because their Scriptural views are not lining up with the group's false doctrines and practice.
It is the Holy Spirit who guides "into all truth". (Jn16:13) And the proof-of-the-pudding is from the Scriptures. (2Tim3:14-17) Is the person talking and behaving like a Christian? Or are they like the world? No, works does not save us (Eph2:9), but it is the 'gauge' as to whether or not a person is saved. Dogs bark, ducks quack, pilots fly airplanes, Believers do righteousness, and sinners sin... "As the proverb of the ancients says, Wickedness proceeds from the wicked." (1Sam24:13)
Advocate church building? (1Tim3:14-16)
The Scripture context of the passage spoke of "house of God". (vs15) So, since the study was about "conduct", not "location", I continued along the same context as the passage under consideration, using its example 'in passing'. Period.
[Ed: The person who submitted this topic should be understanding the 'tone' of those two paragraphs. This is not the first such...!]
However, since this matter has been brought up, and isn't addressed in this particular epistle, (for the rest of us) let's branch out, for a moment, to this -different- topic, and consider "location".
What, exactly, -is- the "house of God"?
In the O.T., except for a few places that actually say "temple" (1Sam1:9, 1Ki6:5, etc), the PREPONDERANCE of the references to God's -place- for worship is called the "house" and/or "house of Jehovah" etc. (1Sam3:15, 1Ki6:1-2, etc)
However, both the wilderness tent/tabernacle and Solomon's temple were not buildings where the 'congregation' entered. Only the Levitical priests did, after being sanctified/cleansed for service. (Not going to give all the references here; this is not intended to be a detailed study of this subject. Just a quick 'glance') The people were around outside in the courtyard and beyond where the animals were sacrificed. The animals would be sacrificed, and then the people and the priests would 'eat' of the sacrifices (1Chr29:22, 2Chr30), while other Levites played instruments and sang praises to God. (2Chr29, 35:15) [Ed: they didn't actually have that much 'congregational' singing back then; it was done by the Levites whose full-time 'job/occupation' it was to learn the songs and sing during the sacrifices. (1Chr9:33,15:16-22,etc)
When the scribes read and taught the Law to the people (2Chr30:22), it was as they were gathered around the temple (outdoors) for sacrifices/feasts; and they were typically 'standing' as the Law was read to them. (De31:11, Neh8, etc) And like in the days of Jehoshaphat, they sent priests throughout the land to teach the people the Law. (2Chr17:7-9)
They didn't seem to have some mega-building, with raised platform, where the people all gathered weekly to sit on pews and hear the preacher preach. Now, when we get to the N.T. the temple was still off-limits to anybody other than the priests...but they had synagogues where people would meet to be taught the Law. But that tradition is not found from Moses in the Scriptures.
Now when we come to the N.T. -church- we find them meeting in many different places. The day of Pentecost started out in the "upper room" (Ac1:13) As the Church grew, as people were saved, their fellowship went "from house to house". (Ac2:46) When the early (Jewish) missionaries went around, they went first to the synagogues (Ac13:14) in keeping with Christ's mandate "to the Jew first" (Ac13:46, Rom1:16, 2:9-10) But as Paul greets the churches, they seem to be meeting in people's homes. The "church that is in their house" (Rom16:5, 1Cor16:19) Now, Paul also makes use of a public building to teach, in the "school of a certain Tyrannus" (Ac19:9)
So, when the lesson speaks of conduct in the "house of God", where is that? If it's a small family-sized group, they may meet in somebody's home. If the group should grow, perhaps they would rent some building? If the group was big enough to pay a full-time salaried "overseer" or "elder", they might also be big enough to build their own building? This will vary from group-to-group, as the needs and guidance of the Holy Spirit dictate.
But wherever the -physical- 'location' is, it is a "house" (building or room). Along these lines, please note that the Holy of Holies (not a pagan "oracle" as KJV says 1Ki8:6,etc), being a 'room' within the temple, is also called "house". (1Ki6:16-17, 2Chr3:8) If they happen to meet outdoors (as many European middle-ages Believers had to, as they hid from their catholic and protestant persecutors), they are in the "house" of God's creation. But nevertheless, -wherever- they may be meeting, that -place- for that -time- represents God's presence amongst the group of Believers. I know this passage is a bit out-of-context, but it is true of what we are saying, nonetheless, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Mt18:20) For that time they are meeting, that home living room that might otherwise be bustling with children playing, for the meeting time becomes the "house of God". It is a place of reverence. Not because of the 'place', but because of 'Who' is there...our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit.
Also notice that Moses didn't set up "sunday schools". He commanded, "And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deu6:6-9)
Whaaaat?!? No 'crosses' and pictures of 'jesus' for your children's bedrooms so they can "feeeeel" His presence?!? (Sorry...'just couldn't resist! We were finished with that topic last week...) Notice also that Scripture nowhere suggests "bribing" children to learn Bible verses by rewarding them with prizes. It is a (pardon today's overworked expression) -LIFESTYLE-. It is a FAMILY LIFESTYLE of having God's -WORD- close to our hearts, before our eyes for constant reminder, to be in our daily thoughts. Children immitate their parents. Sending them for a half-hour of sunday school is not going to do much for them, if your own lives (as parents) are in the world's gutter. They will grow up learning to follow God, if they see you following God, loving His Word, living by it. All this does NOT go on at -that- 'building' OVER THERE someplace. It happens in the nitty-gritty of daily life, day-in and day-out.
How to Escape God's Wrath? ("Latter Times" 1Tim4:1-5)
So now, to the answer...
As John the immerser was chiding his hearers, "Offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Mt3:7) what was his message? "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven has drawn near" (vs2)
The turning point for Martin Luther, as I understand it, which became the basis and battle-cry of the Reformation was, "..the just shall live by faith.." (Rom1:17) And starting from there, the whole doctrine of "sola fide" (only faith) came into existence.
But you see, while that verse is the very foundational core of the Reformation, that is not actually a 'salvation' verse. It is a verse which describes -how- a "just" person 'lives'. Rom1:17 and Hebrews ch11 fit together, regarding how a "just" person, by definition one who is "saved", lives. Rom1:17 does not say, "..one -becomes- just by faith..", but rather, the just person "lives by" faith.
Now, before you-all get too 'excited' here, let's look at this again; please hear me out. Romans ch4 speaks of Abraham being justified by faith. (4:3) But notice that hand-in-hand, practically in the same breath, it speaks of his manner of living with regard to his expectation for receiving a son from God, even though both he and Sarah were so old. (vs17-22) And once Isaac was born, he had to 'do' to demonstrate his faith, by (beginning to) offering Isaac in sacrifice. (Jac2:21)
The just shall "live" by faith. What is "living"? Those things we -do-. We breathe, eat, work, sleep; and are either 'obedient' to God, or 'disobedient'. (1Jn2:3-4) If a person steps out onto a foot-bridge, he -demonstrates- his 'faith' in the bridge's ability to hold his weight. It's like the great tight-rope walker years ago (I forget the name), who was impressing people by walking across the Niagara Falls. And it was announced that the next day he would push a wheelbarrow across on the tightrope, with a 'person' in the wheelbarrow. Well, as the situation unfolded, there was a young man who was thoroughly impressed with the man's abilities, and the man comes to the young man and asks, "Do you believe he can do it?" (The young man has never seen the person up close, so doesn't recognize that he is actually speaking with the person) Oh, why certainly I believe he can! I'm the man: will -you- be my passenger in the wheelbarrow tomorrow? True faith will see the young man in that wheelbarrow. Abraham may have been justified by faith, but his faith was not alone (sola fide); it was "tested" when he offered up Isaac. (Heb11:17)
John proclaimed "repent"; and then, what? "..bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.." (Mt3:8) And notice that, even before the Reformation, he was answering the "Abraham" -argument-... "..and do not think to say within yourselves, We have Abraham (who "believed-only") as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones." (vs9)
When the "wrath of God" is mentioned, what is the -context-? The one "believing..has eternal life" but what? "..the one -DISOBEYING- the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Jn3:36) The wrath of God is related to "ungodliness and unrighteousness" in supressing God's truth. (Rom1:18) It is related to sexual perversion, uncleanness, lust, idolatry, etc. (Eph5:3-6, Col3:5-7)
Repentance involves -turning- away from these things, and the sinful nature in which we were conceived and born. (Ps51:5, Lk18:13)
Again, let's repeat: Paul summed up the salvation message, and in so-doing he claimed that he had given 'everything' needful, that he had "KEPT BACK NOTHING that was helpful". What was that message? "..repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ac20:20-21)
While it is true that we are "saved by faith" (Eph2:8, Ac16:31), we don't even get to "faith", until we have first repented. Otherwise, why should we even -be- 'saved'? By definition, "salvation" recognizes one's state in utter hopelessness and inability (Rom5:6); recognizing that we, indeed, have "no hope" and are "without God" (Eph2:12) which we need saving out of.
The problem with "sola fide" is that people predominantly by-pass "repentance". They are their own little gods, with certain measures of self-worth, self-sufficiency, self-righteousness...and by their so-called "faith" they want to do like the Japanese used to want to do when my father was missionary there back in the 50s. They had all their myriads of gods, and wanted to 'add' Jesus 'along with' all their other gods. In actuality, they think they already have God; after all, they were born in a "christian nation" and grew up "in the church"! So now, they only merely want to have a "relationship" with Jesus. They want to make "commitments" and "promises". But they do not want to forsake their sin. They have convinced themselves that God accepts them "just as they are" (sin and all); so their so-called "faith" is merely a little feel-good added to their existence.
But you see... and this, now, more directly addresses your question... Jesus commissioned the gospel message to be proclaimed: "..repentance and remission of sins.." to be "preached in His name.." (Lk24:47)
The thing that separates between man and the holy God is "sin". (Is59:2) It is because of 'sin', that God's wrath is due mankind. What is necessary is not a 'relationship' with Jesus, but to get rid of the sin. In the O.T. they did not have a 'relationship' with Jesus (that they were aware of). Their intercession with their prayers and sacrifices was to God the Father. True: their sacrifices were a 'type' of what Jesus would be doing on the cross when He gave Himself (Gal1:4, 2:20, Eph5:2, etc) But they did not close their prayers with "..in Jesus' name.." The sacrifices had to do with "sins committed in ignorance" (Lev4:2, Heb9:7), etc.
But... don't you just want to "believe in Jesus"? Well, sure, the demons also believe in Jesus, for all the good it's doing them! (Jac2:19) The demons in people were continually calling out to Jesus, "I know who You are; the Holy One of God!" (Mk1:24) "..have You come to torment us before the time?" (Mt8:29)
Salvation comes when a person, first, acknowledges their sin, and understands their hopeless situation; knowing they have been rebellious against God. And then, as the Holy Spirit "convicts" them of their sin (Jn16:8), as the Father is drawing them to Jesus (Jn6:44), it is at 'that' point where -faith- "receives" Jesus and the salvation He offers. (Jn1:12) Jesus cannot be our "buddy/friend" (Jn15:14) if He has not been our "Savior" and "Redeemer".
Notice the man blind from birth is first 'healed', and -then- Jesus finds him and asks, "Do you believe into the Son of God?" (Jn9:35) Who is He, Lord? It's Me. "I believe!" (vs38) Jesus did not start out offering to be the man's "friend" (like the song: what a friend we have in Jesus); but first 'healed' him of what was ailing him, and 'then' introduced Himself to the man, and received his homage.
Now notice one final thing... since this question starts out referencing Reformation theology. If we understand that Rom1:17 is not a "salvation" verse, notice also, "Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul is not pleased with him. But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of those who believe to the preserving of the soul." (Heb10:38-39)
Not only do they have a salvation which didn't arrive there through repentance; once they have 'received' this so-called "salvation", they claim to not be able to "lose" it. But notice that the "walking by faith" is related to NOT "drawing back..to destruction". True salvation is not "lost"; it is -secure- (Rom8:35-39); because it is a "gift of God" (Eph2:9); and nothing can "snatch" what is God's out of His hands. (Jn10:29) But being a "gift", people are known to sometimes 'return' gifts, due to rejecting the giver. Thus, a person once having "tasted the Heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit (by definition: "saved" -Rom8:9)(Heb6:4) can "draw back to destruction". They throw away their "faith" by which they were "living".
Otherwise, why would Hebrews speak of "holding fast...firm to the end"? "..but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we HOLD FAST the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope FIRM TO THE END." (Heb3:6) Or why would Paul have spoken of "CONTINUING IN THE FAITH" and not "moving away" from the "hope of the gospel"? "..if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.." (Col1:23) Notice the correct verb tense from John (where emphasized in the following), "These things I have written TO YOU WHO BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may CONTINUE TO BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God." (1Jn5:13)
Doctrine is either true or false. True doctrine comes through the Holy Spirit. (Jn16:13) Paul exhorted Corinth to "..all speak the same thing.." (1Cor1:10) If there is false doctrine, it did not come from God's Holy Spirit. There is only one other kind of spirit. "We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the SPIRIT OF TRUTH and the SPIRIT OF ERROR." (1Jn4:6) If it is error, and such error is not the Holy Spirit, the only other kind of spirit that exists is satan and his demons. Thus, the errors are "doctrines of demons". (1Tim4:1)
But as we see the state of the world right now, for some of you this may be the last message you hear from God's Word before it is too late for you.
The person asked, "..how can I escape the wrath of God?"
When Jesus came the first time, the voice in the wilderness proclaimed: "Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.." (Mt3:7-8) The message has not changed, as the world appears to be at the very threshhold of the Lord's coming again...
When Jesus chided those who had been in unbelief, He condemns them "..because they did not repent." (Mt11:20) "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk1:15), that Jesus died, to wash away sin in His own blood (Ac20:28, Re1:5) and rose again for our sin. (1Cor15:3-4) Nineveh was praised because they "repented at the preaching of Jonah". (Lk11:32) The warning is, "unless you repent, you will likewise perish." (Lk13:3,5) Since God's wrath comes upon SINFUL man, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." (Ac3:19) You want Eternal Life? "..Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life." (Ac11:18) "..but declared first to those in Damascus... and...to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance." (Ac26:20) Don't you know that "...the kindness (grace -Eph2:8) of God leads you to repentance?" (Rom2:4) The only reason it is taking what seems like "so long" for the Lord to return, is His kindness, not wishing to destroy mankind, but "..that all should come to repentance" (2Pt3:9)
If you do as many Reformation Theologians hold to, -only- 'believing', but 'refusing' (God knows your heart!) to repent...that is a doctrine of demons: be very much assured of this truth...
You -WILL- suffer God's wrath!
Attracted to others (re: "Purity" 1Tim5:1-2)
[Ed: Oh..now...don't anybody go bristling up at that last comment. God created all living beings, and man, with a certain 'drive' towards being "fruitful". (Gen1:28) One of the "wonders" that is beyond full understanding is "..the way of a man with a virgin.." (Pr30:19)]
[Note also: While this question comes from an 'individual', This subject is so 'universal' to mankind, I'm going to expand out and address several related issues... so, while I may address certain things, or raise certain issues, it should not be construed to suggest that I am saying they are the problems the questioner has. These are 'generic' comments to 'all' men (and women, where applicable), approaching this question from a couple different angles.]
Job (a married man) said, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look intently upon a virgin?" (Job31:1) This does not say that men are to 'shield' their eyes from seeing a beautiful woman. Rachel "had a beautiful figure and beautiful appearance" (Gen29:17) and it is not suggested in the context that it was wrong for her to appear beautiful, or for others to notice that fact. In De21:11 God gives the law regarding a man seeing a woman taken captive in war, with a "beautiful figure", whom he sees and desires to have as a wife. When Jesus makes the statement He does, notice that He doesn't speak merely of -looking- at a woman, but looking "to lust". (Mt5:28)
Paul speaks of these things as "gifts". "..each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that." (1Cor7:7) And in that same context, he speaks of one's ability to "exercise self-control"; and suggests it is better to be married, than to "be on fire". (vs9) He opens the chapter telling married couples to be intimate and "not deprive one another". (vs5) Furthermore, Scripture is quite clear that "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but prostitutes and adulterers God will judge." (Heb13:4)
For a married man, the message is clear: "Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, like streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth, as a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times, and always be intoxicated in her love. For why, my son, will you be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?" (Pr5:15-20)
In other words, married men: Be with your wives. Have steamy hot intimacy with them. Be "intoxicated" and "ravished" with them. And if you don't know what this is about, read the Song of Solomon. Yes, that book is in the Bible. It is from God. It is the way He created them "male and female" and "they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." (Gen2:25) Be with each other and fully satisfy each other. Do not be ashamed in it, and 'enjoy' God's "gift" to you.
I dare say that many roving male eyes are related to lack of spousal intimacy; not just in the bedroom, but in life in general. If a man's place of comfort is in his "corner" on the "housetop", because below is the "contentious woman" (Pr21:9), in many respects, emotionally for him, it is as if he was 'single', and not married at all; so his eyes wander, wishing for that companion who might "complement him". (Gen2:20) As well, much of the roving flirtations of married women start with lack of fulfillment with their husbands.
If you have walls between yourselves, start 'talking' to each other, figure out what those walls are, and tear them down. Perhaps some confession, repentance and forgiveness is in order for whatever things are in your pasts? So, be 'honest' with one another. Do not merely -pretend- to be 'honest'...but be -truly- honest. If one or both of you have deep, dark, unspeakable incidents in your past that have erected barriers around, those barriers need to come down. Some of them may have been of your own doing; others may have been done 'to' you. Nevertheless, they are there. And as long as they are in place, there will -never- be total intimacy. And don't think that keeping it 'hidden' is 'protecting' your spouse from hurt; the hurt is 'already' there, because the secret keeps -you- from fully giving yourself to your spouse. (I won't go into details, but please believe me...I know whereof I speak in this regard.) And so then, when the one makes themself vulnerable to the other, the other needs to put pride aside, and receive the one doing the confessing/exposing. Hosea was commanded by God to go retrieve his wife who had been unfaithful to him. (Hos3:1) If you do so, you will be like how God is towards Israel and others of His own who are unfaithful, and then return in repentance. And when you have covenanted with each other, covenant 'exclusivity' to each other. (Hos3:3)
Otherwise, for the married person whose spouse refuses to 'negotiate' and/or give themself... Job's words are the clue: "I have made a -COVENANT- with my eyes..." A 'contract'. Something which involves "self-control". (1Cor7:5, Gal5:23, 1Tim2:15, etc) A contract is something wherein the party 'binds' themself to whatever it is they are covenanting. If a distraction comes into view, or those idle thoughts play with the mind... bring to remembrance that 'contract', and remember the 'fine print' of the 'terms' of that contract.
And one final thought in this regard. Paul likens marriage to the Believer's relationship with Christ. (Eph5) And John equates "love" and "fidelity". (1Jn) If a Believer truly 'loves' Christ, they will "keep" His commandments. (Jn14:15) For this discussion, Keeping Christ's commandments, by definition, is the opposite of having roving eyes into the things of the world. One has "laid aside" all the sin of the world and is looking -only- to Jesus (Heb12:1-2); just as a person has "forsaken all others" to cleave -only- to one's spouse. That is related to the "love" one has for one's spouse. I probably shouldn't tell on myself, again: but, there was -one- 'true love' I ever had (in my whole life), during my college days. There were several different girls over the years that I was friends with; and there was even the one I married (my ex-unequal yoke, whom I truly loved.). But none of them all did I 'love' the way I did this one particular person. I was head-over-heels for her. If her heart had not been divided, and eventually she chose the other path, I would have asked her to marry me; and when she chose her other path, she broke my heart. But all that to say... While she and I were friends, and I thought a relationship was beginning, due to my love for her, I had ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE to look at other girls. NONE! My heart was -solely- hers.
How does a person keep from sinning? Well, how strong is one's love for Christ? How does one keep one's eyes from roving? Again, how strong is one's love for one's spouse? And if the spouse is unsaved and/or of a "contentious" sort (Pr21:9), the strength of one's love is proven against the odds, isn't it. God's love for us sent His Son to die (Jn3:16), "while we were yet sinners" (Rom5:8)... and we "love Him because He first loved us" (1Jn4:19) Even if (speaking to men here) the wife is "unlovable" for whatever reasons: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church (when she was unlovable) and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Eph5:25-27) If your wife is an unequal yoke, how do you know but what your love and devotion to her will show her Christ's love and she will be "saved"? (1Cor7:16) If she has many hurts and barriers from her past that tend to repel you, or leave you with that 'empty' spot in your soul that you can't quite explain or fill, how do you know but what your love and care of her, in spite of her 'distance' from you, won't heal and salve those hurts, and she will 'learn' to love?
Whatever the case, men, you that are married: God has given you a 'headship' (1Cor11:3) that comes with a responsibility. And you don't have an 'out'. It's like one of my uncles used to say to one of his sons, if I'm remembering the words correctly as told to me:
"There are some things that you -JUST-GOTTA-DO-"
Spirits? (re: A 'Little' Wine 1Tim5:23)
And notice in the study I emphasized the word "little". Paul says, "A -little- wine". How many medicines also contain alcohol? For that matter, most mouth washes contain a certain percentage of alcohol. And I sure hope those pharisees use some before they meet with people. (smile)
However, there is also the aspect, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever goes astray by it is not wise." (Pr20:1) Now, is it the "wine" that is bad, or is it the "drunkard" who uses it? Often one sees the expression, "..glutton and a drunkard.." (De21:20) ...as the first comment (above) also spoke of "over eating". It's not just the drinking, but the complete package that creates a "drunkard". 'Why' is the person becoming drunk?
Do demons actually 'inhabit' wine? We know that when Jesus cast out the "legion", they received permission to enter the pigs. (Mk5:9+) I've always wondered what became of those demons after the pigs were drowned? The passage doesn't say.
However, one thing is sure. One who is "drunk" is not in control of his own mind. (And this applies to drug use, as well) And what did Jesus teach about an "empty house"? (Mt12:44) The spirit joins up with "seven other spirits" and they take up residence. In teaching against what people often call "tongues", Paul speaks of the faculties of one's "mind" in singing, praying, worship. (1Cor14:14-15) As Believers we are to be of "sound mind". (2Tim1:7, Tit1:8, 2:12, 1Pt4:7, etc) When one is drunk, they are -NOT- of sound mind. They are out-of-control. They are -lacking- "self-control". (Ac24:25, Gal5:23, 2Tim3:3, 2Pet1:6)
Some people when drunk, get "happy". Others get downright mean, violent and demonic. What happens, spirit-wise, when a true Christian gets drunk? I don't know. It's not something I've ever done, and don't ever intend on doing. Depending upon the 'heart' that leads a person to get drunk, is it possible for a Believer to throw away their salvation by opening their mind to demons? God does not share space with demons, and a Believer is one who, by definition, is indwelt by God's Holy Spirit. (Rom8:9) And Paul speaks, in a different context, about not fellowshiping with demons. A Believer cannot partake of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. (1Cor10:20-21) Thus, if a Believer becomes drunk...at what point has the person opened the door, letting the Holy Spirit 'out', making way for demons to come 'in'? I don't know of a specific Scripture that addresses this...but as I muse on the matter, it makes my skin crawl with shudders. It's a scary prospect! It is something the Believer in Jesus Christ should beware of, and not take lightly. Just as NO Believer should ever submit to hypnosis (because it looses the mind to the control of another), so, too, a Believer should never get drunk. It's simply TOO DANGEROUS. What are the consequences? Too many unknowns. One never knows where that "line" is. DON'T TAKE THAT CHANCE!
But in terms of the other comments (not included here) about some TV personalities suggesting that Jesus "wouldn't have" made real wine (opposite of today's "What Would Jesus Do/Drive?" craze)... well, the self-righteous pharisees of Jesus' day, who boasted how they didn't break any of God's commandments, "..who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.." (Lk18:9), continually condemned Jesus because they surmised that "the Messiah" -wouldn't- "break the sabbath" like Jesus did -continually-. "This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." (Jn9:16)
Things don't change, do they. Many of these same people say that the church has "replaced" Israel; in these things... Indeed they have!