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February 19, 2008

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Q/A Topics:
Whose gospel? (re: Redeemer")

READER COMMENTS:
John the Baptist came out of the wilderness preaching the baptism of repentance, but he also said Jesus would come to preach the baptism of the Spirit. I believe Christ's work of the cross forgave my sin past present and future. When one believes the gospel, believes on the name of the only begotten Son of God, that is the simplest form of the gospel message (Acts 16:31).

Please don't confuse the baptism of repentance with the baptism of the Spirit. When you say, "'repentance' unto salvation" you are confusing the gospel to the Jew with the gospel preached by Paul. They are both the gospel, but one is for the Jew and one is for the Gentile in the age of Grace (Paul's gospel).

But even Paul did not preach the gospel of Christ crucified when he went into the synagogues (Acts 13), he preached Jesus as the begotten Son, raised up and given "the sure mercies of David." The Jews only had to believe Jesus was Messiah and repent to be saved. The Gentiles only had to believe that He died and paid the penalty for their salvation. Both messages are the gospel of salvation, but to tell a Gentile that he must repent before he can be saved in not accurate.

VW ANSWER:
To answer this here's a [link] to a previous Q/A, "Two Gospels in the Bible?" When you've read that, there are some closing thoughts here

Thus: It is...

    "-ONE- body and -ONE- Spirit, just as you were called in -ONE- hope of your calling; -ONE- Lord, -ONE- faith, -ONE- immersion; -ONE- God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph4:4-6)
Jews and Gentiles, -together-, are reconciled to God Eph2:13-18 The Gospel is the -same-, it matters not, whether to Jew or Greek Ga3:28, Col3:11

When we get there (in the "Peter" series), Peter writes to gentiles who have... "obtained LIKE PRECIOUS FAITH with us (Jews) by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:" (2Pet1:1) That link explains what "like precious faith" means.

This, (questions like this), is why we are doing the Peter series at this time.

But recall that it was the Jewish leaders who recognized that God had "granted to the gentiles REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE (i.e.Salvation)" (Ac11:18)

And Paul reviews with Gentile church leaders from Asia minor...

    "testifying both to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ac20:21)
That verse, right there, should stop the mouths of those who claim two different gospels. -Both- Jews -and- Gentiles need to -both- "repent" -and- "believe". There is "one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1Tim2:5) through -one- Gospel. It is not the Gospel according to Peter or Paul, but the "gospel of Christ" (Rom1:16) Paul said...
    "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but by a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Ga1:11-12)
But of course, if there is not a proper understanding of the heinousness of sin, there is also no understanding of the need for repentance. That mankind is not "sinners" (thus, doesn't need salvation) is the gospel of Oprah. On this latter (Oprah), please keep reading, below... the item entitled "God Reneging His Attributes?"

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Pearls before Swine?

READER QUESTION:

    Matt. 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet,and turn an tear you into pieces."
I think the pearls are God's Word and the swine are the "lost". Is that right? Or what am I missing?

VW ANSWER:

    Ps 39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle while the wicked are before me.
Within the same context, by way of argument, Jesus speaks of "Hypocrite!" (vs5) Ones Jesus called "hypocrite" a lot were the scribes and pharisees (Mt23) They were the ones -claiming- to belong to God, but Jesus also exhorted about them,
    Mt 15:14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into the ditch.
Yes, "swine" are the "lost"....but if we did not proclaim God's Word to -anyone-, we would not fulfill the Great Commission to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk16:15) Would not the contexts indicate, more, those who it is known have hardened their hearts and are deliberately rebellious to the Message?

Israel had hardened their heart and God told Jeremiah not even to "pray" for them. (Jer7:16, 11:14, etc)

Another thing....are not pearls something that is "finer" than just any ordinary object? Thus... how could a Believer share some of the more 'precious' truths that are to/for Believers with the unbeliever and/or scoffer. It is pointless to argue points of "pre-trib" rapture or grace or this or that with a scoffer. A person might limit discussions with such people to matters of sin and repentance, and not waste the breath discussing the pearls. If they are not saved, they don't have the capacity to understand the pearls. (1Co2) Many Biblical Truths are just for "Family" .... not outsiders.

Sorta like when Jesus was speaking with the woman of Samaria, she tries to change the subject and get into one of the topics of the day, "where to worship...Jerusalem or someplace else" and Jesus brings the conversation right back around to "salvation". (Jn4:22) -where- to worship doesn't really have a point if a person is not, first, saved.

    "These things we also speak, not in words which human wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1Co2:13-14)

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God Reneging His Attributes?

READER QUESTION:
I saw this question and reply on another website - I would love your reply to it.

    QUOTE:
    Is God Sovereign and Omnipotent and Omniscient and Omnipresent and Immutable or not?

    That is actually a great question. I sense an attempt at a trap but nonetheless, here goes.

    Sovereign: Complete control and rights over, in this case, all of creation. Since we both agree that God is the source of creation, then both of us would agree God has sovereign rights over creation. The question that then arises is does God exercise those rights? That ties cleanly with Omnipotent, or all power. The very early Hebrews certainly didnít believe God was omnipotent; this came later. But back to the question-does God exercise the rights of a sovereign and omnipotent deity? Well, if God does, then this raises many, many uncomfortable questions. "If God is all powerful then why did he allow my child to die?" "If God is all powerful then why did he allow the holocaust, Darfur, the tornadoes last week in the south?" "If God is all knowing why did he allow?" (Omniscient) The simplistic answer "Itís God will." just will not cut it any more. It might within your crowd, but I work with many people who have seen and experienced too much pain for an answer that feels glib.

    Immutable,or unchanging. Well, I would say that while God is immutable our understanding of God is not. If that is not so then how to you account for Psalm 137 where God, in the context of Israel under captivity and destruction, advocates children (little ones) killed by "dashing them against the rock"?

    Omnipresent: everywhere at once. Yes.

    Much of these attributes bleed into Christian understandings directly from Greek philosophy. Not a one to one of course, but the influence was very strong. Trying to understand how Jews, 2000 years ago and earlier, believed is the real tricky part.

VW ANSWER:
Such a topic as this, to answer it thoroughly, would require a long extended study series. And when dealing with unbelievers and others of the world's 'intelligentsia' we begin to stradle the 'fence' of which "pearls" would we discuss with unbelievers, and what is the extent to which we try to describe our (indescribable) God to them; and where do we -decline- such discussions? Which is why I decided to include this topic along with the one (above) about "pearls before swine". That one first, and now this one; so we can understand that we are -NOT- necessarily required to ANSWER EVERYTHING the world throws at us.

The person who sent in the questions which formed the basis for this month's article, "God in a Test Tube?", after he had read the article (answer), wrote again, not content with the "words on a page" I had written, but went blabbering on and on; and if a person were to reduce his comments down to their barest simplicity, would wish to see Jesus appear today, so that He could be re-crucified, die, and then -prove- His ability to rise from the dead, by -doing- so for -him- to observe it. Totally not understanding the concept of how scientists -write- down their experiments and the outcomes, and others come along, reading the procedure and results, assuming them to be true, 'accept' what the scientist (original observer) says in writing. But they will not give God the same option, of having written the Scriptures for our understanding; but God must 'perform' for their scoffing hearts: Sit, roll over, heel, jump, fetch, catch the frisbee, jump through the hoops..... THAT's a GOOD BOooooY!!!! Here's your doggy treat! Just like the scribes and pharisees, "we want to see a sign from You" (Mt12:38) -Perform- for us!!!

But the truth was...

    "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe into Him," (Jn12:37)
Thus, today's scoffers won't either.

About a week ago another person, visiting the site, responded to the "Test Tube" article, to which I replied briefly. So then he wrote a lengthy reply, totally bashing anything and everything; to which I did not reply. When he didn't get a reply, the next day he re-sent his reply; which of course did not get a response, either.

In his scoffings he was blasting a "kind of God who would"

    --Require human sacrifice (Abraham of Isaac Gen22)
    --Condone slavery (Lev25:44--)
    --Proclaim women to be dirty and sinful in giving birth (Lev12:1-5)
    --Stoning of non-virgin brides (when discovered to be defiled Deu22:13~)
    --etc, etc, etc
And totally not understanding (or accepting) the notion of "uniformitarianism" [link] as related to evolution vs creation topics.

I'm not going to try to answer everything here, now, in this Q/A item. But let's just -talk- a little bit, shall we; and meander here and there a few minutes.

First of all, even though God has left so much proof of Himself in nature (Rom1:20), and "The heavens declare the glory of the Mighty God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day unto day pours forth speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor words where their voice is not heard." (Ps19:1-3)... even with all this proof that abounds throughout the universe, the world does not accept the existence of God, because in addition to the already-existing HARD PROOF, God can only be known through -faith-...

    Heb11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was prepared by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen did not come into existence from things which are visible.
    6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God MUST BELIEVE THAT HE -IS- (exists), and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
And why does God "condone" things like slavery or what-have-you? And why does He "allow" things like the Holocaust, Darfur, the killing fields of Cambodia, the early American killing of native tribes, the murder of millions of 'innocent' babies in the womb, and...whatever else a person wishes to think of and bring to the discussion.

And also: Is it, really, God's "will" for these things to happen? Or if not, is His omnipotence somehow 'limited'?

Well, first of all, we should remember that man has "dominion" over the earth. God gave man this authority way back at the very beginning, at creation:

    Ge 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the flying creatures of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
What does "dominion" mean? It means that God has put man "in charge" of the earth. Sorta like when parents leave the household for the evening to visit friends, or whatever (Jesus used the example of a land owner leaving things in the hands of servants Mt21:33,25:14); and the children are left at home; and there is an older (presumed) more "responsible" sibling; so the parents tell that oldest one, in the hearing of the rest, "You're in charge while we're gone"; and to the rest they might say, "Listen to what he says... he's in charge". Depending on the maturity of that oldest one, the household might go smoothly while the parents are away. But on the other hand, all the kids might also get in trouble... The "cat's away, the mice will play" syndrome. The parents might have a pretty good idea 'what' is going to happen while they are away...but they are providing the oldest one the opportunity for growth, testing or learning. If he messed up, upon their return he will be in trouble. Now, if the parents were to exercise their 'omnipotence', they -could- simply stay home and not go to the party, and maintain the heavy-handed discipline, and keep everything in-line. But all the growth, failure, testing, correction, maturing of the children does not gain from the experience.

Simplistic example? Perhaps. But in a very real sense, as God's "children", is this not actually the case with humanity?

Now... supposing a crisis arises, and there is a phone conversation; things have erupted and is a mess. But the parents are -away-. So perhaps they exhort the oldest child to "do this" till we get home, when they will then sort things out.

God created the heavens and earth with built-in "signs and seasons and days and years" (Ge1:14) There is a certain history for this creation, its "generations" (Ge2:4) There is a certain length of time that is intended between creation and judgment. And as God looks at man's wickedness and inclination to evil, He moans, "I regret having made them" (Ge6:7). And as man continues to expand upon wickedness, "and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they devise to do will be withheld from them" (Gen11:6) So... to "slow" man down, God disrupted the languages, and scattered humanity.

And so... God, knowing He has given dominion, and man has set certain paths for himself, God gives laws within that frame-work. World economy and convention results in servitude. When a young woman is married, it is also an economic arrangement. Even though God never gave any sort of directive about "weddings", Jesus also did not counter cultural tradition, but He and His disciples went to the wedding at Cana (Jn2); without Him uttering some "But I say unto you" directives. Jesus came to an earth which God had put under man's dominion. So, for instance, if humanity is going to have slaves: God gives directives on how to treat slaves.

Thus... the blame for evil on earth is not God's. God did not create sin, pain, suffering. Man did, by disobeying God. All these things are a result of man's disobedience...they are 'consequences'. Something today's society does not accept...as they refuse to 'punish' law-breakers. Somebody perpetrates violence upon another, and they are not caused to suffer the same as they caused. Without such expected consequences, there is no 'deterrence'. When God promised, "You shall die the death" (Gen2:17), that was intended to be a deterrent. Since man disobeyed, God would not be God if He did not follow-up with the promised punishment. If God did not punish the sinner, God would be a "liar" for not carrying through with His promise. He promised a consequence, but did not deliver. By definition: a LIAR. But God is "truth".

The holocaust was caused by global governments gone amuck, which didn't step in and stop a mad-man until he had done much violence; and was allowed to exist by a -pretend- church and false prophets who pretended nothing was amiss; even though they could smell the odors of burnt flesh. Storms and tornadoes are a result of the global forces inherent in "weather" and "seasons" which came about after Noah's flood. (Gen8:22) Imagine if earth's climate was tropical like it was before the flood...a kind of climate warm enough to not need clothing for warmth (Ge2:25)...considering how perverse things are today...imagine how much worse it would be!

A subscriber forwarded an item about something called "Jesus cosmetics", where part of the advertisement apparently portrayed "Jesus" in a white robe, looking up towards Heaven, with a heavily cosmetically made-up female looking into "Jesus'" face with her arm (sensuously?) 'draped' on him. This part is being written on Friday night; and earlier this evening Celine Dion (I think I have her name correctly?) was on TV...and she came out wearing this thing that barely didn't even cover the important places, and cameras were aimed 'up' at her from below, as she wiggled and stood there with legs spread out. This past week the newest "Big Brother" series began (I will not be watching any more!), where the feature of the series is that single individuals have been matched up with their (scientifically calculated) "soul mates", and they compete as "pairs", which includes them sleeping together in the same bed/s. The females entered the show dressed like hussies, and for one of the competitions some of them dressed even 'less'...the series is all about "hooking up" and "looking for love". This past week a would-be customer came into my store, made-up looking like a hussy, with an impudent attitude and that 'stare' that they do...after a couple of attempts to "get her attention" regarding what she was doing (without actually calling her a "hussy")...I gave up and sent her packing; refused to do her order! I think it was this past week, also, while flipping channels, I caught an Oprah moment where these women were being encouraged, against their own sense of modesty and fear, to disrobe. Later as I was continuing to flip channels and happened back on Oprah, by now they had photos of these people that had just disrobed. Prime-time pornography!!! (and 'how' to do it??) I didn't watch enough to see what the alleged 'purpose' was! But she does, from time to time, have programs on how women should "liberate" themselves....morally! Not to mention today's (this sentence on Monday) FBIS mailing from wayoflife.org on "sexy churches" items.

These are just some of my own observations from just this past week. Not to mention the repeated TV promos lately (during prime time news time) for a local production of a Broadway musical "The Gypsy" with the impudent "strange woman" howls of the lead female that they call "singing". Needless to say: I've been -very- disgusted and annoyed with the world's generic female gender ("strange" women) this past week!

Why doesn't God just reach down and -ZAP- all the wickedness? Isn't He all-knowing, to 'realize' this is going on? Of course He does...and it is all being written in the "books" for the final judgment. (Rev20:12)

Why does God "allow" it all? Because He gave man "dominion". God did not create hussies! He did not create lust-filled men who want them! But He did also create seasons, which also includes "winter", where it is necessary to wear clothes to keep from freezing to death. Such necessities at least curtail, for moments, the continual unbridled lust and lasciviousness. Before the flood it says that mankind's evil was "all day long". (Gen6:5) Even as things are today, based on this evening's episode of "1 vs 100", one of the questions from a CDC (Center for Disease Control) survey, had to do with the percentage of younger-adults who have -not- (not) had sex. Only 4%. -EVERYTHING- in society is geared to promiscuity. Unbridled lust. Even the "male enhancement" commercials, where they depict a couple spending time getting "in the mood", run so long that, when in disgust I flip to other channels to see what's on, and by the time I have flipped through all my local options and come back to where I had been, that same commercial is -still- going!!! Everything in society tells us: have s--, have s--, have s--!!! Go for it!! Here's how to do it. And here's some tools to help you along.

So...if some tornadoes come along, it momentarily curtails some of that activity. This evening's local news told of a fire, where the couple had to jump out of an upper-story window to escape injury. She had been wearing only a t-shirt, and that's how she had to jump. (Neighbors gave her some sweat pants to put on) A major storm, earthquake, fire, or some other tragedy? It's like training a dog to heel: the dog goes wayward, you 'yank' on the leash to get its attention. Compared to God's omnipotence, which also created the entire universe in six days, a tornado (that perhaps wipes out an entire community) is merely a 'yank' on the leash, compared to what He -could- dish out.

-Because- God is COMPASSIONATE!

A few years ago a tsunami wiped out countless thousands in southern Asia, an area of the world also known for sex traffic and sex trade. It was God's "compassion" that did not just totally obliterate the -entire- region. God could have wiped out millions of people, but the tragedy was limited to many thousands... because He is compassionate, wishing for people to repent, instead of receive ultimate death in the Lake of Fire.

Sorry to ramble on in this theme. But the question is asked "why?" Why does God allow evil? Well... He left man "in charge" of things, and this is what man does. So, until the prescribed time, until judgment, how is God going to slow man down a bit? How does He mete out momentary punishment? In older societies where women were in greater subservience than they are today, did not such subservience also keep them from being quite the "hussies" they are trained up to be today; that society exhorts them to be? Was it not Eve that took Adam down with her? Was it not the women of Moab who caused Israel to sin, resulting in the plague of Baal Peor? (Nu31:12-16) And is women's lib not what is prophesied for the end times?

    "For Jehovah has created a new thing in the earth; a woman shall contain a man." (Jer31:22) "As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them." (Is3:12)
And this was to Israel; but would be appropriate for today's world in general:
    "Furthermore Jehovah says, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched out necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and make a tinkling with their feet; therefore Jehovah will attach scabs to the top of the head of the daughters of Zion; and Jehovah will lay bare their secret parts." (Is3:16-17)
Sorry ladies...I know many of you are Godly women. You that are, you will know this is not aimed at you. And you already know that the world today is a FAR CRY from the Godly women possessed of the "meek and quiet spirit" (1Pt3:4)

Today (Friday) somebody else sent an article about Oprah's one-year doctrinal course for 2008. It began with the new year, and is apparently in progress, daily. "Oprah and Friends" (radio program? I didn't realize she had such a thing!) teaching "A Course in Miracles". People are taught to have daily affirmations, such as: god is in everything I see; I am the light of the world; my salvation comes from me. A course in "thought reversal". Teachings that came through some person's "inner voice" back in the 60s, allegedly channeling somebody called "jesus". (check out: Mt24:11,23-25) They also teach: there is no sin, a slain Christ has no meaning, it is error to cling to the "old rugged cross", recognition of god is recognition of self, since man has never sinned there is no need for salvation....so of course, as we mentioned earlier...no need for repentance. And Oprah has always taught "faith"....to "have faith in yourself".

So...which is the way to God, Most High, Creator of all things?

God did not cause that person's child to die. Death is a result of sin. God promised the availabilty of the Tree of Life, but man instead chose the Knowledge of Good and Evil, to be "as God" (Gen3:5, Is14:14)...and when he did so, he also -chose- "death". Sickness is merely the prelude to death. And death is caused by sin. It is not God's fault the child died. The child's death was (ultimately) man-made. God does not take "pleasure in the death of the wicked". It is His desire that the sinner turn/repent "from his ways and live" (Ezk18:23)

But the ungodly will never understand this, until they acknowledge the sin nature; that we were -born- and -conceived- in sin. (Ps51:5)

No! That one person's argument is false. It is -NOT- God's "will" that evil things happen. Wrong premise. But God is a 'just' God. If sin did not have consequences, God would cease to be holy and righteous. And He -will- be meting out the just dues...in time.

It's just that: He is also "longsuffering" and waiting for people to come to repentance. (Rom2:4) It is His "kindness" (mercy) that doesn't just zap (consume) us right on-the-spot, because He has "compassion" on us. (Lam3:22)

But people who think they are already "pretty good" will not accept any of this. People who think babies and children are "innocent" will not receive this understanding.

They do not understand that the test tube "experiment" (this month's article) is still in progress, and 'they' (we) are all subjects -in- the test tube. Until there is humility (Ja4:10) and acknowledgment of God's holy justice, and man's depravity, any discussions of God's "attributes" are somewhat wasted....like the pearls before swine. Until the sinner acknowledges his own "attributes" IN SIN, he will never have full appreciation of God's many wonderful attributes.

The primary Godly attribute that is necessary toward that goal is God's "holiness" and "glory" which causes the sinner to see himself, by comparison, and to wail:

    "Woe is me! for I am undone! for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts." (Is6:5)

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