Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Who Causes Division? The Claim for the High Ground of Unity

If you don't know what else to say, and you're losing the argument, claim the high ground of unity and accuse your opponent of division.  Running for president in 2000, George W. Bush famously said in an interview, "I'm a uniter, not a divider."  Of course.  He was also a compassionate conservative, which contrasts with conservatives who are just conservatives, only without the compassion.  The assumption by Bush was the left's criticism of conservatives, that they aren't compassionate.

I believe in unity.  I wrote a book on it.  In A Pure Church, I wrote the sections on unity and I exposed the primary passages on unity in the New Testament.  You can't understand separation without understanding unity.  Unity has been, however, perverted, and I have found that people aren't even talking about unity when they say the word.  It's like the word "love" has been distorted beyond recognition.  It's mutated into something entirely different than actual love, and the same has been done to unity.  It has occurred incrementally over many years, so that it went undetected, but it has drifted far off the path of truth into perversion.

How it has worked and works has been and is as the following.  There is established truth, doctrine and practice, from scripture and believed and traceable through history.  Let's say that I believe that.  Someone diverts from that.  I say something.  He says I'm divisive.  I accept his position and it's now accepted.  I don't want to be divisive.  He changes further, I say something.  He says I'm divisive.  You see where this is headed.  The divisive one is the one who keeps changing.  He's claiming the high ground of unity, when he doesn't have it.  He is the divisive one.  Saying I'm divisive is a strategy or technique, one or the other.  It's not the truth.  It's useful for justifying himself and warding off criticism or separation.

When someone is different than what I believe and practice, I don't just accept it.  It's different.  There can't be two right views.  That's not acceptable.  At the most generous, I ask him to show it to me scripturally.  I await the scriptural support.  I can change if I'm wrong, and I have done that.  Let's say for this thought experiment, it's not out of left field, so I ask, when has this been believed and by whom?  If it's true, I expect it to have history behind it as well.  If it's new, that's a lesser problem than not having scripture, but it is a problem.

On the other hand, if he doesn't have scriptural support, but rhetoric or hypotheticals or excuses, then he's the one causing division.  He's departing from scripture.  At that point, if I don't accept, and he says, you're divisive, I get what's happening.  I'm not divisive.  He's just going to use that.  It's not true, it's just a device he's employing, a kind of lie.  This is normal now.

The typical arguments I get today go after my consistency in application, something to the effect of, "I just don't think you're right," speaking of me, or "I need to study it out more, but what I do know is that I don't take your position."  Another one is that I don't have a right to question, because I'm not some kind of Baptist pope.   Some men are "past arguing."  They are too busy with success to argue.  They aren't going to argue.  If I want to cause division over such a doctrine or practice, I can, but they aren't going to argue.  They've got too many more important things.  It's too bad I've got to divide over such a thing, and they wish it weren't so, but they guess I'll just have to divide then.  Even if they did have the time to prove me wrong, I wouldn't accept it anyway, I'm so stubborn, so why even try.  You can't help a divisive person anyway, so why even respect what he says.

The problem too, as I've experienced it, is various forms of psychobabble.  It's pride, intellectual, spiritual, or whatever kind of pride, where I think I know more than other people.  I've got some kind of either insecurity that makes me have to be right all the time.  A very prominent, well known national figure told me, I can't put my finger on what it is, but there's something wrong.  I'm not kidding.  His experience told him something was wrong with me, and he didn't need to tell me because he's been around the block several times and he just knows these things in an intuitive non-concrete sort of way, so I should just believe him.  He can't explain, but I should take his hunch seriously.

Very often men play the victim, why do you have to pick on them?  They get criticized all the time, so join the club.  It's tough enough already and now my criticism in addition.  One man would face his critics with, I've got more people in my bathrooms at any given service than you do in the auditorium.  They don't have to answer, they don't want to answer, and they won't answer.

Division is from the truth.  Someone who separates over the truth wants unity.  You can't have unity without the truth.  You protect the truth by separating.  No truth-no unity, no separation-no truth.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 8 of 9: Exposition of John 15:6-11

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
The one who does not, as a summary of his life, abide (aorist tense), or continue faithful to Christ, is cast into hell fire, where he will be continually burned (present tense) for all eternity. The branch without genuine connection to the Lord pictures an unregenerate person with only an outward profession of Christianity. John 15:6 does not picture a loss of reward for a disobedient believer. Other than John 15:6, the verbs “cast forth” (ballo) and “burned” (kaio) are found together only in Revelation 8:8 and 19:20. Neither reference speaks of believers being cast forth or burned. Revelation 19:20 (cf. 20:11-15; 21:8, “the lake which burneth (kaio) with fire and brimstone”), however, demonstrates that the lost will be “cast (ballo) . . . into a lake of fire burning (kaio) with brimstone.” Furthermore, out of 125 instances of the verb “cast forth” (ballo) in the New Testament, believers are never once said to be cast forth by God, but the lost are, over and over again, said to be cast (ballo) into the fires of hell (note Matthew 3:105:132529-307:1913:424818:8-9Mark 9:42 (cf. vv. 41-48), 45, 47; Luke 3:912:5814:35Revelation 2:2212:491314:1918:2119:2020:31014-15). Thus, the verse indicates that a lack of fruit is evidence of a non-living connection to the vine. The present tense of ballo, in “cast” them into the fire, refers vividly (cf. the present tenses in Matthew 3:107:19Luke 3:9Revelation 2:22) to the unconverted being cast into eternal torment. The judgment of the lost in hellfire is associated with a similar plant and fruit-bearing image in John 15 as in Matthew 3:107:19Luke 3:9. These unregenerate, apostate, “withered” and fruitless branches (cf. Jude 12; Job 8:11-13James 1:11), of which Judas is the contextual example, are often “cast forth” (also ballo, here aorist, as in Mark 9:4547Revelation 20:15) in a certain sense in this life, through outward apostasy from the church, to which they had been outwardly united (cf. Matthew 13:47), whether voluntarily or through church discipline, but their ultimate rejection and separation from the elect will take place at the day of judgmentAt that time the wheat and chaff, the branches truly united to Christ and those only professedly so, will be “gathered” (sunago, cf. Matthew 3:1213:3025:32Luke 3:17) to their respective destinies of eternal joy or torment. The branches without union to Christ will glorify God’s justice in their miserable damnation; they will not glorify God here by good works, but they will glorify His justice by their being burned eternally (Ezekiel 15:2-5Romans 9:22).
Christ in this verse says “if a man” abide not, rather than “if ye abide not,” for, Judas having been separated from them, the remaining disciples were all genuine believers.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
This verse helps provide an understanding of the character of abiding in Christ; it is related to Christ’s words abiding in one. Christ’s own receive His words (John 17:8). Here again the aorist verb tenses represent the characteristic of a whole life. The promise, “ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done,” shows that the Lord will answer the prayers of His children, as their prayers are directed by His Word. Consider as well that while all believers have Christ’s words abiding in them, there can be different degrees of this abiding. All believers have received the Word, as Christ prayed for them (John 17:8), but they continue in it to different degrees, resulting in different degrees of fruitfulness.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
They already were His disciples, having become such at the moment of their conversion, but their bearing much fruit would evidence this. Fruit bearing is not an uncertain event; by bearing fruit, they “shall” certainly be His disciples in the future, as they certainly were at that time. The Father is certain to receive such glory from them, because the ones He has chosen unto life He has also chosen unto fruitfulness, v. 16. All believers bring forth fruit, and “every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 3:10). This is the consistent teaching of the entire Bible (Matthew 3:8107:16-2012:3313:82621:19344143Mark 4:7-82911:1412:2Luke 3:8-96:43-448:813:6-7920:10John 4:3612:2415:24-5816Romans 6:21-22Galatians 5:22 (contrast 5:19-21); Ephesians 5:9Philippians 1:11Hebrews 12:1113:15James 3:17-18). For this purpose of fruit-bearing the Father prunes His saints, v. 2. Since they were good trees, with living connection to Christ, they would bear good fruit as evidence thereof (Luke 6:43-45). Those who are “disciples indeed” will abide, persevere, or continue in His Word, John 8:31.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
They were to abide or continue faithful, continue to love Christ, for “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22). That the aorist of meno in this pericope represents a characteristic of what is true in general and at all times, rather than the simple action of a particular point in time, is evidenced in this verse. The Father’s love for His Son is certainly something true always, not something restricted to a particular moment, but it receives an aorist in this verse, as does Christ’s love for His elect, which is likewise unrestricted temporally; so we would expect the same sort of aorist for “continue/abide” here in relation to the action of the disciples.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
Genuine converts will keep Christ’s commandments, and thus evidence their continuing love for Christ, just as He continues to love them, John 14:2123. Christ’s obedience manifested His love for the Father (cf. 14:31) and His Father’s love for Him as the sinless Messiah and Mediator, and His eternal Son. The Savior showed He loved the Father by persevering or abiding obedience; so do the saints show their love. Saints abide in Christ (v. 4), in His love (v. 9), and keep His commandments (v. 10). Although these propositions are not strict equivalents, as the tense differentiations in vv. 9-10 between the keeping of the commandments and abiding in Christ’s love, and the differentiation between the tenses for Christ’s abiding in the Father’s love and keeping His commandments demonstrate, they all go together. They are a package deal (cf. 1 John 3:24).
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This symbol of the vine was revealed by the Lord so that His joy might remain, continue, or abide in His saints, and they might have full joy. Both things are certain for the saint as a characteristic of life, for the aorist verbs are of the same sort as those earlier in the passage (cf. John 17:1316:24). Their abiding obedience and fellowship with their Lord would take place through the Comforter Christ would send upon leaving them, and as the Spirit would abide in them, He would bring them joy (Acts 13:52Galatians 5:22).

See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Suicide of Evangelicalism

Truth is true.  You can believe it like the dismount in the crunch position in a fall from El Capitan in Yosemite.  There isn't going to be a nice landing.  It's true.  It's not kinda true.  The Bible is true like that, even more so, if it were possible to be more true.  Truth is what Christianity has going for it.  It's the truth.  If or when Christianity gives that up, it isn't Christianity anymore.  It might be something called Christianity, but it isn't actual or true Christianity, and since the truth is what makes Christianity, it isn't Christianity.  Evangelicalism has given that quality up.  They aren't claiming that any more.

Conservative evangelicals mock the idea of your choosing your own gender.  In her first day of a psychology class at local junior college, a student asked how many genders there were.  The teacher said three:  male, female, and whatever you want to be.  You may not think this is where evangelicalism is, but it is.

In evangelicalism, you have infant sprinkling and believer's baptism, amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism, young-earth and old-earth creationism, and both cessationism and continuationism.  You have rapped worship and total psalmody.  In conservative evangelicalism, those are all acceptable, all true.  You can nail the landing off of El Capitan  on two feet or stick it in the accordion position, where your ankles join your throat.  The placebo or the actual cure are the same.  It's whatever you want.

I'm calling this the suicide of evangelicalism.  It is.  It's worse than suicide, but it is at least suicide, not because I want it to be.  It just is.  This is what evangelicalism has been for a long time, because it is a slow death suicide.  It's already gone.  It's the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.

In evangelicalism, you can have the dark auditorium with a theater lit stage, rock drum trap set strategically placed up the middle under a spotlight, the pastor with a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and jumpers lining the children's area, or the old hymn accompanied by the solemn chords of a majestic pipe organ, pews filled with members in their Sunday best.  Neither is superior to the other.  One or the other is not to be judged.  The worse thing you could do in evangelicalism is to say it matters.

The world knows what I'm writing too.  In 2003, Alan Wolfe wrote, The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith. A secularist, Wolfe is no sheep --- he does not believe in God and he has no faith.  He wrote his book for his friends, sociologists and psychologists, soothing their fears for the encroachment of evangelicalism, the pressure from the religious right, the worry that evangelicals might take over society.  Wolfe tells them that they don’t have anything to worry about with the evangelicals, nothing to fear, because in an effort to be relevant they are abandoning all their tradition and all their doctrine.   Among many other things that he nails on evangelicalism, he writes:
Evangelical churches lack doctrine because they want to attract new members. Mainline churches lack doctrine because they want to hold onto those declining numbers of members they have.
This is akin, albeit in an even stronger and also happier way to the series of books authored over a decade ago by David Wells, starting with No Place for Truth.  Jeffrey Riddle, in a review of Wolfe's book, writes:
In his discussion of worship, the author notes the movement in both Protestant and Catholic circles away from formalism and reverence in worship toward individualism and narcissism. Wolfe calls attention to the shift toward contemporary worship music over “imposing and distant” classical sacred music and the doctrinal minimalism of power-point sermons in church-growth oriented congregations. He notes that liberals who fear the rise of strong religious belief in America “should not be fooled by evangelicalism’s rapid growth." Religion, he adds, like “Television, publishing,
political campaigning, education, self-help-advice—all increasingly tell Americans what
they already want to hear."
He continues:
Moving on to doctrine, Wolfe describes what he calls “the strange disappearance of doctrine from conservative Protestantism." American fundamentalists no longer care about dogma but about pragmatism. If fundamentalists are weak in this area, we can just imagine the assessment given to evangelicals: “By playing down doctrine in favor of feelings, evangelicalism far exceeds fundamentalism in its appeal to Christians impatient with disputation and argument."
Evangelicalism claims to stomp its brakes at the gospel, as if there is some scriptural basis for leaving this solitary category in a sacred position.  It also allows options on the gospel as seen in the wide divergence on this subject between lordship and free grace.  Even if the gospel could be kept sacrosanct by evangelicalism, which it isn't, the gospel can't be separated from the truth.  You can't preserve a true gospel when you won't preserve the truth about God.  It can't be preserved either by doing so.  Truth can't be dealt with in that way, which is how evangelicalism deals with the truth.  Even while they are protesting the erosion and destruction of the truth, they are the cause.  They don't treat the truth as the truth, that is, like the ultimate effects of gravitational force at the bottom of El Capitan.  Like those consequences, you really can't have it both ways.  By attempting to, evangelicalism, its churches and leaders and other institutions, have committed suicide.  Yes, I mean you evangelical, if you're reading.

Suicide isn't nice.  It isn't pretty.  It isn't better.  Evangelicals treat it like it is, as it relates to the suicide they commit.  While people are dying all around worse than a Jim Jones compound, they are more concerned and then upset about those trying to stop them.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Dan Barker - Thomas Ross Debate Transcript, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact."


I am thankful to announce that some fellow believers in the Lord have helped me to be able to publish a transcript of my first debate with Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact."  (The second debate is also getting transcribed.) I believe that this debate was a convincing victory for the Christian position, and part two, "Archaeology and Prophecy Validate the Bible as the Word of God," which should be watched in connection with the first debate, was an even more convincing victory for God's truth and His infallible Word.  The debate transcript includes the slides that were employed in the debate (I have been asked if these were available as they were thought to contain a strong presentation of the evidence for the Bible from the book of Daniel.)  The debate transcript can be viewed by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Case Study for Biblical Separation: James White and Michael Brown, According to Phil Johnson

I would be fine with Phil Johnson being right about separation and fine with James White too, if what they believed and practiced was biblical about separation.  I often check the old pyromaniacs twitter feed, because of the interesting links and comments of either Phil Johnson or Dan Phillips.  Through that feed, I've noticed the recent issue of some of James White's associations with various people and institutions.  Phil has been attacked by certain factions for his support of White, finding himself in the position of defending White and himself against certain charges.  A recent effort from Johnson was commentary on the friendship of James White with Michael Brown, the Jewish Charismatic apologist.

Several years ago, I attended the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in San Francisco, and in particular one session with a panel discussion on the book, Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism.  Separation came up in the discussion, because that differentiates all other forms of evangelicalism from fundamentalism.  I asked during the session where one book on biblical separation could be found anywhere in the mammoth book room for the ETS meeting.  In general, evangelicals ignore what scripture says about separation, so when you do read something about it, it's worth taking note.  How much will evangelicals rely on the Bible for their doctrine and practice?  Is what Phil writes about it true?  Does he represent what the Bible teaches about separation?

The James White and Michael Brown relationship and its interaction provide a case study for biblical separation.  I'm not writing to get personal with Phil Johnson or James White.  I see it as a great opportunity to think on God's Word about separation.  Separation is found in every New Testament epistle and all over the Old Testament.

Phil Johnson divides his article into main points.  First, he deals with the friendship of James White and Michael Brown.  He is not troubled that James White and Michael Brown are friends, because, he says, Michael Brown needs better, more scriptural friends.  It's worth considering.  What is the relationship between fellowship and friendship?  How are they different?  Can you be friends and yet not be in fellowship with someone?

At the beginning of his second point, Phil says that he doesn't tell his friends who they should and shouldn't be friends with.  Is that the biblical thing to do?  Phil offers no scriptural guidance for his dogmatic statement.  I would deal with friends over whom they're friends with, because they're my friends.  Several passages all over the Bible forbid ungodly associations (cf. 2 Sam 13:3; Ps 1:1, 101:3, 139:21-22; Prov 22:24; 1 Cor 15:33; Eph 5:11; James 4:4).  Friendship doesn't just relate to us, but it also relates to God.   In 1 Corinthians 10:24, Paul writes, "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils."  What or whom you associate with does matter to God.

Phil says second, "I deplore hyper-separatism almost as much as I hate ecumenism."  Ecumenism is a technical term with a lot written about it, while hyper-separatism is not.  Both terms need definition.  I've found him to provide anecdotes of hyper-separatism, often hypotheticals and straw men.  It would help to know what scripture says about separation and unity (like we have laid out in our book, A Pure Church).  Phil's first reference to scripture is to justify friendship with sinners from Luke 7:34.  Verses 33-34 say:
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
The "ye" of these two verses, the commentators upon John and Jesus, were the Pharisees.  The Pharisees called Jesus a "friend of sinners."  That doesn't mean He was a friend of sinners.  If Jesus was a friend of sinners, was He also a glutton, winebibber, and, did John the Baptist also have a devil?  Because Jesus cared for unsaved people and evangelized them, the Pharisees attacked him as being sinner's friend.  What we know is that He cared for and evangelized sinners.  We don't have any actual examples of the Lord Jesus being friends with unsaved people.  We should not justify friendship with all manner of doctrinal perversion and unbelievers by what the Pharisees said about Jesus -- that is a fallacious application of that passage.  It also clashes with other teaching in the Bible, which cautions believers about their friendships.

If a Pharisee asked me to eat with him, like Jesus, I would, and, like Jesus, with a purpose to evangelize.  That doesn't make the Pharisee and I friends.  The Apostle Paul distinguishes between who  we should and shouldn't socialize with in 1 Corinthians 5, treating professing believers different than unbelieving people.  Scripture teaches us that we shouldn't socialize with everyone.  We should try to help people follow what the Bible says about separation.  1 Corinthians 5 isn't talking about even friendship, but about socializing with someone.  It matters even who you socialize with, let alone who you are friends with.

According to Phil, "Dr. White stated that critics have been telling him, 'You have to separate yourself from anybody that you have disagreements with when it comes to theology.'"  I've heard James White enough, that I don't believe him.  He's striking a straw man as he so often does, and also is treating his criticism like he's persecuted.  I've never heard anyone say what he claims they have in my entire life.  I think you've got to be about as gullible as you can be to believe that critics, plural, have been saying that to James White -- "anybody that you have disagreements with when it comes to theology."

I would happy for anyone to show me one person who separates over every theological disagreement, even among the mystery group, the "hyper-separatists," what Phil describes as those "who seem to relish conflict and treat every disagreement as an excuse to fire off anathemas."  This doesn't exist as a problem.  The word "seem" probably gives Phil a semi-truck of deniability.  Who in the world treats every disagreement as an excuse to fire off anathemas?  I've never met one, except that Phil would probably categorize me as one.  Phil needs to do better than that for this to be a realistic discussion of fellowship and separation.  Anathemas are in the Bible in Galatians 1 or in 1 Corinthians 16 and they are reserved for those who preach a false gospel and those who love not the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whatever type of friendships Phil Johnson has, his own experience can't serve as a basis for friendship.  Is there any line to be drawn on friendship?  The way Phil talks, there isn't any.  That is dangerous teaching (which is different than saying anathema to the teaching).  What are the limitations?  Would a modern day Nadab and Abihu, offerers of strange fire, be fine friends?  Cain, post murder of Abel?  You might work with Korah, but should you be friends with him?  At what point are you complicit with someone's false teaching or conduct?  Maybe you're not offended with someone as a friend, but is God?  Life is not all about you.  If someone is your friend, couldn't he influence you, and you don't even know it?  Are you not also subject to possible deceit?  What does scripture say?

Phil Johnson focuses on a very narrow teaching and application of separation, that is, "we are forbidden by Scripture to partner with or promote someone who comes in Christ's name and perverts or rewrites the gospel (Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 7-11)" [underlining his]. The Bible has far more to say about separation than that.  It does teach that, but not in contradiction to the other several teachings about separation in the New Testament.  That's how Johnson communicates this issue, as if the teaching in those two passages has drained all the Bible says on the subject. Phil knows of 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14:
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. . . . And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him,, that he may be ashamed.
Among others, why not list those verses and their teaching too?  They apply to White and Brown and separation, and there are other passages too.

Hyper-separation seems to be any separation that is more than Phil's separation.  For years, I've noticed that's how both Phil and James White roll on separation.  Hyper should be something unscriptural, adding to scripture in some way.  We know God separated from everyone on earth except for Noah and his family.  Is that hyper separation?  The concern should be over biblical separation.  If someone obeys scripture on separation, he is not a hyper-separatist.  If someone is not a biblical separatist, is he an ecumenist?  What matters, what should matter, is that we are obedient to God and His Word.

Brandenburg-Wilhite Wedding (Now Mr. and Mrs. Derek Wilhite)

My daughter, Julia, married Derek Wilhite last Thursday at noon in Berkeley at the Brazilian area of Tilden Park.  Here is the wedding.

You'll find some interesting pictures and videos already online, and perhaps we'll share some more.
Here is a link to a video of the sendoff.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 7 of 9: Exposition of John 15:4-5

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
The aorist imperative “abide” here indicates the characteristic of the whole life of the saint, not a momentary action, or repeated points of faith-decisions to surrender to Christ; cf. the aorists of meno in Matthew 10:1126:38John 1:32. Commenting on the like form in v. 9, A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures stated that meinate is a “Constative first aorist active imperative of meno, summing up the whole.” A similar aorist for keeping Christ’s commandments appears in John 14:15. Remaining, continuing, persevering, or abiding as a characteristic of the whole life is the mark of the genuine convert, John 8:31. He will abide because Christ and the Spirit dwell or abide in him, and thus make certain his continued perseverance or abiding, 1 John 2:2427. “Abide in me” means to continue in Christ’s word and commandments, John 15:7 and 10, to remain united to Him. The true convert, because he is in Christ and Christ is in him, will persevere in unity with the Lord, and one would expect him to remain in unity with His church, which is His body, as well. There is also a connection between the second half of the command, “and I in you,” v. 4, and Christ’s words abiding in believers, v. 7. One notes that the imperative in v. 4 covers both halves of the abiding; saints are responsible for both the “abide in Me” and for the “and I in you.” Advocates of the position that only Christians that have received the “higher life” abide typically do not say that Christ only indwells those on the higher plane—but here those that abide in Christ are those who Christ abides in Himself. It is noteworthy that the commands here are all plural, addressed to the corporate pre-Pentecost church. Is there not a corporate, assembly requirement here for the church to be abiding in Christ, and Christ in the assembly, and His Words in her, as well as an individual application to do the same? In any case, the individual aspect is certainly found in Scripture, 1 John 3:24—the individual who abides or dwells in Christ individually keeps His commandments by the power of the indwelling Spirit.
No spiritual fruit, no good works, are possible without a living union to Christ, without abiding or dwelling in Him, a state brought about by regeneration (cf. also Hosea 14:8Galatians 2:20Philippians 1:11). On its own, “the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,” for the unregenerate man cannot in any way please God (Romans 8:7-8). However, saints can and do bear fruit, for they do abide or dwell in Christ.
That Christ commands His saints to abide or remain in Him does not require the possibility that they will fail to do so; rather, as has been demonstrated above, their continuing to abide is guaranteed by the Spirit’s dwelling or abiding in them (1 John 2:2427). Only those who overcome will enter into life (Revelation 2:71017263:21), but all believers will overcome (1 John 5:54:4). Their continuing to abide in Christ is as certain as Christ’s continuing to abide or dwell in them.
Note that Christ was in them; contrast Judas, who had Satan in him (6:70; 13:27), and consequently went into open apostasy. Christ is in His saints, and there He controls them and leads them to do righteousness and continue faithful to His Words, so they will not go into apostasy, but will abide in Him. The Lord Jesus does this in part through His sending of the Spirit, the Paraclete, who is such a prominent part of the discourse of John 14-16which surrounds the teaching of John 15:1ff. The Lord also guarantees the saints’ perseverance through His high priestly ministry (John 17, the postcontext of John 15). Christ’s High Priestly intercession guarantees believers both God’s preservation of their souls unto eternal life (John 17:24) and their perseverance in obedience (John 17:17).
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
The believer, who will abide (present tense) or remain faithful to Christ’s Word and commandments as a pattern of his life, will bring forth much fruit; good works are the certain consequence of spiritual union with Christ (John 3:19-218:3110:2712:24-26Mark 8:34-36Matthew 13:23Romans 6:22Galatians 5:18-24Ephesians 2:10Colossians 1:6). In contrast, the unregenerate man cannot bear any spiritual fruit or do any good works. The “much fruit” phrase is found here in v. 5 and in v. 8, as “more fruit” appears in v. 2 (and “fruit” with “more fruit” certainly looks like “much fruit”). The only previous appearance of the phrase in the New Testament is in John 12:24,[5] where “much fruit” is a result of Christ’s death. Living union with the Christ who died and rose again, a position in the vine, results in the bearing of much fruit. Those who are united to Him bear much fruit and are disciples, saved people, John 15:8.

See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Negativity of the Holy Spirit

Since the Holy Spirit is spirit after all, so we can't see Him, He is easier for men to mold into what they prefer Him to be.  He is Who He is, which is what scripture says about Him.  The Holy Spirit, yes, gives joy, peace, those fruit of the Spirit, which people want.  They want other people to get love, you know, so that they'll be able to receive their love, because they do want that.

2 Thessalonians 2:7 gives a title to the Holy Spirit, "he who now letteth," which is katecho, "to hold back," a modern understanding being, "restrainer."  In 2 Thessalonians 2, the Holy Spirit restrains from apostasy, restraint without which would be total apostasy.  He holds back the sewage by restraining.

In general, restraint is negative.  People want something and someone stops or impedes what they want.  In the case of the Holy Spirit, He is not giving someone something, but stopping him from having it.

When Jesus talked about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in very important teaching of His disciples before His death (John 16:8), He said that the Holy Spirit "will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."  "Reprove" is to convict, that is, to prove guilty.   He reproves someone for something he has done of which the Holy Spirit does not approve.  He points out wrongdoing with the goal of repentance.

One of the list of the fruit of the Spirit is "temperance."  Temperance is about doing something you don't want to do or not doing something you want to do.  The Holy Spirit works toward self-control.

The Holy Spirit is called the Restrainer as a title.  Some might say, "Well, He's also called 'the Comforter.'"  Right.  "Comforter" has changed in understanding since the KJV translators gave that translation to the Greek word paraklesis.  The English word comes from the Latin, com, "with," and forte, "strength," so the etymology of the English word is "with strength."

The Holy Spirit is the Strength Giver as a title and the Restrainer as one too.  The Holy Spirit inspired scripture, a lot of which is negative.  As you know, the ten commandments are almost all negative.

Negativity is a trait of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in and through a believer, the believer will be negative too.  Very often, people who are often negative are assumed to be unspiritual.  Spirituality is many times seen almost entirely as chipper and upbeat and high energy.

John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15).  How positive was John the Baptist?  Not very.  He was very often as negative as someone could be.  That manifested the Holy Spirit in Him.

I'm not saying that you should go out of your way to be negative because now you see the Holy Spirit to be negative.  It will just occur in your life if you are regenerated by the Spirit and then filled with the Spirit.  You will see sin or scorning or foolishness and you will say something negative about it.  It's what the Holy Spirit does.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Faithful Flooring

A brother in my church, Jim Appel, has a ministry called "Faithful Flooring," through which he uses his extensive ability in flooring and remodeling to help the Lord's churches and saints.  He states his goal as the following:

My desire is to encourage Christian churches, camps, colleges, and other local-church ministries by using the abilities God has given me. Having a desire to be a help and blessing to the local church, I only request that travel expenses and lodging would be covered for the duration of any project in which I help. If you do choose to take a love offering, your liberality would be greatly appreciated and would enable me to minister to many others.

If your church needs help with flooring or remodeling projects, and your independent Baptist church has beliefs and practices similar to mine, I would encourage you to contact Bro Appel on his website.  He is a faithful servant of Christ and of the saints.

I also have Bro Appel's testimony of conversion on my website in case you wish to read it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Ministry of Satan as Caused or Allowed by God

Scripture has everything anyone needs to know about Satan.  Whatever we can know about Satan, we get from scripture and there is no other source.  Satanology is a subcategory of angelology, the doctrine of angels, which has far less biblical source material as a basis than, for instance, the doctrine of God and the doctrine of salvation.

In 1 Thessalonians 2, in answer to false teachers and his critics at Thessalonica, Paul explains why he had not been back there yet.  Men were using that against him and his teaching with the saints in Thessalonica.  One of the points he makes in his defense is in verse 18:
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
Paul writes, "Satan hindered us."  Paul said, I would have arrived there already at some point, but Satan hindered us.  Satan can hinder us.  Other places in scripture teach this.

What we should say in light of Job (chapters 1-2) and the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is that God allows or causes Satan to hinder us.  God uses Satan.  When He used Satan with Job to try Job, God was trying Job.  Consider 1 Corinthians 5:5, also Paul writing:
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus
Satan's destruction of the flesh is used by God so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Satan does something that results in someone being saved.

I'm calling the work God allows Satan to do, the ministry of Satan.  Job was tried and purified by the ministry of Satan.  The member of the church at Corinth was delivered by the ministry of Satan.  Scripture says this.  What good could have come to Thessalonica by Satan hindering Paul?  A lot.

In the next chapter (3), Timothy is sent.  Timothy gets to be used.  The work of Paul and Timothy is divided and, therefore, multiplied.  The church at Thessalonica must trust the Word of God that Paul had preached (2:13).  This is good, relying on the Word of God.  They can't lean on Paul, so they have to stand on their own.  That's also good.  In so many cases, I've seen Christians lean so much on others, they don't stand on their own to the degree they should.  Of course, every believer stands on his own, but not to the degree that he should.  He needs to grow and having to stand on his own can help in this.  It's the spiritual equivalent of being pushed out of the boat, so he has to swim on his own.

God doesn't take away every opposition for the believer in His Christian life.  Sometimes God sends it or allows it.  This is the later "thorn in the flesh" of 2 Corinthians 12:7:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
Again, "the messenger of Satan" is the thorn in the flesh.  Sometimes we might want all the problems taken away, but that's why we're here still in part -- to deal with problems.  It's how we grow and how the people grow to whom we minister.

In Thessalonians, Paul doesn't pray that he would not be hindered.  He was being hindered.  What does he do?  He trusts the sovereignty of God.  During times of hindrance, we should apply scripture.  Paul didn't do that in 2 Corinthians 12.  Instead, he prayed that God would take away the thorn in the flesh.  He didn't want hindrance.  God said that His grace was sufficient.  God's grace is sufficient.  That is both a popular and unpopular message.

The messenger of Satan would strengthen Paul.  His strength would be made perfect through weakness.  This is the ministry of Satan again.


[By the way, if God uses Satan, He can also use Donald Trump, whom some readers think is Satan.]