Tuesday, January 21, 2014

False Prophets and Judgment

"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.  For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk.  So you shall purge the evil from your midst."  Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ESV

"For what have I to do with judging outsiders?  Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside.  Purge the evil person from among you." 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV

"For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" 1 Peter 4:17 ESV

Explanation for Deuteronomy 13:1-4 from The MacArthur Study Bible, page 267.

13:1-18  After the general prohibition of involvement in Canaanite worship (12:29-31).  Moses discussed three ways in which the temptation to idolatry was likely to come to Israel: 1) through a false prophet (13:1-5); 2) through a family member (vv. 6-11); or 3) through apostates in some Canaanite city (vv. 12-18).

13:2 the sign or wonder. . .comes to pass.  Miraculous signs alone were never meant to be a test of truth (cf. Pharaoh's magicians in Ex. 7-10).  A prophet or a dreamer's prediction may come true, but if his message contradicted God's commands, the people were to trust God and his word rather than such experience.  Let us go after other gods.  The explicit temptation was to renounce allegiance to the Lord and go after other gods.  The result of this apostacy would be the serving of these false gods by worshiping them, which would be in direct contradiction to the first commandment (Deut. 5:7).

13:3 The LORD your God is testing you.  God, in his sovereignty, allowed the false prophets to entice the people to apostasy to test the true disposition of the hearts of the Israelites.  And while the temptation was dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love for God and obedience to his commandments. Cf. 6:5.

13:5  purge the evil from your midst.  The object of the severe penalty was not only the punishment of the evildoer, but also the preservation of the community.  Paul must have had this text in mind when he gave a similar command to the Corinthian church (cf. 1 Cor. 5:13; also Deut. 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 24:7).

Explanation for 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 from The MacArthur Study Bible, page 1690.

5:12-13  outsiders.  Paul never intended himself or the church to be judges of unbelievers outside the church, but to judge those inside (cf. 1 Pet. 4:17).  Those on the outside are for God to judge and believers to evangelize.  Those who sin on the inside, the church is to put out.  First Corinthians 5:13 is quoted from Deut. 17:7.

Explanation for 1 Peter 4:17 from The MacArthur Study Bible, page 1896.

4:17  judgment. . .household of God.  Not condemnation, but the purging, chastening, and purifying of the church by the loving hand of God.  It is far better and more important to kingdom work to endure suffering as the Lord purges and strengthens the church, than to endure the eternal sufferings of the unbeliever in the lake of fire.  And, if God so strongly and painfully judges his church, which he loves, what will be his fury on the ungodly?

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus,  I lift up those reading this to You today.  I pray that You will protect our hearts and our minds so that we will not be deceived by false prophets or false gospels.  I pray that the truth of the Bible will be made evident to all.  I say these things in Jesus' name.  Amen.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quiet Prayers

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time."  I Timothy 2:1-6 ESV

"Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear--but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."  1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV

Explanation for  I Timothy 2:1-6 from The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV, page1814-1815.

2:1-8, The Ephesian church had evidently stopped praying for the lost, since Paul urged Timothy to make it a priority again.  The Judaistic false teachers in Ephesus, by a perverted gospel and the teaching that salvation was only for Jews and Gentile proselytes to Judiasm, would have certainly restricted evangelistic praying.  Religious exclusivism (salvation only for the elite) would preclude the need for prayer for the lost.

2:1 supplications.  The Greek word is from a root that means "to lack", "to be deprived", or "to be without."  Thus this kind of prayer occurs because of a need.  The lost have a great need for salvation, and believers should always be asking God to meet that need.  intercessions.  This word comes from a root meaning "to fall in with someone," or "to draw near so as to speak intimately."  The verb from which this word derives is used of Christ's and the Spirit's intercession for believers (Rom. 8:26; Heb. 7:25).  Paul's desire is for the Ephesian Christians to have compassion for the lost, to understand the depths of their pain and misery, and to come intimately to God pleading for their salvation.  See notes on Titus 3:3-4.  all people. The lost in general, not the elect only.  God's decree of election is secret--believers have no way of knowing who is elect until they respond.  The scope of God's evangelistic efforts is broader than election (Matt. 22:14; John 17:21, 23; see note on 1 Tim. 2:4)

2:2 kings and all who are in high postions.  Because so many powerful and influential political rulers are hostile to God, they are often the targets of bitterness and animosity.  But Paul urges believers to pray that these leaders might repent of their sins and embrace the gospel, which meant that the Ephesians were even to pray for the salvation of the Roman emperor, Nero, a cruel and vicious blasphemer and persecutor of the faith.  a peaceful and quiet life.  "Quiet" refers to the absence of external disturbances; "peaceful" refers to the absence of internal ones.  While it remains uncompromising in it commitment to the truth, the church is not to agitate of disrupt the national life.  When it manifests love and goodness to all and prays passionately for the lost, including rulers, the church may experience a certain amount of religious freedom.  Persecution should only be the result of righteous living, not civil disobedience (see notes on Titus 3:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-23)  godly and dignified. "Godly" is a key word in this letter (I Tim. 3:16; 4:7-8; 6:3, 5-6, 11: cf. 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:1), indicating that there needed to be a call back to holy living, which had been negatively affected by the false doctrine.  Godliness refers to having the proper attitude and conduct before God in everything, "dignified" can be translated "moral earnestness," and refers to holy behavior before men.

2:4 desires all people to be saved.  The Greek word for "desires" is not that which normally expresses God's will of decree (his eternal purpose), but God's will of desire.  There is a distinction between God's desire and his eternal saving purpose, which must transcend his desires.  God does not want men to sin.  He hates sin with all his being (Ps. 5:4; 45:7); thus, he hates its consequences--eternal wickedness in hell.  God does not want people to remain wicked forever in eternal remorse and hatred of himself.  Yet, God, for his own glory, and to manifest that glory in wrath, chose to endure "vessels. . .prepared  for destruction" for the supreme fulfillment of his will (Rom. 9:22).  In his eternal purpose he chose only the elect out of the world (John 17:6) and passed over the rest, leaving them to the consequence of their sin, unbelief, and rejection of Christ (cf. Rom. 1:18-32).  Ultimately, God's choices are determined by his sovereign, eternal purpose, not his desires.  See note on 2 Pet. 3:9.  the knowledge of the truth.  Meaning "to be saved." See note on 2 Tim. 3:7

2:5 there is one God.  There is no other way of salvation (Acts 4:12); hence there is the need to pray for the lost to come to know the one true God (cf. Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 45:5-6, 21, 22; 46:9; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6)  mediator.  This refers to someone who intervenes between two parties to resolve a conflict or ratify a covenant Jesus Christ is the only "mediator" who can restore peace between God and sinners (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).  the man Christ Jesus.  The absence of the article before "man" in the Greek suggests the translation, "Christ Jesus, himself a man."  Only the perfect God-Man could bring God and man together. Cf. Job 9:32-33.

2:6 a ransom.  This describes the result of Christ's substitutionary death for believers, which he did voluntarily (John 10:17-18), and reminds one of Christ's own statement in Matt. 20:28, "a ransom for many."  The "all" is qualified by the "many."  Not all will be ransomed  (though his death would be sufficient), but only the many who believe by the work of the Holy Spirit and for whom the actual atonement was made.  See note on 2 Pet. 3:9.  Christ did not pay a ransom only; he became the object of God's just wrath in the believer's place--he died his death and bore his sin (cf 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24).   for all. This should be taken in two sensees: 1) there are temporal benefits of the atonement that accrue to all people universally (see note on 1 Tim. 4:10), and 2) Christ's death was sufficient to cover the sins of all people.  Yet the subsitutionary aspect of his death is applied to the elect alone (see above and notes on 2 Cor. 5:14-21).  Christ's death is therefore unlimited in its sufficiency, but limited in its application.  Because Christ's expiation of sin is indivisible, inexhaustible, and sufficient to cover the guilt of all the sins that will ever be committed, God can clearly offer it to all.  Yet only the elect will respond and be saved, according to his eternal purpose (cf. John17:12). 
at the proper time.  At the appropriate time in God's redemptive plan (see note on Gal. 4:4).

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus I lift up everyone who is reading your Word today.  I pray that You will open their eyes to the truth of the one and only Gospel found in the Bible.  I pray for the unsaved that they will hear with their ears and see with their eyes the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.  I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.