Sunday, May 31, 2020

Verse of the Week: Genesis 12:1

Verse of the Week: Genesis 12:1
                Now the LORD said to Abram,
                                “Go forth from your country,
                                And from your relatives
                                And from your father’s house,
                                To the land which I will show you; Genesis 12:1

A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are two basic types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional or bilateral covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.[1]

The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant.

Now the LORD said to Abram,
                                “Go forth from your country,
                                And from your relatives
                                And from your father’s house,
                                To the land which I will show you; Genesis 12:1

Now- At the right time, God’s timing, the LORD spoke with Abram and revealed His will towards Abram and his family.

The LORD- The covenant-keeping LORD. The One whose word can be relied upon forever.
When you read vv. 1-3 you notice all the “I’s” in the passages. He providentially controls all in connection with Abram to preserve the one from which would come the Savior.

Said to Abram- We know that God made this promise to Abram before he left Ur of the Chaldees from Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7:

2 And he [Stephen] said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,
4 “Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God removed him into this country in which you are now living. Acts 7:2-4

God called Abraham was first given while he was in Mesopotamia. Later he went to Haran and later to the Promised Land.

Go forth- Depart. Get out. Start your long journey. By leaving his country in obedience to God’s Word, Abram would start a chain of events that would reverberate throughout the centuries. His obedience is felt today in the simple fact that the nation of Israel, tiny little Israel, can one day be threatened with annihilation, another day find a cure to some disease, and another day be said to be the blame if there is another world war.

The willingness to obey this call would require the greatest amount of confidence and faith in God that we read about in Scripture. There is nothing in Scripture that in any way infers that Abram “deserved” or “merited” this great honor. The only reason that he was elected to do this was God’s will.

God’s commands should always be obeyed. Sometimes He explains why and sometimes He doesn’t be we can be assured all of His commands are for our good.

From your country- Haran. There was much danger in this land. His father had died which left him the patriarch of his little family. This compelled him to a complete obedience to complete the task set before him by God.

The timing of this call cannot be overlooked. The destruction of Babel was still fresh on mind of people. The dispersion of the nations is still in progress when Abram is called. Men had added to their sins against God by adding idolatry. God has apparently abandoned the nations and is working through one man, Abram. From him He will build a new nation, a nation that is dedicated to Him. A chosen nation whose purpose is to prepare the way for God’s ultimate manifestation of love, Jesus Christ. This nation would be the representatives to an ungodly world of who the one, true God is.

And from…And from- Break off all familial ties. This was a call to break off all and separate himself from all natural ties and from all that was familiar to him.

Maybe if he had paid total attention and hadn’t taken Lot, he might have saved himself quite a bit of heartache.

Your relatives- Those tied to him by blood. Just like with Abram, our families are able to exert a more subtle and powerful influence over us than many of us realize.

Your father’s house- The sacrifice of breaking the one nearest you.

Arthur Pink writes: “Abram called upon to separate himself from his home and kindred and bidden to go out into a place which afterwards God would give him for an inheritance, typifies the one whose citizenship in in heaven but who is still in the world, and in consequence, called upon to walk by faith and live as a stranger and pilgrim on earth.”[2]

To the land- One of three aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant. This was the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, what would later be known as Israel. The land possessed by the modern state of Israel is just a small part of the promised that God made to Abram. The first provision of the Abrahamic Covenant can be described as follows:

Land is the first provision mentioned of the Abrahamic Covenant. It was a not any land, but a specific land, it was actual acreage. The dimensions are specified in Genesis 15:

                                18 [3]On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,
                                                “To your descendants I have given this land,
                                                From the river of Egypt[4] as far as the great river, the 
                                                river Euphrates;
                                19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadomnite
                                20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim
        21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”
        Genesis 15:18-21

In Genesis 13 God gives Abraham all the land that he can see, and the gift is declared to be “forever”:

for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and your descendants forever. Genesis 13:15

God will never renege on His promise. Hundreds of years after Abraham died, the children of Israel took possession of the land while under Joshua’s leadership. However, at no point in history has Israel controlled all the land God had specified. There remains, therefore, a final fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant that will fully see Israel occupying their God-given homeland. The fulfillment will be more than a matter of geography; it will also be a time of holiness and restoration. This is a guarantee that has not come true yet but will come into being when Christ returns and establishes His millennial kingdom.

The territory given as part of the Abrahamic Covenant is expanded in Deuteronomy 30:1–10, This covenant is often called erroneously the Palestinian Covenant.

From this we understand that the Abrahamic Covenant is:

1.       Eternal. It will be handed down to Abram’s descendants until the Perfect One returns on the scene and claims His kingdom.
2.       Literal. This is not spiritual or figurative.
3.       Unconditional. The Scriptures afford a most complete line of evidence in support of the unconditional character of the covenant. (1) All Israel’s covenants are unconditional except the Mosaic. The Abrahamic Covenant is expressly declared to be eternal and therefore unconditional in numerous passages (Gen 17:7, 13, 19; 1 Chron 16:17; Ps 105:10). The Palestinian Covenant is likewise declared to be everlasting (Ezek 16:60). The Davidic Covenant is described in the same terms (2 Sam 7:13, 16, 19; 1 Chron 17:12; 22:10; Isa 55:3; Ezek 37:25). The new covenant with Israel is also eternal (Isa 61:8; Jer 32:40; 50:5 ; Heb 13:20).[5]

Which I- Sovereignty. God is in control of every step of this journey.

Will show you- Abram would know the direction, but he did not know the specific inheritance that was being discussed. It was only after Abram entered the Promised Land that God revealed to him that Canaan was his destination.

[2] Gleanings in Genesis, Arthur Pink, p 140.
[3] The boundaries of the promise land are now given for the first time.
[4] The river of Egypt- I.e., the Nile. This promise has not been fulfilled but will be when Christ returns.

Revelation 10

A verse-by-verse study of Revelation 10. We are given a short break from the trumpet judgments. John is given a small book and told to "eat it". He consumes the words which are sweet, yet very bitter.

Revelation 10

Revelation 9

A verse-by-verse study of Revelation 9. The last of the trumpets are ready to be sounded. From their sounding will come demonic creatures which will plague mankind with pain and death.

Revelation 9:1-12

Revelation 9:13-21

Friday, May 22, 2020

Psalm 4

A verse-by-verse study of Psalm 4. In this psalm David is pouring out his complaint against his slanderous enemies and finding peace and and a place of refuge in God.

Psalm 4

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Revelation 8

A verse-by-verse study of Revelation 8 from a premillennial perspective.

As the seventh seal is opened there is an eerie silence in heaven for half an hour. Trumpets are given to seven angels and the first four trumpets are sounded.

Revelation 8:1-6

Revelation 8:7-13

Verses of the Week: 1 Timothy 3:6-7

Verses of the Week: 1 Timothy 3:6-7

7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:6-7

                Welcome to our final lesson on the qualifications for the position of an elder. Each week we have examined the qualifications of what it is needed to be an elder in the church. We finish with our last two qualifications, not a new covert, and a good reputation with the community. These are extremely important qualifications considering what the elder does in the church and out in the community.

                Once again, we are reminded that these qualifications are for the “now.” They are not qualifications that one aspires to. To be an elder you must be exhibiting these qualifications in the here and now.

                I would recommend for any who wish to further their understanding of elders and their importance in the church, along with all facets of church structure today, to purchase and study Dr. Mal Couch’s book, “A Biblical Theology of the Church.”

6 and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil
7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:6-7

                Not a new covert- The Greek word means “to be newly planted.” When a man is a new convert to the Christian faith advancement to a leadership position is not a wise idea. They should be allowed to grow “deep roots” in the faith and in the community before authority is considered for them. Even if this is an older man, who has experienced the world and possess much natural wisdom, he should not be an elder until he has demonstrated Biblical wisdom. Just being elderly does not qualify you for this position.

Another idea of the new convert is the idea of “spiritual babies.” They are still “babies” in the faith, having not grown up on the Word of God and having faced the world the world as a believer to discover what the world has in store for them.  Spiritual babes cannot carry on the work of the Lord in the local church.

The new convert being assigned to such a position as an elder may become puffed up with pride and therefore make arbitrary decisions. The most mature believers have times when they wrestle with temptation. Jesus faced Satan's temptations (Matthew 4:1–11), though He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). They have had more experience in dealing with the temptations and stresses of the Christian life. Also, they are more aware of their own shortcomings, so they are less likely to become arrogant. For these reasons, a person who is new in their faith should not be given spiritual authority over others.

Mature believers are better equipped to teach and equip members of the church. Their inexperience will limit their use to the church and to the members who may come to him for advice, not knowing the Scriptures enough to give Bible-based advice.  The elder should be the following:

1.       A man of experience, both in the Scriptures and in the world
2.       A man trained in the Scriptures. This does not mean they have gone to church their whole life therefore they know all there is. They must be able to demonstrate that they know the Scriptures and how to properly apply them to daily life situations for others.
3.       A man trained to teach the truth of the Scriptures.
4.       And as added in v. 7, a man who has proved his experience by his daily living in the church and before the community.

                He become conceited-  This literally means “to raise a smoke, emit smoke, or smolder” being puffed up. The idea is metaphorically "to blind with pride or conceit." Because of rapid advancement into a place of authority and leadership causes him to become proud. The novice is so inflated with self-conceit and ideas of his own importance, he is not able see himself or others in reality.

This is not the only reason, but it is a good one. It would difficult for young men who do not have deep roots in their faith to assume a position of humbleness and servanthood. Though age and maturity are not  complete proof against this; a more mature believer is much less likely to be injured after they have had the experience of how his heart leads him, and with a  mind has been deeply taught in knowledge with the spirit of the gospel and filled with the Holy Spirit.

                Fall- This fall may incur dishonor not just in his ministerial life but also in his personal life depending on the attack from Satan.

                Into condemnation- This is condemnation on account of pride. Just as Satan had pride grab him and control him, so to a novice is very susceptible to pride and the consequences that follow. The temptation that grabbed Satan will be used by Satan to grab the new convert.

                Incurred by the devil- Satan will know the weakest point to ensnare the new believer. He knows how to drag him down and mercilessly buffet him. Pride is an extraordinarily strong pull on a new believer if they are moved into a position of authority. They begin to believe the words of praise that is given in their direction. They will begin to feel more that this is something that is up to them, instead of relying on God.

                He must have- No choice.

                A good reputation- A good testimony. When the leader in the church has a bad reputation in the community, it often brings irreparable damage to the local congregation and indeed the entire of Christ.

                One church I attended the pastor was a historic premillennial. I attended a prophecy seminar and was approached by another attendee who noticed the name of the church on my badge. He inquired why I would be at a dispensational seminar coming from a church that was historic premillennial. It shocked me for a second how much those outside the local church attach the pastor’s belief to the whole congregation. I informed him that the majority of the church had no idea what the pastor’s end times beliefs were. Many in that church were unknowingly dispensational premillennial.

                With those outside the church- Unbelievers. Church leaders are representatives the church they minister in. The church, the people, and the facility, do not exist in a vacuum. Those that the church do business with have great insight on the elders and the way the church is run.

                Why is this important? Because those outside the church are the fields that need to be harvested. The body of Christ, especially its earthly authorities, should be continually seeking to have a godly influence for Christ upon the world. We should eye every opportunity for leading sinners to Christ. Any elder who has a bad reputation with the world will be wholly ineffective in achieving the goal of bringing others of Christ.

                There will always be those outside the church that will criticize and condemn any man who leads a clean and righteous life. But a majority in the community will be pleased with a man who properly leads the church. The judgment from outsiders will form an opinion of the church. The elder must lead a life that will communicate to unbeliever’s confidence and respect and not give reason to accuse them.

                So- In order that.

                He many not fall- We know that this fallen world’s great desire is to discover and expose men of authority in the church as hypocrites and sinners.     

                Into reproach- A bad reputation in the neighborhood. Suddenly the whole town will believe any gossip they hear about the young elder. With gossip the truth does not matter, only if the story being told is interesting and other want to hear.  He is in no way to bring dishonor to the ministry that he has been elevated to.

                And the snare of the devil- Satan likes nothing more than to disgrace God’s work and God’s people by trapping church leaders in sin before a watching world. It is important that elders achieve and maintain a good reputation before unbelievers.

I hope you have enjoyed and been enlightened as to what it entails to be an elder. It is not something any man should lightly consider. While it is a heavy duty it is also a great honor that must be bestowed only on those who qualify according to what Scripture dictates.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Revelation 7

A verse-by-verse study of Revelation 7. John sees two groups of people. The converted 144,00 Jewish evangelists and the great multitude from all over the earth now in heaven.

Revelation 7:1-8, The 144,000

Revelation 7:9-17, The Great Multitude

Monday, May 11, 2020

Psalm 3

A verse-by verse study of Psalm 3. David, encouraged by God and His protection, during the revolt of Absalom writes of God's deliverance and anticipates continuing victories from God.

Psalm 3

Verse of the Week: I Timothy 3:2

Verse of the Week: I Timothy 3:2

And overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 1 Timothy 3:2

We begin our look at the 16 qualifications that Paul lists for those who aspire to be elders. What we see are extremely high standards for the responsibility they will be entrusted to. No one is perfect, or will become perfect in this life, but the goal is there for the elder to work for.

Each of these is written in the present tense in the Greek. They are to be found right now in those who wish to be elders. There should never be a future promise of “I will change” or “I am working on that.” These 16 qualifications are bedrock necessities for the man who wishes to be an elder.

And overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 1 Timothy 3:2

(1) Be above reproach- This most important quality is at the head of the qualifications. This does not mean the man is perfect, for none of are perfect. But that his maturity in faith and confidence in the Word of God is a constant shield to him enabling him to deflect many of the snares that Satan sets for him.

This is the man who it is impossible to bring any charge of wrongdoing if he was brought before a panel of impartial judges. He is not liable to criticism as he would be if he failed in any of these qualities. The overseer must be blameless in his behavior. No one can point a finger at him and accuse him of anything because of the way he lives his life. What people see in him, both in the church and out of the church, is who the man is. His character is blameless.

(2) Husband of one wife- First and foremost this indicates that the elder must be a married man. He is not to be single and not to be living at home. The elders home life, how he leads his wife and children, will be a great measuring rod (though not perfect) on how he will lead the church. Whenever elders are seen in scriptures they are married and have children.

This is a controversial portion of the elder qualifications.  The simple meaning is, “married only once.” There have been two general interpretations of this:

1.       He has never been divorced.
2.       He is the husband of only one wife, in other words not a bigamist.

Dr. Couch comments:
No scholar worth his salt can be dogmatic as to the meaning of this phrase. Since polygamy was still fashionable among the pagans and the Jews (up to the 12th century), more than likely the passage has reference to such practice. As well, coming out of a pagan culture, no elder could have escaped its pollution in his past. More than likely, then, an elder could have been divorced but matured spiritually since and could have held office. Though divorce is tragic, it is not the “unpardonable sin” some make it. Again, using the present tense in Greek, Paul would be saying: “The husband of one wife presently.”[1]

Church Father Theodoret (c. 393-c. 458/466):
And even now, though the Imperial laws forbid men to marry two wives at one time, they have commerce with concubines and harlots. They have said, therefore, that the holy apostle declared that he who dwells in a becoming manner with a single wife is worthy of being ordained to the episcopate… [an elder]”

Church father and translator of the Vulgate, Jerome (c. 347-420) stated in his notes on Titus that many of the church divines (one learned in theology) wrote and taught this was merely to condemn polygamy, not to exclude men who had been married twice.

(3) Temperate- They are sober or well-balanced. The use liquor in moderation. The Scripture never prohibits the use of alcohol. It does however prohibit the abuse and being drunk. HOWEVER, if by drinking you cause a brother to stumble or cause one to sin you are liable. By all our actions our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, our loved for the unsaved, comes before any exercise of our Christian freedom. Paul writes:

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Romans 15:1
It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. Romans 14:21

The Greek word, nephalios, meant “not mixed with wine.” They are to be calm and unimpassioned in their mind. They are not the type who fly off the handle or let outside influences control their actions. They keep their mind on God and on His Word as his guide and do not use outside sources as his standard.

(4) Prudent- They are self-controlled or of a sound mind. The elder is someone who follows sound reason. They do not listen to an idea and jump at it. They listen to a proposal, weigh the different factors involved (what are they saying, what does Scripture say, is there precedent in the Scripture) and come to a decision based on what is discovered.

(5) Respectable- The basic meaning of this word is “orderly.” But Greek writers often used it in the sense of being honorable. Both meanings would fit well with our discussion, but honorable seems to stand out in what is being taught about the elder. The elder should walk as he talks. If he speaks out against something, he should not be caught doing the same thing. He is the example for the church.

(6) Hospitable- This is from the Greek word philoxenon, which literally means “loving strangers. This word carries the idea of friend or friendly. Elders were to give a friendly reception and proper fellowship to fellow believers.

The elders are to love those who were strangers in the flesh, but brothers in Christ. This would build upon #3 since wisdom indicates you do not invite all strangers into your home and expose them to your family. If you are not temperate, this qualification could become extremely dangerous.

In the first century Christians avoided public inns. Traveling was not as it is today. Safety standards for the food lodging was word of mouth if anyone had gotten sick or died while staying there. Most inns had a pagan atmosphere and food that had been offered up to the gods or local idols. Traveling believers would seek out Christian homes to stay and enjoy the fellowship of fellow believers. This would cement the lines of fellowship and provide a point of reference should they come back through. The elder was to open up his home to those seeing a place to stay.

One of the byproducts was that believers from all over would get to know each other. The church would learn just how international in character believers in Christ were. Many believers did not travel much more than twenty miles from where they were born. But they could still learn through those who lodged with them what the world outside their knowledge was like.

(7) Able to teach- This is not listed in the qualifications for a deacon. This is the primary function of the elder. Not leading worship, not organizing the church picnic or counting the offering plate. Teaching is their primary focus.

Not merely a readiness to teach is implied here. Though many want to teach not all should teach:

Let not many of you become teachers,[2] my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment [Bema Seat Judgement]. James 3:1

This is not merely a desire to do so, but a calling by God to be a teacher. It is a spiritual power that can only be given through prayerful meditation in the Word of God and the practical application of the truth of Scripture to oneself. As mentioned in #5 if an elder cannot “walk as he talks” he cannot be a teacher.

The elder must be able not only to understand the Word of God but he must be able to communicate it on a level that those under his spiritual care can understand. He must be able to communicate truth to other while at the same time be able to refute those who mishandle the truth. He must be aware of the times and the false doctrines and “holy fads” that are entering the church. An elder must be able to logically communicate, clear, rational, truth that builds a doctrinal framework in the believer.

Paul writes to Titus concerning elders and teaching:

holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound [healthy] doctrine and to refute [expose] those who contradict. Titus 1:9

The elder must know the word before he can “hold fast” to it. This can only come through study, prayer, and continual immersion in God’s Word. “The teaching” indicates that there were set teachings that were given to all who were under their tutelage. The elder did not just pick out a part of the Bible and go wherever he wished to go. Each word of the Bible contains a meaning and it was the responsibility of the elder to convey that meaning in its appropriate context.

Next week we will examine vv. 3-5. Two great evils of society which we still encounter today.

[1] How to Start a New Testament Church, Dr. Mal Couch, p 14.
[2] Teachers. Since teachers use their tongues (to instruct others) more, they will be judged more strictly.

2 Peter 2:14-22