Monthly Archives: November 2016

Breathtaking

Some have reckoned Jesus Christ as one of many great teachers who have appeared on the panorama of human history. They count him a peer with eminent sages such as Socrates and Solomon, Anselm and Aristotle, Calvin and Confucius, Gautama (the Buddha) and Gandhi.

Let’s think about that together for a bit.

Suppose your favorite novelist is Stephen King. Perhaps your favorite novelist is someone else, but work with me here. Now let’s say you learned that I had read one of Mr. King’s books, asked me what I thought of it, and I replied, “he is obviously a great typist.”

Now that very well might be true. It is hard to imagine that someone with such a fertile imagination and desire to communicate its contents would not master the skill of typing as writers of old mastered the quill. Writers need nimble fingers that can sling ink or fly over a keyboard to get their great thoughts on record as quickly as possible. On the other hand, maybe your favorite author uses dictation and someone else types up a rough draft. But work with me here.

My point is made with this question: Does the description “great typist” do justice to the full scope of the literary art of Mr. King or any other renowned writer? Does “great typist” adequately tell us about an author’s accomplishments in enthralling, informing, challenging, or motivating readers?

Jesus Christ is indeed a great teacher, to be sure. But He is so in the way that Mr. King and other wordsmiths are most likely good penmen or typists. The designation great teacher falls short – infinitely short, in Christ’s case – of setting forth the fullness of His accomplishments on behalf of His people.

The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, the fourth book of the New Testament, tells us about a group of people who heard Jesus teaching and quickly learned, to their consternation, that He was speaking on a level far above any world class philosopher or sage.

John, the Galilean fisherman turned author of that short booklet which has endured as a best seller for millennia, comments as follows regarding that teaching session of Jesus: “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, ‘This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?’ ”

What was that difficult statement, and in what context was it spoken? This writer suggests that you read the Gospel of John chapter six for yourself. It is very likely that if you have never done so before, you will become enthralled, informed, challenged, and motivated like never before. Until you go straight to the source, here is a digest.

In the first part of the chapter, Jesus multiplies five small loaves of bread and two fish, overturning the basic laws of physics in order miraculously to provide a meal for five thousand men. Shortly thereafter, John records another of Jesus’ famous miracles, how He tread upon the wind enraged, choppy surface of the Sea of Galilee as if He was walking on level and dry land. No such claims are made of any of the sages mentioned above, but I won’t digress into that at present.

Following that astounding culinary coup which astounded that hungry crowd and that astounding aquatic stroll, the Master went on to give a lesson which included these astounding statements:

“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.”

That final statement, like a crescendo to its preceding incredulity inciting clauses, is what prompted many of His disciples to say “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

Mere sages utter sayings that are hard to understand because they are abstract, complex, or erudite. This saying of Christ is hard because it makes us think of cannibalism at worse or bizarre metaphor at best.

But as the greater context of the Bible makes clear, Jesus was neither advocating cannibalism nor using bizarre metaphor. He was soberly proclaiming our absolute need for Himself, not merely His ethical instruction. He was telling us that our need for His once for all sacrifice of Himself as the Lamb of God is as necessary for our spiritual life as physical food is for our earthly bodies…

Are you one who desires to fully understand this saying? Christ Himself, having given His flesh and blood once for all, having risen from the dead, and now living above in heavenly glory, is able to give you that understanding by the power of the Helper He promised to send from the Father, the blessed Holy Spirit. Pray…call upon Jesus’ name.

Work with Him here.

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Christ and the Law

No, this is not a meditation on any trouble which Jesus of Nazareth had with law enforcement personnel of His time! The Law of God which came through Moses is in view. The Lord Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17,18)

Just how did the Lord Jesus FULFILL the law and the prophets? The short answer to that question is that He fulfilled them perfectly and completely, for “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37). To offer a longer and more explanatory answer, it will be helpful to divide the question in half. The first half is then, “how did the Lord Jesus fulfill the prophets”? Let the teaching of Revelation 19:10 suffice for now. That verse tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ is the very heart and soul of every forth-telling and foretelling word the prophets ever spoke and wrote. It was the Spirit of CHRIST within the prophets, testifying of His sufferings, and the glory to follow (1 Peter 1:11).

The second half of our question is “how did the Lord Jesus fulfill the law?” This question can be further divided. Teaching the word of God means rightly dividing it (2 Timothy 2:15). This is not the division of the so-called higher critics of the Scriptures, who wrest them to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16) by denying their Divinely inspired unity. Ours is a division of distinction; that is, one of discernment. For example, the Holy Spirit leads us to discern both Christ’s deity and His humanity, but He (the Spirit) also makes clear that these two natures are gloriously united in ONE altogether lovely Person. The Lord Jesus is the eternal Father’s unique, eternal Son. He is God incarnate…made flesh.

We can distinguish three aspects of the unified Mosaic Law:
1. the moral aspect,
2. the ceremonial (or Levitical) aspect, and
3. the civil aspect.

Considering God’s one, coherent law in its moral aspect, we see its perpetual religious and ethical demands on all mankind. This abiding moral standard, given to us by our Almighty Creator God, reflects His Divine holiness and is expressly set down in the Ten Commandments. They were written on two tables of stone with the finger of God, and that twice (Exodus 31:18, Deuteronomy10:2-4).

The covenant priesthood with all its animal and other sacrifices, as well as the attendant ministries of the Tabernacle, were given to Aaron and to his kinsmen of the tribe of Levi (and their descendants). This is in view when we speak of the ceremonial or Levitical aspect of the law.

A passage like Leviticus 13, “the law of the plague of leprosy” (verse 59), expresses the civil aspect of the law. Ancient Israel was the covenant family of God, as well as a theocratic state. That is, all areas of life were under the rule of God – including state government, religious worship, and moral standards.

The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all the Law for His people. The government is upon His shoulders. The holy One of Israel now rules in His Church of elect ones from every nation, by His Word and His Spirit. Moreover, our great High Priest Himself became our Passover Lamb, the one perfect sacrifice which the law’s sacrifices only foreshadowed; they were but copies or patterns (cf. Hebrews 9:19-26).

Finally, His people being without strength, devoid of righteousness, guilty, dead in trespasses and sins, and not even able to be subject to the law, the beloved Jesus kept even the moral law for them! He earned the law’s reward of life by His obedience, and paid the law’s penalty of death by His substitutionary death on the cross.

A believer in the One Who now is risen and seated in unimaginable glory at His Father’s right hand trusts not in his “…own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes” (Romans 10:4).

Originally published, July 5 A.D. 1998

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Theistic Evolution Examined

Some professing Christians hold that evolution is compatible with the Bible. While it bears repeating that to do so does not automatically or in itself disqualify any person from being a true Christian, it must be maintained that evolution is grossly inconsistent with Biblical Christianity. A few arguments to that effect follow:

1. The first is based on the context of Genesis 1, especially the use of the phrase “evening and morning”. This phrase indicates that God the Holy Spirit (Inspirer of human author Moses) intended days of ordinary length when He revealed that the mighty acts of the Divine creation of the cosmos were accomplished in the space of six days. If the creation of all the kinds of Earth’s fauna and Man occurred in two ordinary days (creation days 5 & 6), and those days were only several millennia in the past, evolution is rendered impossible, since it obliterates the tremendous amount of time required for evolution to occur.

2. In a corollary way, consider the Old Testament Hebrew words YOM and YAMMIM. They are the words for DAY and DAYS, respectively. (In other words, YAMMIM is the plural of YOM, even as CHERUBIM is the plural of CHERUB.)

It is true that the word YOM can be used in Biblical Hebrew, as in English, when other than an ordinary 24 hour period is intended. (Cf. for example Psalm 78:42, where the context indicates that the time period of the plagues upon Egypt is in view.)

The word YAMMIM, however, is *NEVER* used in that manner in Scripture! Therefore, when Exodus 20:11, a verse from the Ten Commandments passage, says that God created the universe in 6 days, it is exegetically incontrovertible that the intent is six days of ordinary duration. This has been pointed out more than once on this message board, and an exegetical response has never been offered. YAMMIM *ALWAYS* means days of ordinary length in the Bible. Such a bold and sweeping claim should be easy to demonstrate as false, if it is so!

3. Another argument is provided by the account of the long day of Joshua, as per Joshua 10:14: “…and there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel…”

The difference between this day and all other days is not in the bare reality of the LORD heeding a man’s voice, but in how He did it…by miraculously doubling the length of that particular day. If we believe Scripture’s statement “there has been no day like that, before or after it”, how can we affirm that the days of creation were days of different length?

4. Suppose we work our way backward historically from the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt. That event took place approximately 1,450 B.C. Only self consciously unbelieving “Bible scholars” would doubt its historicity, and that with no warrant other than the spurious one provided by their culpable foolishness.

The Exodus happened. Moses, Joshua, et. al. were real men who, with Divine help, led a nation of hundreds of thousands out of the territory of another nation, ancient Egypt, and into a land God had promised their forefathers centuries earlier. It is assumed that these Biblical, historical facts are questioned by no one who participates here.

However, a question is begged by the view that takes the Genesis chapter one “days” as ages of time, ages vast enough for evolution to have occurred. That question is: what is the first, real, ordinary day of history? Is the day Moses saw the burning bush (Exodus 3:2ff) a real day? Is the day Joseph died in Egypt (Genesis 50:26) a real day? Is the day his brothers threw him in a pit (Genesis 37:23) a real day? Is the day he was born of Rachel (Genesis 30:24) a real day? What about the dates of birth of his father Jacob (Genesis 25:26), his grandfather Isaac (Genesis 21:3), and his great grandfather Abram (Genesis 11:26). All these dates are given in Genesis in terms of other historical events. Are they real days, or not?

Continuing back in Genesis from the real, ordinary days of Abram the man Divinely called out of Ur of the Chaldees, (a real, historical place like Canaan), are we still dealing with days and years as we know them? Again, where do we start having real days, if the first six days are not ordinary days? Is it at the time of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1ff)? Is it at the time of the Flood, the history of which is given in Genesis chapters 6 through 9 in terms of dates that specify even the days of months?

Thus we have travelled chronologically backward in Scripture from the Exodus. If ordinary days don’t begin at any of the junctures on our journey that have been cited, we are back to the history recorded via the meticulous geneology of Genesis 5. In it, 10 patriarchs are listed, Adam himself through Noah. Very exacting dates are recorded concerning the lives of those men: the year of each one’s birth, the year he begot the next in line, the year of his death. The list is repeated in exactly the same order in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 (Luke orders them descendingly, while the Genesis and Chronicles passages are in ascending order). Are the lifespans of the patriarchs of all humanity recorded in terms of real days and years in Genesis 5?

If so, we’re back to the first six days of history, Adam’s real life of 930 years having begun on the sixth. When dealing with a Bible book so obviously written as historical narrative (Genesis), what would be our exegetical or even merely rational justification for arbitrarily regarding its first few chapters as having another literary form? What makes Genesis 1 – 4 to differ in literary style from Genesis 5 – 50? What are the identifying marks of the alleged different literary style of the early chapters? What is “poetic” about the statistical, numerically exacting geneologies of Genesis 5 and 11? Why do First CHRONICLES and the Gospel of Luke, Bible books also written as historical narrative, not convert the alleged “poetry” (what a hoot!) of Genesis 5, rather than repeat it verbatim as they do?

So let us repeat our original question, lovingly challenging our neighbors who assert that they are both evolution and Bible believing to answer it exegetically:

If Genesis 1 does not record ordinary days, at what point in Bible history do ordinary days begin?

5. No evolutionist can claim to have observed the formation of the cosmos, and the origin of the things within it. This is obviously true of creationists as well. No one but God was there! Therefore a fifth Biblical argument to the effect that evolution has never occurred inheres in the absolute lack of any positive teaching on it found in Scripture.

Consider what the Bible is: God’s Word, in which He reveals to Man what Man could never discover by observation and research. Its core message is the plan of salvation in Jesus. The account of creation (and the Fall of Man) gives us the backdrop for that core message, and is essential to understanding it. Redemption can only occur where a previous ownership existed.

Consider that the Bible tells us much (not all) about the end of history as we know it. The Lord Jesus Christ will return physically to Earth with great power and glory, though no man knows the day and the hour. There will be a real, bodily resurrection of the saved and the lost. There will be a great judgment of all men and angels by Christ (in which His people will participate, Matthew 19:28, 1 Corinthians 6:1,2). History will be consummated in a way that greatly glorifies and vindicates God, displaying to His eternal praise the wonders of His grace and the majesty of His justice.

Consider that the Bible tells us much about things that occurred during the time of its being written (namely c. 1,450 B.C. through c. 70 A.D.) Monarchs like Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, and Augustus, empires like the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Medo-Persian), and places like Nineveh, Damascus, and Corinth as well as events found also in extra-Biblical literature (such as the expulsion of the Jews from Rome in the first century) are named and discussed in Scripture.

In all this Divinely imparted information about pre-Bible history, about history that passed during the centuries of the writing of the Bible, and about the coming end of history, one will search in vain for any mention of God having used “evolution” to bring into existence any living things, any indication that evolution has occurred since the beginning, or any prophecy that evolution will ever occur.

It is silly to counter this by asserting that the Bible doesn’t mention certain other matters (such as “plumbing”), because the matter of origins is integral to the Bible’s purpose of telling us Who God is, who we are, how we got into our current desperate situation, God’s plan to save the world, and where you or I personally will go (heaven or hell), depending on how we respond to that plan…how we respond to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator incarnate!

In other words, the Bible’s purpose is not merely to give miscellaneous, unrelated facts about human industries or history, but to tell us how to be right with God. However, wherever it speaks on industries or history, it speaks truthfully and plainly. Included in that “wherever” is the history of the origin of our world, ourselves, such basic aspects of human life as worship and the seven day week, marriage, Man’s dominion over the lower creation, why nations and different languages exist, etc. The origins of all these things are revealed by God in Genesis.

Therefore, it seems that we are faced with three possibilities:

A. God has not revealed anything about origins, an idea foreign to the Bible as per the considerations above, or…

B. God has revealed something about origins, but only in a vague, “poetic” way, an idea well overturned by exegetical arguments 1 through 4, or…

C. God has in fact revealed much (not all) about origins plainly and clearly in His Word. He did so for the instruction of all men, and for the comfort and making of His people wise unto salvation.

Part of that wisdom is to recognize that the concept of evolution is ridiculous, and has ITS origin in the pit of hell.

Previously published elsewhere, January 24 A.D. 2016

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Coals of Fire?

“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again.” (Exodus 23:4),

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.” (Proverbs 24:17-18)

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)

Though hard to hear and easily misapplied, what saying of Christ is more generally known than, “love your enemies?” (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35).

Jesus Himself is of course the prime example of an enemy lover, and those whom He has redeemed by His own precious blood are the greatest examples of enemies turned into friends by the love of Him Who first loved them. For “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The three Old Testament citations above show that in uttering that hard saying, Jesus was not introducing a brand new ethical standard. Rather, as when He spoke of the two greatest commandments (compare Matthew 22:35-40 with Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18), He was magnifying the beauty and holiness of God’s Law and correcting those who misused God’s delightful Law.

(Such pharisaical abusers of the law are to be found today, giving God’s law and those who love it a bad name. They put a stumbling block in the path of those who might otherwise embrace verses like Roman 3:31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law!” and 1 Timothy 1:8 “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully.”)

The old covenant Scriptures instruct God’s people of today in HOW one is to love his enemies; how we are to be doers and not merely assenters. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

Exodus 23:4, a case study in enemy loving, is rather straightforward. An application for those of us not very likely to encounter wandering donkeys in day to day life might be, “if you see your enemy sitting in his pick-up truck with a dead battery, get your jumper cables out and help him get his engine started. Then, in order to make sure he gets there without further mishap, follow him that extra mile to his local repair shop.”

But what about this matter of “heaping coals of fire on his head?” At first blush, this seems like the very opposite of helping an enemy with his burden bearing equipment (living or inanimate), or giving him food and water, or keeping one’s heart from being glad about his troubles.

As Bible commentator Matthew Henry has pointed out, we should think of this statement with the ancient smelting furnace in mind. The intense heat that melted the metal was not only placed beneath it, but poured on from above in the form of hot coals. Kindness to our enemies has that melting effect. To use a good old fashioned word, it MOLLIFIES them…calms their anger, amazes their minds, stirs up and perhaps convicts their consciences for their ultimate good.

And if an enemy is too hardened to be mollified, those acts of kindness will further harden him, and in the day when God (to Whom alone vengeance belongs) arises, the Scripture will be fulfilled which says, “…in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds.” (Romans 2:5,6)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

Previously published elsewhere, September 13, A.D. 2015

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Even If He Does Not…

You likely know of Biblical heroes Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, but not by those names. Just as Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon renamed the prophet Daniel (calling him “Belteshazzar”), so he renamed those three friends of Daniel who had been taken captive with him from Judea in the 6th century B.C.

Hananiah had his Judean name changed to Shadrach. Mishael was dubbed Meshach. And Azariah became known at the Babylonian court as Abednego. (cf. Daniel 1:6,7)

You also likely know the account which displays the heroic faith of these young men. To summarize, Nebuchadnezzar made a gigantic gold image and commanded all his subjects to bow down and worship it. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused, and informers brought that to the attention of king Nebuchadnezzar.

(By the way, why don’t we rename him “the Nebster.” Naah, let’s make it Nebby.)

Nebby was enraged and dragged the three before his throne. He gave them an opportunity to recant and bow down to the image. He threatened them with severe punishment if they stood their ground, which of course they did. So Nebby told them that they would be “…cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

Then in the same spirit of the Egyptian pharaoh who had defied Moses, the foolish, arrogant Nebby added these laughable words: “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

We are compelled to admire the response of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17,18)

Temper tantrum throwing Nebby became apoplectic at that point. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than normal. How that temperature increase was quantified is not known to this writer. But Daniel the chronicler of the event tells us that the furnace became hot enough to cost Nebby the lives of a few of his henchmen. It blazed up and killed those henchmen when they led Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to the mouth of the furnace!

The faith of these men, filled with that peace which passes understanding, was such that they recognized it might NOT be God’s will to deliver them from that violent and dreadful death. Their faith reasoned along these lines:

“Lord, perhaps you have determined that our captivity under this cruel and capricious tyrant is about to end. Perhaps You purpose to bring us home to Your courts in Heaven, to serve You our real King there. We rejoice in the knowledge that Your service is perfect freedom.

Lord, You can indeed deliver us from this dreadful decree, but You can also make this violent death but our portal to everlasting bliss. This vain despot might be relishing the thought of seeing us writhe in pain, but we consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Through the wisdom and knowledge You have given us and our friend Daniel, we know that the pain will be slight and momentary even from an earthly perspective. Even if the king and his servants don’t realize it, we know that the human body cannot endure such circumstances for more than seconds. Physical death will overtake us very quickly.

And we are assured that you will give us dying grace even in those final seconds of earthly life. We believe that instead of ending our earthly days cringing in hopeless despair, we will in this burning perceive the dawn of Your Spirit’s work to purify our souls finally and completely as we enter Your presence.

And so we look upon what is about to happen – either some extraordinary wonder by which You will glorify Yourself and show Yourself to be the LORD, or Your allowing the king to kill us – with a hearty, bold, confident, and even joyful assurance and expectation.
By Your grace we are prepared for whatever You have in store. Lead on, O King eternal!”

Finally reader, you likely know the conclusion of the matter. Jehovah God showed Nebby just what kind of saving, delivering God He was, is, and ever will be. As they were cast into it, a divine figure suddenly appeared in the super-heated furnace with His three faithful servants. God recorded for His people of all subsequent ages this infallibly true, miraculous account of His power to save temporally as well as eternally.

The Bible says (Daniel 3:27) that not even the smell of smoke was upon Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah after their ordeal. God did deliver them. And the same God is able to deliver you when you are cast into whatever kind of hot “furnace” comes your way.

But even if He does not, by faith you can come through your trial smelling like a rose.

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Male and Female

Masculinism is not an every day word. Feminism is more so, and the ideology identified by that word has many champions. But where are the spokespersons for masculinism)? Does the Bible address the concepts of masculinity (“male-ness” and femininity (“female-ness”)?

Thus says the LORD:  “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

“Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female…” (Deuteronomy 4:15-16)

We rightly infer a couple of precepts from these and other portions of the whole counsel of God in Scripture. The first concerns the natural dignity of men and women as persons made in the image of their personal Creator, Whose uncreated dignity is infinitely greater than that of any created person, and Whose infinite being cannot be depicted by the artistry of any finite human being.

A rock is inferior to a tree, a tree is inferior to a horse, and a horse or any other animal is inferior to any man, woman, or child. And though human individuals are diverse in characteristics and abilities, we all share in that majestic and unique honor: we are like God. We are living self portraits of the great Painter.

Next, though the second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as a male human being, God in Himself transcends human sexuality. The commandment in Deuteronomy underscores this. So we must look elsewhere for the reason that God the Father is not called God the Mother, and why masculine pronouns are used consistently in Scripture for the Holy Spirit and for each of the three Persons of the Trinity. Here is another key verse:

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7)

The issue of literal head coverings in worship assemblies is a matter to be discussed some other time! However, with these Holy Spirit inspired words about the respective glories of man and woman, the apostle has regard to what is taught from Genesis 2:18 onward in Scripture: God has given distinct roles (we might say assignments) to man and woman according to His good and perfect will.

This does not contradict the first precept. The Holy Spirit’s use of masculine terms with reference to the transcendent God throughout the Bible is itself a testimony to the proper roles of male and female. The First Corinthians verse does not contradict the Bible’s insistence on the essential equality of man and woman.

The old covenant priests and Levites all were male; in new covenant communities their heirs (elders and deacons) are to be men as well, per the qualifications given in the pastoral epistles which include the requirement that an elder or a deacon be the husband of one wife. Neither Anna (Luke 2:36) nor Priscilla (Acts 18, Romans 16) held ordained office. Although Phoebe was a servant of the church (Romans 16:1), she was not an ordained deacon. All those chosen in Acts 6 to serve in that capacity were men.

The point is that according to Scripture masculinity (“male-ness”), while not intrinsically superior to femininity (“female-ness”) nevertheless represents divine authority in a particular way.

With Biblical women like motherly Deborah (Judges 4:4, 5:7) in mind, even some Christians might balk at this assertion which is so contrary to today’s worldly wisdom. Scripture records that Deborah the wife of Lapidoth indeed judged. But unlike the other judges, we do not find it written that “God raised her up.” Barak’s role in the full account should not be ignored. Ever respecting the greater context of Scripture, we remember that the time of Barak and Deborah was a time “when every man did what was right in his own eyes.” The case of Deborah and Barak is illustrative of the precept of Isaiah 3:12 –

“As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.”

Did Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah write this to teach that women are inferior to men? Not at all! As we see in Genesis 1:27 et. al., the same Holy Spirit has affirmed the equality of men and women as divine image bearers.

Consider this: the eternal Son of God is equal in power and glory to His Father, and to the Holy Spirit Who spoke by the prophets. (Arians* and others who deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ hold to a damnable heresy; they are outside of Biblical orthodoxy.) Yet, humbling himself by His incarnation, the Son was subordinated to the Father and filled with the Spirit to fulfill His Messianic calling. Thus He could say, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). He did not say, “the Father is better than I.”

America’s Declaration of Independence proclaims that all men are created equal. In one sense, this is exactly correct, but in another sense it is obviously false. As to our essential nature we are all equally stamped with the divine image. But just as one artist might paint the same subject many times but with different facial expressions or bodily poses, so God creatively nuances His image by way of mankind’s endless diversity of traits. Male and female are the most basic of those traits. Every human being, every individual rendering of the divine image, is either feminine or masculine.

So that mankind also would reflect the being of God triune by loving, orderly community life, womanhood and manhood were made complementary at creation (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18). That foundational building block of human society remains in place to this day (1 Corinthians 11:11). Reproductive parenthood is its normative issue, for upon creating them God commanded the first human pair to “be fruitful and multiply.” He repeated that command to the few survivors of the Noahic Flood, from whom the whole Earth was repopulated (Genesis 9:19). The “nuclear” family is God’s institution.

Therefore as Bible believing people, we identify a cluster of ungodly errors that grow out of the denial of that…of God’s created order. Among them are the concept of unisexuality, feminism, male tyranny, diverse redefintions of marriage (for example, polygamy) and all the insidious ways in which parental authority is overthrown. We condemn these perversions. And we affirm that although sin corrupts all things human, societies are at their best when they best submit to our Creator’s design. We also affirm that it is unlawful for any human government to overturn that divine plan.

* Arians were so named after Arius, a third century proponent of this false teaching

Previously published elsewhere, June A.D. 2016

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A prayer for President Obama, President Elect Trump, and Vice President Elect Pence

Lord, as we thank You for Mr. Obama’s fine example of a devoted husband and father, we ask that You watch over, bless, and protect him and his family at this sensitive time.

Please guide Malia and Sasha into the vocations You have prepared for them, and their parents into meaningful and productive pursuits as the Obama family moves on to new horizons.

We also thank You for our incumbent President’s desire for a smooth transition of the power of government. We ask that You give to Mr. Trump a readiness to learn from Mr. Obama’s knowledge and experience in the presidential office, especially concerning our national security.

As Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence look ahead to being inaugurated, give them a strong and abiding desire to seek You Who has promised that You will be found by those who diligently do so.

We ask that they and all our elected leaders at all levels of government will recognize that You in Your providence have given them a great responsibility under You as stewards. Let them ever remember that they will give an account to You, the greater and mighty Governor of all things, Who through Your ancient servant King David declared to us that…

“He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.”

We thank You for Mr. Pence’s Christian testimony, and for his evident gracious and humble character. We ask that this will have a powerful influence on our government for Your glory and our nation’s good as he undertakes his new responsibilities.

Wherever personal offense might have occurred among the President and his team and the President elect and his team, grant repentance to the offenders and an unfeigned spirit of forgiveness to the offended.

Lord, we know how with transcendent wisdom and divine forbearance You often withhold judgment and bring good out of evil. So we even dare ask that You – Who can do abundantly above all that we can ask or think – will cause to grow a gentle and peaceable willingness to listen where there was once hostility, and that flourishing friendship will displace enmity, for the good of all.

Lord, please bless these and all the public servants of the people of the United States of America and their families with the everlasting blessings of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose name we pray, amen.

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