Showing posts from 2006

"A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD" (Deut. 23:2 KJV)

I've been systematically reviewing Rick Warren's book The Purpose-Driven Life on my website. I've done chapters 12-28, and I'm going back and picking up chapters 1-11, on which I previously wrote a brief review.

In Chapter 2, page 23, Warren writes, “While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children.” I find this a very helpful distinction!

I remember the animus and disgust that seemed to emanate from an older preacher who referred to his granddaughter’s child conceived out of wed-lock as illegitimate. Besides being an ungodly attitude, it was grossly wrong to saddle a child with the onus of his/her parent’s sin. Yet that is the way sin is. Sin never affects only the perpetrator. It always affects others.

However, as I was writing the above I remembered Deut. 23:2 "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD."

So I looked up the term mamzer (D…

Our Stewardship of Grace (1 Pet. 4:10-11)

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)

After enjoining believers to fervent love (4:8) and uncomplaining hospitality toward one another (4:9), Peter calls each of us to employ the gift (Grk: charisma) we have received for the purpose of serving others (4:10). We are to use our gifts in a manner that plainly communicates their source: God. When we serve in this manner God is glorified through Christ (4:11).

Peter's exhortation teaches us several important truths about spiritual gifts:
1. Peter implies that each believer has received at least one gift.
2. The purpose of God's gracious gifts to u…

A Major Reason I Advocate Church Membership

In 1997 I was completely opposed to the idea of church membership. I grew up in a church that did not have official membership. I saw no great value to membership. It seemed like all responsibility and only one privilege—voting—a privilege more likely than not to lead to church problems.

During the summer of 1997, Bob Jones University hired me to write the last in a series of Sunday School quarterlies for their college SS classes. Developing Biblical Interpersonal Relationships was the topic assigned. While researching for the chapter on how to deal with relationships broken by sin, I ran across a true story that ran much like the following.

A church in Colorado had an open-membership policy like I grew up with: if you come regularly and tithe, you’re a member. A young woman, who was a part of the college & career group, decided to move in with her boyfriend. From her perspective, her moral behavior was none of the church’s business.

That wasn’t how the church saw it. Since she had b…

When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy

This book by John Piper caught my attention because I am unsatisfied with the level of joy in my life. I do desire God. And for that grace I am grateful. Yet, I long to find Him my chief joy.

Verses like the following suggest there is greater joy to be had than I currently have:
Hebrews 10:34 For you … accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
— Christians accepting the wrongful seizure of their property with joy! Joy because their future inheritance included permanent, unseizable possessions. But that didn’t change the fact that they had lost their property, perhaps all their assets: lands, cash, houses, etc. Why? Because they were Christians. … accepted joyfully!
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…
— right after love comes joy!
1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled wi…

Losing and Regaining our First Love (Rev. 2:4-5)

Revelation 2:4 'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent.

What does it mean that the Ephesians had left their “first love?”

Notice that three actions (not feelings, emotions, or attitudes) are commanded: remember, repent, and do:

1. “Remember” – they are to remember "from where they have fallen." Their current position is one below where they had been. Their current behavior is missing the first deeds that were motivated by their first love.
2. “Repent” – this tells me that whatever it is to “leave your first love” is something that requires repentance, i.e., sin.
3. “Do the deeds you did at first” – Obedience is the perfect expression of love for God (1 John 2:5). The Ephesians’ departure from their first/former love is evident in that they have ceased t…

Praying with Paul for Discerning Love (Phil. 1:9-11)

Heavenly Father, for those I’m bringing before You, I pray that you would cause their love for You to increase and abound in greater knowledge of You and, consequently, in greater discernment so that they will be able to identify and choose things that are excellent—the things that please You most—so that, from now until Jesus returns, their lives will be blameless in your sight, harmless to others, and filled through Christ’s enablement with thoughts, words, and deeds that are righteous—fully in harmony with Your word—so that their lives will bring glory and praise to You.

Praying with Paul for Empowerment (Eph. 3:14-21)

Dear Father, father of the whole family that bears your name both in heaven and on earth, I pray that you would, in proportion to the unlimited, glorious riches that you have, strengthen those I’m praying for inwardly with power by the Holy Spirit so that Christ may have full right of way in their hearts through faith. Since they have been rooted and grounded in Your love, would you enable them to join all the rest of the saints in comprehending the incredible dimensions of your love, and the love that Christ has for them, a love which is beyond our ability to understand. I pray this so that they would be filled up to all the fullness of God, i.e., become just like Jesus in whom all Your fullness dwelt. Father, you are the One who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that I ask or think, through the power of the Holy Spirit is at work within your children. I give you glory and praise and pray that your name will be glorified in your church and in Christ Jesus throughout all ge…

Praying with Paul for Enlightenment (Eph. 1:17-20)

Glorious Father, God of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you would give those I’m praying for a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in their relationship with You so that they might know You. Since the eyes of their heart have been enlighted, I pray that they will understand and appreciate (1) the hope You have called them to,
(2) the glorious riches of Your inheritance in the saints, i.e., how much you value them and all those who are your children, and
(3) the surpassing greatness of Your power that is available to us who believe — the same power that raised the Christ from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in heaven.

Notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.
4:2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

As Paul heads toward the close of his letter, he urges the Thessalonians to "excel still more" in pleasing God.

Pleasing God is the relational context within which Paul wants the Thess. to view what he is about to say. I.e., here is further information about how to excel in pleasing God.

4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

God want us to be "sanctified" -- Paul further defines this sanctification in terms of separation from sexual immorality.

The one word definition of 'sanctification' is separation. To be sanctified or holy is to be separated from immoral behavior to moral behavior, from the impure to …

Devoted to one another in brotherly love (Rom. 12:10)

I was sharing a section of Barclay’s treatment of the key NT words for love with my Greek I students yesterday. The section dealt with philostorgos in Romans 12:10, which the NASB translates, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” As Barclay explains it, the word translated “be devoted” (philostorgoi) connotes the devotion a parent has for a child or a child for a parent. A verse from 4 Maccabees supports Barclay’s statement: “O sacred nature and affection of parental love, yearning of parents toward offspring, nurture and indomitable suffering by mothers!” (15:13). Similar usage may be found in Josephus (e.g., Ant. 7.252) and Philo.

The “yearning toward [their] offspring” which parents experience is the sort of devotion that the Spirit through Paul is exhorting us to have toward one another. Interestingly Paul qualifies this with the word philadelphia, brotherly love. Because we are siblings in Christ, our devotion should be brotherly.

Frankly, the significance of this passage …