“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:1-2
Today, Dr. Sproul was hospitalized due to complications from emphysema, going home to be with his Lord at the age of 78. Now, as both a Baptist and a non-Calvinist, there were numerous points of disagreement I had and still have in some of Dr. Sproul’s teachings. However, despite those disagreements, this man did a tremendous amount of work for the Kingdom of God and I have no doubt that he has received not just a few jewels in his crown.
Sproul’s commitment to the “Five Solas of the Reformation,” particularly Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone), led him to becoming a key figure in drafting the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy in 1978 and taking a bold stand against Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) in 1994. He also had a very perceptive mind, seeing the dangers of the higher critical “New Perspective on Paul” and “Federal Vision” views and opposed both, defending the authority of God’s Word in a believer’s entire conversation throughout his or her life. This is to be commended, though I personally wish he had taken this authority further in respect to baptism, but hey, I’m Baptist.
R.C. Sproul will be missed by many still down here who have been impacted by his life and his ministry. He fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith. Our prayers go out to his loved ones left behind: his wife of 57 years Vesta Ann (Voorhis), their son R.C., Jr., daughter Sherrie, their eleven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
This year is the first year in over twenty years that my dad and I have actually had a place to hunt, and this morning while waiting in the cool morning air hoping to see a deer, I happened upon a thought. For all the problems plaguing this nation, we are still incredibly fortunate and blessed to live in a nation where we are free to both keep and bear arms. During rifle season, when I want to go hunt, I don’t have to ask any government official for permission, but as long as I pay for my hunting licence, I choose which of my guns to take and then just go. That freedom which many of us take for granted does not exist in many socialist or communist countries. We still have so much to be thankful for in this country.
However, the legitimate question which we must ask, is why has America not yet been judged for its’ sin? Obviously, we can say it is because of the Lord’s grace and mercy, but what does that mean? It is easy to understand the Lord extending grace and mercy to unbelievers in general, but not to an entire nation. After all, it is to people whom He extends saving grace, not nations, and He could work His grace and mercy in the hearts of the lost while allowing America to fall. Yet, for some reason, He allows this land to continue as a nation even though the legislation of its government kills children by the millions and degenerates marriage, an institution that He created, and this has been going on for fifty years or more.
In truth, there is only one reason that the Lord continues to preserve this nation by His grace and mercy, and that is because of the nation’s continued support of Israel as a nation. This country was the first to recognize Israel as a nation in 1948 and this nation has been the first to recognize Jerusalem as the capital which as you all know just occurred this very month in 2017. The Hebrew word for “grace” is חֶסֶד, chesed, and is perhaps the most dynamic word in the language. There is so much that is packed into this word which refers not simply to grace, but loyalty, love, and unfailing kindness; it is steadfast but is based upon a prior covenant relationship (Exodus 34:6-7). With that in mind, when the Lord commanded Abraham to leave his home and promised to make of him “a great nation,” the Lord said in His covenant with Abraham, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
While there are some who claim that this promise devolves onto the church based upon a few proof-texts in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, such is impossible. Paul said emphatically in his letter to the Romans about Israel as a nation that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29). It is only “concerning the gospel, they are enemies.” That is, individually they still must be saved in the Lord Jesus just as anyone else, but while being enemies of the gospel, God still calls the nation “beloved” because He has specially elected their nation for a purpose (Romans 11:28). This purpose, though, will not be fully realized until the day that Christ returns after the tribulation to rule the whole world.
It is very true that in the church there is neither Jew nor Gentile; this is said over and over in the New Testament. However, this does not mean that the church has replaced Israel. The church is a local body of believers, some rich, some poor, and all different races, brought together by being regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Thus, the church is a spiritual organism. God’s purpose for Israel, however, is a national purpose. As a nation, Israel is made up of both believers and unbelievers; it always has been since Moses first led them up from Egypt. Remember Dathan? Remember Korah? The earth swallowed up a bunch of them because of their sin. It is a mistake to read into God’s promises for one as referring to the other because the two are distinctly different entities, one earthly which will end after the Lord’s millennial reign ends and the other heavenly which all believers irrespective of nations are part of and which will never end.
This country is not perfect by any stretch of the term, and it seems with the decline of true Christianity in America that God is no longer spiritually blessing the nation. Because of the peoples continued sin, God seems to be hardening hearts to the truth of the gospel, churches finding it more difficult to reach people. Yet, because of the nation’s continued support of Israel, just like the ancient empires of the past like Babylon and Persia, God is continuing to physically bless the nation. We are living in strange times when judgment and mercy are being given to America simultaneously.
In chapters 2 and 3 of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle gives a lengthy definition of the church. Then, in Ephesians 3:10, he describes the ultimate purpose of the church, saying:
“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.”
When we gather together with fellow baptized believers to worship our Lord, we are teaching the angels the wisdom of God’s “eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (3:11). Yet, how do we do this? What does the apostle mean by this purpose of the Church?
Well, in the previous chapter, Paul describes the Church as a separate entity entirely from the nation of Israel. As a nation and people group, Israel has always been made up of both believers and unbelievers since the Lord first brought them up from Egypt. The Church, however, is a local body of believers irrespective of race or prejudice. Ephesians 2:14 says:
“For He is our peace, Who hath made both one [i.e. Jew and Gentile], and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
The people with whom we worship shoulder to shoulder with each Sunday morning we have been made “one body by the cross” (V. 16), and when there is enmity between us – whether something as serious a race or as trivial as what color carpet to get for the sanctuary – we not only ruin our witness to the lost in our community that we’re trying to reach, but we are a terrible witness to the angels among us of God’s “eternal purpose” in forming us as His body.
However, it is not only the good angels that we are teaching of God’s wisdom, but the angels that fell with Satan as well. This is evident in that the apostle makes no distinction between the angels when he says, “the principalities and powers in heavenly places.” These are terms that he again uses in the final chapter of this epistle in describing the Christian’s real fight being “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers…” (6:12). Thus, it is not merely a church’s witness in the community or to the good angels posted in their area that suffers from infighting, gossip, etc., but they give the Devil a place in their fellowship (4:27).
What kind of things give the Devil a place in either a believer’s life or in a church? Well, if you back up a few verses to Ephesians 4:25, the apostle writes, “Wherefore putting a away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” If you’re life is not based on absolute, total truth, you have created a welcoming atmosphere for Satan because he is “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44b). This includes so-called “white lies” as well as lying through the tone of your voice; such lies may seem innocent by worldly standards, but they are an affront to God and will grieve the Holy Spirit residing within you if you are a true Christian. The Christian will find no peace until he or she repents of lying, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
A second area that makes a comfortable place for Satan in a believer’s life or church’s fellowship is seen in the next verse, which says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (4:26). Are you a person given to anger; do you have a short fuse? Just like lying, the Devil also has an affinity for anger, Revelation 12:12 saying that he just seethes with “great wrath,” and if you are an angry person, the Devil will feel at home with you. Of course, there is righteous anger, the text saying, “Be ye angry, and sin not.” The way to be angry and sin not is to be angry at sin. You can tell a lot about a person by simply what angers them. Do they get angry and grieved over sin, or do they get angry at their boss, spouse, children, parents, someone in the church, or simply over a bad shot on the golf course?
A third area that will make a comfortable place for Satan in a believer’s life is seen in Ephesians 4:28, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Not only is Satan the father of lies and filled with anger, but he is a thief, John 10:10 saying he comes “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” If there is any thievery in your life or among people in your church, there is an affinity that will attract Satan and give him a place, and I am not merely speaking of major thefts. If you would take a 15 cent pencil that doesn’t belong to you from your workplace, you’ve made a place for the Devil. The cost or apparent insignificance is not the issue for with God thievery is thievery. Luke 16:10 says, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Anyone who would steal a 15 cent pencil has the potentiality to steal a $150,000 payroll; if you are unjust in the least, you are unjust in the much.
A fourth area that makes a comfortable place for Satan is filthy speech, Ephesians 4:29 saying, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth…” Some pastors today, endeavoring to make unbelievers feel welcomed, will cuss from the pulpit. This is outright sin and will give a place for Satan in that church. The church should not be a place where unbelievers feel welcomed, but rather pitied by the people there and ultimately convicted by the Holy Spirit. The church’s responsibility is call lost people to repent of their sins and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, not to tell them to just add Jesus to their sinful lifestyle and He’ll eventually take that lifestyle away. This confuses repentance with sanctification. Repentance is a specific act; sanctification is the Lord gradually removing the desire for those past sins, and there can be no sanctification without repentance.
The first step in dislodging the Devil from his place is repentance, to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man” (4:22). Unconfessed sin is legal ground for Satan to come in and set up shop, and this hurts not only the individual believer, but the whole church body of which they are a part. While Satan cannot possess a born again child of God for such would require the Holy Spirit to be dispossessed, Satan can work through a believer’s influence to ultimately destroy a church. Therefore, church discipline as outlined by our Lord in Matthew 18 is critical to a church’s spiritual health. The second step is resistance, for even when a believer or church takes back the title deed to what they had apportioned to Satan, he won’t simply leave without a fight. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” After a believer repents, they must tell the devil that in the name of Jesus he must leave because he is trespassing on the property of God Almighty, and he will flee.
Lastly, the apostle writes that believers must be “renewed in the spirit of [their] mind” (Ephesians 4:23). A church can only teach to angels the manifold wisdom of God’s eternal purpose in forming such an institution by living lives of “true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24), different from the way the world thinks and acts. We are now entering the Christmas season, and I want to encourage each of you to watch the movie Christmas Grace, starring Ryan-Iver Klann, Tim Kaiser, and Ann Filippis. This wonderful movie will challenge all saints to find ways of showing grace to people they encounter and ultimately showing them the way to the One Who can give them eternal grace.
Today, the Thanksgiving holiday is characterized by certain traditions that have made it distinctly American. Traditions such as the Macy’s Parade, the Charlie Brown Special, Hunting, Football, and of course, families and friends gathered around the table to eat turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato pie.
While traditions are only traditions, they are still important in the establishment of an identity. I’m sure everyone reading this has their own family traditions that they have incorporated into the holiday. This is what makes the holiday uniquely American.
However, of all the holidays that we celebrate in this country, Thanksgiving is the only day with an explicit command in the Bible to be celebrated. Now, I’m not talking about the holiday in terms of the traditions, but thanksgiving itself. Throughout the psalms, believers are commanded to give thanksgiving and praise to God. In fact, when President Abraham Lincoln first proclaimed on October 20, 1864 that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November, he said that he desired all US citizens “wherever they may then be” on this day, to give “thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”
And above all, we must be thankful for the salvation we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah said of our nature, “we are ALL as an unclean THING” (64:6) before God, and yet we read in the New Testament that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is not often that I agree with John Calvin, but he said in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (p. 38):
“Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power — the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness.”
Psalm 100, the great Thanksgiving Psalm gives us all instructions on why we ought to be thankful. Verse 4 states:
“Enter in His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”
A thankful heart is necessary for entering into the presence of God. In fact, when Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, the scriptures say, “He took the cup, and gave thanks” (Matthew 26:27). The last verse, then, of Psalm 100, gives three reasons for thanking the Lord:
“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.”
First, He is good; second, His mercy lasts forever. This can be explained in the word longsuffering. The prophet Jeremiah said, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Thanksgiving is essential because we need new mercy from the Lord with every new morning, and the very fact we have a new morning is cause enough to thank the Lord.
Third, we ought to thank the Lord because “His truth endureth to all generations.” This is the most important because it tells us emphatically that the Bible is the only unchanging truth. The saints of the past could rely on it, you can rely on it today, and your grandchildren will also be able to rely upon it. We ought to be thankful above all for God’s Word that is unchanging and leads us into a closer relationship with Him.
I recently heard from a friend that he had heard a teacher say that the first chapter of Genesis was Hebrew poetry. I had not heard this before, so I took a few weeks to investigate this topic further, and have come to the conclusion that the first chapter of Genesis does not exhibit the usual characteristics of poetry found primarily in Psalms and Proverbs. The usual claim that this chapter is poetry relies upon the parallelism of Days 1-3 with Days 4-6.
For example, Hebrew poetry typically consists of a series of couplets or triplets that exhibit complementary, climactic, or antithetic-parallelism:
“Thy word is
1.) a lamp unto my feet,
2.) and a light unto my path.”
In Genesis 1, however, we do see parallelism, but not the same as that of Hebrew poetry. On the first 3 days God creates the different environments of the earth, and on the latter three days He makes the creatures who are to live and rule in each environment. Hebrew poetry is successive in its parallelism while in Genesis, the parallelism is separated by several verses.
This difference is accounted for by the fact that Hebrew poetry such as Psalms, Proverbs, and portions of Isaiah were songs and it’s always easier to sing a text that repeats its phrases one after the other in parallel harmony. Genesis is structured, but it’s not structured for the purpose of singing. Rather, it’s structured for the purpose of teaching, similarly to how we structure school textbooks today with charts and maps. Nothing in history happens randomly; everything has a reason. The structure of this chapter, therefore, is intended to paint a picture in peoples minds about how God created the world.
Another claim that this passage is poetry rests on the fact that it is structured within a seven day framework. This is cited because the proponents of this theory say that this was the pattern of labor which the Hebrews were accustomed: to work six days and rest on the seventh. However, the command in Exodus 20:9-11 says the exact opposite:
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work…. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
The Hebrews were commanded to accustom themselves to a seven day week because that was the pattern set by God in the creation.
See Related Article by Michael Kelley: “Are Humans Really 98% Similar to Chimpanzees?“
True biblical teaching is becoming more and more unpopular these days and many so-called pastors are selling out to the applause of men. Churches are beginning to accept multiple ways to God, cars lining up in church parking lots with blasphemous “coexist” bumper stickers. Further, sexual perversion of all kinds is increasingly seen as okay, perversions which used to be “not so much as named among the Gentiles” as the Apostle said to the church at Corinth. The majority of teenagers in churches across the country today are sexually active; abortion is used as a convenience to avoid the responsibilities of parenthood; cohabitation before marriage is increasingly regarded as normal; homosexuals are being ordained to the clergy; and churches are beginning to accept transgender individuals as normal instead of individuals living in willful sin.
Proverbs 29:25 says:
“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
The word translated as “fear” in this verse is חֲרָדָה charadah, refers to “anxiety,” or an “action showing care or concern.”¹ Today, it seems that many Christians – not wanting to appear unloving – have started to allow public opinion to dictate what they are willing to say. The prophet Daniel, however, was willing to face his own death by the mouths of lions rather than to withhold his public prayer for just 10 days. Human wisdom would have said, “You’re moving up in this country and have the favor of the king. Don’t throw all that away for just 10 days. You can better serve the Lord alive.” Yet, Daniel refused to change his habit, “his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10). Christians should love sinners, but should vehemently hate the things they do, calling them to repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The apostle says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). However, when the world tells the Christian that he or she must not express his or her faith, the duty of the Christian is to continue expressing their faith in both word and deed. Caring about what other people think will always make you subject to the public’s changing whims; that’s why politicians are known for changing their minds so often depending on what is popular at any given moment.
The Christian, however, lives life differently, trusting in the Lord rather than man. Proverbs 29:25 continues, “but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” The word used her for “trust” is בָּטַח batach, meaning “to confide in any one, to set one’s hope and confidence upon any one,” the highest level of trust.² Further, the word translated by the KJV as “safe” is שָׂגַב sagav, and refers to much more than “safety,” but to “be inaccessible, be strong, be high.”³
Therefore, this verse could be paraphrased to say, “Anxiety about what people think sets a trap, but whoever confides in the LORD shall be safely exalted.”
Far too many Christians are ensnared by fear of what others may think while not even considering what the LORD of the Universe thinks. The question is, therefore, are you confiding in the LORD, or do you allow what others think of you to keep you from doing His will? If you are letting what others think of you keep you from doing His will, whether it be witnessing, speaking to a friend or co-worker about Christ, etc., the solution is to confide in the LORD. Take the matter to Him in earnest prayer. That is the only way to avoid stepping into the snare of public opinion.
¹ James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
² Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 112.
³ James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament)
Today, the world is celebrating Halloween and kids will be going from house to house dressed in fun costumes asking “Trick or Treat.” Many churches, though, will be having “Reformation Day” celebrations, giving kids a fun alternative to the ghoulish festivities of Halloween.
This day commemorates Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the church doors of Wittenberg Cathedral 500 years ago on October 31, 1517. This event sparked the Protestant Reformation. Yet, although the Reformation did much good regarding the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, the Protestantism of the 16th century was not biblical Christianity either. The so-called “Reformation” of the 16th century was only successful in breaking from the Catholic Church because of the invention of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg. The truth is that small sects of Christians holding to Baptist beliefs had continually protested the errs of the Papal System since its inception with Gregory the Great, the first of the “proper popes.”
I would like clarify now, though, that when I say “baptist,” I am not referring denominationally, but practically. That is, churches that reject any kind of baptism other than immersion, churches that staunchly hold to their autonomy, and that believe in the priesthood of the believer. These “baptistic” churches go back to the days when our Lord walked upon this earth and were greatly persecuted by the Catholic Church and by the Protestant churches.
C.H. Spurgeon noted thus (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1861, p. 225),
[Baptists] did not commence [their] existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves.
These “sects” of Baptist churches include the Donatists, Novatians, Paulicians, Petrobrussians, Cathari, Arnoldists, Hussites, Waldenses, Albigenses, Lollards, Anabaptists, and others. While some may point to irregularities within each of these groups regarding doctrine and practice to say that Baptists err in claiming kinship with them, irregularities are to be expected though. Baptist churches are known for three distinctive characteristics: 1, believer’s baptism by immersion, 2, the priesthood of the believer, and 3, the autonomy of each church body. Therefore, it ought to be evident to clear-thinking persons that churches, independent of one another and bound together in no close organic way, when driven into seclusion and separated by persecution, would no doubt come to differ in minor matters of doctrine and polity. Furthermore, some may even depart so far from the Scriptures’ teaching as to become unworthy of the name they hold. Even the church at Corinth in the Bible had serious moral irregularities, and the church at Galatia had serious doctrinal irregularities, but neither ceased to be a true church. A church ceases to be a true church when it fails in the Great Commission, which includes the way of salvation and the way of baptism. The Roman Catholic Church fails in both counts while Protestant churches fail in the latter count, carrying over sprinkling or pouring from the Roman custom. To change an ordinance from what the Lord both commanded and did Himself is not an act of love, but indifference.
While many Protestants celebrate October 31st as “Reformation Day” and remind Catholics often of the grievous acts perpetrated by Rome, Baptists remember the heinous deeds done to them by both Protestants and Catholics. For instance, on January 18, 1525 in Zurich, Switzerland, the city council led by Ulrich Zwingli decreed that all infants must be sprinkled within eight days of birth and any who refused to sprinkle their infants would be banished from the city. Another decree a few days later on January 21st forbade Baptists from meeting together or speaking in public. In response, the Baptists met together in defiance of the decree and in obedience to the Word of God which resulted in 35 being scripturally baptized within the week. Within the next two years, however, in December 1527, three Baptist leaders in Switzerland – Felix Manz, Jacob Falk, and Henry Reiman – were put to death by drowning, the council having decreed, Qui mersus fuerit mergatur (“He who immerses shall be immersed.”) The Protestant leader Gastins also wrote, “They like immersion, so let us immerse them” (De Anabaptiami, 8. Basite, 1544, cited by John Christian).
This persecution by the Protestants against the Baptists was not limited to Switzerland, however. Martin Luther, who taught in 1518 that baptism was by immersion, nevertheless defended infant baptism and eventually changed his mind, beginning to persecute Baptists in Germany. In 1529, the Diet of Speirs, composed of both Catholic and Protestant princes and heads of state, pronounced the death sentence upon all Baptists in Germany. They hated each other and did not get along even in this meeting, but they hated the Baptists more.
Then, in 1538 the Lutheran Elector of Hesse in Germany wrote to King Henry VIII of England urging him to persecute the Anabaptists. He testified, “There are no rulers in Germany, whether they be Papists or professor the doctrines of the Gospel [Protestants], that do suffer these men if they come into their hands. All men punish them quickly” (Evans, Benjamin. Early English Baptists, chapter 2).
Even the Pilgrims and Puritans who first fled to Amsterdam for religious freedom, but seeing Baptists free to worship too, they chose to come to the New World to establish their own religion. The Baptists did not have place where they were welcomed in America until March 1639 when Roger Williams was publicly immersed as a Baptist and then obtained a charter from the King in 1644 to establish the colony of Rhode Island. Elsewhere in the Americas, Baptists were continually persecuted; the first law against the Baptists in America was made in Massachusetts in November 1644. Baptists were continually driven from their homes such as Deborah Moody in 1643, or whipped like Thomas Painter in 1644. They also were publicly rebuked and fined like William Witter and John Wood of Lynn in 1646, or John Spur who was fined in 1651.
Clarence Larkin said it best when he said, “Though persecuted by others, the Baptists have never persecuted.” Yet, through it all, the Baptists still stand, the gates of hell having still not prevailed.
Christians having a baptistic understanding of Scripture know that the Reformation is ongoing; it was taking place for centuries before Martin Luther and it is still taking place today in the ecumenical age in which we live. Many Christians have become indifferent to Baptist beliefs, believing instead that the church where one attends is inconsequential to simply going to church. Yet, if that church does not “keep the ordinances as delivered” (1 Corinthians 11:2), it is not a true church. While Christians ought to strive to live in peace with all, we ought not choose peace over obedience to our Lord. As the prophet Samuel said to Saul, “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). May we all be reminded this Reformation Day to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
The apostle Paul said to the young Pastor Timothy, “keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
The world is filled with books and theories and ideas all having apparent truth. However, if so-called truth conflicts with the Word of God there is always a problem with the manner by which the conclusion was reached. King Solomon said toward the end of his life about all the information available in the world, “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).
I’m sure you all are familiar with the claim, “Humans are 98% similar to chimpanzees.” What you may not know, however, is that this is not true. Geneticist Jeffrey Tomkins explains that when this research took place in the 1990s:
[I]n the case of the chimpanzee sequence, they lacked good genetic resources and funding. So they used the human genome as a framework. They also based this choice on the evolutionary presupposition that humans and chimps evolved from a common ancestor. This is a belief, not a fact of science. The obvious outcome of this approach is that the chimp genome they constructed would be very human-like even if the actual genome is not.
Tomkins further notes that it is “well-documented in the scientific literature” that many of the DNA sequence databases contain significant levels of human DNA from lab workers. In forensic science, this is called contaminating the evidence.
At best, based on the little amount of accurate research we have at our disposal, humans and chimpanzees are only 85% similar. This percentage is easily accounted for by the same Creator adapting the same basic code for separate created kinds. We see this in all human engineered systems, so why not in the beings God has engineered? The burden of proof is on evolutionists to first prove that humans did indeed evolve from chimpanzees; otherwise, they have no justifiable reason for using human DNA as a framework to map chimp DNA.
The fact of the matter is, though, that there is no present evolution – only horizontal variations and extinctions; there was no past evolution – only gaps between basic kinds in the fossils; there can be no possible evolution because universal laws of conservation and decay now govern all natural processes; and there has been no period long enough for evolution, historical records going back only a few thousand years and the fossil record speaks only of rapid formation.
“Because all that is in the world, the yearning of the flesh and the yearning of the eyes and the arrogance of life (βίος, bios), is not from the Father but is from the world… and this is the promise that He has promised us: the life (ζωή, zoe) eternal” (1 John 2:16, 25).
Although the usages of these two words for “life” do overlap on occasion, the latter ζωή connotes “quality of existence” rather than simply living for the sake of living as the word βίος suggests, merely denoting the physical manner in which one’s ζωή finds expression.¹
Considering this distinction, the word βίος is that from which we get the word “biology.” Thus, this word could be applied today as life according to the evolutionary worldview, that humankind evolved from random molecules of pond scum hitting one another into creatures with self-awareness, having the capacities to learn and teach what they learn, and eventually taking flight and walking on the surface of the moon. The word could further be applied to people in love with their bodies, spending all their time building muscles and strict dieting to the neglect of family, friends, and the church. Both of these exhibit great human pride which is “not from the Father but is from the world.” Yet converging on these two ideologies is the Transhumanist movement, the goal of which is to genetically enhance and technologically augment the human race to live forever without God. This is the ultimate “arrogance of bios.”
If you are saved, however, what God has promised you in Christ is “the zoe eternal,” eternal quality to your existence rather than simply living for the sake of living. Without God, even immortality is not worth living, becoming merely an avenue to fulfill carnal desires that eventually denigrates and cheapens life. This was the reason that the Lord cast Adam and Eve out of paradise after their initial sin, Genesis 3:22 saying, “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:—”
The Lord’s aposiopesis (i.e. sudden silence) at the end of this verse emphasizes that the concept of humanity living forever in a fallen condition is unspeakable. The writers of Star Trek: Voyager expressed the concept of “eternal bios” in the season 2 episode “Death Wish,” which aired February 19, 1996. In this episode, a member of the Q Continuum laments that everything to do had been done, everywhere to go had been traveled, and no one in the continuum had spoken to each other for millennia because there was nothing left to say. To him, immortality was a disease. This is eternal bios, to live forever as a sinner without God, and this is why the prophet Isaiah compared the lost in hell to be as worms that “shall not die” and “an abhorring unto all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24). You will live forever, but without Christ you will only be a shadow of what you once were, separated from God and without zoe.
¹ William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 177.
Satan’s attacks on the Christian are inevitable. He is called “the accuser of the brethren” in Revelation 12, and the Hebrew word הַשָּׂטָ֖ן HaSatan literally means “The Adversary,” or “The Opponent.” Scripture says in 1 Peter 5:8-9,
“Be self-controlled. Be alert. Your accuser the Devil walks about seeking someone to devour, whom you resist, firmly-grounded in the faith, having known the same sufferings are being fulfilled by your brethren in the world.”
It is important to note that the apostle specifically says, “Your accuser,” not merely “the accuser.” Satan is the personal enemy of every born-again child of God; he is not a mere “evil force.” Satan is a fallen angel who rebelled against God eons ago and tempted the first man and first woman to also rebel. Since then, he has become “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). This is not to say, however, that Satan is in any capacity equal with God; while he is far more powerful than we are, he is a created being who is far below God’s power. Satan is not omniscient, omnipotent, nor omnipresent, constrained by the limits of a created being. Rather, such descriptors about him refer to him being the instigator of the entire present world system, whether the religious sphere, the economic sphere, the entertainment sphere, or the political sphere. Satan thus positions his demonic forces to wage war against Christians whom the Lord has saved out of the present world system, his primary objective to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
Of course, if you belong to Christ then Satan cannot touch your spirit. However, if you’re not careful, he will tempt you and continually harass you about your wickedness until he finally breaks you down, steals your joy, ruins your witness for Christ, and renders you useless to God. This is the meaning of the infinitive καταπιεῖν, katapiein, translated “devour” in the verses above. The word is in the active voice showing Satan’s initiative, and means “the complete and sudden destruction of someone or something.”¹ Satan is a powerful enemy that Christians must not take lightly; the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19 know that all too well. Yet many Christians today actually invite satanic oppression by taking part in satanic activities, reading their daily horoscopes, performing Yoga, playing with Ouija boards, or reading tarot cards.
So the question that must now be asked is, how can Christians resist such a powerful enemy? The apostle gives the answer in verse 9, by being “firmly-grounded in the faith.” Some translations say to be “firm in your faith,” but the personal pronoun “your” is not in the text, and instead, the text employs the definite article. We must be grounded in the faith as described in God’s Holy Word, not our nebulous, personal ideas about faith. The apostle Paul further emphasizes this in Romans 2:16 in which he says that all the secret things of men will be judged by Jesus Christ “according to my gospel” (cp. 2 Timothy 2:8). That is, the gospel that Paul preached is the only gospel by which Jesus Christ will judge humanity and the only sure foundation to firmly-ground you (Romans 16:25). Christians cannot afford to be ignorant of God’s Word; a Christian without a devotional life is like a wounded gazelle being watched by a lion. Christians can only resist Satan by reading and digesting the Word of God, integrating it into their lives every day and understanding true from false doctrine.
Notice now, however, that Peter calls Satan “Your accuser.” This word that Peter uses, ἀντίδικος, antidikos, translated as “accuser,” is a legal term for “one who brings a charge in a lawsuit,” and specifically a “plaintiff.”² This is how Christians distinguish between Satan’s accusations and the Holy Spirit’s conviction. An erroneous meme making the rounds on social media says, “Satan accuses you to God day and night – Don’t give him ammunition.” This idea, however, promotes a subtle works-based salvation, implying that if Satan accuses you, the accusation has merit. However, satanic accusation will always tell you how wicked of a person you are in general and will make you feel guilty of past sins which you have already repented. The fact of the matter is, as soon as you are born, Satan has enough ammunition to accuse you day and night. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, will always be very specific in His conviction and will never point out how bad or wicked you are because as a believer, your sin has been nailed to the cross of Christ.
When a Christian sins, the Holy Spirit immediately brings it to mind such as the following examples:
It is only Satan who points his finger guiltily at you saying, “Wow, you’re such a failure. You can’t honestly believe that God loves you?” The fact of the matter is, though, that when the Holy Spirit convicts you of a specific sin and you confess it, then God settles it (1 John 1:9), never to come up again unless you repeat the sin. Any further discouragement or guilt is satanic.
¹Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 233.
²William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 88.