Books at a Glance August 1, 2015

Learn More About Books at a Glance ♦
Hi, I’m Fred Zaspel, editor at Books at a Glance. If you are anything at all like me, books are a huge part of your life. King Solomon famously said that of the making of many books there is no end – but somehow we are okay with that. What a wonderful medium of communication and learning books are! But there is the frustration of keeping up. And there is the frustration of selection – knowing which books to buy next. Books at a Glance was created to help with just these frustrations. Our staff keeps up with all the newest and best in Christian publishing in order to keep our members informed and up to date. Much more than a book review service, we summarize the contents and thought of each book, so that you can digest a book in minutes. Each summary is an accurate and comprehensive yet brief and concise presentation of the entire book, chapter by chapter, delivered directly to your computer, iPad, or cell phone every week. And in just minutes you will become acquainted with the contents and arguments of each new book. Books at a Glance distinguishes itself as a book summary service that focuses on the newest and the best of Christian publications. Along with these summaries we also provide: book reviews, author interviews, author blogs, etc. In all, we trust this will be a site of real value for you. Check us out. We are excited about our work, and I think you will be too. Blessings, Fred Zaspel

Greetings from Books At a Glance!

Our summary for the week was on the problem of good (that’s right, not the problem of evil). We have a storehouse of other great resources in case you missed them, including a big sale on Exegetical Tools’ Colossians Greek Reading Videos. Check it all out below!

Book Summary
 The Problem of Good THE PROBLEM OF GOOD: WHEN THE WORLD SEEMS FINE WITHOUT GOD, ed. D. Marion Clark
The Problem of Good: When the World Seems Fine Without God D. Marion Clark, ed. P&R, 2014 159 pages (Paperback) (Kindle) A Book Summary from Books At a Glance. About the Editor D. Marion […] Continue Reading
Author Interview
Andreas Kostenberger Interview with Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger, authors of GOD’S DESIGN FOR MAN AND WOMAN: A BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Each generation has its own issues that rise to the fore, and surely “gender questions” would rank high on anyone’s list. It’s odd, in a way, because these questions are so foundational to life and who we are – we might think that questions so essential have long been settled! But of course in a fallen […] Continue Reading
Author Interview
The Happy Christian Interview with David Murray, author of HAPPY CHRISTIAN: TEN WAYS TO BE A JOYFUL BELIEVER IN A GLOOMY WORLD
The “Positive Mental Attitude” craze some years back always struck me as having a particularly shallow ring to it. The “Just be happy!” happiness it appeared to foster seemed artificial. But then those grumpy and forlorn Christians (sorry, I don’t know how better to describe them) certainly didn’t off […] Continue Reading
Book Review
The Authority of the Gospel THE AUTHORITY OF THE GOSPEL: EXPLORATIONS IN MORAL AND POLITICAL THEOLOGY IN HONOR OF OLIVER O’DONOVAN, eds. Robert Song and Brent Waters
Oliver O’Donovan has rightly earned a reputation as “one of the pre-eminent Protestant Christian ethicists of the present time” (xi). His Resurrection and Moral Order, Desire of the Nations, and Ways of Judgment demonstrate his significance, as do the first two volumes of his three-volume Ethic […] Continue Reading
Blog
 50% Off Colossians Greek Reading Videos on Sale 50% Off
We highlighted before a great Greek resource from Exegetical Tools, their Colossians Greek Reading Videos. You can find a full description of them here, but essentially they walk you through translating the entire book of Colossians in videos that cover 3-5 verses in 20 minutes or so. They are aimed at people with intermediate Gree […] Continue Reading
Designed For Joy DESIGNED FOR JOY: HOW THE GOSPEL IMPACTS MEN AND WOMEN, IDENTITY AND PRACTICE, eds. Jonathan Parnell and Owen Strachan
As our culture rushes away from its traditional – not to mention Christian – moorings with regard to all things gender-related it becomes increasingly important for us to have a clear understanding of God’s intentions in creating humanity male and female. I expect that we will see a growing number of boo […] Continue Reading
For The Least of These FOR THE LEAST OF THESE: A BIBLICAL ANSWER TO POVERTY, ed. Anne Bradley and Arthur Lindsley
Wayne Grudem says of this work: “This valuable volume provides solutions to poverty that really work… It contains a wide range of practical and biblical insights from the accumulated wisdom of experts.” In For the Least of These, Anne Bradley and Art Lindsley bring together leading Christian economists, […] Continue Reading
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Proverbs 17:1

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 17 ESV”]
Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife.
2 A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the Lord tests hearts.
4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.
7 Fine speech is not becoming to a fool;
still less is false speech to a prince.
8 A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it;
wherever he turns he prospers.
9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.
11 An evil man seeks only rebellion,
and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
12 Let a man meet a she- bear robbed of her cubs
rather than a fool in his folly.
13 If anyone returns evil for good,
evil will not depart from his house.
14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
16 Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom
when he has no sense?
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
18 One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
19 Whoever loves transgression loves strife;
he who makes his door high seeks destruction.
20 A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.
21 He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.
22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the ways of justice.
24 The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.
26 To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
[/learn_more]

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Solomon: Don’t lament the days of small things

 

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.

As we saw Sunday, there is a word here for all of us in not “despising” – in terms of either hating, or treating as of no importance – the beginning and struggling days of anything. This is especially true of our spiritual lives. It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s mindset of more is better, bigger is better, and nothing ought to take time to grow and mature. Not our careers, not our families, not the home we live in, the car we drive, the entertainments we indulge in, and certainly not our souls. But this is not God’s way.
Having little is not shameful to Him. Nor ought to be to those who are His. This was part of the scandal of Jesus’ opening words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – or in Luke’s account – simply “the poor”. How can anyone who is “poor” by any human standard, also be “blessed”? To the world, even (or perhaps especially) to the Judaistic world of Jesus’ contemporaries, this was an unthinkable contradiction. But it surely is not a contradiction, to the one sets their eyes on inheriting the Kingdom – and sees this life but the bare budding stage of what is to come in Christ.
Think for a moment Christian – where do you locate your own poverty? What makes you think of yourself as poor because you lack it? What is that gnawing ache in your soul? And to what lengths has it driven you to try and either obtain it, or erase the pain? It can be virtually anything. We are so individual in the specifics, even as the reality of the experience is universal. Relationship? Spouse? Children? Career? Position? Recognition? Some physical attribute? Raw mental acuity? A possession? An achievement? The love of someone who never seems to requite your own, romantically or in the familial sense? Approbation or respect from a parent or someone else? Money? What?
It is to this, these opening 7 verses especially speak. And it is this that the whole of God’s Word addresses in pointing us to Christ and Christ alone. As Romans 11:36 reminds us, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” We came from Him – as do all things. We were created BY Him, thought the personal agency of the second member of the Trinity. And we were made FOR Him. For His pleasure. For His purposes. Thus it is apart from finding our wholeness and our purpose and fulfillment in Him, we always be driven and tormented by the “lack” we place such importance upon, and in the end, become slaves to. Only in Christ is there freedom from this bondage. Only in finding our contentment in that “morsel” the World considers so “dry” – but who is in truth the very Bread of Life – can the soul be truly quiet and at peace. No matter how much “feasting” we imagine would satisfy us, it will only come with the strife that resides in the creature at war with the Creator.
Now there is also a pointed application in all of this for those who venture upon ministry of any kind.
Ministers, don’t lament the days of small things, hoping for your “big break” and throngs of crowds hanging upon your every word. It is a lie. Enjoy the hour. Break your bread in peace in a quiet household. Yes, a full house is more exciting. Yes, it has its pleasures and advantages. But so does this present place. Each in their season. Remember that the time of growth will also bring with it strife. It will bring another set of challenges and difficulties. Enjoy God’s grace in every season and in every place. And never, NEVER see any place of service as some mere stepping stone to something greater. The greatness of our service resides in the greatness of the One we represent, not in ourselves nor our ministries. Seeking “success” in ministry beyond being a faithful herald of God’s Word, and a loving shepherd of the portion of His flock He has providentially place you among, is the way of the World. But it is not the way of Christ.
How are we ministers to be regarded? Paul summed it up in the Spirit most perfectly in 1 Corinthians 4:1 “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Nothing more. Nothing less. Christ as all.

~ Reid

Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
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Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

Leaving Christ

 

hoarding

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.
For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us;
but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
(1 John 2:19)
False ProfessionsMy first real experience of this sort was in high school. My neighborhood friend Bubba (yes, we lived in the South!) made profession of Christ, was baptized, and was excited to come to church. It was great to see him saved . .. or so we thought. But suddenly one Sunday morning he didn’t want to come to church with us. And in no time his interests had turned entirely. He didn’t want to go to church, and he didn’t want to talk about it. And the fact that I did want these things was a strain on our friendship.You’ve seen the same, I’m sure. From the beginning every church has seen it – those who come in, make profession of Christ, seem for a while to be “one of us, ” and then are gone. Their interest just ran out. They are no longer in church. The things of the Lord are not topics of interest for them. The people of God are not their usual companions. They’re gone – away from Christ and back into the world.
What do we make of them? What is their true spiritual state? For a few generations now Evangelical churches have been told that such people are still saved, even though their lives do not reflect it. Having salvation is one thing, we are told; living it is another. We may be saved even if there is no evidence of it in our lives. And these people who have left us – we may not enjoy their company in Christ here, but we may be sure nonetheless that we will see them again in heaven.
It’s a comforting doctrine. But it is wrong. The inspired apostle John tells us otherwise. Continuance with Christ is the proof of our profession of Christ, and leaving Christ – and his people – is proof that our profession of Christ is false.
There is such a thing as “spurious” faith. It’s a flash in the pan kind of faith. The kind of faith that makes a show for a while and then dies away. It is a kind of faith. But it is not true saving faith, for genuine saving faith has this as its mark – it continues on with Christ. We do no one any favors when we allow them to believe they are saved when in fact they are lost. It makes no difference how many professions of Christ they have made, if there is no evidence of following Christ, no evidence of discipleship, there can be no assurance of salvation. Salvation is free and comes to us apart from our works by faith alone.
But salvation is more than escape from hell. Salvation entails freedom from sin and living for Christ. Simply put, salvation lasts. It sticks. This is why the apostle John can speak with such certainty – those who leave are not Christians, only those who stay. “if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. ”Moreover, this is why it is so important for each of us to finish well. We must pray and strive daily to pursue Christ. This is the “narrow way” that leads to life, and we must make it our aim to have at the end of our lives the testimony of the apostle Paul – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7)
~ Fred

 
Fred Zaspel
Pastor Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012). In addition Fred is the editor of Books At A Glance.
[button link=”http://www.biblicalstudies.com” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Dr. Fred Zaspel’s Biblical Studies[/button]

The Bible: Narrative

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The Promises and Mission of God

 

Genesis 12:1-9 ESV

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy- five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.


Introduction 

God giving us grace, today we begin our journey through the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. The Bible is God telling us his story in human history. It is a story about his glory and how he displays and invites us to share in the blessings of his glory. The main character or hero of God’s story is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible primarily is made up of the narrative storyline and God’s commentary upon that. It is important that we know this, or else we will view the Bible as a collection of morals or rituals or as a theological fact book.

In choosing a passage from the various books of the Bible, I attempt to select one that will shed light on the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. Usually this will require that we know the place of the passage in the context of the story. Over the weeks, this will involve some repetition, but this will help us know the various people and themes that God uses in his story.

Exposition

I.The setting of God’s promises and mission – a brief overview

A.The account of creation (Gen 1-2)

1.The action of the all-powerful, personal living God. He is so majestic and glorious that he speaks the universe into being by his word. Note the recurring “And God said.” Everything is created by his will (Rev 4:11) in a manner that communicates wise design. Everything that God creates is good; in fact, all is very good (Gen 1:31).

2.This goodness includes Adam and his wife. God makes them in his image and likeness. God places them in a garden that is like a temple in all its imagery. God tells Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over the garden and the whole earth. They are to serve him as royal priests—an important idea in God’s story.

3.God blesses the people he created. Overflowing with glory and goodness, God chooses to bless people. God is telling us about his mission. And God also asserts his authority to order and command the way of life of people. Adam and Eve receive one prohibition and a consequence for disobedience that tells them that God can set limits on human behavior (2:15-17). The creation account closes with the man and the woman living in God’s blessing with harmony.

B.The account of the Fall into sin and death (Gen 3; cf. Rm 5:12-21)

1.Mankind falls into sin and death because Adam and Eve rebelled against God and his authority when Satan tempted them. (The rest of God’s story makes clear that the tempter was Satan or the devil (cf. Jn 8:44). Adam did not exercise his authority over creation and order the serpent to stop his lies. Instead, he sinned, became guilty, was afraid, and hid from God.

2.God acts to judge all three sinners, and pronounces curses upon them and their world. Yet at the same time, in the midst of the curse on the judgment, God gives hope. He tells that one day the seed of the woman would be victorious over the serpent and his seed (Gen 3:15). So then, in the midst of destruction, there is a promise of blessing, but it will come through the seed. This is an important idea in God’s story.

3.God spares mankind from immediate physical death, but drives them from the garden temple where they had lived. The way back into God’s presence can only come through a blood sacrifice.

C.The account of the spread of sin and death (Gen 4-11) – The Bible never tells us the extent of time from the expulsion from Eden to the call of Abraham, but it took thousands of years.

1.Adam and Eve have two sons, whose relationship shows the ruin that sin brought on the human race. Cain murders his brother Abel, showing that he was of the seed of the evil one (cf. 1 Jn 3:11-12). His line builds a civilization of godless violence. God grants another son to them, Seth, and through his descendants come people that call on the name of the Lord (4:26). Yet their priestly activity is unable to rebuild the world. Instead, humanity is filled with evil and all suffer the curse of death. Note the gloomy refrain in Gen 5: “and then he died”. Human wickedness becomes so terrible that God decides to destroy mankind (Gen 6:5-7).

2.However, God also gives us hope by telling us about his grace—his unmerited favor for those who deserve God’s wrath. As he prepares to destroy the earth, he selects one man and his family to make a new beginning—Noah. He provides Noah and the land and air animals with a way of rescue or salvation—the ark. After the Great Flood that killed all outside the ark, God leads out Noah and the rest to a world that he has remade. God makes a covenant promise with humanity and the rest of the world not to destroy it again by a Great Flood (Gen 8-9). Yet God’s words tell us of the continuing reality of sin, conflict, and death.

3.Noah and his family quickly demonstrate sin’s evil in their lives, and Noah as God’s priest pronounces a curse on part of his family while blessing the Lord God and pointing them to the Lord God for hope. However, mankind quickly rises in rebellion against the Lord and builds a civilization contrary to God’s orders. In their folly, they attempt to “make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4). God easily ends this part of human rebellion by dividing humanity by various languages and then by scattering them across the world. For many, many years human history is the story of untold millions living and dying in the darkness of the “evil exchange” (cf. Rm 1:18-32).

II.The proclamation of God’s promises and mission (Gen 12:1-9) – the call of Abraham (cf. Heb 11:8-16)

A.God’s sovereign grace shines brightly in the story of Abram or Abraham.

1.God took the initiative and called Abram to follow him. Abram was not looking for God; instead, God brought him out from a family who worshiped other gods (Josh 24:2). The line of Seth, Noah, and Shem had hit a dead end in the “evil exchange”. Abram’s wife Sarai (Sarah) was barren. The man whose name meant “exalted father” had no children. They looked cursed instead of blessed.

2.God spoke to Abram to change him: “The Lord had said…” (Gen 12:1). The God of glory appeared to Abraham (Ac 7:2) but he performed no signs and wonders to convince him. Yet the Lord (Yahweh) gave him faith to trust him and to show that faith by obedience. God’s story involves people that trust his promises and act according to God’s words.

3.God’s call involved commands and promises (Gen 12:1-3). As Abram believed God’s promises, he would do God’s will. God gave him two commands at this point and three promises connected with each command.

a.“Leave… and go….” Abram must set himself apart from others and rely on God’s direction. God encourages him by promising: (1) to make him a great nation, (2) to bless him, and (3) to make his name great. God is going to do something new and it involves a large group of people. Regardless of how bleak Abram’s present situation might be, God promises to bless him. Note the connection back to Gen 1:28. It is the beginning of a new humanity. The Lord God also promises to make Abram’s name great. He would do for Abram what the builders of Babel could not do.

b.“Be a blessing.” God gives Abram a mission. Abram and his seed are to act to bring blessing to the world. God involves the new people in his global mission. God encourages him in this mission by promising: (1) that God would bless those who bless Abram, (2) that God will curse those who curse him, and (3) that all the people groups of the world would be blessed through Abram and his seed. Notice that God links blessing and cursing of the world to the interactions of his people with other people. His people will be priests to bless the world, but the peoples must receive the blessing his people bring. This eventually leads to the Great Commission and the eternal state.

B.Abraham believed and obeyed (Gen 12:4-9).

1.God promised Abram the land. Since the Fall, God had not dwelt with people in a place. But now God starts the process of bringing people back into his presence. At first, it is only a small area that Abram could easily walk around. It is not the end of the story. But it is the start of something new and good, because God would choose a place in that land for his temple and live among the people there. When Christ comes, something better would happen. This is an important idea in God’s story.

2.Notice how the promise is made to Abram and his seed (12:7). God started with the seed of the woman, and now it is the seed of Abraham. God’s story is progressing! As Paul much later explains, Abraham’s seed is the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16). The rest of the story in Genesis does more to identify the seed. Read all of Genesis to see Christ!

3.Abraham responds with worship (Gen 12:7b-9). He does not try to create a new city, but rather waits for the city of God, living in tents, waiting for God to fulfill his word. As Abraham worships, we see the father of believers returning to the calling to worship God. A godly people are reestablished.

Apply: Are you part of this godly people that worship the true and living God? Or are you still pursuing idols? Turn from idols and serve the living God. This will only happen when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then will you belong to Abraham’s seed and be an heir according to God’s promise (Gal 3:29).

~ Dave

 
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.
 

1 Peter 3:3-4

Submission and Marriage

Dr Steve OrrLast time we started to consider 1 Peter chapter 3v1-6. Those verses present the third of Peter’s series of examples of what it means to obey the command he gave in chapter 2 verse 13 for believers in Christ to “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution”. The first of those examples is found in verses 13 to 17 where he speaks of Christian citizens submitting to “the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him”. So, that’s speaking of submission to civil authorities or what we might call “the powers that be”. We considered that under the title “Submission and freedom”. His second example is found in verses 18 to 20 where he speaks of Christian slaves or servants submitting to their masters even if they are unjust and make their servants suffer. We saw that nowadays that really equates to Christian employees being submissive to their employers. We considered that under the title “Submission and suffering”. After a wonderful digression to consider the sufferings of Christ in bearing our sins on the cross, chapter 3 then introduces Peter’s third example of “submitting yourselves” to “human institutions”. It hangs on the command that we find in verse 1 which is given as “wives, be subject to your own husbands” in the ESV or as “Wives……. submit yourselves to your own husbands” in the NIV. So, in this case Peter is speaking of Christian wives submitting themselves to their husbands.
We’re looking at that command under the heading “Submission and marriage” and we noted that verses 1-6 cover the Properties, Purpose, Practice and Pattern of this submission. Last time we considered the Properties and a Purpose. Today, we’re going to move on to look at the Practice of this submission and we’ll leave the Pattern of this submission next time.

The Practice of submission

We see that in verses 3 and 4 where Peter says to Christian wives: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”. That’s how the ESV translates it. The NIV has: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”.
Superficially, those verses might sound to contain a negative command followed by a positive command. We see what might be considered to be the negative command in verse 3 where we read: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear” and then we see what would be the positive command in verse 4 where we read: “let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”.
Archbishop Robert Leighton wrote a famous commentary on 1 Peter. I don’t often refer to it because it was written in the 17th century so it’s quite antiquated but I did dip into it recently and found that, in commenting on verse 3, his first sentence is as follows: “That nothing may be wanting to the qualifying of a Christian wife, she is taught how to dress herself; supposing a general desire, but especially in that sex, of ornament and comeliness: the sex which began first our engagement to the necessity of clothing, having still a peculiar propensity to be curious in that, to improve the necessity to an advantage”. By modern standards, that is quite a long and convoluted sentence but, once you’ve managed to unravel it, you find that it’s really quite a mischievous statement! In essence he’s saying that since the need for clothing was brought about by the sin of the woman in the first place it’s quite outrageous that women should tend to take delight in their clothing by styling and ornamenting it. He’s saying that it’s lamentable that what was given as a shameful punishment should be treated as an art form to be enjoyed and with which to impress others! So far as he’s concerned, what Peter has written here is so that a Christian wife might be “taught how to dress herself”.
It’s certainly the case that many of the early Church Fathers quoted verse 3 as being a prohibition of jewellery being worn by Christian women. The Puritans also took verse 3 as part of their rationale for prescribing what was and what was not considered to be acceptable attire for Christian women. No doubt many other Christian groups and movements over the years have done exactly the same sort of thing. Now, if you’re a believer in Christ, How do you feel about that? What is your gut reaction to that? What does your instinct tell you? What does your sanctified common sense suggest? Do you not instinctively feel that there is something that’s not quite right about it? I hope you do and, if you do, I’ll tell you why you do. As believers in Christ we are not under the Old Covenant with its rules and regulations about all sorts of external things. We are in the New Covenant. That covenant emphasises our freedom in Christ. It emphasises our relationship with Christ. It doesn’t impose laws about externals. Rather, it centres on the fact that our hearts have been made alive in Christ and it emphasises the fact that His law has been written in our new, living hearts and that the Holy Spirit lives within us to help us to work out the law that has been written in our new, living hearts. In short, the notion that what Christian women should and shouldn’t wear is dictated by apostolic teaching simply feels far too legalistic to sit comfortably with the New Covenant in Christ.
However, it’s all well and good to say that such an understanding of the text simply doesn’t feel right but what does the Greek text actually say? Is there a command here about hairstyles, jewellery and clothing or does the point that Peter is making lie elsewhere? Well, a literal, word for word translation of verses 3 and 4, would be as follows: “whose adorning let it not be the outward of braiding of hair and putting around of gold or putting on of garments, but the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible of the meek and quiet spirit which is before God of great price”. That needs tweaking a bit to make it read as good English but it gives the right sense. Now notice that, although the NIV speaks of “elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes”, the Greek text does not mention fine clothes”. It simply says “garments” or “clothes”. The translators of the NIV have decided to add the word “fine” but it’s actually just speaking of clothes. That being the case, if Peter was really prohibiting “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry”, he would also be prohibiting the wearing of clothes! I hardly think that he would be promoting nudity among Christian wives! So, if you take this as a blunt commandment not to wear certain things you actually get into a bit of a tangle.
Now, it is clear that Peter is talking about the adornment of Christian wives. It is also surely immediately apparent that, with respect to such adorning, an important contrast is being made between two very different types of adorning. It’s a contrast between that which is outward and that which is inward. It’s a contrast between externals and internals. It’s a contrast between what’s on the surface and what’s in the heart. It’s a contrast between what is corruptible and what is incorruptible. That is a contrast between what is fading, passing, superficial and that which is lasting, enduring and of eternal value. That’s a theme that we’ve seen repeatedly in Peter’s letter.
So, in 1 Peter 1v6-7 we read: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. Peter was saying that our faith is more precious than gold. Why? It’s because our faith leads to “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” whereas gold, even when it is highly purified will ultimately perish.
In 1 Peter 1v18-19 we read: “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot”. The blood of Christ by which we have been ransomed is more precious than silver or gold. Why? It’s because silver and gold are perishable. The inference we must draw is that, in contrast with such perishability, the blood of Christ is of eternal value.
Then look at 1 Peter 1v23-25 where we read: “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever””. The seed by which we’ve been born again is not fleshly, earthly seed. That is perishable seed because it eventually withers and dies. Rather, the seed by which we’ve been born again is “the word of the Lord”. That’s imperishable seed because it’s “living and abiding” and it “remains forever”.
So, as Peter has done previously in various contexts, here in the context of adorning, he’s comparing outward adorning with inward adorning. He mentions “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear”, not as things to be forbidden per se but simply as examples of external adorning. In his day, those were prime examples of outward, external adornments that women employed. If he was writing today he might say something like “hair colouring, body piercing and false eyelashes.
What does Peter mean by a Christian wife’s “adorning” in this context? I think he means the source of her true beauty and what makes her genuinely and lastingly attractive. He’s saying that what matters, what really counts, what really lasts is not any form of outward adornment whatever it might be but “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”. Why is that? It’s because that, as Peter says: “in God’s sight is very precious”. That’s what God values. That’s what counts to Him. That’s what pleases Him. He looks at what’s in the heart not what’s on the outside.
So, in keeping with the whole spirit and ethos of the New Covenant we’re not to take Peter’s words as a specific command against “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear”. You ladies are not to give yourselves a pat on the back for not having braided hair! Neither are you to feel that you’re being “got at” if you happen to be wearing any jewellery! Neither is this to be taken as a command against outward adorning in general. There is freedom for Christian wives to choose what they will wear. Does that then mean that they can wear absolutely anything? The answer really is “yes and no”. You see, with freedom there is also responsibility. Look at the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6v12 where he says: ““All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything”.
Paul states quite categorically “All things are lawful for me”. But, there being no law against something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s helpful or beneficial and it certainly isn’t helpful for your Christian life and witness if you allow yourself to be dominated by it. In the quote from Robert Leighton that we alluded to earlier he mentioned that women in particular have a desire to ornament themselves and have “a peculiar propensity….. to improve the necessity (of clothing) to an advantage”. I tend to think that that was a valid observation. Isn’t it true to say that many women are dominated by hairstyles, jewellery, beauty treatments, keeping up with latest fashions and so on? They spend a lot of time thinking about it and discussing it, they read magazines about it, they put a lot of effort into it, they spend a lot of money on it. It can mean so much to them that they are dominated by it. Now, for a Christian wife, there are no laws against having your hair styled and wearing jewellery and wearing fashionable clothes but there is a responsibility to not be dominated by any of it. Why? Because it’s all merely external so keep a right sense of proportion. Always remember that, from an eternal perspective, it counts for nothing. There are much more important things to think about and to spend your time and money on.
In this passage Peter is specifically addressing Christian wives but, for the sake of balance, it’s worth mentioning that exactly the same principle applies to Christian men. Most of us men are probably not in danger of being dominated by hairstyles and jewellery and so on although perhaps nowadays that isn’t necessarily true. But men have other things that can easily dominate them. People talk about boys and their toys. We men need to apply exactly the same principle to cars and gadgets. Likewise our hobbies and interests be it model railways, music, football or other sports. They’re all perfectly legitimate things. There’s no law against any of them but, as believers in Christ, we have a responsibility to have a sense of proportion and keep them in their right place. We mustn’t let them dominate us anymore that Christian wives are to let fashion and beauty trends dominate them.
We’ve just quoted 1 Corinthians 6v12. Paul also says something similar in1 Corinthians 10v23-24 where we read: ““All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor”.
Now, “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear” doesn’t “build up” either yourself or others and neither is it for the good of your neighbour. Rather, it draws attention to yourself. It cries out “Look at me!” That’s very different from “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” isn’t it?
So, on the one hand you have freedom to wear what you want but on the other hand you have a responsibility to work out what is appropriate. In the absence of clear rules, how do you do that? I suggest that you need to consider a couple of things. Firstly, your motive and secondly the message you’re conveying.
Motive is always crucial because the Lord looks upon the heart. What motives do we need to avoid? I’ll mention three.

Firstly, don’t be motivated by the belief that there is a particularly “Christian” way to dress. As we’ve seen, there are no prescribed rules and yet some follow a tradition or allow themselves to be bound by unwritten rules. On our way to church on Sunday mornings we pass a Brethren Hall. It’s almost always completely deserted but once in a while there are lots of people there and the men all look exactly the same. They all wear white shirts, black ties and black suits. I can’t imagine that they have that many funerals! They’re clearly motivated by a need to conform to a perceived code of dress for godly men. The danger with that is that they pride themselves on having kept arbitrary rules but could well have failed to do what God really requires. Translating that to what we’ve been seeing in connection with Christian wives, they might refrain from “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry” but fail to adorn themselves with “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” which is what the Lord is wanting to see. We can all be very good at getting hung up on things that don’t really matter much while happily ignoring what does really matter. Remember how Jesus denounced the Pharisees in Matthew 23v23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others”. You see, they were meticulous on minor externals but neglected the characteristics that God wanted to see flowing from within.

Secondly, we need to recognise that, in Peter’s day, “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry” was very expensive so it was a way for wealthy women to draw attention to themselves and parade their affluence and station in life. The desire to dress in a way that draws attention to yourself is not appropriate for a Christian wife whose adorning is to be “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”.

Thirdly, don’t be motivated by a desire to parade the freedom that you have in Christ. It’s interesting to recognise that most of the Greek and Roman thinkers and teachers of Peter’s day admonished women to not have elaborate hairstyles or wear costly jewels but to dress modestly. So what Peter said about “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry” wasn’t actually anything new or even specifically “Christian”. He was saying that, although Christian wives have liberty to wear whatever they want, it would be best if they dress in keeping with the norms of the society in which they found themselves. Why? Well, that brings us to the question of the message being conveyed.

Why did the Greek and Roman thinkers and teachers of Peter’s day admonish women to not have elaborate hairstyles or wear costly jewels? It’s because they were considered to be an indication of deception and seduction and idleness. Peter knew full well that a fancy hairdo or a piece of jewellery isn’t intrinsically good or bad and as such is of no consequence to God just as Paul was in no doubt that God had no problem with the eating of food that had been offered to idols. But, if society at large considers something to convey a negative message it’s best for believers to not exercise their liberty. It’s better to curtail your freedom than to send a message that gives a bad impression of the gospel. So, Paul says in 1 Timothy 2v9-10: “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works”. The principle being urged there is that: “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control”. In Paul and Peter’s day, to wear “braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” was not considered to be respectable or modest or to suggest self-control. It didn’t send a message of respectability or modesty or self-control so it was best for Christian wives to refrain from such things.
Of course, the significance of outward adornment varies at different times and in different cultures. For example, when I was a boy I was in the Boys’ Brigade and the church also had a Girls’ Brigade Company. I remember the very elderly Captain of the Girls’ Brigade Company once commenting how strange it was to her that the uniform of a Christian organisation required the girls to wear black stockings because, when she was a girl, wearing black stockings was a sign of an immoral woman. In the 1960’s black stockings had no such connotation and it certainly doesn’t convey such a message today. There was a time when it would not have been advisable for a Christian woman to wear black stockings but that’s no longer the case. In Victorian times it would not have been advisable for a Christian woman to let her ankles be seen but that’s no longer the case.
This really highlights the folly of understanding Peter to be giving a specific command against “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry” doesn’t it? If a Christian woman in Victorian times displayed her ankles there would have been widespread muttering if not uproar. Would that have stopped if she’d said “yes, but my hair isn’t braided and I’m not wearing any jewellery”? No, because in Victorian times her exposed ankles were sending the same message as braided hair and jewellery would have sent in Peter’s day.
So, in Christ you have freedom but the extent to which you exercise that freedom should be dependent on your motive and on the message you’d be conveying. And, you should be prepared to curtail that freedom because it’s freedom with regard to something that doesn’t really matter very much and is of no lasting consequence.
What is really important is that you “let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”. You sometimes hear it said that beauty is only skin deep don’t you? That’s very true of superficial, physical beauty. As we read in Proverbs 31v30: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. So, Peter is encouraging Christian wives to adorn themselves with an “imperishable beauty”. That’s not vain. It’s not “skin deep”. It comes from what Peter describes as “the hidden person of the heart”. It’s not put on the outside. It comes from the inside and it’s what the Lord takes particular notice of. He made that clear when He gave instructions to Samuel when he was given the task of choosing a king from among the sons of Jesse. We read in 1 Samuel 16v7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart””.
For the natural man, it should be a scary thing to know that “the Lord looks on the heart” because, by nature, according to Jeremiah 17v9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” but, as believers in Christ, we’ve been born again and we have new hearts. Now, God can see into those new hearts but they are hidden from other people. That’s why Peter speaks of “the hidden person of the heart”. I can’t look into your hearts any more than you can look into mine. What we can see is what arises from people’s hearts. We can see what comes out. We can see what hearts produce and, hearts renewed by God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit should produce “a gentle and quiet spirit”. Remember that gentleness is part of the fruit of the Spirit.
The Greek word that’s been translated as “gentle” there could equally be translated as meek or humble. It’s only used on three other occasions in the New Testament. One of them is in the Sermon on the Mount which is really Jesus’ manifesto for New Covenant living. He said in Matthew 5v5: “Blessed are the meek”. In the other two instances, the word is used of Jesus Himself. So, in Matthew 11v29 we read Jesus saying: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. Then, we read of Him in Matthew 21v4-5: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’”.
Matthew 12v17-21 is also relevant here: “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope””. The word “gentle” doesn’t appear there but the gentleness of Jesus is depicted beautifully in the words “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench”. As well as His gentle spirit, there’s also an indication of His quiet spirit in the words “He will not quarrel or cry aloud”.
So, for a Christian wife to be adorned with “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” is nothing less than to be Christ-like. Such a spirit should be attractive and beautiful to the husbands of Christian wives and, what’s for sure, “in God’s sight” it “is very precious”.
You might well say that that is all very interesting and helpful but wonder what it all has to do with Christian wives submitting themselves to their husbands. After all, that’s the key point of the passage. Well, that will become clearer when we move on next time to consider: The Pattern of submission in verses 5 and 6.

About Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!

Books at a Glance July 26, 2015

Learn More About Books at a Glance ♦
Hi, I’m Fred Zaspel, editor at Books at a Glance. If you are anything at all like me, books are a huge part of your life. King Solomon famously said that of the making of many books there is no end – but somehow we are okay with that. What a wonderful medium of communication and learning books are! But there is the frustration of keeping up. And there is the frustration of selection – knowing which books to buy next. Books at a Glance was created to help with just these frustrations. Our staff keeps up with all the newest and best in Christian publishing in order to keep our members informed and up to date. Much more than a book review service, we summarize the contents and thought of each book, so that you can digest a book in minutes. Each summary is an accurate and comprehensive yet brief and concise presentation of the entire book, chapter by chapter, delivered directly to your computer, iPad, or cell phone every week. And in just minutes you will become acquainted with the contents and arguments of each new book. Books at a Glance distinguishes itself as a book summary service that focuses on the newest and the best of Christian publications. Along with these summaries we also provide: book reviews, author interviews, author blogs, etc. In all, we trust this will be a site of real value for you. Check us out. We are excited about our work, and I think you will be too. Blessings, Fred Zaspel

Greetings from Books At a Glance!

We published two book summaries this week, one reviewing a work about biblical literalism and death before the fall, and another summarizing a work on Jonathan Edwards view of the glory of Christ’s obedience. Check it all out below.

Book Summary
The Infinite MERIT of Christ THE INFINITE MERIT OF CHRIST: THE GLORY OF CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE IN THE THEOLOGY OF JONATHAN EDWARDS, by Craig Biehl
The Infinite Merit of Christ: The Glory of Christ’s Obedience in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards Craig Biehl Pilgrim’s Rock Press. A Book Summary from Books At a Glance […] Continue Reading
Death Before The Fall DEATH BEFORE THE FALL: BIBLICAL LITERALISM AND THE PROBLEM OF ANIMAL SUFFERING, by Ronald Osborn
Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering Ronald E. Osborn IVP, 2014 197 pages. A Summary-Review by Ardel Caneday […] Continue Reading
Book Reviews
Finding and Seeking: Ethics as Theology FINDING AND SEEKING: ETHICS AS THEOLOGY VOLUME 2, by Oliver O’Donovan
In this second volume of his “Ethics as Theology” series, Oliver O’Donovan seeks “to follow moral thought from self-awareness to decision through the sequence of virtues from faith to hope” (ix). While it seems simple at the outset, the actual product is quite dense and complex. O’Donovan masterfully […] Continue Reading
From Creation to New Creation FROM CREATION TO NEW CREATION: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF G. K. BEALE, edited by Daniel Gurtner and Benjamin Gladd
My introduction to academic biblical theology came through reading G. K. Beale’s The Temple and the Church’s Mission. A prospective seminarian at the time, I was overwhelmed with Beale’s attention to textual detail, exegetical ability in both testaments, and sweeping command of the whole of Scripture […] Continue Reading
 The Presence of God THE PRESENCE OF GOD: ITS PLACE IN THE STORYLINE OF SCRIPTURE AND THE STORY OF OUR LIVES, by J. Ryan Lister
At times within the discipline of Biblical Theology people can get enticed (and distracted?) by subtle and tenuous thematic links and connections throughout Scripture that have no real practical pay-off. Not so with J. Ryan Lister’s new book. The Presence of God: Its place in the storyline of Scripture and the story of our li […] Continue Reading
Author Interview
New Atheism NEW ATHEISM: A SURVIVAL GUIDE, by Graham Veale
Fred Zaspel: Let’s begin on a personal note. Could you tell us about your work and how your interest in this subject come about? Graham Veale: At university I became friendly with David Glass (author of Atheism’s New Clothes); we’d a mutual interest in apologetics and evangelism, and this has formed the […] Continue Reading
Blog
Did God Really Say? DID GOD REALLY SAY? AFFIRMING THE TRUTHFULNESS AND TRUSTWORTHINESS OF SCRIPTURE, edited by David Garner
Our Lord’s declaration that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) demands the reaffirmation of each next generation of Christians. Yet more is required than just that: the inspiration, trustworthiness, and clarity of Scripture also deserve restatement in light of new forms of denial. For example, if God is the principal au […] Continue Reading
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Sin is Simple?

 

Or is it?

 

sin is complicated or simpleEveryone assumes they know what sin is.  It is what bad people do, or what normal people do if they are being bad.  Sin is about breaking laws and hurting others and stealing and being unethical.  But is sin that simple?

Consider the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  There you have one of the best-known stories of the Bible.  One man, two sons, and what a story!  The contrast is obvious between the boys.  One is bad, the other is good.  The younger goes away and lives the brief life of squandering wealth in a far country, while the older one stays home and gets on with the family business.

There are obviously differences, but perhaps we would do well to ponder what they have in common.  They are much more alike than most of us realize.

They were both seekers.  The younger brother came home seeking to be a paid servant in the home of someone he knew would pay more than a room-only wage.  The older brother was also seeking something from the same man.

Both sought benefits.  The younger sought the benefit of pay, presumably so that he could pay off his shameful debt.  The older son sought the benefit of a bonus payment – if not the fattened calf, at least a goat.

Both wanted relationships elsewhere.  It was friends over family for these two.  The younger brother wanted to be a servant, which meant living away from the home and perhaps building up the necessary wealth to leave again.  The older son wanted at least a goat so that he could celebrate, not with his family, but with his friends.

Both viewed their father as a boss, a benefactor by contract, but not an Abba.  The younger planned to ask for a job.  The older son referenced his work and the lack of appropriate pay.

Both were lost, its just that their sin looked different.  Jesus had set up the story with two other stories.  One about a sheep lost in the far country, the other about a coin lost in the home.  Then come the two sons.  One lost in the far country, the other lost in the home.

Until we grasp that both sons were sinners and lost, we are in a very dangerous place.  Where is the danger?  The danger lies in the misunderstanding of sin.  If we think of sin only as covenant breaking and lawlessness, then we will only see the younger brother as a sinner.  His Las Vegas / Amsterdam-weekend lifestyle certainly reeks of the sin we tend to recognize as sin.  But what if sin goes deeper than extravagant licentiousness?

There is one difference that is clear between the two.  As the story ends, one of the brothers is in the home, accepted, loved, and fully alive to relationship with his Abba.  However, the other is still stood outside, face like flint, refusing to accept his father’s attempt to rescue him by self-humiliation as he begs him to come in.  The humility of the father melted the heart of the younger son, but there is no hint the older one will allow himself to be won over.

That’s the danger of not grasping the real depth of sin.  What if sin is actually about rejection of real relationship with the father?  What if sin is birthed out of self-absorption and self-rule?  What if sin is about the heart and consequently can manifest in different ways?  The sinful heart loves itself and makes itself out to be god, and does not want God to be god.

We are in a dangerous place if we think sin is always manifested in certain ways.  We could spend our whole lives being very self-righteous and religious and avoiding all overt rebellion.  Yet we would be as lost as the obvious sinner.  His rebellion and self-love is demonstrated in gross behaviour, but ours can be masked in great behaviour.

How many in the church are working their way to respect and acclaim in this life, only to face a lost eternity because they always saw God as one who owed them something in return for their “goodness,” but never accepted His self-humiliation to melt and win their hearts into the fullness of life found only in his embrace?

Sin can be extravagant.  Sin can be most respectable.  The offer of God’s grace is there for all, if only we will accept the embrace of Him who laid aside all respectability to bring us home.  Sin might be extravagant, but God’s grace is more extravagant still.

~ Peter
You are invited to comment on Peter’s article at Cor Deo
 
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]  

The Case of Job: Part One

God’s Sovereignty is Absolute

 
Mark Webb1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
(Job 1:1-22 ESV)
.

Outline

  • Where is this place called Uz?
    • Lam 4:21, Uz = Edom
    • Eze 25:13, mentioned
    • Sabeans
      • From Sheba near Yemen today
    • Chaldeans
      • From Mesopotamia
  • When do these events take place?
    • May be the oldest book in the Bible
    • May have predated Moses
      • Lives before the giving of the Law on Sinai
      • Functions as the priest for his family
      • Job 42:16
        • Total lifespan around 200 years
        • Abrahams father lived 205
        • Job lived during the age of the patriarchs
    • Moses may have written the Book of Job
      • Moses lived in the land of Midea
      • He may have learned of the story of Job when he lived in Midea
  • Job is described as perfect, upright, God-fearing and one who turns away from evil.
    • Is this describing someone without sin?
    • We know that this isn’t so because
      • Theologically: all men fell in Adam
      • The words perfect, without blame etc
        • Are used to describe outward moral
        • For example: Blameless is the same word Paul uses to describe himself in Phil 3.
      • The law could not accuse him of anything, he was outwardly good.
        • Outwardly Job was as good as it gets. God said there was none other like Job. The best of the best
        • Yet Job was a sinner
          • In Job 42. Job repents. Job repents of sin.
    • It is never the trial; it is never the temptation that brings sin into your life. The temptation will only manifest what is already in your heart.
    • Illustration: Sin is like an impurity in a bar of gold; it may look completely pure but put it in the fire and melt it down and you will see the impurity come to the surface.
    • In the same sense the test and trials that come up on us in life never make us sinners but they manifest sin.
  • Job is also a rich man
    • Possessing sheep
    • Camels
    • Oxen
    • He’s a big farmer
  • Job is also a family man
    • A happy family
  • Job is a religious man
    • He thinks of the things of God, a godly man.
    • He offers sacrifices for his children- just in case
  • The plot thickens the scene shifts from earth to heaven
    • An assembly of the sons of God
      • A phrase used to speak of the angels
      • Sons not in the sense that Jesus is the Son of God
        • Jesus share the same nature of the Father
        • Christ is the only true offspring of God, so called only begotten Son
      • Angels are sons in the sense they are created
        • Men also are referred to as offspring of God in Acts 17
          • In a creative sense
        • Men are called sons of God in the adoptive sense
          • They who receive Christ by faith are given the authority to be called sons of God
    • There are other assemblies like this in scripture
      • 1 Kings 22:19
    • The idea is the angels are gathered around God and God is making use of them as his messengers
    • If our eyes were opened we would be astounded to the amount of the angelic activity
      • If we did see we may worship them as John did
      • That is our tendency
    • God sometimes uses the angels to bring about his purposes
    • Satan himself comes as one of the angels
      • Satan is called upon to give account of what he is doing
    • God calls Satan’s attention to Job
      • Satan did know of Job first
    • We may be surprised to find that Satan is a moral creature
      • In this assembly, God, angels, man all have a sense of right and wrong
      • Satan is concerned of right and wrong
      • He is acting as a prosecuting attorney leveling charges against Job
        • He accusing Job of hypocrisy, sin, he just in it for the money
        • He has a keen sense of right and wrong
    • This is a contest of ideas, what is true and what is not
      • Satan like a prosecuting attorney is hyper-moral
      • Satan is charging Job and seeks to proof those charges
      • He says to God that Job is only righteous because of God’s protection
      • Take it away and the evidence of hypocrisy will be seen
      • Satan charges God also, of buying off his servents
    • Now it is game on
      • God gives Satan permission to take away Jobs stuff
      • Not allowed to touch his life, just the things he has
      • Satan is efficient when given permission
  • Now Job worships
    • Vs 20-21
    • Acknowledges God as both the giver and remover of these things
    • One of the most amazing declarations of fidelity in the Bible
  • That’s the story. What do we learn?
    • God’s sovereignty is absolute
      • There is no duality- good versus evil
      • Almost all eastern religion is based on this idea
      • Satan cannot make a move unless God grants it
        • He’s like a dog on a leash
        • He cannot go an further than he’s allowed to go
      • Did Job say the Lord gave and the devil took away?
        • Satan was just the instrument
        • Job acknowledges the fact that the Chaldeans, the wind, the lightning are all in the hands of the Almighty God
      • This is a hard doctrine, but the opposite is tougher
        • If it’s not true then God is powerless
  • Mark’s first funeral in Wyoming
    • A girl of 18 was engaged and going around visiting family
    • In one home there was a rifle on the wall her finance took the rifle to show her and it went off and the bullet shot his fiancé and killed her instantly
    • The family called Mark as they had no pastor there, a town 80% Mormon
    • What do you tell the young man?
      • Tough luck? That’s the way the cookie crumbles?
      • In the Law it tells us that if two men go to chop down a tree and an axe head comes off and kills one man the other man is innocent because the Lord took the man’s life.
      • What else makes sense?
      • These things are in the hand of God almighty
  • The problem
    • It’s only someone that sees that God has done this that is presented with the problem
    • Satan is to present to Job a problem that will bring out that Job doesn’t trust God
    • If Job thinks the wind, Chaldeans etc did this then Satan’s scheme fails
    • The only way this works is if Job believes God did these things to him, for this to be a test for Job’s faith.
  • Some assert is the Book of Job is about the salvation of Job
    • Job is being stripped of his own righteousness
    • We also experience a crisis time where we choose whether to cling to God’s righteousness or our own
      • Part of being a Christian is turning your back on your own righteousness and clinging to the righteousness of Christ.
      • This is an ongoing problem, in every trial, until we die
  • Is the Book of Job simply giving us an explanation of why we suffer?
    • We all want to know why we suffer
      • Job never knew the heavenly events that led to his suffering
      • At the end of Job we still do not know why
      • We do know who brought the suffering and who can take it away
    • We want to know why good things happen to good people
      • RC Sproul Jr “that only happened one time and he volunteered for it”
  • In this study we will seek to understand the true theme of Job
    • The real theme to the Book of Job is not suffering
    • The real theme is legalism
    • Satan is accusing Job of being a legalist
      • Job does good things with the expectation of being rewarded with good things
      • The idea that Job could put God into debt
  • The one thing that saves us from legalism
    • Is the good person that bad things happened to
    • In Christ alone we are delivered from legalism
  • The NT is filled with people receiving good things that they had no right to get
    • And the scandal that erupted from it.

~ Mark

About Mark Webb
Mark is Pastor and Senior Elder at Grace Bible Church.  In addition, he has traveled to speak at conferences throughout the United States, as well as, Mexico, Canada and Europe. In Dallas, TX, on the family cotton farm, he learned to shepherd at a young age. He received a B.A. from Rice University in Houston and went on to pastor churches in Wyoming, Tennessee and currently in Mississippi. He and his wife, Linda, have been married for forty-two years and have three adult children, and eight grandchildren. Visit Grace Bible Church’s Grace Messenger.

Books at a Glance July 23, 2015

Learn More About Books at a Glance ♦
Hi, I’m Fred Zaspel, editor at Books at a Glance. If you are anything at all like me, books are a huge part of your life. King Solomon famously said that of the making of many books there is no end – but somehow we are okay with that. What a wonderful medium of communication and learning books are! But there is the frustration of keeping up. And there is the frustration of selection – knowing which books to buy next. Books at a Glance was created to help with just these frustrations. Our staff keeps up with all the newest and best in Christian publishing in order to keep our members informed and up to date. Much more than a book review service, we summarize the contents and thought of each book, so that you can digest a book in minutes. Each summary is an accurate and comprehensive yet brief and concise presentation of the entire book, chapter by chapter, delivered directly to your computer, iPad, or cell phone every week. And in just minutes you will become acquainted with the contents and arguments of each new book. Books at a Glance distinguishes itself as a book summary service that focuses on the newest and the best of Christian publications. Along with these summaries we also provide: book reviews, author interviews, author blogs, etc. In all, we trust this will be a site of real value for you. Check us out. We are excited about our work, and I think you will be too. Blessings, Fred Zaspel

Greetings from Books At a Glance!

We had a handfull of resources this week for you, including our summary of G. K. Beale’s Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation. Check them all out below.

Book Summary
Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation HANDBOOK ON THE NEW TESTAMENT USE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: EXEGESIS AND INTERPRETATION, by Gregory K. Beale
Beale’s purpose is to “provide a short guide to the use of OT citations and allusions in the NT. The intended audience is serious-minded Christians, students, and pastors, with the hope that even scholars might benefit” (xvii). Rather than attempting thorough discussions of each topic in the book, Beale focuses on his own methodology for studying Old Testament quotations, allusions, and echoes, while discussing the tools needed for executing this task. The end of the book contains a select bibliography on this subject. […] Continue Reading
Book Reviews
WALKING WITH GOD IN THE SEASON OF MOTHERHOOD: AN ELEVEN-WEEK DEVOTIONAL BIBLE STUDY, by Melissa Kruger WALKING WITH GOD IN THE SEASON OF MOTHERHOOD: AN ELEVEN-WEEK DEVOTIONAL BIBLE STUDY, by Melissa Kruger
Many moms come to Sunday worship with a disheveled heart. On one hand, they are starving for the preached Word of God and the fellowship of the saints. On the other, they don’t know how long they will actually be able to sit under it, how many lines of their favorite song they will get out, or if they will ever really be able to a […] Continue Reading
Beginning Biblical Hebrew Review of BEGINNING BIBLICAL HEBREW: A GRAMMAR AND ILLUSTRATED READER, by John Cook and Robert Holmstedt
John Cook and Robert Holmstedt make a remarkable contribution to Hebrew pedagogy with their 2013 publication, Beginning Biblical Hebrew (BBH): A Grammar and Illustrated Reader (Baker). They join a growing movement of those who seek to improve upon a grammar-translation model with a communicative approach (e.g. Randal […] Continue Reading
Author Interview
Loving the Old Testament Interview with Alec Motyer, A CHRISTIAN’S POCKET GUIDE TO LOVING THE OLD TESTAMENT
An interview with Alec Motyer, author of A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament. Pastors, professors, and Bible students everywhere are grateful for the long and faithful work of […] Continue Reading
Blog
Theological Guide To Calvin's Institutes OPENNESS UNHINDERED: FURTHER THOUGHTS OF AN UNLIKELY CONVERT ON SEXUAL IDENTITY AND UNION WITH CHRIST, by Rosaria Butterfield
If you have not read Rosaria Butterfield, you probably should. It would be difficult to find a more important contemporary subject than hers, and the clarity she gives it is both impressive and refreshing. In her new book the well-known author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert continues her story. But she talks rel […] Continue Reading
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Proverbs 16:21-33

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

..

[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 16 ESV”]
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
[/learn_more]

..

Solomon: More Wisdom for the Young & Old

 

Proverbs 16:21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Sweetness of speech is not flattery, lying or failing to deal in complete truthfulness. It is rather the attitude in which our communication is carried out. Would we persuade, or simply hammer our view home? Would we win or keep a friend, or are we simply after stating the case? Jesus never shrunk back from delivering the whole truth – but He was no man’s enemy, even though they were His.
In one of Jesus’ most protracted rebukes (Matt. 23) Jesus’ utters 7 “woes” to the Pharisees and “hypocrites” followed immediately by His weeping and lamenting over Jerusalem.
“Woes” are warning, not last-word judgments. He shows them their sin, but weeps over it at the same time. This is not raw denouncement, but urgent pleading without soft-selling the realities.
What a glorious demonstration of genuine discipline coupled with compassion and loving constraint.
Father, teach me this holy skill. How I would rather thunder out my way, than persuade by a heart set on blessing the other. How I want to be right, more than righteous. Deliver me.
 

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

If your Gospel has no grace, no sweetness, do not be surprised if it gains no souls. If the Gospel contains no “good news” and only exposure of sin – it isn’t Gospel, it is law. And we are called to preach Christ and Him crucified, not Moses – and him thundering. Mount Calvary, not Mount Sinai.
 

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Experience is valuable. This is why church leadership is supposed to be comprised of “elders”, and not “youngsters.” Those who have walked with the Lord through trials, temptations and the ups and downs of life’s varied circumstances are of great value to us. Never forsake them for trends, fashions, and the newest thing to come along. For there is no other way to Heaven, than to walk the road that all who love Christ have travelled before us. Read of their lives and their struggles AND their triumphs. And walk too.
 

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

There is a form of randomness on our level, but not on His.
2 Chronicles 18 contains the account of Ahab’s death in battle. Ahab had asked Jehoshaphat, king of Judah to join him in fighting the Aramaeans at Ramoth-Gilead. When all Ahab’s false prophets had finished telling the 2 kings they would have a victorious battle, the lone prophet of the Lord in Israel, Micaiah, told them they would not prevail, and that Ahab would not return from the battle.
Vs. 33 records: “But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate.” “At random” for the archer, but not so from the Lord’s perspective. It was just as He had foretold through Micaiah.
Nor is their randomness in your life or mine from our Heavenly Father’s vantage point. And so we rest in His providences, though from the human point of view – they remain inscrutable.
What a glorious God we serve!

~ Reid

Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
_______________
Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

Jesus’ Table Evangelism

 

Jesus socialized as a means to reach the lost.

 

hoarding

table evangelismIn a previous post I highlighted Jesus’ scandalous habit of eating with sinners. He was known to sit at the table with tax collectors such as Levi and Zacchaeus, and at least once we see him at the table with a prostitute who comes to worship him.
Scandalous as all this was, Jesus defended it as in keeping with his saving mission. He had come to call sinners. He had come to seek and to save the lost. He was the “doctor” come to heal sin-broken souls. This was the very reason for the incarnation – he “came into the world to save sinners.” And so, of course, he socialized with sinners, and he used the occasions to call them to repentance.
Can we call this Jesus’ table evangelism?
It would seem that there is something more for us to learn from all this. It is difficult not to think that Jesus is here establishing himself as a kind of role model also. In fact, insofar as the Gospels were written for believers, it is not difficult to see the Evangelists themselves presenting Jesus as our pattern here also.The point is this: Jesus socialized as a means to reach the lost. Now be careful. Jesus did not dine with sinners just to “fit in” with them. He was called a party animal because of his association with them, but his behavior at the parties shows that he was anything but one of the number. He called his hosts and the other guests to repentance. He spoke out against “acceptable” sins. In a way that to our sensitivities, at least, would seem rude he rebuked his hosts for their pretentiousness and self-serving motives. He rebuked their hypocrisy. Still, we have to notice that his association with them was not conditioned on their repentance. Rather, his association with them was often the means he used to call them to repentance.
Again, it would seem that here he establishes a pattern for us to follow. We are not the Savior, but we are, like him, on mission. We are called to spread the good news of Christ to all who will hear. We are not called to cloisters but to be beacons of lights. We are to enter into Jesus’ work of gospel advance. And “dinner evangelism” is one way in which our Lord himself has shown us to do it.
And so it seems that this should call for some creative thinking on our part. You will find some helpful hints to this end in Craig Blomberg’s Contagious Holiness – at the end of his excellent study he provides some helpful examples of how this has been done by others. Christians could easily invite their lost friends to their table as a first step, at least, to gospel opportunity. One simple, non-threatening way to do this would be to invite Christian friends along also. Or perhaps you could invite your friend with the explanation up front that after dinner your friend from church would like to take just five minutes to tell him what we are all about at our church – and then you can get on with the games and such. Or you can invite them to church socials. Surely there are ways for us to follow our Lord’s example in this, are there not?
~ Fred

 
Fred Zaspel
Pastor Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012). In addition Fred is the editor of Books At A Glance.
[button link=”http://www.biblicalstudies.com” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Dr. Fred Zaspel’s Biblical Studies[/button]

Proverbs 16:2-4

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

..

[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 16 ESV”]
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
[/learn_more]

..

Solomon: God’s Sovereignty

 

Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Such is our sinful self-deception, that our own motives are often hidden from us. Especially when we contemplate sin. Our capacity to justify it seems endlessly creative.
But we must not imagine our ignorance is God’s – He DOES know our motivations. And our ignorance will not excuse us in the end – for our true motivations are known – and they are, our own.
This is both jarring – in that our wickedness cannot be hidden, and comforting, in that even the slightest hint of righteous desires are known and noted by a gracious God.
 

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Bad eyes? Constant struggle with weight? Abandoned? Hurt? Poor? Wealthy? Too short? Bald? Too attractive to be taken seriously? No pedigree? Wrong ethnicity? Birth defect? Challenged? Poor hearing? Diabetic? Lack ambition? Lonely? Only liked for your money or influence? Dumped at the altar? Bullied? Abused? Betrayed? Uneducated? Handicapped?
God has graciously & wisely given us each and every circumstance – from our physical strengths and weaknesses, to our positive and negative circumstantial environments – that we might be brought face to face with the conditions best suited to maximize the exposure of the sin within us that needs dealt with, as it hinders Christ’s likeness within us.
Does this mean we simply look at everything and declare it good? No! May it never be! Some of these things considered in and of themselves are in fact bad. Very bad. But their being bad is no hindrance to God’s gracious purposes toward His own through them. Evil exists. But God’s goodness redeems even the most heinous of all things that touch us on behalf of His loved ones – so that we need not live as perpetual victims, but rather as prized trophies of grace.
On one side, it takes very penetrating hurts to go deep enough to uncover and expose the most buried and protected sins. On the other side, it takes very great privileges and pleasures to expose other of the deepest sins buried in our hearts. These are means He uses in sanctification – no matter how the Enemy may have designed it, or the evil in any other perpetrator’s heart may have meant it.
How then, will we respond? Will we use His “gifts” to grow? Or will they serve as our chief excuses to remain as we are? Praise God for His great redeeming grace!
His redemptive glory transcends anything we’ve begun to uncover yet. Oh how eternity alone will be able to declare it to us! Though we cannot see it now, the day will come when we will. His righteousness will be fully vindicated; evil and sin will be fully revealed and judged – and we will stand in awe of how He blessed us through the worst machinations the Enemy of our souls was able to concoct and execute through the agency of his fallen minions and fallen men. What a great God we serve.

~ Reid

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_______________
Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

Jesus on Money

 

“The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:8-9)

 

hoardinguse weath wiselyIn this passage the Lord Jesus exhorts us about the use of our money. His criticism and instruction may be a bit puzzling at first, but the idea is really quite simple. The whole theme of the context is the right use of our money and material possessions. Jesus criticizes the “children of light” as lacking the wisdom of the “children of this world. ” That is, unrighteous men, as a rule, use their money for their objectives more wisely than we use our money for our objectives. Their goals are clearly defined, their diligence is constant, and all of life is taken up into those goals. Now of course their goals are selfish and self-centered with no thought of the will of God. But that is not the point.
The point is, they know what they want, and they set out to get it. And get it they do! Nothing – but nothing – will get in their way. They know well how to use their money and possessions to achieve their objectives.

Does that sound like the way you use your money in the cause of Christ? Jesus’ criticism hits the mark, doesn’t it. In the use of our money as Christians, we do not have the good sense of unbelievers. We don’t spend our money very well in keeping with our objectives and goals.
So then, how should we use our money? Answer: “so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. ” Clearly this has something to do with our entrance into the glory of heaven, but what precisely does it mean? Who will “welcome” us in heaven? Evidently, Jesus is speaking of those who will meet us upon our arrival. They will greet us with thanksgiving – thanksgiving to us! – for our use of our material possessions for their benefit.
For example, here is a man who gives to a Christian brother who has need. Of course he gives to further the ministry of his local church. He gives his money to promote gospel enterprises at home and abroad. In short, he uses his money to further the cause of Christ. When it comes time for this man to die, Jesus says, he will be “received” into heaven by a host of men and women who are grateful to him for his faithfulness on their behalf. There will be men and women whom he had helped, and they will welcome him to glory. There will be Christian preachers and teachers in whose ministries he had a very tangible part. And there will be men and women who came to Christ because (in part) of the way he used his money for the work of Christ. And the picture is of all these people standing by the gates of heaven welcoming home this one to whom they owe a debt of gratitude. It is really a beautiful scene, one that is exciting with its prospect.
We know that we cannot “take anything out of this world. ” Money – as money – cannot be taken to heaven with us. Nor can we use our money to buy our way into heaven. Our riches here have nothing whatever to do with our riches there. But our money may be used in such a way as to intensify our happiness and blessedness there. Think of it.
So instead of hoarding for here, Jesus says, be wise. Use your money well. Use it so as to reap dividends that are eternal. Heaven cannot be bought, but by faithfulness with our material things we may earn rewards that last forever. Use it in such a way that it will meet you again in heaven.
~ Fred
 
Fred Zaspel
Pastor Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012). In addition Fred is the editor of Books At A Glance.
[button link=”http://www.biblicalstudies.com” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Dr. Fred Zaspel’s Biblical Studies[/button]

Proverbs 15:24

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 15 ESV”] 1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
5 A fool despises his father’s instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the hearts of fools.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but he loves him who pursues righteousness.
10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die.
11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord;
how much more the hearts of the children of man!
12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise.
13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
18 A hot- tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
19 The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns,
but the path of the upright is a level highway.
20 A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense,
but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.
22 Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed.
23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!
24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent,
that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.
25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud
but maintains the widow’s boundaries.
26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
but gracious words are pure.
27 Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,
but he who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
and good news refreshes the bones.
31 The ear that listens to life- giving reproof
will dwell among the wise.
32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.
[/learn_more]

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Solomon: Being Intentional

 

Proverbs 15:24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.

A concept revisited over and over in Proverbs is that of seeing life as going somewhere, not just being lived. The Bible never sees mere existence as legitimate for human beings. We are meant to be people of purpose.

The naturalistic worldview posits that all of human life – indeed all of life period is nothing more than a cosmic accident. That there is no rhyme or reason to anything existing, let alone human life as distinct not only from other organic life – but any other substance. We are simply an animated substance and that, by chance.

It was Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience and Other Essays – 1849) who wrote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” And if the naturalistic worldview is correct, there is no other way to live life. It began without purpose, prattles along without purpose, and ends without purpose. Even Thoreau’s “song” has no purpose, other than meaningless self-expression. Little more than the belch from a well fed stomach.

How far from this is the Biblical worldview.

The “prudent” live a life that is leading “upward.” It is the picture of one on a journey with a deliberate termination point – and that, beyond “Sheol” or the grave. The one who has had their eyes opened to the reality of the living God and our relationship to Him first in creation and then redemption in Jesus Christ – has set their sights on arriving in His presence as their goal.

Nothing ought to be quietly desperate about us – but every moment infused with hope and the knowledge that having been created in God’s image, and for those in Christ, in the process of being re-created in that image – this is but one stage of the journey. Determinative certainly, but final – never.

There was an old poem later put into song which carried the refrain:

There’s a Heaven to gain, and a Hell to shun;
The way is still straight, there’s a race to be run.
You can live as you please, but you must pay the cost;
And the highway to Heaven still goes by the cross.

That’s true. And the Prudent live their lives knowing it.

Let me ask you, are you deliberately going to Heaven? Living your life on purpose, or just existing?

~ Reid

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_______________
Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.