Saturday, February 22, 2014

Interesting tidbit - 20 (2 Peter 1:20)

Q:  When I share Bible truth with some of my Greek Orthodox friends, they say, "That's your interpretation, and according to 2 Peter 1:20, we cannot have a private interpretation of the Bible apart from what the church teaches."  Is that really what 2 Peter 1:20 means?

A:  And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:19-21).

Peter is not talking about the interpretation that we give the Scriptures; he is talking about the interpretation that the Bible writers gave the Scriptures.

We know that the Bible writers wrote using their own words, for each one wrote in his own individual style.  Luke was a physician (Col 4:14), so his description of the healing of the lame man sounds like something a doctor would say (Acts 3:7).  This might lead you to think that when Bible writers sat down to write the Scriptures that God spoke to them and they just gave their own interpretation of what God said.  Peter is saying that Bible writers did not give their private interpretation of God's words, that the prophecy of the Scripture came when "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

Remember, Peter is talking about how the Bible came to to us, not how we receive it.  It didn't come from someone's own interpretation.  Rather, they chose their words by the will of God.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Faith plus works versus faith alone

For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression (Rom 4:14-15).

This should be obvious to us all. If blessing is gained by the works of the Law, it is earned. This is why Gal 3:18 says: For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

The Apostle Paul also declares in Rom 4:4-5: Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.  We can, of course, decide that we'd like to go by way of verse 4 and receive payment for our works.  But if we do, we had better be perfect, because that's what's required (Rom 6:23; James 2:10).  And don't forget that Romans 3:23 clearly says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

But let's go back to that phrase: "the law brings wrath." Many people somehow do not see this. Even some clergymen tell us that the Law was given to help us be good. But God Himself says, "the law brings wrath." Every criminal knows this, and every sinner should know it. God certainly places strong emphasis upon it:

"Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions" (Gal 3:19), "that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God" (Rom 3:19).

"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin" (Rom 3:20).

If we come to God expecting eternal life because of our good works, whether they are performed before or after we trust in Him, are we not offering Him our terms, which He can never accept? He will never sell salvation at any price, and certainly not for a few paltry "good" works when our lives are filled with failure and sin.

Our only hope? God has promised to give eternal life to those who trust in His Son (John 3:35-36; Acts 16:31).  It's not our good works, nor is it faith plus our good works, that justify us.  It is faith in Christ — alone. 

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Rom 3:28).

For...the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23).

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8-9).  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sermon Notes on a Sunday Morning - Ephesians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus -

How do we know we can trust Paul?
  • God Himself and other prophets vouched for him.
Why another apostle; there were already 12?
  • The 12 were sent to Israel (Matt 10:6; cf. Matt 15:24).
  • Twelve is a number associated with Israel (Matt 19:28).
  • Someday God is going to rule the earth through the nation Israel.
  • Paul was not "one of the gang" (Acts 20:24; Gal 1:11-12, 17-19; 2:2, 7-9; Rom 11:13; 15:15-16; 16:25; Eph 3:1-3).  (There is a school of thought that Paul should have been chosen to replace Judas, that the eleven were wrong to choose Matthias.  This school of thought is wrong - )
  • We are not the 13th tribe of Israel.  We are not spiritual Israel.  You can't serve efficiently if you don't know who your apostle is.
Paul was perfect for the job because he:
  • started out in the other party.
  • was Jew and Gentile
  • was a Roman citizen
  • spoke Greek
I urge you, then, be imitators of me (1 Cor 4:16) — KJV uses the word "followers"
In Ephesians and Romans (books of doctrine), Paul stands alone.  His other epistles were written with others.

by the will of God - Paul could have said no.

This is the will of God for us in the Church age, not just for Paul.

...who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4).

God's will is that all would be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.  He is not going to make you believe.  The power of salvation begins where your heart stops.  His will begins with salvation but doesn't stop there.  (Example:  In America, we have "the right to swing your fist, but your right ends where my nose starts.")

God's will can be found in Scripture alone.  All other sources are subjective -

It is the will of God that we are sanctified.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thes 4:3).
It is the will of God that we give thanks for everything.

...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you 1 Thes 5:18).

It is the will of God that servants are obedient.

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ (Eph 6:5).

Faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom 10:17).
To the saints who are in Ephesus -
Saints = set apart unto God.  Act like it!
You're walking in Adam or in Christ.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16; cf. Rom 8:4; Eph 2:2).
and are faithful in Christ Jesus -
You can be sanctified and not faithful.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph 4:30).
Ephesians is for those who are grounded in the Word.
...and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here (Col 4:9; cf. Philemon 1).