Saturday, March 27, 2021

1 Corinthians 6 and 7: Sex and the City of God

 1 Corinthians 6-7 – Sex and the City of God


It would be good to recap this letter so far.  In the first 4 chapters, Paul explains that the Gospel is the idea that we are sinners: born in natural rebellion, even treason, against our God.  We earn death due to following our own hearts and not the Lord.  However, Jesus came to take that death in our place on the cross, and then he rose from the dead to show that while we still die even in his forgiveness, we will rise from the dead.


The Corinthian church believed this, but they were distracted by pleasing their culture.  It seems that unless the Holy Spirit touches a person’s heart, the Gospel will seem unintelligible before then.  That is why some people act like they don’t need Jesus to die for them because they’ve lived a good life.  Or they act like they can achieve enough good works to earn their way to heaven.  Some will even call the crucifixion a divine child abuse because they don’t understand the Trinity, and they don’t understand that we cannot have a relationship with God unless somebody dies for our sins, and nothing else can erase the smallest error.  We cannot repay this gift. 


And we cannot add to it by being smarter people, having a more gifted ministry, having better music, or doing signs and wonders.  All people are the same before our Lord.


Soon, Paul gets into large discourses about sexuality and marriage.  Gnosticism had an influence in that society.  It saw spirit as good and matter as evil.  A good God to them would not create matter and all that we see.  Some people took this idea and considered the body unimportant, so they had lots of sex in the temple of Aphrodite and ate all the feasts and had all the drugs.  Others saw the body as evil and taught that sex was evil, even in the context of marriage.  Even in the Christian church, the Roman Catholics believed that it was holier to be celibate and forbid marriage and saw sex as a necessary evil to have children.  This is not what God or Paul teaches in the Bible.


Paul shows in chapter 6:12-20 that sex outside of marriage reduces sex to a commodity.  If somebody’s body doesn’t desire you anymore, you can move on.  And if that person is a Christian and has sex outside of marriage, the Holy Spirit is linked to that act, thus grieving our Lord.


However, in chapter 7, Paul shows that God loves sex, but in the context of marriage.  Marriage is supposed to reflect God’s relationship to the church, one that will never end despite flaws or change.  It’s supposed to be an expression of deepest intimacy.  When intimacy is defined as “knowing and to be known,” a person can have that with anybody, but in marriage, a man and woman who already knew each other spiritually can now know each other physically.  It is only in that context where sex is a gift and not something that somebody takes from somebody else.  In fact, within marriage, sex is an act of worship.


So while a single person has more freedom to serve the Lord without consulting her husband, and while celibacy is good while single, not many people are called to celibacy.  If you have that burning desire for sex, then you should seek marriage.  And although Paul says in verse 9 that it is better to marry than to burn with passion, that might be some exaggeration, because you should seek to know that person spiritually and to see if he is a Christian who shares your interests before marrying and knowing him in the flesh.  No true intimacy can occur without the Lord.


That is why in a marriage where one person is a Christian and one isn’t, that marriage lacks because Jesus is the glue that binds them together.  However, Paul commands the Christian in that relationship to not divorce unless the nonbeliever leaves because it could lead them to Christ.


And how does this tie to the Gospel?  Because while we are still enemies, Christ died for us and will never abandon us no matter how much our minds and bodies wander into sin.  My husband and I will make sure to stay together no matter how much we age and fall apart.  And a single person will find that person who will love them no matter what as he or she patiently waits on the Lord.  And if that person desires intimacy before then, seek it in knowing Christ and his people because, as I said, he ties all his church together as a forever family that time or space will not rip apart.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Foolishness of the Cross and presenting Biblical Accounts


1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

When Paul and Sosthenes write to the Corinthian church, the first thing they have to address is the message of Christ and him crucified.  The brethren in that church believed the true Gospel and were saved, but in the course of time, they lost sight of that truth and focused on gifts and powers.  Sosthenes, a rabbi who was beaten up for believing in Jesus, and Paul, a man who used to arrest and have Christians executed for believing until Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus, testify that their whole lives had to change for believing that Jesus died to take the punishment for their sins and then rose from the dead.  The church to whom they write must not start compromising with the world to lessen that message and get distracted by cool gifts and powers.


How do we compromise this message today and how can we present Biblical truths to people today without doing so?


Let’s use the account of when Eve and Adam ate from the forbidden tree in Genesis 3:1-7.


Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

There is a song that I like, but it presents the message in a way that shows it might see the cross as foolishness like the Greeks.  It shows a God who made a paradise and made man in his image, but suddenly, the people had low self-esteem, and now they are separated from God because they will not realize that they are not mistakes. 


It is true that we are made in God’s image, and it is true that he did not make a mistake when he made us.  It is even true that Eve doubted her status as made like God and knowing good and evil when she ate from the tree.  However, it was not mere self-esteem that caused Adam and Eve to be cast from the garden and to eventually die.  In listening to the serpent and eating the fruit, they accused God of lying by saying they would not die, and they betrayed him when they believed that they knew better what it means to be made in God’s image and know good and evil than he did.


But the writers of the song that I mentioned present people as already good and only needing to boost their positivity toward themselves.



Genesis 3:7-13


Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”


Other teachers present this account in a way that shows that they see the cross as offensive like the Jews.  Eve could eat from every tree in the garden except one, but she wanted the one tree she could not have.  She was ungrateful for what she had and could not see its beauty.  Later on, however, Jesus went to the wilderness to be tempted.  Satan told him to turn stones into bread to prove that he was God’s Son, but he quoted Scripture and refused to do that.  These teachers unintentionally give the impression that we would be better if we would follow Jesus and be content with what we have.  If we resolve from henceforth to emulate his example, then we can attain self-worth and return to his presence.  We can bypass the cross by being moral.


But resolving to follow Jesus from now on will not erase the fact that Adam and Eve betrayed the Lord and cannot undo their actions.  Neither can I undo my grievous sins against my Lord.  Anything I do in my own power is like sewing together fig leaves to cover my nakedness and hide from God.  It won’t work.  Our sins need to be judged, and our future good deeds cannot do that.


So what will God do?  Genesis 3:14-24 


14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[a] and hers;
he will crush
[b] your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

20 Adam[c] named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living.

21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

First, God lovingly tells them that they did betray them.  He could have had no interaction with them from then on but he initiated a new relationship with them by telling them that they messed up, and their error will reap consequences such as pains in having children, trouble earning food to eat, and death, which God withheld from them that day, though they did die many years later.

Then, in verse 15, God promised Eve that one of her descendants would have his heel bruised, but that he would crush the serpents head.  He would defeat Satan, and that child would be the very man who defied the devil in the wilderness.


And then, in verse 21, God killed some animals and made clothes out of their skins so that they would be covered.  In the same way, this child of Eve would die on the cross after living a perfect life so that those who believe in him would be covered in his righteousness and be able to come before God clothed and presentable.


And like Eve, I have many wonderful fruit trees that I can eat from and enjoy, but I want to enjoy the one tree that, for reasons known to God, I can no longer have access to for now.  And no amount of thought control can make me desire that tree any less or keep me from asking day after day if I can finally eat from it.  But with a wounded heart, God points me to Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for me on the cross, taking the punishment that I deserve.  And you must look to him to fill that emptiness in your heart that only he can fill.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

2 Kings 2, we must carry on

2 Kings 2 tells about when Elijah was taken up to heaven with chariots of fire leaving Elisha behind.  Elisha knew for days that Elijah would leave him on the earth.  For three days, the sons of the prophets told him so.  "I know," he said, "but I will not leave him."  Even when Elijah told him to leave, he would not leave.  But Elijah promised him through the Holy Spirit that if Elisha saw him go up into heaven, then he could have a double portion of Elijah's spirit as he continued as his successor.

I think of the three spiritual giants who have passed away since 2017: RC Sproul, Billy Graham, and Ravi Zacharias.  Those three men have made Jesus's name great in ways unprecedented, and who will carry on their ministries without them.  The good thing in the case of Ligonier is that RC's role was carried on to many men so that people wouldn't look to just one guy for their spiritual nourishment, but to the Lord.

I remember years ago while my mother was sick from the cancer that she died from, she had directed VBS, painted the backdrop for the skits, led music, but she could not do that in 2008 because of her cancer.  I lead the music, and Denise Martin and others put together a background that worked, and it showed that one person's ministry can carry on without them, and sometimes go even better.  Without me looking to and shadowing my mom, I could actually shine on my own in her spirit, even while she was still alive.

The good thing is that Elijah did not have to go through death.  He did leave Elisha behind.  There was a point where Elisha could follow him no further, and as much as it grieved Elisha, he would have to be okay with that.  However, as Elisha was a prototype of Jesus, his ministry would be much better.  Immediately, he goes to a city where the water had been made bitter, and he healed the water.

And then, to show that you don't mess with God's man, and that being a precursor to Jesus means a bit of assassination, some young men seriously taunt Elisha and his bald head.  Elisha calls out to God who sends she bears to maul the guys.  We may wonder what is so bad about mocking someone's bald head, but in that culture, it was a serious insult.  It seriously undermined his ministry.  And God told us all that we would die if we sinned.  If he sends that death immediately, that is his judgment.  I sit and wonder why I'm still alive.  I've had many brushes with death, but God has kept me alive.  And he kept Elisha alive to carry out his ministry on earth.

And we must go on carrying on the ministries of those we loved not for their sakes, but for God who mercifully gives ups breath and wakes us up every morning. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Proverbs 3:21-27 Safety for my soul

Proverbs 3:21-27

Through the years, you begin to realize that although Christians struggle with sin, catastrophe, and disaster beyond their control, generally the Proverbs prove true.  If you don't let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, then, if nothing else, your soul is protected from the eternal effects of sin.  They aren't what save you.  Jesus saves you.  But Jesus is wisdom and understanding at its fullest.  Never let Jesus out of your sight, and don't follow anything that will lead you away from his Word.

"They will be a garland to grace your neck."  Following Jesus causes you to stand out.  Even without trying, people will know you are a Christian.  And being true Christians who follow the word and eat and drink it every day are what caused me to have my closest friends.  I was drawn to them because they truly care about the Lord and honoring him.  I can face anything knowing that not only Jesus, but they are on my side.

"Then you will walk in safety and your feet will not stumble."  Yes.  I don't live perfectly.  I've made mistakes that have taken me years off course.  But generally, I have avoided diseases and other disasters because I took God's Word seriously.

"When you lie down, you won't be afraid.  When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."  I know for sure, that if I breathe my last breath, I will be in Jesus's presence, and it will be a joyous union.  I can sleep peacefully knowing that.  God has not guaranteed another day of life on this planet.  But if I go home to be with him right now, it will be home, and not in the presence of his anger.  Can you say that?

I also have no fear of the disaster that will overtake the wicked because the Lord keeps my feet from being snared.  In all that, I need to do the first thing and not let Jesus out of my sight.  I can walk on water as long as I keep looking at him and not get spooked by the waves around me.

Monday, May 4, 2020

2 Kings 1, and me being a broken record

2 Kings 1 tells the account of Elijah's last message to Ahab's family and how his sons never learned the lessons taught them much to their judgment.

His son Ahaziah is now king, and he falls through the lattice in his house and gets maimed.  He decides to send messengers to the god of Ekron to see if he will recover.  Elijah intercepts them and says, "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron?"  Because they still flagrantly act like there is no god and go off to find someone who will give them a quick answer, king Ahaziah is going to die.

When the messengers come back to the king, he asks them to describe the man.  He knows immediately that it is Elijah.  He sends fifty men to kill him, but Elijah calls down fire that consumes them.  After the third set of fifty man, the leader trembles before Elijah in repentance.  Elijah comes with them, tells the king the same thing, and later on the king dies.  His brother Jotham takes the throne, and I assume in the later accounts of Elisha, that he is the king mentioned.

After years and years of prophets, God sent Jesus to be the last true prophet.  Hebrews 1:1-2, "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe."  After Jesus ascended back in to heaven, his apostles finished up his message as they built the church, and then they died.  Then John, the last apostle, wrote Revelation.  At the end in 22:18-19 he says, "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.  And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll."

It is amazing how people to this day, sometimes myself included, look outside of God's word for quick answers to their problems.  We look to people who claim to speak the very words of Jesus or popular novels that portray God in ways more comfortable to the reader.  But let me tell you, God could not have done more to reach down to our level than sending Jesus as a man.  And he has told us everything we need to know for life and salvation in the Bible.  If you have have a question that only God can answer, you need to read the Bible.  He will come back to you when the time is right.  He speaks through the Bible and he often uses other people who also read the Bible to speak through you.  But if he speaks through them, they will probably not tell you that they are giving you the very words of Jesus.  For example, I'm pretty sure God is leading me away from CCS to who knows where, but I'm not going to tell you that God told me that.  And who knows, I may be back with bells and whistles in August.  But if the Bible does not forbid or command something, then I'm free to make my own decision.  Though in my example, I'm basing my conviction based on my own hurts, habits, and hangups and my desire to please God with who I am and to not be in a toxic environment.

Even so, I need to stay in the Bible for my daily bread and my daily steps to take.  I can't go off and consult a horoscope or take a personality test.  And I certainly can't base my decisions on strong feelings that won't go away.  I need to stay in the Word and possibly consult people that I trust who also stay in the Word to pray with me and give me advice.  And that's pretty much why if you tell me God told you to do something, I won't call you a liar, but I will seriously question whether he told you that or not and see if you are mistaken.

There is a God, and he does speak.  He's spoken through his Son and he continues to speak through his Spirit flowing through the living Word.  Rely on that and nobody else.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Proverbs 3 and longings this world won't satisfy

In the past couple of weeks, I spent some time in Proverbs 3:13-20.  The thing about this section is that Solomon personifies wisdom as a lady who comes alongside God in creating and ruling the world, especially in verses 19-20.  And she sounds so much like Jesus that liberal protestants have made this cult around "Sophia", as if the Bible was portraying Jesus in female pronouns.

Let me tell you, the Bible has never portrayed any member of the Trinity in female terms.  Some may argue that the Greek word for Holy Spirit is female, but it's not.  Our God only presents himself in male pronouns and he sent Jesus as a man.

On a side note, this does not really have to do with a conversation I had the other day where I was saying, "God is not a woman".  I more meant that he's not overly emotional and sappy, and that I feel like the Message Bible is.  But it's not a bad leap of logic.

Anyway, wisdom sounds so much like Jesus, however, the it would not be in appropriate to change "wisdom" for Jesus and to change the pronouns to male.

Let's do that starting at verse 13: Blessed are those who find Jesus, who gain understanding of him.  He is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.  He is more precious than rubies and nothing you desire can compare with him.  Long life is in his right hand and in his left hand are riches and honor.  His ways are pleasant ways and his paths lead to peace.  He is a tree of life to those who take hold of him, and those who hold fast to him are blessed.

Sometimes it seems to good to be true.  His ways don't always seem peaceful, and if you follow him, it seems that the world will forsake you, and sometimes, often times, godly people die young.  But we must remember that the Bible's promises are mostly for the life to come in Christ's complete kingdom when he comes back to earth.  In that era, we will live forever and not lack anything.  There will be no holes in our hearts because our Bread of Life is here in the flesh.

It brings to mind the concept from CS Lewis, that if we find that nothing in this world truly satisfies, even the best things, then it could be because we were made for another place.  And it's true.  God has given me a house, a husband, an active church, opportunities to serve him, friends to fellowship with.  None of them are enough.  They weren't meant to be.  They were meant to point to him.  And if I lose sight of him and focus on them, I find he slowly takes them away, and I'm heartbroken again.

I was listening to a lecture by Joel Beeke of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.  He talked about how Joseph of Genesis sent wagons of riches to his father Jacob to show that he is alive and living in Egypt.  What if Jacob saw those riches and said, "I'll just settle here in Canaan and enjoy these gifts."?  No, Jacob wants to go see his son who he thought was dead.  These things in life are supposed to make us long for our Lord who we have never seen.  Sometimes the idea of him gets lost because we have not seen him and I start focusing on this person over here or that house over there.  No, and I have to tell myself this over and over because I forget daily, they are meant to point to Jesus, and only he will satisfy those longings that they don't quite quench.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Why is there evil in the world and why can I say it did not originate with God?

I think I've posted on this before.  I'm sure I'll post on this again.  But because I can't stand for another person to still be lost on this, I will post on this.  Why is there evil in the world and why can I say it did not originate with God?  Ultimately, unless God shows himself to you, I won't change your mind, but if he does, this will help.

1.  I'm not God.  This is a question only he can answer, and from what I see in Scripture, we as creatures do not have the capacity to understand the answer at this moment in time.  We can give guesses like God gave people free will (which I do believe), that we sinned, and now there is evil in the world.  But in the end, and RC Sproul agreed, we will not know the answer as to why God created a world in which Satan could tempt people and that they could betray the Lord and cause undue harm on all creation.

2.  Even if we know the answer, it still won't make our pain less.  It might even make it worse.  When God finally answered Job, he didn't answer his questions.  He simply said, "where were you when I created the world?  Can you do it better?  Can you explain Leviathan and Behemoth?"  It was enough for Job.  When you see him, it will be enough for you.  But Job would not have been satisfied if he had been told that God pointed him out to Satan, and then God gave Satan permission to attack him so that God could prove that Job truly loved God because God is enough apart from what he can do for Job.  He'd be more mad.  I'm baffled at it myself.

3.  Another thing I've gleaned from listening to RC Sproul through the years is that people are made in God's image.  We are copies of God.  And as copies of God, we will never be perfect like the original.  That imperfection is where sin and evil come from.  Again, that doesn't really solve the dilemma, but it explains why evil comes from creatures created by God but not from God himself.

4.  Back to Job, God wanted to show him off.  He wanted to prove the integrity Job had.  Romans 9:21 asks, "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?"  I don't know why evil exists, but I know in the end, that evil is going to make God's elect church shine even brighter and stronger than if it did not exist.  God is creator and wants to show off his creation to those who will not love him.  And if they still do not love him, it will add to their punishment when the end comes.

5.  How can you ask if God originated evil and question his goodness when he sent Jesus to die for our sins after he said we would die if we did sin?  He could have left us to be punished forever, but he gave us a way for that to not happen and we must believe in Jesus to be saved.

6.  If this still doesn't satisfy you, where will you go.  I said in my last blog that you can't escape God.  Psalm 139 says that God is both in heaven and in the depths of hell.  You will face him no matter what.  You can either make peace with him through the blood of Jesus and have your question answered when Christ's kingdom is complete and we are free from sin forever, or you will face his anger forever.  But it won't be because God is capricious or heartless or impotent.  It will be because after all the time he gave you to turn to him, you did not take advantage of it and come to love and believe in him.  He wants you to love him and to love him freely.  And he gave you a way to be reconciled to him.  Please, take that way before it is too late!