Friday, July 31, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Do Your Children Know the One True God?
Men...if you don't teach your children someone else would be very happy to! If you don't then the Government, the public school system...and yes, even the less than orthodox church you may be going to will (that's a whole other story! If you're in that position find a good church!).
Catechisms are NOT a Catholic concept or invention. Teaching your children is a sytematic manner is both good and very profitable. They need to know what they believe and they need to know why they believe it. Do they know Who God is? What He is like? What His attributes are? If not...here is a great and simple way to do a study once, twice, three times a week- whatever you can regularly do. What's even nicer is that it is completely scriptural!
Paul Washer is a great preacher and he wrote an excellent study guide called "The One True God" that I've been doing with my family. Here is the link and a short description of the contents. You can purchase it or download it for free on his website...wow!
Download/Buy The One True God
Here is a list of the table of contents:
God is One
God is Spirit
God is Great and Perfect
God is Eternal, Self-Existent and Immutable
God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient
God is Holy
God is Righteous
God is True and Truthful
God is Faithful
God is Love
God is Creator and Sustainer
God is Lord Over All
God is Lawgiver and Judge
The Names of God
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Freedom of Religion for Christians? Not! What About Islam?
I'm telling you...we'd better start learning our Bibles and what Islam teaches. Have you looked at Great Britain lately- it's basically a Muslim nation and we're not far behind!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
VIDEO: The 1976 Swine Flu Pandemic and Vaccine
Well 46 million of us obediently took the shot, and now 4,000 Americans are claiming damages from Uncle Sam amounting to three and a half billion dollars because of what happened when they took that shot. By far the greatest number of the claims - two thirds of them are for neurological damage, or even death, allegedly triggered by the flu shot. (CBS, 60 MINUTES, 1979)
Friday, July 17, 2009
THE ISRAEL OF GOD
THE ISRAEL OF GOD
There is much more to "end-times" or ultimate things (Eschatology) than what we say actually happens in the last days. We say what we do about eschatology because of what we think God is doing in history.
At the center of the debate is the question of "the Israel of God" (Gal 6.16). Of course, this is not a new question. During our Lord's earthly ministry and after his resurrection and before his ascension, the disciples asked him repeatedly, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1.6).
Indeed, there was a widespread rabbinic and popular notion that the Messiah should be a powerful politico-military figure of Davidic strength and skill -- "David has slain his tens of thousands" (1 Sam 18.7). John 614-15 records,
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
It was not, as some might have it, that the timing was off, but rather that an earthly kingdom was contrary to his every purpose. Again, at the end of his life, during his triumphal entry, he did not come to establish an earthly kingdom, but rather to fulfill prophecy, "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt" (John 12:15; Isa 40.9; Zech 9.9).
Jesus had taught the disciples and others that he came not to bring an earthly kingdom as they expected, but rather he came to bring salvation from sin. At the end, when "the men of Israel" could no longer tolerate his refusal to submit to their eschatology, their plan for history, they crucified him. Scripture says,
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him." (Matt 27.41-2)
It is also a sad fact that many Christians have agreed with the chief priests and teachers of the law. Classic Dispensationalism has long held that the Pharisees had the right method of interpreting the Bible, they simply reached the wrong conclusions.
It is the Dispensational-Premillennial belief that God made a promise to Abraham (Genesis chapters 15 and 17) that he would give to him an earthly, national people with the result that, in the Dispensational view, it has always been God's intention to have such a people and if the Jews refused the first offer (or Jesus refused their terms!) then there must be an earthly, Jewish, Palestinian, kingdom in the millennium.
According to Dispensationalism, God was so committed to creating such an earthly, national people that this was the primary reason for the incarnation, birth and ministry of Christ. Had they accepted his offer of an earthly kingdom, Jesus would not have died. In this scheme, Jesus' saving death on the cross is a happy by-product of God's plan for national Israel.
It is also an article of faith among many Premillennialists that the creation of a modern Israeli state, in Palestine in 1948, is a providential confirmation of their claim that the Jews are God's earthly, national people and that further, God continues to work out history along two parallel tracks, with an earthly Jewish people and a spiritual, Christian people.
This way of proceeding, however, is fraught with difficulties. First, such a way of reading contemporary events is highly dubious. Who among us knows certainly the exact meaning of providence? If a loved one gets cancer, should we speculate about what sin caused it? Our Lord warned against trying to interpret providence (John 9). If we cannot even guess the meaning of relatively small providences, how are we to interpret the meaning of rather larger providences? Who is to say that we should focus on the Israeli state? Perhaps we should focus on the plight of Palestinian Christians who have suffered gravely at the hands of Jews and Muslims, especially since the formation of Modern day Israel?
Though it might be exciting to think that God is doing something spectacular in our times, one fears that our lust for excitement is no better than the cry of those Israelites who said, "Give us Bar-Abbas." It may well be that the end-times madness we have witnessed, first in the late 1970's, again during the Gulf War and again in recent years, is really a search for certainty. Just as earlier generations turned away from the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments, in favor of revivals, our age seems bent on finding confirmation of the faith in the delusion that we are witnesses to the end of history. The fact is that Christians have often thought the same thing, and they have been wrong.
Remember that after the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17.1) where Moses and Elijah appeared before their Lord, the disciples peppered Jesus with questions about an earthly Messianic kingdom, about whether Elijah had yet to come. Jesus replied saying,
"To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist."
It was always Jesus' intention to preach the advent of the Kingdom ("…the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel" Mark 1.15), die for sinners, and rule his kingdom, as he is now, at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2.36).
Later, in Mt 19.27-30, after hearing Jesus' teaching about the true nature of the kingdom, Peter again asked the kingdom question, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" To which Jesus responded,
"I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Our Premillennial brothers take this as a promise of an earthly Jewish kingdom, but Jesus understood the kingdom quite differently. The parables which follow teach precisely that God is not setting up an earthly Jewish kingdom, but rather that, "the last will be first, and the first will be last" and that
"the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!" (Matt 20.18).
He was even more pointed to the mother of James and John, who was looking for work for her boys: "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom" (Mt 20.21). He rebuked her by telling her that not only is he not going to set up an earthly kingdom, but that he is going to suffer and die and they are going to suffer and die because of him, because "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20.28).
Therefore, we cannot agree with the argument of the Dispensationalist Clarence Larkin, when he interpreted Jesus' words,
"It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1.7-8).
not as a rebuke to the disciples for seeking an earthly kingdom, but only as a caution to wait for the earthly kingdom.
Rather, Jesus came not to build an earthly Jewish kingdom now or later, but always and only his intention was to redeem all his people by his death on the cross, and to rule the nations with a rod of iron in his ascension until his return in judgment.
It is my contention that God's chief purpose in history has been to glorify himself through the redemption of a people in all times, places and out of all races, which grace he has administered since the fall, in history in a visible, institutional church, under Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and now Christ.
Therefore, the premise that God's intent has been to establish a permanent or millennial, national, Jewish people has it exactly backward. Our Dispensationalist brothers confuse what is temporary with what is permanent, and what is permanent with what is temporary.
It is the teaching of God's Word that Jesus is the true Israel of God, that his incarnation, obedience, death and resurrection was not a by-product of Israel's rejection of the offer of an earthly kingdom, but the fulfillment of God's plan from all eternity. This is what Jesus told the disciples on the road to Emmaus. One of them said, "we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel." In response our Lord said,
"How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24.25-7).
The Apostle Paul summarized this same teaching when he told the Corinthians that " For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:20).
We cannot understand what God is doing in history apart from understanding one of the most important terms in Scripture: covenant. This is a very frequent word in the Bible (294 times). Covenant describes the way God relates to creatures. It is a mutually binding oath in which there are stipulations, blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience as well as signs and seals of the oath.
Law and Gospel: Covenants of Works and Grace
God made the first covenant in human history, a covenant of works with the first man in the garden. The promised blessing for covenant keeping was that Adam and all humanity would enter into glory ("eat…and live forever," Gen 3.22); the threatened curse for covenant breaking was death ("you shall surely die," Gen. 2.17). The stipulation of the covenant was that Adam should refrain from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2.17). The signs of the covenant were the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life (Gen 2.9).
As you know, Adam failed that test, and Paul says that "sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). So we are all now born under this covenant of works.
The second covenant in human history was also made by our God with our father Adam. This covenant, however, was not a law-covenant; rather it was a gospel covenant. In the covenant of grace, God promised on oath a coming Savior ("seed of the woman") who would crush the head of the seed of the serpent when the serpent struck his heel (Gen. 3.14-16). The blessing of this covenant is eternal life (the tree of life) and the curse for covenant breaking remains death. The Gospel of this covenant is that there is a Savior who will keep the terms of the covenant of works and sinners will benefit from it.
There are three things to be said about conditions relative to the covenant of grace.
1. Relative to the cause of our justification, the covenant of grace is unconditional. God does not accept sinners for any other reason than that he graciously imputes to them Christ's justice.
2. Relative to the instrument of our justification, saving faith, itself God's gift (Eph 2.8-10), is the sole, passive (receiving) Christward-looking instrument or condition of the covenant. This is what the Protestant Reformers meant by sola fide.
3. Relative to the administration of the covenant of grace, there can be said to be covenant stipulations, i.e., that means of grace by which God ordinarily raises sinners from death to life, namely the preaching of the Holy Gospel, and those means of grace by which he confirms his promises and strengthens our faith: the holy sacraments. Christian obedience is neither ground nor instrument of our justice before God, but the fruit and demonstration of Christ's work for and in us.
In the history of salvation, this same Gospel covenant which God made with Adam was renewed with Abraham, but the promise was re-stated, "I will be your God, and to your children." The sign in Genesis 15 was the cutting of animals and the stipulation remained faith. For this reason Scripture says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" (Gen 15.6).
In Gen 17.10-14, circumcision became the sign of initiation into the covenant of grace. The covenant and the sign are so closely identified that the Lord calls the sign of circumcision, "My covenant."
The covenant of works did not simply disappear in the history of salvation. Rather, the covenant of works is repeated throughout the Scriptures, every time the Law is read and God demands perfect righteousness from sinners, e.g., "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law" (Gal 3:10). When Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "do this and live" (Luke 10.28) he was repeating the covenant of works.
Likewise, the covenant of grace is repeated throughout the history of redemption, whenever God says, "I will be your God, you will be my people" he is repeating the promise he made to Adam. He repeated this gospel promise to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses and finally fulfilled it in Christ and then repeats it to us through the Apostles, as in Acts 2.39.
These two covenants unify all of Scripture. All humans are born dead in sins and trespasses and all those who are saved are in the covenant of grace.19
The Old (Mosaic) Covenant
Many Bible believers assume that every event which occurred in the history of salvation before the incarnation and death of Christ belongs to the Old Testament and many of them assume that since the incarnation, the Old Covenant Scriptures do not speak or apply to Christians. Indeed, some Dispensationalists even consider that some books in the NT do not apply to Christians today, because they were intended for those who are ethnically Jewish. Only a few years ago, I heard a Dispensationalist pastor say at Christmas, "The problem with the Gospels is that the Gospel is not in the Gospels. "
The Scriptures themselves, however, refute such notions. The Apostle Paul in 2 Cor 3.12-18 defines the "Old Covenant" as Moses, i.e., broadly the books of Moses and most particularly the Mosaic laws (vv.14-15). In Hebrews 7:22, Jesus is the guarantee of a better covenant than that which was given to the Israelites. In 8.6-13 in contrasting the New Covenant with the Old, restricts the Old Covenant to the Mosaic epoch of salvation history. He makes the same distinction in 9:15-20 also. Thus, speaking strictly, the Old Covenant describes the covenant which God made with Israel at Sinai. Therefore, not everything which occurred in the history of salvation, before the incarnation, belongs to the Old Covenant. This is important, because the Old Covenant is described in the New Testament as "inferior" (Hebrews 8.7), "obsolete," "aging" (8.13) and its glory "fading."
In this connection, the other important fact to note about the Old Covenant is that it was intentionally temporary and typical. Colossians 2:17 describes the Mosaic (Old Covenant) ceremonial laws as a "shadow" of things to come. Hebrews 8:5 describes the earthly Temple as a "type and shadow" of the heavenly temple. The Mosaic Law itself, was only a "shadow" of the fulfillment which came with Christ.
The New Covenant
With Christ's death, resurrection and ascension the promise which God made to Adam and repeated to Abraham remains, but the circumstances have changed. We who live on this side of the cross view things differently because we live in the days of fulfillment. In biblical terms, we live in the "last days" (2 Pet 3.3; James 5.3; Hebrews 1.2; Acts 2.17).
The entire function of the Old Covenant was to direct attention upward to heavenly realities (Ex 25.9; Acts 7.44; Heb 8.5) and forward in history to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The old signs, Passover and circumcision along with the other bloody sacrifices and ceremonies have been replaced. Yet we still live in covenantal arrangement with God, and the bloody pictures of Christ have been replaced with unbloody signs (reminders) and seals.
Just as God made a covenant with Abraham, he promised a New Covenant to come later (Jer 31.31). He made this New Covenant in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 22.20). The Lord Jesus consciously and specifically established "the New covenant." The Apostle Paul said he was "a servant of the New covenant" (2 Cor 3.6) . How can this be if there is but one Covenant of Grace? The New Covenant is new as contrasted with Moses, but not as contrasted with Abraham.
This is the point of Galatians 3:1-29; 4:21-31, and 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 where Paul says that the glory of the Old Covenant was fading but the glory of the New Covenant is permanent. The message of Hebrews chapters' 3-10 is that the Old Covenant (under Moses) was preparatory to the New Covenant. The fundamental theme of Hebrews 11 is that Abraham had a New Covenant faith, that is, he anticipated a heavenly city and to the redemption which we have in Christ (Heb. 11.10).
Jacob Have I Loved
There was, therefore an Israel before the Old Covenant. Israel was the name given to Jacob. The first time the word "Israel" appears in Scripture, as the conclusion to the story of Jacob's wrestling match (Gen 32.21-30).
After spending the night wrestling with an anonymous man, and "when the man saw that he could not overpower Jacob" (v.25), Jacob demanded a blessing from him. In turn, the wrestler renamed Jacob as Israel, which he defined as "wrestles with God and men."
Thus, in the history of salvation, all those who stem from the Patriarch Jacob are, in a broad sense, "Israel." Only two chapters later the term "Israel" is used to describe the place and name of the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (34.7). At Paddan Aram, God again blessed him and named Jacob, "Israel" (35.9-10) and repeated the Abrahamic promise to be a God to Abraham and to his children.
All this might seem to support the notion that, Israel means, "those physically descended from Jacob." Except that Jacob is not the beginning of the story. Before there was an Israel there was Abraham and his miracle son, Isaac (Rom 9) and before Abraham, Jesus says, "I AM" (John 8.58). It was to Abraham, that God promised, "I will be your God, and you will be my people." Indeed, Jesus taught the Jews in John 8, that it was he who made the promise to Abraham (John 8.56). Remember too that the first fulfillment of that promise did not come by "the will of man" but by the sovereign power of God when he allowed Sarah to conceive in her old age. These will be important facts to remember when we come to Paul's answer to the question, who is the Israel of God?
Israel My Son
In the Exodus from Egypt, God constituted the children of Jacob collectively as his "son."
This is what the LORD says: is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son' "
This is not just casual speech, but a very deliberate description of the national people. The sons of Jacob are not God's Son by nature, but, as it were, by adoption. Moses denies that there was any quality inherent in Israel which made the sons of Jacob worthy of being called the people of God.
The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other people, for you were the fewest of all people. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh, King of Egypt (Dt 7.7)
According to this passage, there are two reasons for God's choosing of Israel, His undeserved love and His Covenant promise to Abraham.
Israel was not, however, God's natural Son. That much was evident in the wilderness, in Canaan and finally in the ejection when God changed the name of his "son" Israel to "Lo Ammi, not my people" (Hos 1.9-10)
God disinherited his adopted, temporary, national "son" Israel as a national people precisely because God never intended to have a permanent earthly, national people. After the captivity, they had largely fulfilled their role in the history of salvation. As a sign of this fact, the Glory-Spirit departed from the temple. This is because their chief function was to serve as a type and shadow of God's natural Son, Jesus the Messiah (Heb 10.1-4).
Jesus the Israel of God
It is the argument of this essay that Jesus Christ is the true Israel of God and that everyone who is united to him by grace alone, through faith alone becomes, by virtue of that union, the true Israel of God. This means that it is wrong headed to look for, expect, hope for or desire a reconstitution of national Israel in the future. The New Covenant church is not something which God instituted until he could recreate a national people in Palestine, but rather, God only had a national people temporarily (from Moses to Christ) as a prelude to and foreshadowing of the creation of the New Covenant in which the ethnic distinctions which existed under Moses were fulfilled and abolished (Ephesians 2.11-22; Col 2.8-3.11).
In the Hebrew Scriptures the expression "out of Egypt" occurs more than 140 times. It is one of the defining facts of the existence of national Israel. When God gave the Law he said, "I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt." They were a redeemed people belonging to their Savior.
Thus it most significant when Matthew 2:15 quotes Hos 11.1. Scripture says,
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
Herod was about to execute his bloody rage against the firstborn of the Jews. Matthew's inspired interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures must norm our interpretation of Scripture and according to Matthew's interpretation, it is our Lord Jesus, not the temporary, national, people who is the true Israel of God. Indeed it is not too much to say that the only reason God orchestrated the first Exodus was so that he might orchestrate the second Exodus and that so we might know that Jesus is the true Son of God and that all Christians are God's Israel regardless of ethnicity.
It is because Jesus is the true Israel of God that, in his infancy and indeed in his entire life, he recapitulated the history of national Israel. What rebellious national Israel would not do, Jesus did: He loved God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and his neighbor as himself (Matt 22.37-40).
In a similar way, the Apostle Paul argues very clearly that the promises to Abraham were fulfilled in Christ. Gal 3.16 says,
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ.
Paul explains what he means. The promises given to Abraham were NT gospel promises. They were given before Moses and they were fulfilled in Christ. Jesus is Abraham's true Son, he is "the seed" promised to Abraham.
The purpose of the Law given to Moses was to teach national Israel and us the greatness of our sin and misery (Gal 3.22). The Law administered through Moses did not fundamentally change the gospel promise to Abraham (3.17-20). The New Covenant is nothing more than the fulfillment and renewal of the Abrahamic Covenant and the Abrahamic covenant was nothing more than the fulfillment and renewal of the gracious covenant made with Adam after the fall.
Jesus the Savior of Israel
Part of the confusion which surrounds God's plan in history, and therefore part of the reason Christians are so confused about God's plans for the the future of his people, is that many misunderstand what Jesus came to do for national Israel. He did not come to set up a national, earthly Jewish kingdom, but he did come to be their Savior and the Savior of all of God's people whether Jew or Gentile.
Our Lord, before he was incarnate, identified himself to Israel through the Prophet Isaiah (43.3) as "the Holy One of Israel," their "Savior." This was the same point the Apostle Peter made in his great Pentecost sermon, that David is not the King, since he's dead. Jesus, since he lives is the King and it was about Jesus the ascended King that David prophesied (Acts 2.19-34).
Later, in another sermon, Peter said that God has now "exalted" Jesus "to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. "
With this background then, we are in a position to answer the questions, "Who are Abraham's children?" and "Who is the Israel of God?" Jesus said,
"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him" (John 8.28-9).
He went on to say that if they "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." To which they respond by pointing out that they are physically descended from Abraham (v.33).
To this Jesus responds, "If you were Abraham's children...then you would do the things Abraham did" (v.39). This, then is our Lord's definition of a child of Abraham, a Jew, or Israel: One who does the things Abraham did. What did Abraham do? According to Jesus, "Abraham saw my day and rejoiced" (v.56). According to Jesus the Messiah, a Jew, a true Israelite is a one who has saving faith in the Lord Jesus before or after the incarnation. This only another way of saying that Jesus is the "way, the truth and the life" and that "no one comes to the Father" except through him (John 14.6). This verse applies to is Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as much as it does to anyone.
Thus it should not surprise us to find substantially the same teaching in the Apostle Paul's theology. In Romans 4, Paul says that one is justified in the same way Abraham was justified, by grace alone, through faith in Jesus alone (Rom 4:3-8).
What of the Gentiles then? Paul asks, "When was Abraham justified? Under what circumstances? Before or after he was circumcised? "It was not after, but before!" (Rom 4.11).
So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised (Romans 4.11-12)
Therefore, these two questions are absolutely connected. Justice before God "comes by faith" (Romans 4.16), not by law-keeping, not by being physically or ethnically Jewish,
so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all (Romans 4.16)
This is all so because, as he said in Romans chapter 2,
No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code…(Romans 2.29).
Christ did not come to reinstate and fix the Mosaic theocracy or to establish an earthly millennial Jewish kingdom, but to save Jewish and Gentile sinners and to make them, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, Abraham's children.
The Dividing Wall Demolished (Ephesians 2:11-22)
The movement of the history of redemption is on this order. The people of God were an international people from Adam to Noah to Moses. Under Moses, the people of God became temporarily a national people. God instituted special civil and ceremonial laws to separate his national people from the Gentile pagans. In Ephesians 2:14 the Apostle Paul describes these civil and ceremonial laws as a "dividing wall" between Jew and Gentile. Because of that dividing wall, the Gentiles, considered as a people, were "separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world" (2.12).
Now, however, because of Christ's death, Paul assures Gentile Christians that "you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ" (v.13). How? Through his death, Christ has destroyed the dividing wall, torn the temple veil, destroyed the temple and restored it three days by his resurrection (John 2:19),
by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross…(Eph 2.15-16).
Now, by virtue of our union with Christ, both Jewish and Gentile Christians are "fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household" (Eph 2.19); "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh" (Phil 3.3). Why? Because "…our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil 3.20). How is it that Premillennialism, by having two parallel peoples of God, does not rebuild that very dividing wall which Jesus destroyed by his death?
Not All Israel is Israel
One of the clearest places in Scripture on this question is Romans chapter 9. The context is the very question we are addressing now, what about Israel? Who is the Israel of God? Has God abandoned his promise to Abraham? Paul's answer is, a Jew is one who is a Jew inwardly, who loves the Savior of Abraham. Since Jesus was circumcised (Col 2.11-12) for us on the cross, circumcision is morally and spiritually indifferent.
"It is not as though God's Word has failed" (Romans 9:6). The reason that only some Jews have trusted Jesus as Messiah is because not "all Israel are is Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children." Rather, Abraham's children are reckoned "through Isaac" (9:7) What this means is that "it is not the natural children who are God's, but children of the promise" (v.8). How was Isaac born? By the sovereign power of God. How are Christians born? By the sovereign power of God. Every Christian is an "Isaac" in his own way. Why is this so? Because
before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (Mal 1.2; 9.11-13).
How can this be? It is because God "says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion'" (9.15).
It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
Is God unfair? According to the Apostle Paul, as creatures, we have no "rights" before God. God is the potter, we are the clay, but Christians are redeemed clay, objects of mercy, prepared in advance for glory. We must evaluate our condition against the backdrop of God's patience with those objects of wrath prepared for destruction (Romans 9.22-3). These vessels prepared for glory are taken from Jews and Gentiles alike (Romans 9.24). This is what he promised in Hosea, he has made those who were once "Lo Ammi," "Not my people," i.e., Gentiles, to be "sons of the living God" (Hosea 2:23; 1:10; Romans 9.25-6).
The reason that lawless Gentiles have "obtained righteousness," and that Israel who pursued it by law has not, is because justification is not by works, but by grace (Romans 9.32). They stumbled over Jesus, the rock of offense. He did not fit their nationalist plans and I submit neither does he fit the nationalist/Zionist plans of Premillennialism.
It is not that Paul does not want Jews to be saved, but rather he says them because he wants Jews to be saved, and the only way for a physical descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to become a true Israelite, is to be joined to the true Israel of God, Jesus, by faith. "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Romans 10.12). "Not all of the Israelites have accepted the Gospel".
Has God rejected his people? No, the elect are his people and all the elect will be saved. There are believing Jews. Paul uses himself as an example (Romans 11.1). He is a part of the elect remnant who have not bowed the knee to Baal. "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11.5). What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened
God's election of some and reprobation of others are the twin facts of the history of redemption which Paul brings to bear on the question of "Who is the Israel of God?" time and again he teaches: Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone; and "What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened…" (11.7).
Is God finished saving Jews? Not at all. Salvation has come to the Gentiles "to make Israel envious" (11.11). Gentiles, by God's undeserved favor, have been grafted on to the Israel of God. "Israel has experienced a hardening until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved" (11.25-6).
Christians are the Israel of God in Christ
Given this background, it should not surprise us at all when the Apostles call both Jews and Gentiles "the Israel of God." This is Paul's language to the mixed Galatian congregation.
1 Peter 2.9-10
The Apostle Peter uses the same sort of language to describe the mostly Gentile congregations of Asia Minor to whom he wrote, saying, "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
According to the writer to the Hebrews, those who call on the name of Christ are the "House of Israel." Everyone who has trusted Christ is an heir of the promises of the New Covenant.
Does the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob love the Jews? Yes. Does he have a plan for the Jews? Yes, it is the same plan he promised to Adam, the seed of the Woman, the same plan he promised to Abraham, "the Seed." That seed is one: Christ. He is the Holy One of Israel, he is the Israel of God. He did what Adam would not do. He did what stubborn Israel would and could not do. He served the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
Most of the Jews, however, were not looking for a Savior. They were looking for a king. Jesus is King, but he earned his throne by his obedience and death, and that is not what they wanted. They wanted glory, power and an earthly, political, theocratic, this-worldly kingdom. Jesus has established his kingdom, through the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments. This kingdom may not be as exciting as ruling from Jerusalem during an earthly golden age, it may not sell many books or fill seats in movie theaters, but the world never has found the Jesus of Scripture very interesting, that's why he's stumbling block to Zionist Jews and a foolishness to Greeks. To Christians, however, he is the Christ, "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1.24).
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Here are some clips:
Remember this show is on Christian TV!!!!!
You have to watch this show and support it! Christian TV was taken over by the heretics it is time we take it back!
You watch the program on Sky Angel
You can watch the program on Family Net
You can also check out the web-site for the show: Wretched
Friday, July 10, 2009
What if your deepest secret were suddenly exposed? Nine friends discover just how explosive it can be when their past becomes their present.
Reunited at the funeral of hometown hero Chris Hayden, the friends find tensions escalating rapidly as their darkest secrets are revealed. Jeremy (David A.R. White-“Mercy Streets), struggling with his calling as a former youth pastor, is caught in an awkward love triangle between his new fiancée and his old flame Sherry (Tracey Melchoir-“Bold and Beautiful). As the embers of the past relationship reignite, Jeremy’s fiancée Rachel (Stacey Keanan-“Step by Step), who is determined to solidify their relationship, demands he affirm his commitment to her.
Here is the trailer:
The acting was very good and the story line was superb!
There was some theology I definitely disagree with, but the movie actually shows why the theological position leads to confusion!
Ian made some awesome popcorn! He did not make the microwave kind, but cooked it on the stove! You have to try his popcorn the next time you watch a movie!
The Genius Club
Here is the information about the movie:
What if you had one night to solve the world's problems? For seven geniuses, they have no choice. A terrorist culls together a scientist, a seminary student, a pro baseball player, a professor, a casino owner, a painter, and a pizza delivery guy to attempt to solve the world's problems in one night.
Seven geniuses, with IQs over 200, are plucked from their lives on Christmas Eve to try to solve the world's problems in one night. If they fail, the world will come to an end. The group attempt to solve world hunger, war, cancer, terrorism, rush hour traffic, jerks, and finally the meaning of life. By morning, the group finds redemption in themselves and quite possible the world
Here is some video about the movie:
Here are a few of my thoughts on the movie:
It is not a big budget film so no one should expect that. The story is very interesting and the dialogue is thought provoking. The movie may leave people with more questions then answers but it should spark good conversation.
The acting at times is surprisingly good for a low budget film.
Tom Sizemore did the best job in my opinion.
Here is the link to Sky Angel if you would like more information about that: Sky Angel
Thursday, July 9, 2009
New Hope Church- Prosperity Gospel Deception, Part II
Luke 5:1-11 The Recognition and Reaction to the Holy One of God
I. The Background to the Miracle (4:42-5:4) Before we jump into a text we should always look at the context of what's come before (at the very least!). What's been going on prior to chapter 5 with the Son of God?
A. 4:1-13- His victory over Satan’s temptation
B. 4:14-30- Rejected by his own- Jesus returns to preach in his hometown of Nazareth and claims to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy…people’s reaction is “Who is this, we know you, you’re Joseph’s son…you’re just a man, not the Messiah!” They want Him to prove Himself! They get angry with Him and try to kill Him! Kick Him out of the city.
C. 4:31-41 Reception by others- He goes to
D. Summary of His reception- So far we’ve seen that reactions to the Son of God are very strange and mixed…not what you would expect.
1. He is totally rejected and not recognized by those that know Him intimately, His family, etc…to the point they want to kill him. We even know from other scriptures that His own family thought he was mad and doubted Him.
2. He is completely recognized by the demons! They correctly identify Him as the “Holy One of God”, the “Son of God” and the Messiah! He quickly shuts their mouths!
3. His doubtful reception- Now in
II. The challenge of faith- (v. 4)- this is when the Lord challenges these fishermen to do something they wouldn’t/shouldn’t do…go fishing when obviously it wasn’t a good time and they’d already spent a lot of time not catching anything. Jesus tells them to launch out again where they had previously failed…
III. The lack of faith- Simon (v. 5) who had been toiling all night and failed seems to humor the Lord, “nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. Now…last night we heard that this was as the KJV says “nets” and the whole sermon was built on not letting down a “net” (singular) when the Lord says to lay down “nets” (plural). This is actually a textual variant in the Greek; the Critical Text has Jesus saying “let down nets” and Simon saying “I’ll let down the nets”…whereas the Majority/Byzantine text has Jesus saying “let down the nets” and Simon saying “I’ll let down the net.” Either way…Simon obviously let down his net or nets expecting nothing to be caught!
IV. The object of faith- (5:5-7)- Now…the net(s) go down and they catch a HUGE multitude of fishes such as they’ve never seen or even heard of…so much so that their net broke! This is clearly a statement and a revelation of the deity of Christ…that He has power to command the fish to do His will…
Don’t forget what happened before…the people of Nazareth who should have known Him don’t recognize Him and try to kill Him instead…the demons who you would not expect to recognize and worship Him do so by calling Him “the Holy One of God, the Son of God”…and the people of Capernaum seem to recognize a good show when they see it…but still fail to recognize the Son of God standing before them. Jesus Christ now reveals His true nature, the Son of God, to the disciples! The object of their faith now is the Holy One of God…the Son of God!
V. The recognition of the Holy One of God (5:8-10)- What is Simon Peter’s reaction when He realizes He is in the boat with the Holy One of God, the Son of God? He replies “depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished” This word “astonished” means “surrounded, encompassed, seized”
VI. The reaction to the recognition (5:10-11)- Their recognition of the Son of God caused a reaction; first they were astonished (surrounded)…then they were repentant and withdrawn in the presence of Holiness incarnate (“depart…I am a sinful man”)… and lastly they were selflessly obedient.
Jesus used the draught of fish to teach the fishermen a lesson. This is a lesson that you and I need to learn. We need to come face to face with the Holy One of God, the Son of God. When we recognize Who He is, like Peter, will fall at His feet and wilt under His absolute holiness and shrink repentantly in our sinfulness…and then we will serve at any cost.
Jesus tell the fishermen that they’re going to be catching men now…and they forsook all their living, and their catch, and followed him (v. 11). THEY LEFT ALL!
Now...what did Gonyon preach last night. Here is a summary:
- Jesus said to let down nets...Simon only let down a net. When God tells you to let down nets you need to let them all down
- The nets and the catch were equated to material/financial prosperity...if you let down your nets and expect the unexpected you will be astonished at what God GIVES YOU. If you don't give up your boats (jewelry, other precious things) then you are holding onto idols and God can't bless you materially.
THIS IS TRASH! This is NOT what the passage is speaking of. If that were the case then the disciples would have kept all and would have gone fishing again. They would have thanked Him for His help and considered themselves happy to have been blessed by a good catch and their newfound prosperity. They did not give Jesus the boat and then get the catch. When they were done and had met the Holy One of Israel their initial reaction was to hide their sinfulness from His glory and to run away!
What was the goal? Was He trying to bless them materially? NO!!!! Quite the opposite. They were privileged to have their eyes opened to the Holy One of God and their reaction was repentance and obedience. They gave up ALL and followed Him. They did not live a life of prosperity...they lived a life of abuse, rejection and ultimately beheading, crucifixion and torturous deaths! This was not "their best life now" and Jesus' "wonderful plan for their life" was to GIVE IT ALL UP and to suffer for His namesake.
Here is my message to New Hope...I love you guys...I felt like weeping when I listened to the garbage that was preached to you and the shallow, unscriptural evangelistic "scripts" thay you've been fed. There is so much more in the Word of God. Here is the message that you need to take to Abilene- repent and believe, fall at the feet of the Holy One of God, give it all up to HIM and not to a greedy and false teacher in wolve's clothing and serve Him with the same vigour and spirit that you now serve...but in truth.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
New Hope Church- Prosperity Gospel Deception
ARGH! Folks, what I heard was not the gospel! Is that what the Apostles did in the book of Acts, just tell folks to flippantly pray a script to ask Jesus into their hearsts?! What was the message of Matt 3:1-12, Matt 4:17, Mark 6:12, Luke 13:3-9, Acts 2:36-40, 3:12-19, 17:22-32 and 26:20? REPENT and BELIEVE the gospel or perish!
- Evangelist to his young son "bad people need to just ask Jesus into their heart to be good people"
- "people are dying to be saved"
- we were "shoppin' for souls at Walmart"
- "Jesus doesn't smack us over the head with a big bible"
- And about 1000 times "ask Jesus into your heart"
Find that sinner's prayer in the bible...please someone show me! It's not a magical formula...people need to be confronted with their sins, repent and believe or perish. They need to come to Christ with an empty hand of faith for salvation...not just say the magic formula!
This is enough for now...here's your homework. The Evangelist then preached a short message from Luke 5:1-11. You read it...tell me what you think he preached. I'll post probably tomorrow night and tell you what he preached...and what he probably should have preached.
Theology matters folks...the Great Awakening is sure not what it was when Jonathan Edwards preached...wow!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Eleven Reasons Why I Believe All Remarriage After Divorce Is Prohibited While Both Spouses Are Alive
Eleven Reasons Why I Believe All Remarriage After Divorce Is Prohibited While Both Spouses Are Alive
1. Luke 16:18 calls all remarriage after divorce adultery.
Luke 16:18: Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
1.1 This verse shows that Jesus does not recognize divorce as terminating a marriage in God's sight. The reason a second marriage is called adultery is because the first one is considered to still be valid. So Jesus is taking a stand against the Jewish culture in which all divorce was considered to carry with it the right of remarriage.
1.2 The second half of the verse shows that not merely the divorcing man is guilty of adultery when he remarries, but also any man who marries a divorced woman.
1.3 Since there are no exceptions mentioned in the verse, and since Jesus is clearly rejecting the common cultural conception of divorce as including the right of remarriage, the first readers of this gospel would have been hard-put to argue for any exceptions on the basis that Jesus shared the cultural assumption that divorce for unfaithfulness or desertion freed a spouse for remarriage.
2. Mark 10:11-12 call all remarriage after divorce adultery whether it is the husband or the wife who does the divorcing.
Mark 10:11-12: And he said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'
2.1 This text repeats the first half of Luke 16:18 but goes farther and says that not only the man who divorces, but also a woman who divorces, and then remarries is committing adultery.
2.2 As in Luke 16:18, there are no exceptions mentioned to this rule.
3. Mark 10:2-9 and Matthew 19:3-8 teach that Jesus rejected the Pharisees' justification of divorce from Deuteronomy 24:1 and reasserted the purpose of God in creation that no human being separate what God has joined together.
Mark 10:2-9: And some Pharisees came up to Him, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. 3 And He answered and said to them, 'What did Moses command you?' 4 And they said, 'Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.' 5 But Jesus said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.'
Matthew 19:3-9: And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?" 4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 Consequently they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." 7They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate and divorce her?" 8 He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery."
3.1 In both Matthew and Mark the Pharisees come to Jesus and test him by asking him whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. They evidently have in mind the passage in Deuteronomy 24:1 which simply describes divorce as a fact rather than giving any legislation in favor of it. They wonder how Jesus will take a position with regard to this passage.
3.2 Jesus' answer is, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives" (Mt. 19:8).
3.3 But then Jesus criticizes the Pharisees' failure to recognize in the books of Moses God's deepest and original intention for marriage. So he quotes two passages from Genesis. "God made them male and female. ...For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Genesis 1:27; 2:24).
3.4 From these passages in Genesis Jesus concludes, "So they are no longer two, but one." And then he makes his climaxing statement, "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."
3.5 The implication is that Jesus rejects the Pharisees' use of Deuteronomy 24:1 and raises the standard of marriage for his disciples to God's original intention in creation. He says that none of us should try to undo the "one-flesh" relationship which God has united.
3.6 Before we jump to the conclusion that this absolute statement should be qualified in view of the exception clause ("except for unchastity") mentioned in Matthew 19:9, we should seriously entertain the possibility that the exception clause in Matthew 19:9 should be understood in the light of the absolute statement of Matthew 19:6, ("let no man put asunder") especially since the verses that follow this conversation with the Pharisees in Mark 10 do not contain any exception when they condemn remarriage. More on this below.
4. Matthew 5:32 does not teach that remarriage is lawful in some cases. Rather it reaffirms that marriage after divorce is adultery, even for those who have been divorced innocently, and that a man who divorces his wife is guilty of the adultery of her second marriage unless she had already become an adulteress before the divorce.
Matthew 5:32: But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
4.1 Jesus assumes that in most situations in that culture a wife who has been put away by a husband will be drawn into a second marriage. Nevertheless, in spite of these pressures, he calls this second marriage adultery.
4.2 The remarkable thing about the first half of this verse is that it plainly says that the remarriage of a wife who has been innocently put away is nevertheless adultery: "Everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her (the innocent wife who has not been unchaste) an adulteress." This is a clear statement, it seems to me, that remarriage is wrong not merely when a person is guilty in the process of divorce, but also when a person is innocent. In other words, Jesus' opposition to remarriage seems to be based on the unbreakableness of the marriage bond by anything but death.
4.3 I will save my explanation of the exception clause ("Except on the ground of unchastity") for later in the paper, but for now, it may suffice to say that on the traditional interpretation of the clause, it may simply mean that a man makes his wife an adulteress except in the case where she has made herself one.
4.4 I would assume that since an innocent wife who is divorced commits adultery when she remarries, therefore a guilty wife who remarries after divorce is all the more guilty. If one argues that this guilty woman is free to remarry, while the innocent woman who has been put away is not, just because the guilty woman's adultery has broken the "one flesh" relationship, then one is put in the awkward position of saying to an innocent divorced woman, "If you now commit adultery it will be lawful for you to remarry." This seems wrong for at least two reasons.
4.41 It seems to elevate the physical act of sexual intercourse to be the decisive element in marital union and disunion.
4.42 If sexual union with another breaks the marriage bond and legitimizes remarriage, then to say that an innocently divorced wife can't remarry (as Jesus does say) assumes that her divorcing husband is not divorcing to have sexual relations with another. This is a very unlikely assumption. More likely is that Jesus does assume some of these divorcing husbands will have sexual relations with another woman, but still the wives they have divorced may not remarry. Therefore, adultery does not nullify the "one-flesh" relationship of marriage and both the innocent and guilty spouses are prohibited from remarriage in Matthew 5:32.
5. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 teaches that divorce is wrong but that if it is inevitable the person who divorces should not remarry.
1 Corinthians 7:10-11: To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)—and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
5.1 When Paul says that this charge is not his but the Lord's, I think he means that he is aware of a specific saying from the historical Jesus which addressed this issue. As a matter of fact, these verses look very much like Mark 10:11-12, because both the wife and the husband are addressed. Also, remarriage seems to be excluded by verse ll the same way it is excluded in Mark 10:11-12.
5.2 Paul seems to be aware that separation will be inevitable in certain cases. Perhaps he has in mind a situation of unrepentant adultery, or desertion, or brutality. But in such a case he says that the person who feels constrained to separate should not seek remarriage but remain single. And he reinforces the authority of this statement by saying he has a word from the Lord. Thus Paul's interpretation of Jesus' sayings is that remarriage should not be pursued.
5.3 As in Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:11-12 and Matthew 5:32, this text does not explicitly entertain the possibility of any exceptions to the prohibition of remarriage.
6. 1 Corinthians 7:39 and Romans 7:1-3 teach that remarriage is legitimate only after the death of a spouse.
1 Corinthians 7:39: A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
Romans 7:1-3, Do you not know, brethren—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during his life? 2 Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning her husband. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
6.1 Both of these passages (1 Corinthians 7:39; Romans 7:2) say explicitly that a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. No exceptions are explicitly mentioned that would suggest she could be free from her husband to remarry on any other basis.
7. Matthew 19:10-12 teaches that special Christian grace is given by God to Christ's disciples to sustain them in singleness when they renounce remarriage according to the law of Christ.
Matthew 19:10-12: The disciples said to him, 'If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.' 11 But he said to them, 'Not all men can receive this precept, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.
7.1 Just preceding this passage in Matthew 19:9 Jesus prohibited all remarriage after divorce. (I will deal with the meaning of "except for immorality" below.) This seemed like an intolerable prohibition to Jesus' disciples: If you close off every possibility of remarriage, then you make marriage so risky that it would be better not to marry, since you might be "trapped" to live as a single person to the rest of your life or you may be "trapped" in a bad marriage.
7.2 Jesus does not deny the tremendous difficulty of his command. Instead, he says in verse ll, that the enablement to fulfill the command not to remarry is a divine gift to his disciples. Verse 12 is an argument that such a life is indeed possible because there are people who for the sake of the kingdom, as well as lower reasons, have dedicated themselves to live a life of singleness.
7.3 Jesus is not saying that some of his disciples have the ability to obey his command not to remarry and some don't. He is saying that the mark of a disciple is that they receive a gift of continence while non-disciples don't. The evidence for this is l) the parallel between Matthew 19:11 and 13:11, 12) the parallel between Matthew 19:12 and 13:9,43; 11:15, and 3) the parallel between Matthew 19:11 and 19:26.
8. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 does not legislate grounds for divorce but teaches that the "one-flesh" relationship established by marriage is not obliterated by divorce or even by remarriage.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4: When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.
8.1 The remarkable thing about these four verses is that, while divorce is taken for granted, nevertheless the woman who is divorced becomes "defiled" by her remarriage (verse 4). It may well be that when the Pharisees asked Jesus if divorce was legitimate he based his negative answer not only on God's intention expressed in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, but also on the implication of Deuteronomy 24:4 that remarriage after divorce defiles a person. In other words, there were ample clues in the Mosaic law that the divorce concession was on the basis of the hardness of man's heart and really did not make divorce and remarriage legitimate.
8.2 The prohibition of a wife returning to her first husband even after her second husband dies (because it is an abomination) suggests very strongly that today no second marriage should be broken up in order to restore a first one (for Heth and Wenham's explanation of this see Jesus and Divorce, page 110).
9. 1 Corinthians 7:15 does not mean that when a Christian is deserted by an unbelieving spouse he or she is free to remarry. It means that the Christian is not bound to fight in order to preserve togetherness. Separation is permissible if the unbelieving partner insists on it.
1 Corinthians 7:15: If the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace.
9.1 There are several reasons why the phrase "is not bound" should not be construed to mean "is free to remarry."
9.11 Marriage is an ordinance of creation binding on all of God's human creatures, irrespective of their faith or lack of faith.
9.12 The word used for "bound" (douloo) in verse 15 is not the same word used in verse 39 where Paul says, "A wife is bound (deo) to her husband as long as he lives." Paul consistently uses deo when speaking of the legal aspect of being bound to one marriage partner (Romans 7:2; l Corinthians 7:39), or to one's betrothed (l Corinthians 7:27). But when he refers to a deserted spouse not being bound in l Corinthians 7:15, he chooses a different word (douloo) which we would expect him to do if he were not giving a deserted spouse the same freedom to remarry that he gives to a spouse whose partner has died (verse 39).
9.13 The last phrase of verse 15 ("God has called us to peace") supports verse 15 best if Paul is saying that a deserted partner is not "bound to make war" on the deserting unbeliever to get him or her to stay. It seems to me that the peace God has called us to is the peace of marital harmony. Therefore, if the unbelieving partner insists on departing, then the believing partner is not bound to live in perpetual conflict with the unbelieving spouse, but is free and innocent in letting him or her go.
9.14 This interpretation also preserves a closer harmony to the intention of verses 10-11, where an inevitable separation does not result in the right of remarriage.
9.15 Verse 16 (“For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?) is an argument that you can’t know, and so should not make the hope of saving them a ground for fighting to make them stay. This supports the understanding of verse 15 as a focus on not being enslaved to stay together, rather than not being enslaved to say single.
9.16 Paul did not see the single life as a life of slavery and so would not have called the necessity of staying single a state of being enslaved.
10. 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 does not teach the right of divorced persons to remarry. It teaches that betrothed virgins should seriously consider the life of singleness, but do not sin if they marry.
1 Corinthians 7:27-28: Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin.
10.1 Recently some people have argued that this passage deals with divorced people because in verse 27 Paul asks, "Are you free (literally: loosed) from a wife?" Some have assumed that he means, "Are you divorced?" Thus he would be saying in verse 28 that it is not sin when divorced people remarry. There are several reasons why this interpretation is most unlikely.
10.11 Verse 25 signals that Paul is beginning a new section and dealing with a new issue. He says, "Now concerning the virgins (ton parthenon) I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy." He has already dealt with the problem of divorced people in verses 10-16. Now he takes up a new issue about those who are not yet married, and he signals this by saying, "Now concerning the virgins." Therefore, it is very unlikely that the people referred to in verses 27 and 28 are divorced.
10.12 A flat statement that it is not sin for divorced people to be remarried (verse 28) would contradict verse ll, where he said that a woman who has separated from her husband should remain single.
10.13 Verse 36 is surely describing the same situation in view in verses 27 and 28, but clearly refers to a couple that is not yet married. "If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his virgin, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin." This is the same as verse 28 where Paul says, "But if you marry, you do not sin."
10.14 The reference in verse 27 to being bound to a "wife" may be misleading because it may suggest that the man is already married. But in Greek the word for wife is simply "woman" and may refer to a man's betrothed as well as his spouse. The context dictates that the reference is to a man's betrothed virgin, not to his spouse. So "being bound" and "being loosed" have reference to whether a person is betrothed or not.
10.15 It is significant that the verb Paul uses for "loosed" (luo) or "free" is not a word that he uses for divorce. Paul's words for divorce are chorizo (verses 10,11,15; cf. Matthew 19:6) and aphienai (verses 11,12,13).
11. The exception clause of Matthew 19:9 need not imply that divorce on account of adultery frees a person to be remarried. All the weight of the New Testament evidence given in the preceding ten points is against this view, and there are several ways to make good sense out of this verse so that it does not conflict with the broad teaching of the New Testament that remarriage after divorce is prohibited.
Matthew 19:9: And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.
11.1 Several years ago I taught our congregation in two evening services concerning my understanding of this verse and argued that "except for immorality" did not refer to adultery but to premarital sexual fornication which a man or a woman discovers in the betrothed partner. Since that time I have discovered other people who hold this view and who have given it a much more scholarly exposition than I did. I have also discovered numerous other ways of understanding this verse which also exclude the legitimacy of remarriage. Several of these are summed up in William Heth and Gordon J. Wenham, Jesus and Divorce (Nelson: 1984).
11.2 Here I will simply give a brief summary of my own view of Matthew 19:9 and how I came to it.
I began, first of all, by being troubled that the absolute form of Jesus' denunciation of divorce and remarriage in Mark 10:11,12 and Luke 16:18 is not preserved by Matthew, if in fact his exception clause is a loophole for divorce and remarriage. I was bothered by the simple assumption that so many writers make that Matthew is simply making explicit something that would have been implicitly understood by the hearers of Jesus or the readers of Mark 10 and Luke 16.
Would they really have assumed that the absolute statements included exceptions? I have very strong doubts, and therefore my inclination is to inquire whether or not in fact Matthew's exception clause conforms to the absoluteness of Mark and Luke.
The second thing that began to disturb me was the question, Why does Matthew use the word porneia ("except for immorality") instead of the word moicheia which means adultery? Almost all commentators seem to make the simple assumption again that porneia means adultery in this context. The question nags at me why Matthew would not use the word for adultery, if that is in fact what he meant.
Then I noticed something very interesting. The only other place besides Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 where Matthew uses the word porneiais in 15:19 where it is used alongside of moicheia. Therefore, the primary contextual evidence for Matthew's usage is that he conceives of porneia as something different than adultery. Could this mean, then, that Matthew conceives of porneia in its normal sense of fornication or incest (l Corinthians 5:1) rather than adultery?
A. Isaksson agrees with this view of porneia and sums up his research much like this on pages 134-5 of Marriage and Ministry:
Thus we cannot get away from the fact that the distinction between what was to be regarded as porneia and what was to be regarded as moicheia was very strictly maintained in pre-Christian Jewish literature and in the N.T. Porneia may, of course, denote different forms of forbidden sexual relations, but we can find no unequivocal examples of the use of this word to denote a wife's adultery. Under these circumstances we can hardly assume that this word means adultery in the clauses in Matthew. The logia on divorce are worded as a paragraph of the law, intended to be obeyed by the members of the Church. Under these circumstances it is inconceivable that in a text of this nature the writer would not have maintained a clear distinction between what was unchastity and what was adultery: moicheia and not porneia was used to describe the wife's adultery. From the philological point of view there are accordingly very strong arguments against this interpretation of the clauses as permitting divorce in the case in which the wife was guilty of adultery.
The next clue in my search for an explanation came when I stumbled upon the use of porneia in John 8:41 where Jewish leaders indirectly accuse Jesus of being born of porneia. In other words, since they don't accept the virgin birth, they assume that Mary had committed fornication and Jesus was the result of this act. On the basis of that clue I went back to study Matthew's record of Jesus' birth in Matthew 1:18-20. This was extremely enlightening.
In these verses Joseph and Mary are referred to as husband (aner) and wife (gunaika). Yet they are described as only being betrothed to each other. This is probably owing to the fact that the words for husband and wife are simply man and woman and to the fact that betrothal was a much more significant commitment then than engagement is today. In verse 19 Joseph resolves "to divorce" Mary. The word for divorce is the same as the word in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. But most important of all, Matthew says that Joseph was "just" in making the decision to divorce Mary, presumably on account of her porneia, fornication.
Therefore, as Matthew proceeded to construct the narrative of his gospel, he finds himself in chapter 5 and then later in chapter 19 needing to prohibit all remarriage after divorce (as taught by Jesus) and yet to allow for "divorces" like the one Joseph contemplated toward his betrothed whom he thought guilty of fornication (porneia). Therefore, Matthew includes the exception clause in particular to exonerate Joseph, but also in general to show that the kind of "divorce" that one might pursue during a betrothal on account of fornication is not included in Jesus' absolute prohibition.
A common objection to this interpretation is that both in Matthew 19:3-8 and in Matthew 5:31-32 the issue Jesus is responding to is marriage not betrothal. The point is pressed that "except for fornication" is irrelevant to the context of marriage.
My answer is that this irrelevancy is just the point Matthew wants to make. We may take it for granted that the breakup of an engaged couple over fornication is not an evil "divorce" and does not prohibit remarriage. But we cannot assume that Matthew's readers would take this for granted.
Even in Matthew 5:32, where it seems pointless for us to exclude "the case of fornication" (since we can't see how a betrothed virgin could be "made an adulteress" in any case), it may not be pointless for Matthew's readers. For that matter, it may not be pointless for any readers: if Jesus had said, "Every man who divorces his woman makes her an adulteress," a reader could legitimately ask: "Then was Joseph about to make Mary an adulteress?" We may say this question is not reasonable since we think you can't make unmarried women adulteresses. But it certainly is not meaningless or, perhaps for some readers, pointless, for Matthew to make explicit the obvious exclusion of the case of fornication during betrothal.
This interpretation of the exception clause has several advantages:
1. It does not force Matthew to contradict the plain, absolute meaning of Mark and Luke and the whole range of New Testament teaching set forth above in sections 1-10, including Matthew's own absolute teaching in 19:3-8
2. It provides an explanation for why the word porneia is used in Matthew's exception clause instead of moicheia
3. It squares with Matthew's own use of porneia for fornication in Matthew 15:19
4. It fits the demands of Matthew's wider context concerning Joseph's contemplated divorce.
Since I first wrote this exposition of Matthew 19:9 I have discovered a chapter on this view in Heth and Wenham, Jesus and Divorce and a scholarly defense of it by A. Isaksson, Marriage and Ministry in the New Temple (1965).
Conclusions and Applications
In the New Testament the question about remarriage after divorce is not determined by:
1. The guilt or innocence of either spouse,
2. Nor by whether either spouse is a believer or not,
3. Nor by whether the divorce happened before or after either spouse's conversion,
4. Nor by the ease or difficulty of living as a single parent for the rest of life on earth,
5. Nor by whether there is adultery or desertion involved,
6. Nor by the on-going reality of the hardness of the human heart,
7. Nor by the cultural permissiveness of the surrounding society.
Rather it is determined by the fact that:
1. Marriage is a "one-flesh" relationship of divine establishment and extraordinary significance in the eyes of God (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8),
2. Only God, not man, can end this one-flesh relationship (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9—this is why remarriage is called adultery by Jesus: he assumes that the first marriage is still binding, Matthew 5:32; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:11),
3. God ends the one-flesh relationship of marriage only through the death of one of the spouses (Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39),
4. The grace and power of God are promised and sufficient to enable a trusting, divorced Christian to be single all this earthly life if necessary (Matthew 19:10-12,26; 1 Corinthians 10:13),
5. Temporal frustrations and disadvantages are much to be preferred over the disobedience of remarriage, and will yield deep and lasting joy both in this life and the life to come (Matthew 5:29-30).
Those who are already remarried:
1. Should acknowledge that the choice to remarry and the act of entering a second marriage was sin, and confess it as such and seek forgiveness
2. Should not attempt to return to the first partner after entering a second union (see 8.2 above)
3. Should not separate and live as single people thinking that this would result in less sin because all their sexual relations are acts of adultery. The Bible does not give prescriptions for this particular case, but it does treat second marriages as having significant standing in God's eyes. That is, there were promises made and there has been a union formed. It should not have been formed, but it was. It is not to be taken lightly. Promises are to be kept, and the union is to be sanctified to God. While not the ideal state, staying in a second marriage is God's will for a couple and their ongoing relations should not be looked on as adulterous.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org