Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Doctrine of Sin

8. Is man a product of age-long evolution or a direct creation by God?

  • We are a product of the very handiwork of God who created us male and female in His image (Genesis 1:27, Matthew 19:4). God created Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life, forming a living being (Genesis 2:7). While we have the ability to adapt to our environments, as God designed, we are not the product of chance or age-long evolution as hypothesized by Darwin.

9. In God's sight, how sinful is man?

  • We are sinners and deserve to be separated from God forever in the “lake of fire,” experiencing forever the “second death” (Revelation 20:14-15). Romans 3:10-18 makes it pretty clear, “as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving, The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes." But it really took just one sin to disqualify us from a right relationship with God as God’s standard is perfection (James 3:2). As James said in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” God hates sin, but loves the sinner as evidenced in the sacrifice of His perfect Son, Jesus, as the only means for our salvation (Romans 5:8).

10. State the differences between imputed sin, inherent sin, and personal sin.

  • Imputed sin is sin that was credited to our account through the rebellion of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Adam represented mankind, and through his sin we all stand guilty before God (Romans 5:12). Inherent sin is the natural bent all people have to do wrong. The Bible refers to it as our “flesh” or “sin which dwells in me” or the “old self” (Galatians 5:17, Romans 7:17,20, Romans 6:6). Personal sins are the sins we commit by choice. We can sin by commission (doing something we are not supposed to do) or by omission (not doing something we are supposed to do). By birth (imputed), by nature (inherent), and by choice (personal) we are sinners.

11. What efforts can a lost person exert to satisfy or please God?

  • Man alone cannot exert action or in anyway satisfy or please God because God is already satisfied. God is satisfied in the propitiatory sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ as the payment for the sin of all humanity for all time (1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:2). Utilizing the power of the Holy Spirit, regenerated believers can live in righteousness (Romans 8:10-11).

12. Is everyone born with a sinful nature? Explain.

  • All people (other than Jesus) have a “sinful nature” which is that natural bent to do wrong. As stated above this is our inherent sin, our flesh which is contrary to the character and holiness of God. We naturally in our flesh desire to rebel against God’s standards and commands. For example, you do not have to teach a child to do wrong, because it comes naturally. We are to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

13. Describe the sin nature and its position in the life of the believer.

  • The “sin nature” or the natural bent to do wrong will remain with the believer until death or rapture. While positionally in Christ, the believer has his flesh crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6), in the Christian experience, the flesh and Spirit are in constant battle (Galatians 5:16-17). As a believer, we have power to say no to sin and not indulge the desires of our flesh. An unbeliever does not have this power, but only to sin and indulge the flesh (Ephesians 2:1-3). As believers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness (Romans 6:12-13). We will not be lifted from this battle until we are fully glorified with a new physical body that is incapable of sin (1 Corinthians 15:35-58, 2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

14. Who and what is the devil?

  • The devil is the fallen angel Lucifer, who was created as the chief archangel of God charged with guarding the throne of God (Isaiah 14:12-17, Ezekiel 28, Matthew 4:1-11). He rebelled wanting to be like god. The devil is also referred in the Scriptures as Satan, the prince of the power of the air, an angel of light, a roaring lion, a serpent (Job 2:1-7, Ephesians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 11:14, 1 Peter 5:8, Genesis 3:1-5). The devil is against God in every way, is a liar who brings confusion and discouragement to believers and is at work to prevent as many people as possible from believing in Jesus Christ as Savior. He is tricky and crafty and uses the world system to appeal to our flesh (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Doctrine of the Bible

4. In what way is the Bible the inspired Word of God?
  • Not only are the words of Scripture inspired themselves, but also the very authors who wrote them (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21). Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

5. Is the entire Bible inspired and free from error in the original writings?

  • Yes, all Scripture is indeed inspired from the very breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;") handed down in the languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The Bible is completely inherent (without error) being inspired by God who is perfect. Translations in the English language have been provided with the utmost accuracy. My preferred translation is the New American Standard Bible, a literal word-for-word translation using the oldest known manuscripts available including the Dead Sea scrolls.

6. What other divine writings has God given to man?

  • I believe that the Word of God, the Scriptures contained in the Old and New Testaments, is the only divine writing from God to man through the agent of apostles and prophets by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. From Genesis to Revelation we have the complete Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19). These Scriptures are sufficient for us to search the depths of God. Romans 11:33 says, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"

7. What authority, other than the Bible, do you have for doctrine and the Christian walk?

  • The only trustworthy authority given for doctrine and the Christian walk is the Bible. We cannot rely on experience or traditions of man to know truth (Mark 7:5-13). Only the Word of God is truth (John 17:17, John 14:6, Revelation 19:13). While other sources may prove useful (sermons, commentaries, experiences) in the Christian experience, they must all be held up against the standard of the Word of God. The Bible is the standard for truth. Jesus said of Himself in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Doctrine of God

1. What is the Trinity? What part in God's relationship to mankind does each member of the Trinity take?

  • The trinity is a word used to describe the three persons of God in One, namely God the Father, YHWH, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Each person of God is unique, and yet also unified. All three were present at creation (Genesis 1:1-2, 27, John 1:1-3) and the baptism of Jesus. Notice Luke 3:21-22, “Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.’” All three are present inside of believers today (1 John 4:16, John 14:20, Colossians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Galatians 4:6). The Father has the sovereign plan for His creation and is actively involved in His creation. The Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man (hypostatic union) to accomplish His predetermined plan of salvation for humanity (Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus Christ fully submitted to the will of His Father and died on the cross, the propitiation for the sins of all humanity for all time, and rose from the dead after three days, conquering the sting of death and ensuring the bodily resurrection for all humanity (1 John 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15). Jesus Christ is our only way of access to the Father (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). We must believe in Jesus Christ as Savior to receive the gift of eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and the righteousness that God demands (John 3:16, Acts 10:43, Romans 3:22, Ephesians 2:8-9). The Holy Spirit convicts the unbelieving world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-10). He convicts people regarding sin because of unbelief in Christ, righteousness because that is what we need to be with the Father, and judgment because Satan has been judged and a deeds judgment is coming for all humanity (John 3:18, 16:8-11, 2 Corinthians 5:10,21). The Spirit indwells all believers in Christ, convicts believers using the Word of God, and is at work in the life of the believer to sanctify and conform the believer to the image of Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 8:29). The Holy Spirit is our helper, He illuminates the Scriptures and He is the source of power to live righteously and be fruitful and faithful in our service with God (John 14:16,26, 15:5,26, Acts 1:8, Galatians 5:16, 25). In summary, the Father had the plan, the Son carried out the plan, and the Spirit reveals the plan.

2. Show from the Bible that the Holy Spirit is deity.

  • The story of Ananias’ sin in the book of Acts relays the Apostle Peter’s acknowledgment of the Spirit as deity. When Ananias kept back some money from the sale of land, Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back {some} of the price of the land? While it remained {unsold,} did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God" (Acts 5:3-4). The Holy Spirit is God and fully deity. He is also described as eternal in Hebrews 9:14 - "eternal Spirit." There are also countless places in Scripture denoting that the Spirit is “of the Lord” and “of God.” Finally, the Spirit was involved in creation as mentioned in Genesis 1:2, "And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."

3. What are God's characteristics (Divine Essence) or attributes?

  • Some mentioned in Scripture: God is infinite (Romans 11:33), Spirit - the Father does not have a physical body (John 4:24), eternal - no beginning and no end (Psalm 90:2), omnipotent - all powerful (Romans 4:20-21), omnipresent - everywhere (Psalm 139:7-11), omniscient - all knowing (Psalm 139:1-6), immutable - unchanging (Hebrews 13:8), personal, righteous (1 John 1:5), just - fair (Romans 2:11, 3:26), love - unconditional (1 John 4:8-10), sovereign - nothing surprises Him (Ephesians 1:5-11), wise (1 Corinthians 1:25), truthful - he cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Bride of Christ: Are We Ready for the Bridegroom?

The process of marriage in the Jewish heritage has striking similarities to the relationship between Jesus and His church as mentioned in the Scriptures.

The Choosing of the Bride

Jewish: Following the lead of God the Father when he chose a bride for Adam, Jewish fathers considered it their duty to secure wives for their sons.

Church: In the same way, God chose a bride for His only beloved Son, Jesus, namely the church. This plan was ordained in eternity past.

John 15:16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”

Espousal and Dowry

Jewish: A formal proceeding, called an espousal, followed in which oaths were made and presents were given to the bride called a dowry. The dowry was given in respect for the bride and a form of guarantee that the bride would be taken care of in the event of an untimely death of the bridegroom. The marriage arrangement was then sealed forming a binding contract between the father and the bridegroom.

Church: In the same way, God established an oath out of love for the bride and offered up His Son to pay for her sins. God promises the bride security in His Son. Jesus agreed to this plan with His Father.

John 3:16, 6:38-40 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life…For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

Acceptance by the Bride

Jewish: Following the agreement, the bride to be offered a glass of wine by the bridegroom. By drinking the wine she accepted his proposal and came under his authority, forfeiting her rights as an individual. By refusing the wine, she declined his proposal.

Church: Jesus shed His blood in sacrifice on the cross to pay for the sins of all humanity. He offers eternal life to those who believe in Him, that is accepting His invitation of salvation by faith. Believers are placed into the body of Christ are called to offer their bodies in return as a living sacrifice, that is dying to ourselves and submitting to the will of God for our lives.

John 1:11-12 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Betrothal Period

Jewish: A betrothal period followed the bride’s acceptance. During this time, the bride and bridegroom were separated, yet promised to each other for a future marriage. During this period, the bridegroom prepared a place for his bride to be, usually building an extension on to his father’s house. The bride was to remain pure and prepare herself for the return of the bridegroom.

Church: In the same way, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, He ascended into heaven promising to return again for his purchased bride. Jesus is currently in heaven preparing a place for us in His Father’s house. Shortly after His ascension, He gave the church the Holy Spirit, sealing and guaranteeing our future inheritance and providing them with the power to live in holiness. The church is currently in the betrothal period.

John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory

Nearing the Time of the Return of the Bridegroom

Jewish: Neither the bridegroom nor the wife would know when he would return, but only the father. His father would appraise the built addition and after meeting the required specifications, he would allow his son to go get his bride. As the time grew closer, the bride would prepare herself. In fact, the bride often slept in her wedding dress when she knew the time must be drawing near.

Church: In the same way, the church and Jesus Himself does not knows the time of His return. The Father will allow Jesus to return at the proper time when our dwelling places are ready. This could very well be the new Jerusalem/new heavens and new earth. While Christ is away, we must remain pure and holy, being unstained by the world, while eagerly anticipating His imminent return.

2 Peter 3:10-14 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

The Return of the Bridegroom

Jewish: After receiving the father’s approval, the bridegroom would gather together a group of friends. At midnight, the group would march through the town, preceded by a group playing musical instruments, singing and shouting in loud voice, “Make way for the bridegroom!” and accompanied by those bearing lamps. If the bride was not ready for his return, it was an embarrassment to her. They would still get married, but she would be ashamed. A wedding celebration followed.

Church: In the same way, Jesus will descend from heaven to meet the church in the clouds and take her to heaven to be with Him forever. The church is to eagerly anticipate this return with hope and confidence, remaining faithful rather than greeting His return with shame for a life wasted on sin and self.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

Wedding Celebration

Jewish: The wedding celebration usually lasted seven days and was a time for immediate family to feast and celebrate the new couple. The marriage was also consummated during this time.

Church: The church will be in heaven with Christ during the seven years of tribulation on earth. During this time, we will enjoy the presence of the Lord, be judged according to our deeds, recompensed accordingly and glorified to the image of Christ Himself, having received new eternal bodies.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

Wedding Feast

Jewish: Following the wedding celebration, a wedding feast was held which was the main event. It usually lasted anywhere from seven to fourteen days, but could be longer depending upon the wealth of the bridegroom. This feast was opened up to the friends of the bride and bridegroom. The guests at the party were provided with special wedding clothes to identify them as being accepted to the feast.

Church: Following a time of seven years in heaven, Jesus will come a second time to earth to establish His millennial kingdom and reign upon the earth as KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS . Following the judgment of the world, Jesus will host the marriage supper of the Lamb for 1000 years.

Matthew 22:2-14 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited," Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him,' Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

Matthew 24:29-31 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

Matthew 25:1-13 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the prudent answered, saying, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Revelation 19:7-16 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."