Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: hope

True Knowledge of God

There the Holy Spirit brings rest and peace to the consciences and hearts of the believers in true Christian love and unity; there also is found the living hope, whereby the believer hopes for salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ, yea so that he is assured and certain that he is being sanctified, and that he has the witness of the Holy Spirit in his heart (Rom. 8:16), whereby he is assured that he is the child of God, that Jesus Christ is his brother, and that he has the fellowship of the Holy Ghost (2 Cor. 13:14).

This liberty of the mind brings about the living hope in God, and the certain assurance of the grace of Jesus Christ and the sealing of the Holy Spirit unto eternal salvation, by which the heart becomes so joyful that the believer is comforted under all circumstances to be with the Lord, and in the real life to come into full possession of all that he by faith looks forward to in hope, and which he now sees but darkly as through a glass and knows from words more or less dark (1 Cor 13:12).

Dietrich Philips (1504 – 1568)

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Wicked women of the Bible

One was a Canaanite woman who disguised herself as a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law. Another Canaanite woman was a prostitute. A Moabite woman crawled under the covers with a man while he was sleeping to hint that she wanted to marry him. The fourth was an Israelite woman who bathed on the roof of her house in full view of her neighbour.

What do these four women have in common? They are all named in the genealogy of Jesus. In fact, they are the only women mentioned in His genealogy.

Tamar, the first, was the widow of both of Judah’s two oldest sons. Judah promised her that she would marry his youngest son when he came of age, but did not keep his promise. Tamar then took matters into her own hands, playing the prostitute to Judah himself. When Judah was informed that his daughter-in-law was pregnant, he decreed that such a sin must be punished by death. However, when she informed him who was the father of the expected child, Judah was humbled and responded “She hath been more righteous than I.”

Rahab was the Canaanite prostitute who hid the Israelite spies who had come to search out the defences of Jericho. Because of this, she and her household were the only survivors of the destruction of Jericho. She married an Israelite – possibly one of the spies?

Ruth the Moabitess may have taken unusual measures to make her wishes known to Boaz, but he appeared to take her intentions kindly. He told her: “Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.”

The Bible tells us nothing of Bathsheba’s thoughts when she bathed on the roof. Some commentators think that she was actually performing the ritual cleansing after the end of her menstrual period. If that be so, it could have appeared as an invitation to King David. He certainly seems to have taken it that way.

None of these women had the Bible we have today. The law had not been given at the time of Tamar, even later no one had access to a personal copy of the Scriptures. There was no weekly worship and instructional service during Old Testament times. None of this excuses their conduct. Yet God had mercy on them and they became known as godly women. When the elders blessed the marriage of Boaz and Ruth, they said “Let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah.”

Three of these women appear in the genealogy of David and the fourth, Bathsheba, was his wife and the mother of Solomon, the son whom God loved best of all the sons of David. Proverbs 31 begins: “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.” No king by this name appears in any ancient record. The name signifies “for God” and the rabbinical commentators considered it another name for Solomon. We cannot be positive, but the only alternative is that Lemuel is a complete mystery. If Lemuel was indeed Solomon, then Proverbs 31 was written by Bathsheba.

Jesus, during His ministry, had a compassion for scorned and mistreated women that was unheard of in that day. The Pharisees were the true believers of Jesus’ day, in that they believed all the Scriptures taught and scrupulously observed all the commandments of the law. They often scorned Jesus for His friendship with sinners. His response? He told the Pharisees “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

Do we have the same compassion toward the fallen and downtrodden that Jesus and the early church had? One of the primary reasons for the rapid growth of the early church was that the gospel offered hope and dignity to the outcasts of society. Have we forgotten this in our day?

It has been a great temptation for us as North American Christians to sit in our comfortable, middle-class pews and rejoice in God’s goodness, all the while averting our eyes from the misery around us. If we do see it, we console ourselves that all these people are going against better knowledge. Really? I am convinced that most people in North America today have no more understanding of God’s mercy and righteousness than Tamar and Rahab had at the beginning.

Refuge

Yesterday morning, one of our ministers preached on the subject of refuge. Before the children of Israel entered the promised land, God gave them detailed instructions for establishing cities of refuge. They were to be located throughout the land in such a manner that no one would be more than a half day’s journey from a city of refuge.

The purpose was that if anyone caused the death of someone else accidentally and unintentionally, he could flee from the avenger and find safety. It was part of the law that a family member of the person killed could and should avenge the death of the one slain. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth and death for death, that was the Old Testament law; I’m sure it exercised a powerful dissuasion on most people. But in a case where the death was not intentional, it would have been contrary to justice to avenge that death upon a person who was in reality innocent.

Despite his innocence, the one who had caused the death of another was only safe within the confines of the city of refuge. If he ever strayed beyond those bounds, he was fair game for the avenger. The person who caused the death of another could not return to his home until the high priest died.

The protection of the cities of refuge was not only for the children of Israel. Numbers 35:15 says: “These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.”

There was even a measure of mercy in the law about the avenger of blood. In other societies of that era, the death of a member of a clan might very well lead to all out clan warfare and the deaths of many more. The law of Israel limited the vengeance to the one who had killed. Once that was done, justice had been accomplished and there would be no ongoing feud between clans. The city of refuge went beyond that and was a wonderful example of hope and mercy in a time of harsh and immediate justice.

Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we . . . might have hope (Romans 15:4). All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition (1 Corinthians 10:11 ).

What then are we to draw from this example for our benefit today? The New Testament tells us that we are all guilty and worthy of the most severe judgement. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10 ). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore we are all guilty, is there yet a place of refuge for us in our day?

Hebrews chapter six reveals that the mercy of God has now provided a refuge for the guilty. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18). Reading further in the chapter, we see that Jesus Christ is that refuge and that he is called a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. That is, He has once died to set us free, now He lives forever to be a permanent refuge for all the sinners who will flee to Him.

Saturday I had a conversation with a brother that I believe ties into the theme of refuge. He was talking about people who had lived in iron curtain countries. They recounted how their children had to go to the public schools where they were subjected to atheist propaganda day after day. Therefore the parents, day after day after their children came home from school, taught diligently from the Bible the Christian way. All of their children chose the Christian way, rather than the way of atheism.

Then they came to America, where there was no more persecution. And the children raised in America chose the way of the world. There is a lesson there for all of us. Our supposedly free nations are not a refuge for us from the attacks of our spiritual enemy. It is not time for parents to relax their teaching program and assume all will be well. We need the same single-minded fervency as those parents had when living under Communist rule. This vile world, however friendly it may seem, is not a friend to grace, nor a refuge from Satan.

Knowing who the true enemy is

While driving through downtown Saskatoon today, my wife and I noticed a billboard for the University of Lethbridge, which boasted “We teach you how to think, not what to think.” I wonder how true that is. As far as one can tell, the whole public education system in our country is committed to teaching and enforcing the doctrines of secular humanism – neo-Darwinism, atheism, the meaninglessness of life, etc.

The mass media are entirely supportive of this doctrine, acting in unison as a propaganda machine for it.  Some politicians may not be entirely at ease with this doctrine, but none dare say so openly.

Yet the “scientific” arguments of the New Atheists are incoherent and have no actual scientific foundation. Why is it that no one seems to be listening when it is pointed out that “the emperor has no clothes?”

It is because the people in academia and the media are only front men for a massive spiritual onslaught on mankind. Our true enemy is not people, but “the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Satan has duped people into seeing him and his messengers as angels of light, bringing the message of sweet reason to a world long held captive by belief in God.

However, the outcome of Satan’s message of light always tends to death. Christians are concerned, and rightly so, by the slaughter of millions of unborn babies and the creeping acceptance of euthanasia. There is also the slow and sure death of the soul as people are convinced that there is no meaning to life, no reason to hope, and no reason to care about others. Is it any wonder that suicide has become an epidemic in our day?

What the world needs is not better teachers, better reporters, or better politicians. They would all be subverted by the prevailing despair and spiritual darkness of our age. What the world needs is Christians who can explain why the existence of God gives meaning to all of life and to every individual life. God is not a vindictive monster who wants to make life miserable for us. He is a loving God who wants to give us a living hope that our life is precious to Him, that we can find joy and fulfilment in life, and that He has something even better planned for us in the life to come. It is true that “God is angry with the sinner every day,” but that is simply because sin leads to death and God wants us to live, truly live.

There are people who attempt to accommodate themselves to the thinking of the world, yet live as though they believed in God. They are attempting to appear intellectually respectable to the world, and at the same time fit in among Christians. Isn’t this the frog spirit described in the book of Revelation? Frogs are amphibious, able to seem at home  in the water (the world) and on the dry land (among Christians). This is not the way to lead an overcoming Christian life.

The meaning of Romans 12:2 is that we should not allow our thinking to be moulded after the prevailing thought of the age we live in, but that our thinking should be transformed by the renewing of the mind. That will set us free to allow God to use us to do His work here on earth.

The world needs such people. I believe that it would be possible to turn the world upside down once more if Christians could grasp the true liberating power of the gospel message. Yes there are people who desperately want to believe that there is no God to whom they will have to give account for their actions. Nevertheless, God has created all men and women with a heart that will feel empty and alienated until they experience the love of God. Don’t we have an obligation to speak plainly to the real needs of such people?

The apostle Paul makes three statements in Romans 1:14-16 that should be the motto of every Christian:

I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

I am ready to preach the gospel.

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

Do we feel that debt? Can we truly say that we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ? How ready are we to do something about it?

WORDS

Every heart that throbs must know
Fountains sweet and bitter;
Either we may cause to flow,
By the words we utter.

Idle words may pierce the deep
Of the gentlest spirit, –
Waking sorrow from its sleep,
Treading roughly near it.

Words of love may lull to rest
Care, or grief, or anguish, –
Rousing hope within the breast,
Where it seemed to languish.

Then let none misuse the gift
God for use has given;
Through Him, every word may lift
Some one nearer heaven.

– John Reade, 1837-1919

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