Sunday, July 20, 2014

THE MYSTERY OF DIVINE MYSTERIES





Occasionally I have enjoyed reading a mystery novel. I have read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and greatly enjoyed the late Jeremy Brett in the role when PBS aired most of them in a TV series a number of years ago.  I now have them all on tape so I can view them whenever I like. I also liked some of the Alfred Hitchcock movies, especially the ones with James Stewart. My wife still likes Diagnosis Murder and Murder She Wrote. There is something about a mystery.

The Bible has much to say regarding mysteries. The word “mystery” is strictly a New Testament word, and  is found 22 times in the KJV, and “mysteries” is found 5 times. It is from the Greek word mustērion of which Strong says “to shut the mouth; a secret or mystery.” Young’s Concordance says “What is known only to the initiated.” Vine’s Dictionary says “primarily that which is known to the initiated (Greek= mustēs ).” The word “secret” is used a number of times in the OT, with several Hebrew words and shades of meaning. Most notably for this study is “The secret (Heb. sathar), things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed (Heb.galah) belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Here secret means hidden, or concealed. But “revealed” here means exposed, denuded, disclosed or discovered. Many things were disclosed to God’s children in the OT to encourage them to follow the Lord and obey His law. But many things were not yet revealed in that OT dispensation. In the NT the mysteries are revealed, or will be, to the true Christians.

In the NT there are many different mysteries that are discussed. I have tried to categorize some of the most obvious verses as follows:
1. The kingdom mysteries mentioned by Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; and Luke 8:10; Matthew and Mark say kingdom of heaven, Luke says kingdom of God).
2. The parousia, or second coming mystery (I Corinthians 15:51).
3. The charisma or spiritual gifts mystery (I Corinthians 14:2).
4. The God’s will mystery (I Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:9).
5. The body of Christ mystery (Ephesians 3:1-9; 6:19).
6. The Christ and church mystery (Ephesians 5: 32).
7. The Christ is God mystery (Colossians 2:2; 4:3; I Timothy 3:16; Romans 16:25).
8. The Christian faith mystery (I Timothy 3:9).
9. The mystery of iniquity (II Thessalonians 2:7).
10. The apocalypse mysteries: the mystery of the seven stars (Revelation 1:20); the mystery of God (10:7); the mystery of Babylon (17:5); the mystery of the woman (17:7).

W.E. Vine tells us in his Expository Dictionary of NT Words the following information:
“The word "mystery" in the New Testament does not denote that which is mysterious (as with the English word), but it denotes that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His Spirit. In the


ordinary sense a mystery implies knowledge withheld; its scriptural significance is truth revealed”.
In other words these mysteries are mysteries to the uninitiated, i.e., those who have not had the
supernatural, divine revelation. In today’s modern churches, so often everything is by program, by rote, and by repetition. Nothing unusual ever happens. There is no expectation for God to do anything. The service could well go on without God.  Yet the Bible warns us that true salvation must come by supernatural revelation by the Holy Spirit. “Knowing brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you by word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance…” I Thessalonians 1:4, 5). This is the sinner’s “initiation” into the mysteries of God. It requires the new birth, which only God can give (see John 3:3).

The way of salvation, yes, all the ways of God are a mystery to those who are outside, to those who have not been supernaturally called. There are some mysteries that remain for the redeemed child of God because God reveals many things by progressive revelation, not all at once. For instance, we that have been saved for many years do not know all the mysteries of the Return of Christ. There is much in scripture (especially Daniel and Revelation), that remains locked. Remember Daniel was told “Shut up the words, and seal the book even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4). John the Apostle was told “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1b), but it wasn’t all totally clear in the book he wrote. It still has many symbols, types and shadows of which we don’t have all the keys yet, though some say they have it “all figured out.” We are told “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy” (Revelation 1:3), so we do need to study this challenging book, as difficult as it can be.

In future issues of Word of Truth, I hope to look into some of the individual mysteries listed here, beginning with the mystery of the NT church which indeed was “hidden” until Christ shed His blood at Calvary. There was, of course, the Old Testament assembly, or congregation; even called the “church in the wilderness” by Stephen in Acts 7:38. But in that form it was a figure, a type which could not be completed without the sacrifice of Christ. He implied this when He said “Upon this rock (Greek= petra), I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The rock was not Peter (petros;a piece of stone), but the petra, i.e., the huge foundation stone; Christ Himself, which was the revelation of the mystery that Peter supernaturally received “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” If this revelation is not first received, I do not care how many professions you have made, how many times you have been baptized, how many times you have received communion, if you saw an angel, a ball of fire, or a premonition of death. It doesn’t matter how elect you think you are, how much you do or do not believe in predestination, or any other doctrine, if you have not had Christ revealed to you supernaturally -- you are lost!

Published by Charles Woodruff- email: oursong2004@charter.net


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

GOD'S ANATHEMA



                                  GOD’S ANATHEMA

“Though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

Oh, what solemn words to speak! “Removed to another gospel and under the Divine curse.” It is the revelation again of the law of the curse, and the only hope of escape at Calvary. If he will not have Christ as the curse for him, then he comes under the curse for himself. In truth the curse is already upon him, and it is only awaiting the working out of its blighting results. Think of the man who preaches something other than the Gospel of the Cross of Calvary! It is blight in itself to blight other people’s lives with falsehood, which ends them in a hopeless eternity. It is a blight to have professing Christians in other lands turning aside from the atoning work of Jesus Christ, because men in England preach “another gospel” than the Gospel of Calvary. It is an awful thing for preachers and ministers to deepen the curse on men by failure to preach the one Divine Gospel of the Cross. “Let him be accursed!” Let the curse he will not see upon the Lamb of God come to its fruition in himself! Oh, how solemn! God’s Word has declared it, and shows us that these things are working today, whether we see them or not.
 -Adapted from J. Penn-Lewis, in James A. Stewart’s daily devotional guide Drops from the Honeycombs, reading for Feb. 7th.
                                                          
                             WASTED YEARS -CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Yes those wasted years over which we sigh shall be restored to us. God can give us such plentiful grace that we shall crowd into the remainder of our days as much of service as will be some recompense for those years of unregeneracy over which we mourn in humble penitence.
The locusts of backsliding, worldliness, lukewarmness, are now viewed by us as a terrible plague. Oh that they had never come near us! The Lord in mercy has now taken them away, and we are full of zeal to serve Him. Blessed be His name, we can raise such harvests of spiritual graces as shall make our former barrenness to disappear. Through rich grace we can turn to account our bitter experience, and use it to warn others. We can become the more rooted in humility, childlike dependence, and penitent spirituality, by reason of our former shortcomings. If we are the more watchful, zealous, and tender, we shall gain by our lamentable losses. The wasted years, by a miracle of love, can be restored. Does it seem too great a boon?
Let us believe for it, and live for it, and we may yet realize it, even as Peter became all the more useful a man after his presumption was cured by his discovered weakness. “Lord, aid us by thy grace” (Faith’s Checkbook)
                                  
                                  SOMETHING TO REMEMBER
Remember the German pastor and theologian Martin Niemoller. As a staunch anti-Communist concerned about the spread of Bolshevism, he initially supported Adolf Hitler. But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemoller became the leader of a group of clergymen opposed to Hitler and his increasingly alarming policies. Hitler detested Niemoller and had him arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Along with hundreds of others, he was liberated from Dachau in 1945 by the Allies.
His sobering words regarding apathy need to be heard and heeded by Christians everywhere today:
“In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . .
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
-Quoted by Hank Hanegraaff, Christian Research Institute (Thanks to Wylie Fulton)
                                
                                     MAN TOTALLY INCAPABLE
"Man is totally incapable, he is without any strength at all in the matter of his salvation... Man as he is born into this world is totally unable to please God. His righteousness is but as filthy rags. Man does not like to be told that, and he does not believe it."- Martyn Lloyd-Jones via Monergism Books
                                 
                                     TIDBITS ABOUT THE BIBLE
"The Christian is bred by the Word, and he must be fed by it." - William Gurnall
"The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost; it is a pandect of divine knowledge, an exact model and platform of religion. The Scripture contains in it the 'credenda' (the things which we are to believe) and the 'agenda' (the things which we are to practice)." - Thomas Watson

"Our object should not be to have scripture on our side but to be on the side of scripture; and however dear any sentiment may have become by being long entertained, so soon as it is seen to be contrary to the Bible, we must be prepared to abandon it without hesitation." William Symington.

“Since most things mankind learns is from books, why would men say that God's book is untrue? The burden of proof is on them, for they are saying some other writings by Bible denying atheists are more true than the Bible. They are actually saying in effect that other books are greater, more accurate, more infalliable than the Bible. The Bible claims to be the word of God; accurate; infalliable. Put it to the test!” -Charles Woodruff

 “If we compare the present state of the New Testament text with that of any other ancient writing, we must... declare it to be marvelously correct. Such has been the care with which the New Testament has been copied - a care which has doubtless grown out of true reverence for its holy words.... The New Testament is unrivaled among ancient writings in the purity of its test as actually transmitted and kept in use.” Benjamin Warfield

 "Compare Scripture with Scripture. False doctrines, like false witnesses, agree not among     themselves."- William Gurnall
    Published by Charles Woodruff- email: oursong2000@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

DO YOU KNOW CHRIST BY PERSONAL REVELATION?-W.F. BELL



“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 16:15-17).

The most important question you could ever be asked is simply this: Do you in reality know the living Christ? The question is not, Are you religious? — Are you a church member? — Do you read the Bible? You may be very religious, yet not know Christ in the heart. You may be a loyal church member, a regular reader of God's Word, a person who “says” their prayers, or one who loves to study religious books and doctrine. But, these soul-searching questions still remain — Have you ever seen yourself a lost, vile sinner before a holy God? Have you ever been stripped of your self-righteousness and laid low in the dust of humility? Have you ever viewed by faith the glorious person of the Lord Jesus Christ, all because of a direct and personal revelation to you of God the Holy Ghost?

Sinner friend, I plead with you to not be deceived. Do not rest in your religious creeds, your attendance of religious worship, your so-called righteous acts. Rest only in Christ! Look only to him! Be not content with any religion if Christ is not the center and substance of it! Do not be deceived by man-made religion! Seek that which comes by divine revelation, as that which Simon Peter had in the opening Scripture. Simon was blessed to know who Christ was by a personal revelation to him of God the Father! This must also be true of us.

If Christ Jesus is not known to you by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, he is not known as the very wellspring of blessedness to the soul. If you only know Jesus by no more than the world knows, than the learned among men know, you have not the real blessing. If you only know the Lord of glory by what you have found out yourself, in reading or in talking to others, unaided by the Father's drawing power, you are not blessed with true salvation. If you know no more of Christ than what flesh and blood has revealed to you, you are nothing more than a Pharisee or Sadducee — religious, but lost without God — a separatist or a rationalist, but not a recipient of revelation and regeneration. May the eternal Jehovah reveal to you your true and undone condition before him!

Among the vast religious throngs of this earth there is to be found the true people of God. These chosen of the Father are also redeemed by the Son, and quickened by the Spirit. The elect of God know by deep acknowledgement of their sin that they are blind and ignorant by nature. The true children of God have been made humble; they confess their total dependence upon the grace and mercy of Christ, and place their entire confidence and faith in his meritorious righteousness and shed blood. In the Lord Jesus Christ alone do “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Reader, what do you know of this once-crucified, yet now living Christ? Does his name bring gladness to your heart? Do you love the fragrance of his person? Is he more than just a religious leader to you? Beware of misty and cloudy views of King Jesus! Beware that you only have a head knowledge of him! Make sure that Christ is your Surety, your Substitute, your Sacrifice, your Savior. Beware of any religion which belittles him, or that does not exalt him as the only way to God.

Do you believe in Jesus by an inward discernment of him? Do you clearly see him as the Son of man and the Son of God? Is he definitely your Lord and Savior, your propitiation (satisfaction) before God? If you know him thus you have not learned this by the instruction of men. You have had a direct and personal revelation made to you and in you by the Father concerning who Jesus Christ really is (Galatians 1:16).

It is only when the Lord himself deals with you, taking you in his powerful hand that you are truly taught who Christ is. You may have heard about Jesus, but you only know him as “the Son of the living God” when illuminated and quickened by God the Spirit. Jesus came forth from God, and the power to know Christ comes forth from God also. If you have Christ, you have the new birth! If you have Christ, you have eternal life! If you have not Christ, you have nothing but dead, lifeless, counterfeit religion! Said our blessed Master: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). May divine power draw you this day, poor sinner! May you see Christ in all his beauty! May you come to worship and serve only him! Christ is to be seen, but in the light which he himself supplies. May that light shine unto you even now, and to our glorious God be all the glory!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

THE LITERALTRUTH


                                             CHARLES WOODRUFF

You cannot believe everything you read; nor everything you see; nor everything you hear; neither everything you think you know. One of the supposed dilemmas of man is “the quest for truth.” All of us may have asked at one time or another “why am I here?” We can certainly see that in the present difficulties of America, and for that matter, the entire world, it is almost impossible to discern the real truth. For instance, how did the economy get in the present mess? Why were we told that gas prices a couple of summers ago were so high because China and India, etc. were developing rapidly and using much more oil now? Now that gas prices are sinking, does this mean that China, India and other developing nations have stopped developing? What is the literal truth?

We were not told the truth about illegal aliens. We are told that the illegals are not taking jobs from American citizens, that they are mostly taking jobs no American wants to do. Ask an American construction worker if this is the truth and see what answer you get. Also, what about the border fence that was approved and started almost five years ago. Is it finished yet? No, and we are told there were many technical problems involving buying border land that caused the problems. What about “global warming?” Are we being told the truth? We are told the pollution from industrialized nations is the cause of temperatures rising and polar ice melting. I have great respect for scientists. I wanted to be one when I was young. But we definitely are not being told the whole truth regarding global warming and its dangers. There is a political agenda here. It is to penalize the productive nations. Actually they cannot give a good explanation why the USA has had a very cold autumn and winter this year. Does that appear to be “global warming?”

One thing is sure; the politicians are not going to give us the truth. The news media is not going to give us the truth. Hollywood is not going to give us the truth. Where is the truth? The same place it has always been --the word of God! That old despised book that has been ridiculed, hated, dissected and diluted is still the place of straight answers. Even more so, the old book tells us the truth about THE TRUTH, Jesus Christ. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Some have said “How do we know that Jesus really existed?” Well, we could ask how we know that George Washington, or Abraham Lincoln, or Napoleon Bonaparte, or even Princess Diana even existed since they are not here now on earth in the flesh. There is as much or more proof that Jesus Christ existed, and that He still exists today, than any of these other persons, or anyone else you can name. Just one proof is the transformed lives of millions, both today and in the past. Jesus said; “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). In spite of attempts over the centuries to destroy Christ’s church, it still exists and grows. Even in China where it was persecuted, and hated by the communist regime for over 50 years, the church is vibrant with millions of professed believers. The truth prevailed in spite of persecution.

Yes, literal truth exists in the person of Christ and His word. “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11-12). Also, this about Jesus Christ and His book: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things (our needs, such as food, housing clothing etc...) shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
                                                 
                                                  THE SCRIPTURE                                                     
"The Scripture is both the breeder and feeder of grace. How is the convert born, but by `the word of truth'? (James 1:18). How doth he grow, but by `the sincere milk of the Word.'?"
(1 Peter 2:2)   - Thomas Watson