Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Misdirection and Misapprehension

November 6, 2013

In my teens I was interested in conjuring.  I used to perform at church concerts and socials.  However, when I was converted at the age of sixteen I gave up conjuring.  I felt it sat uneasily with my new-found faith. Conjuring is all about deception.  One of the main techniques in conjuring is misdirection.  The performer directs attention away from what he is really doing.  He pretends to be doing one thing but is really doing another.  This misdirection is intentional and deliberate.

Whether it is realized by its adherents or not, Covenant Theology involves misdirection.  This is not deliberate and is not intended.  The believers in  Covenant Theology are not engaged in deception, far from it.  They are very sincere.  But they themselves are being deceived by misdirection, and so come to misapprehend what the Bible teaches.  Sometimes, Baptist and  Covenant theologians, influenced by the 1689 Confession, which is largely based upon the Westminster Confession, will use Covenant terminology, such as “the covenant of grace”.  But this is misleading and can lead to misapprehension.

Here are three examples of misdirection:

  1. The misunderstanding of Genesis 3:15.  Covenant theologians refer to this verse as a “covenant promise.”  But this is erroneous and so is misleading.  It is a case of misdirection leading to misapprehension.  Why is this so?  First, because these words are addressed to Satan not Adam.  Second, because the context is curse not covenant.  The word “covenant” is nowhere mentioned in this passage.  Third, this is a threat, or rather a prediction, not a promise.  Certainly, of course, believers recognize in these words to Satan the first hint of the cross, but that is not its main thrust.  Fourth, God does not establish His covenants via Satan; the serpent is not an intermediary between God and man.  Fifth, when God establishes a covenant he always addresses those with whom he is making the covenant, or their representatives.
  2. The misunderstanding of Acts chapter seven and verse 38.  Here, in the AV is a reference to “the church in the wilderness.”  The word translated “church” is ekklesia.”  It expresses the idea of ‘called out ones’, and is properly translated ‘assembly’.  By the translation of this word as “church” in Acts 7:38 it is assumed that the church existed in the wilderness.  But this is another case of misdirection leading to misapprehension.  To see this, note that the same word, “ekklesia” is used of the assembly of citizens in Ephesus in Acts 19:32, 39 and 41.  Should we then call them the church also?  Of course not.  If we translate the word consistently as “assembly, then there is no necessary ecclesiastical connection.  The context then decides which assembly is being referred to.  The church of Jesus Christ, the Christian assembly, was formed at Pentecost.  The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) clearly indicating that this was a future activity.
  3. The third misdirection leading to misapprehension concerns the use of the phrase, “covenant of grace.”  This phrase was coined to refer to God’s overarching purpose of redemption, but it has become misleading.  It gives the impression that there is only one covenant, and so it “papers over the cracks” in Covenant Theology.  But “covenant of grace” is not a biblical phrase.  It is found nowhere in the Bible.  Yet people refer to it as though it were an established fact of history, rather than a theological construct.  In fact it misdirects people’s attention away from the biblical teaching that there is a clear distinction between the various covenants.
    1. For example, the covenant with Abraham was about the land, and God promised a multiplicity of descendants.  That is why the sign of circumcision is relevant to that promise.  A small operation on the male organ of reproduction will be a permanent reminder that God has promised many descendants.
    2. The covenant made with Israel at Sinai was not the same one.  Moses expressly declared that the covenant made at Horeb was not made with the “fathers” (Deut. 5:2, 3).  The distinctive sign of this covenant was the Sabbath (Ex. 31:12-18; cf. Ezekiel 20:12, 20).
    3. In Jeremiah’s prophecy God declares that the New Covenant would be “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers” (Jer. 31:31-34).  In the New Testament this New Covenant is ratified by the Lord Jesus at the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  The distinctive sign is the cup representing Christ’s blood.  Hebrews 8:7 implies that the old covenant was faulty, while verse 15 states that it was obsolete, growing old and ready to vanish away.  The New Covenant is not to be identified with the Old Covenant made with Israel (Compare also 2 Cor. 3”7-18; Gal. 4:21-31; Heb. 7:22; 9:15ff.).

Clearly there is a definite distinction between these covenants, and to gather them together and call them aspects of one covenant using a non-biblical phrase to do so, is misleading.  We must beware of theological misdirection that leads to misapprehension.

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      Study One   THE GOOD NEWS

June 8, 2013

 

The word ‘gospel’ is an old English word meaning ‘good news’. The message Jesus preached was good news. The same message was preached by the apostles. That same good news is the only true message of the Christian Church.

The good news is that the holy, eternal, almighty God, Creator of the universe, desires to bring millions of people into friendship and fellowship with himself, and to give them eternal life, so that they may enjoy fellowship with him here on earth, and then live forever in his presence with great joy and eternal bliss.  We do not deserve this.  In fact we deserve eternal banishment from his presence.  But God is a God of love and mercy as well as justice.  He desires to save us from our sins and from eternal doom.  But there are many barriers preventing this.  The gospel is the good news of how God deals with these barriers and brings us into joyful fellowship with himself.  This is totally undeserved.  It is all of God’s free grace.

You will sometimes hear people speak about “the four Gospels”.  They are referring to the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The full title of these books is, “The Gospel According to Saint Matthew”, “The Gospel According to Saint Mark”, etc. The point is that there is only one Gospel, recorded by four different writers.

The Acts of the Apostles is the history of the beginnings of the early Church. The next twenty-one books in the New Testament are letters written by the apostles to various churches and individuals.  The last book in the New Testament is a book of prophecy written in symbolic language.

The whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, contains God’s revelation to us. It tells us about God, about man and sin, and about God’s way of salvation through Jesus Christ, and many other wonderful things.

What does II Timothy 3:16, 17 tell us about the Bible?

I.          WHAT IS THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT?

 

See first what Jesus preached. Mark 1:14, 15. Compare Matthew 4:23; 9:35. Write down what the good news was about in these verses.

Did the apostles preach it? Acts 28:23,31.

Is the Church still to preach it? Matthew 24:14.

The good news is about the Kingdom of God.

Note:   ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ are really interchangeable terms. Matthew normally uses the latter, as he was writing largely for Jews who avoided using the word ‘God’, if possible. So Matthew used ‘heaven’ instead of ‘God’. See Matthew. 12.28; 19:23, 24; 21:43; and compare Matthew. 5:3 with Luke 6:20.

 

What does the Kingdom of God mean?

‘Kingdom’, in the New Testament, does not mean primarily a place or realm or country over which a king rules. Rather, it means the power to rule, kingship, sovereignty, rule or government. Therefore, ‘the Kingdom of God’ means ‘the rule of God’ or ‘the government of God’.

Why does God want to bring His rule or government into our lives?

Psalm 95:6; 100:3.

Because He has the right to do so, as He made us.

Secondly, because we need His rule. See Isaiah 53:6.

We have all “gone astray” and “turned to his own way”.

What attitudes in the heart of God and in man do the following verses suggest? Matthew 23:37; Rom. 10:21.

This rebelliousness of man is one of the reasons why a most

prominent fact about Jesus Christ in the New Testament is His Lordship.

See Acts 2:32-37; Romans 10:9,10; Col. 2:6.

 

 

N. B. For every once the Bible speaks of Christ as Saviour, it refers to Him twenty-nine times as Lord.

 

Therefore, coming into the Kingdom of God means coming under

the rule or government of God, and this means submitting to the

Lordship of Christ. This results in what, according to the

Scriptures?

A.   Psalm 91

Protection and safety.

B.   Psalm 23

Guidance and provision.

C.   Philippians 2:9-11

Submission to His will.

D.  John 14:15,21

Obedience to His Word.

E.   John 8:32, 36; Romans 8:1,2

Glorious freedom from bondage.

Is He the Lord of your life? (See Luke 6:46)

What phrase is used in the following verses to describe people’s conversion? Acts 6:7; Romans 1:5; 15:18; 16:26.

 

Paul did not speak of ‘decisions’ or ‘professions of faith’, but of becoming obedient to the faith. But the natural man will not submit to Christ’s Lordship, and because of his rebellion and bondage, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God without a work of God in his life.

II.          WHY CANNOT MAN ENTER THE KINGDOM?

 

Look up these verses and write down why man is unable to enter the Kingdom without God’s help. First Corinthians 2:14; Second Corinthians 4:4; John 3:3, 5.

The whole Bible is the record of God’s plan of salvation, progressively unfolded, so that it comes into clearest focus in the New Testament. The Holy Bible is sometimes referred to as the Holy Scriptures. The difference is that Bible means ‘book’ and the word Scriptures means ‘writings’, but the two terms refer to the same volume.

What are the Scriptures able to do? II Timothy 3:15.

The facts are:

  1. Man is in a state of rebellion against God and is consequently under judgment.

Romans 1:16-21; 2:5, 6.

B.   Man is guilty before God and defiled in His sight. Romans 3:9-18, 23.

C.   Man is unable to live as God wants him to. Romans 7:14-24.

Write down two facts about the human heart from Jeremiah 17:9.

Can we save ourselves by our own good deeds? See Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5.

Can we be saved by keeping the Law? Romans 3:20.

Why did Jesus Christ come into the world? I Timothy 1:15.

Now let us consider what God has done about our dilemma.

III.         WHAT GOD HAS DONE TO SAVE US

 

A.   God loves us and sent His Son to save us. John 3:16; Mark

10:45. Write out these verses.

B.   What impresses you about Matthew 27:45, 46?

C.   Do these verses explain it? Galatians 3:13; I Peter 2:24.

D.  What three facts about Jesus Christ did Paul stress in his preaching of the Gospel? I Corinthians 15:3, 4.

1.

2.

3.

E.   What benefits does a believer receive from Christ’s work on the cross? Hebrews 10:4-12, 22; Romans 3:21-25; 5:6-9; Isaiah 53:5, 6.

Atonement; forgiveness; cleansing.

F.   What does the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead do?

1.   John 16:8-11.

He convinces us about our sin.

2.   John 15:26; 16: 13, 14; I Corinthans 2:9, 10.

He draws us to Christ and speaks to us about Him.

3.   Titus 3:5; John 3:3, 5.

 

He regenerates us.  That is, He makes us spiritually alive.

4.   Acts 11:18; Ephesians 2:8, 9.

He enables us to repent and believe.

5.   Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15.

He gives us assurance.

See Romans 14:9 for a summary of the purpose of Christ’s work. Write out this verse.

IV.        WHAT IS OUR PART?

 

What three things are offered in the name of Jesus Christ? Acts 4:12; Luke 24:47

When should we seek salvation? II Corinthians 6:2; Proverbs 27:1.

 

 

If we desire God’s mercy, what two things must we do?.  Proverbs  28:13.

A.

B.

 

 

This rhyme may be helpful:

“Repentance means for me to leave

the sins I did before;

And show that I in earnest grieve

by doing them no more.”

 

If we repent and turn to God, what will He do with our sins? Acts 3:19.

Is repentance an optional extra? Acts 17:30.

Romans 10:9, 10 states two other things we have to do in addition to turning from sin. What are they?

Cf. Matthew 10:32.

EXERCISE

Write out your own summary of the ‘Good News’ on a separate sheet of paper or in a notebook.