Monday, March 25, 2019

Strengthened By Grace Podcast - Episode 79 - "Good Works and Sanctification (Part 2)"



Our host, Matthew Dowling, completes a discussion of sanctification and good works. What role do good works play in the Christian life? Do they merit salvation? No, of course not. But they are a fruit of saving work in the life of a believer!

Joseph: The Suffering Servant

Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams” (Genesis 37:20).

Joseph was not only a faithful servant, he was also a suffering servant. As a matter of record, it was his faithfulness that brought about his suffering. His brothers hated him because he reported their sins to their father, as was his duty. They hated the symbol of his responsibility, which was the robe his father had lavished upon him. They hated and rejected his dreams, which showed God’s plan for them. Infuriated they captured him and sought to kill him. Reuben, however, persuaded them to delay their plans, and after they had cooled down a bit, Judah came up with the idea of selling him into slavery.

As we have seen, Joseph’s faithfulness in serving others and his expertise in interpreting the Word of God (which came to him in dreams) brought him to the attention of Pharaoh. Soon Joseph was exalted to the viceroy of Egypt. In the providence of God, there came a great famine over the whole world, and Jacob sent his remaining sons to Egypt to buy grain.

The brothers of Joseph came to Egypt and met with a strange and severe man who was in charge of all the grain. He accused them of being spies and interrogated them. They told him about their family and that they had a little brother at home. This was news to Joseph because he had been sold into slavery before the birth of Benjamin. The strange man told them that he would sell them grain, but only if one of them would stay behind under guard, and that they would have to bring their youngest brother along next time. Looking at one another, the guilty brothers said to themselves, “God is punishing us because we ignored Joseph’s cries” (Genesis 42:1–24).

When the brothers returned with Benjamin, Joseph gave extra favors to him to see if the brothers would abuse him the way they had abused Joseph. Seeing that they had changed their ways, Joseph revealed himself to them and invited all of them to come to Egypt and live there (Genesis 43–45). Joseph had suffered much, but out of his suffering and faithfulness had come salvation for his people.

When we find ourselves in trouble it is easy to conclude that we are suffering for the sake of righteousness. Sometimes, however, we suffer because of justice, because we deserve to suffer. Ask God to help you discern the difference and to act in such a way that you suffer only for Him, not because of sin.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

How to Keep Calm in an Age of Anger

We’re getting angrier, about a lot of things. It’s the dominant emotion in western societies on a daily basis. That hothouse of anger–social media–is even more ablaze with rage. Frustration and moral outrage explode against a great deal we cannot control or even influence. It’s an emotional contagion where seeing people express anger drives others to display it too. And our own irritability works in the same way. Every outburst legitimizes the next. How much of this is righteous anger? And how can we resist sinful anger? We need to know.

One of the clearest verses of the Bible dealing with anger is actually a command telling us to be angry. But the full command is “Be…angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). It goes on to forbid letting “the sun go down on your wrath”. It gives us counsel about keeping righteous anger and killing sinful anger. Later in the same chapter (verse 31), we learn about the different types of sinful anger that people choose to express. James Fergusson has especially helpful reflections on these verses in the following updated extract.

1. How to Identify Sinful Anger

Sinful anger or unjust desire of revenge is, when anger is kindled rashly (Proverbs 14:17) for no cause, (Matthew 5:22) or for a very light one (1 Corinthians 13:5). Or it is when it exceeds just bounds (Genesis 49:7).

There are different types of anger. They are brought together in verse 31 which lists bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice.

(a) Bitterness

This is the lowest degree of sinful anger. It includes all secret, hidden displeasure and alienation of affection. It has more of discontent and grudge than of revenge in it (Psalm 37:1).

(b) Wrath

This is a fierce, impetuous rage, and passionate commotion of the heart and affections due to a felt sense of a perceived or real injury. It prevents and obstructs the use of reason, which being soon up, is as soon allayed, 1 Sam. 25:21, 22. with 32.

(c) Angry Shouting

Clamour means boisterous words, loud menaces, and other inordinate speech. These are the black smoke by which the fire of anger and wrath which has been kindled within first manifests itself (Acts 15:39).

(d) Evil Speaking

Evil speaking (or blasphemy as the word means) is a further fruit of wrath and anger. This is a disgraceful and insulting speech by which someone who is incensed seeks to stain the reputation of the person who has done them (real or perceived) wrong (1 Samuel 20:30).

(e) Malice

Malice is rooted in anger and continuing wrath. It makes the person consumed by it daily intent on all opportunities for revenge. They are completely implacable until they get their vindictive inclination satisfied (Romans 1:31)

Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30). They greatly darken the work of grace in the heart by which He seals believers. There are no sins more opposed to the fruit of the Spirit (mentioned in Galatians 5:22). Where such sins are given way to, grace must be in decay. Thus, the apostle immediately adds to the command not to grieve the Spirit “let all bitterness, wrath, and anger be put away”. This implies that otherwise, they would grieve the Spirit.

Sin is so subtle and we are so weak and unskilled in resisting it that when it gets in, one sin makes way for a further. Thus, it goes from bad to worse. The wisest course, therefore, is to oppose it in good time, lest it gathers strength by our indulging it. The apostle outlines various degrees of sinful anger. The first makes way for the next and the next is always worse and a step nearer to the worst height.

2. How to Have Righteous Anger

Anger is a natural affection, planted in our first parents at the first creation. Indeed it was also found in Christ Himself, who was without sin (Mark 3:5). It is not in itself a sin therefore, nor always sinful. As it is in its own nature it is indifferent. It becomes good or evil, according to its reasons, causes, objects, and purposes. Sometimes and in some situations being angry is a necessary duty for a Christian to be angry e.g. when anger flows from zeal to God’s glory (John 2:15 with v17) and love to our brother (Proverbs 13:24).

It is righteous when it arises from just and weighty causes. Chief of these is God’s dishonor, whether by our own sins (2 Corinthians 7:11) or the sins of others (Exodus 32:19). It is incensed not so much against the person of our brother as against his sin. It is therefore against sin in ourselves, as much as in others (Matthew 7:5). This is clear when it does not hinder other duties of love which we owe to the person with whom we are angry (Exodus 32:19 with 32). It is also clear when it does not impair our access to God in prayer (1 Timothy 2:8). We must not go beyond the bounds of our calling, nor should we give way to private revenge in pursuing our anger (Luke 9:54-55). When the reasons, purposes, and behavior are right, anger is praiseworthy and commendable. The apostle commands anger in the right circumstances.

2. How to Restrain Sinful Anger

It is easy to pass from moderation to excess in our natural affections of joy, fear, grief, desire. This goes from what is lawful and in some cases necessary, to what is sinful (Psalm 2:11). When anger is given way to it is most difficult to keep within and not exceed bounds and not to exceed. This happens by transgressing one or other of the limitations of righteous anger mentioned before. He cautions not to sin when we are angry.

3. How to Watch Against Sinful Anger

It is possible (even in the child of God) for lawful anger to degenerate into sinful wrath. The mind is embittered and accordingly rages against the person who has done the wrong. But the child of God must not have an implacable spirit which cannot be exhausted by a length of time. If their anger at any time should exceed bounds and turn to wrath or bitterness of spirit, he exhorts them to suppress it speedily. They must suppress it even before the sun goes down, not cherishing that evil or indulging themselves in it for the space of one night. The apostle supposes they may have anger but they must not maintain it long. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath”.

It is not enough for Christians to refrain from the venting of their passions in their inordinate expressions and actions; but they must also, and in order to their refraining from those, set about the rectifying of their inward affections and most secret distempers of their spirit: otherwise, if the flame of anger and wrath doth burn within, it will most readily send up a black smoke of clamor and evil speaking, to the offense of others: for, Paul forbids not only clamor and evil-speaking but also all bitterness, wrath, and anger.

4. How to Deal With Sinful Anger

The child of God is not to be discouraged and give up resisting sin. Nor are they to run away when sin prevails. But, having received a new supply of strength from Christ (2 Corinthians 12:8) by exercising faith in prayer, they must attack sin afresh with renewed courage. In doing this they may recover what was previously lost. Paul instructs that if their anger should at any time be excessive they should set themselves against it without delay and not let the sun go down on their wrath.

It is not sufficient to suppress and weaken our sinful corruptions. We ought to aim at, and rest satisfied with nothing less than totally subduing them. We should remove them by pulling them up by the very roots. He says “Let all bitterness etc….be put away”. The word put away means: “Let it be lifted up, and so destroyed”.

Sins of the tongue and outward actions are to be put away and put to death as well as sins of the heart. They are in some ways more dangerous (Matthew 18:7 because more dangerous to others. They always flow from a defiled heart (Matthew 15:19) and make it worse than it was.

Conclusion

In a time of moral outrage, we need to be clear about true righteous anger and how and when it should be expressed. The people of God also have an opportunity in an angry age to show the grace of Christ. Watching against and dealing with sinful anger marks out believers as different, especially when we do not join the bandwagon of vitriol. It’s extremely hard to deal with sinful anger, it just seems to come from nowhere. But the more that we seek grace through prayer take steps against it the less we will be defeated by it.  The Holy Spirit who is grieved with all forms of sinful anger has been given to help us put it to death.

Friday, March 22, 2019

PreacherCast Podcast - Mar. 22, 2019 - "The Terminology of the Atonement"



This is the March 22, 2019 edition of THE PREACHER CAST, and today we'll be looking at a number of news items of great importance...

1) World remains silent as Muslim terrorists kill hundreds of Christians in Nigeria

2) Scientists call for moratorium on germline editing

3) Azusa Pacific Christian College Reverses Ban on Same-Sex Student Relationships, Again

4) Planned Parenthood CEO Says Infanticide “Doesn’t Exist” – Donald Trump Responds

5) LifeWay to Close All of Its Stores This Year

6) Francis Chan Explains Why He’ll Share a Stage With Benny Hinn

I will have a book review for you of Rachel Hollis' "Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals"

And then lastly in the PreacherCast's MAIN SEGMENT, we'll continue our discussion of the Atonement of Christ by looking at the terminology of the Atonement.

Joseph, the Model Servant

"Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned" (Genesis 39:4).

Joseph is put before us in Genesis as a model man. Though we can be sure that Joseph sinned many times, as we all do, no sins are recorded. There are two aspects of his life we shall look at in these studies. Today we consider Joseph as a model servant, and Monday we shall look at Joseph as a suffering servant.

Joseph comes before us first as a faithful son. When he saw his older brothers abusing their responsibilities, he told his father about it. Jacob came to favor Joseph and rewarded him with a special cloak that signified he had a special position in the family. He even became his father’s confidant (Genesis 37:2–3, 14).

His brothers hated him for this and one day they seized him. First, they tore his robe, which as a gift had infuriated them, and then they sold him into slavery. In bondage, however, Joseph soon proved to be a valuable servant. So careful and hardworking was he that his master, Potiphar, put him in charge of his entire household.

Later Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but he refused her. He told her that it would be a sin against God, and also that her husband had entrusted the household to him and he was not going to abuse that trust. She falsely accused him of rape, but apparently, Potiphar did not really believe her, because instead of putting Joseph to death he simply put him in his prison, where he was shortly elevated to the post of the assistant warden (Genesis 39; compare 39:1 and 40:3–4).

Faithful service meant two things for Joseph. First, it meant understanding and keeping God’s laws; and second, it meant careful and responsible obedience to the desires of the earthly authorities over him. So far, however, such faithful service had landed Joseph in slavery and then in prison. God, however, sees everything. God arranged for two of Pharaoh’s servants to spend time in prison, where they discovered that Joseph was a man of excellent character and intimate acquaintance with God’s Word. It took a while, but eventually, this encounter led Joseph to stand before Pharaoh and to become viceroy of all Egypt (Genesis 40–41).

Joseph trusted that the invisible, good hand of God’s providence would reward his life of modeled integrity. Eventually, although through difficulty and pain, he was honored by the God he honored. Model Joseph’s patience, trust, and integrity to a world which scorns such virtues.