Monday, September 15, 2014

What In the World Is Going On? Ears Being “Tickled?” Read and Study your Bible by Dr. Gary Dromi



About seven years ago I was blessed to serve as the Associate Pastor at a church where the Senior Pastor believed in the absolute Sovereignty of God and the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, (two traits which are becoming more and more scarce amongst teaching pastors).  He and I were/are theologically on the same page even though we attended different seminaries.  Almost every day we would have great theological discussions about God, His Word and why it is that so many people are willing to go to the local “Christian” bookstore, where they will spend a lot of money, to buy and read someone else’s opinion about all things theological instead of simply reading their own Bibles.  This is a most puzzling practice among modern-day churchgoers. 

One of the other topics that we would discuss is the high level of Biblical illiteracy that is found among so many of those who attend a church of any denomination.  When asked to open their Bibles to the book of Hosea, most either have never heard of it or have no idea where to find it.  There was a time when memorizing the books of the Bible and where to find them was a common practice among professing believers.  Sadly, that is no longer the case.

At the same time, ask them about some of the most popular televangelists (male or female) and their latest books, and they will joyfully tell you how good it makes them “feel” to have read it in their “Bible study” group.  Seems a little peculiar to attend a “Bible study” group and not study the Bible, doesn’t it? 

In Jesus’ high priestly prayer for His disciples He prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth,” (NASB John 17:17).  What is it about that declaration from Jesus that causes people to seek spiritual “truth” from other writers?  Is it a function of poor exegesis and teaching from the pulpit?  Is it a function of laziness on the part of those who attend church?  Is it a manifestation of lukewarmness?  Is it because too many people are looking for a self-centered “experience” instead diligently studying their Bibles to find out the truth about themselves and how much they need Jesus?  Maybe it’s a combination of all those things and the direct influence of our culture and its false teachers.

Reading books written by other authors is not necessarily bad.  There are some outstanding, godly authors out there.  But one must be wise and discerning.  The filter through which all other writings must pass is God’s Word.  If, for any reason, the words of other authors disagrees with the Scriptures, then it’s the authors who are wrong, not God’s Word.  Currently, there is a movement in the other direction, that is, man is right and “God wasn’t clear enough in His Word, so we need to help Him.”  

A major part of the problem relates back to the lack of Biblical literacy, which only makes it more difficult for people to be wise and discerning when evaluating what has been written by other authors.

The verses below clearly lay out why reading and studying the Bible is so important.  It’s a practice that ALL true believers need to either return to or improve upon.
 
 This first verse is Peter’s response to Jesus as He asks His disciples if they, too, want to stop following Him,
Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life.  ‘And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’” (NASB:  John 6:68-69).

The next verse is the great apostle Paul encouraging his spiritual son, Timothy, to,
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth,” (NASB 2 Tim. 2:15).

We should all pay close attention to Paul’s instruction to Timothy and do what Paul tells Timothy to do. 

May the Lord bless you as you diligently read and study His Word.

 By His Grace,
Dr. Gary T. Dromi

Monday, September 8, 2014

LIVING TODAY IN LIGHT OF THE FUTURE DAY OF THE LORD - A STUDY OF 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11 (Part 2) by Dr. Paul Benware



          In the previous study we observed that knowledge of the future ought to cause us to take appropriate action in the present.  So, if I learned that the new computer I needed to get would cost $250 less during the coming Saturday sale, I would make preparations to buy it at the Saturday sale, and not on Friday or Sunday. This is normal and natural.  As believers, we have been informed about coming future events and the Apostle Paul encourages us to take appropriate action right now.
            In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, the Apostle reminded believers of the coming “day of the Lord” (5:1-3) and then spoke of the appropriate actions believers should take as a result (5:4-11).  In the previous study we discussed 5:1-3 and in this study we look at 5:4-11.
THE CHILDREN OF THE LORD AND COMING EVENTS (5:4-11).
The Status of Believers (5:4-5).  We, as believers in Jesus, do not have the same status as unbelievers.  They are “in darkness” but we are not. The phrase “in darkness” has to do with the sphere in which a person lives and the phrase “of darkness” refers to the nature of the unbeliever; something true of us before trusting Christ.  “Darkness” is the realm of Satan and his kingdom (Col. 1:13; Eph. 4:18; 6:12).  The person who believes in Jesus is taken out of that realm and is placed in the realm of light.  As Peter declares, by His grace we have been called “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
            Because we are in the light and not in darkness, the day of the Lord will not “overtake” us.  This powerful verb means “to seize with hostile intent”; and it teaches that because believers are not in darkness, the Tribulation will not lay hold of believers and will not catch them by surprise.  Why?  Because believers in the Church will not be present on the earth when this takes place.  It is important to note in the verses that follow that Paul is clear that believers can live badly and be spiritual asleep.  And since that is possible, then we can see that a “sleeping” believer would likely be very surprised by the sudden birth pains---if it were not for the fact that no church age believer will be on the earth.  The Apostle stresses in 5:5 that every single believer has been removed from the realm of darkness (“are all sons of light”) which eliminates the possibility that any will experience the birth pains of the Tribulation. (Note that the word “day” in 5:5 is without the article and is, therefore, not speaking of “the day of the Lord”).  People of “light/day” will not experience the wrath of God in the tribulation.
The Exhortation to Believers (5:6-8).  Next three exhortations target believers: (1) don’t sleep; (2) be alert; and (3) be sober.  First, the Apostle warns believers not to be sleeping (a present tense emphasizing on going present action).  This word for “sleep” is different than the one found in 4:13-18 where it there speaks of the death of a believer.  Here it speaks of moral and spiritual indifference.  This is the true status of the unbeliever but, unfortunately, it can also be true of a believer in Jesus.  If this is not possible, then we must ask why Paul exhorts believers not to be this way!  So, contrary to the way it ought to be, believers can be sluggish and indifferent to spiritual and moral matters.  Unbelievers are that way but we are not to be like them (see Rom. 13:12-14). 
Second, the believer is to be alert. This word has the idea of being wide awake and watching like a sentry on duty.  This echoes the Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:42.  We are to be observing the world around us while keeping one eye on the heavens from which the Savior comes (Phil 3:20-21).  We are to live with the conscious expectation of the Lord’s return.  The emphasis here is not simply about one’s theological position but also one’s attitude of expectancy.  We can become dulled by the passage of time and the Lord’s seeming delay and become careless. 
Third, believers are to be sober; that is, we are to be rational and aware of our condition and the conditions around us.  A person who is drunk (not sober) is often completely unaware of events swirling around him and which could dramatically impact him (and very often does).  In 5:7, Paul describes the unbelieving world which is notoriously careless in the way it lives.  They are spiritually asleep and intoxicated (by many things in culture, not just alcohol) because they are of the night.
In 5:8, the metaphor changes somewhat as we are exhorted to be like good soldiers, alert and prepared for war.  We are to put on (1) the breastplate of love and faith, and (2) the helmet of the hope of salvation.  The metaphor is the same as Ephesians 6, though the armor in view is different. As in Ephesians 6, it is the responsibility of the believer to put these things on.  The breastplate is made up of faith and love.  Faith is our belief and proper response to the Lord and what He has said.  We understand from His Word that terrible days lie ahead but we are not to be fearful or anxious because we have His promise that we are not going to experience the birth pains.  Love looks at our proper response towards others.  We are not to be self-indulgent and self-centered (this would be part of our being “sober”) as we live in the end times. The helmet protects the head and guards our thought life. Salvation has the primary idea of “deliverance.”  In this case it is our deliverance from the coming “day of the Lord.”  Hope refers to our confident expectation.  We can know that we are delivered because we belong to the Lord Jesus who will not allow His bride to experience end time wrath. 
The Deliverance of Believers (5:9-10).  Our confidence in being delivered from the day of the Lord is a reasonable thing because God has declared two things: (1) we are not destined for wrath; and (2) we are destined for final deliverance.  First, God has not destined the believer to experience His future, eschatological wrath.  Why?  Because the believer’s sin (all of it) has been removed and God is now propitiated (satisfied) by the death of Jesus.  Christ’s death accomplished once and for all the deliverance of those who believe.  There is no need for “purgatory” of any kind, including being “purified” by the Tribulation.  Second, believers are destined for the final phase of their salvation; that of glorification which includes that resurrection body (given at the rapture---1 Cor. 15:51-53).  God will finish what He has begun in us.  It is important to observe that the only agent of this salvation is Jesus Christ (5:9) and that we believers are not mentioned as contributing in any way to our own salvation. The deliverance from the time of God’s wrath (the tribulation) is Jesus removing His people via the rapture event.
            All believers will be part of this final deliverance.  It is instructive to note (in 5:10) that two kinds of believers are spoken of; those who are awake and those who are asleep.  As noted earlier, believers can live poorly and be asleep; that is, they can be spiritually and morally indifferent.  That, however, makes no difference at the rapture event, as all believers in Jesus will be taken.  This one verse pretty well destroys the “partial rapture” view, which holds that only godly believers who are walking with the Lord will be taken at the rapture, while the carnal Christian will be left to go into the tribulation.  It should be said that immediately following the rapture will be the Judgment Seat of Christ and there the “sleepy” believer will answer for the way he has lived.
The Encouragement of Believers (5:11).  The section closes with the exhortation to keep on encouraging one another with these truths.  And what a wonderful exhortation it is! We are to comfort one another with the truth of being with Christ; of our final salvation; and of exemption from Divine wrath.  We are constantly (present tense) to be reminding each other of these ultimate realities.
            What shall we do with these exhortations by God’s Apostle.  First, it might be a good idea to take a few moments and determine (with the Spirit’s help, of course) what my true spiritual state is---sleeping? Alert? Sober?   Second, ask the tough question of yourself, “do I love His appearing?”  And third, do I speak often encouraging other believers with this great truth of the Lord’s return and His promise of final deliverance?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Is God Handicapped? by Dr. Robert Lightner

 Imagine it! An increasing number of “evangelicals” have left their church ministries and have become a part of what they call “Open Theism.” What do they mean by that designation? They insist and are spreading abroad that the God of the Bible knows all the past and all the present but He does not know the future because it has not happened yet. In other words, their God does not know how humans will respond to future decisions that they will be called upon to make. Their God waits for man to see what and how he will respond to issues before He learns how we humans decided. If that is the case, God is indeed handicapped.
 

    In contrast to such a view, the Bible tells us that the triune God of Scripture not only knows perfectly the past and the present but all the future as well. If the God of “Open Theism” does not know the future, how are we to understand all the prophecies of Scripture yet unfulfilled?
 

    The Bible declares that God knows from eternity past what will be in eternity future (Isaiah 46:9-10; Acts 15:18). He knows everything in nature (Psalm 147:4; Matthew 10:29). He knows the ways of all people (Psalm 139:2-4; Proverbs 5:21; Amos 9:2-4) and He knows believers in a special way as His own (2 Timothy 2:19). The believer’s sorrows (Exodus 3:7), needs (Matthew 6:8, 32), and details of life (Matthew 10:30 are all known by God. He knows it all! If He does not, He is not the God of the Bible!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Prophecy of the Seed by John Pappas, ThD

There is great confusion today concerning the over-all theme of the Bible. While there are some who overemphasize the salvation aspect, calling the overall theme, “the progress of redemption,” others over-emphasize the kingdom aspect of Christ. The Scriptures themselves testify that the whole of the Old Testament speaks about Christ (Luke 24:27; 1 Pet. 1:10-11; Rev. 19:10). Indeed, Jesus testifies to this fact as He explains who He is to the disciples saying, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

 The theme of the Bible is Christ – period. This involves both His first and second comings. In order to clarify the theme of the Bible, it is imperative to look at the first prophecy in Scripture concerning Christ - what is called the proteuangelium (Greek lit. “first gospel”) of Genesis 3:11-15. 

 As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God in the Garden, the Lord provides this prophecy: 

 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"  12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."  14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."  (Gen 3:11-15)

 Paul attributes fulfillment of this prophecy to Christ in Romans 16:20. He ascribes this Seed to Christ and His victory over Satan and death (cf. Isa. 25:8; Matt. 12:20;  John 12:31; 1 Cor. 15:54). Who then is the seed of Genesis 3 and what does the Old Testament have to say about the Seed of the woman?  

The Prophecy of the Seed

The Lord Jesus Christ is the prophesied Seed. This Seed has fulfillment in the incarnation of Christ who became flesh. The central verse for the incarnation is John 1:14, which defines the eternal Word became flesh:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 Of course a “seed” implies a lineage and this lineage is traced in Luke to Adam and the Seed of the woman of Genesis 3 (Luke 3:38).  However, it is the prophetic Seed of Abraham that we find the Seed of the promise that is satisfied in Christ. There are two important prophetic seed testimonies in Scripture: Abraham and David.  

16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)

 42 "Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" (John 7:42)

and,
 

Romans 1:3:  Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.

 Notice in Romans 1:3, the Son existed and was made according to the flesh the prophetic Seed of David. The reference here is to the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12-14, where the prophet Nathan proclaims to David:

 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. “   

  As you can see, the Seed has two aspects: one based on the Abrahamic covenant wherein the blessing portion includes salvation that is extended to all nations; the other aspect is kingly wherein a throne for Israel will be established forever.  

 The Tender Shoot

This Seed also has an important prophetic metaphor called the Tender Shoot of Isaiah 53 – the Suffering Servant of the Lord:    

 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (Isa. 53:1-5)

This prophecy is said to be fulfilled in Christ by the apostle John in 12:37-38. The main point of the Suffering Servant is Priestly not Kingly. The Suffering Servant came, as John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  The Suffering Servant that Isaiah proclaimed is fulfilled in Jesus in His first coming:

"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.  47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”  (John 12:46-48)

 The Branch

In Scripture, there is also the Branch, which speaks of the kingly aspect of the Son. Isaiah talks about the Rod of Jesse. Who was Jesse? Jesse was the father of David (Ps. 72:20). Notice what Isaiah says:

 1There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.  3 His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;  4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.  5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.  6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.  (Isa 11:1-6)

 Jeremiah also speaks about this Branch as he writes:

 5 "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.  6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer 23:5-6)

 Finally, Zechariah prophesied concerning the Branch:

12 Then speak to him, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD;  13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”  (Zec. 6:12-13)

 As can be seen from the verses of the Tender Shoot and the Branch, this is none other than the Son of God – Jesus Christ, the Anointed Savior. Jesus is the Son of Man, the Son of God, and the Son of David.  All three of these expressions relate to His first and second comings. We cannot have the King without the King coming in the flesh as the Suffering Servant to deal with the sin issue and His completed work on the cross. Likewise, we cannot claim Him King simply by proclaiming the cross; there will be a future day when the King will return to deal with the nation Israel and the nations of the world and sit on the throne of David.  



Monday, August 18, 2014

Setting Up for the “Peace-maker” by Dr. Gary Dromi



How many times have the various nations of the world tried to broker a peace treaty between the nation of Israel and her numerous enemies?  United States presidents have tried repeatedly; Egyptian officials have tried; the United Nations has tried; European leaders have tried.  Still, no peace.  The fighting goes on.   

To be sure, there have been “cease-fires,” some longer than others.  But what everyone appears to want is a “long-lasting peace,” one that doesn’t need to be repeatedly brokered every few days, weeks, month or years. 

Once again, it appears as if God is aligning the nations on the world’s stage to carry out His prophetic Word.  And His Word tells us exactly what will happen and how it will happen.

The Book of Daniel is filled with prophecies about the end-times.  Teaching pastors would do well to spend a considerable amount of time reading it, understanding it and sharing it with their congregations.  We are living in one of the most amazing times in all of human history and the prophet Daniel helps us to catch a glimpse of what’s yet to come.

There is not enough time or space to do an exhaustive study or the entire book of Daniel.  So this will be concise and to the point.  Daniel 9:26-27 reads, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.  27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of  abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

There is much here to understand and I encourage you to do an in-depth study of the entire book of Daniel.  But for the purpose of this article, let’s focus on “the prince who is to come” and “he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week.” 

The “prince who is to come” is the Antichrist who comes on the scene at the start of the “the great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19; Rev.7:14), also known as “Daniel’s 70th week.”  

This prince “will make firm” (confirm; cause to prevail) a “covenant with the many,” that is, with nation of Israel “for one week” (a seven year agreement).  Daniel goes on (later in his prophecy) to tell us that three and one half years into this “covenant” the Antichrist will break his agreement with Israel and cause the “abomination of desolation” against the Jewish religion.  This violation will ruin what Jews regard as sacred, namely their holy temple and the honoring of God’s presence there.  Jesus refers directly to this in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:15).
 
 Some questions to ponder: 
1.       Isn’t it fascinating how God has already told us what’s coming?  
2.       Isn’t it fascinating that the nation of Israel has said repeatedly, “We just want to live in peace.” 
3.       Isn’t it fascinating that the “peace-brokers” are trying to find a “long-lasting” solution?

We should not try to establish times or dates.  We do not know when this “prince” will come on to the scene and make his “firm covenant” with Israel.  But we can observe how very much a “long-lasting” peace is desired.

Last question (for now): 
4. What will be the circumstances that will cause the Jewish people, to agree to this particular covenant, with this particular individual, when they have been so wary of all the others?

 
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:  “May they prosper who love you,” (Psalm 122:6).




Dr. Gary Dromi currently resides in Springdale, AR. He has been in full-time ministry for over thirteen years. He holds a B.A., M.A. and a D.Min. in Biblical Studies. While on sabbatical, he completed his Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling and is now available for pulpit fill, seminars and a full-time pastoral position. He can be reached at: provrbs3_5_6@att.net