Rescuing Verses . . . “He will slay me, I have no hope” (Job 13:15)

“He will slay me; I will have no hope. Yet my ways I will defend to His face.”

In the summer of 1976 which I spent translating Hebrew, I was working on the second reading of Job (a most difficult book to translate!), and I came across this verse. I had always heard it translated “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him.”

The problem is what words in the text do we translate. If we translate what is actually written, we have ‎(לֹא)  “I will have no hope” or perhaps better, “I have no hope.” If we translate the other word that is there (actually in the margin), we have “I will have hope.” Clue: for hundreds of years, following the KJV, translations have rendered the verse: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” This is popular, and if you want to sell Bibles, don’t change favorite verses. It seems to me that the Hebrew is clear that we should translate it as I have in the heading above.

So what is Job’s point? All through Job’s book he is challenging God to meet with him and explain why he is being so sorely chastised. He cannot understand it. He does not deserve it. The Bible is full of verses that present the idea that we suffer because we deserve it and are delivered because of our righteousness. But in Job we see the righteous suffering, and does that not make life hopeless? Who can have hope when he is chastised even when doing righteousness? How does Job’s suffering help us if even the righteous suffer?

When I was about four years old, my grandmother put me on a bus to go see my Aunt Blanch across town. She was waiting for me at the bus stop, and as soon as we got to her house, I said, “Ok, it is time for a devotion.” I took my Bible and told the story of Job chapters one and two. I could not read and had the Bible upside down. But these two chapters, for some reason (Read my little book, Why Is God Always Late?) were my favorite chapters where we read that “while he was yet speaking” another catastrophe happened to Job as his children were killed and his possessions taken. Why did this happen? Job’s “friends” said he deserved it, for God only judged someone who had sinned. Thus, Job must have sinned. And while it is true that we do often suffer because of our personal sins—it is not always. Enter Job. Here we see extreme suffering, for apparently no reason. Job then laments:

“He will slay me; I will have no hope. Yet my ways I will defend to His face.”

God never chastised Job for being honest with the LORD. This is a statement of despair, which we all have from time to time. Many times in my earthly sojourn I’ve run back to Job, and though Job did not sin at first, he did later:

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)

So why did Job suffer? Who began the contest between Job and Satan? It was the LORD! He challenged Satan to consider that His servant Job who loved Him unconditionally, and Satan challenged Him to take away his possessions and his children and then he would curse God. The LORD gave Satan limited authority to test Job for apparently no reason. Job never knew what the context was all about, and then in despair, Job says:

“He will slay me; I will have no hope. Yet my ways I will defend to His face.”

Have you ever felt that way? Surely you have, and it is not wrong to complain to God, who already knows. But Job demonstrates that God Almighty was in control from beginning to end, which gives us great hope:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13 NKJ). AMEN.Ω

 

In the Triune God We Trust

(Article and picture used by permission.)
(26 July 2018)

R. J. Rushdoony

Theologian, philosopher, writer, dedicated his life to the scriptures. Here is his article from many decades ago:

 

The men of our times have no right to complain of the developing problems and crises of our world. When men trust in civil government rather than in God, they will always get more statist power in their lives and less of God’s power. When men trust in controls rather than freedom, they will get more controls unto slavery and less freedom.

What men trust in becomes the power over their lives, and the god a man worships is known by what a man trusts. Our coins still read, “In God we trust,” but men address their hopes and prayers to the national and state capitols and then wonder why God abandons them.

St. Paul declared, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Harvest time is approaching for our age.

Men have sown unbelief, debt-living, a trust in what civil government can do for them rather than faith in God. They have looked to politicians for salvation rather than to Jesus Christ, and they have paid their taxes to the state and neglected their tithes to the Lord. They have given their children everything except godly nurture, and they have been rich to themselves and poor to God. Now, as they begin to see the harvest developing, they ask blindly, “Where did I go wrong?”

They want a harvest of blessings they never sowed for, and they want a Sabbath peace and rest they have always defiled, and they wonder at the results because they are blinded by their sins.

The house without foundations is destined to collapse in the storms of history, whereas the life built upon the rock of ages, Jesus Christ, will emerge secure and strong.

Look to your foundations. What is your life founded on? Where is your trust? Your life depends on it. AMEN.

 

Taken from A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Vol. 3. Get the complete 7-volume set and SAVE now during our Summer Sale! 15% Off + FREE Shipping (US only).

Love Is Commitment

(The Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Th.D.)
(10 July 2018)

A man came to me once and wanted to divorce his wife because he said that he just did not love her anymore. He fell in love with her and then fell out of love, and it was not his fault. We talk a lot about love in Christianity, and rightly so for the Bible says “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Let us consider love by discovering what God’s love is like.

We are called to be Christians in order to share God’s love with others, and though we shall never reach perfection in this life, nevertheless we must strive to demonstrate His love. God did not “fall” in love with us, for we were unlovely, sinful, rebellious creatures who hated Him, but God chose to love us. Then, He made a commitment to us by sending His Son to die for our sins. This commitment was unconditional, which is to say, we did not merit His grace and love. Moreover, He accepts us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. In other words, His love has holiness so that He accepts us as we are so He can make us into what we should be: morally holy like Christ. Let us briefly consider each of these aspects in our relationships with others.

First, love is a choice we make, not an emotion that is forced out of us. Like God, we are to do good to others regardless of how they treat us. God commands us even to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), which means we control our own love, not that someone else does.

Second, God has put us in various relationships such as marriage and church. In these relationships, we take vows of commitment to make the relationships work, which further means the commitment is more important than our personal rights or feelings. Thus, we will not pick others apart in the relationship to find something wrong that will strain the relationship, but we shall build them up. In a church, it is easy—and all too often done—to find something wrong with others. When we do this, we assume the moral high ground, we create an atmosphere of discontent, and we can even cause others to take up our “cause.”

Third, we are to accept people unconditionally, which means they do not have to perform to be accepted. We should, of course, expect people to change over time, but we must be patient with them, as God is with us. The next time you’re at church, look around. What do you see? You see misfits, sinful, imperfect people at every stage of growth in the Christian life, and you’ll see hypocrites—everyone one of them is this way, including you! You’ll see teens who are immature and worldly, and you’ll see teens who are walking with the Lord. You’ll see adults who are late in life and full of themselves, and you’ll see other adults mature in Christ. The church is not a place for perfect people, but God’s hospital for sin sick people who need God’s grace and who need one another. But we are called to be committed to them, to choose to love them, to accept them as they are, to make the relationships work. We are called to love people without requiring them to merit our love by being lovely.

Finally, we are to desire God’s holiness for each person, for our spouses and for those in the church. The goal of all love is holiness of life as defined in Holy Scripture. We should never be satisfied with the current state of each person, but diligently seek to help each along the path of growth in keeping God’s commandments, such as the Ten Commandments. But the way to do this is not by dissecting people, not by beating them up with gossip, not by demanding that they do things our way, not by rejecting them. If we reject those who are genuine Christians who hold to the faith, we are in effect saying that we are just too holy to be associated with those who are so far beneath us, which is an arrogant stance.

In all relationships there comes a time of testing the mettle, when we shall see what we are made of, whether we can love or not, or whether we will demand perfection, our own brand of perfection, as a condition to maintain the commitment. Our love—or lack thereof—for others reveals more about ourselves than it does about others. A new church, a new pastor at a church, or a new marriage, will be tested. Can they be like Christ and love His way, can they choose to make the commitment to love unconditionally, to pursue holiness, but in the midst of imperfection? Can they love unconditionally but without compromising God’s commandments? Can they make it work because they know they are sinners also, considering themselves first before they attack someone else? By the grace of God, we can! AMEN.

 

 

 

Rescuing verses . . . “Do not call anyone on earth your father” (Matthew 23:9)

© by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 2017

In my denomination, even though we are Protestant, the tendency is for parishioners to call the pastors “father”.  Sometimes the verse above is quoted against saying “father” to pastors. Sometimes they say that is Roman Catholic. I can dispatch the last objection quickly. Roman Catholics also believe in the Trinity; does that make it wrong?

Now for saying the word “father” to pastors allegedly being wrong. First, consider the other verses connected with Matthew 23:9:

“But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matt. 23:8-10 NKJ)

Second, notice that if it wrong to say “father”, then also we must not call anyone “teacher”. Should we address our human fathers as “male parental unit”? Or, how about this version of the Fifth Commandment: “Honor your male ‘parental being’ and your mother.” The idea in context is that such people should not want personal glory in the position of authority. They are in authority to serve, not to be served. Notice how the Lord Jesus characterized such people:

“They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,  greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men,’Rabbi, Rabbi.'” (Matt. 23:6-7 NKJ)

Third, the problem is not with the word itself, but with wanting personal recognition and self-glory. Notice what the Apostle Paul said about being a spiritual father:

“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” (1 Cor. 4:14-15 NKJ)

Paul stated that he only was their father in the gospel, for he had “begotten” them.

Finally, in 1-2 Timothy and Titus, Paul referred to Timothy and Titus as a “true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2); “a beloved son” (2 Tim. 1:2); “to Titus, a true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4).

Thus, we conclude that saying “father” is not the problem; indeed, it is encouraged by Paul. Rather, the word “father” was being misused, lording it over others, and seeking vainglory, but when one uses his gifts for the good of the church, not seeking vainglory, he is blessed. AMEN 

Crisis Regarding Christ

© by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 2017

(Please consider sending the link to this article to others, at no charge.)

Some years ago a preacher visited my church while on vacation. After the Sunday School class, during which I was teaching on various “Christian” cults, he said, “In my church we have no creed but Christ.” I responded, “Which Christ? The one of the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, the word-faith movement, or of the ancient creeds?” Today we have a crisis regarding Christ because we no longer value truth.

The historic Church has always assumed that there was truth and error, not just opinions. It was zealous to maintain the truth about the Son as revealed in Holy Scripture. It was not tolerant (the politically correct word today) of error concerning Christ, though they could be tolerant of other things. The Church came together on several occasions in ecumenical councils to proclaim the Gospel, the truth about Christ, writing doctrinal statements that were considered binding on all Christians. We have creeds that summarize those councils, such as the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. (The Athanasian Creed is my favorite.) The Church realized that faith was only as good as its object, and the object of faith (Christ) only as good as the content about Him. And from that day to now, those councils, especially the Council of Chalcedon, have been considered by all branches of Christendom—Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodoxy—to be the epitome of orthodoxy regarding the person of Christ. During the greatest revival in the history of the Church, the Reformation, the Reformers did not challenge Chalcedon’s teaching that Christ was fully God, fully man yet sinless, one person, and no mixture of the two natures of divinity and humanity (John 1:1-3, 14; 5:28; 10:30; Col. 1:15ff; 2:9; Heb. 1:1ff; etc). That was bedrock.

Unfortunately, today is different. The ambiance of this age is ripe for heresy since personal opinion is considered to be more important than truth, especially truth from the past. The Church has become obsessed with making people feel comfortable, not with truth. (Indeed, some preachers build large congregations by not preaching on sin or other “controversial” matters.) The Church has devolved into a radical egalitarianism, and truth has been reduced to its lowest common denominator. Now each individual—with or without his Bible—will decide for himself what truth is.

In contrast to the heresies, the early fathers understood that Christology was at the heart of redemption, that who Christ was determined whether man was redeemed or not. Their constant watchword was “what is not assumed [in the incarnation] is not redeemed.” Thus, if Christ had not assumed full humanity (sin excepted), we would have no redemption.

This worked the other way also. The early Church fathers recognized that if Christ had not been fully God and functioning fully as God (contra word-faith leaders who deny that the Son of God used His divine attributes on earth), there could be no reconciliation of God and man, Christ would have had no infinite merit to what He had done, but only the work of a man. At the Council of Ephesus, therefore, the fathers clearly stated in A.D. 431: “If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Spirit, so that He used through Him a power not His own and from Him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was His own Spirit through which He worked these divine signs; let him be anathema” (emphasis added).

Anything less than one who functioned fully as man and fully as God in one Person could not die for our sins. He had to be man to die. He had to be God to give infinite value to His work. He had to be one person to bring God and man together, bringing the acts of God and man together as one act. The two natures of God and man could not be mingled, making Him less than God or more than man. If Christ had not been God or had not functioned as God while on earth, we would have the acts of a man and of the Holy Spirit through Him—separate acts of two persons—but that would have been no different than the prophets of old who had the Holy Spirit in them. No, Christ functioned fully as man and as God in one person, thus uniting His work of redemption as one work of the God-man.

Today we have many heresies. There are those who deny the deity of Christ altogether. Then there are others who deny that the Son functioned as God while on earth. Indeed, in the word-faith teaching, man can be a god and create his own providence by audible words spoken in the air. In their view, God and Man are so completely separated in Christ that He only functioned by the Holy Spirit on earth, not by His own divine nature also. Since there is really no union of God and Man in Jesus, according to them, there is no  reconciliation of man with God in one person. Thus, salvation is eliminated. If Christ is only a creature, or only functioned as a creature on earth, God is not revealed, but a wholly unknown being. Thus, God is eliminated.

If there was ever a need for a second Reformation, it is today, and this Reformation must begin where the first one did: with the Church’s stand for truth and with the Christ of the Councils and of the Bible. We must not invent a new “Jesus” for each succeeding generation, but proclaim the old, revealed Jesus, who never changes (Heb. 13:8). The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church that proclaims Christ as the Son of God! AMEN. Ω

The Modern Crisis

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD
In the Reformation of the 1500s, both sides believed the Bible to be God’s infallible word, held to the Holy Trinity (one God in three equal person, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and taught that Christ was fully God, perfect man, one person, and no mixture of the natures of deity and humanity. Today the crisis is worse as even “Christian” people wonder if the Bible is God’s word, if the Trinity is really all that important, and if Christ was only a good man or something less than God.
There are two ways to be heretical: formally in belief and practically in one’s immorality, and our age is given to both.  In formal heresy, there are many in mainline denominations who take delight in denying the historic faith as expressed in such timeless statements as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, which all branches of Christianity have held (Protestant, Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholic). They deny that Christ is the only way to God; indeed, they deny that He is God. They deny the Holy Trinity. They pretend that all religions are the same, which means that none of them mean anything, an insult to all religions.
But one can also be heretical in one’s morality, such as the sexual promiscuity that is rampant today in so many circles. One may be right in his beliefs, but if his morality is contrary to God’s holy commandments, and especially if he/she declares such openly, then he/she is heretical.
There is no hope for anyone unless they repent, which means that they confess they are wrong, take God’s view on both belief and practice, and bow to His Lordship. There is not enough room in this universe for two lawgivers: God and man, which is what man wants, his own pretended autonomy.  The serpent’s lie to Adam and Eve was that they could be their own lawgiver, determining for themselves what was right and wrong. Satan told them and they believed it that they could partake of the Tree and not die, whereas God told them if they did partake of that tree, they would die. We know the consequences when our first parents believed the devil. Indeed, even in the New Testament many centuries later, God has stated that there is only one lawgiver: the Triune God (James 4:12). He, and He alone, determines what we should believe and what is true morality.
But when our culture dreams up beliefs or ethics out of his/her mind instead of listening to God, they have created a god after their own image to worship, and just coincidentally, one who will approve their latest fad in belief and ethics. The only way one can know anything about God is if He tells us, not when we dream up things that He must approve.
Was it the great St. Augustine who said that God created man in His own image, and man has been returning the favor ever since? People thousands of years ago made physical idols, and we make mental idols. In both cases, a new god is created after the heart of sinful mankind. Paul the Apostle noted such in his own day in Romans 1:18-22:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans1:18-21 NKJ)

Yes, the great crisis today is Who is God, Who is Christ, and What shall we do with our sins? The Modern answer is that God and Christ are whatever we make them to be, and there is no sin except by our definition.
It is time that the true people of God stop listing to such damning heresy, and leave ungodly churches that promote such. Moreover, if a parish/church will not stand openly for the faith and for God’s Ten Commandments, one must leave, for the Lord stated that the one who is not for Him is against Him (Luke 11:23). Go to a church that is in line with the history of the Church and still believes Holy Scripture. God’s principles are more important accumulating property! AMEN.

Hilarious Marriage Proposal: Theologian John Owen (1616-1683) to Mary Rooke

The great theologian John Owen (1616-1683)

The purpose of the discourse laid out – The major points therein established – The sundry benefits of marriage discussed – The vices thereby abstained from much derided

Bearing in mind that the covenant of marriage is not to be entered into, as the Scriptures tell us, unadvisedly or lightly, but rather with all reverence, according to the sundry commandments given for the mutual benefit of all persons, yet which can bind no man but that he take upon himself the yoke, I submit the following discourse for your due consideration, with the exceptional proofs thereunto belonging, wherein you might be made aware of my intentions in this regard.

First, that it be for the furtherance of that mutual joy of which all married persons must partake.

Second, that it might affect the greater help and comfort of the same, wherein they may thereby experience both prosperity and adversity with no decrease of faith.

Third, that it might be for the increase of that procreation which was established by God upon his first covenant with man, for the compassing of which end such persons ought to be joined together in holy matrimony.

Now follow my expansions upon those points heretofore stated.

1.      The mutual joy which is spoken of by means of allegory in the Canticles, the mystical union betwixt Christ and his Church spoken of by Saint Paul in his discourse to the Ephesians, the many covenantal benefits made efficacious to those who take part – such things we must not deny.

(1.)  That he who possesses a happy wife doth, as spake some philosopher, possess also a happy life.

(2.)  That troubles paired be not troubles squared, for they shall not cross the threshold of such as make the Lord their God, or if they do, they are but the trials of a moment sent to make us noble, and for the furtherance of that mortification of the flesh that is incumbent upon all believers.

2.      I am hereby advised to “get on with it”, and shall as such make haste to finish, neglecting this point. God forgive me.

3.      That man exists still in a state of carnal lust we must certainly acknowledge, and that the occasions therein for deeds of the flesh are rampant, it would not behoove us to deny. We must therefore set ourselves unto the following aims.

(1.)  That, as the apostle writes, “It is better to marry than burn,” and thus the gift of marriage is granted to all believing men, that they might flee from the prospect of fornication and lend due reverence to the wife to whom they be predestined.

(2.)  That paradise be not lost upon entering into matrimony, but rather regained, according to that covenant made at the first, having escaped the snares of the devil, by which he seeks to pull us into the bonds of iniquity, we embrace rather the bonds of marriage, for the furtherance of our sanctification.

(3.)  And as someone hast said with regard to procreation, it is the ready means by which we grow the Church of Jesus Christ, and knowing as we do how the odds be stacked against the gospel truth in this present age, we must find our strength in numbers and make of thee a second Eve and mother of all the living.

We await now such sundry answers as you see fit to grant to us, that we may be hereby directed to a course that will be for the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

(And here was her reply…)

My dearest John,

I scarcely understand this letter you have sent to me. Indeed, I scarcely understand half the things you say, be they ever so exalted. Nevertheless, if it is marriage you seek, I shall submit myself to this yoke, as you so artfully call it, if you will but promise me three things upon pain of your eternal soul. First, that you should never speak Latin in my presence again. Second, that you should on one occasion per week pry yourself from your books long enough to change a nappy. Third, that you should find some means of sustenance beyond your tomes, for such things as you write are more fit for the shelves of Duke Humfrey’s library than the hands of the common man, and if they be our only source of sustenance, shall be the making of our eternal poverty. This is my reply. May heaven help me.

–   Mary Rooke