Man Proposes, God Disposes

man proposes God disposes 1

I shared our mission trips with brothers and sisters at our church retreat over the long weekend. Here is the first of several bible teaching portions of our sharing. Hope they will be helpful to you.

2nd journey

Scripture
* Acts 16:6-9 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
* Acts 16:13-14 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Macedonia call 2

Observations
Paul and his companions were on their second missionary journey. They wanted to preach in Phrygia and Galatia (modern Central Turkey), but the Holy spirit forbade them. They then turned north-west to Mysia and Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit that either. So they went west to the coast of the Aegean Sea to Troas, where Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia (modern Greece) calling to help. From a human standpoint it seems that Paul’s mission trip was a failure, as whatever he proposed to do God over-ruled. But Paul was flexible and always followed where the Spirit led.

Paul had his strategy. He knew the best time (Sabbath day) and the place (place of prayer) to meet his prospects. But God has His plan and surprises. In the vision a man of Macedonia appealed for help, but the first convert in Europe was a woman, and the second missionary journey was a great success as the gospel made a breakthrough from Asia into Europe.

Lydia Philippi 1

Lessons
1. Man proposes, God disposes. So be flexible. You may think you have the perfect plan, but we know only so little. Do your due diligence but leave room for God to change your direction anytime. He knows best.
2. In your service to God, there will always be frustrations and setbacks, some from the enemy, some from the Lord Himself because He knew better. But a setback is a set-up for a come-back:
* 1 Pet 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
* 1 Jn 3:13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.

3. Always follow the leading of the Spirit:
* Rom 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
* Ga 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

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Did Jesus descend into Hell?

Apostles' Creed 2

Q. The Apostles’ Creed said, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell.” Did Jesus descend into hell? Or is the creed wrong?

A. No, I don’t think He did, as I think the problem is with the old English usage, not the creed itself. This misunderstanding is reinforced by Acts 2:31 in KJV:

Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption.

However, if you use the NASB, you will read:

Acts 2:31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.

Quoting from Vines Expository Dictionary of NT Words, Hades is “the region of departed spirits of the lost, including the blessed dead in periods preceding the ascension of Christ. It corresponds to “Sheol” in the OT. In the AV of the OT and NT; it has been unhappily rendered “hell”.

Many scholars believe the creed comes from the Roman Symbol (or Creed) written in the first or second century. The phrase “He descended to hell” was not in the Roman Symbol, but added later. The English word “hell” in the creed translates the Greek word κατώτατα, which literally means “lower” i.e. He descended to the “lower parts”, or the “underworld”. As such, the original simply meant He went to the “world of the dead”, with no implications of suffering in “hell” as we understand the word today.

But the positive reason why I believe Jesus did not go to literal hell (Greek Gehenna or Tartarus) is:

Lk 23:42-43 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

The criminal crucified beside Jesus repented and was forgiven, so he went to be with Jesus in Paradise. So if Jesus was in Paradise, He was not in hell. Even if you interpret Paradise to be “that part of Hades which was thought by the Jews to be the abode of the souls of pious until the resurrection”, it is still not hell as understood today.

The Offerings in Leviticus (2 of 2)

Leviticus offerings 2

(Continued)

4. Sin Offering
Lev 4:2-3 Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them, if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD a bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.
• Lev 4:20 He shall also do with the bull just as he did with the bull of the sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven.

This is to atone for unintentional sins committed unknowingly, where restitution is not possible, not for willful defiance against God. It is also for cleansing from ceremonial uncleanness.

5. Guilt Offering
Lev 5:6 He shall also bring his guilt offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin.
• Lev 5:15-16 If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the LORD’S holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the LORD: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation in silver by shekels, in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him.

This is also for unintentional sins committed unknowingly, but makes restitution by repaying the damage plus a payment for compensation.

Scholars further distinguish which are voluntary (1 to 3) versus mandatory (4 and 5), and which are sweet aroma (1 to 3) versus non-sweet aroma (4 and 5). They also examine what is the Lord’s portion, the priest’s portion, and the offerer’s portion. Furthermore, each offering is a “type” of Christ representing aspects of His character and/or ministry, which we will reserve for another time.

The Offerings in Leviticus (1 of 2)

Levitical offerings 1

Q. What is the significance of the bread, grain and drink offerings in Leviticus?

A. The Levitical offerings are usually discussed in relation to their function, not the ingredients used. There are five offerings as follows:

1. Burnt Offering
Lev 1:3-4 If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.

This is the most basic offering in which the whole animal (except the skin) is burned on the altar and offered to God. No portion is to be eaten by the worshipper. It signifies atonement on behalf of the sinner so that he may be accepted before the Lord, and complete surrender to God.

2. Grain Offering
Lev 2:1 Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.
• Lev 2:11 ‘No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD
• Lev 2:13 Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

This is the only offering without the shedding of blood, a “living” sacrifice. It is a gift to God from the best of the worshipper’s fruit of the land, in thanksgiving to his acceptance before God. The oil is emblematic of the Holy Spirit, the frankincense of prayer, no leaven representing no evil, and salt symbolic of an enduring covenant.

3. Peace Offering
Lev 3:1 Now if his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he is going to offer out of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without defect before the LORD.
• Lev 7:15 Now as for the flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it over until morning.

This is the only offering in which the offerer shared in the meat of the sacrifice, and signifies the fellowship between God and men. There are three types of peace offerings:
Thanksgiving offering – gratitude for blessing without asking
o Lev 7:12 If he offers it by way of thanksgiving, then along with the sacrifice of thanksgiving he shall offer unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of well stirred fine flour mixed with oil.
Votive or freewill offering – gratitude for blessing granted in response to a vow, or freewill without regard to any specific blessing
o Lev 7:16 But if the sacrifice of his offering is a votive or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what is left of it may be eaten;
Wave offering – priest’s portion of the peace offering
o Lev 7:30 His own hands are to bring offerings by fire to the LORD. He shall bring the fat with the breast, that the breast may be presented as a wave offering before the LORD.

(To be continued)

Why did God create Satan? (2 of 2)

Lucifer 1

(Continued from yesterday)

Yesterday we traced Satan’s blame back to himself. But why bother creating him who caused all the trouble?

In the first place Lucifer, like all angels, was created to serve:

Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

Those who will inherit salvation are men and women who trust God, to which angels were sent to render service e.g. Gabriel as a messenger:

Dan 8:16 And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.” (See also Dan 9:21; Lk 1:19, 26)

So Lucifer was created for a purpose, as the villain in God’s plan of salvation, which plan was only partially revealed to us in the Bible:

Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
• Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. (Also 17:8)
• 1 Pet 1:20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world,

Secondly, God chose some but not others to be saved through Christ before the foundation of the world, but did not explain the basis, except that it was His sovereign will. By the same token, He ordained Lucifer to become Satan, but did not give the reason why him and not another. Had God chosen another fallen angel to be the villain in the salvation plan, we could have asked why that angel instead of “why Lucifer”.

Third, notwithstanding Satan coming to steal and kill and destroy (Jn 10:10), God overrules his plans to accomplish His purpose, and will destroy his work:

Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
• 1 Jn 3:8 The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

For example, ISIS committed heinous crimes against humanity, but many Muslims are turning to Christ in reaction to their monstrous, wicked acts.

In short, God knows how Lucifer will turn corrupt and profane others, his unspeakable evil acts, but turns his vilest deeds around to save many lives. Those who question “can’t He come up with a better plan?” are in fact saying they know better. Their limited knowledge and power can concoct a better world and a better plan than the omniscient and omnipotent God can, and that allowing Satan to exist is foolish and unwarranted. I dare not make that claim, nor should anyone with sense.

Why did God create Satan? (1 of 2)

Lucifer 2

Q. Why did the omniscient God create Satan?

A. The question is “Why would God, knowing all the terrible havoc Satan would cause, still create him? Why not just don’t create him and avoid all the trouble?” That’s a fair question, so let’s tackle it step by step.

First, strictly speaking, God created Lucifer, who turned into Satan. God created angels, among whom was one called Lucifer:

Job 38:4, 7 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
• Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, …
• Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, …

The morning stars, sons of God, were angels, who were created prior to God laying the foundation of the earth. One of them, an anointed cherub named Lucifer, sinned and was cast out by God:

Isa 14:12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
• Ezk 28:14 You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
• Ezk 28:16 By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, o covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

What was Lucifer like and why did he sin?

Ezk 28:12-13 You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared.
• Ezk 28:15, 17-18 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. … Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you.
• Isa 14:13-14 But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

Although some scholars pointed out that Ezk 28 and Isa 14 referred to the kings of Tyre (Ezk 28:12) and Babylon (Isa 14:4) in their respective context, many commentators believed that the narratives went beyond a description of mere human beings (perfect, in Eden, blameless) and referred figuratively to the cherub who sinned. What was his sin? In a word, pride:

• heart was lifted (Ezk 28:17)
• elevation of self (“I will” five times in Isa 14:13-14)

God described this sin as unrighteousness, corruption, iniquities, and profanity. Who caused it? Lucifer himself did, not God. Pride was the first, and still most deadly, sin. So in reality God created a perfect angel who corrupted himself and turned into His adversary, Satan. Just as we can’t blame a drunk driver’s parents for giving birth to those who drink and drive and cause accidents, we can’t blame God for Lucifer’s fault. But why create Satan in the first place?

(To be continued)

Buy a Sword

Luke 22 38 a

Q. What is Jesus trying to tell the disciples in Luke 22:35-36? Why is that they need to carry wallet, bag and sword at that time? Does that signify they need to prepare for danger? Commentaries say for Jesus to be listed as a criminal to fulfill the OT, there needs to be a weapon, which in His case is a sword. That’s why the subsequent verses says Jesus told them 2 is enough.

A. Jesus was telling His disciples that times had changed, and that they must be prepared:
v 35 when I sent you out without money … That was in Lk 10:4 Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way, when people were more receptive and friendly, and would provide for the disciples’ food and accommodation.
v 36 but now … This refers to after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Lk 19:36-38. He drove the traders from the Temple (Lk 19:45-46), the chief priest, scribes and elders questioned His authority (Lk 20:1-2), and sent spies to catch Him in some statement (Lk 20:20). They were trying to destroy Him (Lk 19:47), and deliver Him to the governor (Lk 20:20).

Since the environment had turned hostile, and soon He would be taken away from them, He warned them of the coming danger and to be ready.

Lk 22:37 “AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS” is a quotation from
Is 53:12 Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
which is a messianic prophecy predicting that He will be treated like a criminal, but interceded for them. Some commentators feel that criminals are associated with swords, hence the reference. But I believe when the disciples told Jesus “here are two swords” and He replied “it is enough“, He meant “enough of this talk” i.e. He was disappointed in their lack of understanding in taking things too literally.

I believe He was not teaching them to defend themselves with a sword, because when He was arrested, He told Peter
Mt 26:52 “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
• Lk 22:51 “Stop! No more of this.”

I believe He referred to sword simply to express the seriousness of the danger, but the disciples are not to fight violence with violence, which they finally understood after His resurrection.