Fulfilled Prophecy

Dr. Steven J. Lawson gives examples of fulfilled prophecy as evidence of the divine inspiration of Scripture. (Full message here)

Transcript

The fulfilled prophecies of the Bible. We could just believe that the Bible is the Word of God on this one point alone. This is staggering. Say, do you realize that at the time the Bible was written 27% of the Bible was prophetic?

There are some 1,817 prophecies of some nature in the Bible at the time the author wrote the Scripture. A prophecy is pre-written history. Only God knows the future and the reason that God knows the future is because God has foreordained the future. God’s not looking down the tunnel of time to see anything because God already knows everything. And God has already foreordained everything. And He records some of it for us in the Scripture.

And we read all kinds of prophecies regarding individuals—that Abraham would have a son. Did he? In his latter years. That there would be rulers like Cyrus of Persia. 100 years before Cyrus assumed the throne, his name in Isaiah 45 verse 1 is recorded. Would you like to predict who the President of the United States will be 100 years from today? It’s impossible. But here is the Bible giving name and country of these rulers long before they’re even birthed and come onto the scene. Or nations, such as the fall the Northern Kingdom or the length of Judah’s captivity or empires regarding the fall of Babylon or cities such as the destruction Tyre et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

There is a mounting case of evidence that substantiates the perfect truthfulness of the Word of God. There are no other books in the world that are doing this. How about the prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus Christ? The greatest fulfillments of prophecy are found at the first coming of Christ, not even the second coming but at the first coming. It was prophesied in the Old Testament that Jesus would be born of the seed of Abraham, Jesse, and David.

He would be born of a virgin, called Emmanuel, born in Bethlehem. Great persons would come to adore Him, there would be the killing of children in Bethlehem. He would be called out of Egypt. He would be preceded by a forerunner. He would be anointed with the Holy Spirit. He’d be a prophet like Moses, a priest after the order is now Melchizedek. He would be entering into His public ministry in Galilee. He would be entering publicly into Jerusalem and come into the temple. He would live in poverty and meekness, tenderness, and compassion. He would be without the deceit, He’d be full of zeal, preaching with parables, working miracles, bearing reproach. He would be rejected by His own Jewish brethren. The Jews and Gentiles would combined together against Him. He would be betrayed by a friend. His disciples would forsake Him. He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver. At that price would be given for a potter’s field.

He would die with intense suffering yet be silent under that suffering. He would be struck on the cheek, His visage would be marred. He would be spit upon and scarred. His hands and His feet would be nailed to the cross. He would be forsaken by God, He would cry out, “My God My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He would be mocked. Gal and vinegar would be offered to Him. His garments would be parted. Lots would be cast for His clothing. He would be numbered among the transgressors. He would intercede for His murderers. He would die but not a bone of His body would be broken. He would be pierced long before crucifixion would even ever be invented. He would be buried with the rich. His flesh would not see corruption. He would be raised from the dead. He would ascend back to the right hand of God the Father.

All of this recorded hundreds of years before Jesus ever entered this world. And many of these prophecies are fulfilled not by His friends but by His enemies who stand to lose the most with their fulfillment. And many of these prophecies being fulfilled before He was born, while He’s in His mother’s womb, and while He is in the grave.

The Holy Spirit as Seal and Pledge

by Edward Clowney – original source here

The figure of a roaring lion stretches across the little jasper seal. In ancient Hebrew letters it bears the inscription, “Belonging to Shema, servant of Jeroboam.” Recovered from the biblical site of Megiddo, the stamp seal was once the property of an official of Jeroboam II, king of Israel, 785–743 B.C.(2 Kings 14:23– 29). Shema may have been proud of his lion-seal, but for him it was not a decorative gemstone. Rather, he put it to daily use. Pressed on clay or wax it marked his ownership and authority. Wine jars, stoppered with fresh clay, would bear the stamp of his seal. He could seal a deed of purchase or a marriage contract; his stamp could serve as his signature.

Seals and sealing are often spoken of in the Old Testament: Queen Jezebel used Ahab’s seal to order a conspiracy against the life of Naboth (1 Kings 21:8); Queen Esther delivered the Jews when she was permitted to prepare a royal decree and seal it with the king’s ring—“for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked” (Esther 8:8).

The apostle Paul grasped this image to describe the sealing of the Lord: “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13b–14). Continue reading

The Ultimate Concern

Beeke1This excerpt is taken from Living for God’s Glory by Joel Beeke. (original source here)

If we had to reduce Calvinism to one concept, we might be safest to echo Warfield, who said that to be Reformed means to be theocentric. The primary interest of Reformed theology is the triune God, for the transcendent-immanent, fatherly God in Jesus Christ is God Himself. Calvinists are people whose theology is dominated by the idea of God. As Mason Pressly says: “Just as the Methodist places in the foreground the idea of the salvation of sinners; the Baptist, the mystery of regeneration; the Lutheran, justification by faith; the Moravian, the wounds of Christ; the Greek Catholic, the mysticism of the Holy Spirit; and the Romanist, the catholicity of the church, so the Calvinist is always placing in the foreground the thought of God.”

To be Reformed is to stress the comprehensive, sovereign, fatherly lordship of God over everything: every area of creation, every creature’s endeavors, and every aspect of the believer’s life. The ruling motif in Calvinism is, “In the beginning God…” (Gen. 1:1).

In His relation to us, God has only rights and powers; He binds Himself to duties sovereignly and graciously only by way of covenant. In covenant, He assumes the duties and responsibilities of being a God unto us, but that does not detract from His being the first cause and the last end of all things. The universe is ruled not by chance or fate, but by the complete, sovereign rule of God. We exist for one purpose: to give Him glory. We have only duties to God, no rights. Any attempt to challenge this truth is doomed. Romans 9:20b asks, “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” God enacts His laws for every part of our lives and demands unconditional obedience. We are called to serve Him with body and soul, in worship and daily work, every second of every day.

To be Reformed, then, is to be concerned with the complete character of the Creator-creature relationship. It is to view all of life coram Deo, that is, lived before the face of God. As Warfield wrote:

The Calvinist is the man who sees God: God in nature, God in history, God in grace. Everywhere he sees God in His mighty stepping, everywhere he feels the working of His mighty arm, the throbbing of His mighty heart. The Calvinist is the man who sees God behind all phenomena and in all that occurs recognizes the hand of God, working out His will. [The Calvinist] makes the attitude of the soul to God in prayer its permanent attitude in all its life activities; [he] casts himself on the grace of God alone, excluding every trace of dependence on self from the whole work of his salvation.

The doctrine of God—a fatherly, sovereign God in Christ Jesus—is therefore the center of Reformed theology. R. C. Sproul puts it this way: “How we understand the nature and character of God himself influences how we understand the nature of man, who bears God’s image; the nature of Christ, who works to satisfy the Father; the nature of salvation, which is effected by God; the nature of ethics, the norms of which are based on God’s character; and a myriad of other theological considerations, all drawing on our understanding of God.” So Calvinists define all doctrine in a God-centered way. Sin is horrible because it is an affront to God. Salvation is wonderful because it brings glory to God. Heaven is glorious because it is the place where God is all in all. Hell is infernal because it is where God manifests His righteous wrath. God is central to all of those truths. Continue reading

To the Praise of His Glory

Text: Ephesians 1:7-14

There are some things God wants us to know as the basis for His dealings with us as Christians. Paul’s words to the Ephesians here highlight essential truths that can radically impact each of us.

Blessing and Cursing Israel

abrahamDr. R. C. Sproul, Jr:

Is It True That God Blesses Those Who Bless Israel and Curses Those Who Curse Israel? (original source here)

It must be true, because this is what God says, isn’t it? Well, actually God says this, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

When God makes a promise we can know that it is certain, and that He will not change. The problem is, however, when we hear Him saying what He did not say. This text does say that God will bless those who bless Israel, but rather those who bless Abraham, to whom God is speaking. Later, however, in Numbers 24, it gets a little more clear. There Balaam, clearly speaking about the nation of Israel says, “Blessed is he who blesses you, And cursed is he who curses you.”

That should settle the matter, should it not? The difficulty is still, however, answering about whom this promise is made. Does not Paul himself say, “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). Here it is all too easy to get confused. What could it mean that not all Israel is of Israel?

If there are some who are Israel that are called Israel, and some that are not Israel that are called Israel, which of these are the ones that fit the promise? My dispensational friends suggest that the Israel to whom this promise is made matches up with the nation of Israel founded in 1948 in the Middle East. They hear in this promise that those who bless that nation of Israel will be blessed and those who curse that same nation will be cursed. This, in part, informs the politics of American foreign policy. As long as America sees this Israel as a friend, the reasoning seems to go, God will bless America. When America turns its back on that nation, God will curse this nation.

The Reformed perspective takes a different tack. It affirms that that Israel which is actually Israel, just as with the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, applies to those who are in Christ, who trust in His finished work. Though we deny the moniker, this is what our dispensational friends call “replacement theology.” The Reformed, however, see this is as the outworking of the truth of Galatians 3:7- “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” We who are Reformed do not believe God replaced Israel with the church. We believe instead that there has always been only one people of God, those who believe.

Israel is the sons of Abraham. Those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham. Those who are of faith are therefore Israel. And in turn, those who bless those who are of faith will be blessed, and those who curse those who are of faith will be cursed. It is how we treat the church that matters. What of ethnic Israel? What of that country in the Middle East? Many in the Reformed camp hold out hope that there will be one day a mass conversion of those who are not today the sons of Abraham, that virtually all of Israel will once again become Israel. That said, many of these likewise hold out hope that there will be a mass conversion of Arabs, and Persians, of every tongue and every tribe. All of the promises of God belong to the children of Abraham, those who are of faith, including the promise that through Abraham, all the world will be blessed.

Jeff Durbin: Absolute Proof of Christianity

This sermon was presented at the ‘God’s Not Dead Conference’ in San Diego, California. Pastor Jeff Durbin (Apologia Radio/TV/Church) presented a sermon on Christian Apologetics (the defense of the Christian Faith). In this message Jeff provides the foundations for demonstrating that the God of the Bible is the necessary reference point for truth and that apart from the Trinitarian God of the Bible you fall into foolishness.

The Main Message of Your Bible

Bible001Bryan Chapell: (original source here)

The Bible declares its main message right at the dawn of human history: After God made all things “good,” everything went bad as a consequence of the evil that entered the world through human sin. In order for everything to be made right again, God designed a plan to rescue humanity and the broken world from sin’s corruptions. He told Satan, who first tempted humanity to sin:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15)

These emblematic words, sometimes called the “First Gospel,” are God’s inaugural announcement of the solution he will provide for humanity’s sinful predicament. They also establish the theme for the rest of Scripture. From this point forward, the great battle unfolds between the offspring of Satan (his evil forces) and the offspring of the woman (God’s appointed Redeemer), and the outcome of the conflict is certain: Satan will wound the Redeemer (“bruise his heel”), but the Redeemer will deal Satan a mortal blow (“he shall bruise your head”).

God will graciously provide a divine deliverance from the human dilemma.

All About Christ

This theme of gracious provision is the context of all that follows in the Bible. All the subsequent history and messages of Scripture are elements in this unfolding story of divine rescue. Every battle, famine, disease, betrayal, enslavement, and evil is Satan’s attempt to hinder the work of the offspring of Eve coming to crush him. And every rescue of the weak, provision for the needy, maintenance of a remnant, restoration of the broken, protection of the defenseless, pardon of the prodigals, forgiveness of the faithless, preservation of a people, covenant with the undeserving, supply of beauty for ashes, and mercy for the repentant is an expression of the grace that will culminate in the victory of the divinely appointed Redeemer.

God doesn’t intend for this divine crusade of redemption merely to interest us. As the apostle Paul writes, “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The history, poetry, symbols, and instructions of Scripture vary greatly in style but not in their intention: all are intended to affect our response to life in our fallen world. Though evil is always present and frequently prevails, we are not to despair. With a patient confidence in God’s ultimate providence, and the assurance of the Scriptures that his redemption is ongoing, we always have hope. Continue reading

A Hypothetical…

MacArthurExcerpt from a sermon by John MacArthur “The Eyewitness Account of Creation.” (original source here)

We’ll create a hypothetical – whoever created the universe and everything that is in it understands it. Would you agree? Whoever created it understands it. Whoever has the wisdom, intelligence, and power to create the universe and all that is in it understands it perfectly, understands every minute aspect of it, and is not waiting for man to advance scientifically to explain to Him what happened.

Since the Creator designed it and created it and sustains it, He understands it. He knows that the earth is spherical, not flat; that it turns on an axis, is not static; that it is suspended on nothing; that it sweeps through space in a fixed rotation and a fixed orbit in its own solar system, and at the same time is dragged by the center of this solar system, the sun, through the entire space as the whole orbiting set of planets and sun that we know has an orbit of its own that runs from one end of heaven to the other. Whoever made this knows that, and that’s why He says in Psalm 19 that the sun has an orbit from one end of heaven to the other.

Whoever made the world as we know it and the universe knows the galaxies. He knows the staggering reaches of space and the countless stars and galaxies. He knows them all; made every one of them, so He knows them. He knows their components. He knows their location. He knows their movement.

Whoever made this planet knows the cycles of air and water. He knows the facts of chemistry and biology, physiology. He understands atomic structure. So we would assume that whoever made this, if He were to give us a description that we could understand of His creative act would get it right. And that’s exactly what you have in Genesis 1, and expanded upon in Genesis 2. What the Creator tells you about creation is exactly what happened. He is the Creator, after all, He knows.

And by the way, whoever – hypothetically still – is intelligent enough and powerful enough to design, create, and then sustain the incalculable complexity of the universe and all life that is in it is certainly intelligent enough to do the relatively simple task of authoring an accurate account of His creation. If the Creator wrote down His creation and how it was done it would be reality. And if the Creator always spoke the truth, if the Creator is truth and cannot lie, then all the more are we to trust what He says. And only the Creator could give us this information, and no one could know if it was accurate or not by any observable means or any repeatable means, therefore any scientific endeavor. No one was alive until the sixth day. The only account we have is the one by the author of Scripture, who is the Creator.

And, oh, by the way, whoever created the universe would not say the moon is 50,000 leagues higher than the sun and has its own light. He would not say the earth is flat and triangular, composed of seven stages: one of honey, one of sugar, one of butter, and one of wine. Nor would He say that the earth sits on the heads of countless elephants who produce earthquakes when they shake. That’s what the Hindu holy book says. So we know the Creator didn’t write that book. Hinduism offers us a ridiculous lie.

And, oh, by the way, the Hindu Upanishad says, “The sun is the source of all energy in the universe.” We know that’s not true. The Creator would never say there are only thirteen members of the body through which death can come, but that’s what the Taoist holy book says; so we know whoever wrote that is not the Creator. The Creator would never say that earthquakes are caused by wind moving water and water moving the land, but that’s what the Buddhist holy book says; so we know the Creator didn’t write that book.

And, oh, by the way, the Creator would never say that Adam fell that men might come into existence, and that they might have joy; but that’s what it says in 2 Nephi, chapter 2, in the book of Mormon; so we know God didn’t write that book. Also says in the book of Mormon, Alma 7:10, that Jesus would be born in Jerusalem. The Creator would never write that, He would know Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem.

Whoever created the universe would not say, “Man is not made up of matter. He is not a composite of brain and blood and bones and other material elements. And man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death.” That’s what is in the science and health and key to the Scriptures in the Christian science holy book, which is neither Christian or science. It is like Grape Nuts, they aren’t grapes and they aren’t nuts. So that’s enough to make the point; we know that the Creator didn’t write any of those books. If we have a divine Creator – and we do – and He is a communication genius, and He is holy and true, then we assume that when He says this is the account of creation that we can take Him at His word.

So interesting to me that Genesis 1 is not muddled, it’s not confusing, it’s crystal clear, because the true Creator is infinitely intelligent, but He can reduce His intelligence down to logical, clear information and communicate it. He can do that all the way down to the nucleus of a cell, which operates because it is encoded with communication. This communication in the macrocosm is what causes all the bodies in the universe to move inexorably on a defined orbit. The whole universe and all that exists in the universe depends on the information from this divine information genius. We would expect then if information is His thing and He’s absolutely true that He would give us true information about creation and not say absolutely absurd and ridiculous, if not idiotic, things. And so when we come to origins and want to understand creation, we can only go to the account that He has given us in Genesis 1. And if you want a summary of Genesis 1, try Exodus 20:11 which says in six days He made everything, in six days He made everything. And to let you know; they were days, they are numbered and even identified as a morning and an evening.

Scripture opens in fact, if you go back to Genesis 1:1, with a really astounding statement. On the surface it’s very simple: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” But, again, this is an illustration of God’s communication genius and how He can say everything that needs to be said with an economy of words that is just stunning.

It was 1903 when Herbert Spencer, a well-known scientist, died; and he had been hailed for his discovery of categories. He had come up with, “What are the categories of the knowable?” He said there are five categories of the knowable. In other words, everything that exists fits into one of these categories: time, force, action, space, and matter. Everything that exists is within those categories: time, force, action, space, and matter. Discovery of Herbert Spencer.

Look at Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning – ” that’s time “ – God – ” that’s force “ – created – ” that’s action “ – the heavens – ” that’s space “ – and the earth – ” that’s matter. All categories of the knowable are in the very first statement of Scripture. The Bible says that God created everything that exists out of nothing in six days, out of nothing. So nobody gets past the first verse of the Bible without facing the test of submission to God, submission to His word, submission to His authority. This is where we start worshiping Him, right, as Creator. And we don’t need to muddy the waters by introducing into this chapter some things that confound its directness and steal worship from our God.

Is Music Worship?

Dr. John MacArthur on the theme of music and the role that it plays in the church:

Quotes:

“The first misconception is that music is worship. That is not true. Music is not worship. They’re not synonymous. Music is music, and worship is worship. But, typically, you hear people today say, ‘We’re going to worship,’ and then immediately that is essentially defined by music. Music is not worship. Music is a means to express worship, but it is not worship. Worship is the heart going up toward God in gratitude and thanksgiving for all that God has done: that’s worship. Worship is acknowledging God to be who He is revealed to be in Scripture. It is acknowledging what God has done; and in particular, that He has saved us, redeemed us, given us eternal life; and it is expressing gratitude to God. There are many ways to do that; music is one of them. But music is not worship. Music is a means by which a worshiping person expresses his thanks.”

Secondly, a misconception is that music motivates worship, music induces worship. That’s not true either. That is not true. It gives expression to love; it gives expression to adoration. But the motivation for that has to come from somewhere else, not from music. Music enhances and enriches. But the motive for all of our songs is not a sound, it’s a truth.

Another misconception is that when people have trouble worshiping, music will create worship, music will create the mood for worship. Worship is not a mood experience. That needs to be said loudly and clearly. You go to many ‘churches’ and you’ll be in the dark, and there will be sensual kind of music that appeals to the flesh at one level or another; and there will be lights flashing in all kind of directions. That has nothing to do with worship; and, frankly, does the opposite of inducing worship. It simply induces a fickle feeling. It’s a false substitute for true worship. See, true worship is a permanent attitude. John 4, ‘We worship in spirit and truth.’ That’s who we are. God seeks true worshipers. We are true worshipers. Philippians 3, ‘We worship in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.’ That’s a way of life. Our way of life is gratitude to God for who He is, what He’s done, and for our salvation and all of its blessing. We don’t need a mood created by some form of music that basically shifts – in many cases shifts the mind into neutral and generates a kind of neutral, empty, vacuous feeling. That’s not creating worship. It is true, there is something that creates worship – this will shock people – it’s preaching the Word, or reading the Word, so that when you know the truth, your heart reaches forward to God to express praise and gratitude.

Another misconception is this, that non-Christians aren’t going to come to church unless we import their music. Music so dominates our culture. It is so ubiquitous that if we’re going to appeal to nonbelievers, we’ve got to change our music. We’ve got to do the kind of music that they like and somehow baptize it if we’re going to reach out evangelistically. That’s not true. Never, never in Scripture is music ever, ever stated to be used as an evangelistic technique in some direct sense. In an indirect sense, it is because we’re singing of our Savior, right, we’re singing of salvation. But we’re singing to God, not the world, and not the unbeliever. There’s no mandate for the church to make its music appeal to the sons of Satan. So music is not worship. Music does not induce or motivate worship. Music does not somehow enhance worship by certain style and mood, nor is music ever intended for the satisfaction of nonbelievers as if that’s some entry into understanding the gospel. Continue reading