Patience–A Virtue

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Temperance and patience form an important team of virtues.  In II Peter 1:5-8, Peter instructs us to add patience to temperance.  Without temperance, we could not be patient.  The word “add” indicates that we must grow spiritually in the development of godly character.  The pursuit of godly character is one aspect of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Patience–Passive Sense.
The word patience literally involves “an abiding under.” (Vine, III, pp. 167-168).  In the passive sense, patience is endurance.  In the face of hatred, Christians must endure.  Luke 21:19, “In your patience possess ye your souls.”  Jesus warned that His disciples would be hated of all men for His name’s sake.  Some trials are incident to service to Jesus Christ or the Gospel.  II Cor. 6:4-5, “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings… (See also, II Cor. 12:12; II Tim. 3:10).  We must be patient when under chastisement (Heb. 12:7).  And, we must be patient in the face of undeserved affliction (I Peter 2:20).
Patience-Active Sense
Patience, in the active sense, means perseverance or persistence. Paul teaches us to continue in well-doing.  Rom. 2:7, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.”  It takes patience to bear fruit.  Luke 8:15, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”  Patience is also needed to run the Christian race.  Heb. 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Patience–Some Opposites
Consider this list of opposites to patience:  idleness, contrariness, inattention, defiance, neglect, irritation, exasperation, rage, fretfulness, fickleness, ire, temper, petulance, displeasure, negligence, disobedience, resistance, wrath, remissness, indignation, indolence, recalcitrance, fury, pettishness, offense, sloth, insubordination, peevishness, impatience, willfulness, inconstancy, resentment, intractability, vexation, animosity, changeableness, and passion.  A lack of patience produces a whole host of undesirable attitudes and behaviors.
Patience and Temperance
Temperance is self-control or will-power exercised to restrain the passions and develop the spiritual habits of mind and heart that will keep us from sin and promote righteousness.  Patience is the use of will-power to either endure hardships and trials or persevere in well-doing (righteousness).  Temperance and patience are a team that work together to help us live a life that is pleasing to God.  They are intricately involved in the mastery of self.  These may be two virtues that are lacking the most in the character of God’s people.

Shocking Alcohol Abuse

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Christopher Ingraham, in The Washington Post, August 13, 2017 provided the following information about alcohol abuse in the United States.
–A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry this month finds that the rate of alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) rose by a shocking 49 percent in the first decade of the 2000’s.
–1 in 8 Americans, 12.7 percent of the U. S. population, now meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder.
–The authors of the study characterize the findings as a serious and overlooked public health problem.  Health issues involved in alcohol abuse are:  fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver cirrhosis, several types of cancer and infections, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes and various injuries.  In another study, The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research fund have announced the analysis of 119 previous studies involving 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer.  The study shows that even one small glass of wine or an eight-ounce beer a day causes a 5% greater risk of breast cancer for premenopausal women and a 9% increase for postmenopausal women.  Alcohol triggers DNA mutations and raises estrogen levels which are linked to increased risk for breast cancer.  (Does God Exist?, Third Quarter, 2017, p. 26).
–The CDC (Center For Disease Control) estimates that 88,000 people a year die from alcohol-related causes.  This is more than double the annual death rate of opiate overdoses (100 people a day die from opiate/heroin overdoes in the U. S.).  241 people a day are dying due to alcohol abuse!  Where are the headlines exposing this crisis?
–Nearly 1 in 4 adults under the age of 30 (23.4 percent) met the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.
A diagnosis of alcohol dependency occurs when any three of the following seven symptoms are present:
1.  Need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
2.  Characteristic withdrawal symptoms (shakes for instance) or drinking to relieve these types of symptoms.
3.  Drinking larger amounts; or, over a longer period of time.
4.  Persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drinking (out-of-control drinking).
5.  Spending a great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain, to use, or to recover from the effects of drinking.
6.  Continued drinking despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to be caused or exacerbated by drinking.
7.  Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of drinking.
God’s Word Condemns Drinking Alcohol
Consider the following passages that condemn the use of alcohol.  Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”  Prov. 23:29, “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling?  Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine?  Eph. 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”  “Be not drunk” is an inceptive verb that refers to the entire process of inebriation, from the first drink onward.  There is an alternative to consuming alcohol and that is to be filled with the Spirit.  Rom. 8:13-14, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  Gal. 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The sin of drinking alcoholic beverages in our culture and in our churches has become widespread.  The indulgence of the lusts of the flesh are detrimental to the cultivation of godly character.  The use of alcohol lessons our ability to practice self-control.  The result is that alcohol use becomes an avenue for the commission of more sins (fornication, adultery, domestic abuse, violence, death and injury due to drunk driving, murder, and such like).
Paul set forth a clear pathway to God that involves mortifying the lusts of the flesh and pursuing life in the Spirit.  Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.

Can You Control Yourself?

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Self-control (temperance) is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  It is also a Christian virtue (II Pet. 1:5-8).  Self-control regulates desires and impulses (the lusts of the flesh).  Self-control involves wanting to do one thing, but choosing to do another.  Self-control regulates what we think, do, and how we express our emotions.  Willpower is the emotional and mental energy used to exert self-control.  Self-control is inner regulation by one’s willpower keeping ourselves from sin.  Self-control is the fruit of submission to God.  It is energized by faith in God and love for God. The more self-control is used, the stronger it becomes.  It weakens immediately after use, but strengthens with frequent use.
Automated and Controlled Actions
Automated actions develop whenever we learn a skill or activity through repeated actions (Driving a car).  Controlled actions involve conscious thought and effort (Driving a car in a foreign country).  Automated and controlled actions team up to help us function.  Self-control involves both automated and controlled actions.  Self-control exercised over time produces habits of the mind and heart which affect behaviors.
Self-Control and the Bible
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  Self-control is a result of the pursuit of the Spirit rather than the lusts of the flesh (carnality or worldliness).  “As many as are led by the  Spirit, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). We must be vitally connected to the Vine in order to bear these fruits (John 15:1-5).
Self-control is a virtue of the Christian life.  II Pet. 1:5-8, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance: and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness: And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”  Self-control is acquired by exercising ourselves unto godliness (I Tim. 4:8).  Lack of self-control is like a city without walls (Prov. 25:28).
Results of Low Self-Control
If we possess a low willpower level, then there will be more indulgence of the flesh.
A low willpower level, will result in the display of more negative emotions like anger and strife.
Low willpower or lack of self-control make temptations more alluring.  Yielding to temptation creates a greater desire for the object of the temptation (we now have a memory of the pleasure of sin).
Factors Involved In Increasing Self-Control
Each person should get plenty of rest and pursue a proper diet (remember Elijah who became despondent whenever Jezebel sought his life).
Don’t add stressers to your life (rushing to get somewhere increases anxiety-which wastes emotional energy).
Work to reduce or eliminate personal conflict.
Don’t overload or overwhelm your abilities to cope with life.
Steer away from wasting emotional energy on things like constantly checking email or social media.
Self-control must be used or it will be lost.  Use your own willpower to make habits out of your thoughts, feeling and behaviors that you know are good and beneficial.
Don’t accept weakness or shortcoming.  This leads to failure.  Failure to hit the mark (God’s standard of righteousness) is sin.
(see Can You Control Yourself, Christianity Today, May, 2017, pp. 36-41 for more information).

Living In God’s Presence

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“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).
There are two reactions that we can make as we live in the presence of God.  The first is irreverence and the second is reverence and godly fear.
Leonard Pitts Jr. illustrates irreverence when he wrote exposing Jeffrey Darnell Paul who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. as a “playa” holding up $100 dollar bills while a scantily clad women looked on.  Pitts wrote, “Irreverence is not the liberating of the American mind, but the calcifying of the American heart against anything sacred” (Jan. 16, 2012, Columbus Dispatch).
-Irreverence leads to the death of civility.
-Irreverence produces a tyranny all its own.  A ban against holding up anything above the fray, or regarding anything as too sacred for too long.
-Irreverence violates the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).  When we mock and ridicule leaders that deserve our respect, then we lower the bar for everyone.
Cindy Brandt gives some examples of irreverence in Irreverence is the New Reverence (Huffington Post, 7/22/2014).  First, Nadia Bolz-Weber, minister of a Lutheran Church in Denver, CO, who is heavily tatted and foul-mouthed.  An obvious example of the “double-minded” (James 1:8) who mocks her own religion with her faulty character.  Second, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary (a female) whose voice contains crude humor and who quoted God as using profanity.  She mocks the holiness of God with such depictions.  Third, some Facebook pages: “Unvirtuous Abbey”; “Stuff Christian Cultures Like” which is a page that exists solely to brutally mock Christian culture.
-Irreverence manifests impiety towards God.
-Irreverence consists of disrespectful attitudes and actions.
-Irreverence toward God is blasphemy.
-Irreverence is disregard for the authority and character of a superior.  There is no higher authority than God.
Reverence is respect for the authority and character of those who are superior in rank or position.
Reverence for God combines the fear of God with the love of God.  Reverence for God involves an understanding of His power to punish the evil-doer, but, also, His great love and mercy toward them that love Him.
Reverence is indispensable to true religion.  Charles Simmons rightly observed that, “Reverence is the very first element of religion; it cannot but be felt by every one who has right views of the divine greatness and holiness, and of his own character in the sight of God” (Christianity Then and Now, Jan. 1, 2012).
There are several glimpses of reverence in God’s Word.  Each involves a deep sense of understanding that we live in the presence of God.
Moses’ call to the prophetic office is given in Exodus 3:1-6.  Moses sees the burning bush and is instructed to take off his shoes for the ground upon which he was standing was holy.  In the presence of a holy God, we have a keen sense of our own unworthiness.
In Exodus 32:19, Moses displayed reverence for God by his zeal for the Lord.  When Moses sees the sin of the people of Israel after receiving the Ten Commandments from God, he is filled with anger and breaks the tablets of stone.  Zeal for God is produced by reverence for God and His laws.
During the period of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, Ezra was instrumental in guiding the people spiritually to return to the Lord.  In Nehemiah 8:5,9, he reads the Law of God.  When he reads the Law, all of the people stood up.  When he finished, they all wept.  Reverence for God produces respect for God’s Word.
Nehemiah helped Ezra in the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity.  In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah learns of the condition of the city of Jerusalem from his brother, Hanani.  He wept, fasted and prayed.  Reverence for God motivates us to intimacy with God.  In face of the task of the rebuilding Jerusalem, Nehemiah sought God first.
When David sinned in conceiving a child with Bathsheba, he received word from the prophet Nathan that the child would die.  David prayed and fasted until he learned that the child died.  Immediately, he washed himself and entered into the house of God to worship.  Reverence for God gives God the glory even in the face of God’s chastening.  The reverent heart seeks to glorify God at all times.
The Roman soldier at the foot of the cross experiences all of the miracles at the time of Jesus’ death.  He hears the seven sayings of Jesus while He was on the cross.  At the end, he says, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).  The persuasive power of God intervening in human history produces reverence for God that expresses itself in confession of God’s Son.
-Reverence for God is a feeling evoked by the Glory and Holiness of God.
-Reverence is the result of understanding in the fullest sense who God is.
-Reverence produces in us a strong feeling of unworthiness in God’s presence.  It produces respect, humility and submission to God.

Genesis 1 and Lessons From Space (Revised)

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In January, 2017, the Warren Christian Apologetics Center published a revised edition of Nobie Stone’s work, Genesis 1 and Lessons From Space.  A review of the first edition of this work was published on this blog under Book Reviews in 2014 when the first edition was published.  Now, a thorough review of the new revised edition has been published on this blog under Book Reviews.  Simply click on Genesis 1 and Lessons From Space Revised and you will have access to the ten page review.
Nobie Stone is a theistic evolutionist and a mitigated skeptic who misinterprets Genesis 1 in an attempt to harmonize it with evolutionary chronology.  He makes many mistakes in logic, science and theology.  Many of these same mistakes were made in the first edition.  Now, they are repeated in the revised edition and many more errors are added.  Please take the time to read this review and, then, distribute it to others who may be interested in examining the faulty apologetics the book affirms.

The Power of Listening

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What is the most effective way to communicate the gospel?  One model emphasizes arguing, proving and defending.  Another, suggests listening, questioning and empathizing.  To be sure, these two approaches are different.  Both may be worth knowing and using.
Why Do We Resist Change?
Research has given us a couple of reasons why people resist change or persuasion.  The first is confirmation bias.  This occurs when people seek out information that confirms a belief and outright reject anything that conflicts with it (A Lesson In Listening, Christianity Today, June, 2017, p. 42).  The second is identity protection cognition.  This occurs when people’s defense mechanisms kick in when they feel their identity and core values are being threatened and it can lead them to subconsciously resist information that conflicts with their beliefs (Ibid. p. 43).  Both of these responses represent psychological ways of protecting ourselves from ideas or concepts that we have not already approved or that would produce significant change in our lives.  We resist persuasion in order to maintain identity and beliefs that we have already accepted and validated.  A third reason why we resist change/persuasion is that sinful conduct hardens our hearts against the truth of God’s Word.  Heb. 3:12-13, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  Sin is deceptive and it causes us to resist change in God’s direction.  This produces a spiritual blindness that must be overcome by the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:4).
The Power of Listening.
James 1:19-20, encourages us to be good listeners. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”  Good listening skills are important in soul-winning.  Consider the following thoughts:
1.  Listen with the intent to understand.  Listen more than you speak!
2.  Ask questions.  Asking questions prevents accusations (which put the person you are communicating with on the defensive) and it produces thought (the person must now respond which shifts the responsibility back to them).
3.  Show empathy.  Empathy involves the idea of putting ourselves in the place of the other person to really understand how they feel and how they think about their present circumstances.
4.  Be patient.  Sometimes we get impatient whenever someone resists our presentation of the truth.  Persuasion is a process.
5.  Be kind, gentle, and loving.  There is no need to get angry.  Watch becoming upset or defensive.  Preach the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
6.  Practice self-control.  James emphasizes the necessity of controlling one’s tongue to demonstrate mastery of self.  This is essential in soul-winning.
Love and listening will go a long way to help persuade others that God’s way is best for them.  We can only do our part and then the person who hears God’s word must have a good and honest heart that is receptive to God’s will.

Revising The Biblical Decree On Womanhood

Bible translations, women's role in the church No Comments

The English Standard Version is now being used by many who may not be aware of some of the significant changes that have been made in that translation.  One such change is found in Genesis 3:16.  The ESV reads, “To the woman he said, I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.  Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”  In Genesis 3, God expels the first two human beings from the Garden of Eden.  Eve succumbed to temptation and sinned against God by eating of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17).  Then, she gave some of the fruit to her husband and he did it.  In doing so, Adam sinned against God.  God punishes Eve for her transgression.  In the KJV, Genesis 3:16 states, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee.”
The ESV vs. the KJV
The ESV appears to suggest that women naturally oppose their husband’s desires.  Could this explain the battle of the sexes?  One reader responded that it sounds like wives are responsible for marital conflict (Bible Review Journal, vol. 4, no. 1, Spring, 2017, p. 27).  The ESV seems to teach that women oppose their husband’s desires, but that they (their husbands) will overrule them.  The KJV teaches that God by divine precept subjugated the woman to the man in the marriage relationship because of her being deceived and usurping his authority.  Adam was addressed by God regarding the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17) before Eve was created.  In all likelihood, she learned of the forbidden fruit from her husband.  When she succumbed to the temptation of Satan, she disobeyed God and disregarded the words of her husband.
Why the Translation Difference?
The translation difference hinges on a single Hebrew preposition: ‘el.  Virtually no other major translation takes this word to mean “contrary to,” as the ESV does.  The translation is false and misleading.
Two Problems Resulting From This Change
The first problem to consider is the destruction of the link between Gen. 3:16 and Eph. 5:23-24.  The subjugation of the woman to her husband in the marriage is divinely ordained by God.  It is a God-given decree that is tied to the fall of the woman.  If the subjugation of the woman to the man in marriage is not divinely decreed, then the cultural argument made by egalitarians is strengthened.  In Eph. 5:23-24, the ESV states that the husband is the head of the wife and that she is to be in submission to her husband.  However, verse 21 is already being used by egalitarians to show that the submission is mutual and equal.  While this is a misinterpretation of verse 21, it still is problematic.  The destruction of the link between Eph. 5:23-24 and Gen. 3:16 will further complicate the interpretation of both passages.
A second problem is the destruction of the link between Gen. 3:16 and I Tim. 2:12-14 subordinating women to men in the worship assembly of the New Testament church.  In I Tim. 2:13-14, the Holy Spirit through Paul makes it clear that a woman is not permitted to teach nor (in any other way) to usurp authority over the man.  He bases his argument on two important things:  (1)  Adam was created before Eve (the created order) and (2) Eve was deceived by Satan not Adam (the order and circumstances of the fall).  God by divine decree subjugated the woman to the man in marriage.  This cannot be reversed in the worship assembly (I Cor. 14:34-35).  For these reasons we do not have women preachers, women serving as elders or deacons, or women taking part in the public worship assemblies.  The ESV accommodates the egalitarians who argue for a cultural interpretation of I Tim. 2:12-14 and consequently permit a wider role for women in the church.
This translation change by the ESV translators simply demonstrates how a small change (the meaning of one preposition) can have a profound impact on the interpretation of God’s Word and the doctrines and practices of the New Testament church.

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