Which Promises Belong to Christians?

Which Promises Belong to Christians?

Can Christians Claim Promises Made to Israel?
Can Christians Claim Promises Made to Israel?

I recently read a post regarding the promises in the Bible. It said that some of the promises were made only to the nation of Israel and some only to Christians.

I disagree.

Let’s start out by defining what a promise is. It the Tanach (Old Testament), the word translated “promise” is דָבַר (da-bar), which means “speak or promise.” It first appears as promise in Genesis.

“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD
 by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD
 will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Genesis 18:19 (NIV, emphasis added)

This was a promise to an individual, specifically Abraham. God had promised a child through Sarah who would be called “the son of promise.” Now, if you look at the promise as one of the flesh, you don’t foolishly think that you will have a baby at 90 or 100.

But if you recognize that Scriptures in the Tanach are spiritual as well as temporal, you can see that the promised son, Isaac, was a type and a shadow of the Son of Promise who was yet to come, Jesus of Nazareth. That promise was made to the entire world.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2 (NIV, emphasis added)

Isaac’s near-sacrifice was a type and shadow of the sacrifice Jesus would make for the whole world. Abraham believed God’s promise to make his offspring a blessing to all the families of the earth (Acts 3:25). He did not hesitate to do all God spoke (דבר) to him because he understood that God’s promises are yes and amen.

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”

2nd Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)

Next, we have to look at whom the promises apply. The article I read divided them into those for Jews and those for Christians. The problem with seeing things that way is that it ignores the Book of Romans

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him.”

Romans 10:12 (ESV)

What are His riches but the promises made to His people?

The next chapter in Romans describes to us who His true church is.

“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”

Romans 11:17-18 (ESV)

Yes, I realize that salvation is the issue here and that Jews and Gentiles alike gain salvation in the same way. But what may not be so apparent is that Gentiles are grafted into the same tree that represents the nation of Israel. Jews who believe in Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) remain Jewish and all the promises relevant to them as Jews still remain. They do not leave Judaism behind and become Christians, as though it were a separate way. There is only one way, through Jesus. The law never was meant to save them—in fact, it could not—yet Jesus diligently kept God’s law.

“…since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we uphold the Law.”

Romans 3:30-31 (Berean Bible)

There is a great misunderstanding about what Jesus came to do. Most Christians think that the law has been done away with, but according to Jesus Himself, that is not true.

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Matthew 5:17-18 (NKJV)
Zayin represents a man with a crown on his head
Zayin represents a man with a crown on his head

A “jot” is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alef-bet, called variously yud or yod. A “tittle” is the crown-like marking above some of the letters (particularly the letter “zayin,” which represents a man with a crown upon his head).

Jesus was saying that He was making the law “full.” The Jews kept the letter of the law but ignored the weightier matters. That is why He said the following.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV)

Therefore, the law and the prophets were not done away with; in fact, Jesus kept all the laws to the letter. He did not, however, put restrictions upon the people that came from the traditions of man instead of from God.

If a Jew becomes a believer in Christ, he does not cease being a Jew. When a Gentile becomes a believer in the Jewish Messiah, he does not become a Jew. Instead, both of them become something entirely new—followers of the living God.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”

Romans 8:16-17

To sum it all up, there is one Scripture in particular that states it all quite clearly.

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, killing the hostility.”

Ephesians 2:11-16 (NKJV)

If we are separate from Jews who believe in Messiah yet retain the promises given to Israel, then the wall has not been torn down and the “one new man” does not exist.

There is no Christianity apart from Christ’s own faith and He is a Jew and heir to all the promises. When we are saved, we become heirs of all the promises because there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. If anyone can claim the promises of God, it is Yeshua Himself, and we in Him.

Thoughts on Eternal Security

Thoughts on Eternal Security

Iron sharpens iron

Recently during a Bible study with friends, the subject of “once saved, always saved” arose. I expressed that I believed that once you were saved you could not “lose” your salvation. One of the other members did not agree. She was fully convinced that you could, indeed, lose your salvation and pointed out several verses of scripture that were difficult passages to argue with.

My constant prayer is that the Holy Spirit will enlighten my understanding, give me the mind of Christ, and direct my thoughts, words, and actions. I told my friend that I would go do some soul-searching and Bible reading to see if I had simply believed what I had been taught, if my understanding of scripture was inaccurate, or if my belief was well-founded.

Define that, please

I did a lot of praying and reading. Why did I believe that I couldn’t lose my salvation? I decided I needed to understand the Biblical definitions of some key words.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

What does eternal mean? Taken from the Greek word aiōnios, it means in this context everlasting, without end, never to cease. The other two meanings don’t fit the context (click link G166 ).

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting G166 life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

Both times, and in fact 17 times in the book of John alone, the word eternal means “without end.”

So then I needed to understand what it meant to believe. There are a lot of meanings for the Greek word pisteuō g4100, and unfortunately, many think that someone who adheres to “once saved, always saved” includes the meaning of the word which is translated “mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith.” Of course—and quite honestly—I do not believe that someone who says “magic words” is saved. Instead, and I think more biblically, this definition is more appropriate. “Used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e. a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ.”

What does it mean to be conjoined? For this one, we need a regular dictionary, since the word is not in the Bible, though the concept is. The Dictionary.com defines conjoined as “joined together, united, or linked.” Not just acquaintances, but deeply associated like brothers.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31)

Believers—true followers of Jesus—continue g3306 in His word. Jesus said His disciples indeed continued. They did not depart (except Judas). The Greek word menō is defined as “a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand.”

So now I have a better understanding of what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus that those who believed in Him would have eternal life. Those who joined themselves to Jesus in unity and continued in His word were His disciples.

So what about those hard passages?

My friend was fully convinced because there are passages that seem to say if you start down the path with Jesus and then fall away, you can’t be redeemed again. And she’s right—kind of.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

What does “to fall away” actually mean? Another word for it is apostasy. John MacArthur defines apostasy this way. “Apostasy can be defined as someone who, with full knowledge of the gospel, full knowledge of the message of Scripture, turns against it in a final act of rejection” (emphasis mine).

Two people in the New Testament who immediately come to mind are Judas and Demas. Judas spent three years in the company of followers of Christ, seeing all the evidence of His messiahship, with all His teaching and miracles. Yet Jesus called Judas a devil! Judas hadn’t yet betrayed Christ, but Jesus knew that he wasn’t a true believer, despite having been enlightened, having tasted of the heavenly gift, and having partaken of everything the other disciples had. He ministered with them, ate with them, fellowshipped with Jesus, yet was not of them.

Demas was ministering with Paul until he (Demas) quit. He didn’t continue, though he had followed Paul and heard his teaching and saw the miracles Paul performed. He heard, saw, tasted… but didn’t continue. He didn’t fall away, he simply walked away.

So the impossibility of being renewed again unto repentance is because all that can be said has been said and all that can be done has been done and yet it was all eventually rejected. There is nothing else left for that person. Jesus cannot be sacrificed again for them; His sacrifice was once for all.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19)

This scripture shows that continuing with them was what would confirm their discipleship. How long to continue? Until the end.

“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)

Perdition is the Greek word apōleia, meaning the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell. Judas’ very nature was perdition. He was never a true believer, as demonstrated when Mary poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.

“This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:6)

Now let’s look at another hard scripture.

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

If you take this scripture alone, it appears to say that once you start walking with Jesus, if you reconsider, you have fallen away. But does it?

Let’s look at the scriptures immediately before it.

“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.” (Luke 9:57-61)

Each one of these men called Jesus Lord. Each one of them said they would follow Him. Note that these men made “professions of faith” and yet did not follow Jesus, though they said it was their intention. Did they really fall away? From what? How can you “fall away from the faith” if you never truly even had it?

In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the servants couldn’t tell the difference between them. The Master told them not to tear them out lest they also tear out the wheat. They grew up together until the harvest, and then the tares were burned. Only the Master knew which were tares and which were wheat. We, as servants, are not called to make that distinction.

One last thought

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23)

I believe there are many who call themselves Christians but do not “continue in His word.” They perform many good deeds and preach as though they are truly His followers. But they do not continue! At some point they deny the faith that they have earlier espoused, thinking that all the good deeds they’ve done will allow them to depart from His word. This final denial cuts a person off from salvation. That is the “falling away” of which the Bible speaks, in my opinion. Constantly being fearful of losing your salvation cannot be what Jesus had in mind. How many times did He say “fear not”?

Perhaps you still don’t believe in eternal security. But please, don’t live in eternal insecurity!

If you are saved, you will continue to the end, even if you have doubts. Your inheritance is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who has put His seal on you. Once He bestows on you eternal life, it is for eternity.

“And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: AND, LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD. Amen (Matthew 28:17-20
How to Know God

How to Know God

Are you certain you know God?

Belief and faith are extremely important in our life in God, but perhaps there is a deeper understanding to be had in order to know Him.

What does it mean “to know” the Lord?

Belief

that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. – John 3:15

 

Faith

But without faith it is impossible to please Him. – Hebrews 11:6a

 

Knowledge

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; – Deuteronomy 7:9a

What does it mean to believe?

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. – John 3:18

The Greek word used in this verse is πιστεύω, pronounced pisteuō. It is defined this way: to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in

Its Hebrew counterpart is אָמַן, which is where the word amen comes from. It means:to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in.

So our first step is to believe. We recognize that there is Someone who is behind all that is. We understand that this visible world is not all there is. It is the “aha!” moment when our perspective changes and we move from unbelief into believe.

However, this is only the first step. Remember, even the demons believe!  James 2:19 uses the exact same word for believe, pisteuō.

We cannot stay here. This believe drives us forward into the next step, faith.

We move from mere belief to faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

The Greek word used in this verse isπίστις, pronounced pē’-stēsIt is defined this way:a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we

obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

Its Hebrew counterpart is אֱמוּנָה, which means:literally firmness; figuratively security; morally fidelity.

Having believed that there is God in heaven, we begin to wrestle with what that means. As we seek God’s face, He promises that He will be found (Jeremiah 29:13). When He is found, we see that we are hopelessly lost from Him, but our hearts yearn toward Him, longing to be in relationship with Him.

That’s why Jesus came. Why He died. Why we can now live. We pledge our fidelity to Him and become children of God (John 1:12).

Like our own children, we must learn to know.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. – John 17:3

The Greek word used in this verse is γινώσκω, pronounced ginōskōIt is defined this way:to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel. As a Jewish idiom, to know is to have sexual intercourse.

Its Hebrew counterpart is יָדַע,  which means: to perceive and see, find out and discern, be revealed, to join together.

Like children, we progressively come to know God through the work of His Holy Spirit, whom He sent.

We start by acquiring knowledge, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In the Bible, knowing always involves relationship and commitment. It is a “joining together” of two to become one. You see a temporal illustration in marriage, where physical intimacy is described as “knowing” (Genesis 4:1). But it is so much more than that! It implies taking something (or someone) to oneself to possess it.

Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:5 wanted to “know” good and evil. Knowledge in itself is not bad, but in the biblical sense, it means to become one with it. What we take unto ourselves becomes a part of who we are, and separation requires as it were a “ripping apart,” a “tearing asunder” (Mark 10:9). This is one reason that God forbids sex before marriage. A bond is formed that renders real, permanent harm to both parties when the relationship is broken.

In Amos chapter 3 God declares “you only have I known.” Naturally, He knows every person on earth, not just one family, but He had created a relationship between Himself and Israel. It was a deep, physicla, mental, emotional, and spiritual knowing that set Israel apart as God’s own.

So returning to John 17:3, do we know God in the biblical sense? Have we joined together with Him and have we created a relationship that will last through eternity with Him?

What God has joined together… God does the joining in our relationship with Him. We become His own.

Do you truly know God… in the biblical sense?

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Do You Suffer From Spiritual Light Sensitivity?

Do You Suffer From Spiritual Light Sensitivity?

For weeks now, I have been struggling with light sensitivity.

Yes, I have very blue eyes and a bad habit of squinting against the light instead of putting on my sunglasses. Some days, I feel like I need them even indoors!

My doctor tells me that most people in Texas—where I live—have vitamin D3 deficiency. That’s crazy, when we know that only sunlight produces that vitamin in our bodies. You can get small amounts from eating things like mushrooms, but not nearly as much as your body needs. With the abundance of sunlight in Texas, you’d think we’d be the least likely people to develop this deficiency.

A study at Stanford

In a recent study at Stanford University, researchers found that women who spend at least 30-45 minutes in the sun everyday live longer and have less frequent breast cancers. Yet we’ve been told over and again to avoid the sun! And so we ask, what are we to do? (I’ll come back to that in a minute.)

Of even graver concern is the lack of spiritual light.

If avoiding the sun can cause physical problems in our bodies, imagine how avoiding God’s light can affect our spirits!

Consider the case of the New Testament Apostle Paul. Even though he wrote most of the New Testament, he had not always been a champion of the faith. Indeed, he had letters from the religious authorities to put in jail those who were following the Way. He was on the road to Damascus to do just that when something startling happened.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do (Acts9:3-6).”

Blinded by the light, his whole sense of who he was and who God was, was challenged. He had to be led into the city because he was totally blind.

But blind to what?

Saul was the young Pharisee who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was passionate for what he saw as the only way to worship God. But the Pharisees had put so many stumbling blocks in the way of the faithful that no one could be assured of not offending them.

However, God was offended by the Pharisees!

He knew that no one could follow the law perfectly. Not even pious Saul. So He enacted the solution He had prepared even before the beginning of time itself. He sent Jesus into the world, to live the life we should have lived. He did that perfectly. Then, He took on himself the penalty for every sin ever committed, past, present and even future. He paid the penalty and bought our freedom and forgiveness.

 

He became the light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).

 

When Jesus showed people the way, those who believed Him still struggled with believing. At one point, the boldest Apostle in the group, Simon Peter, denied he even knew Jesus.

Much later, when the beloved apostle, John, wrote in his letters, he made it abundantly clear who the light is.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:5-9).

This may be my favorite verse in the whole Bible. I love the light, because that’s where Jesus is.

But it is definitely not always easy.

I suffer from chronic depression. If you think Christians shouldn’t have depression, then you must also think they shouldn’t have diabetes, or heart disease, or any of a plethora of illnesses that are a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, until Jesus returns and make all things new, we live in a fallen and decaying world. One day soon, He will return and restore everything to the way He made it in the beginning, before the fall. (For more information on being a Christian with mental illness, see Amy Simpson’s Blog. You can also read my testimony about depression here.)

We have a worthy adversary—the devil. The word tells us that

he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8.).”

Do you know what that means? It means he is LOUD! He is ROARING his message of lies to us. But he is also a liar from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44).

The enemy roars his lies.

In our ears, in the mirror, in our jobs and our families and even in our churches. That is why it is crucial that we stay in the light. When the light is shining, nothing is hidden. If we believe the lies the enemy roars at us (I’m unloveable; I’m a failure; I’m not pretty; I can’t do anything right.) then we are committing Peter’s sin.

We’re denying that we know Jesus Christ.

I’ve just come through one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced. I tried walking backwards in the light, but all I saw were the shadows that I, myself, was casting. I heard the enemy’s lies, and I listened. Fortunately, I have people around me who saw what was happening and rushed to my aid.

Now I’m wearing an elastic band around my wrist. It says “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Even though it’s a good reminder, that’s not why I’m wearing it. Every time I hear the enemy’s lies in my mind, I snap that plastic band. Then I counter the lie with the truth of Jesus. I am loved. I am succeeding in my adventure with God. I’m beautiful because God says I am. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

One day soon I’m going to publish my testimony on this website. It’s kind of long, so it will be on a page of its own and you’ll never have to look there if you don’t want to. It isn’t a pretty story, but it is a story of victory!

So how do we balance our need for light?

In the physical, we need 30-45 minutes in the sun every day to produce enough vitamin D3. But NEVER without sunscreen! And I know it’s hot and we would rather sit in the air-conditioned room than walk around the block in the heat of the day. But doing something good for yourself means you’re doing something good for the people you love, too.

And what about spiritually?

Fully live your Life in the Light!

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How to Choose the Right Bible for You

How to Choose the Right Bible for You

How to choose the right Bible for you.

It seems to me that with the advent of global shopping online, the brick and mortar Christian bookstores where I worked and learned the difference between Bibles have gone the way of the dinosaur. Sure, there are loads of choices on the internet, many more, in fact, than any local bookstore or chain could carry. And it also seems like the sheer number of Bibles in new and exciting categories is growing by the day. So what do you do when you want a new Bible but aren’t sure where to turn? Well, for my friends, I have developed a method for you to weigh all the options available to you. Just click on the image to the right!

What’s the difference between not just translations, but types of Bibles? Is a Reference Bible better than a Study Bible? What qualifies as a Journaling Bible? And aren’t there specialty Bibles for just about every interest and need? Yes, there are, and what I’ve tried to do for you is put it all in a chart to help you make the choice that’s right for you.

But first, some definitions.

Concerning translations, there are actually 3 types you might come across. Verbal Equivalence Bibles (aka Formal Equivalence Bibles) means that the translators have opted to translate word for word. If it is strictly adhered to, it can make reading a bit awkward because there are no strict equivalent words for some Hebrew and Greek words.

The second type is Dynamic Equivalence (aka Functional Equivalence) Bibles. In this translation method, the translator has attempted to convey thought for thought instead of strict word for word. Neither one of these methods is fool-proof, but they are still remarkably accurate when compared to the original manuscripts.

The third type is a Paraphrase, which is not strictly a translation at all. This type takes the meaning of the Scriptures and tries to put it in simple, everyday language. Many people use a Paraphrase Bible for reading, but switch to an actual translation for studying.

More definitions

In addition to the different translations, there are different types of Bibles as well. The three most commonly read are the Study Bible, which includes study helps and commentaries to try to make the passages clearer; the Reference Bible, which has a column either in the center or along the edge that list other references to the same topic; and there is a growing demand for Journaling Bibles as more people embrace journaling in their Bibles instead of in a separate notebook. And then there are Specialty Bibles that include things like Men’s Bibles, Women’s or Kids’ Bibles, Bibles focusing on architecture, or the work of the Holy Spirit, or even just Topical Bibles.

I’ve tried to give you a good sampling of some of the most popular Bibles; obviously, this post would stretch on to eternity if I tried to cover them all.

I hope the resource is helpful for you the next time you decide to purchase a new one for yourself or as a gift for someone else. The most important thing to remember is that time spent in God’s word is edifying to your spirit and God actually says it is “food for the soul.” Remember, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4, KJV).

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The Problem of "Natural Evil"

The Problem of "Natural Evil"

Photo courtesy of Dmitri Ratushy on Unsplash

In a previous post, I talked about how God could be good and still allow evil. In that post, I explained that evil is not something in and of itself, but the corruption of something good. So now we come to natural evil, such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. How do those things fit in with God’s goodness?

The earth is under the curse

Romans 8:19-22 informs us,

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

This Scripture shows us that even nature has been subjected to the curse that originated at Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God’s will. At the beginning, all things—including weather—worked in harmony. There were no natural disasters before the fall. It’s important to remember that we live in a fallen world.

God is sovereign

Another important point is that God is sovereign. Because He can stand at the beginning and see the end (and we can’t), we often think that He must be capricious, allowing or perhaps even causing natural disasters to befall mankind. After all, He did send the flood, and in Mark 4:9 we see Jesus control the weather with a single word. But that doesn’t make God bad. Just because we cannot understand the reason for things does not mean that God cannot. In His wisdom, He allows things to be as they are for now, to be reconciled to Him in the end days.

Photo courtesy of Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash

Bad is sometimes the result of good

For instance, we have earthquakes because we have tectonic plates below the surface. Without the plates, we would not have continents. Without them, the earth could not support life.  Decrying earthquakes because they sometimes cause death is about as sensible as decrying the sun. After all, you can die from sunstroke, too. Once again, just because we do not understand why God allows some natural disasters is not a reason to quit trusting Him. Are you trustworthy to your children even when you allow them to feel the consequences of their behavior or restrict something they want to do? Of course you are. And God can be trusted even if we don’t understand all His reasons.

The worst is yet to come

The whole earth is groaning. It eagerly awaits the coming of God Himself to right all wrongs and reestablish balance in nature. We wait as the children of God for Him to rescue us from the mess that is largely our own doing. If we don’t cause all “natural disasters,” we certainly have a hand in some, such as when entire populations starve due to the evil of their governments who do not allow food to get to them. The earth is plenty capable of feeding the world. It is man who prevents it from happening.

Matthew 24:5-8 tells us what we are currently witnessing.

Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Note that Matthew says these are the beginnings of birth pains.

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We can still rejoice

When you belong to the Lord, you can rest in knowing that He has good things—perfect things—in store for you. Listen to Isaiah 25:8-9:

He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, ‘Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.