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The Words Of David C. Frampton http://www.davidcframpton.com Welcome Inside Wed, 08 Aug 2018 17:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://www.davidcframpton.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-cross-32x32.png The Words Of David C. Frampton http://www.davidcframpton.com 32 32 Showdown on Carmel (Part Three) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/08/showdown-on-carmel-part-three/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/08/showdown-on-carmel-part-three/#respond Wed, 08 Aug 2018 17:43:47 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1635 Continue reading "Showdown on Carmel (Part Three)"]]> 1 Kings 18:25-40

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be knowntoday that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:36-37 NIV).

Next we read Elijah’s prayer for fire from heaven. Too often we assume that prayer for “big things” must be spectacular. And we suppose that if we can add a lot of religious or spiritual stuff to our prayer, we have a better chance of getting what we want from God. Any pastor can tell you that people come to him asking for him to prayer, because they presume that the prayers of a “holy man” are more powerful than those of average Christians. Elijah’s short prayer ought to end those wrong ideas. We should also learn that superstition overflows with ceremonies; faith uses the means of prayer.

First, think about the way Elijah addressed God. He spoke to God as the covenant Lord of his people, Israel.  He was saying, “Lord, you are faithful to your covenant. Remind these people of your faithfulness.” We are able to plead a better and eternal covenant in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:20). He prayed plainly, directly and reverently, yet with emotion. There is nothing wrong with emotion, provided it is in response to the truth. The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever… (2 John 1:1-2 NIV). It was only a short prayer, especially as compared to the prayers of Baal’s prophets. Their ritual was six hours long; Elijah’s prayer was less than a minute. The length of a prayer is unimportant, provided that its duration is not done to be seen of people. God is most concerned about the content, your attitude, and your faith. The length of a prayer is a secondary matter.

Second, listen to his requests. Elijah asked for the glory of God, that the Lord would clearly demonstrate that he is God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6 NIV, my emphasis). He prayed for the vindication of the word. He wanted the Lord to testify that Elijah was his prophet and that his actions were in conformity with God’s word to him. This was not self-centered, but a matter of the truth of God’s word. He asked for a work of grace. He cared about his people. He longed that the Lord would turn the hearts of the people back to God. Conversion (repentance and faith) begins with God’s supernatural act of the new birth from above. This was a God-centered prayer. This is the crucial concept. Are we seeking first the honor of God? Our foremost concern should not be for the prosperity of our church or our lives, but for the honor of the Lord (John 8:50; 12:28; 14:13;15:8; 17:4).

Third, we see God’s answer (18:38-40). The fire had a supernatural character. An ordinary fire simply doesn’t produce such an effect. I had many fires in my fireplace, and the bricks easily outlasted every fire! It was also a controlled fire, because it did not harm any of the people, even Ahab and his pagan prophets.

The people outwardly acknowledged the supremacy of the living God. The indisputable happening constrained the people to worship the Lord. How many of them were truly converted is not stated in this passage. An outward confession is no proof of grace; they could have just been overwhelmed by what occurred (cf. Mark 5:16-17; John 6). A miracle alone cannot change a heart. Ahab saw the fire fall, yet he did not repent. Consider the unbelief at the raising of Lazarus (John 11:47-48). We need to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who alone produces regenerate hearts, instead of praying for  miracles or judgments.

The end was the execution of the false prophets. Elijah had a firm Biblical warrant for this action (Deuteronomy 13). The law or old covenant was a ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3).

What are some lessons we should learn?

  • Let every Christian be encouraged to put their trust in God and to go forth in his strength to live for him in this ungodly age.
  • Let us not underestimate the power of faith in the Sovereign Lord. Nothing is too hard for him! Therefore, we ought to believe and pray.
  • Let everyone fear the living God who has such power. Hear the words of Jesus. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him (Luke 12:4-5 NIV).
  • Let everyone find acceptance with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV).

Grace and peace, David

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Showdown on Carmel (Part Two) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/07/showdown-on-carmel-part-two/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/07/showdown-on-carmel-part-two/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2018 12:41:51 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1633 Continue reading "Showdown on Carmel (Part Two)"]]> 1 Kings 18:25-40

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord (1 Kings 18:30-32a ESV).

Elijah led the return to the worship of the true and living God. This was a much bigger and better goal than simply proving that he was the Lord’s prophet. It is too easy for humans to have desires for personal vindication. At this moment, he was spiritually on course. Elijah was motivated by the desire to see God exalted.

Elijah prepared the means of worship. We need to remember the time in which Elijah lived. It was the time of the law or old covenant. Israel was the people of God, if they obeyed the Lord (Exodus 19:1-6; etc.) Worship and fellowship with the Almighty, Holy God was only possible through the offering of an animal sacrifice presented in the proper way. As God’s prophet (cf. similar acts by Samuel), Elijah could do this on special occasions, though only the priests could minister at the altar in Jerusalem. The Lord graciously called his people back into covenant fellowship with the enemies of God and his people watching. Churches do not hesitate to have new covenant practices (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) on display before unbelievers. In fact, such times have often been the occasion for unbelievers to turn to the Lord Jesus and be saved.

Elijah did everything very openly so that no one could accuse him of trickery. He called the people near. Truth does not fear investigation. He thoroughly doused the altar, wood and sacrifice with water. (Certainly, the people would have come with much water to drink.) It seems like Elijah was trying to make it “harder” for the Lord. There was no possibility of a spark on that altar.

He acted to show the people that the Lord was still their God (18:30-31). It was kind of a covenant renewal service. Remember what Moses did when the law covenant was given. And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early the next morning and set up an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel at the base of the mountain (Exodus 24:4 CSB). The people had broken the covenant by following other gods, but God is rich in mercy. He welcomes back those who return to him in faith. Elijah proclaimed by this action that there was hope for the people. They still could rightly be called Israel. God had named the people, and so they could rebuild an altar in his name. Worship could be restored.

Too often when we read the Scriptures, we can skip over what is important. We need to slow down, reread, and think. Notice how the writer described Israel: to whom the word of the Lord came. Having the word of the living God was preeminent among Israel’s privileges. What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God (Romans 3:1-2 NIV). In the Holy Writings given to the Jews, we have the words of the God who speaks! A core problem of Israel in Elijah’s time was their failure to hear and to obey God’s word. For three years there had been no rain, in fulfillment of a covenant threat (Deuteronomy 28:22-24). But the writer reminds us that God’s people have his word and can and ought to return to the Lord.

What of us? Do we value God’s word? Do we read it daily? To we by faith listen to its message? May God give us grace to treasure God’s word in our hearts!

Grace and peace, David

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Showdown on Carmel (Part One) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/06/showdown-on-carmel-part-one/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/06/showdown-on-carmel-part-one/#respond Mon, 06 Aug 2018 15:59:50 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1631 Continue reading "Showdown on Carmel (Part One)"]]> 1 Kings 18:25-40

At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:27 NIV).

The scene before us in this text is one of the most dramatic and moving in the Scriptures. Picture what happened in your imaginations. Four hundred fifty richly robed prophets of Baal versus one simply and sternly clothed prophet of the Lord. And there sits the powerful king of Israel, Ahab, who is surrounded by his court and people. The crowd anxiously waits to see who will win this contest.

What we have here is a tremendous act of mercy on the part of the Lord. To think that he, the Creator and Preserver of all things, would stoop to allow himself to be so tested! Yet he did this for the benefit of those people, and for us as well. Come, let us worship the Lord who displayed his glory at the showdown on Carmel.

The contest opens with exposure of the false gods. After the terms of the contest were accepted, Elijah allowed them to go first. What happened next was a worthless effort by the pagan priests.

The writer described them in two ways. First, they had a unity of purpose. Unity can be used by evil as much as division. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (cf. Acts 19:34) The majority was in full agreement among themselves, but the majority was wrong. Second, they were sincerely and seriously devoted to their god. They called on Baal, they shouted, they danced, they slashed themselves, they frantically prophesied. What zeal; what ignorance! For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge (Romans 10:2 NIV).

In spite of their efforts, they failed. Sincerity and seriousness of purpose is no evidence of truth. You can seriously and sincerely take medication, but if it is useless as a remedy for your illness, your seriousness and sincerity do nothing to help you. They might even harm you. Ritual involvement and emotional displays lack value before the Lord. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV; cf. Matthew 15:8). Many in our day place a high value on grand displays of ritual or exciting entertainment in religion. The prophets of Baal will always offer such flesh-pleasing diversions. You should ask instead, “Is the grace of God in the gospel of Christ being preached in truth?”

They received a stinging rebuke by Elijah. He used sarcasm to help expose the ridiculous nature  of their false religion.   Sarcasm is a dangerous verbal weapon and should be used only with great caution. But there are times that it must be used to expose error and to convince people of their sin in pursuing a lie. His mockery of Baal’s priests represented the Lord’s attitude toward false religion. The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them (Psalm 2:4 NIV; cf. Proverbs 1:22-27).

Why did the false prophets and priests fail? They did not serve the only one true and living God (Psalm 115:1-8). There is no reason to fear false gods. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good (Jeremiah 10:5 NIV).

Is your trust in the living, sovereign God?

Grace and peace, David

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Wavering Between Two Opinions (Part Three) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/01/wavering-between-two-opinions-part-three/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/08/01/wavering-between-two-opinions-part-three/#respond Wed, 01 Aug 2018 17:50:45 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1629 Continue reading "Wavering Between Two Opinions (Part Three)"]]> 1 Kings 18:16-24

Next, let’s consider the object of the contest between the Lord’s prophet, Elijah, and the false prophets encouraged by Ahab and Jezebel. This is an unpopular topic in this day of the “intolerance of tolerance” (D.A. Carson). Political correctness in North America and Europe has reduced the level of communicating ideas to the level of complete silliness. If you say anything that disagrees with the opinions of the self-appointed intellectuals and pop celebrities, you are branded a bigot, intolerant, or worse and then roasted alive in social media. A truly open-minded person is willing to join in a discussion and to listen and to talk without inflammatory words.

Elijah acted in order that the reality of the worship of the Lord would be clear. True Christians are against violence and trying to coerce people to believe. We think that all people are free moral agents and must grasp the superiority of Jesus Christ and the gospel, if they are to follow him. No one can follow the Lord, unless they are convinced in their minds to follow him. Having said that, we also state that the worship of the living God is just not another religion to be tolerated. It is the right one. All others are wrong.

Someone might ask, “Isn’t that being rather narrow-minded?” Let’s use an illustration. If we had a table before us with 20 glasses on it, one filled with pure water and 19 with deadly poison, would it be narrow-minded to drink only the one filled pure water? If God’s word is truth, then all other religions are deadly error. Should Christians then work for the suppression of other religions? Israel was so ordered in the old covenant (Deuteronomy 13). No, because we live under a different covenant, which is not a ministry of death, but of life (2 Corinthians 3). The new covenant way is to avoid false teachers (2 John).

During the old covenant, God demonstrated his ability to effectively deal with sin. He operates in space and time. He reserves to himself the right to tell us how to interact with people who oppose him and truth. We are to love our enemies (Matthew 5).

In our time, we are in the midst of a great struggle within professing Christianity. Here are a few examples.

  • Is the object of religion to love God or oneself?
  • Is the Bible the word of God or a mixture of truth and error?
  • Can we even say that there is any such thing as absolute truth?
  • Is there eternal punishment for the unsaved or merely annihilation or even universal salvation?
  • Is a Christian someone who merely assents to the “Apostles’ Creed” or one who trusts in Jesus Christ alone in order to be right with God?
  • Is there any value in or purpose for being heavenly-minded?
  • Was Christ’s death and resurrection necessary to save us, or were they only moral examples?
  • Does God really care about sexual immorality?

Elijah acted in order that the people would serve God only. His demand was based upon a basic principle of the old covenant: “if… then follow…” (1 Kings 18:24). The law covenant prohibited the worship of any other gods and the making of idols and images (Deuteronomy 5:1-10). Once you know what is right, you must live in conformity with the truth. Jesus taught this same truth: no person can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). You must be for the Lord and live for him, or be for a false god and live for him.

What should we learn from this uncomfortable incident?

  • It is not enough to be brought up in a Christian home, and just to drift along with the tide when out in the world. You yourself must know Christ by faith and decidedly live for him.
  • It is insufficient to have an orthodox creed and to live a wicked life (Titus 1:16). True faith produces godliness.
  • It is not acceptable to be a Christian on Sunday, and yet fail to confess the Lord Jesus Christ during the week (Matthew 10:32-33).
  • Don’t waver between two opinions. Worship the living God and live for him!

Grace and peace, David

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The Struggles of the Believer (Part Seven) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/27/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-seven/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/27/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-seven/#respond Fri, 27 Jul 2018 18:39:12 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1626 Continue reading "The Struggles of the Believer (Part Seven)"]]> 1 John 5:13

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (CSB).

The second support is that of a changed life. We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (1 John 2:3-6 NIV). To use our previous illustration, this is like showing you my wife and having her testify that we are married. If I claimed to be married, and no one ever saw my wife, you would rightly be suspicious of my assertion.

At this point we must be careful, because of what I’ll call “short-checklist morality”. When most people think of sin, they confine themselves to a few of the prohibitions of the Ten Commandments, like don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, and don’t bear false witness. They might add a couple other prohibitions to their list, but they assume that “holiness” concerns the avoidance of the items on their checklist. And they evaluate others the same way. For example, if homosexuality is on their list, they’ll be proud that they’re not and roundly condemn anyone with even homosexual tendencies. This short-checklist morality twists their own view of true Christianity and also what others think a true Christian is or isn’t. If they keep their short checklist, they assume that they have evidence of salvation. But that is not the changed life the Bible presents. I’ll explain.

  • The apostle John wrote: We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Clearly, this means the commands that tell of godliness for new covenant believers, but I’ll avoid explaining the reasons in this post. To be brief, this means what the Spirit gave as directives to us in all the Scriptures, but according to the age in which we live in redemptive history. These commands involve many prohibitions and many positive commands and instructions and godly wisdom and encouragements.
  • This means not only theoretical agreement, but also practical performance of what the Lord commands us: Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
  • This kind of obedience springs from love for the Lord. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. A person might say, “I never steal, and I love to tell the truth.” That’s nice. But if they don’t love God in the process, they have never actually obeyed, because love for God is indispensable for obedience. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10 NIV).
  • We do not truly obey unless we model the character of Jesus Christ. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. In every act of obedience, he pleased the Father (John 5:30; 8:29). He rejoiced to please the Father, even in the most difficult time (Hebrews 12:2). This is the kind of life God the Father expects from us, too, a life that pleases the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:10; Colossians 1:10; 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 4:1; 1 Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 11:6; 13:16; 1 John 3:22).

The apostle John tells us that we will be able to see a two-part witness of the reality of our salvation, and that this testimony is one of the three bases of assurance. If we lack this testimony, we have a serious crack in our assurance. There is the witness of love for other Christians. This is a witness to ourselves (1 John 3:14). It is also the witness to others (John 13:34-35). We also can see the witness of a holy life (1 John 2:29; 3:3; 5:4). We stop doing some things (1 John 3:8-9). We put sin to death (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5). We begin to do other things (1 Jn 2:29; 3:10). This is the process of continual renewal (Colossians 3:12-17; 2 Peter 1:5-11).

This makes a proper doctrine of spiritual growth so important. If you seek to become godlier in the wrong way, you may corrupt your assurance of salvation. We must avoid a common error—making our growth in grace a source of confidence before God. That is legalism, and the error of many in both Reformed and Fundamentalist circles. A truly growing godliness is the product of union with the risen Christ (Romans 7:1-6). Christ alone must be our joy and confidence! The holy witness is a sign of what he is doing in us by his Spirit.

Grace and peace, David

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The Struggles of the Believer (Part Six) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/26/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-six/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/26/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-six/#respond Thu, 26 Jul 2018 21:21:14 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1624 Continue reading "The Struggles of the Believer (Part Six)"]]> 1 John 5:13

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (CSB).

Our current study is about the struggles that a real follower of the Lord Jesus can face. First, we established this fact and discussed the struggle with fear. In our previous two posts, we began to answer the question, “What should you do if you are not sure that you are saved?” Time only permitted us to give two answers. The first was to examine yourself to see if you are really a follower of Christ. We saw that the God requires a true repentance toward him and a true belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. The second was to realize that true believers might struggle about their assurance. So we presented three proofs that true believers do struggle about assurance, and then four selected causes that contribute to this struggle. The fourth cause was “cracks” in the pillars or bases of assurance. What they are, and what we must tend to is the subject of this and the next posts.

Learn the Biblical teaching about assurance. There are three bases or pillars on which your assurance (not your salvation!) rests. Suppose you asked me to prove that I am married to Sharon Ann Frampton. I could find a copy of the signed marriage license, or I could produce her to testify that I am married to her, or I could just smile and say, “I said vows of marital love to her and I heard her say vows of marital love to me.” That is what these three pillars or supports of assurance are like.

First is the support of the promises of God. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him (1 John 5:1 ESV). God’s promises call us to rest on his truthfulness (Titus 1:2) and his faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23). Being convinced by the Spirit, we trust in the Lord. Jesus said, “Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37 CSB; cf. John 3:16; 5:24). John is saying in 1 John 5:1 that we can know that we have been born of God because we believe that Jesus is the Christ.

  • In the inner person of every believer God the Holy Spirit has planted a deep conviction about God and his truth. There is something that happens inside the heart that provides a certain amount of certainty that there is a God and that his word is final authority. I think that this is what the Reformers meant when they talked about the assurance of true faith.
  • Though I doubt that any true believer can lose that certainty, it is obvious that most or perhaps all believers struggle with doubts and questions at some time, not so much about God’s promises, but about whether or not they trust the Lord. Since we are not perfect in understanding and our minds sometimes drift, sin can take advantage of our limitations and weaknesses to produce doubts about God and his word. At that point, we must ask for the Spirit’s help, pick up his sword (the word of God), and put those doubts to death.

Many new believers struggle when someone asks them, “How do you know that the Bible is God’s Word?” And when they cannot convince the skeptic, they begin to question their own faith. The apostle is advising us, “Take a look at the marriage license! Go back to whom you believe in—Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Exercise a fresh faith in him.”

As we grow in faith and understanding, we come to know a number of truths that contribute to our assurance. Let’s think of a few.

  • God’s power preserves his people. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6 NLT; cf. 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:24).
  • Christ’s blood has purchased our eternal salvation. The Lord Jesus entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12 CSB).
  • We are in the risen and ascended Christ. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV).
  • We are sealed by the Spirit to the day of redemption. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30 NIV).

In this way, the truths that we nickname “the doctrines of grace” contribute to a full assurance. As we spiritually comprehend all that we have by the free grace of the gospel, we rejoice! Joy in the Lord leads us through struggles into peace and confident expectation.

Grace and peace, David

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The Struggles of the Believer (Part Five) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/24/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-five/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/24/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-five/#respond Tue, 24 Jul 2018 19:54:06 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1622 Continue reading "The Struggles of the Believer (Part Five)"]]> 1 John 5:13

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (CSB).

In our series on the struggles of the believer, we are currently viewing the struggle of the believer regarding assurance of salvation. One of the great problems that anyone faces who dares to think about death and the afterlife is “How can I know that I will enjoy eternal life?” This points to the struggle of faith with a lack of assurance. What should you do if you are not sure that you are saved? First, we considered that we need to examine ourselves to see if we are really followers of Jesus Christ. If by the Holy Spirit we can claim to have put our faith in the Lord Jesus, we can still struggle. This leads us to the next reality.

Realize that true believers may struggle about their assurance. Here are three evidences that true believers do struggle about assurance or confident anticipation (hope) of eternal life.

  • The spiritual experiences of believers that are recorded in the Scriptures (Psalms 42-43; Ps 88; Isaiah 50:10). Notice how Peter spoke to this issue. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in y our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins (2 Peter 1:5-9 NIV). If a believer (they have faith because you cannot add to it unless you have it) fails to develop positive qualities of godliness, they will struggle with assurance! Sadly, for most believers in the west, their only concept of sin is doing what God prohibits (like telling lies, sexual immorality, or theft). They fail to see that the lack of godliness is also offensive to God. For this reason, in any spiritual struggle, if they consider sin, they only examine their life about breaking prohibitions. It is a defective, partially blind concept of what the Lord requires.
  • The exhortations to believers to draw near to God with a full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:19-39). The long passage just mentioned should make our point obvious. Why would the Spirit guide the Biblical writers to encourage God’s people to have full assurance, if every believer has assurance? It would be unnecessary.
  • The existence of teaching in the New Testament Scriptures about how you may know that you have eternal life (1 John). If we assurance was identical with saving faith, you would only be told to believe. But the Holy Spirit provides us with evidences about the reality of our faith in the Lord.

Why do some believers have severe struggles with assurance of salvation? I have selected four causes that contribute to this struggle.

  • Some suck in error with their first spiritual breath because of a faulty evangelistic presentation or follow-up. Thank God that we are not saved by a clear, pristine theology but by Jesus Christ! Yet too many new Christians are taught errors such as the possibility of falling from grace that torment them for the rest of their lives. There have been many that God has saved though they heard seemingly less than adequate or correct presentations of the gospel. But the Holy Spirit made sure of one thing — they truly repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus finds his sheep in some strange places. Remember they were lost! Then he leads them on in his truth.
  • Some are never taught the difference between faith and assurance. You might see some who want to get saved every week, because they have had a struggle regarding their assurance. Thus you hear some preachers talk about “first time decisions”. Another problem is the false teaching that if you doubt, you are not saved. When I was a young minister, I saw a pastor do great damage to his flock by this error.
  • Some live their spiritual lives in an atmosphere of legalism or guilt manipulation. Beware of those who attempt to make you feel guilty in order to get you to serve God. Faith always works by love (Galatians 5:6).
  • Some have cracks in some of the “Biblical bases of assurance”. Next time, we will look at this in more detail.

Perhaps this is not your struggle, at least now. Even so, we all need to know what the Bible says about faith and assurance. Someday, we might have this struggle. Or perhaps there is a friend of yours that is struggling about this now. An excellent part of the Bible to read about this is the First Letter of John. Invest a week in reading it every day.

Grace and peace, David

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The Struggles of the Believer (Part Four) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/20/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-four/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/20/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-four/#respond Fri, 20 Jul 2018 19:12:49 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1620 Continue reading "The Struggles of the Believer (Part Four)"]]> 1 John 5:13

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (CSB).

It is common in our day for those who do not believe to dismiss Christianity with a wave of the hand. We may get dissed many ways. “The Christian faith is no longer relevant. It may have been fine in a simple age, but these are complex times.” Others may say, “The Christian faith is too exclusive. This is the modern world of pluralism. Get with the system.” (By the way, it amazes me how anyone who pretends to claim to believe that all things are relative and all views have the right to be heard will deny that Christians have a right to proclaim what we believe! Postmodern thinking is littered with countless contradictions!) Others may say, “The Christian faith is simply a myth or fairytale. You need to look at the real world.” Perhaps some professing Christians do think and talk that way, but the faith of true Christianity says that though there is a future reward for the righteous, those who follow Christ now share in the benefits of Christ’s salvation. As the old hymn says, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow — blessings all mine with ten thousand besides.”

What we want to see in this series of articles is that it is followers of Christ who actually look fully at the world and its problems. Authentic Christianity has no desire to play pretend games. People face life and death issues! Many suffer through the trauma of abuse and family problems, and hurt for the rest of their lives. Some are victims of violent crimes. All suffer disease, pain, grief and eventually death. Yes, life is very real! Genuine Christianity is willing to face these problems and to present God’s real solutions. Christianity does not ask, “Where do you want to go today?” It asks, “Where must you go today?” In fact, it is the non-Christian who is the escapist. The unbeliever likes to hear pleasant fantasies like “don’t think about death and the afterlife. Go for all the gusto you can get now.” Or, “do you have problems? Just take these drugs (legal or illegal) to escape your pain.” Or, “deny responsibility for your problems. Blame everyone else. Maybe if you hug yourself long enough you will feel better.”

In previous posts we wrote about the struggle that true believers can have with fear. Today, let’s think about a related issue: the struggle of the believer regarding assurance of salvation. One of the great problems that anyone faces who dares to think about death and the afterlife is “How can I know that I will enjoy eternal life?” This is the struggle of faith with a lack of assurance. What should you do if you are not sure that you are saved?

Examine yourself to see if you are really a follower of Christ. There is a place for this, because obviously no one can have assurance of salvation unless they are saved. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)

Some profess to be saved, but they have never been saved, for they have no knowledge of the Biblical gospel. Salvation is never by works (Ephesians 2:8-9) or by participating in religious rituals (Galatians 5:2-5). Salvation only comes when you trust Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).

Some profess to be saved, but they have never been saved, because there is some vital deficiency in their spiritual experience. They might be deeply religious but they lack the Holy Spirit.

  • Some have never had a true sense of need for Christ. They have no idea why anyone would need to turn from their sin and trust in Jesus Christ. They fail to see the glory of Christ.
  • Some have never become followers of Christ. And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34 ESV). Instead, they follow religion or their family traditions or their friends. Christ does not have first place in their thoughts, desires, and choices they make in their lives.
  • Some have never had a change of mind about sin. They do not see it as an offence against God, but as an allowable way of life. They have not repented (had a change of mind or world and life view about God, mankind, Christ, sin, and the way of salvation). Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 CSB).
  • Some have never trusted in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified and risen again as their only Savior. As Paul and Silas said to the jailer in Philippi, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31 ESV).

All of these need to understand the way of salvation, and then change their minds and trust in Christ! Here is the general way that God works to bring people to salvation. The Holy Spirit of God uses the Holy Scriptures and Christians and/or various events…

  • To confront people with the truth of the gospel or the truth about God and his ways.
  • To convict people of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come.
  • To change their minds about God, themselves, sin, Christ, and the gospel.
  • To commit themselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This involves what we call the “KAT” of true faith: knowledge, assent and trust. During my youth, I did not understand that true faith involved personal trust in the Savior.

So then, dear reader, are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Only if you know him will he give you assurance of salvation.

Grace and peace, David

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The Struggles of the Believer (Part Three) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/18/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-three/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/18/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-three/#respond Wed, 18 Jul 2018 20:55:00 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1617 Continue reading "The Struggles of the Believer (Part Three)"]]> When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4 NIV)

Previously, we have thought on the believer’s struggle with fear. We have seen that fear is an emotion given by God. Sadly, sin twists what is a good gift for our preservation into a sinful fear that disrupts our fellowship with God and people. We also saw that we need to replace fear with faith in the living God. Next, let’s think of two other practical steps to take when we struggle with fear.

Resolve not to fear. To have a proper resolution requires a sound, practical theology. Who is this one I should trust in when I am afraid? I should trust in God. The resting place of faith is in God himself. The Christian does not look for a favorable turn in events, the successful application of a method, or an empty hope that the problem will just go away. No, he “gets God involved in his problem.” He says to the Lord, “Things look rather dismal here, Lord, but I know that you are able.”

The content of faith conforms to God’s revelation of himself in his word. We do not expect God to act contrary to himself or his ways, but we do look with certainty for the help that he has promised in the Holy Scriptures. This means that you and I must know what God has promised. We learn what God has promised by carefully reading and studying his word. God may graciously carry the young saint through situations, when the believer has not had opportunity to learn God’s promises and ways. But do not assume that he will do the same for those who ought to have attained some degree of spiritual maturity.

A proper resolution also requires self-control, which is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Faith is not an exercise in passivity or inactivity. Faith is a conscious dependence to trust God and to do what he wants you to do. Consider Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-9, 11, 17-18). He believed God and did what God told him to do.

This means that you must “take charge” of yourself. You tell yourself, “There is more in this situation than my physical senses can perceive. God is with me, and he is holy, sovereign, good and wise. Therefore, I choose to depend on him whatever may happen.” George Mueller many times prayed to the Lord for food for his orphanage. He depended upon God to meet great needs.

Reevaluate your situation. Having faith in God does not require us to close our eyes or put our head in the sand. Believers are not little children who put their hands over their eyes and boldly proclaim to trouble, “You can’t see me!” Sight operates within the limits of this space/time material world. The rebel sinner refuses to see anything beyond what his or her senses can perceive. The unbeliever says to the believer, “Why pray? Why hope in God?”

Faith sees everything that sight does, but it also considers what is spiritual and eternal. The believer replies to the unbeliever, “You may twist my words, you may plot and conspire, and you may watch my steps, eager to take my life. But God is on my side and you have the greater problem.”

Having faith in God does require us to wait on God for his time of deliverance. Faith will calmly watch the problem worsen, because it knows that God will act. Think of Gideon trial as Israel’s leader. He watched his army shrink from 32,000 to 10,000 to 300, and then those 300 were told to prepare for battle with trumpets and torches. The public opinion polls probably said that Gideon and his army were going to get slaughtered, but they were wrong. But true faith is then at the place where the believer can glorify God. Abraham did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do (Romans 4:19-21 CSB).

As believers, we will come into situations of fear, as David did. Sometimes it will be due to our own mistakes and sins, like happened to David. But regardless of how we arrive at a fear-inducing situation, we must be ready to think and to act Biblically. That means that you must replace fear with faith, resolve not to fear, and then reevaluate your situation to give glory to God. In the same way, we must be gracious and considerate (Galatians 6:1) when we see other believers overcome by fear. We ought to help them in their struggle of faith, and not add wounds to their consciences. A bold faith should not be brusque or harsh with others. We can encourage others kindly and compassionately. May we learn to help others with the comfort that we have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Grace and peace, David

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The Struggles of the Believer (Part Two) http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/17/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-two/ http://www.davidcframpton.com/2018/07/17/the-struggles-of-the-believer-part-two/#respond Tue, 17 Jul 2018 12:51:03 +0000 http://www.davidcframpton.com/?p=1615 Continue reading "The Struggles of the Believer (Part Two)"]]> When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4 NIV)

The first struggle of the believer we will consider is the struggle of faith with fear. What should you do when you are afraid? Do not be mistaken. You will have to struggle with fear. You are not yet in eternal glory. One of the issues that causes tension or a pull between opposites is what is called “the now” and “the not yet”. We are now richly blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), but since the Lord has not yet returned, we must wait in faith for the full realization of all blessings. For example, we continue to struggle with suffering (Ephesians 3:13), unity (Ephesians 4:3), communication issues (Ephesians 4:25-29), etc.

In this struggle, we must replace fear with faith in God. Fear can cripple us as we seek to walk with the Lord. However, the time of fear is the opportunity to exercise faith.

We need a godly view of fear, and by godly, I mean more than saying, “We should not fear.” Fear by itself is an emotion given by God for human preservation. Fear motivates us to seek protection from what may harm us. For example, we ought to fear God. Jesus said, “I say to you, my friends, don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will show you the one to fear: Fear him who has authority to throw people into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the one to fear! (Luke 12:4-5 CSB; cf. 1 Peter 2:17) We ought to fear God, because he is holy and almighty. But since he is also loving and gracious, we sinners may find refuge in Christ that God has provided. Fear is a problem when it hinders us from drawing near to God or from serving God and others in love. Consider again what Christ says in Luke 12.

The way to confront fear is to replace it with faith. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. It is a mistake to assume that you can simply stop being afraid. Someone who merely quits being afraid is an unemployed worrier, who will fear again when another problem arises. “Faith is seen here as a deliberate act, in defiance of one’s emotional state” (Kidner). In other words, when fears starts to control, you choose to trust. You think on the overwhelming greatness of the Lord God. You realize that God is leading you through the present situation so that you may turn from your insufficiency to his all-sufficiency.

The replacement for fear is not merely faith, but faith in the living God. The whole phrase is crucial. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (my emphasis). We should avoid saying trite phrases like “You just need to believe!” Biblical faith requires the proper object, who is the true and living God. And God must be approached through the Lord Jesus Christ. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18 ESV). David is not suggesting that faith by itself will deliver. The Bible never tells us to have faith in our faith. Instead, David instructs us to trust in God. Our faith must have an object that is worthy of trust. And God is worthy! “Only God is the object of Biblical faith… This simple truth can be an immeasurable help in the Christian life. Faith is not blind. It is not an ambiguous trust in some abstract entity. It is not a leap in the dark. God is the object of faith” (Matthews, Growth in Grace, p. 117).

Observe this in the life of Paul the apostle, as he neared the end of his earthly journey. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen (2 Timothy 4:18 NIV). He turned to the Lord in the midst of evil attacks. His confidence was in God, not in pleasant circumstances.

Grace and peace, David

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