Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Were Solomon and Saul saved?

2Samuel 7:14-15  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.

Here, Nathan the prophet speaks the words of God to David who foolishly thought he could build God a house as nice as his own.  God replies that, actually, He will be the one to establish David’s throne and have his son, Solomon, build Him a temple.  Hebrews, chapter 1, refers this also to Christ who of course was David’s ‘Lord’, the greater son of David who is now building the true temple of God, His body of believers.

But, aside from this, we learn something important about Solomon and something equally important about Saul:  God’s sure covenant love was promised not to be taken from Solomon and yet the Lord uses Saul as an example of one whom God did not love.

Revelation 3:19  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
Hebrews 12:6&8  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives… But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Solomon repented, being the very apparent writer of Ecclesiastes who had indulged almost everything in this world.  God indeed disciplined him and gave him a distaste for all the things of this world, which can never truly satisfy us.  God dealt with him as a son and as promised.  But Saul never repented each time God showed favour and grace to David; rather, Saul raged against David all the more and descended into mad disobedience until his violent suicide.

We Christians mustn’t be fooled by the fact that the Spirit of God came upon Saul and others to cause them to do certain things.  The Spirit of God could cause even Balaam to prophesy the truth.  But this is very different to being indwelt by the Spirit of God, as Peter says the prophets of old were (1Peter 1:11).

Instead, these two men are a great testimony to the backslider.  No matter how far you have drifted into sin, the only difference between Solomon and Saul, the only factor which determines whether you will lose your soul for eternity or have it hidden in the refuge of Christ is:  Repentance.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Head-coverings are ‘because of the angels’? What does that mean?

1Corinthians 11:10  This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels. (ISV)
One interpretation of this verse is both ridiculous and ridiculously popular amongst Christians; it is said that this verse teaches that unless women cover their heads in prayer, fallen angels will come and rape them…  This comes from the sadly distorted view that fallen angels bred with human women and produced giant offspring.  See here for a thorough refutation of that interpretation:
Were there giants on the earth?

Another classical and more sensible interpretation is presented by the outstanding commentator, Bengel: ‘[L]et the woman cover herself because of the angels, i.e. because the angels are also covered. As the angels are to God, so the woman is to the man. The face of God is manifested: whereas the angels are covered, Isaiah 6.’
This is a standard interpretation and, whilst I do not disagree with it, I believe the meaning is even deeper.

Professor Beet in Exell’s Biblical Illustrator: ‘Already (4:9) we have seen the angels contemplating the apostles’ hardships. They attend upon men (Heb 1:14), are placed side by side of the Church militant (Heb 12:22), and desire to look into the teaching of the prophets (1Pe 1:12). Now, if they take interest in men, they must take special interest in those assemblies in which men unitedly draw near to God, and which have so great influence upon the spiritual life of men. We must therefore conceive them present at the public worship of the church.’

Therefore, the angels, who were not given wives to marry (Matthew 22:30), desire to observe the marriages of God’s people and how this is symbolic of Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:25 & Revelation 21:9) and all that God is performing and the depth of it reflected in His creation, especially the new creatures of Christ’s kingdom.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Communion wine or communion grape juice?

Matthew 26:29  I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

There are a number who assert that grape juice was instituted by the Lord Jesus for the Lord's supper.  After all, the Lord uses the word 'wine' elsewhere so why not here?

The Pulpit Commentary says of this verse: 'The offspring of the vine is a poetical way of describing wine (cf. Deuteronomy 22:9; Isaiah 32:12, etc.). It is absurd to find in this term an argument for unalcoholic grape juice.'  Also, Bengel confirms that these Greek words were used in the Septuagint OT to refer to wine.  Indeed, I cannot find a commentator who entertains the notion that grape juice was consumed at the Lord's table and, knowing what it is that Jews would have drunk at such a meal, it very difficult to conclude otherwise.

The burden of proof is on the Christian who wishes to show that these words mean grape juice.