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Christian Doctrine from Bible Theology Ministries

Joshua 24

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There should not be any reason for believers to turn from God, but we do, frequently. In this final chapter we see Joshua warning the tribes of Israel, that if they turned back to the false gods they once had, or to the religion of the surrounding heathen pagans, God would be filled with wrath and destroy them. The same applies to Christians today, believers whose faith is so lax as to allow them to follow, or have sympathy with, heathen people and their beliefs. Take heed, for the Jews are still being persecuted 2000 years after Christ. And today we are being hounded and attacked not only for our faith in the Lord, but because we are sinful.

Verses 1-4

  1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

  2. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

  3. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

  4. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

The tribes were commanded to gather at Shechem, just north of Jerusalem, to hear what Joshua had to say. The various tribal elders and chiefs, etc., stood before him. As Joshua was dying, he might have whispered his words to a spokesman, or, God gave him strength to speak loudly. He opened by saying that what he had to talk to them about came directly from Jehovah.

He began by reminding them of their history, going back to the “other side of the flood”. That is, just after the Flood occurred. The history is very much shortened, giving just important points. The people quickly reverted to paganism, so God led Abraham out from his home, to travel through Canaan, and to have his own children who would not be corrupted by the family they left behind. From this came Isaac, who had Jacob and Esau. Esau was given Mount Seir (by the Dead Sea: Edom) by God, but Jacob travelled on to Egypt.

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Freedom in Christ

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Those whose claim to ‘Christian’ is false or badly informed, tend to say that reformed or Calvinistic Christians think they can do whatever they like. This is based on their misunderstanding about our ‘freedom in Christ’. Of course, if they did not use this excuse, they would find some other ‘reason’ to batter genuine Christians! So, what does this phrase really mean?

Even as a fresh new Christian I realised “There is freedom only in restriction”. When applied to our Christian faith it means we are bound to Christ as servants, and only when we observe and practice this servanthood do we know true freedom (1 Corinthians 7:22).

This might sound odd when we read, say, Galatians 5:1:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

On the one hand we are told we should not be caught-up in bondage, and on the other hand we are told we must become servants of God. The difference is that sin places a heavy yoke on us, binding us to sin and Satan, which we cannot escape by our own will; whereas when we are saved we willingly become the servants of Jesus Christ, out of love and desire.

We are made free by Christ, through our salvation. This is why it is possible for us to choose to do either good or evil, a choice no-one has as unsaved slaves of Satan. Yet, some, in the guise of fellow believers, try to drag us back down into the murky depths of slavery to sin.

“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:”

One reason unbelievers hate us, is that we have this freedom, and because such freedom highlights their own miserable sinful lives. Many of these people are false brethren. That is, we know them as ‘brethren’ only because they attend a local church. This type of ‘closet’ sinner mouths compliant words of God, but deny them in their hearts. They hate those of us who interpret wisely and live holy lives, and so try their hardest to bring us down again to their own sinful level. Once we submit, we lose our opportunity to have freedom; we cannot ever lose the gift and ability to be free, but we allow others to dismiss our freedom for a shameful season.

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Are Homosexual Groomers and Those They Groom Consensual?

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Regular readers of my ministry know that I do not avoid hard questions, nor am I afraid to make hard statements. This brief article is prompted by the unbiblical teaching of a writer (see A/854 and A/857) concerning homosexuality. In part of his stance he refers to those young people who have been groomed by unscrupulous homosexual predators, as if this precludes them from guilt. I will now ask questions and make statements as moot points, because some who have been groomed may not be part of the collusion.

Very recently, the media put out stories about the killers of ‘baby Bulger’. Psychologists were quoted – that at the age the killers struck, they did not have the intellectual capacity to understand the consequences of their actions. Yet, they also add that the two young killers understood right from wrong. Their opinions, and those of the writer in question, do not agree with scripture, reality, and God’s authoritative view on sin.

It is fact that the killers, though very young themselves, deliberately took baby Bulger to a place where they could not be seen. They looked around to determine if they were being watched. Then they committed the foul murder. The very fact that they did all this in secret and tried to avoid being watched shows a definite understanding that what they were doing was wrong. Scripturally, it does not matter if they could foretell the consequences.

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Accusing a Pastor

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Can a pastor be accused? If he is sinning, yes. However, we have to carefully define what we mean. We must define ‘pastor’; and we must define ‘accusation’ and what we mean by a response. This is needed because there are very few genuine pastors, and very few genuine accusations.

Bringing a charge against a pastor is a very serious action to take, and must be handled with extreme care. Though a pastor is equal to every other member of a local church, he is acting on behalf of the Lord and is not a whipping-post to be attacked by anyone with a grievance, even if the complaint is genuine.

One reason for this careful consideration is given in 1 Timothy 5:17

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”

This is followed by verse 19:

“Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”

Those who bring accusations, then, must do so before witnesses; accusations should not just be angrily blurted out to someone other than the pastor. To be more precise, the accuser should speak first with the pastor; only go to others if he refuses to face the charges, and, even then, the pastor must be present with the witnesses. In other words, accusations may not be made privately to others. The pastor is too important in God’s eyes to be kicked around with words, and especially words that are part of an accusation (spiritually, an accusation is the same as a charge).

Thus, making a ‘private complaint’, NOT to the pastor, but to someone else, is an act of betrayal, mere gossip, against a man chosen by God to pastor, and whose role means his life is devoted to the well-being of the flock, even when what he says might not be liked by some. Those who bring a complaint before someone else about the pastor is not showing the respect due to the pastor demanded by God. (It is assumed the pastor in question is genuinely called by God).

When a pastor is thus attacked (which is what a private complaint really is) without having the opportunity to defend himself, the complainant is unknowingly acting on behalf of Satan, the accuser of the brethren, doing his job for him. Such complaints or accusations are often false, and the net result is to hurt the pastor and to divide the local church… something that can be very hard to put right. Many genuine pastors have thus been hurt deeply, along with the local church.

Also, the one the accusation is made to (not the pastor) should rightly challenge the accuser for proof, and advise the complainant not to be so rash, when God demands a proper respect for the man who shepherds His flock on earth. To accuse such a man with no regard for his office can injure very badly.

John Calvin once said about this kind of attack against pastors: “It is a sign of a perverse and treacherous disposition to wound the good name of another, when he has no opportunity of defending himself.” The trouble arises when the accuser does not speak to the pastor face-to-face, but does so behind his back. Then, it is a form of betrayal. Personally (and probably like most true pastors), I have no problem at all with direct opposition or even accusations, UNLESS they are made without my knowledge, because such accusers are akin to hit-and-run drivers leaving the scene of an accident they has caused.

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Exodus 10

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There is much in life to bring us down, including very real enemies of the Lord. We know disease and suffering, and those with an open faith are persecuted. Yet, God is true and will not allow His people to suffer needlessly or beyond their ability to cope.

In this chapter we find Moses and Aaron repeating their challenges to Pharaoh. This ought to be our own stance. We should not just feebly quote scripture at sinners and then retreat. We must be bold and keep repeating them, plus genuine references to what happens to modern men. Otherwise we end up looking like relics, believing only in the past glories of famous preachers – a common activity for reformed Christians in particular.

We must remember that Christians have supernatural lives, even when still on this earth. This means we have the same authority and power promised at the time of Christ. Why, then, do we live like hermits, afraid to come out into the light?

Some of us experience very real suffering, and know intense trials put upon us by God. This can lead us to feel abandoned and frail, and, often, worthless. This is all to the good, for whilst we do not like the feelings, they serve a purpose. They prove that our own human emotions and frames are useless when living spiritual lives. We must learn to be strong in the Lord, not in ourselves. Then, just as the archangel dared not fight Satan himself, but relied only on God, so we will come to realise that only God gives us anything of worth. We cannot earn it, or demand it. It is given freely because He wishes to give it. Along the way He might test us so that our faith is proved. Then, when we obey and learn the lessons of the trial, we will emerge stronger than before, with deeper faith. Learn it, friends. Today it is more vital than ever.

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