What is Biblical thinking? What does it mean to think Biblically? These and many other questions are answered through this unique and vital perspective on Christian living.
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Thinking Biblically Previous Show Transcripts
Reason for Hope
Psalm 49:14,15, “..and their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave.”
A promise of redemption for the believing, but a picture of utter ruin for those who live as though God does not exist.
“To them who thought to have built houses for eternity and
called great districts of country after their own names [i.e., Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar (42 B.C. – 37 A.D.), who renamed the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberius], there remains no longer any of this corporeal nature, in as much as Hades gradually and surely destroys it; it is forever freed from its solid and dazzling shell, it wastes away lonesome in the grave, it perishes leaving no trace behind.”
– F. Delitesch
Redeem and receive are two salvific terms, with the God of the Bible as the effectual cause, or source of both activities. The promise is that God will (lit) “wrest him out of the power of Sheol and take him to Himself.” Delitzech here renders the poetry of Psalm 49:15 in this manner.
“Forth from that temporary resting place we shall come in due time, quickened by divine energy. . .He shall take me out of the tomb, take me up to heaven.” -Charles Spurgeon
Indeed, no man on earth—whether King, Count, or Heir to the fortunes of gold—can find in riches what God has provided through the blood of His Son. Whosoever owns this promise by faith, is richer by far than this world can begin to calculate or imagine.
Here, is a reason for hope today!
In the larger context of Job, Bildad argues that man is unrighteous and that Job’s insistence upon the maintenance of his uprighteous and integrity is hopelessly flawed. The counselors would suggest to Job, in relentless debate, that Job’s calamity is due to his personal sin and offense against the Almighty. Job’s reply here is a painted description of God’s majesty, power, and wisdom. The plantiff’s point is that God’s ways are incomprehensive and the scant revelation we have of this vast Lord is quite insufficient for any man to assume that he has the conclusive word on the plans and purposes of God.
What man knows of God comes only by God’s revelation of Himself to His created subjects; essentially then, man should put his hand to his mouth and humbly retreat to the contemplation of his own ignorance and need for instruction. Job’s point is made: his counselor’s dogmatism concerning God’s dealings with Himself exploits their own folly, ignorance, and pride.
Presumption is a terrible vice among God’s people when we reach beyond objective truth and make judgments of either human motive, or the hidden dealings of the Lord in the lives of His people. There is so much of God and His ways that we simply do not know, or comprehend! As Job muses, “How small a whisper we hear of Him”
In Revelation 3:17, “The Laodicean Look,” is the summary title I have assigned to this verse. The look is that of a proud-hearted religiosity. Content in themselves, these deluded saints could not read their own spiritual temperature. They could not sense the symptoms of their spiritual demise. All that the Laodiceans boasted in was facade, fool’s gold, and folly. Like so many professing Christians today, they had long lost the luster of an intimate walk with the Lord. How do we get into such a woeful condition? Are we so easily and overtly mistaken? Does the lukewarm Christian not feel the prick of the Holy Spirit along the way, until the brick wall of divine confrontation brings unreality to a dramatic end? The key to understanding our text lies in Christ’s words to them, “Because thou sayest.” Truly, truly the sum and substance of all deception is pride, for it loses the grace of clear-sighted piety and establishes the heart in self-soothing idolatry. It is this natural bent of the will which must be confronted daily with the truth, and ruthlessly pruned by biblical repentance (James 4:6-10).
Spiritual recovery would ensue, growth would result, relationships would solidify, marriages would find harmony, churches would labor with more peace and power, and Christ Himself would be seated in lively fellowship with our souls— when we deal with the culprit of religious arrogance.
The conquest of Joshua which enveloped much of Palestine took seven years to be completed, i.e., 1405-1398 BC. Leviticus 18 discloses the abominations and vile ambitions of both Egypt and Canaan. The laws, statutes, and commandments of God focused on perversions of a sexual nature and included moral prohibitions and safeguards against various lusts of the flesh. Although these specific evils did not fully describe the transgression of the Egyptians and Canaanites, these abominations “defiled the land”, brought about the expulsion of the inhabitants, and aggravated the God of Heaven to pursue with loathe these nations who corrupted themselves before Him.
Recently, I was struck by a weather commentary on ABC News. The meteorologist spoke of the ravenous storm trends on the continental U.S. as “repetitive and more so than in any other part of the world.” Hurricanes, destructive tornadoes, wildfires, snow storms, ice storms, flooding. . .in season and out of season. The science community would never suggest the trends were penal and who knows the purpose of God in every case? It does, however, cause the God-fearing soul to wonder if the land would vomit out its inhabitants by reason of the unprecedented immoral climate of America and God is no respecter of nations.
For a pointed commentary on what the sovereign Lord thinks of those nations who forget God, or wallow in the bog of social atheism, see Psalm 9:17.
In my latest edition of Harnessing the Harassment of Human Fears,
published by Westbow Press, I write,
“Wisdom in Scripture,” says R.C. Sproul, “means choosing the best and noblest end at which to aim, along with the most appropriate and effective means of achieving that end.” There are, thus, many things we could suggest as helps, remedies, and counsel, which might seem pertinent to our discussion of irrational fears, but there is no help, remedy, or counsel so noble, so fulfilling, so meaningful, so fruitful and deeply healing as the wisdom that comes from Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:3). In fact, Christian wisdom is said to be the fear of God (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13), and it is in the fear of God where the truest antidote for irrational fear is found! In my lifelong struggle with various fears, I have found great hope, comfort, and above all else, peace of mind in the pursuit of godly wisdom. Dealing with irrational fears may be perceived as nonsensical battles with insanity, fought in the sterile vacuum of mere human effort; God’s wisdom, however, restores purpose, perspective, and power to manage conflict in such a way that He is glorified as the end result.
This has been Pastor Mark Graham, thinking biblically with you. And if you, or someone you know is grappling with fears, this helpful book may be ordered through our church website, www.gracebiblechurch.us.com.
I’ve got a question for you, “Is irrational fear sinful behavior?” We know from God’s Word that fear first manifested itself when Adam’s sinning resulted in his hiding from God (Genesis 3:10). Irrational fear is a bizarre escalation of deceitful imaginations from the heart of man. It is both the sinful imaginations of inner depravity (testifying to man’s brokenness), as well as the inner smoke of spiritual warfare filling the soul.
The stimuli for fear is all around us. Stimuli, however, is only stimuli! The Lord intends for us to fight the temptation to fear with faith, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans14:23). Irrational fear must first and above all else be seen for what it is: namely, faithlessness. Repentance, then, becomes the first step of harnessing sinful fallout. Again, the temptation to fear abounds all around our broken world and sin’s call lies within and without, pushing and pulling at our souls continually. Nonetheless, “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20).
This is Mark Graham, pausing with you to think biblically. For more helps from my book, “Harnessing the Harassment of Human Fears”, you may order this excellent resource from Westbow Press.com.
I won’t soon forget a women from the community that I knew who professed to be a Christian and worked as a barmaid. “Pastor, I can serve liquor in one hand and the Bible in the other,” she told me.
In I John 2, the Apostle John gives us a clear prohibition against worldliness: “Stop loving the world and don’t allow love for the world to become your way of life.” The term “love” here is the present active imperative of agapeo in the Greek language. In other words, John’s words are to be taken up as a command.
The admonition of the apostle to the redeemed is to neither cultivate, nor nourish affection for this tentative world system. Biblical scholar, A. Plummer says,
He is not condemning a love of those material
advantages which are God’s gifts, nor of nature
which is God’s work. He is forbidding those things
the love of which rivals and excludes the love of
God—-all those immoral tendencies and pursuits
which give the world its evil character.
The world system, together with all its vain attachments, is passing by. Human desire as a tickling scent may excite a godless bent, but this will all come to an end like a dream. Saint John would tell us that, in actuality, this life as we know it is a passing vapor, while the truth bound up in the will of God is the only sure substance of solid reality.
This is Dr. Mark Graham. Thank you for thinking biblically with me today.
Salvation Without Generation
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once declared that the day would come when, among other things, we would see “salvation without regeneration.”
As grace is the activity of God bringing faith to an otherwise morbid soul, void of any evidence of spiritual life, so grace is that same regenerating activity of the Holy Spirit bringing forth good works as both the fruit and fact of life in Christ!
The faith fruits of good works is necessary to the two-sided foundation of God’s salvation, for it is not any faith that justifies the sinner before the Almighty, yea, it is the faith which works that answers to biblical conversion.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God is sure,
having this seal [this mark of genuiness].
[The first mark of genuiness being], the Lord
knoweth them that are His [elect]. And [the
second mark of genuiness being] let every
one that nameth the name of Christ depart
from iniquity.” – II Timothy 2:19
“Departing from sin,” declares Arno C. Gaebelein, “is the true evidence that we walk in real fellowship with Him, that He knows us and we know Him.”
I John 3:3-9
Theologian, Albert Barnes, rightly notes, “…those might be known to
be the true people of God who did avoid evil.”
I John 5:3-5, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
This has been Dr. Mark Graham, and I’m just thinking biblically.
The Loneliness of Legalism
(I Quote) “I have no faith. . .I dare not utter the word and thoughts that crowd my heart and make me suffer untold agony..”(unquote) A world renowned religious icon goes on to describe her (quote) “inability to feel even the smallest glimmer of her Lord’s presence.” Referring to Jesus in her personal letters as the absent One—-“I call,” she confessed, “I cling, I want, and there’s no One to answer, no One on whom I can cling; no, no one. I am told God loves me—and, yet, the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”
The world was shocked to hear the personal diaries of this devoted leader released a few years after her decease. Think biblically with me. The haunting reality of these confessions is troubling. Scriptures tell us the love of God is the active, inner movement of the Holy Spirit filling the soul with power to embrace the living Jesus beyond every sacred line. Tribulation may dim the light of God’s smile, but it can never eclipse the reality of God’s love. That is the promise of God’s own Spirit. The Apostle Paul declares in Romans 5:5,
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love
of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy
Spirit, which is given unto us.” -Romans 5:5
As no one would question the caring devotion of this religious worker, no one can explain the unquenchable hope of the suffering Apostle Paul apart from grace!
Preach the Word
The reformed French theologian, Pierre Courthial, who died in 2009, observed:
“It is evident that we seldom find among men,
even church men, those who are willing to be
unoriginal and to apply themselves to be faith-
ful in heart, word, and deed to the revealed
truth of God.”
. . .and what does Dr. Courthial imply when he says we need pastors who are unoriginal? He is saying what the Holy Spirit has already prioritized men of God to do as set forth in the pastoral epistles, “study the doctrine, preach the Word!”
“The dictates of popular culture,” says John MacArthur, tradition, reputation, acceptance, or esteem in the community (or in the church)
must never alter the true preacher’s commitment to proclaim God’s Word.”
And though many church men will agree. . .
-Some will change their message to make it more palatable to young people who are in love with the spirit of this age.
-Since doctrine doesn’t sell, some leaders go light on the glory of God and become obsessed with style and methodology.
-Others simply get caught up with comparisons and often frequent church growth seminars for distracting secrets and latest fads!
I think back to some candid advice that came to me as a young preacher; advice I will never forget from my professor, beloved theologian and friend, Dr. Richard Engle. “Mark,” he said, “what our pastors need today is more glue on the seat of their britches.”
Sufficiency of Christ
I remember biblical counselor, Jay Adams, rendering Psalm 23:1 this way: “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” Just wondering how many Christians have gleaned the practical wealth of this verse, or its twin, Colossians 2:10, where it says of Jesus, (quoting now) “. . . and you are complete in Him.”
A young colleague in the ministry once shared with me how, in a Bible College counseling course he had taken, the professor asked the students, “just how many of you have gone to both Christian and secular counselors for personal help?” Surprisingly, a majority of students responded affirmatively. Then, the professor asked this question, “And whose counsel helped you the most?” Shockingly, the consensus underscored the secularist as most helpful. In other words, Christian youths felt the counsel of the unbelieving more in touch with their behavior needs than the Christ-centered approach.
Think biblically with me. Either the students were deluded by the spoiling tenants of humanism, or the students were never in possession of what they professed: Jehovah Jesus!
“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and
you are complete in Him.” – Col 2:9,10
Did you know that “receiving” Jesus Christ is God’s right of passage for any man’s hope of entrance into heaven? Of John 1:12, J.P. Lange says that the word, receive, “denotes the moral act of faith.” In its classical and historic usage, lambano, means to grasp or to take, as to capture, arrest, or to make someone or something one’s own. Lambonein, the word for “receive” here in John 1:12 is a strong word. As such, it is (quote) “the real power , the spiritual faculty, owning to the quickened offspring of Jehovah,” declares Lucke and Meyer.
The point is, receiving Jesus is a great awakening to the very moral core of an individual. It is not a casual nod to the claims of Christ, but rather an appropriation of new life where both the faculty of belief and the power of change come from God alone. Clearly, the language of God’s Word teaches us that justifying faith, as well as the consequent fruits of repentance in the life of the sinner, is born out of the regenerating work of God.
“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
-Jn. 1:12,13 (ESV)
Pastor John MacArthur writes, “The notion that spiritual warfare involves direct confrontation with demons is foreign to the Scriptures. Christians who verbally confront demons waste energy and demonstrate ignorance of the real war. The battle is, rather, with the false ideologies men and demons propagate so that the world believes them.”
The substance of spiritual conflict takes place in the battlefront of the mind. Defeating false arguments and evil thoughts, bringing them captive to the obedience of Christ is the nature of real Christian warfare, II Corinthians 10:3-6.
Candidly, there is no other strategy than the Bible for the believer’s complete victory. Since the spiritual warfare plays out in the mind, we must saturate, engraft, and so inebriate our thinking through the rigorous exercise of Bible meditation that “always ready” becomes the motto of our moments. No thought can ever escape the purifying sword of Christ.
A liberal minister in a community I once served, criticized me as “the pastor who couldn’t turn around without a Bible verse.” I was never given a greater compliment! After forty-one years of service, the Bible has made me a participant in the nature of Christ while enabling me to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Did you know that there are at least four types of faith mentioned in the New Testament, but only one type will justify a man before God?
-James 2:19 says the demons” believe. . . and tremble.” The Bible says demons believe, but no one would suggest demons will be in heaven.
-Acts 8:13 says that Simon the magician “believed” and “was baptized”. But Acts 8:20 says that he was damned to perish since Simon thought he could purchase the Holy Spirit.
-John 8:30 declares that “many believed in Him,” but the verses which follow teach us that these and many followers of Christianity followed Jesus to a point, but fell away since they were not in possession of their profession. Only continuance would prove they had been set free (Jn 8:32).
Yet, the faith that saves a person is that faith which the Holy Spirit creates within, bringing about change —- change that is radically righteous.
-Titus 1:1 tells us that the faith belonging to God’s elect recognizes the truth which accords, attends, or pursues godliness!
…and that’s the difference between faith and saving faith— obedience!
How many religious people today see faith merely as an assent to a proposition, rather than truth to be captured and lived!
Nature of Divine Judgment
Interviewing emergent church leader, Rob Bell, Ophrah Winfrey was assured by him that people need not be too concerned about death and punishment. Bell’s universal application of Jesus’ atoning work means you’re OK, and I’m OK. Sin, depravity, condemnation, repentance. . . well, to many religious leaders, such terms are: “unloving, legalistic, dispensational terrorism,” as Rob Bell puts it.
Orthodox hermeneutics assigns Zechariah’s vision as God’s final battle with sin. True justice is executed by God, Messiah’s sword is awakened, evil is punished with holy vengeance.
Whatever else may be said from this vision, an interesting find is situated in Chapter 6, verse 7, “…the strong steeds went out, eager to go…” The obvious lesson of the language here should be riveting to the reader; namely, that the messengers of world-wide judgment, are eager, anxious, yea stressed to fulfill holy wrath upon rebel hearts.
Think biblically. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Divine judgment is not the antithesis of divine love, but rather it is compliment to the perfections of Almighty God.
Have you ever winced a bit or swallowed hard when you see your own words in print and you suddenly realize, wow, that is not what I intended to say! Admittedly, I get deeply bothered with Christian leaders who express statements of faith and doctrine that obviously lack sound Bible sense. These statements are not mishaps, however, but a clear case of not thinking biblically.
Recently, I perused a Mission Board’s statement regarding the Doctrine of Regeneration. I was drawn to read just how the Holy Spirit brings new life to the soul of man. According to this article, regeneration only occurs after a man converts! Really?
How about this statement on the Doctrine of Salvation? “When any person puts their faith in Jesus Christ, God rewards them with His forgiveness and the prospect of eternal life.”
I John 5:1a, “Whoever believes (a present tense verb) that Jesus is the Christ, has (perfect tense) already been begotten (quickened) of God.”
You see, our coming to Jesus, if it is genuine, is the effect of spiritual re-birth. Regeneration is not compensation for human compliance. Salvation is of the Lord, and I’m just thinking biblically.
Church Growth Model
Some time ago I became aware of marital infidelity going on in a large prominent church beyond the community I serve. My first response as a pastor and biblical counselor was to inform the pastor, get him involved, begin the process of confronting the sin and restoring the marriage, saving the home. Soon, I learned, the pastor had already been apprised of the situation, knew it was going on, but, matter of factly, resolved that ‘it was the Holy Spirit’s job to intervene, to confront the sinning party.’ Think biblically with me. How could that pastor ever forget the abundance of New Testament directives which fall upon the elder, the servant of God to attend to these matters with vigilance! Frankly, the Holy Spirit has, Himself, detailed the pastoral charge, clearly.
In recent days, I was invited personally to a church growth seminar where the main speaker was, well, you guessed it, the pastor I’ve just mentioned. I didn’t go to the conference. I’m certain there were things to be learned, but I just couldn’t get beyond the question of my conscience. You see, in my mind the pastor may have been a model for church growth, but I was not convinced the model he espoused was a truly New Testament type.
On Judging Others
Location, location, location. Now, that’s good real estate sense. But here’s a bit of wisdom for building solid spiritual foundations: context, context, context. Without this basic rule of Bible study, you will always stumble into the erroneous. For example, the favorite catch phrase of the hour that I find so used out of context is Jesus’ words when He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged (Mt. 7:1).” But, did you know Jesus commands “righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24)? God expects His people to make righteous judgment interpersonally and in the church. How else could they counsel truth and uphold purity? Judgments are never forbidden, just qualified! Our Matthew 7 text qualifies judgment to be non-hypocritical. Listen to the context:
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own
eye, and then you will see clearly to take the
speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Paul Washer said that when people use this verse with him out of context saying, “judge not, that you be not judged,” he responds by saying “Twist not the Scripture, lest you look like Satan.” Wow. This is Dr. Mark Graham and thanks for thinking biblically with me.
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