Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lessons From the Life of Opa Bredenhof

  Recently I finished reading the autobiography of my Opa Bredenhof. About 15 years ago my grandfather wrote the story of his life. I have read that book a number of times in the last few years. I enjoy it more every time.  He was born in Holland in 1922. He worked on various farms and joined the underground army in WW2. After the war he was in the police force for awhile, till he decided to move to Canada. He first lived in Alberta and then moved on to live the rest of his life in BC. It has been just over five years since he died, so I wanted to share what I learned from reading the story of God's dealing with my Opa.

 1- My Opa was a man of courage. As a soldier in the underground army in Holland, he had a very dangerous job. Death stared him in the face many a time. Yet he continue to work and fight to give liberty to his country. He showed great courage during his years as a police officer, dealing with many dangerous people and situations. His courage comes out in his decision to come to Canada. Throughout his life, I saw this quality in my Opa. He had the courage to do what was right even when many others objected. He knew the dangers, yet continued on trusting in God. I need this quality. We all need this virtue. We need brave men; men who can face dangers and uncertainties and bravely go forward.

 2- My Opa had a good work ethic. He worked long hours throughout most of his life. He studied for long hours to obtain the knowledge to be good at his trade. He started out in Canada working for farmers as little more than a slave. Yet at the end of his work years, He owned a large farm which continues on today. This was done by years of back breaking work. Long hours were put in year after year just to put food on the table. Through hard work, courage, wise planning, and God's blessing he became a wealthy man. His hard work has benefited his children and grand-children. We stand on his shoulders. We have so much. We work a lot less than he did. We have it quite easy compared to his days. We owe some of this to the hard work of our grandfather. We have a duty before God to use the wealth and time we have to promote the cause of Christ in the world. It would be very sad for us to waste our money and position that was so hard won by my Opa. I am thankful to God for what He has given me through my Opa. I am also motivated to use my time well like my Opa did and to not be reluctant to work hard.

 3- My Opa was a man of faith. In his book, he continually mentions that his trust was in God. The book's title is called "By Grace Alone" which says a lot about how he lived. Often he says that to God alone be the glory. It brought him great joy to see his children and grandchildren walking in the truth. His joy was the same as John who said that " I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth." 3 John 4
Opa gave a lot of time as a  school board member to set up a Christian school. He often served as a deacon and elder in the church. He was on the mission board to help work in Korea and Brazil. He often encourage his grandchildren to consider the work of a pastor or missionary. Opa said that the greatest thing in life was a God fearing life. His life proves his words.

He had his faults, but reading the story of Opa's life motivates me to walk in truth and godliness; to leave an example that others can follow. I want to be able to say as Paul did, follow me as I follow Christ. Wealth and a good name last for a short time, but what is done for the glory of God lasts forever. We exist to bring worship to God. This is the end we should seek in all areas of our lives.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Self Control and Walls

"A man without self control is like a city broken into and left without walls."
Proverbs 25:28
 Walls were important for cities in the ancient world. Walls were built around the entire city, even the largest cities. Walls provided protection from the attacks of enemies. The pride of a city was its walls. A city that was without walls was in a very vulnerable position. Every enemy could walk in the city without much of a fight. They could plunder and kill as they liked. Without walls, there was no defence against an attacking force. Such a city was a disgrace--like Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah. Walls are important to a city as self control is to people.
We need self control. Without it we are defenceless against the assaults of the devil. Every temptation that comes our way will ruin us even more. How many people are ruined by a lack of self control! Drunkenness ruins lives and families. Not controlling the impulse to buy leads to debt and bankruptcy. Sexual desire unchecked destroys and plunders thousands. Much more could be said of a failure to control anger, appetite for food or sleep, our words, and so on. In our fallen condition man is not born with self control. As such sin has mastery over us. We are under the power of sin. We are defenceless against sin. We have no self control. We are a city in ruins and in disgrace. We need God to come down and fix us up.
One of the fruits of the Spirit is self control. Gal 5:23. The Spirit is given to us when we are born again. He gives us the power to exercise self control in all things. His infinite power helps us to defeat sin and temptation. His power working in us is like a wall that protects us from giving in to the desires of the flesh. When we live in dependence on God's power and follow the truth of His Word, we will be able to defend ourselves against the desires of the flesh. So if you lack self control, cry out to the One who can help you. He can give you the strength to control your passions, lusts, appetites, and thoughts. Then we can train ourselves for godliness. 1Tim 4:7.
To put the proverb another way, a man with self control is like a city surrounded by a strong wall with a defeated enemy lying outside the walls.

Who Are The Children of God? A Biblical Study

Some months ago I saw a birth announcement that caught my eye. I didn’t know the parents or the baby. I don’t even remember their names. But I won’t forget what it said on the card. It said ‘I am a Child of God.” The parents believed that their new baby was a child of God. This was
not the first time I had come across someone referring to their child as a “child of God.” Is this a proper biblical use of this title? This is what compelled me to study the biblical use of the expressions, ‘children of God,’ ‘adoption,’ and ‘sons of God.’  What I found shows that some people are very confused about who are the Children of God.

 The Bible teaches that there are two families. Every single person belongs to one of the two families. There are no other families that we can belong to. There is no such thing as the universal fatherhood of God. Humans are not all part of one big family. There is the family of God. To this family belong all the redeemed. Then, there is the family of Adam or the family of the Devil. 1 John 3:10 makes
this very clear. “By this it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” Or consider the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:36-43. There Jesus explains there are two types of people; sons of the kingdom and sons of the evil one. Each person will find
themselves in one of these two families.

The family of the devil is not hard to enter. We simply have to be born in this world by sinful parents.  We have received a sinful nature like our parents which causes us to act like the devil. This is clearly taught in Ephesians 2:1-3. There, Paul describes our natural condition. We are the “sons
of disobedience” and “by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” The Jews who rejected Jesus as their Messiah thought that they were children of God. But Jesus told them because they rejected Him that they were of their father, the Devil. See John 8. We give evidence that we are sons of the devil by our sinful lives. We are selfish, proud, disobedient, haters of God,
self-righteous, idolaters and lovers of sinful pleasure. These are those who gratify the desires of the flesh as seen in Galatians 5:19-21.Every person has at one time in his life been in this family. It is not a wonderful family to belong to. In it are only sin, misery and condemnation. On our own we cannot
get out of this family. But thanks be to God who is full of love and mercy for He can rescue us.

 The family of God is not entered on our own or by the help of someone else. We do not enter this family by being good enough. We are not God’s children because we are so kind and wonderful. God doesn’t look down and see some people trying really hard to be good and then thinks, "Oh what wonderful people, I would love for such good humans to be in my family.” No, we are never good enough for God to adopt us as His children. Being born a certain color, nationality, or ethnic
group will not make us children of God. Being white is not our ticket into God’s family. Being a Jew or Dutch or Russian will not give the right to be in God’s family. Being born to Christian parents does not make you a child of God. Parents cannot give to their children a place in this family. Going to a certain church, being baptized, eating the Lord’s Supper, and being in ministry will never make you a child 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.” John 1:12-13. The last part of this text reveals to us how we cannot get into the family of God. But it also reveals how we can become children of God. This is what we want to
look more closely at now.

Adoption begins with God. Parents are the ones who begin the process of adopting a child. They choose the child and pay the adoption fee. So it is the same with adoption into God’s family. As it says in Ephesians 1:5, ‘In love He predestined us for adoption as sons though Jesus
Christ.”  So God the Father begins the adoption process by choosing us before the foundation of the world.  God the Son was “born of women, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Gal 4:4,5. Jesus came to earth to accomplish salvation so we could be reconciled to the Father and receive adoption. God then regenerates us
by causing us to be born again. We are born again by the will of God. So, God does everything needed to adopt us. Even when we are called to respond to the gospel message in faith and repentance, God supplies the faith we need. Salvation and adoption are all “to the praise to His glory.” Ephesians 1:14

    When we are regenerated, we respond to the gospel message in faith and repentance. Faith in Christ is the means by which adoption happens. “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” John 1:12. To receive and to believe is the same thing. It is to trust and yield allegiance to Jesus Christ. “For in Christ, you are all sons of God,
though faith.” Gal 3:26. Without faith there is no adoption. This text is very clear. You cannot call anyone who has no faith in Christ a child of God. Thomas Watson says this in his “Body of Divinity”, “Before faith is wrought, we are spiritually illegitimate; we have no relation to God as a father. An unbeliever may call God judge, but not father. Faith is the affiliating grace; it confers
upon us the title of sonship, and gives us right to inherit.” P 163

 ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ is the proverbial expression used to say that someone’s children act just like their parents. This is true with regard to relationship to our heavenly Father. We cannot see the heavenly adoption papers, but we can see the evidence that we are children of God. Since we are God’s children, we will want to act just as our heavenly Father acts. Ephesians 5:1
says “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Children of God will desire to please their Heavenly Father by living godly lives. Children of God will produce the fruit of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit indwells them, in fact He is called in Romans 8:17 “the Spirit of Adoption.” The Holy Spirit sanctifies His Children though the truth of God’s word and gives them the power to walk in
obedience. This is what it says in Romans 8:14,” For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” Walking in obedience to the Scriptures through the power of the Spirit is the real evidence of our adoption.  So if a person is without the indwelling of the Spirit and a godly life, then that person cannot claim to be a child of God

 It is also true that anyone who is not a child of God cannot claim to be an heir to the inheritance. Before we are born again, we are a slave to sin. Since we are a slave we have no right to the inheritance. We will be shut out of the kingdom of God. But since we are sons, then we are heirs of God. This is stated in Galatians 4:7, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an
heir through God.” And in Romans 8:17, “and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”  Our inheritance is not a possibility or a potential, but a for sure guarantee. It
is “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:4. This inheritance is far more glorious than we can understand. We will dwell in a Kingdom ruled by a Perfect King without pain, sin, tears, sadness and suffering. We will dwell in perfect fellowship with God Himself. We will enjoy the company of all the family of God. We will have
perfect joy. This is what the children of God will inherit though the grace of God.

 There is presented in Scripture another adoption. This adoption is different from the one we have been looking at. In Romans 9:4, Paul said his kinsmen according to the flesh, Israel, has an adoption. We can see this in the Old Testament. There are a number of times where Israel is called God’s son or firstborn son. “You are the sons of the Lord your God.” Deut 14:1. The Lord is called Israel’s father a few times as well. David in 1 Chron 29:10 says “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.” Isaiah says “For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; you O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.” Isa 63:16. But, these concepts in the Old Testament refer to a national adoption not an
individual adoption of salvation. This is clearly shown in John 8: 37-47. There the Jews insist that God is their Father. But Jesus says “If God were your father you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.” verse 42 and then in verse 44 He says, “ you are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” These Jews had the adoption Paul talks about in Rom 9:4, but they were still children of the devil. There are then clearly two different types of adoptions presented in the Bible. James M. Boice says in his commentary of Romans, “When it (adoption) is used of believers it refers to their new status before God as His spiritual sons and daughters resulting from
redemption and the new birth. When it is used of Israel, as here, (in Rom9:4) it refers to God’s selection of the Jews as an elect nation through which He would bring salvation to the world.”Vol.3 p.1026. It is vitally important to understand this distinction found in God’s word. Failing to do so will only bring confusion and error. There is a progression found as the Lord unfolds His redemptive plan. One example is the doctrine of individual adoption unto salvation. Nowhere in the Old Testament does any individual Jew refer to God as his father. There is no Psalm where the psalmist addresses God as Father. When Old Testament Saints address God as Father, it is in a corporate sense. It
isn’t until Jesus came to earth that we see God addressed as Father by an individual. This is how Jesus addresses God in His prayers. This is the example He gave us to follow. The doctrine of adoption as children of God isn’t really addressed in the Old Covenant. It is something hidden till Christ should appear and the Spirit poured out. Then, the full benefits and the full understanding of
adoption is revealed to us in the New Covenant. But Israel’s adoption was a national adoption of the Jews, which did not give to individual Jews the right to be God’s children.

So why is it important that we understand who the  children of God are? First, if we are confused on this, we will confuse the gospel. To be a child of God is to have salvation. Calling someone a child of
God when they are not suggests there is another way to be saved. Faith in Jesus is not the only way then. Second, it will give false assurance. If we call our unsaved children ‘children of God’ and as they grow up they read in the Bible about all the benefits that a child of God has, they may begin to think that since they have been called a child of God that they possess all these benefits without placing their faith in Christ. False assurance is no small matter for it leads to the pit of hell. We must understand from scripture who are the children of God. Failing to do so will begin to undercut the gospel and may lead to sinners who think they are saints. Let me leave you with a quote from
JC Ryle, “Remember what I have said, and never let it go. No inheritance of glory without sonship to God. No sonship to God without an interest in Christ. No interest in Christ without your own personal faith. This is God’s truth. Never forsake it.”

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Credits

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you would know that most of the posts are expositions of verses from Proverbs. Most of my blog posts come out of my morning devotions as I work verse by verse though the Bible. Well, on November 4 I finished Proverbs. I started on February 18th of this year. Studying through Proverbs was a great blessing to me and yet I feel there is so much more I could have learned from the book. I hope you have enjoyed the proverbs I have written about and that you also have been blessed by this book. I also hope that these posts have interested you in studying Proverbs some more on your own. I want to share with you a few resources that have helped me to  better understand  the book of Proverbs.

The first book is by Dan Phillips called God's Wisdom in Proverbs. This is an amazing book. He goes through different themes found in Proverbs such as parenting and marriage. He explains how to understand the book and the importance of the fear of the Lord in Proverbs. He even explains how to teach or preach the book of Proverbs. This is man is a skilled expositor. This book would help your study immensely.

The second book is by John Kitchen. It is a commentary on Proverbs in the Mentor series commentaries. This book is a gem. He goes verse by verse through the entire book, which is rare among Proverb's commentaries. There is a good blend of scholarly explanation plus devotional application. He explains the Hebrew to help understand the text but also takes the truth which is taught and applies it to our every day life. This is not a high and dry theological work. This book was my go-to-book on Proverbs. It was a great help to me.

Lastly I used Matthew Henry's commentary once in a while. On a rare occasion I turned to Matthew Poole's commentary. These were at times helpful. John Macarthur's study notes were also useful at times.

I will be working through the next wisdom book which is Ecclesiastes. So this book will be the focus of the blog for the next while. May God bless His word to our souls. To God, who alone is wise, be the glory.


Monday, November 2, 2015

How To Find a Wife (or a Husband)

"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels."
Proverbs 31:10

The counsel I am going to give now is the counsel I wish I had when I went out looking for a wife. In spite of my errors and stumbling, God gave me a great wife. All I can do is praise His grace. This passage of scripture describes the excellent wife. My wife wrote more about the characteristics of this woman in this post. But in this post I want to give some advice on how to find this kind of wife. What I say about finding this excellent wife could also be said about finding the excellent husband. So ladies, don't tune out, just apply the principles to finding a godly man.

The first truth we learn is that finding an excellent wife is hard. It is not easy to find a wise wife. She is a rare women. Now here in these verse this wise woman is a perfect wife. No one will find her since no woman is perfect. But we are not looking for perfection but progression. Is this woman born again and is she growing in godliness? If you look for perfection, you will be a single man all your life. Yet a godly, but still sinful, woman is hard to find. Most women are foolish. Some are only average. Just because a woman goes to church or is baptized does not make her a wise lady. A real godly young woman is a rare treasure. If such a woman is hard to find, this means it will take effort and time to find her. Physical beauty is seen almost right away. Inner beauty takes time to come to the surface. You will need to take time to get to know her. You need to talk about faith, repentance, conversion, and salvation with her. Find out how her spiritual health is. Study the scriptures together. It is a good idea to ask her pastor or elders how they view this woman. Hopefully they would have had more time to study her and could give you an unbiased opinion.

Proverbs 19:14 says "House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord." Your search for a wise and prudent wife is bound to fail unless God blesses your desires. God can sovereignly lead you a wise woman. So pray! Ask God to guide your search. Pray that you may have wisdom and discernment to recognize a wise woman. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." Proverbs 18:22

The second truth we learn from our text is that it is worth all the time and effort to find a wise woman. An excellent, wise wife is more valuable than jewels or any bank account. She will be a crown to her husband, but a foolish wife brings rottenness to his bones. See Proverbs 12:4. A wise man will want a wise wife. She will be an encouragement to his spiritual life. She will help raise their children in the fear of the Lord. They will be able to serve the Lord together. Their house will be filled with grace and love. A foolish wife will destroy her husband. "It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman." Proverbs 21:19. You don't want to choose a wife based only on outward appearance. You will live to regret it when her ugly heart comes out. Money can't buy you a godly wife. It takes a work of grace in her heart to make such a wife and it takes the sovereignty of God to lead her to you. When you find a wise wife, realize how valuable she is. Protect her. Love her. Care for her. Praise God for her.