Category Archives: Uncategorized

Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

As our church works through our doctrinal statement, it has been good to look through what the Bible teaches on each subject. Our most recent section covers a basic understanding of who the Holy Spirit is. While the statement does not cover every mention of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, I think that it is helpful, concise, and biblical.

We believe that the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is God (Acts 5:3-4) and is co-equal with God the Father and God the Son (Matt. 28:19); that He was active in the creation (Gen. 1:1-3); that He currently restrains lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:7); that He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-13); that He testifies about Jesus (John 15:26-27; Acts 5:30-32); that He is involved in the New Birth (John 3:5-6); that He seals (Eph. 1:13-14), baptizes (1 Cor. 12:13), indwells (John 14:16-17), guides (Rom. 8:14), teaches (John 16:13), sanctifies (1 Pet. 1:2), intercedes for (Rom. 8:26-27), and equips believers (1 Cor. 12:4–11).

MBU Position Statement on Fundamentalism

While looking at various doctrinal statements, I came across the Position Statements of Maranatha Baptist University. Of interest to me was their statement on fundamentalism and the accompanying statement on separation.

“The Bible faculty are committed to Fundamentalism. The fundamentals of the faith have historically been defined as those beliefs that are necessary to the biblical doctrine of salvation combined with a high doctrine of Scripture, so that we have an inerrant record of those doctrines. Fundamentalism as an idea is absolute allegiance to those doctrines united to a willingness to defend those doctrines and to separate from those who deny or contradict them. Fundamentalism as a modern American movement emerged in the late nineteenth century when theological liberalism began to infiltrate and overwhelm the mainline denominations, and a generation rose up to defend the faith against those onslaughts. The movement has gradually taken shape over the last century as a separatist wing of conservative Christianity, consisting primarily, but not exclusively, of premillennarians and Baptists.

Maranatha’s origin lies squarely within the fundamental Baptist movement. As such, we have self-consciously identified ourselves as a separatist institution serving primarily independent and separatist Baptist churches. We reject the evangelical mindset towards culture and the tendencies to develop strategies for ecumenical evangelism and to cooperate with non-evangelical theologies. We see our mission as a militant defense of the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints. We regard separation from disobedient brethren a sometimes necessary step in order to maintain fidelity to Scripture. In general, we believe that cooperation is possible in proportion to agreement, and separation is necessary in proportion to disagreement. We also reject the attitudes and actions of fundamentalists who elevate tangential and eccentric teachings to the level of the fundamentals of the faith and separate over them. With our fundamentalist forefathers, we believe that unity should be enjoyed when possible, separation practiced when necessary.”

Mother’s Day – 1 Samuel 1

Today we celebrate our mothers. Many of us had the privilege of knowing and growing up under the care of a good mother. She carried us inside her belly for 9 months, fed us, potty-trained us, spanked us, clothed us, and dealt with all of our shenanigans. Despite our best efforts to the contrary, she led us in the way we should go and somehow chose to keep us! So, it is fitting for us to remember and honor our mothers today.

If you were to search for every mention of mother in the Bible, you would come up with a variety of interesting events. In my Bible, I found 306 mentions of the word mother. In the beginning, Adam called his wife Eve because she was the mother of all people. Then there was Sarah who gave birth to Isaac at age 90! Then there was Bathsheba who convinced David to make her son Solomon king. In the New Testament, we read of Jesus’ interesting relationship with his mother Mary. Even while dying on the cross, he put his mother in the care of a close friend.

While there are many stories about mothers in the Bible, the one best remembered is probably the story of Hannah and Samuel. It is the story of a woman with a less than normal family situation, a frustrating desire, and a miracle child. As we look at what happened, you will feel the emotions and see God’s hand at work in the situation.

[Read 1 Samuel 1:1-7.]

  1. Hannah’s odd family situation (1 Sam. 1:1-7)

    Do you ever get the idea that someone else’s family is normal and your own is the weird or troubled one? I suppose that every family has its quirks and probably some secrets as well. Sometimes we think that a godly person must have come from a perfect family where nothing bad ever happened and everyone was perfect examples of faith and propriety. The family situation of Hannah says otherwise.

    a. She was one of two wives (2).

    Imagine what it must have been like to live in such a home. Would you be willing to share a husband with another woman? I think not. It would be a bad situation involving jealousy and mistrust. Not good at all.

    i. This was not God’s plan.

    You only need to go back to Genesis to find God’s perfect plan for marriage. There God gave Adam one woman as his companion not two or three. And from this we learn God’s pattern for marriage: one man and one woman.

    ii. This was not a pattern for happiness.

    Having more than one wife may have seemed like a good idea to Abraham, Jacob, and Solomon, but consider how things turned out for each of them. Abraham added Hagar to give him a son but almost lost his wife. Jacob wanted to marry one but eventually had four women. If you have read the Book of Genesis, you know all of the conflict that resulted from those poor choices. Then there was Solomon who had 300 wives and 700 concubines. Can you imagine that Mother’s Day celebration?

    Like these others, Hannah’s home was not a happy one.

    iii. This was not surprising for the times.

    Being that they lived during the time of the judges, it is not surprising that this was the case. At that time, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). Does that sound familiar? Perhaps that description could be said of how our current culture operates. And as it was back then, those who stray from God’s blueprint are often frustrated, unfulfilled, and unhappy.

    b. She was unable to have children (2b).

    Many would be mothers struggle with infertility. They have the desire but the desire remains unfulfilled for a variety of unknown reasons.

    i. During this time, children were considered a blessing.

    Have you noticed how angry people are today about “reproductive rights”? Many are angry that the Supreme Court may be overturning Roe vs Wade and making abortion legal. This mindset is at odds with what the Bible says.

    According to Psalm 127:3, “children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Instead of looking at children as an unwanted obstacle to happiness, we should view them as God does. Children are a blessing given by the Lord.

    This is certainly what Hannah thought about children — especially because she was unable to conceive.

    ii. Note that children are not always part of God’s plan.

    For those who have not been able to have children, keep in mind that God’s plan sometimes is different than what we desire. There are some who never marry. And there are some whom God does not choose to bless with children. It doesn’t mean that you are any less special to God. Instead, His plan for you is just a little different.

    For Hannah, the constant conflict and ridicule from the other woman was more than she could handle. Every day, it was hard for her to get up and smile because the one thing she really wanted was something she could not obtain.

  2. Hannah’s frustrated prayer (1 Sam. 1:8-18)

    [Read 1 Sam. 1:8-18.]

    During the family’s annual visit to the tabernacle, Hannah would weep and pray. Her husband, who loved her more than the other woman, couldn’t understand her emotions.

    a. She was depressed.

    Her husband didn’t know what to do. As is the case with most husbands (or so I have heard), Hannah’s husband was unsure how to help his wife. They had tried to have children but nothing happened. He even asked why she didn’t value him more than ten sons.

    To make matters worse, the other woman provoked her, making things more miserable than they needed to be. You get the idea that she flaunted the fact that she had children and Hannah did not. What a terrible things to do!

    Hannah was quickly sinking into a deep depression that nobody seemed to be able to help.

    What if you were able to talk to Hannah at this point in her life, what would you say? The words of an old song come to mind.

    Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?
    Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus
    Are you grieving over joys departed?
    Tell it to Jesus alone
    Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus
    He is a Friend that’s well known
    You’ve no other such a friend or brother
    Tell it to Jesus alone

    That song has support in the New Testament. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us that “we do not have a High Priest [speaking of Jesus] who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

    b. She was distraught (9-11).

    After the meal, Hannah went to the tabernacle to pray. Her emotions were so powerful that she wept in anguish. She was at the breaking point and could find hope in nobody else.

    As she wept, she prayed to the Lord and made a vow. She promised two things. First, if God gave her a male child, she promised to consecrate him to the Lord for life. Second, she would never cut his hair.

    The second part of Hannah’s vow may sound familiar. Like Samson, her son would take the Nazarite vow. This was an outward expression of the person’s consecration to the Lord. Besides not cutting his hair, he would never drink wine or touch a dead body. You can read more about this in Numbers 6:1-21.

    Basically, Hannah made a deal with God that she intended to keep. If he would give her a son, she would dedicate the boy to God’s service for his entire life.

    c. She was accused (12-16).

    Did you notice who was nearby when Hannah arrived at the tabernacle? It was Eli, the high priest, sitting by the doorpost. As he watched her weeping and praying, he got the idea that something was wrong with her. He saw her lips moving but didn’t hear any words. So he assumed that she was drunk.

    Why would the priest think she was drunk? Well, if you read more about Eli you will find that his sons were very wicked. Their evil practices are described in the next chapter. Perhaps his own family experience led him to believe that most people were evil. Or he may have seen many people turn to the bottle to handle their difficulties. Whatever his reasoning, he confronted Hannah and accused her of being intoxicated.

    Hannah quickly denied being drunk and explained her situation. In a play on words, she insisted that she had not been drinking intoxicating beverages, but had been pouring out her heart to the Lord. She explained that her grief had led her to pray fervently to the Lord.

    d. She was comforted (17-18).

    Despite his first impression, Eli quickly changed his tune. He told Hannah that he understood and hoped that the Lord would grant her request. Hannah responded with grace and hurried back to her family.

    If you had been there, you would have noticed a completely different woman. She washed the tears from her face, ate a meal, and skipped down the path like a little girl. Well… we don’t know if that happened, but we do know that she was no longer sad.

    In all reality, Eli hadn’t told Hannah that God would answer her prayer. He only hoped that God would do that. Was Hannah reading into what Eli said? Would her hopes be dashed in the coming days?

  3. Hannah’s happy results (1 Sam. 1:19-20)

    [Read 1 Sam. 1:19-20.]

    a. She worshiped the Lord (19).

    When you have prayed to the Lord and been encouraged that He will answer your prayer, what has been your response? Hannah’s response was to rise the next day and worship the Lord.

    This parallels what God tells us in Philippians 4:6-7:

    “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

    Hannah’s hope in God’s provision had taken away her tears and replaced them with a calm assurance in God’s goodness for her and the future.

    b. She had a baby boy (20).

    Not long after this trip to Shiloh, Hannah became pregnant and had a little boy. How happy she must have been! In thanks to God for answering her prayer, she named him Samuel.

    Samuel (sometimes spelled Samual) is a male given name and a surname of Hebrew origin meaning either “name of God” or “God heard” (שם האלוהים Shem HaElohim) (שמע אלוהים Sh’ma Elohim).”

    It seems that the latter meaning fits best for Hannah’s situation. She had taken her grief to the Lord and was heard.

    c. She gave him to the Lord (21-28).

    [Read 1 Sam. 1:21-28.]

    Can you imagine how Hannah felt after God answered her prayer? The Lord had given her a son but she had promised to give this boy to the Lord. What a conflict of interest! So what should she do?

    After talking things over with her husband, they decided to keep the child until he was weaned and then fulfill her vow. When the boy had been potty-trained and was able to eat regular food (probably 3 years old, BKCOT 434), she made the journey to Shiloh and presented him to Eli the priest.

    When she arrived, she reminded Eli who she was and what had happened several years earlier. She praised God for answer her prayer and explained that she had promised to lend him to the Lord for life.

    Wouldn’t you like to have been there when this happened? All of the women would have been crying and hugging Hannah. All of the men would be scratching their heads and wondering what old Eli was going to do with a little boy in the tabernacle!

    The next chapter reveals that Hannah didn’t stop being a mother to little Samuel. She visited him and brought him a new outfit every year but she kept her promise to the Lord. And because of her willingness to keep her promise, the Lord blessed her with three more sons and two daughters.

Conclusion

Today’s message from God’s Word is heart-warming. We like to see how things turned out for Hannah and her little boy Samuel. But as we read this true story in the Bible, what lesson should we take with us?

1. God can overcome your bad family situation.

If you were to read about Samuel’s future ministry and not know about his family situation, you would think he had come from a godly home with no issues. But that was far from the case, his dad had two wives and his mom didn’t get along with the other woman. It wasn’t the perfect situation, but God chose to bring Samuel into that situation and used him despite of it.

Do you think God could use you despite your family background? We know that God can do anything but often think that we are limited by our upbringing. What if my parents got a divorce when I was younger? What if my dad beat me when he was drunk? What if my family situation contains things I can’t talk about? Could God still use me? The answer is yes. Remember, “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

2. God cares for you.

Do you recall how bad Hannah felt while she was childless? Her depression was deep. Her grief was great. Her hopelessness was growing. And yet God was always there.

Sometimes our emotions get the best of us. We think that we are alone and without hope. But is this really the case? Does God leave us to suffer in our situation without showing any interest in our case? I would say no.

Consider what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:7. There he says that we should be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Do you believe that to be true? I think that most of us understand the first part but don’t accept the second. Our circumstances often cloud the truth that God wants us to know.

Today, know that God does care for each of His children. He cares about you and wants you to take all of those burdens that have been pressing down on your shoulders and lay them at his feet. When you do that, believing that He actually does care for you, you will find the peace that only He can give.

It worked for Hannah and it will work for you.

Bibliography

David Erdmann, Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Vol. 3 Samuel-Kings, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960, reprint 1980, 47-53.

“Samuel (name)” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_(name) on 5/7/2022.

Eugene H. Merrill, “1 Samuel” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 433-34.

Angelic Warfare

Have you ever wondered why certain national leaders have taken such wicked or cruel actions? Think about the Egyptian pharaohs during Moses’ time, Jezabel, Manasseh, Stalin, and Hitler. Each of them chose to kill many people and seemingly with no good explanation for their actions. What caused them to go to such extreme steps?

Daniel 10 gives insight into what is happening in the spiritual realm. Angels are fighting other angels as they seek to influence nations in either a good or bad direction. The following quotation is a good summary of what is happening.

“Although the entire subject of the unseen struggle between the holy angels and the fallen angels is not clearly revealed in the Scriptures, from the rare glimpses which are afforded, as in this instance, it is plain that behind the political and social conditions of the world there is angelic influence—good on the part of the holy angels, evil on the part of the angels under satanic control. This is the struggle to which Paul referred in Ephesians 6:10-18.”

John Walvoord in Daniel The Key to Prophetic Revelation, Chicago: Moody, 1971, 247.

He Shall Save His People from their Sins

During Christmas, we often read Matthew 1:21 and consider the reason why Jesus was born. The angel said, “He will save His people from their sins.” We have already learned that “His people” refers to all Jews and Gentiles who received Jesus as opposed to just the Jewish people. We have also already learned that Jesus saves us from not only the eternal consequences of our sins but also the current problem of sin’s control over our lives.

However, we have pretty much only looked at the principle as opposed to specific evidence in the Bible that shows what Jesus did. Were there people in NT Bible times whose lives were set free from the power of sin both current and future? I can think of several examples.

1. The paralyzed man (Luke 5:17-25)

   a. Jesus forgave him (20).
   b. Jesus proved he could forgive by healing him (21-24).
   c. The paralyzed man was healed and forgiven (25).

2. Zachaeus (Luke 19:1-10)

   a. He was known to be a sinner (7).
   b. He was repentant after meeting with Jesus (8).
   c. Jesus saved him (9-10).

3. The woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12)

   a. The woman was caught in the act (3-4).
   b. Jesus knew about ALL of them (7-9).
   c. Jesus gave the woman a second chance (10-11).
   d. Jesus gave the woman a light to follow (12).

4. The thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)

   a. The first thief mocked Jesus (39).
   b. The second thief recognized his guilt (40-41).
   c. The second thief asked for mercy (42).
   d. Jesus promised him paradise (43).

Conclusion

In each of these examples, the person whom Jesus met had a sin problem.

  • The paralyzed man needed to be forgiven.
  • Zachaeus needed to leave his sinful lifestyle.
  • The adulterous woman needed to be freed from her sin.
  • The thief on the cross needed mercy.

In each of these examples, Jesus (who is the Savior) saved the person from sin.

  • The paralyzed man lived a joyful life both healed and forgiven by God.
  • Zachaeus lived a joyful life, repaid those he wronged, and left his sin.
  • The adulterous woman was given a second chance to leave her sin.
  • The thief on the cross repented of his sin and found paradise.

Just as Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, so Matthew 1:21 was fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus. He saved these people from their current sin problem and gave them hope for eternity as well.

Today, we know many people who do not know the Lord. They, like us, have a sin problem that cannot be helped with money, pleasure, alcohol, or drugs. While they may look good on the outside, deep down they have a problem that can only be solved by Jesus. They need to know what Jesus can do for them. Will you tell them about the Savior who saves people from their sins?

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I have always liked the words of this Christmas song — especially the change of heart at the end. But were you aware of the usually-not-sung verses at the end? They complete the song well by showing that repenting from sin and the change of life that God brings are the secrets to peace and good will.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play;
In music sweet the tones repeat,
“There’s peace on earth, good will to men.”

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’ unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep,
For Christ is here; His Spirit near
Brings peace on earth, good will to men.”

When men repent and turn from sin
The Prince of Peace then enters in,
And grace imparts within their hearts
His peace on earth, good will to men.

O souls amid earth’s busy strife,
The Word of God is light and life;
Oh, hear His voice, make Him your choice,
Hail peace on earth, good will to men.

Then happy, singing on your way,
Your world will change from night to day;
Your heart will feel the message real,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

How do you know?

Christians deal with sexual temptation just like everyone else. With the world propagating the idea that satisfaction is found outside the bounds of marriage, we are tempted to give in to passion “like the Gentiles who do not know God.” So how do we know how to abstain and control our sexual urges?

As I read through 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, I was struck with the idea that God’s will involves not only abstinence (3) and temperance (5), but also knowledge (4). What knowledge is available to help with this issue? Perhaps the Bible has a few ideas:

  1. Run away (Gen. 39:7-13; 2 Tim.2:22)

    When accosted by his master’s wife’s proposition, Joseph stated that what she proposed was a sin against God and his master. When she persisted, he didn’t stay to argue but ran away. When we are faced with such temptation, it is best to leave as quickly as possible.

  2. Make a promise to yourself and stick with it (Job 31:1).

    Job was a conscientious believer whom God honored for his devotion. His faithfulness to the Lord was evident to all who knew him. And yet this godly man had experienced the temptation to look at women. His way of handling it was to make a promise to himself to not look. Then he made himself keep that promise. When we are faced with the temptation to look, remember your promise to yourself and the Lord and look away.

  3. Don’t put yourself in a bad situation (Rom. 13:14).

    Paul told the Christians that instead of providing opportunities for their lusts, they were to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The first part is proper thinking. Putting on Jesus is like putting on the armor of God. It is a spiritual choice to think and act like our Lord. The second part is not provisioning the flesh. This is an active choice to not allow things in your life that will enable your felshly desires. As Christians, striving to please the Lord, we need to know our trigger points and avoid them.

Today may be a tough day for you. You may be tempted in this area. And while you might blame the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil, the decision to abstain, know, and control yourself (1 Thess. 4:3-5) is something that you will have to choose for yourself.

In this article, you have been given tips from the Bible to help you. Now you have to face the battle yourself. With God’s help, make wise decisions today.

Longing for others to praise the Lord

The person who wrote Psalm 107 repeats a phrase multiple times. He says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” He seems to be amazed at how often people forget to thank God for his goodness and what he does for them.

As you read through the psalm, he gives several examples of people who were in trouble (sometimes because of their own choices) but who turned to the Lord for help. Thankfully, God is merciful and kind to his rebellious creations. The psalm shows how God often bails them out of their situation and how the rescued person is then thankful for what God did.

If only people would recognize God’s goodness today! If only they would recognize the many times and many ways he has taken care of them through the years! Sadly, it often takes a difficult situation to get their attention.

How can we get people to be thankful to God? For those of us who know the Lord, it should be relatively easy. We see what he did for us through Jesus. That always fills our thoughts with thankfulness. But it shouldn’t end there. We ought to be praising God every day for something new. And our thankfulness should point others to God.

For those who don’t know the Lord, it will not come naturally. Thanking God has to begin with knowing and receiving him. So, our duty, as Christians, should be to serve as ambassadors for Christ. As we show our thankfulness and preach the gospel, some will be regenerated and as a result become thankful.

The Right Thing at the Right Time

A few years ago, I took a job driving railroad crew members in a minivan. A late night or early morning trip had me somewhere on a Sunday morning with not enough time to get back home to go to our home church. So I decided to stay and visit a small church in the area. But there was this tiny problem in my mind. I grew up dressing up for church services and I was still in my jeans and a t-shirt. I shouldn’t have been embarrassed, but I was. What could I do?

Not many shops were open that morning — especially any that would have clothes to purchase. But there was a Rite Aid open at the time, so I went inside and bought a zip up jacket with the local high school’s emblem on it. I still didn’t feel very well dressed but it was all I could do at the moment. So, I headed over to the church and sat as far back as I could so as not to be noticed.

Then it happened. The pastor saw me in the back and pointed everyone’s attention toward me!

“Today we have Andy Rupert with us.”

[Oh how I cringed. I wanted to slip under the pew.]

“You may notice that Andy is in his work clothes.

[Can things get any worse???]

“That’s okay because it is good to see people who are willing to work in this day and age. Andy, would you open our service with prayer?”

What could have been an embarrassing situation was changed into a nice moment for everyone who was there that morning — including me. I appreciated that very much. And I never felt embarrassed to stop at that church when I was in the area no matter how I was dressed — all because a kind-hearted pastor diffused the situation before anyone could be embarrassed.

Now for the rest of the story.

Who was this kind-hearted pastor who diffused the situation? It was non-other-than Pastor Don Gallion who at the time was leading the morning service at Calvary Baptist Church of Willard … the church that I currently serve as the pastor. So remember this: You never know what a kind word or action can do in the life of someone visiting your church.

Those Who Came Before

“For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” – John 4:37-38

Jesus reminded his disciples that the spiritual harvest they would reap would be the result of those who had labored before them. This statement made me wonder two things:

(1) Who were those who labored before the disciples? Perhaps Jesus was referring to the prophets, John the Baptist, himself, or some unknown but faithful believers who had been actively serving and speaking for the Lord. Their efforts made the disciples’ work successful.

(2) Who are those who have gone before us? At our church there were pastors and church members who were here before us. At Peniel Bible Camp and the Ohio Bible Fellowship, there were faithful leaders, staff, and contributors who gave of their time and resources. Without their work, we would not have what we do today.

While you serve the Lord today in your church, camp, or ministry, remember that you are not alone. There have been many others who have made things possible over the years. Stop and thank God for the godly men and women who have gone before to make things successful today. And be faithful to continue the work that they began years ago.