2 Peter: Remember!

They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.” (2 Peter 3:4-6).

Scoffers always seem to have short memories. The Apostle Peter comments that false teachers indignantly mock the promise of Jesus Christ’s return in power, might and glory. They continually comment that all things in this world continue as they have from the very beginning of creation. What they conveniently forget is an event the Scriptures call the Flood.

Peter states that scoffers “deliberately overlook this fact.” The word deliberately (θέλω; thelo) means, within this context, to presently, purposely and actively have an opinion concerning something. What scoffers have a mind set upon is to overlook (λανθάνω; lanthano), forget, to lose sight of and to not remember a fact (οὗτος; houtos) or a reality. The reality to which the apostle refers is God creating the world out of water, and through water by the word of God (Genesis 1:1-2).

One commentary explains that, “Aristotle and his adherents (the Peripatetics) believed that the universe was eternal. His view caught on even outside Peripatetic circles, and Philo had to address the idea. (Like Plato, Philo believed that God created the world from preexistent matter, but unlike Plato, he believed that God had created that preexistent matter too.) Epicureans denied that God acted in the world; they also believed that matter was indestructible (on the atomic level) and that the universe was infinite. The Stoics believed that fire was eternal, that the universe would periodically be resolved into the primeval fire (see comment on 3:7) and that eternity was a cycle of ages. Whether matter was created out of preexisting substance in chaos (as in most ancient thought) or from nothing (as is most likely in Gen 1) was debated in Diaspora Judaism.In Genesis 1, God created the world through his word (also Ps 33:6–9). Some later Jewish traditions counted ten commands in Genesis 1 and suggested that they represented the Ten Commandments, the word of the law on which God founded the world.”

It was also with water that God deluged the ancient world and destroyed it, and its sin, with the Flood. Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Peter met the arguments of the scoffers by reviewing some ancient history. Just as water by God’s command played a significant role in the early formation of the earth, so water also was the agent for destruction of the earth at God’s command. The heavens existed refers to the expanse or sky created on the second day of Creation (Gen. 1:6–8); and the earth was formed out of water and with water refers to the land appearing from the water on the third day of Creation (Gen. 1:9–10).

 Dr. Walvoord continues by stating, “God the Creator is also God the Judge. In His sovereign will, any change in process can occur at any time for He designed and controls these “natural” processes. The scoffers deliberately (thelontas, “willingly”) forget God’s Creation and the Flood, an interesting contrast with Peter’s constant reminders to his readers to “remember” (2 Peter 1:12–13, 15; 3:1–2, 8). The scoffers deliberately put aside God’s Word and then complained that God was not doing anything. Interestingly Peter was both a creationist and a believer in the universal Flood (cf. his other references to the Flood: 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5).”

 I wonder how many scoffers there are in the churches we are members of and where we serve the Lord Jesus. These would be individuals who play church and dismiss the sovereignty of God and His impending judgment upon this fallen world. The judgment to come will be as devastating as the ancient flood but it will not be by water, but rather by fire. More to follow when we meet again.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

2 Peter: The Scoffer’s Indignation.

“They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

How will scoffers mock and ridicule the prophesied and promised return of the Lord Jesus Christ? They will indignantly and persistently ask “Where is the promise of His coming?”

The word “where” (ποῦ; pou) disrespectfully implies that Jesus’ coming should have occurred by now. Since it hasn’t occurred, scoffers may reason, then it probably won’t.  

 The word “promise” (ἐπαγγελία; epangelia) means an agreement that is to be fulfilled. Since Jesus has yet to return to the earth in power, might and glory, scoffers gladly proclaim that Jesus’ promise to come again (παρουσία; parousia) will never be fulfilled.

There reasoning for this rejection of God’s promise is based on the continuing cycle of life and living which has continued unabated since Jesus’ ascension. In fact, scoffers reason that life continues as it has since creation. They conclude that ever since the Jewish forefathers (πατήρ; pater) feel asleep (κοιμάω; koimao) or died, all things are continuing as they always have since the beginning of creation.

The word all things (πᾶς; pas) refers to that which exists in the natural world. This is what sceptics and scoffers solely focus their attention upon. They do not believe in God’s revealed truth: the Scriptures.

Dr. John Walvoord comments that, “From the time of the promise of Christ’s coming as Saviour and King being given to the fathers, down to the present time, all things continue, and have continued, as they now are, from “the beginning of creation.” The “scoffers” here are not necessarily atheists, nor do they maintain that the world existed from eternity. They are willing to recognize a God, but not the God of revelation. They reason from seeming delay against the fulfilment of God’s word at all.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Peter points us to the predictions of the prophets and apostles in order to give us confidence that false teaching is in fact no surprise to God. For the apostles and prophets did predict that in the last days scoffers will arise deriding the promise of Jesus’ return (vv. 2–4). The questions and assertions of the false teachers described in verse 4 were not innocent inquiries regarding the second coming; rather, the teachers in question mocked the orthodox belief in Jesus’ return as Judge.”

“However, this should not be surprising to us. Peter does tell us that the scoffing of the false teachers is predicted by the Word of God. In view here are passages such as Malachi 2:17 where the prophet warns the people that they have wearied the Lord by speaking as if God is not concerned with justice. As false teachers do the same in these last days, Malachi’s warning is fulfilled and made all the more intense because those who deny judgment while living under the revelation of the new covenant are even more guilty of sin.”

Dr. Sproul concludes by saying that, “Peter’s quotation of the prophet Joel in Acts 2:16–21 makes it clear that the entire time between the first and second advent of Christ is to be regarded as the last days. As such, we are not to be surprised at the presence of false teaching throughout church history, nor are we to assume necessarily that the seeming proliferation of false doctrine in our own day means that Jesus will return in our lifetime. Jesus could return at any time, and yet the entire period between His two advents is indeed the last days. Thus, we must not be surprised that the predictions about the rise of false teachers (Matt. 24:11) are fulfilled in every generation of the church.”

 Are you frustrated by the increasing amount of false teaching that is occurring within the evangelical community? It seems the church is running headlong in rejecting objective, biblical truth and accepting anyone’s subjective opinion as a replacement for biblical truth. In a very real sense, it is good that believers in Christ are disturbed by the increase of false teaching. Therefore, we must resolve to do everything we biblically can to combat false teaching, where and when it occurs.

May the Lord find us faithful in doing so.

Sol deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 7, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #7 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

Article #7: The Sufficiency of Scripture  to be the Only Rule of Faith.

We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length,
no one—even an apostle or an angel from heaven, as Paul says—2 ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us. For since it is forbidden to add to the Word of God, or take anything away from it,3 it is plainly demonstrated that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects. Therefore we must not consider human writings—no matter how holy their authors may have been—equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of times or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else. For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore we reject with all our hearts everything that does not agree with this infallible rule, as we are taught to do by the apostles when they say, “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God,”4 and also, “Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching.”5

2Gal. 1:8
3Deut. 12:32Rev. 22:18-19
41 John 4:1
52 John 10

Psalm 119:7-9 says, I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. 8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!”

Soli deo Gloria!

2 Peter: Scoffers will come with Scoffing.

“…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” (2 Peter 3:3)

It should come as no surprise that since Peter wrote his second epistle to remind his readers to remember the prophets and the apostles’ message concerning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ that it would be for a particular reason. That reason is given in 2 Peter 3:3. It is that scoffers will come with scoffing about Jesus’ return.

Peter wanted his readers then, and now, to presently and actively know and understand a truth that is of primary importance. The truth is that scoffers will come. Scoffers (ἐμπαίκτης; empaiktes) are those who mock and make fun of Jesus Christ and His followers.

I was recently at work and asked a fellow employee how her strained back was doing. The previous day she couldn’t even stand straight which necessitated her making an appointment with a local chiropractor. I told her, prior to her appointment, that I would pray for her. Another employee must have heard what I told her because the next day, after she said she was feeling better following her chiropractic appointment, he began to shout the word hallelujah exclaiming that God had healed this lady. Knowing this young man as I do, he clearly was mocking her, me, and the Lord Jesus. This is what scoffers do.

The reality of scoffers is a telltale sign that we are living in the last days. The last days is the time immediately prior to the promised return of Jesus Christ in power, might and glory. It is at this particular time in the church’s history that scoffers will come with scoffing (ἐμπαιγμονή; empaigmone) which is to make fun of someone by pretending that he is not what he is or by imitating him in a distorted manner—in order to mock, to ridicule.” This is what my co-worker did and what many entertainers, filmmakers and television programs do as well.

Why do scoffers do this? It is because they are following their own sinful desires. Note that scoffers are not following anyone else’s lusts, but their own cravings and evil desires. Those who do not follow them and their sinful cravings are mocked and ridiculed.

Believers can take heart that such mockery is an indication of Jesus’ soon return. The logical inference is that as scoffing increases in intensity against the church, the Lord’s return is that much sooner.

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Peter understood that he and his readers were living in the last days, the period of time between the Lord’s First and Second Advents. First of all means “above all” (as in 1:20), foremost in importance. Scoffers are the false teachers who deny Jesus Christ (2:1) and His return (3:4). Jesus had said these heretics would come (Matt. 24:3–5, 11, 23–26), and Paul had written the same (1 Tim. 4:1–3; 2 Tim. 3:1–9). Peter echoed the warning, adding that their scoffing is accompanied by their … evil desires (epithymias, also used in 2 Peter 1:4; 2:10, 18; Jude 16, 18). Arrogant snobbery and disdain for the idea of a coming judgment led to sexual perversion.”

These current days of scoffers mocking and ridiculing believing Christians for their faith, while at the same time celebrating their unbridled sin and licentiousness, should make us take heart that Jesus is returning soon. Let us call it anticipation in the midst of agitation.

Soli deo Gloria!

       

 

 

 

2 Peter: A Reminder to Remember.

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,” (2 Peter 3:1-2)

The purpose of Peter’s second letter to the same collection of displaced believers he previously wrote (I Peter 1:1-2) was to stir up their sincere minds. The word sincere (εἰλικρινής; eilikrines) means these believers did not have any hidden motives. Their minds (διάνοια; dianoia), or their thinking, was in keeping with God’s truth.

The English word “sincere” is from the Latin words sine cera, “without wax.” Some pottery salesmen would use wax to cover cracks and weak places in pottery. Such a cover-up could be detected only by holding the jug up to the sun to see if any weaknesses were visible. Such a vase was called “sun-judged” (the lit. meaning of the Gr. eilikrinēs). The Lord wants believers in Christ to possess sun-judged minds, not minds which their sin have been covered over.”

Please notice that Peter referred to the recipients of his letter as beloved. These are people who are near and dear to the apostle’s heart. They are his dear friends. He will use the term beloved (ἀγαπητός; agapetos) four times in this chapter (vs, 1, 8, 14, 17). Most importantly,  they are beloved by God.

Knowing the sincerity of these believers, Peter wanted to remind them that they should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandments through the apostles. The word predictions (ῥῆμα; rhema) is referring to a message, a word, or a saying originating from a specific source. The word commandment (ἐντολή; entole) refers to an order. Both pertain to what God’s Word says about the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The two sources Peter mentions regarding this message and commandment were respectively the holy prophets and the apostles. The word holy (ἅγιος; hagios) refers to that which is pure, dedicated and separate from sin. This adjective pertains to the Old Testament prophets of God. The prophets spoke utterances and messages from God. The apostles did the same thing with the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter was one of the apostles. Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of not only the holy prophets but also the apostles.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Peter again reminded his readers of the need to remember (cf. 1:12–15). Others, like Peter, referred to the holy prophets (cf. Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; Eph. 3:5), whose words were oracles regarding the day of the Lord and related topics. The command of our Lord and Savior refers to His teachings, which were then proclaimed by the apostles (cf. Jude 17). Peter’s linking the prophets and apostles placed them on the same level of authority (cf. Eph. 2:20). This also suits Peter’s earlier purpose of distinguishing the true servants of the Lord from the false. Believers do well to recall the writings of both Testaments regarding the Lord’s return.”

Believers in Christ are wise to not only study the New Testament regarding the Lord’s return in power, might and glory but also the Old Testament. Both testaments are inspired, inerrant and God’s revelation (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Peter: Conclusions and Comparisons.

21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:21-22)

“An apostate (false teacher) is someone who has the light but not the life, the seed but not the fruit, the written word but not the living word, the truth but not a love for the truth.” Dr. John MacArthur

The Apostle Peter concluded his striking and stirring remarks about false teachers, or apostates, but setting forth a conclusion and two comparisons. Both of these categories should prompt true believers to pause and consider the ultimate end of all false teachers.

To begin with, Peter stated, “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What did the apostle mean when he used the words “known” and “knowing” to describe the spiritual condition of false teachers? Were they then, and are they now, true believers who have abandoned the faith or are they simply pretenders who never were justified by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone?

Peter’s conclusion regarding the condition of false teachers was that it would have been better (κρείττων; kreitton), superior or greater to never to have known (ἐπιγινώσκω; epiginosko) or to have knowledge of the way of righteousness (ὁδός δικαιοσύνη; odos dikiaosyne) or doing what God requires or what is right. In others words, false teachers have knowledge about God and living righteously, but they give no evidence of repentance and personal, God-given faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

On the contrary, false teachers turn back from the holy commandment (ἅγιος ἐντολή; hagios entole). This is the pure, divine and superior direction solely belonging to and originating from God. This is the gospel message which not only delivers a sinner from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin. It is a message of not only justification by Jesus Christ but also sanctification by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in each true believer’s life (Romans 3:21-26; Romans 8:1-9).

Peter was saying that false teachers possess a knowledge about Jesus Christ, which could produce true liberty and life. However, when that “head” knowledge is rejected, their ultimate end is deeper corruption by their sin and possibly a greater degree of punishment. Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Indeed, they would have been better off never to have known the gospel, the way of righteousness, and the sacred (holy) commandment (i.e., the apostolic message) than to have known the truth and have deliberately violated it.”

 Peter then provided two striking comparisons about the behavior of false teachers’ ultimate rejection of the gospel. The first is that of a dog returning to its own vomit. Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”  In the ancient world, Jews did not consider dogs to be household pets but rather mongrels which ran in ravaging packs. Additionally, the apostle mentioned a “sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” This was common knowledge by the Jews.

Dr. Walvoord comments that, “The underlying principle of both is the same: these apostates (whether false teachers, their victims, or both) never were what they seemed to be and returned to what they had been all along. Dogs and pigs can be scrubbed but not kept clean, for it is in their very nature to return to unclean living. Such apostates are in a tighter bondage, they are farther from the truth, and they are deeper in spiritual filth than ever before.”

Dr. Walvvord concludes that, “Believers today do well to heed Peter’s warning against false teachers, to learn how to discern truth for themselves, and to teach it to others. The false teachers will themselves meet destruction and others will be destroyed by them. But Christians can wage spiritual warfare more effectively if they know their spiritual enemies, the techniques that heretics use, and the end result of their deception.”

 What ultimately distinguishes a true believer, and teacher of God, from false teachers? A true believer pursues practical righteousness and holiness in their lives. This pursuit is not in order to attain justification but rather to reflect and demonstrate the justification they already possess by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. True believers in Christ still sin (Romans 7:15-25; I John 1:8-9), but with decreasing frequency and with a hatred of their sin. Ultimately, the true believer in Christ seeks to obey God, based upon God’s love for them and their love for God in grateful response. May this holy obedience to God be said of us and seen in us.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Peter: The Ultimate End for False Teachers.

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” (2 Peter 2:20)

One of the evidences of true conversion to Christ, aside from the repentance from one’s sin and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, is a perseverance in one’s commitment to Christ as Savior and Lord. When an individual does not persevere in their faith in Christ, it is a biblical evidence that the faith they professed was not a faith that they truly possessed.

I John 2:19-19 says, 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” The antichrist’s to which the Apostle John refers are also false teachers.

2 Peter 2:20 contains the phrase “after they have escaped” (ἀποφεύγω; apopheugo). This means to become safe from danger. From what have false teachers presumably escaped? Peter said “the defilements of the world.” Defilements (μίασμα; miasma) means to be tainted or stained by evil. This evil originates from the fallen world.

Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Defilements” has the idea of putrid or poisonous vapors. Morally, the world gives off a deadly influence. Peter notes that at some point in time, these false teachers and their followers wanted to escape the moral contamination of the world system and sought religion, even Jesus Christ (on their terms, not his;). But these false teachers had never genuinely been converted to Christ. They heard the true gospel and moved toward it, but then rejected the Christ of that gospel.”

Therefore, once they are again entangled in the defilements of the world their spiritual condition will be much worse than before.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “These false teachers apparently professed to be Christians, but their return to their old, sinful way of life showed that their knowledge of Christ and the way of righteousness was only superficial and their escape from the defilements of the world was only temporary.”

False teachers are never truly converted to faith in Christ. They just pretend to be in order to gain a following. Resolve today to not allow false teachers and their teaching to get a foothold into your life.

 

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Peter: True Freedom.

“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19)

I am often times intrigued when I encounter individuals who tout their freedom in sin. Regardless of the ultimate consequences of their actions, they are willing to do whatever it takes for this nebulous concept they have conceived regarding the meaning of freedom.

Freedom (ἐλευθερία; eleutheria) means liberty, or living as we should and not as we please. Unfortunately, for many the meaning of liberty is living as we please and not as we should. This latter meaning for liberty has unfortunately become the philosophy of many believers in Christ.

False teachers promise people freedom. The irony is that these same false teachers are slaves of corruption. A slave (δοῦλος’ doulos) means to be subservient to someone or something. In other words, someone other than yourself controls you. Corruption (φθορά; phthora) means to have soul of which moral corruption and depravity originates.

False teachers are slaves to their own spiritual decay. They cannot promise or provide true freedom because they do not possess it themselves.

Pastor Burk Parsons writes, “The Psalmist declared, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97). Why would anyone love the law of God? Why would we love that which constantly tells us what miserable wretches we are, daily points out all our shortcomings, relentlessly reminds us of all our death-deserving sins, and keeps knocking us down to our knees, leaving us crying out for help?”

 “The truth of the matter is that not just anyone loves the law of God but only those who have been set free by our law-giving, law-keeping, and law-liberating Savior. We love the law of God not because we possess some sort of inherent self-inflicting, self-deprecating sadistic disposition toward ourselves, but because, in His electing grace, God set His glorious and enduring love upon us, laid His eternal claim upon us, took hold of us and clutches us in the palm of His strong and steadfast hand, and made us His dutiful bondslaves that we might be free to delight in His law in our inner being (Rom. 7:22–25) and strive to observe all the commands of Christ (Matt. 28:20), who by no means abolished the Law but fulfilled it perfectly in our behalf (Matt. 5:17). His death is our life. His fulfillment is our freedom. His duty is our delight.”

 “Our abundant life of freedom in Christ is not a freedom to do anything we want to do but to have the uninterrupted, Spirit-sustaining power to do what we know we ought to do as the Holy Spirit changes our wants and daily makes all of our God-given duties delightful as we rest in the finished work of Christ (Rom. 8:3–4).”

 Enjoy today a freedom in Christ which is true liberty. For further study, I encourage you to read Romans 6.

Solei deo Gloria!

     

 

 

2 Peter: Loud Boasters of Folly.

For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.” (2 Peter 2:18)

False teachers are rarely silent. I would submit their favorite Bible verse would not be Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” They’re rarely, if ever, silent. They also would rather be exalted among the nations and in the earth.

When false teachers talk, according to the Apostle Peter, they are speaking loud boasts of folly. The word speaking (φθέγγομαι; phthengomai) is a present middle participle. This means that the false teachers are continually and personally speaking. What they say reflects their thinking, feelings and decisions.

What are they speaking? Peter called it loud boasts of folly. Loud boasts (ὑπέρογκος; hyperonkos) means to speak in such a way that makes no sense. In other words, to speak nonsense. The nonsense false teachers speak is folly (ματαιότης; mataiotes) or useless and futile words, empty of content.

False teachers not only speak empty nonsense, but they also entice. To entice (δελεάζω; deleaso) means to lead astray or to lure someone into sin. The enticement in question is the sensual passions of the flesh. This phrase refers to extreme immorality and sinful desires found in the fallen nature of man.

The individuals who false teachers endeavor to entice are those “who are barely escaping from those who live in error.”

Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “The false teachers deceive the weak with high-sounding words that masquerade as scholarship or profound spiritual insight, and even as direct revelation from God. They may contradict the plain historic teachings of Scripture, which in some cases they are not able to explain properly because of their lack of adequate training and divine wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). In reality, they say nothing genuinely scholarly, or spiritual, or divine. Nevertheless, in spite of all the empty talk, false teachers entice others to their philosophies by appealing to people on the baser level. Seduction, rather than the winsomeness of truth, is their ploy. They offer people a kind of religion that they can embrace and yet still hold on to their fleshly desires and sensuality. Peter may also be implying that false teachers particularly aim to seduce women through sensual methods. The phrase “barely escaping” is a description not of saved people, but of people who are vulnerable because they have high levels of guilt and anxieties—people with broken marriages, people who are lonely and tired of the consequences of sin and are looking for a new start, even for religion or help from God. The false teachers exploit these kinds of people.”

Once again we witness from the apostle that no good thing comes from a false teacher. Make sure you expend every effort to remove and stay clear of false teachers and false teaching in your life.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 6, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #6 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

Article #6: The Difference between the Canonical and the Apocryphal Books.

We distinguish between these holy books (The Bible) and the apocryphal ones, which are the third and fourth books of Esdras; the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch; what was added to the Story of Esther; the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace; the Story of Susannah; the Story of Bel and the Dragon; the Prayer of Manasseh; and the two books of Maccabees. The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.

 Palm 119:4-6 says, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.”

Soli deo Gloria!

2 Peter: Peter’s Continual Denouncement.

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.” (2 Peter 2:17)

As we continue to study the Epistle of 2 Peter, and chapter two in particular, it is not lost on me that Peter continues to attack the character and behavior of false teachers. Some might conclude he is being neither gracious nor kind. Perhaps. Peter, however, is taking no chances that false teacher may become influential within the church. He is sounding a dire warning of which the church should take heed.

One of my favorite authors is Louis L’Amour. He has been called America’s foremost storyteller of the authentic west. He wrote dozens of books, many of which have been made into movies, chronicling the adventures of the brave men and women who settled the American frontier. Several of his stories, e.g. Hondo and The Burning Hills, are set in the desert of the American southwest.

In his novel The Burning Hills L’Amour writes, “In the moonlight even more than by day, the desert is a place of weird and strange beauty. One can live in the desert. There are plants that provide food; there are plants and places that provide water. But if one does not conform to the desert’s pattern, one can die in the desert.”

Peter identified false teachers as being waterless springs. He uses a figure of speech called an oxymoron. It is a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. In the case today’s text, the oxymoron is “waterless springs.” The apparent contradiction here is that a spring is usually not waterless. However, the word for spring (πηγή; pege) can also be defined as a well of water.

Peter was saying that false teachers are like a dry well. There is the promise and hope of refreshment and life sustaining nutrients from their teaching, but unfortunately they are like a dry hole in the ground. One commentary says that, “Barren wells were worse than useless; they promised water in the arid East yet did not deliver on their promise.”

  Peter also called false teachers “mists driven by a storm.” The anticipated refreshment of an early morning or evening mist or fog is unrealized because a whirlwind has driven away the weather pattern of moisture.

What false teachers do have is a reservation from the Lord. Their reservation is the gloom of utter darkness. In other words, hell.

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “In both cases one would look for some benefit or blessing (a cool drink from the spring; a refreshing shower from the clouds) but in each case he is disappointed. The very nature of hypocrisy is that one does not have what he pretends to have. Once again (cf. 2 Peter 2:1, 3, 9, 12–13) Peter wrote of their coming judgment. The blackest darkness (lit., “blackness” or “gloominess” [zophos; cf. “gloomy” in v. 4] of darkness) is reserved for them (cf. Jude 13). This blackness is presumably hell.”

 Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Just as water sustains physical life, so true spiritual teaching nourishes spiritual life (Proverbs 13:14; John 4:13-15). This is a vivid image in a culture where water was a treasured resource. Like the dry well that only disappoints the thirsty (Jeremiah 14:1-3), the false teachers can only deceived and disappoint.

Take time today to guard your heart against the influence of false teachers and their instruction.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Peter: Astray. The Way of Balaam.

15” Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.” (2 Peter 2:15-16)  

What does it mean to go astray? The Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 53:6 that, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The Hebrew word for astray is “tainu” meaning to wander, to err and to literally and/or spiritually stagger. It is a condition which the sinner brings upon themselves.

Within today’s text from 2 Peter, the apostle also used the word astray (πλανάω; planao) meaning to lead astray, to deceive, to cause someone to stray from the truth. Within the context of 2 Peter, the word astray takes on a darker and more ominous tone. False teachers are not only individuals who lead themselves astray from the Word of God but also lead others down the broad road which leads to destruction. These are they who are forsaking (καταλείπω; kataleipo) or abandoning the right way or the correct manner of life before God.

Having forsaken the truth of God’s Word, who, or what, are they following instead? Peter says they have followed the way of life demonstrated by the Prophet Balaam. Who exactly was Balamm? The following information is taken from the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

Balaam was Beor’s son, a prophet or soothsayer from northern Mesopotamia who was hired by a Moabite king, Balak, to curse the Israelites who had arrived at the Jordan Valley opposite Jericho after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Israel’s defeat of the Amorites (Num. 21:21–25) had instilled fear in the heart of the Moabite king (22:3). Because curses and blessings were considered irrevocable (Gen. 27:34–38), Balak reasoned that if he could hire a prophet to curse the Israelites in the name of their own God, Yahweh, he could easily defeat them in battle and drive them away from his borders. Balak sent messengers to Pethor, where Balaam lived. The town is believed to be located near Haran along the Habur River, a tributary of the Euphrates. Balak offered Balaam an impressive sum to come down and curse the Israelites.

Balaam, however, was warned by the Lord that he should not go to Moab. The king of Moab would not accept Balaam’s refusal and sent his royal messengers back with offers of greater wealth and honor. Balaam revealed an inner lust for wealth and position by returning to the Lord to ask whether he should go. His words to the messengers, however, were very pious: “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God, to do less or more” (Num. 22:18, rsv). Although Balaam would do only what the Lord allowed, he became a prime example of someone who does the right thing for the wrong reason.

 Balak had sent along with his messengers “the fees for divination” (Nm 22:7, rsv), which shows that he considered Balaam a diviner of the type pagan nations commonly used. The Israelites were forbidden by the Lord to consult diviners or practice divination (Deut. 18:10–11). A true prophet would not have even considered the possibility that serving Balak might be right. God’s final permission to let Balaam go, with the stipulation that he say only what God told him, was the Lord’s way of frustrating Balak’s cause and showing God’s care for his chosen people.

 Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Balaam served as an illustration and example of such false prophets. He was an OT compromising prophet for sale to whomever paid him, who preferred wealth and popularity over faithfulness and obedience to God (Num. 22–24). Through a talking donkey, God kept him from cursing Israel (2 Pet. 2:16; cf. Num. 22:21–35).

 Peter’s text parallels Jude 10-11 when it says, 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.”

In a recent interview in the September 2019 issue of Tabletalk Magazine, Coti W. Hinn, the nephew of prosperity preacher and televangelist Benny Hinn, explains why he left the prosperity gospel movement. In the interview, Hinn explains what he believes are the most significant errors of the prosperity gospel movement.

There are numerous errors, but let me break down four. First, it’s an assault on the sovereignty of God because it teaches people that they can control God with an offering or positive confession. People think they are the puppet master and God is the puppet. Growing up, I viewed Him as a magic genie, thinking that if I asked Him right, I would get whatever I wanted.

Second, it’s an assault on the atonement. Prosperity theology teaches that health, wealth, and happiness are earthly guarantees because of the atonement. The truth is, Jesus took the full wrath of the Father as a substitute for His people. The purpose of the atonement is to provide salvation, not “stuff.”

Third, prosperity theology does not have a biblical theology of suffering. God’s Word has answers regarding trials, sickness, pain, and loss. People need those right answers.

Fourth, prosperity theology twists biblical teaching about wealth and stewardship. Money is not evil, but we all must keep an eternal perspective (Matt. 6:19–24).

False prophets may sound very pious, but inwardly they are seeking to fulfill their lust of the flesh, their lust of the eyes and their pride of life (Gen. 3; Matthew 4; Luke 4; I John 2:15-17). They want big houses, expensive clothes and private jets and they want their listeners and supporters to pay for it. Resolve to not listen to what these false prophets have to say.

Soli deo Gloria!  

   

 

 

2 Peter: The Loss of Moral Control.

14 “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!” (2 Peter 2:14)

We live during a time within the church’s history where fellowship with one another is prized above everything else. Including truth.

Do not misunderstand. Fellowship with other believers in Christ is important. It was one of the hallmarks of the early church (Acts 2:42-47). The Apostle John expressed in I John 4 fellowship is having a self-sacrificial love for each other (I John 4:7-11) rooted and grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ (I John 1:1-4).

However, the church must never forsake biblical truth for the sake of harmony within the church. There will be times when disharmony will occur when truth is at stake because it is in danger of being compromised.

The Apostle Peter used strong language in his epistle when he described the character, or lack thereof, of false teachers or apostates. He did not pull any punches and he did not sugarcoat the situation. False teachers are dangerous when they are within a local church. Why?

In today’s text, continuing the tone begun in 2:1, Peter stated that false teachers “have eyes full of adultery insatiable for sin.” Peter was saying that false teachers continually engage in adulterous relationships. This kind of behavior is insatiable (ἀκατάπαυστος; akatapaustos) or never ceasing or incessant for sin (ἁμαρτία; hamartia) or evil wrongdoing.

They also “entice unsteady souls.” To entice (δελεάζω; deleazo) means to presently and actively lead people astray from the truth of God’s Word. They do this upon unsteady (ἀστήρικτος; asteriktos) people. These are people who change and wave in their views and attitudes. This is usually dependent upon who they are associating.

Additionally, they “have hearts trained in greed.”  The inner soul of false teachers has been trained (γυμνάζω; gymnazo) like an athlete. In the gymnasium of sinfulness, they have been trained by the world, their own sinful natures, and the devil himself to be filled with greed. Greed (πλεονεξία; pleonexia) is avarice, covetousness and exploitation. It is the desire to acquire more and more. For them, greed is good.

The resulting conclusion by Peter is that false teachers are “accursed children.” What could be a more damnable announcement than that?  They are doomed.

There is only one hope for anyone is this accursed condition. That is repentance of sin and personal, God-given faith in Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior. Nothing else, and no one else, can save someone from this horrible condition.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

2 Peter: Characteristics of Apostates.

12 “But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.”

 It is probably as good a time as any to define an apostate? An apostate is an individual who once professed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior but has renounced, defected and deserted their prior profession and confession of faith in Christ. Not only have they deserted their faith in Christ, but they also seek to lead others astray. Especially those within the church.

Peter has already called apostates false prophets and false teachers at the beginning of chapter two. Remember when Peter wrote, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

 It is at this juncture of Peter’s epistle that he begins specifically describing these false teachers or apostates. His illustrations are graphic and striking.

To begin with, Peter compares false teachers to irrational animals. Irrational (ἄλογος; alogos) means without reason or unable to reason. False teachers lack the capacity to think properly. They are like dumb animals born to be captured or killed, caught and destroyed. Additionally, they are creatures of instinct (φυσικός; physikos) without the desire or inclination to rationally think.

Additionally, they continually blaspheme (βλασφημέω; blasphemo) or specifically slander God and His followers about subjects in which they are ignorant (ἀγνοέω; agnoeo) lacking the capacity to grasp or understanding the things of God (I Corinthians 2:14).

Peter goes on to say that false teachers will be destroyed in their destruction. To be destroyed (φθείρω; phtheiro) is to be corrupted, depraved and ruined. What will destroy them is their own destruction (φθορά; phthora) or moral corruption.

They will suffer wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. To suffer wrong (ἀδικέω; adikeo) means that they will be harmed and injured. This will be because they have earned (μισθός; misthos) suffering as a paycheck or payback for their wrongdoing (ἀδικία; adikia) or unrighteousness before God.

Peter continues his condemnation of apostates by stating that they count it pleasurable to revel in the daytime. The Greek word for pleasure is ἡδονή (hedone) from which we derive our English word hedonist or hedonism. It is doing that which is enjoyable even if it is sinful and wicked. To revel (τρυφή; tryphe) is to carouse and to be self-indulgent.

Finally, Peter calls them “blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.” Blots (σπίλος; spilos) are stains or spots. Our English word “spill” comes from this Greek word. Blemishes (μῶμος; momos) are defects. Both words refer to the apostate’s immorality and ungodliness. As such, false teachers continually indulge themselves in their deceptions (ἀπάτη; apate) or lies. They do so while they worship alongside sincere and committed believers in Christ.

Peter’s reference to false teachers being slots and blemishes parallels what Jude says about them in his epistle. Jude writes, 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “The false teachers of the first century were like brute beasts. They operated from instinct, which was locked into their sin nature, rather than from rational choice. Creatures of instinct translates the one Greek word physika, “belonging to nature.” They followed their natural desires. Like animals in a jungle, their only value was in being caught and destroyed (cf. Jude 10). This harsh language from Peter is an indication of how serious he considered these heresies to be. Like beasts they too will perish is literally, “in their corruption (phthora) they too shall be corrupted” (phtharēsontai), an interesting play on words (cf. “corrupted” in Eph. 4:22). Corruption here probably means eternal punishment.”

 We must always remember that false teachers are not just outside of the church, but also are within the covenant community of God. We must ever remain on our guard.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Peter: Slaves to Sinful Desires.

10 “…and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.” (2 Peter 2:10-11)

The Lord’s Day of Judgment will come upon not only the rebellious from the past, but also those who rebel against the Lord in the present and the future. This judgment is sure and certain.

The Lord’s judgment will come upon those who Peter describes as the ones who indulge in the lust of defiling passion. To indulge (πορεύομαι; poreuomai) is to continually live or behave in a certain manner. Within the context of 2 Peter 2:10, the behavior is the lust (ἐπιθυμία; epithymia) or evil desire of defiling passion (μιασμός; miasmos). Defiling passion is impurity, evil desire and sinful contamination.

These are also people who despise authority. To despise (καταφρονέω; kataphroneo) means to scorn or to look down on something or someone. Authority (κυριότης; kyriotes) refers to lordship, ruling power or dominion. While this may refer to human authority or government, ultimately the fallen world despises God’s authority.

Peter describes these people as bold (τολμητής; tolmetes) or daring along with being willful (αὐθάδης; authades), stubborn and arrogant. The apostle continues to say that these rebellious sinners do not tremble as they blaspheme or speak against the glorious ones or the glory of God. Peter contrasts these arrogant pretenders with angels when Peter says, “Whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.”  

Jude 8-9 parallels 2 Peter when it says, “Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was

disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Unlike false teachers who are defiant toward higher powers, the holy angels so revere their Lord that they will not speak insults against any authority. Even the archangel Michael, recognizing the great presence and power of Satan, refused to speak evil of him but called on the Lord to do so. No believer should be so boldly foolish as to mock or command the power of supernatural demons, especially Satan.”

These verses make me pause as to how blasphemous and rebellious I was prior to my conversion to Christ. However, today’s text also makes me take stock of how sin may be crouching at my door seeking to entice me to sin. May we all be on our guard.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

2 Peter: To Rescue and to Keep.

Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the Day of Judgment,” (2 Peter 2:9)

2 Peter 2:9 is the concluding effect statement in light of three previous cause statements contained in 2 Peter 2:4-8. If the Lord condemned the angels, the ancient world and the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah then, Peter says, this means that the Lord knows how to do two fundamental things.

First, the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials. To rescue (ῥύομαι; rhyomai) means to deliver someone from danger with the implication that the danger in question is severe. God rescues the godly. The godly (εὐσεβής; eusebes) are those who are devoted to God in their thinking, their speaking and their living. God rescues to godly from trials. Trials (πειρασμός; peirasmas) are attempts to cause people to sin. They are also known as temptations.

Second, the Lord knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the Day of Judgment. To keep (τηρέω; tereo) means to cause to continue or retain. The Lord will keep the unrighteous (ἄδικος; adikos) or the unjust or ungodly under punishment. The phrase under punishment (κολάζω; kolazo) means severe suffering. The Lord will keep the unrighteous under punishment until the concluding Day of Judgment.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Some commentators and most English translations see here a reference to preliminary punishment before the final judgment; this is the most natural reading of the Greek. Oher commentators, including Calvin, understand it as a reference to future punishment or judgment day. Because Peter’s concern in this passage is the certainty of final judgment, the latter seems more appropriate to the argument than the former, though Peter may have both understandings in view.”

 Dr. John Walvoord states that, “In 2 Peter 2:9 the point of his words in verses 4–9 unfolds. The Lord knows how to rescue the righteous and to punish the unrighteous. That God can deliver the godly … from trials is a source of comfort to believers, exemplified by Noah and his seven family members and Lot and his wife and daughters. On the other hand God holds (tērein, “keeps under guard”) the unrighteous for the coming Day of Judgment (cf. 3:7), the great white throne judgment and the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11–15). Meanwhile God continues their punishment in this life (cf. Rom. 1:27b) and in hades after death (Luke 16:23). The participle kolazomenous (“punishing, injuring”) is another of Peter’s words that occurs only once in the New Testament.”

This section of Peter’s epistle should give believers great comfort, while at the same time giving unbelievers great fear. The only solution is repentance of one’s sin and personal faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 5, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #5 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

Article #5: The Authority of Scripture.

We receive all these books (the 66 Books of the Scriptures) and these only as holy and canonical, for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith. And we believe without a doubt all things contained in them—not so much because the church receives and approves them as such but above all because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that they are from God, and also because they prove themselves to be from God. For even the blind themselves are able to see that the things predicted in them do happen.

Psalm 119:1-3  says, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!  Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,  who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” 

 Soli deo Gloria!

2 Peter: God’s Judgment upon Cities.

6 “if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);” (2 Peter 2:6–8)

This historical and biblical text of which Peter makes reference is Genesis 19:1-29. The specific reference which speaks of the destruction of the cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah, is Genesis 19:23-29.

23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. 29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.”

2 Peter 2:6 says that the Lord turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes. Ashes (τεφρόω; tephroo) means to destroy something by fire leaving only a remnant of embers. The test also says that God condemned the cities. To condemn (κατακρίνω; katakrino) means to pronoun a sentence of guilty resulting in punishment. God did this in order to make these ungodly cities in the past an example (ὑπόδειγμα; hypodeigma) or a model of what is going to happen to the ungodly in the future. God does not mess around.

At the same time the Lord graciously saved righteous Lot. The righteousness (δίκαιος; disaios) Lot possessed was the imputed righteousness from God by grace alone, through faith alone in the future ministry of the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ. It might surprise us that Scripture evaluates Abraham’s nephew “Lot” as a righteous man.

Dr. C. Sproul comments that, regarding Lot, it is, “A surprising description in view of the portrait of Lot in Genesis 19. Lot’s righteousness may have been inherited from Abraham’s intercession for the righteous of Sodom and Lot’s subsequent deliverance. Peter may also be speaking of Lot in a comparative sense. Despite Lot’s sin, Sodom’s transgressions were so heinous that Lot, comparatively speaking, was a righteous man.”

 Peter continues to say that Lot was “greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked.” As Scripture interprets Scripture, we see that the sins of the inhabitants of the cities of the valley were sexual in nature. Peter also writes that Lot “was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard.” Dr. Don Carson writes concerning Lot that, “He was tormented (neb ‘tortured’): originally meant to be tested for genuineness. Godly people living in an ungodly world must be prepared to prove the reality of their faith.”

 Take the opportunity to pray for your country this day. Pray that any ungodliness by anyone would be repented of and that faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would prevail.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

2 Peter: God’s Judgment upon the Ancient World.

5 “and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly;” (2 Peter 2:5)

The ancient world, and its spiritual condition, to which the Apostle Peter refers is found in Genesis 6:1-8. The text describes the wickedness of humankind.

When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.”

 5 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.”

There are two major views as to who the “sons of God” were when referred to in Genesis 6:2. One option is that they were the descendants of Seth who cohabited with the daughters of Cain. Others suggest that they were kings wanting to build harems.

Dr. William Cook writes, “The oldest, and likely the most widely held, interpretation is that the “sons of God” are fallen angels (demons). This was the interpretation most favored in ancient Judaism and the early church (cf. 1 Pet. 3:19–202 Pet. 2:4Jude 6). The phrase “sons of God” is clearly used elsewhere of angelic hosts in God’s heavenly court (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). Moreover, the narrative seems to contrast “man” and “the daughters of man” with the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–2.”

 Peter, after citing the example of the angels who rebelled, he now references the same context but now places emphasis upon the ancient world and it’s evil. The word spare (φείδομαι; pheidomai) once again means to prevent trouble. The Lord did not prevent trouble to come upon the ancient world. This would be the pre-flood world.

However, God did rescue Noah. Genesis 6:9-18 says, “These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. “

Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness.” A herald (κῆρυξ; keryx) is a preacher of God’s Word.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Peter was greatly impressed by the significance of the Flood for he referred to it three times in his two epistles (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:6). Noah … and seven others is the NIV‘s rendering of the Greek “Noah, the eighth person.” The others were his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and their wives (Gen. 6:10, 18). Noah was a righteous man (Gen. 6:9), an obedient servant of God, and a shipbuilder (Gen. 6:13–22). Peter added that he was also a preacher (kēryka, “herald”) of righteousness, who spoke out against the vile corruption all around him.”

 Dr. Walvoord continues by saying, “The primary focus of 2 Peter 2:5 is the unsparing hand of God on the antediluvian civilization, the ancient world with its ungodly people. Do false teachers today think they can escape God’s judgment because of their large numbers? Peter reminded them and those who are the targets of their delusions that God can judge evil even when it involves the entire human race (with the exception of only eight people). The word brought (epaxas, past part. from epagō, “to bring on”) suggests the suddenness of God’s judgment in the Flood. Peter used the same verb in verse 1 in speaking of heretics who are “bringing” destruction on themselves”

 May the Lord’s warning to all the ungodly be sufficient. The only solution is repentance of sin and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

2 Peter: God’s Judgment upon Angels.

For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment;” (2 Peter 2:4)

The initial cause and effect statement concerns God’s judgment of the angels when they sinned. A couple of initial observations would serve us well at this juncture.

First, God did not spare the angels. The phrase “did not spare” (φείδομαι; pheidomai) means to allow trouble to happen or to cause someone to be troubled. In other words, God did not prevent trouble to occur to the angels.

Second, notice the definite article immediately prior to the noun angels. Peter is referring to a particular group of angels. Also notice that the noun “angels” is in the plural form, so the apostle is informing us that God judged more than one angel.

Third, why did God judge these angels in the first place? The text informs us it is because they sinned (ἁμαρτάνω; hamartano), engaged in wrongdoing or acted in a way which was in rebellion to the will and law of God.

Finally, what was God’ specific judgment for these angelic creatures? He cast them into hell. The word hell (ταρταρόω; tartaroo) means a place of torture and torment. The text goes on to say that this judgment involved chains of deepest darkness until God’s final judgment.

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “He (God) plunged the angels into hell, literally, “tartarus” apparently a prison of custody (gloomy dungeons) between the time of the judgment and their ultimate consignment to the eternal lake of fire. There will be no future trial for their doom is already sealed. False prophets, Peter argued, will taste the same judgment as the rebellious angels.”

 There is much discussion as to the exact identity of these angels and exactly how they sinned against God. Dr. John MacArthur shares the most predominant view.

“These angels, according to Jude 6, “did not stay within their own position of authority,” i.e., they entered men who promiscuously cohabited with women. Apparently this is a reference to the fallen angels of Gen. 6 (sons of God): 1) before the flood (2 Pet. 2:5Gen. 6:1–3) who left their normal state and lusted after women, and 2) before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pet. 2:6Gen. 19).”

 Dr. Don Carson contributes by saying that, See Gn. 6:1–4 and Jude 6, where the writer draws attention to pride as the cause of the angels’ downfall. Hell (see the niv mg.) in Greek mythology refers to Tartarus, the lowest and most terrible part of hell, reserved especially for those superhuman beings who rebelled against the supreme god. The MS readings of gloomy dungeons vary between a word meaning a ‘pit’ or ‘cave’, and another word (siros instead of seiros in Greek) meaning ‘rope’ or ‘chain’ (see the niv mg.). The latter is in line with Jude 6. The imagery is drawn from apocryphal writings.”

 The point of this illustration is to demonstrate to the readers of 2 Peter that if God judged the fallen angels when they sinned against Him, what makes human sinners think that God will not judge them? The answer is none.

We conclude today with a quote from Dr. R. C. Sproul who says, “That God keeps the unrighteous under punishment by turning them over to their sin should be a sober warning to us. While those of us with true faith will never lose our salvation, if we persist in disobedience, we may become more entangled in sin, making it more difficult for us to grow in our love for righteousness. Think of a persistent sin that you have trouble overcoming and find a friend who can stand with you as you fight against it.

 Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

2 Peter: Three Illustrations of God’s Judgment.

4 “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4-9)

The Apostle Peter begins an extensive paragraph of three causal statements of past truths which are collectively followed by a summarizing effect statement of a future promise. In case anyone believes that God is too loving to judge sin and sinners, Peter provides three biblical and historical examples of God’s judgement on the wicked. These three examples of God’s past judgment set a precedent for God’s future judgment upon all who would rebel against His rule and reign.

For the next several days, we will examine each illustration Peter provides. There will be references to the Old Testament texts of which these illustrations are drawn. None of these examples should be unfamiliar to the student of Scripture.

The illustrations Peter cites as instances of God’s past judgment include (1) the angels who rebelled in heaven; (2) the flood upon the ancient world; and (3) the destruction of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. As one commentator explains, “Though God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), He must judge wickedness because His holiness requires it (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Peter gave several illustrations to demonstrate both the Lord’s judgment and His deliverance. After citing three examples of punishment (vv. 4–6), Peter then cited a case of deliverance (Lot, v. 7). In fact, verses 4–9 are a single sentence, one of the longest in the New Testament. Peter was intent on demonstrating that God will judge false teachers and others who sin against Him and His Word. History, What Peter wrote, gives ample verification of this truth.”

 As we study this lengthy section, may each of us be in prayer for those we know who are facing God’s future judgment because of the fallen, unconverted condition. Pray that God will regenerate them by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel.

Soli deo Gloria!