Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Points to Ponder ~ Eve

I’m starting this new series, Points to Ponder, to share with you some of the things I have pondered while I’ve studied women in the Bible. Perhaps my ponderings will be interesting to you... or perhaps it will stir some ponderings of your own. Either way, I thank you for visiting my blog, and I welcome your comments.
Eve... some blame her for sin entering the world, after all, she took the first bite of the forbidden fruit. But, did you know, God did not place this condemnation on her shoulders? The blame for sin entering the world is placed, by God, on the shoulders of Adam.
Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" Romans 5:19 "For as by one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous.
I Corinthians 15:21, 22 "For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Eve was not without her part in all this, though. She was "beguiled" (II Corinthians 11:3), "deceived," and that put her "in the transgression" (I Timothy 2:14)... an "accessary to the fact" might be the legal term used today, if her case were to be tried in a court of law. And, for argument’s sake, and in defense of herself, Eve could give evidence that she was not even present when God gave the commandment to Adam to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil... and she wasn’t. God’s commandment to Adam was given in Genesis 2:17, but Eve’s creation did not take place until Genesis 2:22.

From bite... to bite. ~ I’ve imagined the happenings in that brief moment of time between Eve’s first bite of the forbidden fruit, to Adam’s first bite. In that brief moment - from bite to bite - no doubt Eve as enjoying the taste of the fruit. Perhaps she thought about how nothing was happening... no thunderbolt from the sky... no loud voice from heaven condemning her actions... nothing but the pure enjoyment of delicious fruit. But deception creeps in slowly... and it was taking it’s hold on her heart. Convinced that this fruit was a good thing, pleasant in every way, and with the added benefit "to make one wise." Eve was fully enthralled in this adventure of a lifetime... and she felt good. Passing the fruit to Adam, her conscience was clear... watching him reach out to take it from her hand made her excited... waiting to see the enjoyment on his face when he would taste it’s delicious flavor made her giddy with anticipation. Then it happened... I don’t think Adam even had the opportunity to know the flavor of that fruit before he knew the depth of despair. Their eyes were now open... their hearts were now heavy with guilt... and they hid themselves, trying to hide from the shame that overwhelmed them. Still no thunderbolt... no loud condemnation... but there was a Voice calling... "Adam. Where art thou?".

Another point to ponder is that God made Adam both responsible and accountable for his watch-care over his wife, Eve. Doesn’t hardly seem fair, does it? That she could do wrong but her husband was to give answer for it. Eve didn’t escape the consequences of her actions, but, going back to the story, it is significant that our omniscient God called first to Adam, and then for Adam to give an answer for what had happened in the Garden of Eden. Eve took the first bite, she was in the transgression, but Adam was answerable to God for what had happened.

From the very beginning, God’s plan has always been for mankind to be responsible and accountable for the protection and provision of womankind. Even to the extent of bearing her iniquity, as it is taught in Numbers chapter 30.
Numbers 30:14, 15, 16 "But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them. But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity. These are the statues, which the Lord commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her your in her father’s house."

This is not only true for the husband and wife relationship, but it is also true for the father and daughter relationship, as well. Which gives an explanation as to why a father "gives away" his daughter, the bride, during the marriage ceremony. The father is symbolically transferring his father’s responsibility to the new husband.

Help Meet. ~ God gave Adam an help meet in his wife, Eve. Contrary to many cultures, this does not mean woman was given to be a work mate, a slave, or a servant to man. Of all that God had created, the only thing God said was not good of His creation, was that Adam was alone. Adam alone meant Adam had needs that only a perfectly matched mate could complement.
Genesis 2:18 "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."

It took Adam a little while before he figured out what this being alone was all about... he gave names to all the animals before it dawned on him.

Genesis 2:20 "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him."

As a point to ponder... Adam’s occupational instructions; to dress and keep the garden of Eden, and to name every living creature, were given to Adam before God had created his wife, Eve. So, it goes without saying (but needs to be said anyway), had woman been created to be a work mate, slave, or servant for man, her creation would have taken place sooner. (Genesis 2:15, 19, 20)

Adam/Man alone meant he had needs; He had no one of like-kind to interact with. He had no matching mate to bear offspring with. He had no matching mate to share his life with. Eve/Woman was perfectly created to be a compatible match for the needs God had designed in Adam/Man.

She was his gift from God that he was to watch over and care for.

(Additional Bible References for Eve: Genesis 2 and 3; 4:1, 2; II Corinthians 11:3; I Timothy 2:13, 14)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Breaking the Cycle of Salvation Doubts

You are not alone when it comes to doubts about your salvation. Many Christians secretly struggle with doubts... too ashamed to seek help, and too confused to settle it on their own. I’ve known those who would be considered "solid Christians" that have doubted their salvation... a church staff member and his wife, a deacon, a pastor, a missionary’s / pastor’s wife, and "the little ones" those who were in church at a very young age and trusted the Lord as their Saviour when they were young children.

The church staff member, and his wife: The wife and I were friends and we often visited by phone. One particular day she called me and asked the question, ‘have you ever had doubts about your salvation?’ I told her I had, on two particular occasions, but I had settle them years ago and I no longer had any doubts or troubling thoughts on the matter. She then told me, that the evening before, she and her husband were having family devotions, and it was during this time that they both admitted to each other struggling with doubts about their salvation. So, they both decided to pray and ask the Lord to save them... again.

I was silent and didn’t quite know what to say, and then I asked, "So, does this mean the two of you will be getting baptized on Sunday?" Her initial response was silence, followed by, "What do you mean?" I went on to summerize what she had just told me, "You weren’t sure of your salvation... so... you both prayed for salvation, and now you are both sure you got saved... last night... right??? Then, getting baptized is the next step because you apparently weren’t really saved the first time. Right???" She said, "I need to talk to my husband about that." and hung up the phone. She called me back a few days later and said, "We talked about it and decided we really did get saved years ago, so we won’t need to be baptized on Sunday. We were just temporarily confused about some things.".

Take heed to this warning... if the doubts you are having are not settle as doubts, the problem will repeat, and the cycle will continue. If you have secretly admitted to yourself, "I have doubts about my salvation," then heed this warning, be very cautions about repeating a "sinner’s prayer" in order to appease your conscience. Repetition, in this case, will only lead to more confusion and later you will find yourself confused as to which prayer was the true moment of your salvation.
Hebrews 6:4-6 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall way, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
II Timothy 2:25, 26 "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth: And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."

The deacon: Soon after his profession of faith and baptism, he brought his family into church. They were always faithful to attend the services, quick to be of help, and he had an inquisitive mind about the Word of God. His actions were a good testimony, and he was later selected to serve as a deacon. But, at a revival meeting, he walked forward for salvation and was baptized... again. This scenario was repeated, on three or more occasions, in the next 10 years. Time revealed that doubt wasn’t his only sin problem, there was also one of immorality.

The pastor: There were times he came to the pulpit and you knew he was troubled about something... it was in his continence... in the way he delivered his message... and yet, you didn’t know what was troubling him. Then, after many years, hidden sin is revealed and a confession was made.

Whether the hidden sin was adultery, homosexuality, pornography, inappropriate behavior with a minor, or other sexual perversions, or whether it was theft or some other dishonesty, the end result is the same... Sins of this magnitude commonly produce salvation doubts.

Take heed to this warning... reasoning that saved people couldn’t possible commit such wicked and vile atrocities of life is false. Saved people sin, and they sin to many depths and degrees, as measured by mankind. But, with God, sin is sin and all sin must be confessed and forsaken.

Hidden sins... our "besetting" sins... and our unbridled lusts, will erode the security of our salvation, and doubts will arise to trouble us when we neglect not only to confess our sin, but also neglect to forsake the sin.

Confession is only the first step, if the sin is not forsaken... repented of... turned away from... restitution made... and/or injustices repaid, then the cycle of doubt continues. This is the "follow-through action" of a repentant heart; a clearing of the conscience, and if this is neglected, emotional harm is done and the cycle of doubt has not been completed. This will "shipwreck" your faith.

I Timothy 1:19 "Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:"
Acts 24:16 "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."
Romans 9:1 "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,"
I Timothy 3:9 "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."
Numbers 32:23 "...behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out."
Hebrews 3:13 "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
I John 1:8, 9 (written to those who are saved) "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Hebrews 12:1c "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us..."
I Peter 2:11 "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;"
I Peter 4:2 "That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
James 1:14 "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

The missionary’s / pastor’s wife: She knew the salvation plan and had even lead others to Christ. She also taught Sunday School and conducted Ladies’ Fellowships. She was an invited guest speaker, and other women often sought her council on a variety of topics. She was the perfect hostess with wonderful meals and thoughtfulness to details. Yet, she silently wrestled with doubts about her salvation, until she finally made another profession of faith.

Take heed to this warning... busy-ness is a poor remedy for doubts and spiritual insecurities. It is not possible to "busy" yourself out of your doubts. You cannot resolve doubt with duty. Increasing your work load of Christian service will wear out your body before your mind and heart are appeased and put at ease.

II Peter 3:17-18 "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"

"The little ones": Were you a child when you prayed and ask God to save you? And now, years later, are you having doubts about your salvation? This is probably the largest group of doubting Christians. The faith of your childhood is often called into question when faced with the challenges of adulthood. This can be especially unsettling to young Bible college students, many will question their childhood conversion and struggle with doubts about their salvation.

Take heed to this warning... feeling saved is not evidence of salvation, it is only evidence of being emotional. The emotions of ‘relief from doubts’ and ‘joy of salvation’ are difficult to discern between because they both are a comfort to the distress of your soul. Salvation is based on facts, not feelings.

Matthew 18:1-6 "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Mark 10:14 "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."
Mark 9:24 "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
I Timothy 6:19 "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
II Timothy 2:19 "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
Ephesians 3:16-19 "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
Colossians 1:23 "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven..."
Colossians 2:6-8 "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Building on the FACTS of your salvation is fundamental to Breaking the Cycle of Salvation Doubts.     
II Peter 1:5-9 "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."

It is my hope that this post will help you to sort out your doubts. God bless. ~ Jane Coley