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So far Denny has created 1064 blog entries.

What it Means to Have a New Heart

2020-06-17T23:49:40-04:00 June 24th, 2020|

Getting a new start on life is something for which many people long. They know they are suffering from their past mistakes. But they see no way out. They are stuck. Part of the problem is that they are in a rut as far as their own personal feelings. Bitterness and anger really have the upper hand. And they ask, “How in the world am I going to change? To improve the family or financial mess I’m in, I’ve got to get my own personal life together. I’m a mess and I know it.”

If this is how you feel, you need to turn to the God of the Bible. He is in the business of changing people on the inside. When God changes a person, he changes how they think and how they feel. God changes a person’s heart. He changes how they think about themselves and about others. He bridles their emotions, cures the sin of anger, and takes away bitterness. He points people in a new direction by making them willing and happy to do good. Sometimes you know very well that when you want to do good, you can’t. The power is not within you. So you literally need a new start on life.

We call this new start and change of heart the new birth. We are born again by the power of God’s Holy Spirit performing radical heart surgery upon us. The Bible talks a great deal about this work of God. Listen, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Perhaps you need a new heart.

View today’s podcast, “Effectual Calling.”

The Faithfulness of God

2020-06-17T23:44:01-04:00 June 23rd, 2020|

When I went to the Military Academy at West Point, there were tough entrance requirements. The funny thing was, my nose was broken when I took my medical exam. The doctors did not say a word. But college is not the end of meeting requirements. To get a job, you have to meet the requirements. To be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an engineer, you name it, you have to meet certain requirements. In most cases you have to meet the requirements of a professional organization. It all seems a little discriminating. And it is.

But did you know there are also requirements to enter heaven? This should not be surprising. Listen! “Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). To enter God’s heaven, your hands have to be clean. If you have ever done anything wrong in your life, it is counted against you. You have to have a pure heart. If you have ever reveled in unclean thoughts or had bad motives, it is counted against you. This means that none of us meet the requirements for heaven. That’s right, none of us.

But thank God for Jesus Christ. Christ came into the world to do the two things we could never do. First, He lived a perfect life. And then, He died to pay the penalty due to others for their sins. The good news is that those who trust in Christ receive two great gifts from God. First, their sins are forgiven. They are cleansed on the inside. And second, the good works of Jesus Christ replace their own sinful conduct in God’s record books. This really is good news. God is faithful to provide Christ to meet the requirements of heaven for those who trust in Him.

Listen to today’s podcast, “God is Faithful.”

Spirit, Water, Blood, Assurance (1 John 5:6)

2020-06-20T18:56:05-04:00 June 22nd, 2020|

This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ (1 John 5:6). What does it mean that He came by water and blood? The prepositional phrase is adverbial, modifies the main verb, and tells us how Christ came. As Westcott (1966) indicates, “The sense of ‘He that came,’ which distinctly points to a past historic fact, determines that these terms [water and blood] also must have historic meaning” (p. 181). Water and blood bracket Christ’s earthly ministry. He was baptized with water to begin His earthly ministry, and Christ shed His blood to complete His earthly ministry. This interpretation goes back to Tertullian (Smalley, 2008, p. 265). “It takes water as referring to the baptism of Jesus, at which He was declared the Son and commissioned and empowered for His work, and blood to His death, in which His work was finished” (Stott, 1981, p. 178). Law (1968) interprets the text similarly; “Thus it is evident that ‘water’ here denotes our Lord’s baptism, and ‘blood’ His death on Calvary” (p. 96).

Water and blood is a figure of speech we call a merism, which is a “[r]eference to the totality of something by naming its extremes or opposite parts” (Hernando, 2005, p. 117). In this case, the text speaks of the totality of Jesus’ ministry by symbolically mentioning its beginning and end. “And the aorist naturally refers to definite historical facts, or to the whole life regarded as one fact” (Brooke, 1964, p. 134). The latter is the case here. John “is thinking of the total act of his coming into the world” (Marshall, 1978, p. 231). In addition, the word water and the word blood are both a figure of speech we call metonym. Water, which is an aspect of baptism, is put in the place of baptism. In the case of the crucifixion, blood is put in place of this murderous act of shedding blood.

John presses his point by adding, Not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. Again, the text refers to blood and thus to Christ’s atonement for sin. Romans 3:25 speaks of “propitiation in His blood,” or by means of His blood, or by means of His death. The context is guilt for sin (Romans 3:23). Of course, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “Propitiation contemplates our liability to the wrath of God and is the provision of grace to release us from that bondage” (Murray, 1959, p. 116). The result is profound. “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:7).

The crucifixion has a twofold effect. On the one hand, the cross assuages God’s wrath against us. On the other hand, the impact of “the blood of Christ” is to “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). Therefore, you experience “the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4). There is a subtly here. John may be emphasizing the propitiatory work of Christ when he adds this statement: Not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. “For propitiation strictly refers to the sacrifice of His death” (Calvin, 1961, p. 291).

Verse 6 continues. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. That John moves quickly to the testimony of the Spirit is not surprising. “The Holy Spirit is He who testifies of Christ (John xv. 26), who glorifies Him, and shews of the things which belong to Him (John xvi. 14). “It is by the possession of Him that we know that we have Christ” (Alford, 1983, p. 1750). The verbal, who testifies, is a present active participle. “The reference is to the continuing witness, or testimony, of the Spirit” (Haas et al., 1972, p. 138). “The witness concerned is both corporate and individual. The Spirit bears testimony to the salvific character of Jesus in and through the church by means of preaching” (Smalley, 2008, p. 267). At the same time, “John appears to be referring to the inward witness of the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to see the truth as it is in Jesus” (Stott, 1981, p. 180). Even in the corporate setting, the testimony of the Spirit is personal and individual.

“In order to stress that the Spirit’s testimony about the circumstances of Jesus’ coming can be trusted, the author adds ‘because the Spirit is the truth’” (Haas et al., 1972, p. 139). “The best explanation of the author’s meaning is to be found in the account of the function of the Paraclete in Jn. xv. 26” (Brooke, 1964, p. 136). “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” In summary, John gives us “two kinds of corroborative testimony, objective and subjective, historical and experimental, water and blood on the one hand and the Spirit on the other” (Stott, 1981, p. 180). “He it is who seals in our hearts the testimony of the water and the blood. He it is who by His power makes the fruit of Christ’s death come to us, who makes the blood shed for our redemption penetrate our souls.” (Calvin, 1961, p. 304). And so, the Spirit works in us to assure us that Christ sacrificed Himself for us.

Denny Prutow
Copyright © 2020

Works Cited
Alford, H. (1983). The New Testament for English Readers (Vol. 4). Grand Rapids: Baker.
Brooke, A. E. (1964). Commentary on the Johannine Epistles. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
Calvin, J. (1961). The First Epistle of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Hass, C., et al. (1972). The Letters of John. New York: United Bible Societies.
Hernando, J. D. (2005). Dictionary of Hermeneutics. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing.
Law, R. (1968). The Tests of Life. Grand Rapids: Baker.
Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Murray, J. (1959). The Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 1). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Smalley, S. S. (2008). 1, 2, and 3 John, Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Stott, J. R. W. (1981). The Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Westcott, B. F. (1966). The Epistles of St. John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Don’t Take Your Spirit From Me

2020-06-17T23:43:24-04:00 June 22nd, 2020|

Human beings have tremendous strength and ability. We have gone to the moon. We are conquering previously unheard of goals in athletics. We are taught that we can do whatever we please if we put our minds to it. This relates to our personal religious faith too. We really believe it is within our own power to properly place faith in Christ and in God. We don’t need anyone’s help and we don’t want anyone’s help. If anyone dares to tell us that we don’t have the ability to turn to God and believe in Him as we should, we turn that person off immediately.

But what if God tells us that we need the gift of His Holy Spirit before we can really trust in Him? Do we dare oppose God? Jesus Christ does say, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me, draws him” (John 6:44). In other words, no person takes the first step toward Jesus Christ unless the Father draws him up toward Jesus like you draw a bucket up out of a well. But you say, “I’ll do it myself, thank you!” On the basis of the ability of your own human flesh you say you believe in Jesus. You rest your eternal salvation upon the ability of your own flesh. Will this sort of faith really save you? “No!”

Faith that unites a person with Jesus Christ comes out of a renewed heart. Faith that unites a person to Jesus Christ is born of the Spirit in that new heart. As Jesus again says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:7). So a faith which is based upon the flesh is fleshly. On the other hand, a faith born of the Spirit rests “on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).

Now listen to today’s podcast, “Don’t Take Your Spirit from Me.”

Fathers and Families

2020-06-12T07:09:01-04:00 June 21st, 2020|

What is Father’s Day? It is a day in which you can honor your dad or the dad in your household in special ways. Most dads receive a tie or another gift as a way of saying, “Thanks for just being you.”

But why should Father’s Day be only one day a year? Shouldn’t families always be about the business of honoring the moms and dads in their midst? At least God would have it so. He gives familiar instruction in the Bible in the form of what we traditionally call the Fifth Commandment. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). The New Testament of the Bible picks up this same theme. “Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise)” (Ephesians 6:2).

What is the promise? The old Westminster Shorter Catechism says this “is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.” On the negative side, the breakdown of families and large teenage suicide rates argue in favor of keeping the Fifth Commandment. On the positive side, Father’s Day is an annual reminder of the Fifth Commandment and the promise God attaches to it.

Click here and listen to the message, “Honor Your Father.”

Holy Spirit Victory

2020-05-15T13:32:01-04:00 June 20th, 2020|

Spring leads to summer and weather fit for travel and vacation fun. Although summer is joyful for some, it brings on the “blues” for others. Part of it is that we are led to have such high expectations. After all, this is a time of the year for relaxation and joy in special places.

But these vacations don’t always materialize. We get pumped up with the thoughts of loved ones, friends, and special get-togethers. When everything does not go just the way we think it should, the air goes out of our balloons. Or perhaps we don’t have a close family to love and lean upon. Or maybe there are no invitations to special parties and celebrations. Your balloon isn’t just deflated. You don’t even have a balloon!

Look at what Jesus says, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And 1 John 5:4 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

So you are “down” about the prospects for the summer. Turn to the real answer to those “blues.” Seek Jesus Christ. Authentic Christianity involves “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). And “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace … ” (Galatians 5:22). Think about it!

To help you, click here and listen to “Holy Spirit Victory.”

The Devil, Your Adversary

2020-06-17T23:41:43-04:00 June 19th, 2020|

When our family was visiting a children’s zoo on our vacation we saw some boys teasing a lion. Was that lion ever roaring! We didn’t want to spend much time by the lion’s cage.

This incident reminded me of a familiar Bible verse. It says, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like, a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The roaring of the lion frightened the children visiting the zoo. Let me tell you, if those bars had not been there, the big people would have run too.

But unfortunately, most people today don’t even recognize the roaring of the devil. He is “roaming about on the earth” (Job 1:7). He instigated the very first murder when “Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (Genesis 4:8). This was Cain “who was of the evil one” (1 John 3:12). The devil continues to foster all manner of evil in the world. He is, as Christ says, “The father of lies” (John 8:44). He is the father of so-called white lies He is the father of the lies spoken by kings and prime ministers. Yes, that serpent of old called the devil and Satan is constantly working behind the scenes to promote evil.

Now let me ask you, “Does the devil have a foothold in your life?” Then you need to turn to Jesus Christ for help. You see, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). To prove this, Jesus healed a woman whom He said, “Satan has bound for eighteen long years” (Luke 13:16). Trust this same Christ to deliver you from what ever grip the devil may have on you.

Today’s podcast discusses “The Christian and the Devil.”

 

The Life of the Gospel

2020-06-17T23:40:54-04:00 June 18th, 2020|

There is no question about it; we all want a generous portion of the good things of this life. Of course we are most concerned about material things. We can, however, also add good health because without good health we cannot fully enjoy the material goodies of this life. We also strive to gain the respect, even the admiration of others. It feels good when we have excelled in a certain field and we are admired because of it.

Unfortunately, most of us leave out one key element in our quest for the better life – Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God. You see, you cannot ignore Jesus Christ and ultimately expect a good life. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This includes improving the quality of your life. Did you catch what I said? I mentioned the quality of your life. Without Christ you cannot really improve the quality of life. You might increase the quantity of things in your life. You might gain great wealth and you might even gain the admiration of many men and women. But the quality of your life may not change at all. In fact you may still experience a great lack of inner peace and contentment.

This is why Christ came into the world. He said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10: 10). He came into the world in order to change the quality of life experienced by people like you and me. He came to give you an abundance of love and joy and peace and contentment. There is nothing worse than sadness in the midst of plenty. But sadness there will be if you ignore Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time for you to turn to Him and seek the abundance of life that comes through Him?

Today’s podcast offers “New Life through the Gospel.”

Life Under God in This World

2020-06-16T21:21:00-04:00 June 17th, 2020|

Generally speaking, we like to feel as though we have things under control. But when severe illness or accident strikes, we realize our lack of control over life. It can be pretty frustrating. We feel like a prisoner. We can’t get a handle on our circumstances.

Well, all of this tells us there are important lessons to be learned. You see, contrary to popular opinion, the real world in which we live, is God’s world. God created this world. God put you in it. God is busy working out His plans and purposes in the world.

But, you say, if God is busy working out His plans in the world, why is there so much evil and suffering? That’s a good question. Perhaps we had better listen to God’s answer. He says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these” (Isaiah 45:6-7).

The point is, you don’t have to worry about getting a grip on everything that happens in your life; even if calamity is involved. You don’t have to be frustrated when you can’t seem to get a grip on these things. Why? Because God is in control. He is the sovereign Lord. As the old spiritual says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands; He’s got you and me brother in His hands; He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands; He’s got the whole world in His hands.” Yes, you are in God’s world. You must learn to live in God’s world. You must bow before God and learn to say, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). If you learn this lesson, you will not be shaken when adversity comes.

Download today’s podcast discussing further, “Life Under God in This World.”

Biblical Submission

2020-06-12T07:07:49-04:00 June 16th, 2020|

Have you ever seen an elderly couple walking hand in hand? It’s a wonderful sight. Perhaps you’ve wondered what that couple has going for them. You may have even been a little jealous of their seeming serenity. Well, you can be sure that this same couple has had their share of problems and turmoil. Yet they have hung together. Why? For one thing, people like this have learned to give in to each other. They love each other. So they don’t always demand their own way. The Bible defines love like this. It says, “Love does not demand its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5, RSV).

Now this matter of giving in to each other lies at the heart of being submissive. Again, the Bible says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands” (Ephesians 5:22). You see, if a wife really loves her husband, she will not always demand her own way but she will bow to the wishes of her husband.

This is even true in the special cases where the wife is a follower of Christ and the husband claims no allegiance to Christ at all. Listen, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:1-2). In other words, as a Christian wife you have the responsibility to be submissive to your husband even if he does not share your convictions about Christ. You should not be preachy but trust God to bring your husband to Christ through the testimony of your loving behavior.

The point in all we’ve said is that the loving submission of a wife can be the glue that holds a marriage together for years.

Listen to today’s podcast on “Biblical Submission.”