Monday, September 30, 2013

Intrinsically lovely - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"The Lord ministers all good and all help, both as man and as God: as God, forgiving our sins; and as man, training us not to sin. Man is therefore justly dear to God, since he is His workmanship. The other works of creation He made by the word of command alone, but man He framed by Himself, by His own hand, and breathed into him what was peculiar to Himself." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 3)
Clement reiterates that man is the special creation of God. Man is special because he alone was created by the very hands of God. He is the height if His creation and the center of His care. For the writer of Hebrews says, "For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham." (Hebrews 2:16) Whose descendants we are even as Paul wrote, "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." (Galatians 3:29) Mankind is not just another animal, not just another accident of evolution, but was created by God to be loved by God.
"and what hidden power in willing God possessed, He carried fully out by the forth-putting of His might externally in the act of creating, receiving from man what He made man; and whom He had He saw, and what He wished that came to pass; and there is nothing which God cannot do. Man, then, whom God made, is desirable for himself, and that which is desirable on his account is allied to him to whom it is desirable on his account; and this, too, is acceptable and liked." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 3)
God created us because He found us desirable on our own account. He did not create us for some adjunct purpose, rather we ourselves were the purpose for His creation of us and, since it was His will and His wish to create us, we are joined to him as creator and creation, as the one desiring and the one desired, as the wisher and the one wished for.
"But what is loveable, and is not also loved by Him? And man has been proved to be loveable; consequently man is loved by God. For how shall he not be loved for whose sake the only-begotten Son is sent from the Father’s bosom, the Word of faith, the faith which is superabundant... What, then, the Master desires and declares, and how He is disposed in deed and word, how He commands what is to be done, and forbids the opposite, has already been shown." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 3)
Because God desired us and created us He is right to command and forbid us, of the former to command us to good and of the latter to forbid us those things that are evil. This is the right and acceptable providence of God as the lover and creator of us all. This all having been said, what shall our response be to all of this?
"Now, it is incumbent on us to return His love, who lovingly guides us to that life which is best; and to live in accordance with the injunctions of His will, not only fulfilling what is commanded, or guarding against what is forbidden, but turning away from some examples, and imitating others as much as we can, and thus to perform the works of the Master according to His similitude, and so fulfil what Scripture says as to our being made in His image and likeness." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 3)
Our response should be to love Him back; to return to Him the love He has shown to us. But how are we to love such a God and one who is also unseen? We love Him by willingly submitting to His injunctions and commands; in fleeing all evil and following godly examples that He has set before us. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) But how are we to know what God desires? How are we to conform our ways to His?
"For, wandering in life as in deep darkness, we need a guide that cannot stumble or stray; and our guide is the best, not blind... But the Word is keen-sighted, and scans the recesses of the heart. As, then, that is not light which enlightens not, nor motion that moves not, nor loving which loves not, so neither is that good which profits not, nor guides to salvation. Let us then aim at the fulfilment of the commandments by the works of the Lord; for the Word Himself also, having openly become flesh, exhibited the same virtue, both practical and contemplative. Wherefore let us regard the Word as law, and His commands and counsels as the short and straight paths to immortality; for His precepts are full of persuasion, not of fear." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 3)
We need an instructor who will lead us into the life that is best. Fortunately, we have such an Instructor, the very Word of God who became flesh on our behalf. He is our instructor and He is also our example, in tat He too lead a life in this flesh that was both practical and contemplative; practical in piety and contemplative in reasoning. Therefore, let us willing commit ourselves to obeying His commands, and following His examples that we might become like Him and thus fulfill His desire for our lives.

David Robison

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The all-sufficient physician - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"Our Instructor, the Word, therefore cures the unnatural passions of the soul by means of exhortations. For with the highest propriety the help of bodily diseases is called the healing art—an art acquired by human skill. But the paternal Word is the only Pæonian physician of human infirmities, and the holy charmer of the sick soul... the good Instructor, the Wisdom, the Word of the Father, who made man, cares for the whole nature of His creature; the all-sufficient Physician of humanity, the Saviour, heals both body and soul.... Further, He heals the soul itself by precepts and gifts—by precepts indeed, in course of time, but being liberal in His gifts, He says to us sinners, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee.'" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 2)
There were plenty of physicians in Clement's day who could treat the miladies of the body, and some philosophers who claimed wisdom to enlighten the soul. but our physician is superior to them all in that He can heal both the soul and the body; He is our all-sufficient physician. Clement firmly believed that Jesus was still in the healing business, caring for the body through healing and miracles. However, he also believed that Jesus also cared for our souls, desiring to heal our inner-man that we might be in complete health, both the body and soul.

It is interesting in how Clement describes the inward healing of Jesus. He describes it as being through the agency of exhortations, precepts  and gifts. He describes Jesus as the "holy charmer" of the sick soul. This stands in stark contrast to how we sometimes imagine God. Sometimes we are like the servant who was afraid of his master, assuming him to be hard, austere, and exacting. Sometimes we perceive God as one driving us on to sinlessness as one would drive cattle or sheep before him. However, Clement reminds us that our Instructor is gentle, not driving us but prompting and cajoling us forward into sinlessness. Our instructor charms our soul with both precepts, enlightening our soul, and gifts, freeing our soul, for the gifts He has to offer are gifts of forgiveness.
"We, however, as soon as He conceived the thought, became His children, having had assigned us the best and most secure rank by His orderly arrangement, which first circles about the world, the heavens, and the sun’s circuits, and occupies itself with the motions of the rest of the stars for man’s behoof, and then busies itself with man himself, on whom all its care is concentrated; and regarding him as its greatest work, regulated his soul by wisdom and temperance, and tempered the body with beauty and proportion. And whatever in human actions is right and regular, is the result of the inspiration of its rectitude and order." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 2)
We are the most prized of all His creation; those at the center of His care. All the rest of creation God spoke into existence, but of man Clement of Rome wrote, "Above all, with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him— the express likeness of His own image." (Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthian Church, Chapter 33) Of His own undefiled hands He formed us and of His own breath He gave us life. We are not insignificant to Him, we are not some random accident of nature that God decided to take pity on, He made us that He might love us, and in making us, He made us well. Clement comments on the two-part aspects of our nature. The outer-man that is made appropriate for our environment by the gifts of beauty and proportion, and the inner-man that is made like unto God with wisdom and temperance. In all this He created us that we might be good, but not a goodness that flowed from our own faculties, but rather that all that is good and right within us should be seen to be the reflection of all that is good and right in God. Our nature and the conversation of our lives should be a reflection of all that is God is, that we might be His image and His likeness.

David Robison

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A desire for sinlessness - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"Now, O you, my children, our Instructor is like His Father God, whose son He is, sinless, blameless, and with a soul devoid of passion; God in the form of man, stainless, the minister of His Father’s will, the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father’s right hand, and with the form of God is God. He is to us a spotless image; to Him we are to try with all our might to assimilate our souls. He is wholly free from human passions; wherefore also He alone is judge, because He alone is sinless." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 2)
When we read through Clement's book we must always remember that when he speaks of the Instructor he is always referring to God in the person of Jesus Christ. In saying this he first shows us that, while the role of the Instructor has always been with God, it has not always been with mankind. Ever since Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, our relationship with God changed from one of a son and daughter with their father to one of mankind with his judge. This difference was further expressed under the Old Covenant when, righteousness being codified in to laws, it became mankind's responsibility to improve his own soul based on his knowledge of good an evil that he might achieve, by himself, the righteousness demands of the law. However, with the coming of Jesus we have received a new covenant, one where righteousness is based on faith and our Instructor, no longer our knowledge of good and evil, is the Son of God Himself. Jesus has become our Instructor, not we ourselves.

Secondly, Clement reminds us that our Instructor is pure and holy and free from sin and passion. This is the image He desires to remake us into. His goal, and it should be ours as well, is to be conformed into His image; to become sinless and holy just like He is sinless and holy.
"As far, however, as we can, let us try to sin as little as possible. For nothing is so urgent in the first place as deliverance from passions and disorders, and then the checking of our liability to fall into sins that have become habitual. It is best, therefore, not to sin at all in any way, which we assert to be the prerogative of God alone; next to keep clear of voluntary transgressions, which is characteristic of the wise man; thirdly, not to fall into many involuntary offences, which is peculiar to those who have been excellently trained. Not to continue long in sins, let that be ranked last. But this also is salutary to those who are called back to repentance, to renew the contest." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 2)
How does one cease from sin? By degrees. Clement descries the four stages of achieving sinless in our lives. The first stage is to shorten our time in sin. For example, consider anger and unforgiveness. It is easy for us to relish in our sin and to let grudges and offenses grow into hatred and a desire for revenge. The goal of the first stage of sinlessness is to recognize our sin earlier and earlier and to repent sooner and sooner so that our time spent in sin will be less and less. The result of which is that the damage done to us and others by our sin is reduced. The sooner we can recognize our sin, the easier is our way out of it.

The second stage is to learn to avoid voluntary sins, especially those that have become habitual. We achieve this by dealing with the passions and disorders that are the source of temptation in our lives. Jesus said, "the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." (John 14:30) Unfortunately, the devil often finds much within us with which to tempt us and to lead us to sin. Passions and disorders of the soul provide the lour for temptation to drag us into sin. As James spoke of the progression into sin, saying, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." (James 1:14-15) Lust leading to temptation leading to sin leading to death. Much of the work of the Instructor is concentrated on achieving success in this stage of sinlessness.

In the third stage of sinlessness we must steel ourselves against involuntary sins. Clement speaks of these as those sins that happen suddenly such as what was refereed to in the Law regarding the priests. "But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean." (Numbers 6:9) Clement describes the act as sudden and the sin as irrational. There are times when we find ourselves in situations we are not prepared for. We are in a business meeting and our boss has just fabricated the truth and then turns to us to confirm his untruths before the client. What do we do? Our boss' actions were sudden but will our reaction be irrational or rational? Will we lie or speak the truth? The only way to prepare our souls for such sudden and involuntary sins is to be disciplined and trained in the ways of God. Over time, we will condition our souls for every holy response no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

The final stage of sinlessness is actual sinlessness; not to sin at all. While Clement acknowledges that we normally assert this to be the prerogative of God alone, the good news of the Gospel is that we can be sinless. The good news is that we can now say "No" to sin and "Yes" to God as Paul tells us. "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18) For those desiring to live godlike lives, this is truly good news!

David Robison

Friday, September 27, 2013

Healing before learning - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"The Instructor being practical, not theoretical, His aim is thus to improve the soul, not to teach, and to train it up to a virtuous, not to an intellectual life. Although this same word is didactic, but not in the present instance." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 1)
There are two main purposes of those who minister the Word of God, one is to instruct and the other to teach. The Instructor aims at the salvation of the soul while the teacher at the salvation of the mind. One seeks to improve a mans character and nature while the other his reason and perspective. Both are necessary for the full-grown man and women of God, however, each in its own order.
"For the word which, in matters of doctrine, explains and reveals, is that whose province it is to teach. But our Educator being practical, first exhorts to the attainment of right dispositions and character, and then persuades us to the energetic practice of our duties, enjoining on us pure commandments, and exhibiting to such as come after representations of those who formerly wandered in error. Both are of the highest utility,—that which assumes the form of counselling to obedience, and that which is presented in the form of example" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 1)
Clement identifies the basic tools of our instructor. They are exhortations, persuasion, commandments, and examples. Our instructor first exhorts us to leave behind our old life for a new life in Christ. Then he persuades us to continue in the way that we might receive the fullness of what our new life has to offer. Further he adds his "pure" commands to further shape our lives, such as, love one another, don't lie but speak the truth in love, and don't steal but be ready to give. Finally, he uses examples of those who have lived well along with examples of those who have not. These examples allow us to see, in the lives of real people, the truth of what our instructor is saying. We see the rewards of those who have followed the instructor and the pains of those who have not.
"There is a wide difference between health and knowledge; for the latter is produced by learning, the former by healing. One, who is ill, will not therefore learn any branch of instruction till he is quite well. For neither to learners nor to the sick is each injunction invariably expressed similarly; but to the former in such a way as to lead to knowledge, and to the latter to health. As, then, for those of us who are diseased in body a physician is required, so also those who are diseased in soul require a pædagogue to cure our maladies; and then a teacher, to train and guide the soul to all requisite knowledge when it is made able to admit the revelation of the Word. Eagerly desiring, then, to perfect us by a gradation conducive to salvation, suited for efficacious discipline, a beautiful arrangement is observed by the allbenignant Word, who first exhorts, then trains, and finally teaches." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 1)
Each in its own time. When someone is sick, they do not turn to the study of medicine to learn about their disease, rather they turn to a physician to be healed of their sickness, then, if they so chose, they are free to study what ever branch of medicine they might be interested in. Clement reminds us that there is an order to the ministry of the word in our lives, first to heal then to teach. If we have not learned to live godly lives then how will we be able to understand spiritual mysteries? Unfortunately, in many of our churches, we have become very good at teaching people but poor at healing them. We have churches full of people who understand every minutia of eschatology but do not know how to deal with anger in their lives. In many ways we have go it all backwards. There is an order to our growth in Christ: first exhortation, then training, and finally teaching, or, to put it another way, healing before learning.

David Robison

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The conversation of our life - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"As there are these three things in the case of man, habits, actions, and passions; habits are the department appropriated by hortatory discourse the guide to piety, which, like the ship’s keel, is laid beneath for the building up of faith... All actions, again, are the province of preceptive discourse; while persuasive discourse applies itself to heal the passions. It is, however, one and the self-same word which rescues man from the custom of this world in which he has been reared, and trains him up in the one salvation of faith in God." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 1)
The conversation of our lives are made up of three things: habits, actions, and passions. Habits are the behaviors that we perform by rote and often without any thought or reason. They are the "defaults" of life and they allow us to move through our day without having to stop and think about every action and decision we face. Habits can be good or bad; one leading to corruption and one to life. Habits are often ingrained in us at an early age and even passed on from one generation to another. Actions are behaviors we choose to do. Actions require a purposeful decision and are the result of the contemplation of our mind. We chose our actions based on our values and goals, which may or may not line up with the values and goals of God. Passions are what we want to do. Passions are the desire of our soul that wage war against our spirit and our reason. Our passions are the source of much of our external conflict and inner turmoil. James, enumerating some of the passions of the soul, says, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel." (James 4:1-2) For all these God has sent His healing word to correct, instruct, and heal us that we might grow in all respect unto God.

Jesus came to save sinners, and that salvation begins with our conversion from the world into God's Kingdom. Paul reminds us that, "He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14) However, when we arrive in the Kingdom of God, most of us arrive with a lot of baggage. We come with our present lifestyle, habits, and patterns that are often at odds with the character and nature of God. Fortunately, salvation does not end there. As we continue in Christ, His salvation continues in us to change us and to conform us into the image of Christ. James wrote that we, "were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." (1 Peter 1:18-19) Jesus not only came to save us but to redeem us from our futile way of living; to teach us a new way to live. However, this transformation is rarely instantaneous and often takes a life time of effort, discipline, and faith, in God.
"When, then, the heavenly guide, the Word, was inviting men to salvation, the appellation of hortatory was properly applied to Him: his same word was called rousing (the whole from a part). For the whole of piety is hortatory, engendering in the kindred faculty of reason a yearning after true life now and to come. But now, being at once curative and preceptive, following in His own steps, He makes what had been prescribed the subject of persuasion, promising the cure of the passions within us. Let us then designate this Word appropriately by the one name Tutor (or Pædagogue, or Instructor)." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 1)
As there are three parts of our life, so there are three ministries of the Word. Firstly, God addresses our habits with a hortatory word. A hortatory word is one that uses extreme urging and exhortation to bring about change or a significant decision. Clement calls the word "rousing" in that it calls for a response from the whole person, not just a part. It is a word that calls us to make wholesale changes in our lifestyle and our manor of living. It is a word that cannot be responded to half-heatedly, but invoked the whole person. Secondly, God addresses our actions with a perceptive word. A perceptive word appeals to our reason and instructs us how to make right choices. The perceptive word opens up to us an understanding of Jesus' ways that we might become imitators of Him, walking in His footsteps. Where the Hortatory word leads us to piety, the perceptive word teaches us to live a principled life. Finally, God speaks to our passions with a persuasive word. The persuasive word promises us freedom if we continue in God's Word. When we come to Jesus we have already spent our lifetime sowing bad seed into the garden of our heart. Thereafter we learn to sow the good seed of the Kingdom. However, often we find the weeds we had previously sown still growing as we labor to sow good seed. It is easy to be discouraged as we sow good seeds yet reap weeds. The persuasive word encourages us to pull weeds as we sow seed. God said, "So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isaiah 51:11 NKJV) Notice it says the "shall" obtain, not they "have" obtained. Sometimes the things we desire lie ahead of us along our journey. The persuasive word sustains us while we wait for what has been promised by God.

Finally, Clement uses the following words interchangeably: Instructor, Tutor, and Pedagogue. A pedagogue was one who escorted children from their homes to their teacher. Their job was to make sure that the children arrived safely to school. This is the same function that the law fulfilled for us, as Paul said, "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ." (Galatians 3:24) The law was given to keep us safe and to keep us from killing ourselves and others until we could come to Christ. In the same way, the Instructor is sent to escort us in our journey with God; to teach, train, and protect us as we grow up in Him.

David Robison

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Instructor by Clement of Alexandria

Today I begin a new series on the second book of the trilogy written by Clement of Alexandria named "The Instructor." Clement of Alexandria lived and wrote near the close of the second century. He was educated in Apollos' native city of Alexandria and learned the apostolic traditions and teachings from those who knew and remembered the apostles. He is often counted among those early Christian writers who became the founders of Christian thought, and this in a time when the scriptures as we have come to know them had not yet been gathered and assembled together as a single work. We owe a a great debt to such men who labored to bring definition, clarity, and practicality to our then still forming Christian faith.

Clement is most remembered for his three books, "The Exhortation to the Heathen", "The Instructor", and "The Miscellanies". In the first book of the trilogy, Clement exhorts the unbelievers to leave behind their many gods for the one true God, the God of Gods and the Lord of Lords. He contends mightily against their sordid rituals and illogical beliefs. In His third book, Clement undertook to write, almost randomly, about various disconnected subjects pertaining to life in Christ. In the end, many remembered him mostly for this third book and it earned him the nickname, the Stromatist, from the Greek word for Miscellaneous. However, it is the second book in the trilogy that is of interest to us in this series, "The Instructor". The Gospel was "constantly bearing fruit and increasing" (Colossians 1:6) throughout the world and especially in the east where its presence predated its introduction in the west. In fact, even the church at Rome was a missionary colony planted my believers venturing further and further into areas that had not yet been visited by the Gospel.

The church at Alexandria saw many new converts and believers, yet they were being converted from a society that was foreign and alien to the redemptive history of God. They did not know the one true unbegotten God. They had not the benefit of His written word. They had not been previously introduced to God's only begotten Son. As far as true religion and true faith was concerned, they were a blank slate. We too, as a church, are more frequently finding ourselves in the same situation. Recently a friend of mine was on a missions trip to England. While in London he met a woman on the streets and asked her if she knew Jesus Christ. Her response was that she had only been in London two weeks and had not had time to meet many people. To her, Jesus was just one of the millions of people she had not yet had an opportunity to meet. We are increasingly finding ourselves in what anthropologists refer to as post-Christian nations.

Clement, and his fellow believers, faced the challenge of how to assimilate people who had no history with God's redemptive working into the culture of Christian living? The people were being converted to a love for God but did not know how to walk with God. While there were being "saved", they had no clue how to live a pious and religious life. It is one thing to find salvation, but another to grow to full maturity in our salvation. It was for this reason that Clement wrote The Instructor; to teach the new believers how to live with God; how to comport themselves in a lifestyle that would be pleasing and acceptable to God. In writing his book, Clement hoped to answer this question.

However, before we begin, there are three things we must understand. First, Clement, being familiar with the Greek language, used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament scriptures. This can give rise to some differences with the version of the Old Testament scriptures that many of us are familiar with. For example, in treating on the different types of sin, clement quotes Numbers 6:9 as "If any one die suddenly by him, straightway the head of his consecration shall be polluted, and shall be shaved" (The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 1) while our common bibles record it as, "But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean." (Numbers 6:9) While these differences may be many, the same message is uttered by both versions of the Old Testament scriptures.

Secondly, Clement was of an oriental mind. This produced the unique character of teachings that flowed out of Alexandria as compared to those that came out of Antioch. The Alexandrian mind was quite familiar with the allegorical interpretation of scriptures while the Antiochian mind understood them in a more literal and historical fashion. For example, in interpreting the above scripture from Numbers, Clement writes, "wherefore He prescribes the cure with all speed, advising the head to be instantly shaven; that is, counselling the locks of ignorance which shade the reason to be shorn clean off, that reason (whose seat is in the brain), being left bare of the dense stuff of vice, may speed its way to repentance." (The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 1) As westerners we might find his interpretations of the scriptures odd or curious and not in keeping with our own western understanding of the scriptures. However, we must remember that allegorical investigation was as natural to Clement as our data driven, locked step, computer like approach to life that has become so common to us. In approaching the writings of Clement it will be helpful to try and think like an oriental. If we can, then there is great insight to be gained from his writings, and besides, who is to say which mode of thinking is "right"?

Finally, as we read The Instructor, we must keep in mind his purpose for writing this book. Some will read his commands and injunctions as legalism or as being out of mode for our present day. To the legalistic, everything is legalism and, to the one trying to defend his present lifestyle, all calls for change are to be rejected as irrelevant and unnecessary, but to the one seeking wisdom and counsel to live a christian life and to grow into all that God has for them, the wisdom contained in this book can be life changing. When reading his recommendations, try to look behind the actual command to the wisdom that it contains. For example, Clement will talk at length about the use of cosmetics. Some will read it as simply a prohibition against makeup, but for those who can see the wisdom behind the command, they will be challenged to consider if, in attempting to alter their looks, they are at the same time accusing God of creating something less than beautiful; their actions criticizing God for what He has made. Let not our modern sensibilities keep us from finding the wisdom of God even when conveyed through simple and practical commands.

The book, The Instructor, is subdivided into three books. The first introduces us to the Instructor, showing us His modes, means, and methods. The second and third books address every detail of life giving wisdom and counsel as to how a first-century Christian should live their life. I hope this series is a blessing to you.

David Robison

Monday, September 23, 2013

Growing in Grace - Christianity 101

"Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God." (Acts 13:43)
Our spiritual lies are not static, they are dynamic. To grow in life, and in the things of the Kingdom, require effort, industry, and continuance. Life with God is not something you taste once and then move on; it's not a prayer that is said while the supplicant returns to their daily life; it is not a deed or thought that is experienced then forgotten. Life with God is an on going daily experience that involves us in the working and teaching of the Holy Spirit; it is an ongoing daily growth in God and the things of God. Here Paul encourages us to continue in grace, not like those who start out in grace and end up in the flesh (Galatians 3:3) rather like those who continue to grow from grace to grace. It is not sufficient to experience grace, we must continue and grow in grace. Peter similarly concurs when he concludes his letter saying, "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18) So how does one grow in grace?

First we must understand that grace is accessed through faith. Paul tells us that it is through Jesus "whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand." (Romans 5:2) When we first come to faith in Jesus we are introduced to His grace in our lives. To continue in and grow in this grace requires the continuation and growth in faith. This is why Paul was so concerned with the Galatians. He asked then,
"Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (Galatians 3:3-5)
Our Christian walk is a walk of faith and it is by this same faith that we come to know and experience God's grace. We cannot expect to trust in the ability, power, and will of the flesh and still arrive at the grace of God. It's only found when we trust in His strength, His love, and His will for our lives that we experience the fullness of His grace in us. This walk of faith requires us to leave somethings behind that we might obtain those things that are ahead of us. First, we must leave behind the Law. Paul writes,
"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." (Galatians 2:21)
Here Paul is speaking of one specific aspect of God's grace, but it is also true of grace in general. If we reject the righteousness that is found in Christ for a righteousness that comes for our own good deeds, then the grace of God is of no use or value in our lives. We have ceased to live by grace, Christ's benefits are not longer ours, and our lives have become dependent on our own good works rather than the finished works of Christ. We cannot have it both ways, let us either trust in ourselves or trust in Christ; in whom is the very fountain of grace.

Secondly, we must abandon all fear and reticence to approach God. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to,
"draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
For some of us it may be a fear of what others might think, for others it may be a fear of rejection and judgment from God, Either way, our fear can keep us from finding the very grace we need in our times of trouble. God wants us to come boldly and with all frankness, courage, and assurance not fearing who may be watching but full of faith that the one we seek is willing and able to give us what we need when we need it.

Thirdly, we must give up the pursuit of all arguments, philosophy, superstitions, and false doctrines that try to sooth our minds as if we have what we really don't have. Again from the writer of Hebrews,
"Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited." (Hebrews 13:9)
It is easy to become sidetracked from our pursuit of God. Here, the writer is not referring to foods that refresh our body and soul but rather the argument over which foods are permitted and which are forbidden by God. Jesus Himself plainly told us that, "whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him" (Mark 7:18) and yet arguments persisted as to what a believer could and could not eat or drink. The problem is further compounded when we encourage our heart that we have kept our commandments over food and drink yet have failed to keep it full of the grace of God. All such wrangling, speculations, and pride are destructive to the work of grace in our lives. Further, James reminds us that, "He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" (James 4:6) Let us therefore choose the grater grace that is found in humility rather than pride and pretension.

Finally, we must reject all attempts to turn the grace of God into licentiousness. Jude warned us of those who had.
"crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 4)
Paul also asks the rhetorical question, "Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?" (Romans 6:1) How can those who love God, and desire the grace and favor of God, continue in a life that is displeasing to Him? Grace is not a pass for sin nor does not excuse us from our pursuit of sin. We don't sin that we may experience grace rather it is because we have experienced grace that we freely and willingly cease from all sin in our lives. Those who use grace as an excuse for sin have either never really experienced the grace of God or, having forgotten their introduction into grace, have perverted it for their own personal benefit. Why should we live in sin any longer seeing the grace of God is now ours in abundance?

David Robison

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Grace and Giftedness - Christianity 101

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Grace is at the heart of who we are in God and what we have been called and energized to do. While not everyone will achieve to all God has for them, for those who do, and in whatever measure they do, the credit belongs entirely to God. Paul understood this and reflected it in many of his writings. Speaking of his own calling into service He wrote,
"But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood" (Galatians 1:15-16)
Paul was not a "self-made" man, he was a "God-made" man. God had chosen even before his birth, before he had done anything good or evil, chosen based solely on the grace or favor of God. God has also chosen him for a specific place, time, and people. Nothing in regard to his selection was based on himself; who he was, his qualifications, his piety, his drive or anything else. He was chosen, gifted, and called because God willed it; it was simply the grace and favor of God for his live.

It is the grace of God that is the determinate of who we are and of our role and function within the Body of Christ. Paul writes,
"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." (Ephesians 4:7)
This verse is in the context where Paul was describing the "one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." (Ephesians 4:4-6) Paul begins by talking about sameness and oneness, but now he speaks of that which is different among us; God's grace and his giftings and calling in our life. We are not all meant to be the same, we are all different because of the different quality of the favor of God on our lives. Paul wrote,
"Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly." (Romans 12:6)
We each differ from one another according to God's favor and His giftings in our lives. Understanding this we should not seek to mimic others in their grace and gifts but rather to be content in the grace and gifts given to us by God. Paul said of himself, 
"According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it." (1 Corinthians 3:10)
Paul was called as a wise master builder, but we may not be so called. Paul was called to lay a foundation but we may be called to build on the foundation. Our responsibility is not to try and imitate someone else but rather to find how for what purpose and function God has called us and to give ourselves to that calling in both action and thankfulness. 

Finally, when we find God's purpose for our lives and begin to execute that purpose, we fine new boldness and authority in God; an authority that does not come from office or position but from the very commission of God on our lives. Paul write to the Romans saying,
"For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." (Romans 12:3)
It's interesting that in a verse where Paul is urging humility he can speak with such boldness and authority. However, when we understand that we are who we are by the grace of God, and not of our own doing, we can express both humility and authority at the same time because our authority is not from ourselves but from God. Paul goes on to say,
"But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:15-16
Paul had great confidence and boldness in his giftings and authority in God because he knew it did not come from him, he who wast the "chief of sinners" (Titus 1:15), but from God. In the same way we too should have boldness and confidence in our role and function within the Body of Christ; not shrinking back, but using the things God has given us to serve others.
"As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4:10)
David Robison

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Grace and the Law - Christianity 101

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, "He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me."' For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:14-17)
There are two primary covenants that God has made between Himself and mankind. The first covenant was given through Moses and was a covenant of law. It promised that all who would obey the law would find right standing and approval with God. "Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." (Exodus 19:5-6) However, the second covenant was given through Jesus Christ and was a covenant of grace, and all who trust in Him are made sons and daughters of God. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)

In simplistic terms, the primary differences between these two covenants is the means of obtaining approval from God and the abundant life He promises. For those under the old covenant, this is done through works and keeping the law, while for those under the new covenant, this is done through faith in Jesus.
"Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works" (Romans 4:4-6)
"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." (Romans 11:6)
It must be understood that these two covenants are incompatible with each other, meaning, you cannot live in both covenants at the same time. One is a covenant built on works and the other a covenant built on grace and faith. Paul wrote of those believers that still wanted to insist on circumcision, itself being a work of the law,
"Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." (Galatians 5:2-6)
We cannot live in both covenants at the same time. Either we must choose to live by the law, the whole law, or we must choose to live by faith in Jesus Christ; it is either works or grace, but not both. Over and over, Paul kept reminding the early believers, and us, not to revert to law once we have found grace in Christ Jesus. "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)

The truth is that the Law came, not to eliminate sin, but that sin might increase. Not that the Law is a minister of sin, but rather that our sinful nature is stirred up towards sin by the law.
"The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21)
The Law came so that we might recognize that we are a sinner; birthed with a sinful nature that, by ourselves, we are unable to free ourselves from. The Law is good and holy but we are sinful; our sinful nature taking advantage of the Law to produce death in us. Through the Law, we see sin "become utterly sinful." (Romans 7:13) But, where sin increased through the law, the grace of God more super-abundantly abounded in forgiveness and favor towards us in Christ. What the Law could not do, Jesus did in His grace towards us.
"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:12-14)
Through the Law, sin became our master, but through the grace of God we are made free from sin; free to live the life God created us to live. The grace of God has set us free!

David Robison

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Resource - Reason and Revelation

I've added a new resource to my resource page called, "Reason and Revelation." Sometimes there can be tension in our churches between those who approach God from reason and intellect and those who approach God through revelation and experience. It sometimes seems that we are asked to choose sides between reason and revelation, but is this really the case? In this article I propose a new working model of learning that attempts to show that both reason and revelation are necessary to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God. Its not one or the other but both are necessary. You can find the article on the resource tab on my blog.

Benefits of Grace - Christianity 101

There are many benefits to us of the grace, or favor, of God. Here are but a few:
"even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Ephesians 2:5)
We are saved by grace and, not just our initial salvation, but salvation continually comes to us through the grace and favor of God. We are initially saved, but God's grace continues to save us by providing for us healing, protection, wholeness, security, and well-being.
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)
We are all sinners and have all sinned, yet the grace of God has offered us justification from our sins. Our guilt and the sentence against us is removed in Christ and we stand before God as one who is clean of all charges and accusations against us.
"And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." (Acts 20:32)
God's grace helps build us up in Christ, to mature us and make us fit for our inheritance in heaven. By God's grace we transition from children to full-grown men and women of God. God's grace makes us ready for what is ahead of us in God.
"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)
By God's grace we are no longer looser in this life rather we are winners. We are no longer defeated but over-comers by His grace. We are no longer "under the circumstances" but live above them according to our faith in God. We are no longer ruled by sin but reign over our bodies and our passions. By His grace we are those who reign in life.
"and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6-8)
God's grace is extended to us in His kindness. Even when we deserve His wrath, His grace persists towards us in kindness and gentleness. When we need help, when we need a friend, when we need to be lifted up, God is always there waiting and willing to show us His kindness through His grace in our lives.
"You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)
Our participation in the grace and favor of God unites us all as believers in Christ. Grace is a common theme in our lives and something we can fellowship around. More than doctrine, grace makes us one.

David Robison

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What is Grace - Christianity 101

Grace is a common theme in the New Testament. We see it as part of Jesus' ministry here on earth: "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) We also see it in the salutations of the apostles, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:3) And we see it as something to be pursued in our Christian life, "for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited." (Hebrews 13:9) While grace is not unfamiliar to most of us, it can still remain hard to define and explain. Someone once said, "Grace is not a blue-eyed blond" and while this is true it doesn't help us to understand what grace really is. So what is grace? Thayer defines "grace" as "good-will, loving-kindness, and favor." Grace, at its core, is favor. Consider the following people who found grace, or favor, with God and man.
"Yet God was with him, [Joseph] and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor [grace] and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household." (Acts 7:9-10) 
"The angel said to her [Mary], 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.'" (Luke 1:30)
"And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor [grace] with God and men." (Luke 2:52)
"[and the believers were] praising God and having favor [grace] with all the people." (Acts 2:47)
All these people, and many more, found favor with God and man. Webster defines "favor" as, "friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior; approving consideration or attention; gracious kindness; an act of such kindness; effort in one's behalf or interest." As we understand the nature of favor, it can help us understand the nature of God's grace towards us. For example, when God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9) we understand that God was speaking of his friendly regard for Paul; that in all Paul was to go through, God would be at his side and on his side. God would always be there to encourage him, guide him, and provide him what he needed. Even when, at times, he would not deserve the kindness of God, God's kindness would still be there.

We need to begin to see God's grace as His favor in our lives. Grace is not mystical, it is not mysterious. Grace is not some spiritual empowerment of embellishment. Grace is not a thing it's a who. When the favor of God is on our lives, nothing is impossible for us, nothing is withheld from us, and the fullness of the Kingdom of God is ours. Over the next several posts we will look at grace and how it applies to different areas of our lives and, most importantly, how we can grow in grace.

David Robison

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Resource - The Full-Grown Man

I've added a new resource to my resource page called, "The Full-Grown Man." When we are born-again we are born with all the hope, promise, and destiny in God. However, many of us fail to fully attain to the upward call to which we have been called. We are born again as children and, for many of us, we remain as children while our Father wishes us to grow up. God's desire is that we would all be full-grown men and women of God, but what does that mean? In this article we will take a look at what it means to be full-grown and how we can become full-grown men and women of God. You can find the article on the resource tab on my blog.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Resource - The Message of the Cross

There is a new resource on the resource tab of by blog. It is called, "The Message of the Cross. The cross is central to our salvation. With out the cross there would be no forgiveness and, without forgiveness, there would be no eternal life with God. However, sometimes the central themes of our salvation get pushed aside by more exciting topics of the day. In this article we look once again at the message of the cross to find new power and wisdom for our lives today. This new resource can be found on my resource tab at

Saturday, September 07, 2013

New Resource - Spiritual Gifts and the Church

I have added a new resource on my resource tab called: "Spiritual Gifts and the Church." Spiritual Gifts are not only our blessing but are also our responsibility. Spiritual Gifts were not an after thought, or something God does just to bless those who believe, but they are central to His plan for the church and His working in the world. In this article we will take a fresh look at 1st Corinthians 12 to remove some of the complexity in this topic and to find God's will as we seek to grow in Spiritual Gifts. You can find this article on my resource tab.

Friday, September 06, 2013

2nd Peter 3 - What sort of people?

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10)
A day is coming, and will come when we do not expect it, a day when all things of this creation will be over and destruction of all things complete. This should come as no surprise for God has not been silent on this account. Isaiah prophesied, "And all the host of heaven will wear away, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; all their hosts will also wither away as a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree... Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not wane." (Isaiah 34:4, 51.6) John also prophesied saying, "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them... Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." (Revelation 20:11, 21:1) There will come a time when this present heaven and earth will be done a way with and there will be a new heaven and a new earth, one in which righteousness dwells.
"Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:11-13)
Here in lies the question at the heart of Peter's second letter: what sort of people aught we to be? We are not like those who live in ignorance, who say, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die." (Isaiah 22:13) We know the truth, we know the end of all things. Therefore, what kind of people aught we to be? How should we seek to live our lives? This question is of central importance to all believers who desire to live godly lives, lives pleasing to God. Fortunately, Peter goes on to give his advice to this question.
"Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Peter 3:14-18)
We aught to be people who live diligently, not in slothfulness, but with purpose and with aim. We should see our lives as progressing into the things of God, never content to "mark time", never seeking a "vacation" from the Kingdom of God, but always walking, always pressing on, always moving forward. We should live our lives like Jesus is coming back today and count His delay as our opportunity to grow in Him, to become more like Him, to experience more fully His salvation in our life. Finally, we should not become distracted from our focus on Jesus and His kingdom. Many will come, like the false prophets and false teachers that Peter spoke of, who will seek to distract us, to side tracked from the "Highway of Holiness" (Isaiah 35:8), to get us to spend our days pursuing them rather than the Kingdom of God. However, we must never surrender our diligence to them or to any that would divert us from the true and right way. We must continue on, in diligence, looking forward to and hastening that great and glorious day when Jesus will once again return. Keep up your diligence, it will be worth it in the end!

David Robison

Thursday, September 05, 2013

2nd Peter 3 - The End is Coming

"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles." (2 Peter 3:1-2)
Peter is not so concerned that, after his departure, the people will continue to remember him, rather he is concerned that they will remember the word God has spoken, especially those things spoken by the prophets of old and the apostles of new. Christianity is not a religion of opinions but a religion based on the revealed knowledge of God. Previously, God spoke through His prophets; reminding them of what God requires, telling them of things to come, and revealing to them the coming salvation in Jesus Christ. Now He has spoken through His Son and through His apostles. Jesus invested His messages to His apostles who became the teachers of those who would believe; teaching them about Jesus, what He asks of them, His power in their life, and His return to judge the living and the dead. We too would be well counseled to give attention to what they, the prophets and apostles, have said!
"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.' For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:3-7)
We live in an age that has grown up believing in a philosophy of uniformitarianism, meaning that things have always existed as they are today and will continue to do so into the future. For example, much of our current theories of earth formation and the evolution is based upon these assumptions that the earth's processes have very much always been as they are today and will continue to be so long after we are gone. Even our theories of aging rocks and the earth are built upon the assumption that not much has changed since their creation. This philosophy is nothing new and existed in the day of Peter. However, Peter reminds is that such a belief is not consistent with history. He reminds us that there was a time when nothing existed and, in a moment, all was made. A process spanning days and not millions and billions of years. He also reminds is of the global flood where, for almost half a year, the entire world was submerged under water. The truth is that God has intervened in history in catastrophic ways in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Just because we have not see God move so in our life time does not mean that He will not do so in the future. There will come an end of time, there will be the destruction of the heavens and the earth, and we will inherit a new heaven and new earth where righteousness dwells. The end is coming!
"But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:8-9)
Peter is not saying that, when God says one day He really means one thousand years, nor when God says one thousand years He really means one day. What Peter is saying is that time is not the same for God as it is for us. God lives outside the bounds of time, we, however, are bound by it. We should not therefore consider God slow in bring forward His promises as we might count slowness. It may seem like it is taking a long time, because we march steadily through time, but to God, "It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." (James 4:14 NKJV) Moreover, we should realize that, if there is a delay with God, it is not due to His inability to perform what He has spoken, but rather His desire that all might come to repentance and be saved. God is patient, waiting to bring forth His word that all might have the chance to receive salvation. Not all will choose salvation, but God is patient to give all the opportunity of salvation. After this, then the end will come, and it will come, this God has promised. Thanks be to God for His merciful patience towards us.

David Robison

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

2nd Peter 2 - Springs without water

"These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved." (2 Peter 2:17)
Peter is concluding his diatribe against false prophets and false teachers. He calls them springs without water and a mist driven by the storm. They hold the promise of water but are themselves dry and empty. Those who look to them for a drink and for refreshing are disappointing because they are not what they seem; they say they have but fail to give. They are those who have no portion in the Kingdom of Light but are destined for the darkness of eternity.
"For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved." (2 Peter 2:18-19)
We must not judge people, nor their message, by the greatness of their words, either by the expanse or the eloquence of their speeches, for these things are not a determinant of the truth. There are many men and women of polish who say great and lofty things, but this does not of necessity make them true. Of greater purport is to what they are appealing. If their words appeal to the flesh or to self, then great care must be given. For some might promise freedom, such as freedom from law, but if it is a promise that leads to licentiousness, then the later outcome will be worse than the first. For example, those who preached the sexual revolution of the sixties promised freedom from "old fashion" cultural norms but, instead, they lead a generation into new levels of bondage to the flesh.
"For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'A dog returns to its own vomit' and, 'A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.' " (2 Peter 2:20-22)
Jesus put it this way, "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation." (Matthew 12:43-45) Peter's warning to us is that, once being set free, that we would not return to bondage, especially bondage to the flesh. The key in all of this is to pursue Jesus. When we pursue men we become susceptible to their wiles and to their special brand of heresy. This is not to say that all are heretics, for most are not, but we are to pursue the Lord and His word not a man and his word. When our focus is on the Lord then the lies of the pretender will be more easily identified. However, when we loose focus on the Lord and follow a man, then we are may be easily fooled by their deceptive ways. 

David Robison

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

New Resource: A Leader of Giant Slayers

There is a new resource on the resource tab on my blog named "A Leader of Giant Slayers". There was a time in Israel when everyone was afraid of the giant, yet just a few years later, everyone was running around killing giants. What changed? David! David did something no one else had the courage to do and, as a result, opened a door for others to become giant slayers. You too can pave the way for a new generation of victors. This article looks at some practical steps to become a leader of giant slayers.

2nd Peter 2 - Unreasoning brutes

"Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord." (2 Peter 2:10-11)
We must remember the context of this verse, Peter is talking about false prophets and false teachers and it is likely that Peter had certain people in mind: there were the Simmonites, the Valentinians, the Marcionites, and others. In fact, Eusebius records that it was for this very purpose that Peter came to Rome. The same Simon that Peter had rebuked saying, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God." (Acts 8:20-21) had gone to Rome to preach his special brand of heresy. When Peter heard this, he followed to correct the heretic and to preserve unaltered the message of God in Rome. Eusebius writes, "immediately under the reign of Claudius, by the benign providence of God, Peter, that powerful and great apostle, why by his courage took the lead of all the rest, was conducted to Rome against this pest of mankind." (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 2 14:6)

Peter describes such men as daring and self serving, men who rushed into things they didn't understand and rebuked object of majesty they did not know, something even angles were better disposed not to do. They were men who had no regard for what they did not understand and who did not understand their place as men in the created order of God, both natural and spiritual. For even angles, understanding their place, show proper honor and respect for glories and majesties around them. For example, when the angle was standing to dispute with the devil over the life of Joshua the High Priest, he did not revile those majesties but simply said, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan!" (Zechariah 3:2) Even today, some think it "spiritual" to revile the devil, calling him toothless and other slanderous things. While it is true the devil is corrupt and evil and destined for judgment, we shouldn't presume to revile what we don't know and to slander beings of greater power and position than ourselves. One day we shall "judge angels" (1 Corinthians 6:3) but for now we have been "made a little lower than the angels." (Hebrews 2:9 NKJV) Therefore our rebukes should be simple and bear the Word of the Lord: "The Lord rebuke you!".
"But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed." (2 Peter 2:12)
What separates us from the brutes of the field is our ability to reason; we are rational beings that do not, or should not, live by our baser passions that wage war against the higher nature of our soul, that rational part of our soul. However, when we live by our passions and the lusts of our soul, then we are no different then they; we too are unreasoning animals to be caught and destroyed. God wants us to engage our minds, He has called us as rational beings, that our rational minds might rule over the lusts and desires of our flesh. Our flesh wants many things but we must rule over it; we must receive the Word of God by faith and apply it to the longings of the flesh that we might, as Paul said, "put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Colossians 3:5 NKJV)
"suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;" (2 Peter 2:13-14)
Peter tells us that such false prophets and false teachers they have trained the heart for evil. We are all born with a conscience, and our conscience either excuses or convicts us of wrong. Paul writing of those who were without the law wrote that, "they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them." (Romans 2:15) It is our conscience that guards us from evil and guides us to do good. However, when we ignore our conscience, when we blow past the warnings of our conscience in our rush to sin, then our conscience is offended and its impact in our life lessened. By repeatedly offending our conscience we can come to a place where its warnings are silenced and there remains no longer any barrier to sin. Our hearts have been fully trained in sin and we no longer hear the cautious warnings of our conscientiousness. We are like those of whom Paul wrote who were "seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron." (1 Timothy 4:2)
"forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet." (2 Peter 2:15-16)
Sin has pleasure, If not, then we wouldn't sin. We sin, even as Christians, because we enjoy it, at least for the moment. Paul refers to it as "the passing pleasures of sin." (Hebrews 11:25) While sin is pleasurable for the moment, its long term effects are devastating. James write of the progress of sin, "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:14-15 NKJV) The conceiving of lust is sin and the maturing of sin is death. We all have a choice to make, either to live for the momentary pleasures of sin or for the eternal rewards of righteousness. We are like Abraham as he returned from the battle of the kings. Two men came out to greet him, earch with gifts for him. One was of the world, the King of Sodom, and the other was the eternal priest of Salem, Melchizedek, who brought him "bread and wine. (Genesis 14:18) Abraham had a choice, the riches of the world or the eternal riches of the Kingdom of God. Abraham chose the bread and wine and rejected the King of Sodom saying, "I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, 'I have made Abram rich.' " (Genesis 14:22-23) When faced with your choices today, how will you choose?

David Robison

Monday, September 02, 2013

New Resource: Hiding from God

Most of us have know times in our lives where we have attempted to hide from God. However, the times we have tried to hide have most often been the times we have had the greatest need to draw close to God. Why do we try and hide from God when what we need is to draw near to Him? I think we can learn some useful insights from our ancestor who began all the hiding from God. God asks Adam three questions and their answer is quite revealing. You can read the article on my resource tab of by blog at

David Robison

Sunday, September 01, 2013

2nd Peter 2 - The mills of God

"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot" (2 Peter 2:4-7)
We often live so absorbed in the moment that we loose sight of the greater picture of life painted by history. We see our lives today and believe that life has always been as it is and always will be. We don't see the judgment and punishment of God and we assume that such judgment does not exist or is relegated to a time long ago. God doesn't move to establish justice so we think He never has or will. However, Peter reminds us by way of history that God's judgment is never idle. If God did not spare the angles, certainly He will not spare the wicked. If God destroyed the ancient world in a flood, certainly He will destroy this present world by fire. If God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah in judgment, certainly He will judge the present world for its violence and wickedness. We need only to look at history to realize that, though His judgment delays, it will not be restrained forever. Someone once said, "The mills of God turn slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine."
"Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)" (2 Peter 2:7-8)
It's important to recognize Lot's response to the ungodliness in Sodom and Gomorrah, it wasn't anger or condemnation he felt for them, rather it was the oppression of his soul that he endured while living among them. What was the source of this oppression? Peter gives us a clue in the next verse when he says that God is able to rescue the godly from "temptation." Lot was oppressed, not because he disapproved of their behavior, nor because he was angry at their disregard for God's laws, but because of the lure of sin he felt as he endured in dwelling in their midst. My wife and I, along with our family, lived twelve years in Las Vegas. As you walked through those giant monuments to gambling you could feel the lure of sin, the lure of gambling, luxury, and licentiousness. It was that same lure of sin that oppressed Lot's soul, and his hatred was not for the people, but for the sin and its temptation that brings death to all who partake of it.
"then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority." (2 Peter 2:9-10)
Peter reminds us from history that God will not spare the wicked but will rescue the righteous. This is not to say that God does not desire the redemption of the wicked, for even as His judgement awaits them He continues to correct them that they might repent. Peter says that God keeps the unrighteous under "punishment" unto the day of judgment. The Greek word for "punishment" can also be translated as "to chastise". God continues to chastise the wicked that they may wake up and recognize their sin and repent while there still remains time. Even up to the very day of judgment, God will still be reaching out to the unrighteous that they may turn from the wickedness and receive the saving grace of God. On the other hand, for those who have received a righteousness that is found in Jesus alone, God has promised to rescue them from all temptation and to deliver them spotless before His throne on that last day. Though our souls may be vexed by the wickedness around us, we need not fear it, for, "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) Our hope is in Christ and it is "the hope of righteousness." (Galatians 5:5) Therefore, let the mills of God turn for, though He will not spare in judgment, neither will He turn away in deliverance.

David Robison