The Lord’s Coming Salvation

Meditation on Isaiah 52:1—15

The Lord’s Coming Salvation

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

1.         The nation of Israel, its history, is paramount in the unfolding story of salvation. From the creation and Adam and Eve in the garden flows the long story of the Messiah, the One chosen to be the means of redemption.

2.         With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the story unfolds in real time. The 400 years of captivity in Egypt, the deliverance under the leadership of Moses, the desert wandering, the entrance into Canaan, the Promised Land, the building of the temple in Jerusalem under David and Solomon, the division of the kingdom into Israel and Judah, then the long history of the prophets.

3.         Isaiah, prophet to Judah, 740 BCE and on, more clearly speaks of the servant of Israel who will emerge at some point in the future. He speaks of the calamities that befall God’s people, the loss of the northern Israel to the Assyrians, and later the Babylonian captivity.

4.         Isaiah speaks about that which will be coming, the Lord’s coming salvation, and calls for celebration. He sees centuries ahead to the Messiah, the One who brings good news. He exults, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet” of the one who announces and publishes salvation.

5.         But then the prophet seems to switch gears and speaks of this One being “lifted up,” which can be taken in two ways in the following chapter. One, exaltation as a great king, and two, treated so badly that He becomes unrecognizable.

6.         Despite it all, and we understand Isaiah to be referring to the crucifixion, this coming One brings salvation and even to the Gentiles, here named, the “nations.”       

Coming up for the Philpotts

We have made a decision to invest ourselves in reaching out to transgender people and their families, a most vulnerable demographic, and which few are venturing into, and for good reasons. 

Also, and at the same time, is our focus on deliverance ministry. We already have the book, Deliver us From Evil: How Jesus Casts Out Demons Today (which is now being translated into Spanish). Also Stephanie Adams is making a Word document out of a book Bob Hymers and I wrote in 1977 titled, The Deliverance Book, published by Bible Voice. Also, my ThM thesis, which was published by Zondervan Publishing House in 1973, A Manual of Demonology and the Occult, is being made into a Word document by Maggie Bates. These last two works will be published this year by our own Earthen Vessel Media.

These areas of outreach, besides the others our little MAC are engaged in, will be at the core of evangelistic outreach for the rest of my ministry.

All Flesh is Grass

Meditation on Isaiah 40:1-8

Comfort for God’s People &

The Word of God Stands Forever

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

1.         Chapter 40 begins the second section of Isaiah. The background is the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon. In 586 BCE the Babylonians overwhelmed Judah and took large numbers to Babylon. In about 540 the Persians under King Cyrus (see the end of chapter 44 and early verses of chapter 45), overcame the Babylonians and allowed the Jewish people to return to Judah.

2.         Isaiah began his ministry about 740 BCE and continued for about 60 years. This is why some commentators believe there are two sections of Isaiah. And this does not impact our doctrine of inspiration of the Scripture in any way.

3.         Comfort, Comfort, nahamu, nahamu, in Hebrew—words of encouragement to the Jews from Yahweh. Warfare is over, peace has come, God is making a way for His people.

4.         “The glory of the LORD shall be revealed”–may be a reference to the advent of the Messiah, and the people returning to Judea is a big part of the overall plan.

5.         Then a voice says, “Cry!” This is the voice of God and the prophet asks “what shall I cry?” The answer is stunning.

6.         “All flesh is grass” is the core of the following incredible poem. The Creator God reminds us of who and what we are. We are like grass and a flower; these grow, but then fade and die. The times come and go, we come and go, but there is one thing that will stand and it is our God.

7.         This is a word of hope for us today as well. We are acutely aware of the fragile nature of our world and of ourselves. Our hope alone is in our God, who in Christ Jesus has rescued us from death and hell.

I have decided to speak of something that I doubted I would ever bring up again: Deliverance Ministry. I hope you are not shocked.

This refers to casting out of demons. It has been 4 decades since I have done much in this area, but now it is time to begin again. The need has grown exponentially, and so here I go again. I no longer lie awake at night worrying about what people think of me. So then, here I go again.

Something new coming up. Hope you are not shocked.

Not wanting to be sensational here, but in recent weeks I have decided to emphasize something I have avoided for four decades: deliverance ministry, which means, the casting out of demons from people who had become possessed. We will talk about how possession occurs and what to do about it.

For long years I was somewhat embarrassed to be identified with such, though I knew concretely of the reality of it. But now in my old age, I no longer lay awake at night worrying about what people think of me.

That is it for now. There will be a lot more.

The Normal Christian Life

Based on these passages: Matthew 28:16–20; John 3:1–8; Acts 1:6–8; 2:41–42; 5:12–16; 16:25–30; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26;1 John 1:8–2:1.

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

1.         Though each Christian is different, we have a number of things in common. A number of books have been written with the above title: there is, in general, a normal Christian life.

2.         It all begins with conversion, known as the new birth. This is an act of God and not dependent upon anything we can do. At this point, the very Holy Spirit of God indwells us, all our sin is forgiven, past, present, even future sin. And at this very moment we are placed, in a way we cannot understand, into the Body of Christ, that Church known only to Him.

3.         The next common and biblical step is to be baptized in water, and to be baptized is to be immersed in water for that is the meaning of the word, baptize. This is not a saving event, but a testimony to others and especially to the one baptized.

4.         We are to observe what is called The Lord’s Supper, otherwise known as Communion, and the Eucharist and on an ongoing basis, which varies among Christians. This also is not a saving event but a memorial directed toward the cross of Christ.

5.         We are to be witnesses to the saving work of Jesus on the cross, live sacrificially, love one another, and do good to those we have opportunity.

6.         We are to live to the praise of His glory and patiently await the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taking Away Hope

The pro-gay position among Christians effectively deprives the homosexual of hope. These persons may be attempting to reach out in love to the gay community as an act of faith. But to say that a gay person is born that way and therefore can not help but be homosexual takes away hope. And if the pro-gay faction in the churches then expand the genetic argument and insist that homosexual behavior is natural and normal (certain diseases can also be inborn or genetic in nature), both psychologically and sociologically, this further condemns a person to what many gay people will admit is an unhappy, even desperate, life. And it also condemns this person to a dreadful eternity as well.

A Frightening Passage

The passage I am about to quote is one that is feared, even hated, by pro-gay ‘Christians’. It is a passage that has been vigorously attacked by pro-gay Bible commentators because of its powerful message. But it is a passage that is simple and clear in its meaning, and yet, in my view, holds out a great deal of hope for the homosexual.  The first part of the passage is:

            Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9–10  

 My intent is not to ‘clobber’ anyone with the Bible. And I do not want to scare anyone either–I want to present the hope that all sinners have in the Christ.

An Examination of the Passage

‘Homosexual offenders’ is a translation of the Greek word arsenokoite, a word that Paul made up (Paul made up or coined about 170 words that we find in his New Testament letters). The word he used is a combination of arsenos meaning ‘male’, and koite meaning ‘bed’ or ‘couch’. Paul found these words in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. The Levitical verses forbid and condemn homosexuality. Paul put the two words together because he wanted to describe men who had sex together. It is not homosexual prostitution or violent homosexual rape that the Law of Moses is concerned with as is so often presented by pro-gay writers. No, the language is clear and straightforward–homosexual offenders, or those who practice homosexuality, will not inherit the kingdom of God.   

   Homosexual behavior is not the only sinful behavior mentioned in the Corinthian passage. There is quite a long list and I find some of my own sins there, too.  There are the heterosexuals who are immoral and adulterers who have sex outside of marriage with someone other than their spouse. There are those who worship gods who are no gods at all. There are thieves, greedy people, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers listed–I find myself here. I have broken God’s holy ordinance and therefore, barring a miracle, I will not inherit the kingdom of God. If God’s Word is true, I am in desperate trouble.

 Am I Without Hope?

Since I find my sin(s) plainly listed in the passage, am I then without hope? In one sense I have no hope for I can not do anything about changing what has already happened, and, to make matters worse, I can not be assured that I will not sin again sometime in the future. Though I do not want to sin and dishonour my Lord, but because sin dwells within me, I likely will sin again (John tells me I will in 1 John 1:8–2:1–2. Yet I am not without hope, in fact, I am most hopeful. I know for a fact that Jesus has died in my place on the cross; I know He has taken all my sin upon Himself, and that I can be forgiven, trusting in Jesus as the Holy Spirit enables me. Certainly I can do nothing, but this Jesus, risen from the dead, has already done what I can not do. Indeed, He gives me His righteousness, gives it to me though I do not deserve it at all. This is the good news, the gospel.

The Proof of Hope

Earlier I quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. But I stopped short of the real point Paul was making to the believers in Corinth. We need now to look at verse 11 for in it is the proof of our hope.

And that is what some of your were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

   In that Corinthian church were people like me–guilty of many sins, addicted to some, helplessly in the control of others. Yet, something happened to them and Paul used three words to describe it–washed, sanctified, and justified.

   Washed is forgiveness, a work of the Holy Spirit. This is the application of the blood Jesus shed on the cross to the sinner. With the shedding of blood there is the forgiveness of sin even sin like my own, sin like homosexual behavior, too. I can not forgive my own sin neither can a church or a priest or a minister or anyone or anything else forgive sin, no, only Jesus’ blood can wash away sin. Did Jesus die on the cross and shed His blood to then withhold it from those who seek Him? Not at all, remember Jesus is the one who came to call, not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And the washing, the cleansing, of the blood of Jesus actually brings us to a place or repentance. Washed, clean, forgiven, this is more wonderful than anything can ever be.

   Sanctified then is to be set aside as belonging to Jesus Himself. It is the result of the washing–forgiven and cleansed of sin we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The sanctified are embraced by the Father and adopted into His own Family. God’s Holy Spirit actually lives within us because that which prevented His doing so was overcome when our sins were forgiven. It is completely the work of God. He sets us aside, makes us holy, and begins to work within us both to will and to work for His good pleasure–which takes a whole lifetime.

    Justified might well have been mentioned first, or second, because it is the experience of conversion or the new birth. It happens as we are washed and sanctified. Where one begins and the other ends we do not know. There is a mystery to it all, though it is very real at the same time. Justified might be defined as the sinner being restored to a condition of purity, as though no sin had ever been committed. It is by faith, it is grace. It is all a gift. Faith is a gift, we really have none of it in ourselves rather it is given to us. This is what we mean by grace–forgiveness and eternal life freely given despite the fact that we are unworthy. This is illustrated for us in the words, new birth. We did not affect our own physical birth and so we can not affect our spiritual birth. It is all a gift of God, not based on any kind or manner of work.

Giving Back Hope

Those who have bought into the notion that they were born homosexual and that it is their very nature to be homosexual may find hope in the words of Paul and in the experience of some of the Christians in the church at Corinth. There were homosexuals there, and they had turned away from homosexual behavior though they might not have become heterosexuals (some today at any rate experience a change in their sexual orientation but others do not so it is not unreasonable to state that such might have been the case in Corinth).

A Special Appeal

To those who have loved ones who are gay, perhaps a son or daughter, I appeal to you that you not take away their hope by agreeing that they can not help but engage in homosexual activity.

   There is a powerful tendency to overlook what the Scripture teaches and adopt a pro-gay stance thinking we are standing with and supporting our gay loved ones. Many do this. It is, in the long run, better to love the person, be supportive in whatever means possible, all the while refusing to validate the sinful behavior. This ‘tough-love’ may well prove to be both hopeful and redemptive.

Words of Hope

The pro-gay movement unwittingly takes away hope but the promise of the Scripture gives it back. And these grand words of Paul provide for us a most fitting close to this essay:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Kent Philpott

Mill Valley, California

February 2000

All or Nothing

Most mornings I have to wait in line at the 7-11 Store to buy my newspaper while people place their bets with the California Lottery. A woman, anticipating my impatience as she took an inordinate amount of time, turned to me and defended her purchase of 20 lottery tickets. “I have to have something to look forward to”, she said.

I knew what she meant. All day long she would daydream about the millions she might win. The very thought of it could carry her through the day.

We are all gamblers of one kind or another. In fact, many Californians are hoping to ease tax burdens through institutional games of chance. Someone even said that the state is becoming one vast casino.

The woman at the store was not putting all her money on the proverbial “line”; but many are risking far more than their money. The big gamble

There is an even bigger gamble than the lottery. People are gambling that the grave is the absolute end of life. My guess is that this is the most popular, albeit unnamed, gamble of them all.

The cessation of all life at biological death — this is the great hope of the godless. Nearly everyone who is committed to atheistic evolutionary schemes, is hoping for this. These people also reject any form of reincarnation, as taught by Hinduism or Buddhism, though I notice that they do not oppose eastern religious as vigorously as they reject the traditional Christian doctrine about an after-life.

The “life ends at death” theory is powerful because of the abundance of evidence that seems to support it. And I admit there are many claims flowing from the physical sciences that seem to deny the need for a creator God.

Theories and hypotheses are announced regularly. “Life has been discovered on Mars” (or not, as the case may be). Missing links are supposedly being dug up regularly (and then denied by rival anthropologists). Today’s materialistic headline is tomorrow’s small print casting doubt on the “discovery”.

Nevertheless, it is all grist to the atheists’ mill, and they airily promise that all objections to their theories will be met sooner or later. There is no question, the theory that “life ends at death” is attractive and powerful. Where is the proof?

No one committed to this doctrine, however, can be absolutely sure it is true. It is an article of faith and nothing more. It is a gamble, and the stakes are monstrously high — nothing less than eternity. Let us be clear; relying on the theory that “the grave is the end” is a gigantic gamble.

Let me take this as far as I can. Suppose that the theories put forth by agnostics and atheists to account for life are absolutely correct. Who is to say that beyond and behind these there is not a God who started it all?

Even if the universe and the earth are as old as the theories suggest, does this do away with God? Certainly not! Science, contend many (including intellectual giants like Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday), can only discover the handiwork of God anyway.

Besides, experience teaches that scientific “truth” has a habit of changing. God, on the other hand, does not change. It is unwise to wager everything on presumptions founded on scientific theory. Would a miracle do?

Jesus told the story of a rich man who died and went to hell. A beggar, who had lain at the rich man’s gate, also died and went to heaven. The rich man wanted God (Abraham in the story) to send the beggar to warn his family. He did not want them to join him in that terrible place of punishment and anguish.

But, Lazarus was not allowed to go. God said the rich man’s family had the Bible to warn them. If they did not believe the Scriptures, they still would not believe even if someone returned from the dead (Luke 16:19-31).

It is easy to sympathize with the rich man. He thought a miracle would be persuasive. And this might seem to be the case for the “life ends at death” devotee. How many people have sworn: “If I could just have a sign, if I could just know for sure, then I would believe”. And it does seem logical. If God would only grant a miracle, it would make it all a lot easier.

But God has done so! He has given assurance to all men, says the apostle Paul, by raising Jesus from the dead (Acts 17:31). God’s way is faith, faith that is placed in Jesus of Nazareth who died in our place on the cross and then rose from the dead. Those who reject the evidence of the resurrection of Christ are like the rich man’s relatives; they remain un-persuaded, even by a miracle. The end of the story

The woman at the store buying the lottery tickets was not making an all-or-nothing bet. But so many are doing so, wagering everything on their belief that the grave is the end. Like the rich man, they will be shocked when they lose their bet. But their discovery will come only after the wager has been collected by the “house”. Hell is a truth learned too late.

Kent Philpott

1999

* This essay appeared in Evangelical Times, published by Evangelical Press