Tuesday, 22 October 2013

More Proverbs ... (20-29)

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
but every fool will be quarreling.

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
but a faithful man who can find?

Who can say, “I have made my heart pure;
I am clean from my sin”?

Do not say, “I will repay evil”;
wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.

Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings;
he will not stand before obscure men.

Do not toil to acquire wealth;
be discerning enough to desist.

If you behave faint in the day of adversity,
your strength will be small.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.

Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.

Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
I will pay the man back for what he has done.”

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.

Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence
or stand in the place of the great,
for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
and do not reveal another's secret,

A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country.
Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain
is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
is the man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I am only joking!”

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
rising early in the morning,
will be counted as cursing.

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.

The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit
gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
If one turns away his ear from hearing the Teaching,
even his prayer is an abomination.

A rich man is wise in his own eyes,
but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

More Proverbs wisdom... (18-19)

Whoever is slack in his work
is a brother to him who destroys.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.
Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.

 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,
his heart rages against the Lord.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and He will repay him for his deed.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Calvinism's TULIP and Ariminianism's FACTS?

One of the major issues dividing protestant Christians is the divide between Calvinism and Arminianism. A summary can be found here. After looking at a (very good) debate between Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. James White on the issue of predestination (that some are predestined by God to be saved and others not), I think it sad that this issue should divide believers, especially since I think that both sides miss parts of the truth.

I should mention that shortly after coming to the Lord the predestination doctrine was a major issue for me (I grew up in the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church) and I prayed a lot to God that He would show me the truth about it from His Word. He said no. So a lot of what I say here is just my opinion and personal understanding of the Bible, not based on revelation by the Holy Spirit. By contrast, there were many other aspects of my life and faith where the Holy Spirit did convince me of the truth. I mention this, because I think that we as believers do not always depend on the Spirit to open the Word to us to understand it correctly as we should (2 Pet.1:20). Neither do we always distinguish between what the Spirit has revealed to us from the Bible and our own fallible understanding of the Bible. If the Spirit leads us into all truth (Joh. 16:13-14, 1 Joh.2:27), there would be no disunity between Christians as long as we all listen to Him. Unfortunately, we are not always willing to live with "we don't know, since it has not been clearly revealed to us" and instead present our own opinions as the truth.

But as this article shows, it is not as simple to classify everybody. For myself, using TULIP to organise the points:
1. Total depravity vs Free will. Here I have to say that I believe in total depravity in the sense that nobody can come to Jesus if the Father does not draw him (John 6:44), that our hearts are so deceitful, that we always tend to do evil (Jer.17:9-10, Rom.3:23), but at the same time I believe in human freedom in the sense that we chose to do evil and were not forced (although we become slaves to sin when we give in to it). All the calls to repentance in scripture presupposes that we are in some sense free to answer the call (even if it took the conviction by the Holy Spirit to bring us to that point of freedom - Acts 2:37-38).
2. Unconditional election vs Conditional election. Here I am less sure of how to interpret the Word. There are verses that mention the foreknowledge of God in connection with His election (1 Pet.1:2, Rom.8:29-30), but the whole discourse in Rom.9-11 seems to me to be about His election of Israel and would seem to imply that the elect can actually be enemies of God! Rom.11:28 - "As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers." I therefore tend to the view that the election is primarily about the group being elected for a certain purpose (to be holy and blameless before Him, to be conformed into the image of His Son - Eph.1:4-6, Rom.8:29) rather than about the specific individuals in the group being elected. For myself, I know that there was nothing in me that could have caused God to choose me, but yet He did.
3. Limited atonement vs General atonement. I think here the Scripture is clear that Jesus died for the whole world (and that it is God's will for everybody to come to repentance - John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 1 Tim.2:3), even though He knows that not everybody will accept the good news (Matt.7:13-14, 23:37, 24:9-14).
4. Irresistible grace vs Resistance against the Holy Spirit. Once again, it seems to me fairly obvious that the Holy Spirit can be resisted according to the Scriptures (Ps.95:7-11, Acts 7:51).
5. Perseverance of the saints vs Falling from grace. I trust Jesus when He said that nobody can pluck us from His hands (John 10:18-19). Therefore I can have a full assurance. However, I do not think that having a mere "experience" of the Holy Spirit necessarily means that I am saved... we should examine ourselves, whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5) and if we are indeed bearing the fruits of repentance (Hebr.6:4-8, Matt.3:8). We should make our election sure by the fruit we bear (2 Pet.1:3-10, Phill.2:12-13) , by allowing God to change us (Rom.12:1-2). But this all will be an outflow of our trust in Jesus, not an effort to impress God by our own works (Gal.2:20, 3:3, 5:16,22-24). I believe that those who fall away has never truly been saved, in spite of all external evidence to the opposite (1 John 2:19).

Proverbs (continued ... 16, 17)

- All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.

- Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
When a man's ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

- Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.

- Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

- There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is ways to death.

- Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

- The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

- Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

- A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.

- A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

- Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Proverbs 15

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but falseness in it breaks the spirit.

To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.

Friday, 4 October 2013


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice; ...
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;

Let not steadfast love and truth forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways know Him,
and He will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

Guard your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.

I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and whoever captures souls is wise.

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing. ...
In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of that joy may be grief.

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Trusting and hoping...

 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Adobe WTF

The newest version of Adobe Reader for Linux is unable to open .pdf documents, giving the message: "This PDF form requires a newer version of Adobe Acrobat. ... clicking OK will download and install the latest version." When I click OK it simply goes to a download page with same version I have already got!