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Wordwise Insight, Issue #012 -- the Holy Spirit in the Tribulation, what kills Bible colleges...
December 14, 2005
Greetings

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free, informative monthly newsletter of Wordwise-Bible-Studies.com

IN THIS ISSUE...

BIBLE INSIGHTS. New Year's Resolutions, and Things for Which to Pray

READER Q & A. The Holy Spirit in the Tribulation

IDEAS FOR YOUR CHURCH. Why Support Good Bible Colleges? and The World's Best Bible Study Tool, and more

NEWS & REVIEWS. It is a book nearly 450 years old, but still important for Christians to read and ponder carefully.


BIBLE INSIGHTS

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Writing to the Corinthian church Paul says, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). The apostle stayed in the city a year and a half, “teaching the Word of God” (Acts 18:11). He does not mean he talked of nothing but the cross all the time. Rather, that his priority was to exalt Christ and not himself (vs. 1-5), and central to his message about Christ was the cross.

Perhaps we could look upon First Corinthians 2:2 as a kind of New year’s Resolution. “I determined,” he says. It was something Paul determined would characterize his life, by the grace of God. Here are three such commitments, illustrated by Bible characters, that would make sound resolutions for us as a new year begins.

1. Life's Priority–the reason for our life and service. As noted, the priority of Paul’s life and ministry was Christ and His cross. “For me to live is Christ” he says elsewhere, [and because that is so] to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21; cf. 3:10).

2. Life's Pattern–the regulation of our life and service. The pattern of Daniel’s life was set early on. As a teen-ager he “purposed in his heart not to defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). It is a resolution to submit his daily conduct to the Word and will of God. (Cf. the psalmist, Ps. 119:9, 11, 106, 115, and see I Thess. 4:1-8.)

3. Life's Product–the result of our life and service. Paul challenges Timothy, “Fulfil your ministry” (II Tim. 4:5), which he did himself (vs. 7) to God’s glory (cf. Gal. 1:24). The ultimate outcome of our service should be the glory of God (I Cor. 6:20).

THINGS FOR WHICH TO PRAY
By both instruction and example, the Bible gives us much help in finding subjects for prayer. A few of these are listed below. You will doubtless be able to think of more, but this is a good beginning. For ourselves or for others we can pray for:

1) A deeper personal fellowship with the Lord (Ps. 27:4, 8; 42:1)

2) The Lord’s guidance and direction (Ps. 25:4-5; Jas. 1:5)

3) Special help in times of need (Heb. 4:16)

4) Boldness in witnessing for Christ (Acts 4:29)

5) Bodily healing, within the will of God (Lk. 5:12)

6) The spiritual needs of other believers (Eph. 6:18; Col. 1:9-11)

7) Servants of Christ facing oppression and persecution (Acts 12:5; Col. 4:3; II Thess. 3:1-2)

8) Ministries needing more workers (Matt. 9:38)

9) Family members (Job 1:5)

10) The salvation of others (Rom. 10:1)

11) Enemies and those who offend us (Matt. 5:44)

12) Those in positions of authority (I Tim. 2:1-2)

13) The accomplishment of God’s great purposes (Matt. 6:10)

14) The glory of God in all things (I Cor. 10:31; cf. Rom. 11:36)


READER Q & A...

Question: Juanita asks, “I heard that it says somewhere in the Bible that the Holy Spirit will not be on earth during the Tribulation. Is that so?”

Answer: As God, the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. There is no place where He is not. Thus the references to Him being "sent" and "coming" at Pentecost are merely verbal tools to describe a change in ministry, not so much a change in location. The Holy Spirit was very much at work in Old Testament times, before He "came" at Pentecost. He was involved in creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4), and of course He inspired the Old Testament Scriptures (II Pet. 1:21). He also came upon and "filled" individuals to equip them for a particular work (Exod. 31:3; Jud. 3:10).

Prior to Pentecost, sinners still needed to be born again through faith, and receive eternal life. That is a work of the Holy Spirit--which is why Christ (pre-Pentecost) could speak to Nicodemus of his need to be born again of the Spirit of God (Jn. 3:5-8). There are, however, some differences with regard to the ministry of the Spirit of God in the present age. His permanent indwelling of believers is new (Jn. 14:16-17), as is His baptizing work of joining Christians to Christ and to one another in His body (I Cor. 12:12-13; Gal. 3:26-28). The church is unique to the present age.

That brings us to what happens after the rapture of the church. Second Thessalonians 2:6-8 says, "Now you know what is restraining, that he [the Antichrist] may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He [meaning, I believe, the Holy Spirit] who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed..." One of the ministries of the Spirit now is to restrain the forces of evil. (Imagine what they will be like when unrestrained!) And one of the chief agencies the Spirit uses to accomplish this is the church, and concerned Christians who speak out against wrong. When the church is taken up, this restraint will come to an end.

However, that does not mean the omnipresent Spirit will no longer be here and at work. One writer says the "taking out of the way" of the Restrainer "refers not to spatial removal...but rather [to] a stepping aside.” I sometimes picture it as the opening of flood gates causing a tide of evil to sweep across the world. Millions will be saved during the Tribulation (those who have not heard the gospel and decisively rejected Christ before the rapture–Rev. 7:13-14; cf. II Thess. 2:9-12). They will be convicted by the Spirit of God, and born of the Spirit. But in many respects, judging from the limited Scripture we have on the subject, His operations seem to revert to what they were in the Old Testament.

NEXT MONTH: Richard writes, "We are a Catholic family and lately have reservations on the food we eat. About meat-can Catholics eat beef, pork, chicken and fish?" In other words, should we all be vegetarians? What does the Bible say?


IDEAS FOR YOUR CHURCH

1) WHY SUPPORT GOOD BIBLE SCHOOLS
This is an appeal for the support of strong Bible colleges and seminaries that are sound in the fundamentals of the faith, and producing students who have a vital walk with the Lord. Your church needs to carefully identify schools like that and support them with your prayers and regular financial gifts. Why? Because otherwise the day may come when Bible-believing churches and mission agencies will have great difficulty finding a man or woman to serve who is not a theological liberal and an evolutionist! That may sound like an overstatement, but it is not.

The evangelical schools of our day face tremendous stresses and economic pressures. It used to be, 50 years ago, that attending Bible school for a year would cost you a few hundred dollars. A young fellow could find himself a summer job, easily earning enough money in two or three months, to attend the coming semesters. That is no longer true. Expenses in our academic institutions have skyrocketed. Now, it costs not hundreds, but thousands of dollars to attend a school like that. Few young men or women can find summer jobs paying enough money to cover the costs. Those who do attend frequently end up with huge debts from student loans. They graduate with that obligation hanging over them. In the case of Bible college students, those who move on to some form of Christian ministry likely will not receive enough financial support to pay off their debts--not for years.

Considering that scenario, some come to the conclusion it is just not worth it. “Why get yourself into that situation? Who needs Bible school, anyway?” (Let me go on record here on that score. I believe that each Christian young person should seriously consider the possibility of a Bible college education. But I certainly have sympathy for the problems faced.)

What are the alternatives? The individual may opt for some kind of full-time employment after high school, forgetting about further education. (Perhaps he dreams of enrolling at some future time, but this rarely happens. Life’s decisions have a way of locking us in to a particular course.) Or, he (or she) may go to a secular university, instead, with a view to moving into a much higher paying career. This may divert the individual from preparation for some significant Christian service. It also puts a further strain on the Bible schools.

Whereas young people flocked to them in record numbers after the Second War, it is now becoming increasingly difficult to recruit students. As a result, there is incredible pressure on some good schools to compromise their standards. It is difficult to convey to you just how strong that pressure is, but I know. I have seen it first hand. The bottom line becomes getting warm bodies to fill desks. Because if the school does not do so, they are convinced they will not survive. The governing question is: “We need this number of students to pay the bills--so how are we going to get them in here?”

How is that accomplished? Many times it prompts a lowering of previously held standards. For example, the school might lower the requirements for those accepted as students. Or lower the requirements for graduation. Or lower the standards for conduct permitted on campus. Or expand programming and courses offered into questionable–but popular–areas. Some sad compromises are being made in these things by previously reputable schools. For the sake of brevity, I shall comment on one area only.

There is great pressure on the evangelical schools of today to compete with secular universities. They are both after the same pool of young people. They want them--they need them--as students. A Bible college may say to a prospective student, “Why don’t you come to Bible college instead? Or why not come here first, and then transfer to university to get training for your career later on?” But that presents a major problem. Many universities look down their noses at Christian schools. They think a Bible college education is academically inferior. (It may not be true. But that is what they think.) The outlook of our major universities is often elitist and exclusive. They may refuse to recognize work done at a Christian institution.

So, in order to play with the “big boys,” Bible colleges are under pressure to get what is called “accreditation”--meaning official recognition that they are on the same academic level as a university. Accreditation involves a long and complicated process. Thousands more books need to be added to the library--of the “right” kind. Courses need to be upgraded in the “right” way. And what about the teachers? One of the things the Bible college seeking accreditation needs to do is get people with doctoral degrees to teach at their school. After all, the universities have Dr. So-and-so, and Dr. Such-and-such. You cannot be their equal unless you keep pace. So, consider what happens when it comes time to hire a new teacher.

Let us suppose the Bible school has two possible candidates. Candidate A is a fine man, a former missionary, with many years of experience serving the Lord. He knows the Scriptures. And he is a godly man with high spiritual values. But, he does not have the necessary degrees after his name. Candidate B does not seem to have the spiritual depth of the other, and it is a bit worrisome that he has been divorced and remarried. He is not quite as confident about the authority of Scripture, but he has a PhD--a doctorate, and an impressive academic background.

Which one would you accept? Too often the answer is B. “Because we need another doctorate on the faculty. So we’d better hire him.” That is how the argument goes. And it is one way in which good, sound Bible schools gradually begin to drift. It has happened in the past; it is happening still today.

The sad fact is the faculties of some evangelical schools are being more and more diluted with worldly men and women who do not have a firm hold on the great truths of God’s Word. They may know philosophy, and sociology, and psychology, and a number of other “ologies.” They may even have an intellectual knowledge of the Bible. But it is not to them the Spirit-inspired, infallible Word of the living God. Sadly, many lack a vital, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ask yourself: What kind of students will such schools turn out? In too many cases graduates will simply mimic the values of their professors, and parrot the liberal views they have been taught. Then many will move out into churches and eventually produce a flock in their own likeness. This may seem a pessimistic view. Perhaps it is, but it is also realistic. The Bible says that “in the latter times some will depart from the faith” (I Tim. 4:1). We need to pray for and support those schools that still stand firm upon the fundamentals of the faith. They need our help as never before.


2) The best Bible study tool ever! At least, the best one I have ever discovered, is fully described on the website. Strictly speaking, this is not an idea for your church program but for you, personally. However, if you try it, you may want to share it with your Sunday School class or Bible study group. If a number of you begin using it and trading insights, you may be amazed at what will happen! See Best Bible Study Tool.

3) On the Website!--Interim Pastoral Ministry
Has the pastor of your church recently resigned? As well as beginning the search for a new undershepherd, have you considered the possibility of calling an interim man to minister for a shorter period of time? On the Wordwise website is an article called Interim Pastorates. Check out this practical material.

4) Also see, on the website, an article called 12 Keys to Good Music, giving you 12 biblical principles to evaluate the music in your life.

5) Is your church thinking of purchasing A NEW HYMN BOOK? Check out Choosing a Hymnal for Your Church on the website, for nearly three dozen excellent tips and ideas to help you make your choice.

6) Check out a Wordwise Bible study series to help seekers, or new Christians! A wonderful "review" for long-time believers as well! The free 10-part series is now available at Exploring Christianity.


VIEWS & REVIEWS

FOXE'S BOOK OF MARTYRS
Though he lived over 400 years ago, John Foxe’s famous work is available still–in many different editions. Originally called The Acts and Monuments of the Church, it is popularly known by the shorter title. It preserves for the modern reader many of the great acts of heroism and bold faith of believers who lived during the first 14 centuries of the Christian era. Not easy or pleasant reading, but every church library and every home library should have a copy. Check out Foxe's Book of Martyrs.


If you have a question or an idea to share, please go to the Wordwise website and use the question form.
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