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Wordwise Insight, Issue #021 -- discipleship, healing, babies in heaven
September 14, 2006

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free, informative monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS. On Snares, heresy, and God's deliverance, plus a study on discipleship called The Learner-Servant Principles

READER Q & A. Premillennialism, and a questionnaire for pastoral candidates

IDEAS FOR YOUR CHURCH. Support your local Christian book store

NEWS & REVIEWS. The MacArthur Bible Commentary


A trap in which a bird is entangled and caught is called a “snare.” This word is given a spiritual application in the Bible. A number of “snares” or traps are mentioned in the New Testament. Studying the relevant passages will show that Satan has his destructive traps, also the temporal allure of the world can be a trap and, in certain circumstances, God has traps of righteous judgment which ensnare the wicked.

1) Reputation. Paul speaks concerning those who are fit to serve as leaders in the church: “He must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (I Tim. 3:7). What is this snare, or trap? Perhaps it is the danger that the one looked down upon by the unsaved will waste his energies in attempts at self-preservation and the self-justification of his character or conduct. In the end, his ministry becomes weak and ineffective because his message is evaluated in the light of his bad reputation.

2) Worldly Values. The craving for wealth and material things is called a snare (I Tim. 6:9). Materialism and temporal values can be a trap, keeping the individual from preparing for eternity and laying up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21, 33). All that the world tries to achieve and build will be gone one day (II Pet. 3:10; I Jn. 2:17). The little couplet expresses a profound truth: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; / Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

3) Wickedness. Sin itself is a snare. By dangling worldly pleasures before the individual and blinding him to the truth (II Cor. 4:3-4), Satan lures him into a trap. Sinners are said to be in the devil’s snare (II Tim. 2:24-26). He is “the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). They have “been taken captive by him to do his will” (II Tim. 2:26) and accomplish his evil purposes of opposing and hindering the work of God, and of keeping sinners from hearing and believing the gospel.

4) Judicial Blindness. Judicial blindness from God is called a snare (Rom. 11:8-10). The Lord is gracious and longsuffering. He is withholding judgment because He desires all to repent and turn to Christ (II Pet. 3:9). But the day of grace will not last forever. When light is given and repeatedly rejected, there comes a time when God says, “If you refuse to see, I will not allow you to see any more. The prophet Isaiah was told this would happen (Isa. 6:9-12). Israel had been corrupted by unbelief and rampant idolatry. The prophets had warned them to repent again and again. But when they did not, judgment finally came in the form of the Babylonian Captivity.

5) Divine Judgment. The prophesied seven-year Tribulation yet to come is called a snare (Lk. 21:34-35), because once the rapture of the church has taken place (I Thess. 4:16-18) those who are left behind (the unsaved) will be trapped in it (I Thess. 5:2-3). Though there will apparently be those who believe and are saved during the Tribulation (Rev. 7:13-14), it would seem these are ones who did not decisively reject Christ before the rapture (II Thess. 2:8-12). And declaring allegiance to Christ will cost them their lives (Rev. 13:15-17).

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to be watchful for false teachers, mentioning two examples by name: “Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort” (II Tim. 2:17). These two men were apparently heretics known to Timothy. In two passages, I Tim. 1:19-20 (where only Hymenaeus is mentioned) and II Tim. 2:16-18, we are given what we might call the “A-B’C’s” of a heretic.

A) The Authority Rejected. They have rejected God and the authority of His Word. They have “strayed concerning the truth” (II Tim. 2:18), and replaced God’s inspired revelation with “profane and idle babblings” (II Tim. 2:16)–even going so far (in Paul’s example) as to say the resurrection is past (vs. 18).

B) The Behaviour Adopted. They have an ungodly lifestyle. They are profane and blasphemous, defaming the name of God and the things of God (I Tim. 1:20; II Tim. 2:16). They evidence a growing ungodliness in their lifestyle (II Tim. 2:16) and their conscience is seared–meaning they are reprobate and readily call white black, and black white (I Tim. 1:19; cf. Rom. 1:21, 32).

C) The Consequences Following. They lead others into error and on to destruction. Their message, finding a ready hearing in the hearts of some, “spreads like cancer” (II Tim. 2:17), and “they overthrow the faith of some” (II Tim. 2:18). (These who turn from the faith would seem to be those who have certain beliefs but have never experienced true saving faith, cf. Matt. 7:21-23; Lk. 8:6, 13; Jn. 8:31; I Jn. 2:19.)

The psalmist says of the Lord, “You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” This statement encompasses three aspects of deliverance mentioned in a number of other Scriptures. Through faith in God we find deliverance from:

1) Destruction. In the past, God rescued those who put their faith in Christ from eternal death and ruination (cf. Ps. 56:13; 68:20).

2) Disappointment. In place of tears of discouraged hopes for the future, God gives joyful anticipation to the sorrowing heart (cf. Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:17).

3) Disability. In the present, God bears us up and strengthens us to overcome times of stumbling, weakness and fallibility (cf. Mic. 4:6-7; 7:8; Jude 24).

It will be seen that these three can be related to the three tenses of salvation. Paul says God “delivered us from so great a death [past], and does deliver us [present]; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us [future]” (II Cor. 1:10.) Those who have trusted Christ as Saviour have: 1) Deliverance from sin’s penalty and from certain destruction (past); 2) Deliverance from sin’s presence and the sorrow it brings to look forward to (future); 3) Deliverance from sin’s power in their daily lives (present).

On the website there is an article about discipleship called The Learner-Servant Principles. Extensively referenced to Scripture, and with many diagrams, this material will give you a unique perspective on the subject. The seven basic principles are interconnected. They show the essence of discipleship as it is revealed in God’s Word, four key things God expects of us, and how sin contrasts with the four. As well, you will gain a helpful understanding of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and walk in the Spirit. The framework described can also be used to analyze passage after passage in the Bible. Please study the material, put it to use, and pass it on!

TRUTH IN OUR TRIALS. Check out the extensive outline study on the subject of suffering at Truth About Suffering.

THE DA VINCI CODE is often in the news these days. The novel by Dan Brown claims to be based on fact. Is it? Check out the resources in this newsletter, as well as the following article The Da Vinci Code.


QUESTION: Glenn asks, “In his book, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (1983, second printing), Charles Ryrie says theologians, who support the premillennial interpretation of prophesy, are in a minority. Is this true today? Is Modernism increasing in popularity?

ANSWER: Let’s take the latter part of your question first. Liberalism and Modernism, though not necessarily identical, both teach a salvation by works. Both reject the verbal inspiration (and infallibility) of Scripture, and its historical accuracy, including its record of supernatural events. Therefore, they usually reject the deity of Christ and deny His resurrection and bodily return to reign as “King of kings and Lord of lords.” If we are talking about Christendom (the professing church at large) this likely represents the majority view.

However, if we are speaking of the true church, the spiritual body of Christ holding to the fundamentals of the apostolic faith, premillennialism is either the majority position, or represents a strong minority. To my knowledge, all the major evangelical Bible schools founded at the end of the 1800's and in the early 1900's held this position when they started (e.g. Moody Bible Institute, Bob Jones, Prairie, Briercrest, and little Millar College of the Bible where I taught). Most of them still hold to premillennialism.

Add to this the influence of Dr. Scofield’s teaching, and that of Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, at Dallas Seminary. Then, factor in the great popularity of Hal Lindsey’s book The Late, Great Planet Earth years ago, and now the best-selling “Left Behind” series, and I would say the premillennial faith is strong and growing stronger. Ryrie’s book came out in 1953, and the book by Hal Lindsey, mentioned above, in 1970. Things changed somewhat in that nearly 20 years, and have changed even more so today.

But having said all that, orthodox Christians will always be in the minority, and unbelief and error will increase as the day of Christ’s coming approaches (Matt. 7:13-14; I Tim. 4:1; II Tim. 3:1, 13). As to differing views true believers hold on the details of prophecy, keep in mind that a view is not true because it is held by the majority, but because it is taught in the Word of God.

QUESTION: If a church is seeking a new pastor, what questions should the Search Committee ask the individual?

ANSWER: A great question! And the more you investigate beforehand, the fewer painful surprises may await you later on. I have prepared a questionnaire to assist you and put it on the Wordwise website. It contains about 50 probing questions that will provide you will important information from a pastoral candidate. You can augment them with your own. Go to Pastoral Questionnaire.

NEXT MONTH: Matthew asks, "When did God's life begin?" (A challenging question indeed!)

BIBLE STUDY: Available now on the Wordwise website is a discussion Bible study on The Lord's Prayer. Why not check it out at The Lord's Prayer.


Some of you who visit Wordwise will be living in a rural area, or in a small town. You may not have the benefit of being near a Christian book store. But even you can support the one nearest to you by ordering materials by phone and asking for them to be mailed out to you.

On the other hand, if you have access to a store within driving distance, do all you can to support it and encourage the proprietors. Here are a few ideas.

¤ You could purchase study materials for your Sunday School, or Bible study groups, etc. through the store.

¤ You could annually upgrade your church library with budgeted purchases from the store.

¤ You could review good books, videos, etc. (new and old) in the church bulletin. (Encourage your people to be discerning. Not every book that claims to be “Christian” is true to Scripture.)

¤ You could purchase books (especially Bibles) to be used as awards for Sunday School attendance, or for presentation to your high school, or college graduates.

¤ You could encourage the people in your church to consider buying materials from the store to be used as birthday or Christmas gifts.

¤ You could ask the proprietor of the store to come and make a brief presentation in a Sunday Service.

¤ You could allow the book store to set up a book table at a Christmas Banquet or other special occasion.

¤ You could encourage your teachers and other leaders to avail themselves of workshops and teacher training sessions often sponsored by these stores.

¤ You could promote the store with an occasional poster on the bulletin board.

¤ You could encourage people to pray for the store and those who work there. (I recently talked to the owner of one such store. He said that in the past couple of years or so they have had $4,000 worth of vandalism– broken windows, eggs thrown at the side of the building, etc.) Prayer for God’s protection and guidance is important for them.)

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) 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.

4) Check out EXPLORING CHRISTIANITY, 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.


Those familiar with the individual books MacArthur has produced on various Bible books, or with the MacArthur Study Bible, will know what to expect. Dr. John MacArthur is both a pastor and a careful expositor of the Scriptures. The MacArthur Bible Commentary (published in 2005 by Thomas Nelson Publishers) is a commentary over 2,000 pages in length. It covers every verse of Scripture, based on the text of the New King James Version. The subtitle, also described as MacArthur’s credo over more than 35 years of ministry is “unleashing God’s truth one verse at a time.” This is a good basic commentary. Recommended. Check it out at MacArthur Bible Commentary.

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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