Religions hate the Bible

My most recent post was about THE distinguishing mark of “religions,” where I argued that the common trait of all false religions was that they could function and continue to exist if Jesus Christ had never existed. This is true because religions are invented by Satan to prevent people from encountering Jesus Christ and thus being saved.

While intentionally obscuring the Lord Jesus is THE distinguishing mark of religions, another distinction of all religions is that they hate the Bible and therefore do everything in their power to prevent people from reading the Bible, which is the word of the living God.

SATAN’S ATTACK ON THE WORD OF GOD

            We first meet Satan in Genesis 3, where he appears in the Garden as a serpent. The very first thing that the serpent asks Eve is, “Has God said . . ?” As the father of lies (John 8:44), since the beginning Satan has been calling into question the truth of the word of God, and in the Garden his temptation resulted in sin and the fall of man.

            And since Satan hates the word of God, so the false religions he invents hate the word of God, as well. False prophets and false teachers are the primary means that religions use to attack the word of God. Thus, the Bible contains many warnings about false prophets. In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 we read how false prophets lead astray the unsuspecting. In Jeremiah 23, the whole chapter is devoted to warning about false prophets and the judgment that will fall on them. Jesus’ most excoriating words were reserved for the scribes and Pharisees because their teaching distorted the Word of God (Matthew 23). The book of Jude is essentially devoted to a warning about false teachers. To say it again, religions hate the Bible and their first line of attack of the Bible is through false prophets.

THE WORD OF GOD, THE BIBLE, HAS ALWAYS BEEN ATTACKED

            The Bible as the word of God has always been a target of attack for Satan and his false religions. We have already seen that, in Genesis 3, the serpent asked, “Has God said?” In Jeremiah 36:20-26 we read how King Jehoiakim slowly burned the scroll of Jeremiah by cutting it off the scroll and throwing it into the brazier. Ever since it was written, the Bible has been attacked by religions. The Bible has been destroyed by burning and shredding and being outlawed, the Bible has been distorted by twisting its meaning and intentionally misreading and misinterpreting it, and the Bible has been denounced by claims that the stories are myths, and the truths are mere opinions or outright lies.

            False religions have hunted down people who read or preached the Bible to persecute them and kill them. William Tyndale was pursued and tracked down and finally burned at the stake simply because he translated the Bible into the English language. Religions forbid owning or reading Bibles and they kill those who defy their prohibitions. There are 52 countries on the planet today where it is illegal to own a Bible, with varying degrees of penalties.

            Finally, there are several religions which have their own sacred books which are written in an attempt to destroy the uniqueness of the Bible. “You have your holy book, but we have our holy book, too, and your book is no different from ours.” These books are clumsily written musings from one author and are obviously of man-made origin, but they are passed off as being profound. The purpose of these books must be clearly understood. Their purpose is to obscure the Bible, to malign the Bible, to reduce the Bible to the mere musings of an ancient people with no relevance for today, to make sure that no one takes the Bible seriously and thus comes to faith in the Lord Jesus. It is evident, then, that religions hate the Bible.

WHY DO RELIGIONS HATE THE BIBLE?

            We have touched on this already, but we need to answer the question, “Why do religions hate the Bible?” In other words, what is it about the Bible that religions want to silence or leave unknown? Here are some of the reasons that occur to me:

  • Because the Bible is the truth (John 17:17 – “Your Word is truth.”) and Satan and his religions hate the truth.
  • Satan and his religions are liars (John 8:44 – “He (Satan) is the father of lies.”) and are opposed to the truth and love lies (see above).
  • The Bible tells the truth, and the truth sets us free (John 8:32). Religions do not want you to be set free from sin or to be set free from the chains of their religion.
  • The Bible exposes the darkness and people love the darkness of their sin (John 3:19-21; Ephesians 5:12-13). Religions are okay with darkness and allow all kinds of sin, and do not want you to know about the darkness and the Light.
  • The Bible shows us how to be saved from our sins (2 Timothy 3:15).
  • The Bible is the book that tells people about the living God, about the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, about sin and the consequences of sin, about the coming judgment, about the wrath of God, about heaven and hell, about salvation, and about the gospel that declares that through faith in Jesus Christ and belief in His death and resurrection as the means of my salvation, any sinner can be forgiven of their sins and reconciled to God forever. Religions do not want you to know any of these things and they, therefore, do everything in their power to prevent you from reading the Bible and discovering these truths.

APPLICATIONS

            This post and the previous post are intended to keep us alert for the encroachment of false religions, especially as our age becomes more confusing and godless. Jesus warned us to be alert for false prophets (Matthew 7:15-23) and told us that, at the end of the age, false prophets and false Christs will arise and will almost mislead the elect (Matthew 24:24). False prophets are the ministers of false religions whose intent is to obscure Christ and lead people into the broad way of destruction. So, we need to be alert to these things and run away from any so-called church or group that does not love the Bible and the Savior whom the Bible reveals.

            Most importantly, we as believers need to be people of the Bible. At least for now, in America we continue to have the privilege of being able to read our Bibles anywhere and anytime we choose. Many Christians in the world, both today and in the past, have not had this privilege. We must be good stewards of our Bibles and diligently read and memorize them, and we must proclaim the truths of the Bible to others so that God may be glorified.

“For You have exalted above all things Your name and Your Word (Psalm 138:3).”     

SDG                 rmb                 12/21/2020

Herod believed in the Messiah (Matthew 2)

There are so many fascinating themes that are operating simultaneously in Matthew chapter 2 that it can be hard to decide where to focus. This article will center on Herod, the king in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth, but I want to bring in a number of players to capture all the richness of the passage.

THE MAGI

To start with, let’s look at the characters who are on-stage in this scene of the biblical play. There are magi (wise men) from the east who come to Jerusalem. “Where is He who is born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him (2:2).” Who were these men? Why did they come such a long way? How did they know that the star signaled “the king of the Jews?” We cannot say for certain, but we can give some educated speculations. These men were probably astrologers and necromancers from Persia or Babylon. Because they were astrologers who studied the stars, about two years ago they had noticed the appearance of a new and unusual star in the night sky. Since they were from Persia or Babylon and were in that part of their culture that would have been familiar with ancient writings, it is possible that these magi were aware of the stories of the Hebrews and of their God, Yahweh. It is possible that may have known some of the Hebrew Scriptures and had heard about a coming Anointed One. They may have heard ancient stories about the prophet Daniel and about his prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, which gave an idea of when this Anointed One, this Messiah would appear. What other explanation would there be for a group of men traveling for up to two years to follow a star? And how else do we explain their words to Herod? These magi were searching for the King of the Jews. These pagan Gentiles saw a new star appear and they connected the dots and decided that nothing was more important than that they find Him who was born King of the Jews. Then, when the magi find the Child, the fall down before Him and worship Him and give Him expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. After worshiping the new King, they return “to their own country by another way (2:12).”

KING HEROD

Next, we meet king Herod. Scripture does not tell us a lot about him, but it does tell us enough. Herod was the king in Jerusalem, and he intended to remain king. His actions reveal that he is cruel, that he is deceptive and cunning, and that he is insecure, which is a particularly unpleasant recipe. He had been in power more than thirty years when the magi arrived. While the magi sought to worship the new King and shower Him with gifts (2:2, 11), Herod saw the child as a rival and as a threat to his reign and immediately sought to kill Him.

It is clear from this account in Matthew 2 that Herod believed both that the Hebrew Scriptures were true and that this new King was the promised Messiah. How do we know that? We know that based on what Herod did. When the magi told Herod about a star and about worshiping a new king, “Herod was troubled (2:3).” He figured out that this new king was the Messiah and he wanted to know where to find Him so he could kill Him. So, believing that this new King was the Messiah, Herod went to the chief priests and scribes and asked them where the Messiah was to be born. He went to the chief priests and the scribes because they knew the Scriptures, and Herod believed the Scriptures would tell him the truth about the Messiah’s birthplace. When they told him about Bethlehem and Micah 5:2, Herod sent the magi there to confirm the prophecy. Then they were to return to him so that Herod could “worship Him,” also.

It is good to pause here and reflect on this. Herod believed that the Scriptures were true and that Jesus, the newborn King, was the long-awaited Messiah. Instead of rejoicing, however, his response was hatred and murder. Herod did not need a Messiah that demanded his worship and that threatened his worldly pleasures and power. Yes, Herod sought to kill the Messiah rather that worship Him. Sadly, that is what many in the world still try to do. Many find out about our glorious Savior who passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14) to be born in Bethlehem and to be crucified on a cross and reject Him rather than worship Him.

When Herod’s plot to use the magi as his accomplices in killing this new King fails (2:16), he has all the male children in the area of Bethlehem slaughtered so that he can still succeed in eliminating this messianic threat. Again, his vicious use of the sword does not land on the Messiah, for His parents had fled with Christ to Egypt to escape Herod’s wickedness.

SATAN

            There is another character in this drama who is active behind the scenes, and who will not step on-stage until Chapter 4, and that is Satan. Although Herod is the human agent for the cruelty and the wickedness that is unleashed to kill the Messiah, and while Herod is fully responsible for his wicked acts, behind these acts is the one who is “a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).” Satan is the one who was the first to hate the Messiah, and in Matthew chapter 2, he is the one who is doing everything in his power to destroy Jesus the Messiah. Since that day in the Garden when he was cursed for his deception (Genesis 3:14), Satan has been bent on stopping the Messiah from “bruising his head (Genesis 3:15).” Despite his best efforts, somehow the Messiah has snuck past his defenses and has been born in Bethlehem, exactly as the Scriptures said would happen. “More than that, when He was a ‘sitting duck’ in the manger in Bethlehem, somehow He still eluded us and has now disappeared somewhere into the backwoods of Israel. Well, maybe that’s the last we’ll see of Him. Maybe He’s disappeared for good.” (See Revelation 12:4-6 for more of Satan’s activity against the Messiah.)

SDG                rmb                9/18/2020

Satan: The powerful pawn

The Bible knows him by various names and titles. He is the serpent of old, the devil, the tempter, the adversary, the prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, the red dragon, Satan, star of the morning, son of the dawn, the anointed cherub, the accuser of the brethren, the father of lies, and a murderer from the beginning. In his first appearance in the Garden of Eden, he tempted Eve, who gave to Adam, and thus the whole human race was plunged into sin and death. He is, indeed, the most powerful of God’s created beings, and he is entirely opposed to everything holy and righteous and good.

Since Satan is opposed to all holiness and goodness, he is opposed to Jesus Christ and is opposed to Jesus’ church. Satan hates Christ and hates Christ’s church and hates every member of Christ’s church. He is “our adversary, the devil” who “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).” Make no mistake about it, if you are a follower of the Lord Jesus, the devil is seeking to devour you. His goal is your destruction. He aims to ruin your testimony, to silence your proclamation of the gospel, to cause you shrink back from your faith, and to deny the faith when he threatens you with loss. When you, as a believer, sin, you have fallen prey to his schemes. Satan rejoices in your sin, because in that sin you have listened to Satan rather than trusted and obeyed the Lord. Yes, Satan is certainly a dangerous foe to the believer, and we are wise when we are alert to his temptations and his deceptions and are aware of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11). The believer should diligently defend his holiness and make sure that the devil does not have easy access to our heart, for he desires to bring about your sudden destruction.

But while Satan is a formidable and dangerous adversary to us, he is merely a created being to the Lord God. Part of the reason that the devil sometimes has a larger-than-life persona for believers is because we insist on viewing him from a human perspective and focusing on how he appears to us. David did not go out to meet Goliath in his own strength, but he went out in the name of the LORD of hosts. “Today the LORD will deliver you into my hands (1 Sam 17:45-46).” For the LORD, Goliath was just an overgrown uncircumcised Philistine, and he would fall dead just like any other man of dust. In the same way, we do not encounter Satan in our own strength. We stand firm against the schemes of the devil because we stand firm clothed in the Lord’s armor (Ephesians 6:11ff). We can have no fear of the devil because Jesus Christ has already crushed him and destroyed him by His finished work on the cross (Genesis 3:15; I John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15).

HOW THE LORD VIEWS SATAN

Now let us think about how the Lord God views Satan. First, it is given that the Lord is the sovereign Creator of all things and of all beings. He has created all things for His purpose, and He has ordained all things that will come to pass, from the first events of Genesis 1 to the final events of Revelation. And it is evident that the Lord God created Satan, for Satan is a created being. While understanding the fullness of God’s purposes is beyond human ability (Psalm 131), the Lord has revealed to us many details of His purposes in His Word, the Bible. As we study the pages of the Bible and see what God has revealed to us about Satan, we see that the devil has been created with his unique powers and his wickedness for a specific purpose. The devil is the tempter and the accuser and the liar, and much more, but it is those very qualities that define his area of usefulness. Satan is the Lord’s powerful pawn who spends the vast majority of the divine drama of history in complete obscurity. It is only when his unique “talents” and “abilities” are needed that he is summoned onto the stage to perform his part, to say his lines, and then to exit the stage until “an opportune time (Luke 4:13)” when he is needed again. We must remember that the Lord is the playwright, the director, and the producer of history. He has already written the script, and He has, in eternity past, chosen the cast. In time and space, the Lord created the heavens and the earth, the stage for the drama. “Let there be lights, camera, action!” And history began. But the grand play of human history is not unfolding randomly. No! The drama is unfolding in perfect agreement with the way it was scripted in eternity past by the sovereign Lord of all. And so, Satan does not come and go as he pleases, nor does he ad-lib his lines. Rather, his performance is directed by the Lord and is in perfect agreement with the divine script.

SATAN: THE SUPPORTING ACTOR

When is Satan called on to make an appearance? Satan’s main role is to appear in one of his various forms to tempt someone, so that their obedience will be tested. He also enters the drama at the end of the age when he brings about the great tribulation against the church. Other than some small bit parts here and there, that’s about it. If Satan were a real actor in the world today, he would be starving! There just isn’t a lot of work on the world’s stage for an extremely evil guy like the devil! Let’s quickly examine his major supporting roles in Scripture.

Genesis 3. The Scene – the fall of mankind. Satan’s role is to tempt the first Adam to test his obedience and his righteousness. Our adversary appears as a “serpent more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made (Genesis 3:1).” His first words create doubt about the word of the LORD God. “Did God actually say?” His next words declare that God lied about the wages of sin, telling Eve instead that she can sin with impunity. “You will not surely die,” even though the LORD God had clearly said that you would (2:17). His final words in this scene suggest that God is not good and that He is keeping good things from Eve and Adam. So, Eve takes of the forbidden fruit and gives to Adam. The results are that the serpent, Satan, is cursed; in the future, the Messiah will come to crush Satan’s head; Adam has failed the obedience test; and Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden and from God’s presence because of their sin.

Why is Satan summoned? One reason is that there are only a few actors to choose from at this point in the drama. Also, Satan is the most evil and the most deceptive of God’s creatures. Satan is the one the LORD calls to test Adam.

 Job 1, 2. The Scene – The wager between God and Satan, with Satan claiming that Job only obeys God because the LORD protects Job. The LORD then allows Satan to test Job to see if Job will continue to obey even when his earthly prosperity and possessions are taken away. So, we see that Satan is summoned “from going to and fro on the earth (1:7)” and is pointed to “My servant Job” so that Job can be tested.

Why is Satan summoned? Satan is summoned because he is the only one powerful enough to ruin Job’s prosperity and to bring about Job’s physical affliction, and who hates God and man enough to bring about Job’s undeserved misery.

Matthew 4:1-11. The Scene – The testing and vindication of the Second Adam. Jesus has just been baptized (Matthew 3:13-17) and, as the first act of His earthly ministry, He is “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (4:1).” Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights and then is approached by the tempter (Satan). The tempting of the first Adam should be kept in mind as the tempting of the Second Adam takes place. Satan calls Jesus’ identity into question (“If You are the Son of God . . .”), he tempts Jesus to obey him rather than God (“command these stones to become loaves of bread”), he twists the Word of God using parts of Psalm 91 (remember Genesis 3:1, “Did God really say?”), and he offers Jesus everything He could possibly desire in this world, if Jesus will worship him. Jesus perfectly resists all of Satan’s temptations with the word of God (“it is written”), and then commands Satan to depart (“Begone, Satan!”). which Satan obeys. Thus, the Second Adam conquers Satan and resists all his temptations in the very sphere where the first Adam failed.

Why is Satan summoned? Satan is summoned because it was Satan who caused the fall of the first Adam. Satan needed to be defeated by the perfect Second Adam. It was Satan who caused the ruin of the human race, so Satan needed to be confronted by the Redeemer. It was Satan who caused death to enter the world, so it was fitting that Satan be conquered by the Lord who brought in eternal life. Satan is summoned onto the stage because his crushing defeat in the wilderness proves that the Son of God has also appeared on the stage. Satan, the most evil one, can only be vanquished by the Holy One.

Revelation 12, 13, 16, 20. The Scene – The final rebellion against the Lord and attack against the church before Jesus Christ returns. In this scene, Satan takes the form of a red dragon and is allowed to persecute the church. In chapter 12 the dragon “has come down to you in great wrath (12:12),” “he pursued the woman (the church) who had given birth to the male child (12:13),” and “he became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring (12:17).” Satan is allowed to vent his hatred on the church. In chapter 13, Satan raises up an accomplice, “the beast,” who “is allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them (13:7).” The dragon, along with the beast, and the false prophet, assemble for the battle (16:14). Satan’s final scene is in Revelation 20:8-10 where he gathers the nations for battle. They “surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven, and the devil is thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Why is Satan summoned? Satan is summoned because he is the one uniquely qualified to be the ultimate rebel against the Lord. He is the only one powerful enough to organize and execute this battle against the Lord and His church.

CONCLUSION – THE MAIN POINT

While from our perspective the devil is a powerful and formidable enemy, from the Lord’s perspective Satan is merely a special pawn whom He has created for His use in bringing about His redemptive plan for history. We must remember that Satan is cursed by the LORD God near the beginning of Genesis and then in Revelation 20 is finally thrown into the lake of fire, while we believers are “chosen by the Lord before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)” so that the Lord might “demonstrate the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy whom He prepared beforehand for glory (Romans 9:23).” Therefore, we should have a healthy respect for Satan’s power, we should not fear him because we are protected from him by the Lord of hosts.

SDG                 rmb                 9.13.2020