Matt Postiff's Blog

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Posted by Matt Postiff December 7, 2018 under Bible Texts  Family 

In Job 1:5, we learn that Job expressed his godliness by offering burnt sacrifices for each of his children. He was concerned that his children had sinned against God, and he wanted to do something about it. Before the time of Christ, and before the time of the Levitical priests in Israel, the role of priest fell to the patriarch of the family. Job was carrying out this role as family priest.

Parents today can demonstrate godliness by doing something like this for their children. Obviously the application of animal sacrifice has run its course and is now obsolete. But we can certainly be sensitive to the possibility that our children may have sinned and not dealt properly with it. In fact, our children may not know practically how to deal with sin. We must instruct them in this. We should pray for them regularly. We should do what we can to sanctify our children, that is, set them apart for God and godliness by example and by directive in their behavior.

The extra blessings that we possess today (Bible, churches, pastors, etc.) do not exempt us as parents from teaching our children. The Law of Moses explicitly taught the Jewish people to instruct their children constantly about the things of God. It seems to go without saying that the same principle applies to Christians today, even though we are not under the specific regulations of the Mosaic Law.

As I studied this, I wondered how I could implement the principle here with respect to my own children. I have sometimes prayed for my kids, having in my mind a thought like Job had in 1:5, but with the uncomfortable knowledge that no forgiveness would be extended by God without the child's own repentance.

So what is the point of us doing “priestly” activities today for others such as our children? There is no other mediator between God and men but the man Christ Jesus, so how can I as a parent be a kind of mediator, praying prayers that my children should pray, or offering confession that they should offer?

In the first place, I don't believe that God despises this parental prayer: "Lord, please forgive my children their sins." God can answer this heart cry, though not in a direct fashion. God won’t forgive the child merely for your prayer's sake, as if your prayer is of sufficient merit. But God hears the faithful and fervent prayer of the righteous parent, and answer by bringing the attitude of repentance to the child and thus forgiving the child through the normal means of confession and repentance on the basis of the blood of Christ.

Secondly, you can make that prayer more direct by asking God to grant repentance and forgiveness of sins to your offspring. God can do that—in fact, that is the business that God is in today as He calls sinners to Himself. Salvation is not an accident. It depends completely on the grace of God. God uses means, such as parental instruction, and church ministry, to accomplish it. But it comes through repentant faith, which is a gracious gift of God. Let us ask God for it for our children.

Third, you can express confession for your own sins in raising your children, which may be reflected in some measure in their own misdeeds. Perhaps you have erred in teaching them, or erred in your example, in such a way that has misled them and been a factor causing their sin. That doesn’t exempt them from responsibility or liability toward God, but it can be a factor.

Regarding the matter of interceding for adults in a sacrificial context as Job did in 42:8-9, that is similar to above. We cannot do this directly today. But we can pray for those who have sinned and ask the Lord to help them see their sin. We can direct them as to how to deal appropriately with their sin by appealing to God through Christ about it.


Posted by Matt Postiff November 1, 2018 under Church  Gospel 

This post may be most helpful to our friends who hold reformed theology. It has to do with the Old Testament revelation concerning the gospel and the church.

I believe that some people may not be observing an important difference indicated in the words of the apostle Paul in two sections of Scripture. Here they are:

...the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord...Romans 1:1-3
...the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery...which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel...Ephesians 3:2-6

In short, Paul is saying that the gospel of Christ was revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures, but that another truth—of Gentiles as fellow heirs, as part of the same body, and as partakers of God's promises—was not revealed there.

I think there may be a tendency to conflate the two. We see promises about Christ and we see promises about Gentiles in some connection with Christ. We automatically connect those to "church" even though Paul does not. He sees the two ideas as distinct enough that he can say one was revealed and one was not.

The distinction between gospel and church is fairly clear today. If for no other reason, we can see it in some of our friends who want to enjoy Christ's gospel, but not Christ's church. They are wrong to do this, of course, but the distinction is real nonetheless. It is true that the church partakes of Christ through the gospel, that is, the church builds on top of the gospel.

The gospel was quite clearly portrayed in the Old Testament (see Isaiah 53 for instance). The church, however, was not clearly portrayed. Don't mix the two, as if the revelation of one entails and makes clear the other. It does not, certainly not in Paul's mind.


Posted by Matt Postiff October 28, 2018 under Sanctification 

A dear friend in ministry, Mal Borden, gave me these two thoughts a while ago, and I just found them written down in some notes I kept.

#1: I cannot really control myself, but God will enable me to be controlled, and I can trust God to give me that ability.

#2: Perseverance is progress not derailed by trials or by time. It is not giving up or in for the sake of usefulness to Christ.


Posted by Matt Postiff October 26, 2018 under Society  Bible Texts 

I was reading in Acts 13 this morning, and came across this:

But Elymas the sorcerer...withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith (Acts 13:8).

Bad idea. The apostle Paul had to remove that barrier to the gospel, and he had supernatural abilities to do so. Elymas ended up being blind for an undetermined length of time.

This brought to my attention how seriously God takes it when someone attempts to keep others from the Christian faith. God hates that. And He will punish it.

Some other examples: Matthew 11:12, 19:13-14, 23:13; Acts 13:45; 1 Thessalonians 2:16.

So, all of you out there in society who are inclined to meddle in the faith-business of others--whether you are atheist or communist or whatever--please mind your own business. This advice is for your own good. If you are trying to keep children from learning the Christian faith so that they can make up their own mind, you are doing an awful disservice to them. Be aware that God takes note.

Maybe you are a parent and you don't want your kids to get "too involved" in Christianity. Maybe you want them to have a nice career instead of going into ministry or missions. Take care what you are doing!


Posted by Matt Postiff September 17, 2018 under Theology  Bible Texts 

We are often reminded that "there is none good, no not one." And that is true because of God's perfect standard of good. Nevertheless, God wants us to be good, and He is busy about transforming His people into good people.

Years ago, the former pastor of our church, known to some of you reading this, would routinely ask people how they were doing. You would think nothing of it, because it seemed to be the start of a routine conversation. “I’m good,” you would answer. “Wait a minute!” Pastor would reply with a loud voice. “The Bible says there is none good, no not one!” It was a real “gotcha” which worked because of the turn on the word ‘good’ in which it is being used in two different senses—one sense in your response and a different sense in Romans 3:12.

But in fact there are people whom God has deemed to call good because His salvation has made them good. His Word records a number of examples:

  • There is Barnabas, who "was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" (Acts 11:24).
  • "There was a man named Joseph (of Arimathea), a council member, a good and just man" (Lk. 23:50).
  • There was another Joseph, betrothed to Mary, who was a just man (Matthew 1:19).
  • There is a class of good men of whom Jesus spoke: "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things" (Matt. 12:35).
  • This is like the passage that says, "a good man obtains favor from the LORD" (Prov. 12:2) and "a good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children" (Prov. 13:22; see also 14:14).
  • There is Job, who "was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1:1 and repeated several other times).
  • Another was Cornelius. Others reported of him that "he is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people" (Acts 10:22). His Old Testament faith was completed as he believed in the Jewish Messiah.
  • Another was "Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there" (Acts 22:12).
  • Abraham was called "God's friend" (James 2:23). We cannot imagine God having a "friend" who is bad!
  • David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22).
  • Zacharias and Elizabeth "were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless" (Luke 1:6).
  • Phoebe was a servant of the church in Cenchrea who was a helper of many (Romans 16:1-2).
  • There are Priscilla and Aquila, and many others mentioned in Romans 16.

It is God’s business to turn people who are not good into people are who are. Justification declares us to be righteous based on the righteousness of another, so we are “good” in the estimation of God as He sees us in Christ. More than that, the initial gift of regeneration makes us into new people. This gives us the basic equipment we need to be genuinely good in practice. Through the ongoing process of sanctification, God gradually transforms us so that we become something different than we were. God is working to transform our behavior, our minds, our character, our attitudes, and everything about us so that we become good, like His Son. Yes, God is working to change our personalities—not to eliminate the beautiful diversity that distinguishes us from one another, but to progressively eradicate those sinful parts of our personalities until we reach glory.

Goodness is a gift from God. It is a communication of His infinite goodness to finite creatures. It is not something we work up to, pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. I am so thankful for that. But what to do when we fail to be good? We often fall short. Some temptation grabs hold of us. Some emotions or words come out which are contrary to the Spirit’s influence. We behave inappropriately.

In our failures, the ancient sage Job is a great example. God tells us that He was a good man. But even Job got off track when he spoke out of turn against God. In Job 40:3-5 and 42:1-6, Job admitted that he was wrong. He repented in dust and ashes. Then God declared that Job spoke what was right, and accepted him (42:7-9). Thanks to God that He is merciful to those with a contrite heart and a broken spirit.

The somewhat paradoxical truth of the situation is this: for a person to be godly, he must repent when he sins. Said another way, a good person responds to sin in her life by changing her mind about that sin, confessing it to the Lord and asking for help to avoid it in the future. The righteous repent. The unrighteous do not repent. Repentance is a mark of the righteous. Of course, a person who never sinned would never need repentance. But that is not our lot—not until after the rapture. And so, for us to be like Christ, we have to do something that Christ never had to do, and that is repent!

Take courage, dear friends! When you stumble, express to God that contrition that you know He loves. Be broken over sin, and God will receive your penitent prayer with openness, mercy, and grace.

The disciples asked the Lord if there were few who would be saved. The answer was, in short, yes. The door is narrow, and the way is difficult. The Lord wants a few good men. You probably know this phrase from the advertising slogan of the U.S. Marines. The phrase is known from 1799 (1779 by some accounts), when Captain William Jones advertised for “a few good men” to serve on the ship called Providence. That message has stuck for over 200 years. There is something special about being one of the “few,” especially when those few are good.

There are no good people in one sense. But, there are a few good people in another sense. May God multiply that tribe. May you all be “good ministers of Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 4:6) and “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

This article is cross-posted at dbts.edu/blog and at the Southern Sentinel..


Posted by Matt Postiff September 6, 2018 under Theology  Bible Texts 

The question from a church member today was somewhat involved, but it had to do with the reality of ghosts, whether deceased human spirits can roam outside of their proper abode (Heaven or Hell), and the difference between Hades and Hell.

Here is what I wrote in reply:

1. Sheol is a Hebrew word for "grave." That was seen by the Old Testament believer as the entry-way into the world of the dead. Both believers and unbelievers went to Sheol (Psalm 16:10, Jonah 2:2, Isaiah 14:11).

2. When a believer died in Old Testament times, his body was placed in the grave, and his soul went to Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:22). He cannot return to the land of the living, even as a ghost or spirit.

3. When an unbeliever died Old Testament times, his body was placed in the grave, and his soul went to Hades (Luke 16:23). Hades has a climate like Hell. He could not return to the land of the living. Therefore, "ghosts" as they are commonly known do not exist. He cannot cross the great gap between Hades and Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:26).

4. Today, when a believer dies, his body is placed in the grave, and his soul goes immediately up to heaven = paradise, not (in this present age) to Abraham's bosom. They cannot come back to "haunt" the living. They will be resurrected at the rapture or just before the millennial kingdom (1 Thess. 4:13-18, Daniel 12:2-3), and always be with Christ, in the new heaven and new earth.

5. Today, when an unbeliever dies, his body is placed in the grave, and his soul goes immediately to Hades, same as #3 above. He is stuck there until...

6. At the great white throne judgment, his soul and body are rejoined (resurrected) and he is judged (Revelation 20:11-15). Then he is cast into the lake of fire (= Hell) because he did not trust Christ.

7. Notice in Revelation 20:14 that Hades and Hell are two different things (one is thrown into the other!). That is almost always misunderstood by people today. Hades will be emptied out, and Hell will be filled with those people. As mentioned above, the climate of both places is basically the same (hot). It is my understanding that there is technically no one in Hell today. All unbelievers are in Hades. The first residents of Hell will be the beast and false prophet (Revelation 19:20). Not even Satan is in Hell. We know this, because the Bible says that he roams about like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). But he will go there (Revelation 20:10) after the millennial kingdom of Christ. Only then will all unbelievers go there (Revelation 20:15).

8. Are there "spirits" today? Yes. They are not "ghosts" as commonly thought, that is, the spirits of departed people. Rather, there are good angels and bad angels (= demons). And like Satan, the demons do roam about and do stuff in the world, and try to frustrate God's purposes and people. We can't see them; they are very stealthy; we can't even diagnose for sure when someone is afflicted with a demon. But that is OK, because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We can pray for people who are acting weird and ask God to save them. Typically demonic influence is far worse in cultures given over to paganism, witchcraft, voodoo, and the like. Christian-ized cultures are not as affected. Our culture was more Christian-ized in years past; it is becoming more paganized today. So, we will be seeing an increase in demonic activity.

9. Reiterate: those in Hades cannot come and go from earth. They are confined in punishment. And since no one is in Hell yet, they can't come and go from earth either. Those in heaven don't come and go from earth either. Here's why: What kind of heaven would it be if the people there could come back and see all the sin and evil and disasters that are happening here? It wouldn't be very joyful, would it? To make it even more clear, remember that the Bible says that absent from the body is present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). If you are present with the Lord (in heaven) that means you don't roam around in other places (the earth).


Posted by Matt Postiff August 13, 2018 under Theology 

Another short article that collects a few thoughts. Maybe they will be helpful to you.

1. God knows you.

2. You can know God (and in fact already do).

3. How? Through creation (Romans 1:19-20); through Jesus (John 14:8-9); and through the Bible as a whole.

4. Why is it important to know God? Because God says that we are to be holy as He is holy--so we must have some knowledge of Him. But this is impossible in and of ourselves because of our sin, so we must also know Jesus, who can take away our sin (1 John 3:5).

5. Trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon God (Isaiah 50:10). Return to the Lord, and He will have mercy (Isaiah 55:7).


Posted by Matt Postiff August 13, 2018 under Church 

Just some random thoughts for you:

What do you value in your church? Do you treasure the people?

Coming to listen to the sermon is NOT membership.

Is your partnership (= membership) in your church a meaningful one?

1 Timothy and Titus, among other NT books, advocate a church ordered in a certain fashion, with pastor(s) and deacons. Is your corporate spiritual life carried out in such a body? (Hint: a parachurch organization such as on campus, or a Bible study fellowship, is not a church.)


Posted by Matt Postiff August 6, 2018 under Theology 

Today's question:

If all Jews will be resurrected and enter the kingdom as Ezekiel 37:1-14 seems to indicate, then why should we evangelize Jews?

Before we dismiss the question on grounds that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again (which is true), we should pause and read Ezekiel 37:11-12. There, the Lord explains the vision in 37:1-10 about the dry bones. The bones represent the whole house of Israel, which will be resurrected from their graves, and they will be brought into the land of Israel. God will put His Spirit in them, and they will live (verse 14).

Does this mean that every Israelite who has ever lived will be blessed to enter the kingdom of Messiah and share in eternal life? If we couple this with Romans 11:25-27 and Zechariah 12:10-14, we might think we can make a case for the universal salvation of all Jews, regardless of their faith toward Messiah (or God, as they knew Him in the Old Testament). This all then sounds like there may be some kind of dual covenant salvation, with one way of salvation for Gentiles, and a different way for Jews.

Let me be clear that I do NOT believe like that.

I refer you to Ezekiel 20:33-38. When the Bible says that "and so all Israel will be saved," (Romans 11:25-27), the Ezekiel passage cautions us that this is not an "automatic pass" for all Jews. Verse 38 says, "I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD."

We can be certain of this: Paul is not saying that all Jews will be saved because of their Jewishness, regardless of their response to the Messiah. It is true that there will be a mass conversion of living Jews at the time of Christ's return, but evidently there will be some holdouts (rebels), who will be purged out of the nation as judgment for their unfaithfulness to God.

As for those Jewish people who die prior to the second coming, there is no second chance, post-mortem evangel, or "automatic pass" by which they will be resurrected to eternal life even though they rejected Jesus Christ. This is because they are not all Israel who are from Israel (Romans 9:6). That is to say, just because someone descends from Israel doesn't mean that they share the faith of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And since they don't have the faith, they don't share in eternal life. They don't share in real "Israel-ness" as God defines it, that is, as a combination of Jewishness and faithfulness.

So, there remains a great incentive to evangelize Jews, just as we need to evangelize Gentiles. All are under sin; all are guilty before God: both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 3:9).


Posted by Matt Postiff July 5, 2018 under Theology  Bible Texts 

Today's question comes from one of our young people:

Was Paul an apostle, and considered one of the twelve? How could he be if he did not see the Lord like the others?

I tried to keep the answer brief, so I didn't cite all the verses. But here it is: First, there were 12 apostles. But Judas was a bad apple, and wasn't genuine. So, after he betrayed the Lord, there were 11. Then after Jesus ascended to heaven, the 11 picked Matthias to become the new 12th apostle. He had been with them throughout Jesus' ministry and saw all the things they did.

Now, as for Paul, he definitely was an apostle (1 Timothy 2:7). But he is number 13. His selection was different than the others, because he saw the Lord on the road to Damascus after Jesus had already gone back to heaven (Acts 9:3-7, 17). He saw Jesus at other times too (Acts 22:18, probably also 2 Corinthians 12:4). He received the good news directly from the Lord (Galatians 1:12). His ministry was also somewhat unique, for God sent him to the Gentiles to preach Christ (Romans 11:13).


Posted by Matt Postiff June 28, 2018 under Theology  Bible Texts 

Last evening, Pastor John O'Dell taught our church family about the suffering of Christ on the cross from Matthew 27:45-46. The message was not recorded, but we captured the following points from his lesson. Christ's suffering on the cross...

  1. demonstrates the depth of God's love.
  2. demonstrates the vileness of sin.
  3. demonstrates the severity of God's judgment on sin.
  4. demonstrates the deceitfulness of the human heart, with regard to the people who witnessed His torture and suffering, yet were unmoved (Jeremiah 17:9).
  5. shows that believers will not be forsaken, because Jesus was forsaken for them.

Posted by Matt Postiff June 22, 2018 under Interpretation  Theology  Bible Texts 

How shall we interpret James 4:1-10? The entire book of James seems to be directed toward believers, at least generally so. But there is some very strong language in chapter 4 that seems to indicate readers who were heavy into sin, so much so that they might seem like unbelievers:

  • Wars
  • Fights
  • Desire for pleasure
  • Lust
  • Murder
  • Covet
  • Not asking God
  • Asking amiss
  • Spending on personal pleasures
  • Adulterers
  • Friendship with the world
  • Enmity with God
  • Spirit that yearns jealously
  • Proud
  • Sinners
  • Double-minded

This sounds suspiciously like the worldly wisdom mentioned in James 3:14-16. Where does this stuff come from? James identifies the source in verse 1: an internal heart problem where desires for pleasure are in control of the person's behavior.

Whether this is a description of a believer or not, none of this is good or acceptable. If a member of the church behaved consistently like this and without repentance, what would the church do? It would have to conclude that the person is not acting like a believer should act. It should then call the person to repent. The call would look something like this:

  • Submit to God
  • Resist the Devil
  • Draw near to God
  • Cleanse your hands
  • Purify your heart
  • Lament
  • Mourn
  • Weep
  • Turn laughter into mourning
  • Turn joy into gloom
  • Humble yourself before God

If the person responds properly with humble repentance, all will be well. If the person does not, then they are giving off strong evidence that they are not genuine in their profession of faith.

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