“The New Birth” offered by Purpose Institute

Beginning this Saturday, August 13, 2022, I will teach the Purpose Institute course The New Birth. The course will be offered both on the campus of New Life Church in Cabot, Arkansas, and by Zoom, beginning at 10:40 a.m. and concluding at 1:10 p.m on the following dates:

  • August 13, 2022
  • September 10, 2022
  • October 15, 2022
  • November 5, 2022

I will be teaching on Zoom, and Larry Gimnich, Associate Pastor of New Life Church will host the on-campus presence of Purpose Institute. He can be reached by email at lgimnich@newlifecabot.com.

I have been teaching courses for Purpose Institute for quite a few years, including The New Birth course, and I look forward to this, which will include some new material I have not presented previously.

Daniel L. Segraves, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Urshan Graduate School of Theology

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The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 13

In Lesson 12 of our series of lessons on The Addiction of Sin, we began to consider Keith Miller’s proposed adaption of the Twelve-step Program. Here is Step One:

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our Sin — that our lives had become unmanageable. (Compare with Romans 7:15-25.)

To see why we recommended Romans 7:15-25 to provide insight on Step One, I recommend going back and reading Lesson 12 again.

Now, let’s look at Step Two:

Step Two: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Consider Lamentations 5:21.)

I selected Lamentations 5:21 here because the “Power” greater than ourselves is not merely an impersonal “power” that is greater than us. Lamentations identifies the One greater than ourselves who can restore us as the LORD (Yahweh) (Lamentations 1:5). The next to last verse of the book reads: “Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:21).

We cannot turn ourselves; only our Lord can turn us. Only He can restore us and return us to what we once were. This is not merely a return to sanity. It is a restoration to spiritual wholeness. It is a release from addiction

In Lesson 14, we will look at Keith Miller’s third proposed step in his adaption of the Twelve-Step Program.

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In Lesson 12 of our series of lessons on The Addiction of Sin, we began to consider Keith Miller’s proposed adaption of the Twelve-step Program. Here is Step One:

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our Sin — that our lives had become unmanageable. (Compare with Romans 7:15-25.)

To see why we recommended Romans 7:15-25 to provide insight on Step One, I recommend going back and reading Lesson 12 again.

Now, let’s look at Step Two:

Step Two: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Consider Lamentations 5:21.)

I selected Lamentations 5:21 here because the “Power” greater than ourselves is not merely an impersonal “power” that is greater than us. Lamentations identifies the One greater than ourselves who can restore us as the LORD (Yahweh) (Lamentations 1:5). The next to last verse of the book reads: “Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:21).

We cannot turn ourselves; only our Lord can turn us. Only He can restore us and return us to what we once were. This is not merely a return to sanity. It is a restoration to spiritual wholeness. It is a release from addiction

In Lesson 14, we will look at Keith Miller’s third proposed step in his adaption of the Twelve-Step Program.

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Standing on Holy Ground …

A group of days close together on the calendar have special significance for Susan and me. They began last Friday, June 11, Susan’s birthday. They continued yesterday, June 13, the anniversary of the day nine years ago that I sent Susan the text message inviting her to enjoy the Ambassadors of Harmony concert with me two days later. She accepted, and on June 15 our first date led to speculation among our friends that we would marry before the general conference of the United Pentecostal Church that Fall. Their speculations became true prophecies. On June 24, 2013, as we were returning from lunch at Josephine’s Tea Room in Godfrey, Illinois, I asked Susan, “Will you marry me?” She said. “I will!” We married on September 28, 2013. We have enjoyed a blessed and happy marriage.

Susan and I had both lost our spouses. She had been married to Robert Fuller for forty one years, and Judy and I had been married for forty six. These marriages were also blessed. We like to add those years together with the nine years we have been married and to tell people we have been married ninety six years!

After breakfast this morning, I went to the piano to play a brief version of “Standing on Holy Ground.” Part way through, I looked up and there Susan stood with her iPhone, peeking around the corner to video the event. Life with her is always a joyful experience. We are truly standing on holy ground.

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The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 11

In our previous ten lessons, we have considered the possibility that sin can be characterized as an addiction. Some may at first reject this idea, thinking that somehow if we use this language it could soften our view of sin and make it more acceptable. In the final analysis, however, what matters is how sin is described in Scripture. If there is a biblical warrant for thinking of sin in a certain way, regardless of the vocabulary we use, that inspired insight should help us deal with habitual sin.

I recall seeing a billboard in Modesto, California that read as follows: “O Lord, please give me hatred for the sin I love.” I don’t know who was responsible for that message, nor do I know the specific sin that person loved. But I do know all sin is destructive and serves to separate us from fellowship with God. Whatever we can do to find freedom from sin, we must. As John wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin” (I John 2:1a, NKJV). But that is not the end of the verse. He continued to write, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1b, NKJV).

Later in the same chapter, John tells us not to love the world or the things in the world. The reason for this is that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (I John 2:15). But what does it mean to love the world or the things in it? This is summed up in the next verse in three brief terms:

For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world (I John 2:16, NKJV).

The word translated “lust” refers to strong desires. Although we can’t work out all the details of this in a brief blog, it would be accurate to say the three statements of concern to John describe pride, greed, and moral impurity. These sins may be manifested in many ways, but when reduced to their essence, they are “all that is in the world.” The world has nothing lasting to offer, but there is something that does:

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:17, NKJV).

In future lessons, we will look at Keith Miller’s proposed adaptation of the Twelve Step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. This will not be a substitute for biblical insight. As we consider each step, we will compare it to what Scripture says in relation to that idea to see if rings true. If so, it may open our eyes to practical ways we can apply powerful truths to struggles that have long frustrated us spiritually.

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The Messiah in the Psalms Lesson 4

Psalms

September 24, 2017

The Sanctuary | Hazelwood, Missouri

By Daniel L. Segraves[1]

The placement of Psalm 1 makes it an obvious introduction to the entire Psalter. It pronounces a blessing on “the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1), imply­ing that walking in the counsel to be found in the Book of Psalms is the source of blessing.

Psalm 1 is known as a Torah, or law, psalm, because it describes the blessed man as one who delights “in the law of the Lord” and who meditates “in His law . . . day and night” (Psalm 1:2). The word torah means “instruction,” and it is used (as is its New Testament equivalent, nomos) with a variety of mean­ings. Here, it is apparently not a reference to the Law of Moses, but to the psalms themselves. In other words, Psalm 1:2 does not mean that the reader would be better off meditating on the law of Moses than in the psalms! The psalms offer wise instruction and godly counsel.

Psalm 1, a Torah psalm, is connected conceptually with Psalm 2, a royal, messianic psalm. This is a pattern in the Psalter. Psalm 19, another Torah psalm (see Psalm 19:7-8), is connected with Psalms 20-21, royal, messianic psalms (see Psalm 20:6). Psalm 119, a Torah psalm (see Psalm 119:1 [the word “law” appears in Psalm 119 twenty-five times]), is connected to the section of psalms known as Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134), with their royal, messianic focus (see Psalm 132:10-18). For the Torah psalms to be attached to royal, messianic psalms in this way follows an ancient method of interpretation by attachment. In other words, to attach the messianic psalm to the Torah psalm serves to provide interpretation for the Torah psalm. The concept of law must be interpreted in connection with the concept of the Messiah.

Psalm 1 begins by pronouncing a blessing upon the person who delights in the law (torah, “instruction,” a reference here to Scripture) of the Lord (Psalm 1:2); Psalm 2 ends by pronouncing a blessing on all who put their trust in the Son, the Messiah (Psalm 2:12b). The idea presented here is that meditation upon the Scripture leads to trust in the Messiah. The word translated “trust” (chasah) is used in the Old Testament with the same essen­tial meaning as the New Testament words “faith” and “believe.” The meaning of chasah is “to take refuge.” This helps us under­stand the New Testament pistis (“faith”) and pisteuo (“I believe”), which are used essentially as synonyms for the Old Testament “trust.” Both New Testament words have to do with trust.

Contrary to a view that arose during the twentieth century, biblical faith is not about some kind of mental perspective, manipulation, or gymnastics by which one cajoles God into ful­filling one’s desires. Faith is not, in the strictest sense, a way of thinking. It is trust in God in the sense of taking refuge in Him in time of trouble and believing Him to be who He claims to be and to do what He promises to do.

The “counsel of the ungodly . . . the path of sinners . . . the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1) is a series of terms further described in Psalm 2:1 as plotting “a vain thing.” The “counsel of the ungodly” is seen in Psalm 2:2 as “the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed [the Messiah].” It is ungodly counsel that leads kings and rulers to say, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us” (Psalm 2:3).

Psalm 1 declares of the ungodly that they are “like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. . . . the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:4-6). According to Psalm 2, this happens because “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in deri­sion. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure” (Psalm 2:4-5). The Messiah will “break them [the nations that follow ungodly counsel] with a rod of iron . . . [and] dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9). The Son will be angry with those who do not kiss Him—as an act of respect and homage—and they will “perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little” (Psalm 2:12).

The person who rejects the ungodly counsel that encourages people to cast off loyalty to the Lord and His Messiah and who instead delights and meditates in the Scripture will, in contrast to the fate of those who rebel, “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither” (Psalm 1:3). The wise man is like a healthy, fruitful, enduring tree. The man who follows ungodly counsel is like chaff. The wind will drive him away; he will perish. (See Psalm 1:6; 2:12.)

The response of the Lord to those who follow ungodly coun­sel is to laugh and to hold them in derision (Psalm 2:4). In wrath, He will speak to them and distress them. The distressing proclama­tion the Lord makes to those who seek to rebel is this: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6). In their desire to cast off the authority of the Lord and His Messiah, the people are plotting “a vain thing” (Psalm 2:1). It is vain because God has set His king, the Messiah, on Zion. The plotting of the ungodly will do nothing to change that. He will not neglect the covenant He made with David. (See II Samuel 7:8-17; Psalm 89:34-37.)

The Messiah says, “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel’ ” (Psalm 2:7-9).

The idea of the Messiah as the “begotten Son” is an important theme in the New Testament. In some cases, the New Testament quotes Psalm 2:7 directly (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5), but there are allusions to Psalm 2:7 as well (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; I John 4:9). If the words of Psalm 2 were ever used in conjunction with the ascension of one of David’s descendants to the throne, that merely human king would have, in that context, been considered “the anointed” and the “begotten son.” But the purpose for the place­ment of this psalm in the Psalter was not to preserve ascension for­mulas, but to point to the ultimate anointed One, the Son of God.

The only wise response for the rulers of the earth was to “be instructed . . . serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trem­bling” and to “kiss the Son” (Psalm 2:10-12). They should aban­don their vain attempt to rebel and should rather put their trust in the Messiah. If they would abandon their ungodly counsel and meditate in Scripture, this was what they would do.

Psalms 1-2 introduce the contrast between the “righteous” (tsaddiq) and the “ungodly” (rasha) that continues throughout the Psalter.

The early church saw Psalm 2 as being fulfilled in the actions of Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the unbelieving Gentiles and Jews. (See Acts 4:24-28.)

[1] The content of this lesson is from Daniel L. Segraves, The Messiah in the Psalms: Discovering Christ in Unexpected Places (Hazelwood, MO: WAP Academic, 2007), 25-28.