Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (“Good Luck”, Miscarriage Funeral, Art Azurdia, JMac NOT partnering with false teachers)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Why do you still have Art Azurdia on your “Recommended Bible Teachers” list?

Genuine thanks to those of you who reached out in concern about this. I appreciate your dedication to sound doctrine and to protecting me from my own absentmindedness.

As many of you may recall, Art was removed from ministry by his church over the summer for committing adultery. The day Trinity Church released their statement announcing this, I added an update to the article (the article was written in 2016 – two years prior to his removal) linking to it and explaining the situation. I have since tweaked that update for clarity. The update to my article reads:

On July 2, 2018, the elders of Trinity Church announced the removal of Art Azurdia as pastor due to sexually immorality. Art subsequently released his own statement of contrition and repentance and stepped down from all public ministry. While Art’s sin does not change the doctrinal soundness of his previous books and materials, you may wish to use this information as a factor in deciding whether or not to use or continue using his previously released sermons and materials. Should Art take it upon himself to return to ministry in the future, I will not recommend him as he has disqualified himself from the biblical requirements (1 Timothy 3/Titus 1) for ministry. The above information now applies only to Art’s sermons and materials predating July 2, 2018.

Art has dropped off the face of the earth for all intents and purposes. With regard to public ministry, it is as if he died on July 2. His adultery does not magically change the content of his previously released sermons and materials from doctrinally sound to doctrinally unsound. Therefore, I am making the judgment call to leave the information in the article with the update and let people follow their consciences and decide for themselves whether or not to use his old materials.

Update (12/19/18)- Due to further information that has been shared with me privately from a firsthand source directly involved with the Art Azurdia situation, I have reversed my decision and have removed him from my list of recommended teachers. He is not someone I would now proactively recommend.


Did you know John MacArthur is partnering with false teachers at a conference next year?

There is an ugly rumor going around that John MacArthur is partnering with Rick Warren (and other false teachers) at next year’s Proclaim 19, the annual National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention. He is not.

Dr. MacArthur has been asked to deliver a sermon at the convention in honor of his 50th year of broadcasting Grace to You as well as his 50th anniversary of pastoring Grace Community Church. His appearance at the convention has no connection to other speakers who are speaking at other times and at other events during the convention.

I believe part of the reason people are being deceived into believing that Dr. MacArthur is “partnering” or “sharing the stage” with false teachers at Proclaim 19 is that they do not understand the nature of this event. I attended a similar event a few years ago, the International Christian Retail Show, when my book, Jacob: Journaling the Journey first came out.

You need to understand that the NRB event, like the ICRS event I attended, is a products, services, and informational trade show for the people and ministries NRB serves, not a preaching and teaching Christian conference.

At a trade show, there’s a large arena with dozens or even hundreds of exhibitor booths. You walk around and look at what you’re interested in and what pertains to your ministry. You network with people you meet who are in your particular field. That’s it. That’s what you’re there for – a products and services fair – not to be taught the Bible. Some trade shows offer various tangential events, dinners, or lectures for attendees who might be interested in a particular niche topic. If you’re interested in the topic and/or speaker, you attend. If not, you don’t. It is at one of these “a la carte” types of events that Dr. MacArthur is speaking. As of today, the only other person appearing at that event is Joni Eareckson Tada, who will be singing some hymns.

Another thing to keep in mind about this event is that it is taking place over the course of four full days, and it’s a “come and go” type of thing. Thousands of people will attend at various times during the four days. At an event this large and fluid, it is very likely Dr. MacArthur won’t even lay eyes on Rick Warren or any of the other problematic personalities who will be attending, especially if, as could be the case with his busy schedule, Dr. MacArthur is only at the convention for a brief amount of time. I’m not sure how you can be “partnering with” or “sharing a stage with” someone you have no contact with and isn’t present at the event you’re speaking at.

The deceptive information that Dr. MacArthur is “partnering” or “yoking” with false teachers is being spread mainly by a YouTube personality called “Servus Christi” . Friends, intentionally or unintentionally, this man is a deceiver and a slanderer, and he is causing division in the Body.

In the same way that you can’t trust every pastor or teacher to be doctrinally sound, you also can’t trust that every self-proclaimed “discernment” ministry is biblical, and Servus Christi most certainly is not. He routinely goes after “big name” doctrinally sound pastors and teachers with ridiculous and spurious claims in order to make a name for himself. (For example, he has falsely accused Paul Washer twice this year- once for “partnering” with Hillsong, and once for “partnering” with an associate of the Pope.)

Please don’t be deceived by this man, and don’t spread his deceptions by sharing them around on social media. Here’s the truthful information about Dr. MacArthur’s appearance at Proclaim 19 (the screenshotted statement is from Phil Johnson, head of Grace to You) and about Servus Christi:

 

If you’re considering commenting on this article to:

• defend Servus Christi, Jacob Prasch, or any other “discernment” ministry that slanders doctrinally sound teachers,
or to
• accuse John MacArthur (or any other doctrinally sound teacher) of heresy for appearing at this convention or for any other reason,

please save yourself some time and effort. Your comment will not be published.


This question was asked publicly on Twitter:

Is it philosophically inconsistent not to have some sort of funeral or burial of a miscarried fetus if you believe that fetus to be a human being with equal value and rights from conception? Asking for my wife and [me].

Great question. And if this isn’t a hypothetical question, I’m so sorry for your loss.

I think people grieve and honor lost loved ones in different ways and that, biblically, this is a matter of conscience. If you and your wife would like to have a full-scale funeral and burial for your baby, then go ahead and do that. If you’d like to do something more akin to a memorial service, that’s something to consider as well. You could also do something on a smaller scale such as a prayer gathering of your closest family and friends in someone’s home. Or, you could choose to follow whatever the hospital’s policy is for taking care of the baby’s remains. My thought is that as long as the remains are treated respectfully, as with any other death in the family, this is really a decision between you, your wife, and the Lord. Again, my condolences.

Thank you for your response, condolences, advice, and encouragement. I think God has provided an option for us that both honors our baby and satisfies our consciences. Thank you again.

Friends, would you please take a moment to pray that God will comfort this gentleman and his wife during this sad time?


Help me to respond to Christians that say “Good luck!” “Wish me good luck!” “We were lucky!” etc., etc., etc.! For the life of me I don’t understand.

Well…here’s how I would respond:

Her: “Good luck!”
Me: “Thanks! I covet your prayers.”

Her: “Wish me luck!”
Me: (In a lighthearted, sweet manner) “I’ll do you one better, I’ll pray for you!” (and then do it)

Her: “We were lucky!”
Me: “Wow, God really blessed you!” or… “I’m so thankful God protected you!” Or something like that.

I would not make a big deal out of this, especially if you know the person is saved and generally doctrinally sound. Most people just say these things out of habit and culture. It doesn’t mean they’re into New Age spirituality or anything like that. I mean, I eat Lucky Charms for breakfast sometimes, and I’m not into any of that. :0) It might make an interesting topic for Sunday School or Bible study class, though, just to help everybody become more aware of the things we say and why we say them.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Ruth Bible Study

Ruth: Lesson 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

Ruth 4

Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down.And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly refresh your memory on Deuteronomy 25:5-10 (God’s instructions for levirate marriage), and read Leviticus 25:23-28 (God’s instructions for selling and redeeming property). Compare the actions of Boaz and the other redeemer (1-10) to these two passages. Did both of them obey the law? Since Boaz is a type of Christ, how does his fulfillment of this law point us to Christ’s fulfillment of the Law? Compare Boaz’s obedience to the law in order to redeem Ruth to Christ’s obedience to the Law in order to redeem sinners.

2. Why do you think Boaz first proffered the sale of the property to the other redeemer rather than mentioning Ruth first? (3-5)

3. Compare the other redeemer’s unwillingness to bear the cost of redeeming Ruth (6) with Boaz’s willingness to endure great cost to himself to redeem Ruth (9-10). How does this point us to Christ’s willingness to empty Himself of the riches of Heaven to redeem sinners?

4. Examine verses 9-10. Would you characterize this business transaction more as an investment for financial gain or the purchase of a debt? Who stood to gain materially from this transaction, Ruth or Boaz? How? When Christ redeemed us by purchasing us with His blood, who stood to gain from that transaction, Him or us? Read these passages, and examine Christ’s purchase of our sin debt and the benefit we receive at salvation by His righteousness being imputed to us.

5. Notice the impact Ruth and Naomi’s story had on the women of the town who had been watching these events transpire. (13-17) How were Ruth’s, Naomi’s, and Boaz’s godly behavior a witness to these women of God’s goodness and faithfulness? Consider your own life. How could your godly words and actions point watching women to Christ and open a door for you to share the gospel with them?

6. Why did the women say, “A son has been born to Naomi,” (17) when Obed was Ruth’s baby? (10)

7. Compare verses 18-21 with these passages. How do the people mentioned in verses 18-21 fit into the family line of Christ? How does the story of Ruth and her family line showcase God’s sovereignty and the way – centuries in advance – He was setting events in motion and working out His plan for the coming of Christ?


Homework

Just as Ruth was living in poverty and needed someone to redeem her out of that life, someone you know is living in the poverty of sin and needs Jesus to redeem her from eternal death to eternal life. She needs Jesus to purchase her sin debt and give her the riches of His righteousness in exchange. This week, share the gospel with someone. Tell her about Jesus our Redeemer.

Ruth Bible Study

Ruth: Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Ruth 3

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”

14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. What did Naomi mean when she said she wanted to “seek rest” for Ruth?

2. In order to understand what is about to transpire between Ruth and Boaz in Ruth 3 and 4, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Deuteronomy 25:5-10, God’s instructions for levirate marriage. What was the purpose of levirate marriage? Why is it significant that Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s? (2) How was he related to her family? What did it mean that Boaz was a “redeemer,” and that there was a nearer redeemer than he? (9, 12-13)

3. Naomi’s instructions to Ruth (1-8) may seem a little odd, even inappropriate, to our Christian way of thinking. This is why it’s important, when studying God’s word, to understand, as best we can, the culture and customs of the audience of the book we’re studying. Read this commentary on Ruth 3:2-4. Were Ruth’s actions in any way immoral or inappropriate, biblically, or in her culture? What did Ruth mean when she said, “Spread your wings over your servant”? What was Ruth trying to convey to Boaz by her words and actions?

4. What are some ways Ruth demonstrates submission and humility in this passage? Compare Ruth’s demeanor with 1 Peter 3:4. How does Ruth model a “gentle and quiet spirit”?

5. Examine Naomi’s wisdom and counsel to Ruth in this chapter. How does Naomi exemplify the older “Titus 2 Woman“? How does Ruth exemplify the younger “Titus 2 Woman”?

6. If Boaz is a type (symbol, foreshadowing) of Christ, who does Ruth symbolize? Did Ruth have anything to offer Boaz that would make this marriage materially beneficial to him? When we come to Christ as sinners, do we have anything to offer Him that would make us “worthy” of saving? Compare Ruth’s humility and dependence on the good graces of Boaz to redeem her to our humility and dependence on God’s grace and mercy to redeem us. Compare verses 13b-14 to Ephesians 2:1,4-6. If Ruth represents us as sinners, what does her lying down for the night and rising at dawn symbolize?


Homework

Boaz points us to Christ as our redeemer. Look up the word “redeem” in a Bible dictionary and study these verses. What does it mean for Christ to “redeem” us- that He is our “Redeemer”?

Ruth Bible Study

Ruth: Lesson 3

Previous Lessons: 1, 2

Ruth 2

Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” 21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. What is the backdrop of activity/time of year (23) as this chapter opens?

2. What is gleaning? Who was gleaning to provide for according to Levitical law? Where did Ruth and Naomi fit into this law? What sorts of things would Boaz have done to obey this law? (cf. 15,16) How is gleaning an example of God’s love and care for all of His people? How can the gleaning laws serve as an example to the church today?

3. Did Ruth know who Boaz was before she got home and Naomi told her? (19-20) Did Boaz know who Ruth was? How does this demonstrate God’s sovereignty, providence (2-3- Did Ruth really just “happen” to come to Boaz’s field?), the infallibility of His plans, and the truth of verses such as Proverbs 3:5-6?

4. Examine verses 1, 4, 8-16. Write a brief character sketch or description of Boaz. Boaz is a type of Christ. What are some aspects of Boaz’s character that point ahead to the character of Christ? How does Boaz’s (an Israelite) open arms welcome of Ruth (a non-Israelite foreigner) point ahead to God’s inclusion of Gentiles in salvation?

5. Since the story of Ruth and Boaz points so strongly to Christ and to the inclusion of Gentiles in salvation, may we assume that verses 10-12 mean that we will find favor with God, and that He will save us, on the basis of our own good works? Why not?

6. Compare verse 20 with Naomi’s outlook and attitude in chapter 1. How has her focus and perspective changed? How can thankfulness and recognizing how God has blessed us change us from bitter “Maras” to pleasant “Naomis”?

7. Which fruit of the Spirit is most prominently displayed by Ruth to Naomi and Boaz to Ruth? Ask God to grow you in this area and help you find ways to display it to others.


Homework

Boaz’s kindness toward Ruth gave Him an opportunity to “share the gospel” (12-13) – so to speak – with her. This week, look for opportunities to take the time to show kindness to others. Be ready to share the gospel, or even just a tract, with anyone who is receptive.