Archive for September, 2014

Are Vape Devices Safe?

September 30, 2014


I am going to take a break from my usual sort of posts and write about something else for a moment. As many of my readers already know I smoke molasses flavored tobacco in moderation using a Narghile pipe. It is quite common among old school Reformed men (and sometimes women too) to smoke tobacco. Smoke is something that God created for us to rejoice our hearts (Proverbs 27:9) through our olfactory senses by using aromatic compounds. These aromatic properties also has health benefits to the body. Just take a read through any book on Aromatherapy for a quick grasp of the healing properties of many different compounds.

orientalism incense

Now some will like to say that the English translation of Proverbs 27:9 says perfume and not incense. I of course am using the translation given out of Keil and Delitzsch Commentary “Oil and Incense rejoiceth the heart”. The Hebrew word there is “qĕtoreth” and it means “incense, smoke, odour of (burning) sacrifice, sweet smoke of sacrifice, incense”. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says “(1) incense, Exod. 30:1, seq,; Lev. 4:7; 10:1”

The same word is used in Exo 25:6, Exo 31:8, Exo 31:11, Exo 35:15, Exo 37:25, Exo 40:5, Exo 40:27, and 50 other passages that is speaking of incense and the incense offering to the Lord.

Incense is a type of smoking using herbs and/or resins. Whether one uses incense in a bowl in the room or whether one uses the incense in a bowl with a stem to the mouth you are still breathing in the smoke. This is a gift of God that should be used and be grateful for. We should use it to rejoice our hearts (within moderation of course).


But there is a new device out now that has gotten a lot of media attention. They are called Vape devices. They are small hand-held electronic device that vaporizes an oil compound that contains Nicotine. Are they safe or are they filled with added chemicals thereby making them as dangerous as cigarette sticks (something that will never touch my lips)? This is what I would like to discuss today.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there and many people want to see these new devices banned. Of course in my Reformed Covenanter view unless something is truly a violation of the law of God the government has no authority to ban anything. The Magistrates function is limited to the revealed will of God concerning them and their function. So the obvious answer for me is no they should not be banned. Can they be abused? Absolutely! But so can about everything else in life. As the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said, “Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?” Of course the question was rhetorical  Neither wine, women nor tobacco are to be abolished.

But should a Christian partake of Vape devices? Are they safe enough for us to consume by breathing through our olfactory glands? Nothing is truly safe. On this side of glory we are still part of the curse that was placed on us and our posterity and on the entire Earth. Everything and I do mean everything is working against us. BBQ grills releases more toxins and carcinogens that we breath in then a tobacco product. But still we should be careful on what we put in our bodies especially when they are chemicals that man has created or added to anything.

From what I have been able to research the safety of Vape oils is of course dependent on where the Vape oils are from. Research has shown that Vape oils imported from China do contain a lot of chemicals that can be deemed unsafe. In my opinion one should avoid Vape oils that are imported from China.

But not all Vape oils are created equal. When it comes to Vape oils that are put together here in America, the ingredients are very simple, Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, Nicotine and food grade flavoring.

The main ingredients (Propylene Glycol and/or Vegetable Glycerin) have been around a long time and are Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA (By saying this I am not saying we should always trust the FDA, I disagree with them ALOT and to think they are always right is rather naive). It’s the same Propylene Glycol used in fog machines and repeatedly inhaled by stage hands and performers. Nicotine has been extensively studied; it’s not even classified as a carcinogen. That leaves the food grade flavorings. All of the ingredients are separately already approved and deemed safe, we are not speaking about some unknown chemicals here. In fact the base liquid Propylene Glycol is used in asthma inhalers.

In comparison to other things we breath in everyday, Vape devices are pretty safe. For example Diesel fumes are a known carcinogen. Most school buses run on diesel!

What about Second-hand Vapor? Are we all at risk? It should be pointed out that there is no combustion going on. The smoke is mere water vapors. But here is study that should ease the minds of some who are concerned about second-hand-vapor.

Comparison of the effects of e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke on indoor air quality.

If you would like to know more, a good place to start for those with limited knowledge and a healthy curiosity is here:

Our culture been so turned off on sweet smelling fragrances! In many ways we have become wimpy with our noses. Whether it is sweet savory incense such as Myrrh or even sweet smelling tobacco such as shisha infused with molasses. But even wearing pure oils people are turned off such as Nag Champa. Centuries prior we would have had mosaics and calligraphic art dimly glowing through halls cloudy with incense and sweet aroma. Clothing that deeply smelled of myrrh, aloes, and cassia.

Ultimately, there will always be naysayers no matter how much evidence is brought forth. 100% of the population can never be convinced of anything; there will always be hypochondriacs, people who suffer from psychosomatic symptoms, control freaks, etc. But for myself I have done enough study on the issue to say that I do not have a problem to moderately partake of Vape devices and I look forward to using them more in the future.


The Permenant Indwelling of the Spirit on Old Testament Saints

September 27, 2014

If the Old Testament saints were real believers, the Holy Spirit indwelt them. No one can be born again, believe, or repent without the inward work of the Holy Spirit and no one can stay a believer for one second without the ongoing permanent internal work of the Holy Spirit regardless if it is in the Old Testament or New Testament. Without the Holy Spirit constantly in and at work in our hearts, we will immediately apostatize..

If you believe Old Testament saints believed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit but kept believing without the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit then saints in the OT were not as depraved as we are, as they did not need the ongoing indwelling work of the Holy Spirit. This discussion really is a debate about the nature of total human depravity in the Old Testament. Nothing less than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit keeps a true believer believing, repenting, and obeying. B.B. Warfield wrote, “shall we say that only in the New Testament times men are dead in sin, and only in these days of the completed Gospel and of the New Covenant do men need the almighty power of God to raise them from their spiritual death? Certainly the Bible lends no support to such a notion.”

The first area of the Spirit’s work is in the process of regeneration or being born again. The classic text for this can be found in John’s gospel: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Of course this begs the question: what does this have to do with the Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament? Later on in His dialogue with Nicodemus, Christ has this to say to him: “You are Israel’s teacher…and do you not understand these things?” (John 3:10). The point that Christ was making is that Nicodemus should have known the truth that the Holy Spirit is the source of new life because it is revealed in the Old Testament. For instance, Moses told the Israelites prior to entering the Promised Land that “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). This circumcision of the heart is the work of God’s Spirit and can be accomplished only by Him.

Paul tells us with regards to faith in 2 Corinthians 4:13 that we have the SAME Spirit of faith as was written in the Old Testament. There is NO substantial difference with the Spirit of Faith in believers between Old Testament and New Testament believers. The Spirit of faith regenerated them by circumcising their hearts and indwelling them and preserving them throughout their lives in the same exact way that we are regenerated, circumcised in the heart and indwells and preserves us throughout our lives.

B.B. Warfield wrote regarding 2 Corinthians 4:13, “We may be surprised to observe that he seeks the norm of his faith in the Old Testament saints. “Having the same Spirit of faith,” he says, “according as it is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak” – referring for the model of faith back to the words of this hero Psalmist. … It is the faith of Abraham which is the standing model of faith to both Paul and James …It is observable next that the Apostle attributes the faith of the Old Testament heroes, to whom he would direct our eyes as the norm of faith, to the work of the Holy Spirit. He felicitates himself not merely on having the same quality of faith with them. He looks deeper. The ground of rejoicing in their fellowship is that he shares with them the “same Spirit of faith.” … And certainly the New Testament tells us in repeated instances that the Holy Spirit was active throughout the period of the Old Dispensation in ALL the varieties of activities which characterize the New.”

Regarding Old Testament saints,

The law was written in their hearts. Describing the righteous under the Old Testament, David says, “The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip” (Psalm 37:31).

The knowledge of Yahovah was theirs. Describing believers under the Old Testament, David says, “And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, has not forsaken those who seek Thee” (Psalm 9:10; cf 1 Samuel 2:12 and 3:7)

The forgiveness of sins was given. In Psalm 32:1, 2, David says, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit is no deceit!”

The Spirit of faith of theirs. In Ezekiel 36:27 God says “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” In Psalm 143:10 David says “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

The ancient Jews understood that the God saved them by regenerating them, washing them and putting His Spirit within them. The Gemara says with regards to Ezekiel 36:22-27, ““Happy are you, O Israel. Before whom are you made clean, and who makes you clean? It is your Father who is in heaven” They clearly understood this passage to be in current tense and was about regeneration..

In Romans 8:9, Paul tells us the following “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” How much more simple can it be? If ANY man does not have the Spirit within, they do not belong to Christ and if they do not belong to Christ then they are not saved. They cannot be saved apart from the Spirit dwelling within.

So what does John 14 mean? This seems to be the heart of the issue. Did Christ mean that the Holy Spirit did not dwell permanently in His people? Of course not! Christ is not talking about the Spirit of faith here as the scripture does elsewhere. Christ is speaking about the Spirit of Truth, which holds a two-fold function in this passage. Christ says “I will ask the Father, and another Comforter He will give to you, that he may remain with you — to the age; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwells in you, and shall be in you.”

There is a difference between a corporate local indwelling of the Spirit versus an individual indwelling of the Spirit upon a believer. Israel as a corporate body had a corporate local indwelling of the Spirit in the form of the Shekinah Glory as well as the individual indwelling of the Spirit on believers. This corporate local indwelling of the Spirit is part of the theocratic work of the Spirit. The theocratic work of the Spirit represents, in a word, the presence of God with His people corporately. The concept of Shekinah is connected to the Greek term “Parousia”, “presence” and is used in the New Testament in the same way for the Divine Presence in the mist of the church. In the New Testament the Spirit corporately dwells in the midst of local churches. Only when a corporate local body of believers apostatizes from the faith is the corporate indwelling of the Spirit removed. An individual genuine believer can never apostatize, and therefore never lose the permanent indwelling of the Spirit.

In John 14 Christ just told the disciples that they know Him because he “already” dwells in you. You already know him, he dwells in you.. So this cannot mean the Spirit of faith. Christ is speaking about the Holy Spirit’s theocratic work of truth, the Spirit of truth. At Pentecost the apostles were given a special endowing of the Spirit, the Spirit of truth to write the New Testament Scriptures by inspiration of the Spirit of God. He would come and comfort and dwell corporately in the Church in her midst again, just like He did with the Church of Israel of Old with the Shekinah Glory but departed the Church of Israel when she went apostate. Israel did not have the corporate dwelling of the Spirit guiding her and with her when she apostatized, However that did not mean that there were no believers during that time who had the Spirit of Faith. Now the Spirit of Truth will return to the Church and He will guide the Church into all Truth.

To conclude, a final quote from B.B. Warfield, “The Spirit of God of the Old Testament performs all the functions which are ascribed to the Holy Spirit of the New Testament, and bears all the same characteristics. They are conceived alike both in their nature and in their operations.”

Additional quotes by Warfield,

“We may be accustomed to think of the Holy Spirit as an essentially New Testament Possession; and to conceive, in a more or less formulated manner, of the saints of the Old Testament as left to their own native powers in their serving of God. Heroes of faith as they were, it would be peculiarly difficult, however, to believe that they reached the height of their pious attainment apart from the gracious operations of the Spirit of God. Or shall we say that only in the New Testament times men are dead in sin, and only in these days of the completed Gospel and of the New Covenant do men need the almighty power of God to raise them from their spiritual death? Certainly the Bible lends no support to such a notion.”

Warfield’s deductions from this:  “Surely this must mean much to us, that we live in the era of the Spirit.  A Dispensation in which the Spirit of God is poured out upon all flesh while extending the bounds of God’s kingdom until it covers the earth.”

Thomas Cranmer on Magistrates being God’s vicegerent

September 27, 2014

A Good friend of mine Stephen Halbrook over at Theonomy Resources just posted the following from Thomas Cranmer.

Thomas Cranmer (1489 – 1556)

“Your majesty is God’s vicegerent, and Christ’s vicar within your own dominions, and to see, with your predecessor Josiah, God truly worshipped, and idolatry destroyed; the tyranny of the bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed. These acts are signs of a second Josiah, who reformed the church of God in his days. You are to reward virtue, to revenge sin, to justify the innocent, to relieve the poor, to procure peace, to repress violence, and to execute justice throughout your realms. For precedents on those kings who performed not these things, the old law shows how the Lord revenged his quarrel; and on those kings who fulfilled these things, he poured forth his blessings in abundance. For example, it is written of Josiah, in the book of the Kings, thus: ‘[And] Like unto him there was no king [before him], that turned to the Lord with all his heart, [and with all his soul, and with all his might,] according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.’ This was to that prince a perpetual fame of dignity, to remain to the end of days.” Unknown author, Writings of Edward the Sixth, William Hugh, Queen Catherine Parr, Anne Askew, Lady Jane Grey, Hamilton, and Balnaves: Volume 3: of British reformers (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1836), 5, 6.

Stephens Blog can be found here,

Wilhelmus A’ Brakel on the duty of the Magistrate to uphold both tables of the law

September 27, 2014
Wilhelmus A’ Brakel (1636- 1711)
“It is the duty of the civil government to uphold not only the second table of the law, but also the first. It must see to it that God is honored. It may not tolerate any idolatry, worship of images, or any false religion within her jurisdiction, but must rather eradicate these. It must prevent the vain use of God’s Name practiced by cursing, swearing, and blasphemy. It must prevent the desecration of the Sabbath, punish violators of this commandment, and see to it that the gospel is proclaimed everywhere within its jurisdiction. It must see to it that the church as the darling of the Lord Jesus is protected and preserved and that neither internal dissension no any external oppression disturb or destroy the church, but that instead she be safely preserved in the use of the privileges and liberties which her King Jesus has given her.” -From Vol. 2, Chapter 29, page 179

John Knox on Magistrates upholding both tables of the law

September 27, 2014

John Knox (1514 – 1572)

“No man denies, but that the sword is committed to the magistrate, to the end that he should punish vice and maintain virtue. To punish vice, I say: not only that which troubles the tranquillity and quiet estate of the commonwealth (by adultery, theft, or murder committed), but also such vices as openly impugn the glory of God, as idolatry, blasphemy, and manifest heresy, taught and obstinately maintained, as the histories and notable acts of Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat, and Josiah do plainly teach us; whose study and care was not only to glorify God in their own life and conversation, but also they unfeignedly did travail to bring their subjects to the true worshipping and honoring of God; and did destroy all monuments of idolatry, did punish to death the teachers of it, and removed from office and honors such as were maintainers of those abominations. Whereby, I suppose, that it is evident, that the office of the king, or supreme magistrate, has respect to the moral law, and to the conservation of both the tables.” – John Knox, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment [government] of Women (1558).

Hugh Latimer on Magistrates bound to obey God’s law

September 27, 2014

“There is no king, emperor, magistrate, and ruler, of what state soever they be, but are bound to obey this God, and to give credence unto his holy word, in directing their steps ordinately according to the same word. Yea, truly, they are not only bound to obey God’s book, but also the minister of the same, “for the word’s sake,” so far as he speaketh “sitting in Moses’ chair”: that is, if his doctrine be taken out of Moses’ law. For in this world God hath two swords, the one is a temporal sword, the other a spiritual. The temporal sword resteth in the hands of kings, magistrates, and rulers, under him; whereunto all subjects, as well the clergy as the laity, be subject, and punishable for any offence contrary to the same book.”

Hugh Latimer (1485-1555)

Hugh Latimer, Sermons, Parker Society edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1844), p. 85. The quotation is taken from a sermon preached before Edward VI on March 8, 1549