"WHAT DOES JESUS CALL YOU?"
Warren Wiersbe tells of a church member who decided to visit a children's Sunday School class one morning. He was the type of man who considered himself a "great Christian" and wanted to make a favorable impression on the children. He stood pompously before them, and asked, "Why do you think people call me a Christian?" There was an embarrassing silence and then a small voice said..., "Because they don't know you?"
WOW!! "From the mouth of babes..." That small child expressed more truth than most adults have done. We are so keen on making good impressions—to "make friends and influence people"; but, what if people could see inside us? Are we really what we appear to be? Well, there is one who knows us quite well. He hears our innerrmost thoughts and He sees every aspect of our lives. I wonder what He calls us? True believers are called by a special name.
We teach our children the memory verse," even a child is known by his doings", and so are the children of God. Our works speak of our faith. We may call ourselves by the Lord's name, but are we really like Him? Think of the names that believers are called in Scripture and see how you measure up their real meaning:
Believers...Christians...Overcomers...Salt….Light…More than Conquerors...Servant...Disciple...Saint.
One day all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account of their life on earth for God...I wonder what Jesus will call us then! I hope it will not be * deserter...quitter...coward...liar...deceiver...etc. Let's all do our best for Him that we may hear Him call to each of us who are saved, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" That's a name we all want to be called!
"A TIME OF TESTING BRINGS REJOICING AND REVIVAL!"
A demon-possessed girl began to follow Paul and his troop throughout the city of Philippi. Although she proclaimed the truth (v. 17), Paul was grieved. He knew that the testimony of her tongue would be questioned because of the testimony of her life. Paul cast out the demon (v. 18), and this angered her masters. Immediately, they accused and arrested Paul and Silas (vv. 19-21). The two captives were beaten and thrown into prison. Was this the purpose for which they had come to Macedonia?
How important it was for Paul to understand that "the doors of opportunity swing on the hinges of opposition”. Was Paul discouraged? Was he ready to give up?
If this had been one of us, an observer of this scene would probably have seen a defeated, despairing, depressed figure huddling in the corner of this dark dungeon, and the only word that would be heard is, "Why?" But not Paul and Silas. They prayed; they praised; they preached (v. 25).
Then came revival from this rejoicing. An earthquake opened the doors and freed the prisoners (v. 26). But in a strange turn of events no one left (v. 28). The keeper of the prison was ready to kill himself because his prisoners had escaped (v 28). But Paul prevented him, assuring him that ail the prisoners were accounted for. Such a demonstration of submission convicted the jailor to the point where he was saved along with his house (vv. 29-32).
As a result of his conversion, the jailor took Paul and Silas, washed their wounds, brought them into his own house, fed them and rejoiced with them in the grace of God (w. 33-34).
"Is it a sin to have an occasional glass of wine?"
Many people believe that it is not a sin to drink an alcoholic beverage and will site some Old Testament passages and even twist some passages and say that Jesus Christ himself drank alcoholic wine or at least made it and gave it to others at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2).
Listen carefully, Christ did not drink alcoholic wine, nor did He create it or provide it to others. If Jesus gave “drink” (fermented) to anyone He would have violated the Scriptures in Habakkuk 2:15, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”
Some people go to the passage in 1 Timothy 5:23 that says to use a little wine for your ailments, and say, "See, the Bible says it is O.K. to drink." without looking at the context of the passage. He said to “use” some for ailing purposes “for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities” (medicinal use), not for secular, personal enjoyment.
A few other verses to help are below:
1. Proverbs 20:1 WINE is a MOCKER, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
2. Proverbs 23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright (fermentation).
The most picturesque description of wine and its' attributes is found in Proverbs 23:29-35.
Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men. Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
As Christians, we should be concerned about our effect on our environment. God appointed man to be the steward of this world (Genesis 1:28), not the destroyer of it. However, we should not allow environmentalism to become a form of idolatry, where the “rights” of an inanimate planet and its non-human creatures are held in higher esteem than God (Romans 1:25). With global warming, as with any other topic, it is crucial to understand what the facts are, who those facts come from, how they are interpreted, and what the spiritual implications should be.
A careful look at global warming shows that there is a great deal of disagreement about the facts and substance of climate change. Those who blame man for climate change often disagree about what facts lead them to that conclusion. Those who hold man totally innocent of it often ignore established facts. Experience and research leads most Christian authorities to believe that some “warming” is, in fact, occurring; however, there is little to no objective evidence that man is the cause, or that the effects will be disastrous. Maybe the best way to put it is that the earth is “wearing out”. This entire world has been continually decaying since the fall. Sin is itself the cause!
Global warming “facts” are notoriously hard to come by. One of the few facts universally agreed upon is that the current average temperature of Earth is indeed rising. According to most estimates, this increase in temperature amounts to about 0.4-0.8 °C (0.72-1.44 °F) over the last 100 years. Data regarding times before that is not only highly theoretical, but very difficult to obtain with any accuracy. The very methods used to obtain historical temperature records are controversial, even between the most ardent supporters of “global warming”.
The facts leading one to believe that humans are not responsible for the current change in temperature are as follows:
•Global temperature changes from past millennia were far larger and faster than the current trend, raising doubts about man’s effect on global temperature. That is, the current climate change is quite small in comparison to past changes.
•Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is thought to be the biggest contributor to temperature change, yet 97% of atmospheric CO2 is from volcanoes.
•Given the small percentage of human-produced CO2, human impact on global temperature is as little as 1%.
•Global temperatures are known to be influenced by other, non-human-controlled factors, such as sunspot activity.
•Computer simulations used to “predict” or “demonstrate” global warming require the assumption of human causation, and even then are not typically repeatable or reliable. Current computer weather simulations are neither predictive nor repeatable.
•Most of the global temperature increase of the last 100 years occurred before most of the man-made CO2 was produced.
•In the 1970’s, global temperatures had actually been dropping since 1945, and a “global cooling” concern became prominent, despite what is now dismissed as a lack of scientific support.
•The “consensus” claimed by most global warming theorists is not scientific proof, it is a statement of majority opinion; scientific majorities have been wrongly influenced by politics and other factors in the past.
•This “consensus,” as with many other scientific theories, can be partially explained by growing hostility to those with differing viewpoints, making it less likely that a person without preconceived notions would take on the subject for research.
While the above list is not exhaustive, it does include several of the major points that raise doubts about mankind’s actual effect on global temperatures. In short, there is simply not much objective evidence to support the idea that global warming is significantly influenced by human actions. There is plenty of vague, short-sighted, and misunderstood data that can be interpreted as supporting global warming theory (you can make data say most anything if you “interpret” it from a slanted viewpoint). Christians ought to treat our world with respect and good stewardship, but we should not allow politically-driven hysteria to dominate our view of the environment.
The primary problem with extreme forms of environmentalism is that they reject the Biblical concept that this current earth is not permanent. This world is not our eternal home. We are to be FAR more concerned with the salvation of souls than saving the earth. The Bible does, however, mention a form of "global warming." Look below:
2 Peter 3:7-14, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. …the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. …the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat…Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
"Is Islam A Religion of Peace and Tolerance?"
Presumably, non-Muslims who equate Islam with peace and tolerance are simply ignorant. Muslim leaders, however, who do so are knowingly saying whatever is expedient for the furtherance of Islam's goal of world dominion. They know many verses like this in the Qur'an: "When you meet the unbelievers, then it is smiting of the necks [strike off their heads]...." (Surah 47:4). Muslims have historically spread Islam through conquest, whenever and wherever they could. It is either confess that "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet" or lose one's head. As Islamic authority Ahmad Hasan az-Zayat states in Al-Azhar, Cairo, Egypt, "Holy war [jihad] is...a divine obligation. The Muslim [knows] his religion is a Qur'an and a sword...."
All 19 terrorists who attacked America last September 11 were devout Muslims acting "in the name of Allah." Logically, I thought the attack would expose Islam's violent nature. Instead, Muslim leaders have become popular speakers in high demand and Islam is being hailed as a religion of peace and tolerance. More than 30,000 Americans have converted to Islam since 9/11/01! 1
One such speaker is Imam Fawaz Damra. A local TV station aired a tape of Damra promoting "a Palestinian Holy War" with "rifles [aimed] at the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews." The Qur'an declares that some Jews were turned into apes and swine (Surah 5:60). Damra called the broadcast an "outrageous" attempt to "discredit" him-but the exposé didn't reduce his popularity. 2
As in all Muslim countries, in the hundreds of Islamic schools across America (many subsidized by Saudi Arabia) Israel's existence is not admitted on any map. The Washington Islamic Academy just outside Washington, D.C. has 1,300 students. Its eleventh-graders study from a textbook which states that on "the Day of Judgment... Muslims will fight and kill Jews, who will hide behind trees that say, 'Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him.' " 3 These are Muhammad's words!
On the Oprah Winfrey show of October 5, 2001, Queen Rania of Jordan said, "The important thing is the spirit of Islam. That is all about tolerance...and human dignity....Islam...doesn't impose anything on other people...." She must know that Muhammad said, "He who relinquishes his faith, kill him" and that, in obedience, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries where shari'a (Islamic law) is enforced execute Muslims who turn to another religion. Muhammad said there could be only one religion in the world. He wiped out the Jews in Arabia and no Jew is allowed there today. In Saudi Arabia only a Muslim may be a citizen; no non-Muslim place of worship may be built and non-Islamic worship is forbidden, even in the sanctity of one's
home. This is "tolerance"?
I challenge anyone to give even one example of where Islam has ever brought peace and tolerance. There are none. There are more revolutions, assassinations and terrorism in Muslim countries than in all the rest of the world, Muslim against Muslim. From 1948 to 1973 there were 80 revolutions in the Islamic world, 30 of them successful, including the murder of 22 heads of state.
Egypt's Anwar Sadat, a Muslim, was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood. East Pakistan rebelled against West Pakistan in 1971 and became Bangladesh. In the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, 1,000 tons of poison gas were used and deaths numbered more than in World War I. This is peace?
Sudan's Muslim government in the north has killed about 2 million black non-Muslims in the south, enslaved thousands who are sold to other Muslim countries (Khadaffi buys them for $15 each), and brutally oppresses and tortures in trying to force everyone into "peaceful and tolerant" Islam. In Nigeria, where 16 of the 19 northern states have adopted shari'a, thousands of non-Muslims are being killed and hundreds of churches burned down. In Indonesia, Christians are being killed daily and churches and villages are being destroyed by Muslims who are determined to force everyone into Islam. This is tolerance?
In Algeria about 100,000 people have been slaughtered in the last decade, Muslim against Muslim. Our task in Afghanistan will be to bring peace among its warring factions. The rival warlords are all Muslims who kill one another in the name of Allah. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had to call upon non-Muslims to bring peace. If Islam is peace, why must "infidels" obtain it for Muslims!
There are repeated appeals for tolerance toward Muslims in this country. But those who make such appeals never mention the oppression and slaughter of non-Muslims in Muslim countries. Enough of this one-way street! Shouldn't every mosque in the West be shut down and allowed to reopen only when Muslim countries provide comparable freedom? Tell your Senator and Congressman!
Muhammad claimed that Allah had commanded him to "fight against all people until all confess there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." Islam must take over the world and that includes America. Abdulrahman Alamoudi, director of the American Muslim Council, told a conference of the Islamic Association for Palestine, "[T]he United States will become a Muslim country, even if it takes 100 years." Said Alamoudi, "I have been labeled by the media in New York a supporter of Hamas [part of Arafat's fatah, and responsible for most of the terrorism in Israel]. I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah [Party of Allah]." 4 The latter has been responsible for countless Katyusha rocket attacks upon Israel, the kidnaping and murder of many Americans, and for the bombing of the American Marines barracks in October 23, 1983 causing the death of 241 Americans.
The freedoms we grant Muslims in America are being used to destroy those very freedoms. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), with ties to terrorists, is organizing Muslim voters: "Our goal...is to register more than 100,000 new Muslim voters over the next eight months." Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman, explained that he "wants to see the United States become a Muslim country." 5
Don't be deceived by the peaceful face Islam currently shows in America. Professor James A. Beverley of Toronto writes, "In 1999 I had lunch with an American whose identity I must conceal lest I place his life in renewed danger....[Because] he no longer believed in Islam...he abandoned his faith. As a result, he received death threats-not in Sudan, or Libya, or Iraq, but
in the United States." 6
Islam is "peace and tolerance"? Never has such a blatant and destructive lie been believed by so many. Every Christian must see that this lie is refuted and the truth about Islam made known as widely as possible. Otherwise the consequences will be horrible beyond our imagination.
1. The Washington Times, Jan. 16, 2002.
2. Rachel Zoll, "Pre-attack rhetoric coming back to haunt Muslim clerics"
(Daily News, Oct. 27, 2001), p 20.
6. James A. Beverley, "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" (Christianity Today, Jan. 7, 2002), pp 41-42.
Judas is the Greek form of Judah, which means ‘Let God be praised’. In Matthew 1:3, the ancient patriarch Judah is called Judas in the King James Version. Six men of the New Testament period bear this name. Jude is the Latin form of Judah. John 6:71 and 13:2 tell us that Judas’ father was named Simon. As the name itself implies, Judas was of the tribe of Judah, as was also Christ Himself. The name Judas Iscariot is a corruption of Judas of Kerioth. Kerioth was a small town a few miles south of Hebron. Judas was the only one of the apostles who was not a Galilean, but a Judean. His Father’s name was Simon. (John 13:2)
Kerioth of Judah is mentioned only once in the Bible. It is found in the list of "…the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the coast of Edom southward …" (Joshua 15:21-25) There is another Kerioth in the King James Version, translated ‘Kirioth’ in many other Bibles (although the Hebrew word is the same for both towns). This is Kerioth of Moab, always mentioned in the context of Divine judgment. (Jeremiah 48 and 24; Amos 2:2) It must have been an unrepentant city with a very long history of sinfulness.
Other than Jesus, John the Baptist and Christ’s mother Mary, Judas is the only person in the New Testament whose actions and their resulting consequences were foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. Here are five details foreseen of the betrayer’s wretched life.
- Judas would be at once Christ’s apparent friend and shrewd betrayer. (Psalm 41:9; 55:10-23; 109; Luke 22:47; John 13:18-27)
- Judas would have no just cause for his betrayal. (Psalms 35:7, 12-22)
- Judas would be paid thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal. (Zechariah 11:12; Matt 26:14-16)
- Another man would fill Judas’ office, because he would die before his time. (Psalm 69:25; 109:8, 9; Acts 1:20)
- The thirty pieces of silver would be returned to the temple, and then used to purchase the potter’s field. (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:3-10)
John Calvin and others have taught that Judas had no choice but to betray Jesus. Gordon Lindsay explains the foolishness of such reasoning:
The error that some make arises because they confuse foreknowledge and foreordination. Had Judas been predestined to commit his act of treachery and had no choice in the matter, it is hard to see how he could be blamed. John Calvin was the champion of the doctrine of predestined reprobation. Perhaps his believing that was the reason he burned Servetus at the stake. Yet if everything in this world was predestined and everything had to be God ordained, we would have fatalism of the first order. There would be no such thing as a free will. It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) This either is true, or it is not true. If it is true, then we must agree that Judas was not predestined to be lost.
Judas Iscariot’s infamous name is always last in the lists of apostles. Matthew, Mark and Luke each qualify Judas as a traitor or betrayer. John calls him a thief. (John 12:6) In many nations today, his name is synonymous with disloyalty. Christ Himself was, of course, never deceived concerning Judas, and referred to him as a ‘devil’ (John 6:70) and "the son of perdition." (John 17:12) So terrible would be his deed and its consequences, that Jesus said, "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. (Matthew 26:24)
If Jesus were physically before them today, many would like to ask Him the same questions that Jerome asked:
Ask Him why He chose Judas, a traitor? Why He entrusted to him the bag when He knew that he was a thief? Shall I tell you the reason? God judges the present, not the future. He does not make use of His foreknowledge to condemn a man though He knows that he will hereafter displease Him; but such is His goodness and unspeakable mercy that He chooses a man who, He perceives, will meanwhile be good, and who, He knows, will turn out badly, thus giving him the opportunity of being converted and of repenting. This is the Apostle’s meaning when he says, "Dost thou not know that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God Who will render to every man according to his works."
"Was Judas “Predestined” to Betray Christ?"
Was Judas Iscariot predestined to be lost? If not, how are the following passages explained (Mt 26:25; Jn. 13:27-30; 17:11-12; Psa. 41:9; Acts 1:16)?”
No, it is not the case that Judas was “predestined” to be lost. The passages listed above may be explained easily without resorting to the unscriptural, Calvinistic theory of predestination.
1. According Matthew 26:20ff, during the course of the Passover supper, Christ informed the disciples that one of them would betray him. Each of them began to question the Savior, “Is it I, Lord?” It is amazing that each could plumb the depths of his soul, wondering if he could be the culprit. Presently, Judas framed the same query. “Is it I, Rabbi?” [Note the change in the address.] The Lord responded (perhaps in almost a whisper), “Thou hast said” (v. 25, ). This was an affirmative answer, to the effect: “Yes, you are the one.”
But did Judas’ question imply that he did not know that he was the one who would betray the Lord? Certainly not, for already he had bargained with the chief priests to deliver Christ unto them (Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10-11; Lk. 22:3-6). One must thus conclude that the traitor’s question was insincere - a mere parroting of what the other apostles had said.
2. Some would suggest that Judas was but a helpless pawn, unable to resist the invasion of Satan into his life. That certainly is not the case, as even Judas himself conceded. He never pled: “I could not help myself; Satan made me do it!” Rather, he confessed: “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood” (Mt. 27:4). It is a remarkable oddity when modern man, twenty centuries removed from the event, can profess to know more about the situation than the culprit himself!
3. But what did the apostle mean when he stated that Judas perished “that the scripture might be fulfilled” (Jn. 17:12; cf. 13:18)? The “scripture” most likely alluded to is Psalm 41:9. There, the sacred writer (likely David; see superscription), referring primarily to someone who had turned against him, wrote: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” It is interesting that when the Lord cited this passage, he omitted “whom I trusted” (13:18), the reason being, he “knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him” (Jn. 6:64). The Lord never trusted Judas. The prophecy, therefore, has a primary (personal), and a secondary (Christological) application. Acts 1:16 must be viewed in the same light.
4. Another important fact that must be recognized is that foreknowledge does not demand predetermination. God foreknew that Judas, exercising his own freewill, would betray his Son. These passages, therefore, reflect Heaven’s foreknowledge, but not a predetermined action over which the betrayer had no control. Even Presbyterian scholar Albert Barnes, in commenting on John 13:18 wrote: “It does not mean that Judas was compelled to this course in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled...” (Notes on Luke and John, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1954 Edition, p. 320).
A further illustration of this principle is seen in the fact that Christ was delivered up to death by the determinate counsel and the “foreknowledge” of God (Acts 2:23), and yet the ones who were involved in the Savior’s crucifixion were held accountable for their evil deed (23b; cf. 36-38).
The frequent rationalization, “I can’t help what I do; I was predestined to do it,” is a false notion, but one that finds ready acceptance in a modern world that seeks to escape from personal responsibility. The Scriptures teach that men will give an account on the Day of Judgment for their own conduct (Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10) - not for actions thrust upon them by God. The very idea of such is an affront to the Almighty.
"Things That Happen When We Get Saved"
In Relation to the Father:
1. We have access to God's grace. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph.esians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
2. We are adopted into the family of God as God's sons. Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
3. We have an inheritance. 1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Colossians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
4. We are elected (chosen), (only those IN Christ). Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
5. We become a child of God. John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
6. We get Heavenly citizenship. Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
7. We become an heir of God. Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
8. We become a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
9. We become a servant of God. Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
10. We become a priest of God. 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
11. We are reconciled to God. Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
12. We are Sanctified. 1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
In Relation to the Son:
1. We are accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
2. We are baptized into Christ's body. 1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (There is no water baptism mentioned within 8 chapters in either direction). There is no connection of the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12 to the baptism of Acts 2:38.
3. We are a love gift to the Son. John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
4. We are buried with Christ. Colossians 2:10-12 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5. We are indwelt by Christ. John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
6. We posses eternal life. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
7. We are saved by Christ. Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
8. We have peace with God. Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
9. We become a friend of God. John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
10. We have our name recorded in the book of life in Heaven. Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Philippians 4:3 And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
11. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
12. We receive a blessed hope. Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
13. We come in fellowship with the Trinity. 1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
14. We have a mansion prepared in glory. John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (This becomes ours the moment we receive Christ.)
In Relation to the Holy Spirit
1. We are born again. John 3:3-7 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (Again no water baptism.)
2. We are anointed by the Holy Spirit. 1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
3. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
4. Our body becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
5. We are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. (These gifts still apply with he exception of the sign gifts given to Israel. God stopped dealing with Israel and these sign gifts are now being counterfeited by Satan - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-6 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.)
6. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 2 Timothy 1:14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
In Relation to the Believer
1. We are forgiven. Luke 7:48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
2. We are justified. Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
3. We are redeemed. Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
4. We have an advocate (attorney for defense). 1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
5. We have the possibility of getting victory over sin. Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Read all of chapter 6.)
6. We become an ambassador for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
"I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel"
Introduction: Some things and some experiences in life should probably make us ashamed. Most of us have personally said or done something that we, no doubt, are very ashamed of. However, let it never be said that we are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
Reasons why we are not ashamed of the Gospel:
I. The Purpose of the Gospel (God)
II. The Nature of the Gospel (the power of God)
III. The Function of the Gospel (unto salvation)
IV. The Scope of the Gospel (To everyone)
V. The Reception of the Gospel (Everyone that believeth)
VI. The Efficacy of the Gospel (For therein is the righteousness of God)
VII. The Outcome of the Gospel (the just shall live by faith)
I am not ashamed of the Gospel and…
I. Its Savior
“Gospel of Christ”
II. Its Supremacy
“The power of God”
III. Its Salvation
IV. Its Scope
“to the Jew first and also to the Greek”
Paul’s Three “I am” statements:
Vs. 14 – “I am debtor” showing us Paul’s Burden
Vs. 15 – “I am ready” showing Paul’s Boldness
Vs. 16 – “I am not ashamed” showing Paul’s Belief
- Jerusalem he was MOBBED & MISTREATED yet he felt he owed the Jews a Debt
- Athens he was MOCKED & MALIGNED yet he was ready to preach the Gospel
- Rome he was MANHANDLED & MARTYRED yet he was unashamed of the Gospel
"Did God love Jacob and hate Esau?"
Malachi 1:2-3 declares, “’I have loved you,’” says the LORD. But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' ‘
Was not Esau Jacob's brother?’ the LORD says. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.’ Malachi 1:2-3 is quoted an alluded to in Romans 9:10-13, “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.’” Why did God love Jacob and hate Esau? If God is love (1 John 4:8,16), how could He hate anyone?
When studying the Bible, it is crucially important to always study the context of a particular Bible verse or passage. In these instances, the Prophet Malachi and the Apostle Paul are using the name “Esau” to refer to the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob (whom He later renamed Israel) to be the father of His chosen people, the Israelites. God rejected Esau (who was also called Edom), and did not choose him to be the father of His chosen people. Esau and his descendants, the Edomites, were in many ways blessed by God (Genesis 33:9; Genesis chapter 36).
So, considering the context, God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. It has everything to do with God choosing one man and his descendants and rejecting another man and his descendants. God choose Abraham out of all the men in the world. The Bible very well could say, “Abraham I loved, and every other man I hated.” God choose Abraham’s son Isaac instead of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The Bible very well could say, “Isaac I loved, and Ishmael I hated.” Romans chapter 9 makes it abundantly clear that loving Jacob and hating Esau was entirely related to which of them God chose. Hundreds of years after Jacob and Esau had died, the Israelites and Edomites became bitter enemies. The Edomites often aided Israel’s enemies in attacks on Israel. Esau’s descendants brought God’s curse on themselves. Genesis 27:29 “Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee..”
God’s Dealings with Men & Nations Romans 9: 6-29
1. Based on His Superlative Wisdom
2. Based on His Sovereign Will
3. Based on His Spoken Word
"Whose Voice Are You Listening To"
People often ask, “How do I know if I’m hearing from God or from Satan?”
This is a legitimate question because the enemy of our souls also attempts to speak to us. We know from Jesus’ temptation experience in the wilderness that Satan will try many tricks to convince us to listen to him instead of to God. (Matthew 4:1-11.)
We must be on the alert continually to make certain that the voice we listen to is God’s voice. In Matthew 16: 21-23, Peter, a follower of Jesus from virtually the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, was likened to Satan himself. We need to recognize that sometimes Satan’s voice comes to us not in our thoughts and imaginations, but through the words of other people, some of whom may seem to be well intentioned or say they love us. The Bible assures us that there is a way to tell Satan’s voice from that of our Lord.
Proverbs 24:6 - “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counselors there is safety.” We are to seek godly counsel and to hear from people who truly love the Lord and who are firmly grounded in His Word. When we seek counsel from others, we must seek out people who are knowledgeable in their field, but in addition to that, they must be:
- Counselors who have no ulterior motive over our lives
- Counselors who are eager to hear from God and are eager for us to hear from God
- Counselors who base their opinions on the Word of God and are eager for us to check their advice against the advice of the Bible.
If your counselor/mentor doesn’t have these three traits, find a new counselor!!!
"Where Are You Headed After Graduation?"
One author uses the following illustration to emphasize the importance of setting goals and establishing objectives for your life: "In all my travels this has never happened to me, and I hope it never happens to you: Imagine that I board a plane leaving Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for Chicago.
Twenty minutes into our flight the pilot comes on the speaker and says, `Well, folks, we're leveling off at our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet. By the way, I know this flight is booked for Chicago, but I thought we would just fly around instead and see the countryside. We'll land whenever we're low on fuel. I really can't say where we'll end up. We'll just see what happens.'
Imagine such an announcement! A flight like that not only would be ridiculous--it could be dangerous! Yet a lot of graduates will be no different in terms of life: just flying along. Where are they headed? There's no telling. Certainly they don't know! Worst of all, they don't seem to care. They sort of have the attitude, `Wherever I end up, that's fine by me.'
Now few people would dream of doing that in their jobs, but the amazing thing is, they'll do it in their marriages, with their kids, in their spiritual and personal lives, and so on. They have no direction or aim. They just drift.
Where will you be in two years? Still drifting or what? In three years? In five years? Do you have any plans or goals? Don’t expect life and success to merely happen, take charge. Be yielded to God, but YOU must make some plans. Decide on a proper direction for your life in His will and settle on how to get there.
God is a God of order and plans. He does not strike out not knowing what He is doing. Nothing is wrong with planning and setting goals, as long you don’t leave the Lord out of your plans.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33
Creation Days – 24 Hour Literal Days
Genesis 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
The use of "Day" in Genesis 1:5 is its first occurrence in Scripture, and here it is specifically defined by God as "the light" in the cyclical succession of light and darkness which has, ever since, constituted a solar day. Since the same word is used in defining all later "days" as used for this "first" day, it is indisputable that God intends us to know that the days of creation week were of the same duration as any natural solar day.
The word day in the Old Testament almost always is used in this natural way and is never used to mean any other definite time period than a literal day. This becomes especially clear when it is combined with an adjective ("first day") or with definite bounds ("evening and morning"), neither of which usages in the Old Testament allow for some non-literal meaning. It is occasionally, though rarely, used symbolically or in the sense of indefinite time ("the day of the Lord," 1 Thessalonians 5:2), but such usage (as in English or other languages) is always evident from the context itself.
The use of "evening and morning" in that order is important. This qualifying phrase “evening and morning” attached to each of the six days of Creation supports the meaning of the days as twenty-four-hour periods. Each “evening” saw the completion of the work of that age which was followed by the “morning” of renewed activity. But evening and morning, each occurring more than 100 times in the Old Testament, are never used to mean anything other than a literal evening and literal morning, ending or beginning a solar day.
Exodus 31:17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
Here is repeated the formula of Exodus 20:8-11, making it unquestionable that the six creation "days" were literal days. God even writes it down with His own finger on a table of stone (Exodus 31:18). All Scripture is divinely inspired, but this was divinely inscribed too. To attempt to stretch these days into ages of evolution would destroy the very basis of God's supremely important day of rest and commemoration. That His work of creation is not still continuing, but was completed in the six days, is not only indicated by the past tense ("God rested," rather than "is resting") but also by the fact that He "was refreshed" as He contemplated the marvelous universe He had created.
Did God Approve of Rahab’s Lie?
Joshua 2:1–6 - Rahab lied to the men searching for the Israelite spies, but this does not constitute an endorsement for lying as such. The Scriptures clearly condemn lying (Lev. 19:11; Prov. 12:22). Rahab did the best she could to save the men sent by Joshua.
The Bible clearly condemns lying. Throughout the Old and New Testaments - commands forbid it, prophets condemn it, and godly people avoid doing it (Ex. 20:16; Jer. 9:4–9; Zech. 8:16; Eph. 4:25). Behind all these is God Himself, who cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Titus 1:2).
But what about Rahab? She lied to protect the spies of Israel who had come to scout out the city of Jericho. The story of her heroics paint her in a very positive light; Joshua praised her efforts, and both Testaments of the Bible praise and honor Rahab for doing this (Josh. 6:22–25; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25). Her action made her part of God’s people, ultimately placing her in the line of ancestry to David and Jesus. Her lie was also part of the conquest of Canaan, a task that God commissioned and blessed. Does her example mean that lying can sometimes be an acceptable course of action?
In Rahab’s case, there are three possibilities. Either her lie was not a sin, or it was a sin but excusable, or it was a sin and inexcusable. Those who say her lie was not a sin will sometimes say they believe that “the loving thing” is all that matters; a “little lie” told in the name of love is no sin. In fact, it is the right thing to do.
Others have said that Rahab’s sin was excusable because of a greater value—the lives of the spies. Those who hold this view believe that some sins are worse than others, and sometimes a person has to choose among them. In Rahab’s case, the necessity of preserving the lives of the spies had a higher value than the truth. She did the right thing in misdirecting the king’s men because it was more important to save their lives than to tell the king’s men where they were.
The third possibility is that a lie is a lie, and that even Rahab’s action was wrong. In this view, Rahab sinned no matter how noble her intentions. Of course, in her case, her sin is understandable because she lacked a complete knowledge of the living God. That is, what she did was wrong, but she did not know any better.
We must be careful to make a distinction between Rahab’s faith and the way Rahab expressed it. The Bible praises Rahab because of her faith in God, not because of her lying. That is, her actions would have been nobler had she protected the spies in some other fashion; as it is, she did the best she could. The Bible calls Rahab a harlot (prostitute), but we are not meant to take that as an endorsement for immorality. Rahab, like the rest of us, had a mixed character, but she believed in God and strove to honor Him and His people. That is what draws her praise.
We should honor Rahab the way the Bible does. She was a great heroine of the faith, who came from the most surprising place. In time, her name would be honored not only for what she did for Israel, but for what she became—a mother in the line of Jesus (Ruth 4:18–22; Matt. 1:5).
This is one of the best-known stories in the Old Testament that concerns the unusual manner in which the Israelites conquered the city of Jericho while they were in the process of inhabiting the land of Canaan (which God had promised to give them as an inheritance after their escape from Egypt). A woman named Rahab not only provided sanctuary in her house for two Israelite spies but, when asked by the king’s men about the matter, lied in order to protect them. Later, the lives of Rahab and her household were spared when Jericho was destroyed—a fact that has provided grist for the mill of Bible critics who suggest that this account establishes God’s approval of “situation ethics.” Their argument is as follows. Rahab lied. But the situation required that she do so for good reason—to protect the spies. Rahab was blessed, and her household was spared certain death. Thus, God must approve of situation ethics (e.g., lying under certain conditions). How should the Bible believer respond to such a suggestion? Does God approve of situation ethics?
In the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua we find the familiar story of the Israelites’ siege of the famous city of Jericho. The people of the city had heard of the many successes of God’s people as they defeated various enemies throughout the land of Canaan. And they were determined that Jericho would not fall to the Israelites as so many other cities around them had. Joshua 6:1 confirms that fact by observing that “Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.” Therefore, the Lord gave Joshua several specific commands relating to how the Israelites were to overcome the city. God said to Israel’s leader:
You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. Then it shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat (Joshua 6:3-5).
Prior to the Israelites’ attack on the city, however, Joshua sent two men to Jericho as spies to examine the city secretly (Joshua 2:1). Upon their arrival, they came to the house of a woman by the name of Rahab who was a harlot and lodged there. Apparently the fact that two strangers had entered the closed city raised suspicions among some of the townspeople, who then told the king of the strangers’ arrival. He, in turn, sent his representatives to investigate. Arriving at Rahab’s house, they said to her: “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country” (2:3). The text goes on to indicate that Rahab had hidden the spies under stalks of flax on the roof of her house. She then told the king’s messengers: “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them” (2:5).
While the king’s men gave chase along the road to the Jordan River, Rahab pleaded with the spies:
I know that the Lord has given you the land.... For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.... Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death (2:9,11-13).
The spies answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tells this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you” (2:14). The two men then instructed Rahab to place a scarlet cord in the window of her house (which adjoined the wall of the city). This would be a sign to the Israelite army that she and her family were to be spared because they had helped God’s people.
THE PROBLEM OF RAHAB’S LIE AND THE LORD’S BLESSING
Critics of the Bible have charged that this particular story involves God in a moral contradiction. Rahab lied to the king’s messengers. Yet God blessed Rahab, as is evident from the fact that: (a) she and her family were the only ones spared when the Israelites invaded Jericho; and (b) she is commended in two separate New Testament passages (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25). The critics have claimed, therefore, that Rahab was blessed by God as a direct result of her lie—a sin that the Bible elsewhere condemns (Exodus 20:16). How should a Bible believer respond to such a charge?
In addressing the critics’ allegations, let us first admit the obvious. Rahab did lie—not once, but twice. When the king’s emissaries came to interrogate her, she lied when she feigned ignorance about the spies being Israelites. She then lied a second time when she told the intermediaries that the spies had left the city through the main gate under cover of darkness. Let us also freely admit that Rahab and her household were the only ones saved during the assault upon Jericho (Joshua 6:17).
The question is not whether Rahab lied. She did. The question is not whether she was saved during Jericho’s destruction. She was. The questions that must be addressed are these: (1) Did God bless Rahab as a result of her lie?; and (2) Is “situation ethics” acceptable? That is to say, can a person lie on certain occasions (if the situation warrants it) and still be pleasing to God?
First, what does the Bible have to say about lying? Of the Ten Commandments, the ninth forbade lying (Exodus 20:16). And, in both the Old and New Testaments the telling of a falsehood is condemned (Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 6:16-19; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9). As one writer stated the matter, “Just as there are no exceptions to the adultery commandment, there is none for the Ninth Commandment” (Webster, 1993, p. 2). God has denounced explicitly any form of lying and has made it clear that those who commit such a sin without repenting shall spend eternity “in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Second, a close examination of the actual events of Joshua 2 is in order. Note, for example, that the spies never asked Rahab to lie for them. In fact, there is no indication in the text that the spies even knew Rahab had lied. Since they were hiding on the roof (Joshua 2:8), it is highly unlikely that they had any knowledge of her sin. It is wrong to suggest that Rahab received God’s blessings as a result of her lie. The two New Testament passages that mention Rahab do not commend her for the sin of lying. Quite the opposite, in fact. The writer of Hebrews placed Rahab in the great “hall of fame of faith” (Hebrews 11) because “she received the spies with peace” (vs. 31). James acknowledged that she was “justified by works when she received the messengers” (2:25). Nowhere in Scripture is Rahab’s sin of lying spoken of approvingly. Instead, it is her faith and her righteous works that are commended and approved. As one writer observed:
What she is commended for is her faith or that which prompted her to deliver the spies from her townspeople, not the means by which she accomplished it. She had heard about God’s dealings with Egypt and how He had delivered Israel through the parting of the Red Sea. So, the word of hearing profited her, because it was united by faith (Heb. 4:2). James did not write, “...was not Rahab the harlot justified by lying, in that she spoke an untruth to the king’s men and sent the spies out another way?” Her faith was evidenced in the work of receiving the spies and sending them out another way (Lloyd, 1990, p. 357, emp. added).
Furthermore, it is important to consider the entire context of Rahab’s life and vocation. She was a prostitute, living in a pagan city. As Wayne Jackson commented:
The case of Rahab is an example of where God honored a person due to their obedient faith in spite of a personal character flaw. Consider the following facts about this incident. Rahab was from a pagan environment. Her concept of morality and her personal lifestyle (she was a harlot) needed considerable refining. In spite of this sordid background, she had developed a genuine faith in Jehovah (Josh. 2:9ff.). She referred to Him as “God in heaven above, and on earth beneath....” Accordingly, when the spies approached her, she was not “disobedient” as were the others of Jericho, who perished in the destruction of the city, for she, through faith in God and His promises, received the spies in peace (Heb. 11:31), hid them, and sent them out another way (Jas. 2:25) [1986, 22:23].
Should we be surprised that a prostitute, living in pagan surroundings, would lie to governmental authorities? Hardly. But she was not saved because she lied—a critical point that needs expanding. In addressing this idea, Allen Webster wrote: “Rahab lied, true, but God never complimented this action. She was a heathen, not yet even converted to Judaism.... She was saved in spite of her lying, and not because of it. She was a prostitute, but this text does not authorize such activity” (1993, p. 2, emp.). This is a part of the story that seems to have been missed by the Bible critics who have isolated Rahab’s lie not only from the context of the story itself, but from the remainder of her life and additional biblical commentary on that life.
DOES TEMPORARY SIN IMPLY PERMANENT CONDEMNATION?
Having established the fact that Rahab’s lie was not the reason for her commendation within the pages of Scripture, the question arises: Why, then, was she honored within the great “hall of fame of faith” in Hebrews 11 and spoken of by James as having been “justified”? There can be no doubt that Rahab occupies a special place within the biblical text, since she is one of only five women listed as being within the lineage of Christ. [She married Salmon, an Israelite, and became the mother of Boaz, Jesse’s grandfather, joining Tamar, Bathsheba, Ruth, and Mary in the Lord’s ancestry.]
Surely, the answer to the question has to do with the fact that Rahab did not remain in her sinful state. In fact, “her repentance is implied since the New Testament writers commend only those Old Testament characters whose lives as a whole reflect an obedient faith” (Grizzell, 1986, 15:70, emp. in orig.). The operative phrase here, of course, is “as a whole.”
Rahab was not mentioned favorably by the writers of the books of Hebrews and James because she told a lie at one point in her life. Rather, she was commended for a lifetime of righteousness that followed a previous life of sin.
Consider three other famous Old Testament characters who sinned, yet who overcame those sins and were counted as faithful in God’s eyes.
Noah, for example, was “righteous,” “perfect in his generations,” and a man who “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Yet after the Flood he became drunk in front of his sons and as a result, his nakedness was exposed before one of them (Genesis 9:20-23). Gary Grizzell addressed this issue when he wrote:
There is absolutely no record of anyone reproving Noah for his sin. There is no record of his repentance. This is the extent of the Old Testament revelation of Noah’s retirement years. Did Noah die in an unrepentant state? No, just as Rahab did not die a harlot and a liar.... In the twenty-seven books of the New Testament there is not one hint of the historical fact of his sin of drunkenness. The only logical conclusion is that this implies his repentance prior to his death (1986, 15:70).
We know this to be the case because, like Rahab, Noah is mentioned specifically in Hebrews 11:7 and even is referred to as having become “an heir of righteousness which is according to faith.”
Consider also the example of Abraham. In Genesis 12:10-20, Abraham deceptively told an Egyptian pharaoh that Sarai was his sister, rather than admitting that she was also his wife. Later, he similarly deceived Abimelech, king of Gerar, regarding the same matter (Genesis 20:1-2). To protect his own life, Abraham intentionally deceived the two rulers, while at the same time offering his wife sexually to the potentates. What faithful husband would act in such a manner and allow his wife to be taken by another man, without at least letting that man know that she was, in fact, his wife? Nevertheless, in James 2:23, Abraham is referred to as “the friend of God.”
Lastly, consider the example of Israel’s popular, beloved King David. He had taken his vows before God (see Psalm 101). He had insisted on righteousness in his nation. The people had been taught to love, respect, and honor the God of heaven. David, their sovereign, also was their example—a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). But he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12), and then had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, murdered. The consequences of David’s sin were horrible indeed. The child growing in Bathsheba’s womb died after birth. And Nathan, God’s prophet, made it clear to the great king that “the sword shall never depart from thy house,” and that God would “raise up evil against thee out of thine own house” (2 Samuel 12:10-11).
David’s life never again would be the same. His child was dead. His reputation was damaged. His influence, in large part, was destroyed. David paid for his sin with twenty years of strife, heartbreak, and the loss of a child that meant everything to him. Yet the king did not try to deny his sin or cover up his mistakes. In fact, he said quite simply, “I have sinned” (2 Samuel 12:13).
His description of the consequences of sin on the human heart is one of the most vivid in all of Scripture, and should move each of us deeply. His agonizing prayer is recorded in Psalm 51. David cried out: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness.” Many years later, the apostle John would write: “Hath not the scripture said that the Christ cometh of the seed of David?” (John 7:42). Luke even went so far as to refer to Christ as “David’s son” (Luke 20:41). From the loins of a sinful king who was willing to repent was formed an important part of the Messiah’s lineage.
In addressing these very matters, Walter Kaiser correctly observed:
...divine approval of an individual in one aspect or area of his life does not entail and must not be extended to mean that there is a divine approval of that individual in all aspects of his character or conduct (1983, pp. 270-271, emp. added).
Or, as Grizzell noted: “God judges a man by the whole of his life, not one act of sin in his life” (1986, 15:70). Neither Noah, Abraham, nor David should be condemned permanently because of a temporary occurrence of sin. As these three men stood accountable before God, each accepted personal responsibility for his actions. They became noteworthy characters in biblical history not because of their sinful mistakes, but because of their eventual repentance and lifetimes spent in God’s service.
Does the Bible condemn lying? Indeed it does. The concept that “the end justifies the means” never has been correct. As Steve Lloyd wrote: “Simply because something works out in the end does not imply that the means are justifiable before God” (1990, p. 356). As with any other sin, if a person lies and does not repent, they will spend eternity in hell. This is especially true for Christians, as the Hebrew writer pointed out quite clearly when he wrote: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).
If critics of the Bible would consider the Scriptures in their entirety, rather than isolating individual passages in an attempt to justify their preconceived conclusion that the Bible contains contradictions and discrepancies, controversy over such matters would cease to exist. Furthermore, it reeks of inconsistency for the critic to “pick and choose” matters that at first glance appear to support his allegations and to ignore the plain and simple passages that refute those same allegations. As Eddie Miller put it:
...the person who argues for situation ethics by using the example of Rahab is making a serious mistake in terms of sound Biblical exegesis. He has taken one sketchy, obviously incomplete story about a prostitute who lied, to overturn many clear statements of scripture (Exo. 20:16, Col. 3:9, Eph. 4:25). Surely that is not dealing honestly with the Bible text. (Incidentally, how would they deal with God’s disapproval of the lies of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-6?) The truth is that proper interpretation takes place when we allow explicit statements of scripture to explain or modify the examples, not vice versa (1983, 19:4, emp. and parenthetical comment in orig.).
Additionally, we might add that there is nothing inherently wrong with questioning, or even doubting, what the Bible contains—as long as a person is willing to invest the time and effort to find the answers and resolve the doubts. This is the same procedure that people use in every other area of human interest (science, philosophy, etc.) on a daily basis. Why, then, should it not be employed in matters concerning God’s Word? In addressing this very point, Trevor Major suggested:
It is a human failing that, on occasion, we simply cannot decide whether something is true.... Doubt, left unresolved, can become a serious problem. God holds us responsible for addressing the cause of our doubt, and for seeking the remedy so that doubt does not prevent us from doing what faith demands.... Doubt, then, is in some way an impediment to belief or faith. However, it is not the opposite of belief; it is not a denial of faith. This would be disbelief, that is, believing a claim to be false. Rather, doubt is a matter of unbelief—an occasional inability to admit a particular claim.... If we do not know whether God answers prayers, then how can we honestly go to God in prayer? If we eat meat sacrificed to idols (or the modern equivalent), and yet we are not sure that this is something we should do, then how can we have a good conscience before God? These are the negative consequences of unresolved doubts, but doubt may also be resolved in favor of greater faith, or even faith itself (1995, 15:94, emp. in orig.).
Rahab—a prostitute from a pagan background—humbled herself before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When she cried out, “I know that...the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (2:9), she confessed her willingness to acknowledge both His existence and His sovereignty. It was not enough, however, for her merely to express her faith verbally. Rather, she had to act upon it by: (a) keeping silent about the spies’ mission (Joshua 2:14,20); (b) binding the scarlet cord in the window of her house (2:18); and (c) remaining inside that house, which would be the sole location of her deliverance when God destroyed Jericho (2:18-19).
God expects, and deserves, the same kind of obedience from us today. Critic and Christian alike should be willing to say, as did this laudable lady from days of old, “According unto your words, so be it” (Joshua 2:21). What an admirable attitude—and how worthy of being imitated! Rahab sinned, repented, and obeyed. If we today should sin, surely those of us who know more about God, His Word, and His will for our lives ought to follow her example in repentance, obedience, and service. — Bert Thompson and Sam Estabrook
Grizzell, Gary L. (1986), “Rahab the Harlot and Situation Ethics,” The Defender, 15:66-67,70,72, September.
Jackson, Wayne (1986), “From Our Mail,” Christian Courier, 22:23, October.
Kaiser, Walter (1983), Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Lloyd, Steven M. (1990), “Answering False Doctrines Relating to James,” Studies in James, ed. Dub McClish (Denton, TX: Valid Publications).
Major, Trevor J. (1995), “What Happens to Faith When We Doubt?,” Reason and Revelation, 15:94, December.
Miller, Eddie J. (1983), “Did God Approve Rahab’s Lie,” Words of Truth, 19:4, March 25.
Webster, Allen (1993), “Did God Approve of Rahab’s Lie?,” Words of Truth, 29:2,4, June 18.
"Did the Patriarch’s children grow up together?"
It seems evident from Scripture that the sons of Jacob, as well as the children of the other great patriarchs of the faith, were raised side by side. This means that they would have experienced the same general upbringing and lifestyle. Children of one wife would have her children right alongside of the children of another wife in many households of the Old Testament.
No doubt there would be many problems resulting from this situation. Family life, including the management of the land and livestock, would necessitate the daily interaction of these siblings. Their interests and influences from their own mothers would spark many a conversation I’m sure. Those siblings who were wicked and wanton in their upbringing would surely have tried to lead the more godly ones astray. A simple reading of Proverbs 1 would give us a clear warning about the dangers of close association with those who would lead us into trouble, even within our own circle of influence.
The story of Joseph and how he was treated by his brothers is ample proof of the wickedness in the hearts of siblings. Siblings that have allowed jealousy and envy to breed anger, hatred, and even murder in their hearts, even though raised in the same household with a patriarch like Jacob over them.
Don't try this at home
Those of us who have had troubles with brothers and sisters are not alone. Even the Bible is filled with lots of troubled families. Think about the first two brothers—Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy! Jacob tricked his twin brother Esau out of his inheritance. Rachel and Leah were in not-so-friendly competition with each other.
Then there was Joseph, his father's favorite and hated by his brothers. His older brothers sold him into many years (13) of slavery.
All this, and we're still in the book of Genesis! We haven't even considered King David's dysfunctional family. Yes, there are lots of places to look if you want to see how not to do it.
Here's just a quick list of things to try to avoid:
- Attacking (whether with fists, weapons or words).
- Competing in a way to make your brother or sister feel like a loser.
Some of these things may seem justified because of what our brothers and sisters have done to us, but the truth is, they just don't work if you want to improve things.
What successful siblings do
There are some things that do work, but they don't always come naturally. I know a number of good examples of brothers and sisters who get along well, but I haven't heard any of them say it comes easily. Still, if we are willing to fight our natural tendencies and try these approaches, they have been proven to work in the long run.
Since they aren't what most of us would normally do, these tips may shock your brother or sister so much that they will produce an immediate response. If you're lucky, it will be a friendly response, but don't be surprised if your brother or sister just wonders what you are up to at first. Give him or her time to get used to the new approach, and things should improve.
• Don't compare. One sister I know considers her older sister her best friend. But, she confides, she also considers her sister to be much better than she is in so many things, that if she were to compare herself with her sister, she could get jealous. Or she could try to compete with her and end up in a win-lose situation. She says it has worked much better to not be a competitor, but a friend cheering her sister on. And in return, her sister cheers her on. We all have different talents and skills, so we do not always excel in the same things. When brothers or sisters are compared by others, they generally don't like it. We can't always control what others do, but we don't have to make it worse by comparing and competing ourselves. The apostle Paul pointed out that such comparisons aren't wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).
• Be willing to resolve the problems. This often includes having a cooling off period, maybe using humor or creative ideas to change the angry mood, and then being willing to compromise. The Bible says, "A soft answer turns away wrath [and hopefully fists!], but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). This can work when we make our brother or sister mad by accident. But what if he or she was at fault? If your sister borrows your blouse without asking, or your brother has stuff all over your side of the room, you might be tempted to yell or get violent. But perhaps you can count to 10 or find some other way to calm yourself and the situation, then figure out a way to discuss the situation. If you hear his or her side of the story, maybe you won't be as mad. And if you don't get mad, your sister or brother might react more reasonably too.
• Forgive. Revenge doesn't help us get along, and usually just leads to escalation. Each revenge has to top the previous one, and soon we forget what small problem we were fighting about in the first place. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do, but in the long run it really helps us as much as the people we forgive. Remember Joseph? After that 13 years as a slave and prisoner, he rose to become prime minister of Egypt, when who should show up but his brothers! He had the power to exact the ultimate revenge, but as you read the story in Genesis 42 through 45, you see he couldn't do it. He did play with their minds a bit, but in the end he forgave them and saved their lives.
Forgiving others is part of life, and Peter, who with his brother Andrew was one of Jesus Christ's disciples, wanted to know how many times he would have to forgive his brother. (In this case, "brother" probably didn't only refer to Andrew, but it could have!) Peter generously guessed up to seven times. Jesus said, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:22). Such a tall order cannot be done without help. But God does offer the help we need to forgive others and to improve our relationships with others.
"A Christian's View of Stem Cell Research"
To cure disease and alleviate suffering are noble pursuits, and the Bible clearly supports the battle against physical ills. A major feature of Jesus’ ministry was His healing (Matthew 4:23-24), and one of the New Testament writers, Luke, was a physician (Colossians 4:14).
Stem-cell research has shown great promise in the fairly new field of regenerative medicine, and many groups are actively pursuing new ways of harvesting stem cells and testing the cells’ plasticity—the ability to form a wide variety of mature cell types.
The most important question concerning stem-cell research is not “Is it legal?” or “Is it cost-efficient?” but “Is it right?” This question highlights the true issue: what is God’s opinion/will/view?
Before we can answer the ethical/moral question, we must distinguish between the two types of stem-cells: adult stem cells (ASCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs).
Research on ASCs has been ongoing for decades and has proven therapeutic effects in treating cancer, autoimmune diseases, leukemia, and heart disease. ASCs are obtained from living bone marrow, blood, brain tissue, skin, and body fat. Other sources rich in ASCs are umbilical-cord blood and the placenta.
ESCs, as their name suggests, are derived from human embryos. In order to harvest ESCs, an embryo must be destroyed.
Central to the debate, then, is our view of the human embryo. The biblical teaching is that human existence begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4-5). The international consensus of embryologists agrees with scripture in that life begins at fertilization. At the moment of conception, the embryo is 100 percent human, with all 46 human chromosomes and a fully functioning, unique genetic code. Size and location do not determine humanity.
Because research on ESCs requires the destruction of a living human being, it is against God’s will. No amount of promised “benefit” to society or to medical knowledge can justify the killing of a human for spare parts. The end does not justify the means. It is never ethical—in fact, it is morally reprehensible—to mark people for death in order to conduct utilitarian experiments on their body parts.
In contrast, research on ASCs does not require the loss of life. ASCs have versatility and a proven track record, and they lack the moral difficulties of ESCs. Therefore, we believe that research on adult stem cells is a legitimate field of study, well within the will of God.
The conscience is an inherited moral and ethical knowledge and awareness that intellectually and emotionally guides us in differing between good and evil. The conscience does not arise from a particular societal or cultural moral code or standard although their influences mark the conscience in many ways. The conscience is universal among all persons, in that, it can be demonstrated to exist throughout mankind’s natural history and in all uncivilized and civilized societies. For example, cultures with virtually no connection or contact with any "civilizations" that have explicit written codes of legal and moral laws of conduct have an unwritten code of ethics or laws pervading their communities. They are convinced that stealing, lying, murder, adultery are unlawful and harmful. Certainly, the source for these moral attitudes are internal and inborn. The inborn ability to discriminate between moral dilemmas involves the intellect (justification or condemnation) and feelings (guilt or innocence). The conscience is called by some the "moral sense," which indicates that this moral guide produces a compulsion to do right. When followed, the conscience is soothed and when violated the feelings of guilt arise.
Although the conscience apparently has many programmed absolute moral standards within, the "moral sense" can receive other moral input which becomes apart of the inward guide. For example, many moral controversies in our society like abortion, euthanasia, corporal and capital punishment, and eating meat demonstrate various moral standards and convictions obviously directed by different consciences. This shows the cultural and societal influences on the conscience. Outside of a comparable absolute standard (i.e. the Bible or philosophy, science, etc.) the conscience within is subject to the relativistic input of humanity´ s imaginations. Following one´ s conscience when the inward moral guide is properly programmed and devoid of faulty convictions can be a wonderful signpost for attitudes and actions. The important link in a "pure," "strong," and "good" conscience is a standard empty of error and falsehood. While there are many purported authoritative moral codes throughout the world, the one which arguably speaks loudest and clearest in areas of morals and conscience is the Old and New Testaments.
Biblically speaking, the consciences of men and women can be made weak (1 Corinthians 8:7); defiled (Titus 1:15); evil (Hebrews 10:22); and seared (1 Timothy 4:2); implying corruption of a previously good conscience. In addition, the Bible indicates the conscience is inherited and universal with or without an accompanying written set of laws (Romans 2:12-16). In a true believer in Jesus Christ the conscience testifies to the truth (2 Corinthians 1:12); "bears witness in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 9:1); leads to submission (1 Peter 2:19); and justifies personal actions (Acts 23:1). The conscience should be "good" (1 Timothy 1:5); "pure" (1 Timothy 3:9); and receive its purity by being "purged by the blood of Christ" (Hebrews 9:14).
In conclusion, the conscience is a gift from God to fallen, fallible humanity that serves as a guide for moral and ethical decisions, but is not an absolute standard in itself. This inward warning system is a helper, but is subservient to the superior rules and laws handed down to us from God Himself in the Holy Scriptures. While following one's conscience most often can be a proper course of action, the conscience is not infallible.
"What about those who have never heard the gospel?"
The traditional Christian position on this subject is that no one can or ever will be saved apart from Christ. Jesus Himself once made the following categorical statement: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14:6) Yet in the case of a native tribesman living deep in some remote African jungle who has never heard of Jesus Christ, what will God do--if He is, in fact, a just God?
What actually happens to those who have not heard the gospel of Christ depends upon several factors.
1. It depends first of all (but not finally) on how they have responded to God's general revelation. In the case of those who have neglected or rejected such general revelation (no doubt the case with the vast majority of those who have never heard of Christ), they're lost, condemned for all eternity to a real hell. But note--they are not condemned for what they haven't heard. They are judged for what they have heard and rejected. In this sense, as R.C. Sproul rightly states, "there are no innocent people in the world."
2. In the case, however, of the one who has never heard of Christ, yet sincerely worships God as he knows Him, and lives consistently with moral law as he understands it, we do have some grounds to believe that God may be pleased to grant a further special revelation involving the Gospel of Christ Himself, which one would then, in turn, either accept or reject.
(Acts 10 - Even though Cornelius had not known about Christ, nor was he a practitioner of the Jewish system of sacrifice and worship, he nevertheless was a "devout man, and one that feared God...which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway" (Acts 10:2), and God was pleased with this. While these actions were not capable of earning salvation, his sincere acceptance and practice of the limited spiritual light that he had received resulted in God sending more light to him. It may be that this is a model of how God may deal with those men and women of any time and nation who do accept and follow such light as they have.)
Exactly how or when would God arrange for such a further revelation? Might I Peter 3:18-20 or 4:6 somehow correlate with Romans 2:16 here? The Scripture allows many such details to remain hidden, while being unequivocal about the fact that God will judge with perfect justice (Psalm 98:9).
This subject provides an unequaled incentive for the continued Christian mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. As
Romans 10:14 says,
"How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"
"Fear Not at Christmas"
In the Christmas story, there are several “fear not’s.”
1. The “Fear not” of salvation: to the Shepherds
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings...which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).
2. The “Fear not” of the humanly impossibility: to Mary
“Fear not, Mary, … the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: …For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:30, 35, 37).
3. The “Fear not” of answered prayer: to Zacharias
“Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John” (Luke 1:13).
4. The “Fear not” of immediate obedience: to Joseph
“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife. … Then Joseph … did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him” (Matt. 1:20,24 )
“THE WORD MADE FLESH”
The Gospel of John begins with the same words as the first book of the Bible. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God.” In John 1:1 we read, “In the beginning...the Word.” This is not mere coincidence, for the same Holy Spirit inspired both Moses and John to put down identical words, because in both instances He is speaking of the same Person. The God of creation in Genesis 1:1 is the same as Jesus Christ, the God of revelation, called “the Word” in John 1:1.
The Bible opens with the words “In the beginning God.” Here is the first and the only final answer - the only reasonable answer—to the mystery of the universe. How did the universe begin? What is its origin? Or did it have a beginning at all, and is matter eternal? To these and similar questions God gives His answer in Genesis 1:1. Once we accept that simple yet profound fact, our faith comes to rest.
Do you believe the record of the Bible that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth?” Do you? If not, there is no use going further. But if you believe the first chapter of Genesis, you will also believe the third, which tells us that man sinned and came under the sentence of eternal judgment. Then you will believe that all the trouble, heartache, sickness, tears, and suffering, all the wars and violence and distress in the world, all the broken hearts, and death - physical and eternal - are the result of sin. Then you will believe that God sent Jesus Christ into the world as the Savior from sin, Hell, and judgment.
If you believe the first verse of the Bible, then you must also believe the other instance where God said, “In the beginning was the Word...” (John 1:1) Verse 14 tells us who the Word was who was in the beginning.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
The verses that follow identify this One as none other than Jesus Christ - the eternal God who was in the beginning. And your salvation depends upon your faith in this record. There is no redemption without believing that Jesus Christ is the eternal God who was born 2000 years ago and died on the cross to save us. I make no apologies. I care not what or who you are. The Bible declares that only faith in this Jesus - the Word made flesh - can save you. Hearken to these unmistakable words:
“He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18).
"MISSING AT THE PARTY"
Everybody was having a wonderful time playing games, singing, eating cake and ice cream, and drinking lemonade. It was one grand party and the guests had lost all sense of time as the party went far into the night. A caller knocked at the door and asked, "What's all the celebration about?" "We are having a birthday party!" was the reply. "Birthday party?" said the caller, "Whose birthday are you celebrating?" "The birthday of Jimmy Jones. He's your own boy, Jimmy - it's his birthday," said the host. "Yes, I know, but WHERE IS JIMMY?" asked the father.
Then it dawned on the crowd that JIMMY WAS MISSING. In fact, he hadn't been there at all, for he was at home sick in bed. No one had missed him, for everybody was having a good time without Jimmy.
Now all of this sounds silly and ridiculous, doesn't it? But isn't it just as silly and ridiculous to claim to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ when He is missing from the celebration. In our present-day demon-strations of Christmas, including GIFT—GIVING and parties, the Lord Jesus is frequently left out. Instead of honoring the guest of Honor, many bring shame and disgrace to the Lord in their so called "celebration" of Christmas. We must never forget CHRIST at Christ¬mas and why He was born. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
He came to DIE, to give His life for poor lost sinners. The birth of Christ is not the most important event in the story of this Man. His birth was a necessary event to prepare Him for His substitutionary death on the cross, but to leave Him in the manger is an insult to Christ. Why not rally at the cross this year during Christmas. Remember not just His birth, but His death for you!
"The Virgin Birth of Christ"
Text: Matthew 1: 18-25
Introduction: Read Matt. 1:23. Also refer back to verse 18 which says, "…before they came together." Then in 1:23 Mary is called a virgin. This subject goes to depths that we have no line to fathom and truths that we do not have mind enough to comprehend. Though we may not understand the "virgin birth" of Jesus completely, it is enough to know that with Him who made the worlds, there is nothing impossible (Lk. 1:37). Christ was both God and spotless, sinless man. His deity gives us assurance of His holiness, while his humanity gives us assurance of His compassion.
The doctrine of the virgin birth is crucially important (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27,34). Even though Adam and Eve both sinned in the Fall (Genesis 3:1-19), God placed primary responsibility for the Fall on Adam (Genesis 3:17-19). The Apostle Paul declared that “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). The reason that we all die, the reason that we all possess a sin nature, is because we inherited it from Adam: “by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man." (Romans 5:17).
Adam was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). All of Adam’s descendants are in his image (Genesis 5:3). It is the man who passes on the sin nature to offspring, not the woman. Therefore, the only way Jesus could be born into this world without a sin nature would be for Him to not be born of a man. Women do not pass on the sin nature, so it was possible for Jesus to be born of Mary and still be without sin. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
I. Something Worth Recognizing- Matt. 1:23a- "Behold"
The word "behold" means to make sure that you do not miss seeing this, no matter what. People today often spend time gazing and considering things that are not worth their time. It pays to look at this matter of Christ’s virgin birth. Why should we do so?
A. It Reveals God’s Son. This was not just another child; He was the Christ child. He was and is God’s Eternal Son.
B. It Reveals God’s Love. If God had not loved us to the degree that He does, He would not have sent heaven’s best to redeem us from our sins.
C. It Reveals God’s Desire. What I mean by that is that because of the circumstances of this birth, it leaves us no room for doubt or speculation as to who Jesus is.
II. Something Beyond Reason
Matt.1:23b- "A virgin shall be with child." How does a virgin have a child unless she merely adopts one? God is the answer.
A. Reason alone will not bring you to a knowledge of God.
B. Reason alone will not make you turn to God (conviction must come first).
C. Reason alone will not please God because it takes faith (Heb. 11:6). It is by faith that we comprehend the things of God (Heb.11:3).
III. Something Prophesied In Revelation
Just consider Isaiah 7:14.
Matthew in Matt.1:23 refers back to Isa. 7:14. They reveal who the one born of the virgin was. To many it is a surprise and others do not want to accept it. He is Emmanuel. That word comes from the root "El" which means "strength and power." It means that Jesus is the one True God–Jehovah. Prophecy informs us; prophecy illuminates us, and prophecy inspires us and inclines us to trust the Word of God.
"God’s Christmas Gift"
"For unto you is born this day in the city David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11)
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15
(Also, Romans 5: 15-18; Eph. 2:8-9)
Introduction: Christmas is the most wonderful holiday of the whole year. It is a time of giving gifts. It is a time when we show our love for one another. Children give to their parents, husbands to their wives, and wives to their husbands. What started all this giving and festivity? Well, it all started with God. The first Christmas was not a commercial. It was about a coming, God coming down to be with us. The first Christmas gift came from Heaven. It came from God. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…" (John 3:16).
1. JESUS WAS A PREPARED GIFT
Our great God and our Heavenly Father, who has always known everything, prepared His Son, Jesus, before the foundation of the world. When Adam and Eve fell, it did not catch God off guard. God was ready for what happened. The sacrifice for sin was prepared and ready. As Abraham told Isaac, "God will provide Himself a lamb" (Gen. 22:8). It was God, the Son, given by God, the Father, conceived by God, the Holy Ghost, who was delivered to the world as a free gift.
2. JESUS WAS A PERSONAL GIFT
God s Christmas gift is personally fitted for everyone. This gift was to the whole world and yet to each of us. No one who ever receives Jesus will ever say He doesn’t fit or will ever seek to exchange Him for someone or something else. He is perfectly designed to meet every need of everyone in the whole wide world. Even though God s Christmas gift is to all the world, He is also a personal gift to every individual of the human race!
3. JESUS WAS A PERFECT GIFT
Jesus is absolutely perfect in every respect. He was perfect in His pre-incarnate state - - before He ever took on a body. He was perfect in His virgin birth. He was perfect in His sinless life. He was perfect in His atoning death at Calvary. He was perfect In His resurrection. He is now perfect in intercession for us in heaven, and He will be perfect in His second coming for us in the rapture and in ruling this earth in righteousness forevermore. Thank God for this perfect, unspeakable gift.
When A Man Cannot Be Pardoned
God is gracious, but he will not force the acceptance of His grace upon men.
In 1829 George Wilson, in Pennsylvania, was sentenced by a United States Court to be hanged for robbing the mails and for murder. President Andrew Jackson pardoned him, but this was refused, and Wilson insisted that it was not a pardon unless he accepted it. That was a point of law never before raised, and the President called on the Supreme Court to decide.
Chief Justice John Marshall gave the following decision: "A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hardly to be supposed that one under sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged!" And he was hanged.
Provisionally the gift of God through Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation is for everyone, irrespective of what he may be or what he may have done. Potentially, it is only to "every one that believeth." The gift must be received!
"Should parents tell their children about Santa Claus?"
When our children were growing up we were overly careful about the Santa "myth" as it seemed at the time to detract from the real meaning of Christmas. We also showed a degree of acceptance for others who "believed" in Santa and never tried to enforce our beliefs on them. We also let the grandparents keep the "myth" going without trying to appear "holier than thou". Looking back after many years it seems to me to be more of a gray area issue for Christians, one that would permit honest differences of opinion. My only "hangup" with the whole thing is that the children know the real reason for the season and that they give due credit to the Lord as the true Giver of all gifts.
So, let's look at the history behind the myth. Santa Claus is a mythical figure, his creation is based in part on a great Christian man named Saint Nicholas of Myra, who lived in the 4th century. Nicholas was born to Christian parents who left him an inheritance when they died, which he distributed out to the poor. He became a priest at a young age and was well-known for his compassion and generosity. He had a reputation for giving gifts anonymously, and he would throw bags of money into people's homes (and sometimes down their chimneys) under the cover of night to avoid being spotted.
Nicholas passed away on December 6 sometime around the 340's or 350's, and the day of his death became an annual feast in which children would put out food for Nicholas and straw for his donkey. It was said that the saint would come down from heaven during the night and replace the offerings with toys and treats – but only for the good boys and girls. There are many different versions of the legend of Saint Nicholas, but all are the results of the inspiration for the jolly, red-suited gift giver that we now know as Santa Claus.
Many Christian parents are torn as to whether or not they should play the "Santa game" with their children. The main complaint is that Saint Nicholas, alias Santa Claus, detracts from the purpose of the season, which ought to be centered upon Christ. Children can name all of Santa's reindeer starting with Rudolph, but they grow up learning nothing of the central mystery of our redemption. This is a valid concern, yet we must take care not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. There is benefit in contemplating the life of the historical 'Santa Claus.'
On one hand, he makes Christmas fun and magical, leaving wonderful holiday memories for years to come. On the other hand, the focus of Christmas should be on Jesus Christ and how much He has already given us. So, is the story of Santa Claus an innocent addition to Christmas festivities, or is he a subject that should be avoided?
I believe that every parent needs to use their own judgment in deciding whether or not to include Santa during the holidays, but here are some things to consider: Children who believe that the gifts they receive Christmas morning are from a magical man with unending resources may be less likely to appreciate what they have been given, and the sacrifices their parents make in providing them. Greed and materialism can overshadow the holiday season, which is meant to be about giving, loving, and worshiping God. Children whose parents are on a tight budget may feel that they have been overlooked by Santa, or even worse, deemed one of the "bad" boys or girls.
Another aspect of telling our children that Santa comes down the chimney each year to leave their gifts is that it is, obviously, not the whole truth. We live in a society that believes that stretching the truth for the "right" reason is acceptable. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, it is not a problem. This is contrary to what the Bible tells us. For the Scriptures say, “ For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:” (1Peter 3:10). Of course, telling our children that Santa is real is not a malicious deception, but it is, nevertheless, not entirely the truth either.
That leaves us with a difficult decision – should we allow our children to believe in mythical figures or tell them the whole truth? The answer is not always so black and white, right versus wrong. Here are a couple of things to consider:
(A) Does the tradition add to or subtract from the meaning of Christmas?
(B) Is the practice still a pagan symbol or just a cultural tradition?
This is a decision your family needs to make together. Pray to God, asking Him what He would have you to do (James 1:5).
I do not believe this means we must leave Santa completely out of Christmas. Children can still play the "Santa game" even if they know it is all pretend. They can make lists, sit on his lap at the mall, and leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. This will not rob them of their joy of the season, and gives parents the opportunity to tell their children about the godly qualities of the real Saint Nicholas, who dedicated his life to serving others and made himself into a living example of Jesus Christ.
Other myths commonly told to children include: The Little Drummer Boy, The Wizard of Oz (truly horror), The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, A Christmas Story (with Clarence the Angel earning his wings), Scrooge, etc. Let’s just make sure that our children know the difference between truth and myth or they might “myth” the real meaning of Christmas!
"MARKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH"
History shows how the Lord's promise to His churches has been fulfilled. Dr. J. M. Carroll, in his book The Trail of Blood, shows that churches have been found in every age which have taught the doctrines Christ committed unto them. Dr. Carroll calls these doctrines the "marks" of New Testament Churches.
1. ITS HEAD AND FOUNDER--CHRIST. He is the law-giver; the Church’s only executive, prophet, priest, & king. (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18)
2. ITS ONLY RULE OF FAITH AND PRACTICE--THE BIBLE. (II Tim. 3:15-17)
3. ITS NAME--"CHURCH," "CHURCHES." (Matt. 16:18; Rev. 22:16)
4. ITS PARTICULAR FORM OF GOVERNMENT - CONGREGATIONAL--all members equal. (Matt. 20:24-28; Matt. 23:5-12)
5. ITS MEMBERS--only saved people. (Eph. 2:21; I Peter 2:5)
6. ITS ORDINANCES--BELIEVERS' BAPTISM & THE LORD'S SUPPER. (Matt. 28:19-20)
7. ITS OFFICERS--PASTORS (Bishops) AND DEACONS (Servants). (I Tim. 3:1-16)
8. ITS WORK--getting folks saved, baptizing them (with a baptism that meets all the requirements of God's Word), teaching them ("to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you"). (Matt. 28:16-20)
9. ITS FINANCIAL PLAN--"Even so (TITHES and OFFERINGS) hath the Lord ordained…" (I Cor. 9:14)
10. ITS WEAPONS OF WARFARE--spiritual, not carnal (II Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-20)
11. ITS INDEPENDENCE--separation of Church and State – absolute religious liberty for all (Matt. 22:21). Various churches were separate in their execution of laws and discipline and in their responsibilities before God, but cooperative in work.
In any town there are many different churches -- all claiming to be the true church. Dr. Carroll did as you can do now -- take the marks, or teachings, of the different churches and find the ones which have these marks, or doctrines. The ones which have these marks, or doctrines, taught in God's Word, are the true churches.
This, Dr. Carroll has done, to the churches of all ages. He found many had departed from "these marks, or doctrines." Other churches, however, he found had been true to these marks" in every day and age since Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18)
Matthew 28:20 "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
"Psalms 12:6 - The Word of the Lord – Purified Seven Times?"
Many Bible believers teach that the book of Psalms prophesies of God’s supernatural intervention and preservation of His word in the English language. “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6). The King James Bible became the seventh purification of the English translation in fulfillment of this prophecy. There were six distinct editions leading up to our King James Bible, beginning in 1525 with Tyndale’s Bible. The seventh and final edition was the King James Bible of 1611, which celebrates its 400th year in 2011.
The basis for this premise can also be demonstrated by considering the fourteen rules of translation provided to the King James translators. The fourteenth rule names the six translations considered by the KJB translation committee as true predecessors of the King James Bible. The translations to be used “when they agree better with the text than the Bishop’s Bible are the Tyndale Bible, Matthew(s) Bible, Coverdale Bible, Whitchurch Bible (which is also known as the Cranmer’s or Great Bible printed by Whitchurch), and the Geneva Bible.” These rules also show that justification exists for excluding the Catholic Douay Rheims Version and the Wycliffe Bible from the foundational versions since they were translated from the Latin. The seven stages of purification are detailed as follows:
1. Tyndale (1525) – William Tyndale was known as the “Father of the English Bible.” He spoke seven different languages fluently (Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, English, and French) and was the sole translator of the first printed English New Testament. He had a price on his head and was hunted for eleven years by his king and the Roman Catholic Church. On October 6, 1536, he was tied to a stake, strangled, and consumed with fire. Before his strangling, he was given one last chance to recant, but refused to do so. He was allowed a moment to pray and cried out, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” 15 God answered his prayer when King Henry officially sanctioned the publishing of two separate Bibles in the English language within a year of Tyndale’s martyrdom.
2. Coverdale (1535) – The Coverdale Bible was named after Tyndale’s former proofreader at Antwerp – Miles Coverdale. He produced the first complete printed English Bible. His work consisted primarily of Tyndale’s New Testament and Pentateuch, with the remaining Old Testament books rendered primarily from Luther’s German translation. He omitted the marginal notes associated with the Tyndale Bible. King Henry officially sanctioned the second edition printed in 1537. The Roman Catholic Church tried unsuccessfully to silence Coverdale. He escaped only days before they would have captured him.
3. Matthew(s) (1537) – John Rogers (using the pseudonym of Thomas Matthews) continued Tyndale’s work while Tyndale was imprisoned in a dungeon. After the death of Edward VI in 1553, Queen Mary came into power with the ambition of burning every Protestant that would not recant and submit to the established church of Rome. John Rogers was burned first because he was the closest to William Tyndale. Over 300 leading Protestant scholars in England were burned at the stake during “Bloody Mary’s” four-year reign. Most of the English refugees fled to Geneva, Switzerland.
4. Great (1538) – This translation was named the Great Bible because of its exceptional size – 16½ inches by 11 inches. This Bible was a revision of the Matthew(s) Bible, not including Rogers’ marginal notes. Henry VIII authorized by royal injunction the printing of 20,000 copies of this translation for distribution to every church in England. It has the distinction of being the first Bible officially authorized for public use in England’s churches. Thus, Tyndale’s dying prayer was quickly answered.
5. Geneva (1560) – Theodore Beza, John Knox, William Whittingham, and Miles Coverdale labored six years to produce the Geneva Bible. This translation included thousands of explanatory notes which promoted study and understanding of the text. The Geneva Bible was the first to feature numbered verses and italics, and the first English Bible translated entirely from the original languages. It is quoted over 5,000 times in the plays of William Shakespeare. 18 The Geneva Bible came to America with John Smith in 1607, and later on board the Mayflower with the Pilgrims. It was the Bible used to lead Pocahontas and her people (the American Indians) to Christ.
6. Bishops (1568) – The changes instituted in the Bishops Bible were mostly cosmetic, including many pictures, and thicker, more expensive paper. The Geneva Bible remained the people’s Bible until the 1611 Authorized Version.
7. King James (1611) - The King James Version of the Bible became the seventh purification of the English translation and is as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. The “Puritans” vowed to remove the remnants of Roman Catholicism from the Church of England. Thus Dr. John Reynolds, president of Corpus Christi College at Oxford, suggested to King James that a translation be produced that the common people could understand, read, and love. This undertaking began when approximately one thousand ministers sent a petition to King James. It was finally agreed that a new translation, absolutely true to the original Greek text, be made which would not include any marginal notes or comments. No marginal notes were incorporated into this translation, except for explanations of Greek or Hebrew words and the provision of cross-references.
In 1604, a group of 54 of the best scholars in England were chosen to begin a new translation into English. In 1611, they completed the book that later became known as the Authorized Version.
The early editions of the Authorized Version included the Apocrypha. They included these books between the canonical Old and New Testament books to show that they were not inspired. All of the Apocryphal books were written in Greek, with the exception of one written in Latin. A 1613 edition of the KJB was printed excluding the Apocrypha. It is interesting to note that the Apocryphal books were distributed within the text of the Old Testament Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and the other Egyptian manuscripts favored by the modern versions and the modern day textual critics.
"Why are there so many different interpretations among Christians?"
The Bible says there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). This passage emphasizes the unity that should exist in the Body of Christ as we are indwelt by “one Spirit” (verse 4). In verse 3, Paul makes an appeal to humility, meekness, patience, and love—all which are necessary to preserve unity. According to 1 Cor. 2:10-13, the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (verse 11), which He reveals (verse 10) and teaches (verse 13) to those whom He indwells. This activity of the Holy Spirit is sometimes called illumination.
In a perfect world, every believer would dutifully study the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15) in prayerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s illumination. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. Not everyone who possesses the Holy Spirit actually listens to the Holy Spirit. There are Christians who grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30). Any educator will tell you that even the best students will sometime resist learning, no matter what the teacher does. So, one reason that different people have different interpretations of the Bible is simply that some do not listen to the Teacher (Holy Spirit). Here are a few other reasons for the wide difference of beliefs among those who teach the Bible:
1. Unbelief. The fact is that many who claim to be Christians have never been born again. They wear the label of “Christian,” but there has been no true change of heart. Many presume to teach the Bible who do not even believe it to be true. They claim to speak for God yet live in a state of unbelief. Most false interpretations come from such sources. It is impossible for an unbeliever to correctly interpret Scripture. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit . . . neither can he know them” (1 Cor. 2:14). An unsaved man (someone who does not have the Holy Spirit) cannot understand the truth of the Bible. He has no illumination. Further, even being a theologian does not guarantee one’s salvation.
(An example of the chaos created by unbelief is found in John 12:28-29. Jesus prays to the Father, saying, “Father, glorify Thy name.” The Father responds with an audible voice from heaven, which everyone nearby hears. Notice, however, the difference in interpretation: “The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, ‘An angel spake to Him.’” Everyone heard the same thing—an intelligible statement from heaven—yet everyone heard what he wanted to hear.)
2. Lack of training. The Apostle Peter warns against those who “wrest [misinterpret]” the Scriptures. He attributes their false teachings, in part, to the fact that they are “unlearned” (2 Peter 3:16). Timothy is told to “study to show thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15). There is no shortcut to proper biblical interpretation; we are constrained to study.
3. Poor Hermeneutics. Much error has been promulgated because of a simple failure to apply good hermeneutics (the science of interpreting Scripture). Taking a verse out of its immediate context can do great damage to the intent of the verse. Ignoring the wider context of the chapter and book, or failing to understand the historical and cultural context will also lead to problems.
4. Ignorance of the whole Word of God. Apollos was a powerful and eloquent preacher, but he only knew of the baptism of John. He was ignorant of Jesus and His provision of salvation, so his message was incomplete. Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-28). After that, Apollos preached Jesus Christ. Some groups and individuals today have an incomplete message, because they concentrate on certain passages, to the exclusion of others. They fail to compare Scripture with Scripture.
5. Selfishness and pride. Sad to say, many interpretations of the Bible are based on an individual’s own personal biases and pet doctrines. Some people see an opportunity for personal advancement by promoting a “new perspective” on Scripture. Look at the description of false teachers in Jude’s epistle (vs. 16).
6. Failure to mature. When Christians are not maturing as they should, their handling of the Word of God is affected. “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat . . . for ye are yet carnal” (1 Cor. 3:2-3). An immature Christian is not ready for the “meat” of God’s Word. Proof of the Corinthians’ carnality was a division in the church (vs. 4).
7. Undue emphasis on tradition. Some churches claim to believe the Bible, but their interpretation is always filtered through the established tradition of their church. Where tradition and the teaching of the Bible are in conflict, tradition is given precedence. This effectively negates the authority of the Word of God.
On the fundamentals, the Bible is abundantly clear. There is nothing vague about the deity of Christ, the reality of Heaven and Hell, and salvation by grace through faith. On some issues of less importance, however, the teaching of Scripture is less clear, and this naturally leads to different interpretations. For example, we have no direct biblical command governing the frequency of communion or the structure of church government or the style of music to use. Honest, sincere Christians can have various interpretations of the passages concerning these nonessential issues.
The important thing is to be dogmatic where Scripture is and to avoid being dogmatic where Scripture is not. Churches today should strive to follow the model left us by the early church in Jerusalem: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). There was unity in the early church because they were steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine.
"When / How do we receive the Holy Spirit?"
The Apostle Paul clearly taught that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. 1 Corinthians 12:13 declares, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.." Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not belong to Christ - "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 have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all those who believe, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.."
So, how do we receive the Holy Spirit? By simply believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior (John 3:5-16).
When do we receive the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit becomes our permanent possession the moment we believe.
8:14–17 When news that Samaria had avidly received the word reached the apostles ... at Jerusalem, they sent Peter and John to them. By the time they arrived, the believers had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but they had not received the Holy Spirit. Obviously acting in accordance with divine guidance, the apostles prayed that these believers might receive the Holy Spirit and laid their hands on them. As soon as this was done, they received the Holy Spirit.
This immediately raises the question, “Why the difference between the order of events here and on the day of Pentecost?”
At Pentecost the Jewish people:
2. Were baptized.
3. Received the Holy Spirit.
Here the Samaritans:
2. Were baptized.
3. Had the apostles pray for them and lay their hands on them.
4. Received the Holy Spirit.
Of one thing we can be sure: they were all saved in the same way—by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only Way of Salvation. However, during this transitional time, bridging Judaism and Christianity, God chose to act sovereignly in connection with various communities of believers. Jewish believers were asked to dissociate themselves from the nation of Israel by baptism before they received the Spirit. Now the Samaritans must have special prayer and the apostles’ hands laid on them. But why?
Perhaps the best answer is that it was intended to give expression to the unity of the church, whether made up of Jews or Samaritans. There was a real danger that the church in Jerusalem might retain ideas of Jewish superiority, and that they might continue to have no dealings with their Samaritan brethren. To avoid the possibility of schism, or the thought of two churches (one Jewish and one Samaritan), God sent the apostles to lay their hands on the Samaritans. This expressed full fellowship with them as believers in the Lord Jesus. They were all members of one body, all one in Christ Jesus.
When verse 16 says that they had only been baptized in (or into) the name of the Lord Jesus (see also 10:48 and 19:5), this does not mean that it was different from being baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). “Luke is not recording a formula used,” writes W. E. Vine, “but is simply stating an historical fact.” Both expressions signify allegiance and identification, and all true believers gladly acknowledge their loyalty to a union with the Trinity and the Lord Jesus.
19:1 When Paul originally visited Ephesus, he promised the Jews in the synagogue that he would return, in the will of God. In fulfillment of that promise, he journeyed from the regions of Galatia and Phrygia along the inland route, over mountainous terrain to EPHESUS on the western coast of proconsular Asia. Arriving there he met about twelve men who professed to be disciples. As he talked with them, he realized that their knowledge of the Christian faith was very imperfect and defective. He wondered if they had ever really received the Holy Spirit.
19:2 Therefore he asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” In the KJV Paul’s question reads, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” This wrongly implies that the reception of the Holy Spirit takes place subsequent to salvation.
The thought of this verse is not that the reception of the Holy Spirit is a work of grace which follows salvation. As soon as a sinner trusts the Savior, he receives the Holy Spirit.
The reply of the disciples was, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit,” or as some have paraphrased, “We did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given.” Since these men were disciples of John the Baptist, as we learn in the next verse, they should have known about the existence of the Holy Spirit from the OT. Not only so, but John had taught his disciples that the One who came after him would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. What these disciples did not know was that the Holy Spirit had already been given on the Day of Pentecost.
19:3, 4 When the apostle raised the question of baptism, he found out that these men knew only about John’s baptism. In other words, the extent of their knowledge was that the Messiah was at hand, and they had signified their repentance by baptism as a necessary preparation for receiving Him as King. They did not know that Christ had died, had been buried, and had risen from the dead and ascended back to heaven, and that He had sent the Holy Spirit. Paul explained all this to them. He reminded them that when John baptized with the baptism of repentance, he urged them to believe ... on Christ Jesus.
19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Throughout the Book of Acts the emphasis is distinctly on the lordship of Jesus. Therefore, the disciples of John here were baptized by the authority of the Lord Jesus and as a public acknowledgment that in their lives they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord (Jehovah).
19:6, 7 Paul then laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. This is the fourth distinct time in Acts when the Holy Spirit was given. The first was in chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, and involved the Jews primarily. The second was in Acts 8, when the Spirit was given to the Samaritans through the laying on of the hands of Peter and John. The third time was in Acts 10, at the household of the Gentile, Cornelius, in Joppa. We have previously pointed out that the order of events leading up to the reception of the Holy Spirit is different in each case.
Here in Acts 19 the order is:
Laying on of the apostle’s hands.
Reception of the Holy Spirit.
By giving the Holy Spirit to John’s disciples through the laying on of Paul’s hands, the Lord forestalled the possibility of a charge being made later that Paul was inferior to Peter, John, or the other apostles.
When the disciples of John received the Holy Spirit they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Such supernatural powers were God’s method of working in the days before the NT was given. Today we know that we receive the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion, not by signs and wonders, or even by feelings, but by the testimony of the NT Scriptures.
The moment a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit; he is sealed by the Holy Spirit; he receives the earnest of the Spirit; he receives the anointing of the Spirit; and he is baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ. However, this does not deny that in a believer’s life there are subsequent crises of the Spirit. There is no denying that the Holy Spirit often comes on individuals in a sovereign manner, empowering them for special ministries, giving them great boldness in the faith, and pouring out upon them a passion for souls.
"Contrasting the Carnal and Spiritually Minded"
Romans 6:8 - 10
Carnally Minded People focus on selfish interests. They concentrate only on their own individual concerns at the exclusion of the needs of others. They are habitually jealous of what others have. They are suspicious of others or inclined to believe the worst of everyone and everything. They are angry at self, others and circumstances. They are immoral in one’s thoughts, actions and feelings. Given to idol worship of various types. They tend to create strife and divisions and are open to prejudicial thinking
Use the following check list of criterion to evaluate your own spiritual progress in putting away the old sinful nature and putting on Christ’s characteristics into all areas of your heart, soul, emotions, mind and behavior:
Carnally Minded People:
1. Stubbornly holds to one’s own opinion regardless of truth
2. Envious of others who have more or who possess more
3. Practices no self-control over appetites and desires
4. Only associates with people who are on one’s level of thinking, social-status and class
5. Impulsively led by one’s appetites
6. Obsessed with control
7. Led by fear
8. Habitually compares self with others
9. Frustrations cause one to feel bitter and resentful
10. Discouraged most of the time
11. Rejects opportunities for service as something that is too much sacrifice
12. Influenced by the opinions of others
13. Becomes intoxicated with one’s desires. Easily gives into to wild carousing
14. Unwilling to give away money for God’s purposes
15. Distrustful of most people
16. Unwise in the use of one’s time, talents and resources
17. Refuses to grow up and become mature
18. Occasionally acts and speaks indecently
19. Habitually shows up late
20. Tribalistic and cliqueish
21. Impure in one’s thoughts attitudes and actions
22. Relationships lack the fruit of the Holy Spirit
23. Perspectives are clouded by subjective feelings of anger, irritability and self interests
24. Unable to personally spend time worshipping God
Spiritually Minded People:
1. Concentrates on Christ’s interests above those of everyone and everything else
2. Habitually are thankful for whatever God gives
3. Trusting of God and believing the best in every person and every situation
4. At peace with self, others and circumstances
5. Moral in one’s thoughts, actions and feelings
6. Worships only the Lord God and His will
7. Practices love to all those who are willing to do the will of the Father.
8. Loves the sinner, but hates the sin
9. Associates with all men as Jesus related freely to people without bias
10. Stays humbly open to be taught by anyone
11. Led by faith
12. Follows God’s plan regardless of what others have or think about one’s situation
13. Motivated by frustrations to cast all of one’s cares upon the Lord
14. Encouraged most of the time
15. Welcomes opportunities to serve as a way of becoming more like Jesus Christ
16. Listens to the word of God as taught by the Spirit of God to obey the Lord in all things
17. Refuses to surrender control to personal desires
18. Diligently practices self-discipline
19. Willing to freely give money and resources to the Lord’s purposes as an expression of submission
20. Trusting in those who God’s hand is on Wise in the use of one’ s time, talents and resources reflecting good stewardship
21. Willing to grow up into all aspects in Christ
22. Acts and speaks with decorum and tact
23. Practices punctuality
24. Loves all men freely without prejudice
25. Purity in one’s thoughts, attitudes and actions
26. Wise in the way one can get the greatest return for God given investments
27. Relationships are characterized by the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control
28. Perspectives are objectives led by the word of God controlled through the power of the Spirit
29. Spends much personal time worshipping God
"Christian Music According to the Bible"
Why study this: Rom 16:17-18; I Cor 5:6,9; Eph 5:11; II Tim 3:5
•You must decide that the Bible is your authority, and not what “feels good” or what you “enjoy”, otherwise you become just like others who put experience above the Bible.
I.Biblical Power of Music
A. Music is spiritual, I Sam 16:23; II Ki 3:15; Gal 5:17
• A believer should desire “spiritual” music as he is led by the Holy Spirit and associated with the filling of the Spirit, Eph 5:18-19
• Music can also be associated with the worship of false gods, Dan 3:4-15
• Music can refresh, I Sam 16:23
B. Music is a universal language, and it unifies
•Dan 3:4-15, “all peoples, nations, languages”
C. Satan is a musical being
•Is 14:11, viols; Ezek. 28:13, tabrets and pipes
•If the “angel of light” can use music in his work, he will, even so-called “Christian” music
II.Biblical Purpose of Christian Music
A. Music closely associated with the worship of God, II Cor 29:25-30
•Glory of God came during the music, II Chr 5:12-14
•It is to be “unto the Lord”, praise, Ps 95:1; 96:2, Not praise for the performer
•To accompany Christian rejoicing, I Ki 1:39-40
B. For teaching/admonishing Christians, Col 3:16-17; Ps 137:1-4
•Not really for evangelism (no Scriptural basis), or not for entertainment
•Check out the goals of worldly performers
•Not even Paul and Silas used music for evangelism, Acts 16:25-31 (keeper was asleep)
•Evangelism is from preaching, Rom 10:14; I Cor 1:21; Tit 1:3
•The “rock” crowd needs reaching with the same old-fashioned gospel that has always reached people
III.Biblical Precepts for Christian Music
A. To be performed by Christians, Col 3:16-17
B. It must be doctrinally correct, Ps 119:54; II Tim 4:2-3
•Most music today concentrates on man’s felt needs like loneliness, emptiness, sadness, etc. The songs should invite the hearers to come to Jesus for joy, peace, along with a genuine call to repentance or a changed life. The NT addresses itself to man’s real spiritual condition: lost, rebellious, enemy of God on the way to Hell. “Man’s need is not to get turned on but get turned around”.
C. Christians are to have a “new” song, Ps 96:1; Is 42:10
•II Cor 5:17, “all” things become new (even the music)
•Ps 40:3, many shall “see” it and “FEAR” the Lord
•The Lord is to be a Christian’s song (stated in each section of the Old Testament), Ex 15:2; Ps 118:14; Is 12:2
D. Music Principle: we are triune beings, I Thes 5:23
•Melody is for the spirit, Eph 5:18-19
•Harmony is for the mind (soul) - classical
•Rhythm is for the body (should not dominate); Rom 13:14; Gal 5:17
IV.Biblical Principles That Should Govern Music
A. “All” must glorify God
•Does the music or its performance, independent of the words, glorify God? I Cor 10:31; Col 3:17
B. Christians to be different/separate from the world
•Lev 10:10, priests to show a difference between holy and unholy
•Prov 4:14-15, to avoid the “way” of evil men
•Is 5:20, woe pronounced on those that blur the lines
•Ez 22:26, God upset because no difference between holy and profane, unclean and clean
•Rom 12:2, be not conformed to the world
•II Cor 6:14-17, be separated
•I Thes 5:22, abstain from “all” appearances of evil (album covers, wild concerts, etc.)
•Jas 1:27, be unspotted from the world
•I Pet 1:14-16, don’t fashion self according to the former lusts, but be holy
•I Jn 2:15-16, love not the world
•Otherwise could be a stumbling-block, I Cor 8:9-13
•Even God’s songs are not for the world, Ps 137:1-4
•We make ourselves look foolish to the world when we try to be like them, they expect a difference; we cannot be like the world, and “trick” them into getting saved, only the preached gospel will do that
•Is the sound heard in home/car/church different than what is heard downtown on Saturday night?
‘”Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving Let your requests be made known unto God”(Phil. 4:6)
One of the ways the Lord describes the people of the last days is as unthankful, unholy, and without natural affection (see 2 Tim. 3:1-5). This is the result of a heart out of tune with heaven and out of fellowship with the Lord. Unthankfulness Is a great sin and will bring a fatal sickness to the soul, but thankfulness is the attitude of a soul in touch with God.
1. PRODUCES HOLINESS
The thankful person always directs his thanks in the right direction. This brings his heart to the source of the things he Is thankful for, and this always brings a person to the Lord, because all good gifts come down from above (see James 1:17). It is our Heavenly Father who feeds us, clothes us, gives us health, and watches out for our every need. As we learn to look up and thank God in every thing, we spend much time In His presence. As we behold Him in His holiness, we become more like Him, and this produces holiness in us. Give thanks unto the Lord.
2. PRODUCES HEALTHINESS
The unthankful person is never content. Rather, he is like a ship without anchor - - loose on a troubled sea, and tossed and driven by storms of greed and selfishness. He never seems to have enough, and this restlessness produces high blood pressure, ulcers, heart trouble, and many more health problems, which thankfulness could prevent and possibly cure. Giving thanks unto the Lord is healthy.
3. PRODUCES HAPPINESS
The thankful person is a happy person. It is impossible to be thankful and to be unhappy. Thankfulness never registers a complaint. While there may still be desires and needs, they are simply brought to the Father as requests in prayer, and the thankful person accepts the will of God and waits patiently for God to do what is right. The thankful person fully trusts the Lord and casts all his cares upon Him. “Happy is that people ... whose God is the Lord" (Psa. 144:15).