What time is it?

Today, I heard Brother Daniel Stearsman deliver a great sermon on Galatians chapter one.  His message exposed the text and his lessons were direct and appropriate!  THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL has never changed and NEVER WILL!!!  What I took home with me was a desire to remain faithful to the truth and do whatever I can to spread THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL!!!  And this applies not only to me, but to all who truly desire to serve the God of Heaven.  Jesus puts it this way...

Matthew, Chapter 5
14  You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden.   15  Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.   16  Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

Honestly, we are all equal in the sight of God.  I am nothing special and neither are you.  Let me repeat; we are all equal!!!  However, God has given us all talents and it would be a shame to waste them!!!!  So, whatever you can do, do it to the best of your ability; in other words... let your light shine.  And that light will help others to realize that it is time for them to do the same.  Like a little candle gives enough light to see the time, so, while we still have time-- help us to do the same.  What time is it?  Time to GLORIFY GOD, NO MATTER WHAT THE CLOCK SAYS!!!



"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day." (Gen. 1:1-5) So begin the opening words of God's revelation to mankind. Therein we are introduced to the most elementary and yet most profound influence in the physical world - light. From the beginning of creation, God "divided" light from darkness, thus creating that which cannot coexist with darkness. Throughout the remaining time of this world's existence, light would henceforth and always be known as that which dispels darkness - whether in the physical world or in its representation of good and evil, truth and error, or hope and despair.
In John's depiction of this beginning moment of time, he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (Jn. 1:1-5) However, as John used light and darkness in this setting, he was not referring to physical light and darkness, but was using those elements as contrasting representatives of the righteousness of God in the flesh (see vss. 10, 11 & 14) as opposed to the sinful condition of this world into which He came.
The light of Jesus' physical presence in this world produced such long shadows across the darkness of man's sinfulness that it would seem impossible that He not be recognized. Yet, "the darkness did not comprehend it." The words of Jesus and His righteousness were and are in such contrast to all that is sinful, that God could say that "...My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways...For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-9) They are as far apart as light from darkness.
It is said that John the baptizer "...came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world." (Jn. 1:7-9)
Isaiah prophesied about 700 years earlier referring to the impact of Jesus' presence in this world: "...By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined." (Isa. 9:1-2) We read of the fulfillment and application of Isaiah's words in Mt. 4:12-17.
Jesus explained why the darkness failed to "comprehend" the Light at His coming and why so many today still refuse to acknowledge Him: "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." (Jn. 3:19-20)
Not only did John the baptizer give testimony to Christ being the Light, but Jesus proclaimed Himself to be so. He said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (Jn. 8:12) Notice that He plainly states that if we wish to have this "light" that it will be conditioned upon our "following Him." John also stated it this way: "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 Jn. 1:7) Again, notice that the condition upon which we are allowed continued fellowship with Him is our "walking in the light." Why is this so? Because, "...God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." (vs. 5)
Many claim to have fellowship with God while living outside of the authority of His word. However, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." (Jn. 1:6) Once again, it is evident that light and darkness cannot coexist. We are urged to choose light.
That choice is an urgent one. Jesus pointed this out to His disciples as He contemplated His eventual ascension back into Heaven. "Then Jesus said to them, 'A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.' " (Jn. 12:35) If we procrastinate in walking in the light of His word, while we are shuffling our feet in the pathway of indifference, we too could be overtaken by the darkness of sin.
As His children we are privileged to hold up the true light of His word in the midst of a dark world that is asleep under the pall of sin. To those who have crossed the straits of sins dark night in an effort to reach the harbor of God's mercy, His word shines forth as a beacon of hope in the long, dark night of despair.
In New York Harbor the Statue of Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom and hope. It was a welcome sight to many who left behind a world less friendly . Her lamp invited them in the sentiment of the words on her plaque: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
As we hold high God's divine message, it stands as a sentinel of liberty from the sin that once bound us all. In its volume it invites, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Mt. 11:28-30)

- Gary V. Womack - January 2005



Man throughout the ages has looked around himself and contemplated his surroundings in wonder. Solomon was one such man who was afforded the means to pursue such knowledge. He said, "And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this grievous task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised." (Eccl. 1:13) Everything that our eye sees has triggered a desire to know and understand how it's made, how it works, what its purpose and function is and how it got here. Such curiosity has prompted man to pursue the answers to such questions through what is called "science." According to Webster's dictionary, the definition of "science" indicates that the word originally had to do with "the state or fact of knowing; knowledge, often as opposed to intuition, belief, etc." However, in time it has come to have this present definition: "Systemized knowledge derived from observation, study, and experimentation carried on in order to determine the nature or principles of what is being studied." The systematic order of science begins with observation, followed by a theory ("a formulation of apparent relationships or underlying principles of certain observed phenomena which has been verified to some degree." Webster), from which is drawn an hypothesis in order to explain what has been observed. The next order in scientific investigation is experimentation which is conducted in order to arrive at a proven conclusion or proof. This process, or at least parts of it, are often repeated many times before a final proof is reached.
Indeed, science has revealed many amazing realities about the physical universe in which we live. This is true only because God made everything by design with order and constancy, therefore it can be understood by the laws which He set in motion when He created all things. It is on those "laws of nature" that the scientist must rely in order to conduct experimentation and consistently rely upon the results. There is no fear of science contradicting the Divine revelation of God's written word since He is both Creator of all things as well as author of the Divine account of His creation. It must be remembered that science is the study of existing things and cannot go beyond their beginnings.
Thankfully, God chose to reveal the order of His six days of creative work, since it cannot be determined by scientific experimentation. This is so because of the fact that there is no prior physical existence of matter or physical laws upon which to draw an hypothesis or upon which to carry out experimentation, since God created everything from nothing. And while there is no experiment that can determine creative beginnings, Paul makes it clear that we can understand the First Cause by observation of all that has been created. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,..." (Rom. 1:20).
God, who is the First Cause, is not left without evidence of His existence and nature. That which He has created gives testimony of His power and eternal nature by virtue of the fact that He precedes all that has been created. As the psalmist has said of God, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." (Psm. 90:2) Science cannot, of its own methods, reproduce inside a laboratory the creative work of God. Therefore, all science must ultimately concede the fact that the origin of matter and the associated physical laws upon which he relies in order to analyze, test and draw his conclusions to such experimentation rests upon the Divine revelation that gives reliable testimony to the origin of all things. To think otherwise will only lead to false theories and hypotheses and much wasteful and futile experimentation.
While many scientists refuse to accept these truths, it can only be concluded that "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." (Heb. 11:4)
It is an interesting fact that the Hebrew writer points to that which is "seen" and which is "visible" as contrasting that from which things were made. Sight is a product of the workings of the eye. Without light, our eyes do not function. But how many of us take light for granted?
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light.' And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day." (Gen. 1:1-5) When we read this we may wonder how there could be light on the first day when it wasn't until the fourth day of creation that He made the Sun which we normally would attribute light to originate from?
Listen to the account of the fourth day of creation: "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth'; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day." (Gen. 1:14-19) Is there a contradiction in the accounts of these two days of creation regarding the subject of light? Some would like to think so, but science itself has revealed the nature of light and in so doing has shown how this can be so. But in the mean time, we ought never to draw the false conclusion that there is a supposed contradiction within the scriptures. Faith would call us to look to God, as did His Son, and say, "Your word is truth." (Jn. 17:17)
It has only been in recent times that the nature of light has been discovered. Light is the electromagnetic radiation of energy which is measurable in "wave lengths." These wave lengths range from "long" waves of energy that we know as "radio" waves from which we are able to "hear," to more compressed wave lengths known as "infrared light" which is not visible to the naked eye, to even more compressed wavelengths which are known as "ultraviolet light" which is also invisible to the naked eye, to even more compressed wavelengths which we know as "X-rays" and so on. Visible light which can be detected by the human eye, involves the eye's reception of a narrow "spectrum" of wavelengths of energy which lies between infrared and ultraviolet light (or wave lengths). Within this narrow range of wave lengths known as visible light is the spectrum of "color."
So on the first day, God created this pulsating "energy" which is measured as a wide range of "wave lengths" from which is realized "light." As we have already pointed out, "visible" light (that which the human eye can comprehend) falls within a narrow range of wave lengths between the "invisible" ultraviolet and infrared ranges of light.
It has been learned in the past century, that this electromagnetic "energy," in its various "magnitudes" of intensity are realized as radio waves, light waves, X-rays, gamma rays, etc. (all of which are identified by their particular "wave lengths."). The elementary principles upon which this energy is produced is the result of positively and negatively charged particles found within atoms (consisting of protons, neutrons and electrons). The study of such energy as is produced by atoms is called "quantum mechanics." Such studies has resulted in an understanding that atoms are the source of this energy from which we get light, as well as these other levels of energy that we have also considered. While most of us do not consider the "mechanics" of all of this, we enjoy the results of such understanding when we use any electrical appliance, when we turn on the TV, or work on our computer, or when we need to have X-rays made to determine what course the doctor needs to take to treat us - and yes, when we flip the light switch and instantly fill the room with light.
Now if you didn't understand what was said in the last three paragraphs, don't be too upset. I too prefer the biblical explanation: "And God said, let there be light, and there was light." Isn't that so much more simple to understand? However, to the inquisitive mind, God has amazed us once again by the greatness of His knowledge and power to think of such a complex (and yet simple) means of producing light as well as matter, and producing these marvels of "nature" for us to ponder!
So it is therefore understood (at least scientifically) that God created on the first day of His creation, the "spectrum" of energy of which light is a part. In so doing, He produced light in all of its colors. And we also understand that in producing light, He necessarily produced "atoms" with their electrical charges as the means from which light is produced. In creating atoms, God made the basic building blocks from which all matter consists. It is what all material things are made of. Atoms can best be described as invisibly small "solar systems" so small that many thousands of them, lying on a flat plain could fit inside the area of the period at the end of this sentence. Combined together in various combinations, atoms make up all of the elements from which God made all things. Every physical thing, including the earth, water, air, the Sun, the moon, the stars, plants, animals, and people - all of these things - are made with atoms. And God "made" them by "speaking" them into existence.
When God created the Sun on the fourth day, He used the same building blocks that He produced on the first day when He made the earth, water and light. In His own great creative power, He produced the Sun with all of its self-sustaining atomic energy, as a great flaming nuclear reactor, which emits not only light (based on the principles begun on the first day of creation), but all the wave lengths of energy ranging from radio waves to intense gamma rays. He also made the myriad of innumerable stars, each of which are "suns" in their own right (some of which are smaller and many of which are millions of times larger than our Sun), each of which generates uncomprehendable light and energy, sending their individual points of light through the expanse of God's universe. Why? Why did God go to such lengths - to make the invisibly small and from it make the immeasurably large and expansively distant "lights" of the universe (most of which we can only "see" through telescopes or "detect" by their radio waves or gamma rays)? Why has He allowed man the mental capacity to observe and learn, and to build upon all of the generations of mankind's learning, to know (what little) we know now? Do we need to know this in order to believe and serve God? No! Can we benefit from it? Yes!
Isaiah best sums up the answer to these questions: " 'To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?' says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; Not one is missing." (Isa. 40:25-26)
- Gary V. Womack - November 2003

Bible Reading, Feb. 3

Feb. 3
Genesis 34

Gen 34:1 Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
Gen 34:2 Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her. He took her, lay with her, and humbled her.
Gen 34:3 His soul joined to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young lady, and spoke kindly to the young lady.
Gen 34:4 Shechem spoke to his father, Hamor, saying, "Get me this young lady as a wife."
Gen 34:5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah, his daughter; and his sons were with his livestock in the field. Jacob held his peace until they came.
Gen 34:6 Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to talk with him.
Gen 34:7 The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it. The men were grieved, and they were very angry, because he had done folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter; a which thing ought not to be done.
Gen 34:8 Hamor talked with them, saying, "The soul of my son, Shechem, longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife.
Gen 34:9 Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves.
Gen 34:10 You shall dwell with us, and the land will be before you. Live and trade in it, and get possessions in it."
Gen 34:11 Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, "Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you will tell me I will give.
Gen 34:12 Ask me a great amount for a dowry, and I will give whatever you ask of me, but give me the young lady as a wife."
Gen 34:13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father with deceit, and spoke, because he had defiled Dinah their sister,
Gen 34:14 and said to them, "We can't do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised; for that is a reproach to us.
Gen 34:15 Only on this condition will we consent to you. If you will be as we are, that every male of you be circumcised;
Gen 34:16 then will we give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
Gen 34:17 But if you will not listen to us, to be circumcised, then we will take our sister, and we will be gone."
Gen 34:18 Their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor's son.
Gen 34:19 The young man didn't wait to do this thing, because he had delight in Jacob's daughter, and he was honored above all the house of his father.
Gen 34:20 Hamor and Shechem, his son, came to the gate of their city, and talked with the men of their city, saying,
Gen 34:21 "These men are peaceful with us. Therefore let them live in the land and trade in it. For behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.
Gen 34:22 Only on this condition will the men consent to us to live with us, to become one people, if every male among us is circumcised, as they are circumcised.
Gen 34:23 Won't their livestock and their possessions and all their animals be ours? Only let us give our consent to them, and they will dwell with us."
Gen 34:24 All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor, and to Shechem his son; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.
Gen 34:25 It happened on the third day, when they were sore, that two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword, came upon the unsuspecting city, and killed all the males.
Gen 34:26 They killed Hamor and Shechem, his son, with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away.
Gen 34:27 Jacob's sons came on the dead, and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister.
Gen 34:28 They took their flocks, their herds, their donkeys, that which was in the city, that which was in the field,
Gen 34:29 and all their wealth. They took captive all their little ones and their wives, and took as plunder everything that was in the house.
Gen 34:30 Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have troubled me, to make me odious to the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I am few in number. They will gather themselves together against me and strike me, and I will be destroyed, I and my house."
Gen 34:31 They said, "Should he deal with our sister as with a prostitute?"

A Biography of God by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

A Biography of God

That’s what Jack Miles called his book on the Bible. I’ll confess I don’t care for it very much though I found it littered with really interesting proposals and insights; but then, what do I know, it won the Pulitzer. Still, I can’t surrender my mind even to such an august body of literary judges. All in all, to me it’s an ordinary book. Still, though I read the biblical text differently than Jack Miles he’s spot on when he insists on reading the text, which often shocks as well as delights.
My own impression is that the bulk of non-believers are non-believers for reasons other than what they read and hear people say (see Why are There Atheists?). But I think reading a good biography of God would open their eyes to hidden prejudices and obvious misunderstandings (I think it would open the eyes of a lot of believers as well).
Much of what we hear from believing people isn’t God’s biography, which comes to its clearest expression in the Story of Jesus Christ; what we hear is an endless harping on how we should be nice people. The Bible becomes a book of moral principles, a guide to right living. We can hardly deny that the Hebrew-Christian scriptures, whatever else we think of them, have been such a guide to countless generations. But to reduce the scriptures to that is to miss the essential nature of those scriptures and simply by default, if we ignore the “God-biography” nature of them, we sever ethics from biography and that’s a catastrophe (which is another discussion for another time). By and by the Bible becomes a bore when we ceaselessly comb it for little nuggets on how to be “nicer”. The drama disappears, the astonishing truths about who God is, what he has done and what he is doing with and in this chaotic world—these truths get buried under a mountain of banal moralising.
By the time we’re done serving up that pap the non-believer may almost be excused when she or he dismisses the Bible as an ancient book of moral maxims which may or may not be relevant to a modern society and world. If only there was a way to interest non-believers to get into the Bible and allow it to tell its own Story in its own way (that’s a bit more difficult than it sounds but an honest go of it can be made). I understand I’m speaking as a Christian when I say that there’s something enthralling about the Story of a sovereign and holy loving Lord, a human pair, lost innocence, a lost garden, a dangerous and costly search and a glorious rescue. The Bible is a biography of God and his relationship with a lost humanity.
Don’t be fooled by the ignorance of some of us Christians—we mean well, but the Bible’s not, “A Divine Guide to the Virtuous”. It’s about a God more passionate than Alexander the Great with a mission not to make the world Greece but to make the world righteous and alive, to lift it out of its darkness and despair into life and radiant hope!

A Bagful of Chemical Reactions by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

A Bagful of Chemical Reactions

Sometimes we talk about "free will" as if there were absolutely no limits to our freedom. This makes no sense. There are all kinds of limits that are recognized. Limits that stretch from between a severely retarded child to environmental straightjackets but though there are limits we're all sure that we can resist internal promptings and external stimuli. There's nonsense mouthed on the other end of that spectrum when people tell us there is no such thing as "free will". Another absolute. In various ways people like B.F. Skinner and E.O. Wilson assure us that we're nothing but a bag of responses to genetic and/or environmental shaping. As one man put it to a friend of mine, "You can't get away from the fact that your whole being, thought and behaviour included of course, is the product of chemicals and elements, hormones and gland secretions."
So spoke a bagful of chemicals as it tried to persuade another sack of irresistible hormones and amino acids to believe something it didn't believe. The first bag of active chemicals seemed to think that there is something called "truth" that the second bag (which is what the first bag thought he was taking to) was seeing and needed to confess. Why the first bag should even want to bother to "persuade" the second bag is a mystery. The second bag (if what the first bag claimed was indeed true) had no freedom to believe other than it believed so why would the first bag make the effort? And why bother anyway? What does it matter what a bag of chemicals thinks? There's something that strikes us as out of whack when we hear one "machine" trying to persuade another "machine" that it matters what "machines" believe. And besides, if it's "true" we'll never know it because questions like, "Is it true?" have no meaning where everything is nothing other than it is.
Nobody can live believing such stuff. We don't hold a car tyre responsible for going flat when it's punctured by a nail--it can't help it, it has no choice. The same would be true of people unless they have some kind of control and can transcend many of their limiting factors. Of course, by the same token, we don't lock up our car and then make a speech to it, "Thank you for being a good car today and taking me where I needed to go." So not only does the "no free will" school undermine responsibility it destroys the groundwork for praise. Why praise a bag of chemicals for doing what it cannot avoid doing? It can neither be praised nor blamed. Try living like that. In truth, it's a killer of life!

"Honest" unbelief by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

"Honest" unbelief

In his little book The Great Divorce C.S Lewis insists that sins of the intellect are sins as surely as sins of the flesh are sins.
He has a ghost in bishop’s dress speaking to one of “the Bright People” about religious matters. The bright spirit tells the former bishop that he is experiencing “hell” because he is an apostate and the cultured ghost wants to know, “are you serious?” “Perfectly,” said the bright being.
“Do you really think people are penalised for their honest opinions? Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that those opinions were mistaken.”
"Do you really think there are no sins of intellect?” the bright spirit wanted to know.
“There are indeed…There is hide-bound prejudice, and intellectual dishonesty, and timidity, and stagnation. But honest opinions fearlessly followed—they are not sins.”
The cultured ghost went on to insist that not only were his opinions honest and fearless—they were heroic because in proclaiming his denials he “took every risk,” he said.
The bright spirit wanted to know, “What risk? What was at all likely to come of it except what actually came—popularity, sales for your books, invitations, and finally a bishopric?”
The cultured and scholarly ghost protested but the bright spirit went on to ask, “When did we put up one moment’s real resistance to the loss of our faith?”
Again the scholarly and cultured ghost protested and defended his intellectual conclusions as honest and brave and sincere. "Yes, but having allowed oneself to drift, unresisting, unpraying, accepting every half-conscious solicitation from our desires, we reached a point where we no longer believed the Faith. Just in the same way a jealous man, drifting, and unresisting, reaches a point at which he believes lies about his best friend…[your] beliefs are sincere in the sense that they occur as events in [your mind]. If that’s what you mean by sincerity they are sincere….But errors which are sincere in that sense are not innocent.” In the end what the bright spirit says to the cultured and scholarly, "honest" ghost is this, “I am telling you to repent and believe.”

When the Pharisee said he didn’t believe in Jesus he was being honest and in that sense sincere. [I wonder that Jesus did not praise them for their honesty.] There wasn’t clear proof, you see; there were too many arguments unmet and questions that needed answering and what could they do but walk away from him disbelieving?
In John 7:17 Jesus made it clear that it wasn’t a question of “proof” but a question of willingness. In another place he dismissed the subterfuge (though it had an appearance of being defensible) that they couldn’t believe because there wasn’t satisfying evidence. He said they couldn’t believe because they sought things other than the glory of God (John 5:44).
In Romans 1:18-32 Paul looked at an unbelieving Gentile world and not only roundly accused it of “fleshly” sins—he bluntly condemned their intellectual rejection of God as sin (1:21-25, REB); that "knowing God they refused to honour him as God…Hence all their thinking has ended in futility, and their misguided minds are plunged in darkness…they have made fools of themselves.”
So a non-believer can’t see anything redemptive in the suffering of a little child—is there something new in that? No one saw anything redemptive in the suffering of God’s own Child.
I think I prefer the intellectual doubts of a trusting heart (the Bible is filled with them) to the intellectual doubts of a trustless unbeliever.
I think we’re a bit “too understanding” of intellectual sin.
To make something of a “hero” out of a non-believer because he honestly disbelieves is not only bad for the non-believer, it may be tragic for the immature in faith.

Matthew: The Genealogy Of Jesus Christ (1:1-17) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                 The Genealogy Of Jesus Christ (1:1-17)


1. We begin our study by reading the first seventeen verses of Matthew
   (Mt 1:1-17)

2. In 2Ti 3:16-17, we are told that ALL scripture is profitable
   a. This includes such sections as the one we have just read
   b. Though some may consider it a dry, laborious genealogical table
      of names...
      1) It is profitable for doctrine
      2) It is profitable for instruction in righteousness

3. My objective will be to share some spiritual thoughts that can be
   gleaned from this scripture

[Since Matthew is the only one of the four gospel writers to begin his
gospel with a genealogical record of Jesus, let me first suggest a 
reason why...]


      1. It has been observed that:
         a. Matthew wrote for the Jews
         b. Mark wrote for the Romans
         c. Luke wrote for the Greeks
         d. John wrote for the church
      2. Matthew's gospel was designed to convince Jews that Jesus is
         the Messiah
         a. Fulfillment of Jewish prophecy is a recurring theme - e.g.,
            Mt 1:22-23; 2:4-6,14-15,17-18,23
         b. Genealogy was certainly important to the nation of Israel 
            - Gen 5, 10, 1Ch 1-9

      1. The Messiah had to be a descendant of Abraham - cf. Gen 22:18
      2. The Messiah had to be a descendant of David - cf. Isa 11:1-2,
      -- Mt 1:1 proclaims this to be true of Jesus, and Mt 1:2-17
         demonstrates it

[Whatever else Jesus may have done, if He was not a descendant of 
Abraham and David, He could not be the Messiah.  So a gospel directed
especially to the Jews would naturally settle this issue before 
proceeding.  Now let's note some...]


      1. Into three sections of fourteen names each - Mt 1:17
         a. Abraham to David
         b. David to the Babylonian captivity
         c. Babylonian captivity to Jesus
         -- This may have been to facilitate committing to memory
      2. Which may explain why some names were omitted
         a. Between Joram and Uzziah there were three kings (Ahaziah,
            Joash, & Amaziah) - cf. Mt 1:8
         b. But such omission was not unusual in Jewish genealogies; 
            minor figures were often deleted
         -- The main purpose was to establish essential connections,
            not minor details

      1. Not His "fleshly" right, for Matthew describes Jesus as the
         adopted son of Joseph
      2. Luke records the "fleshly" ancestry of Jesus in Lk 3:23-38
         a. A record of His ancestry from His mother's side
         b. Where He is shown to have descended from David through 
            Nathan, not Solomon
         -- A careful study of Lk 3 confirms this
      3. This helps to answer a puzzling dilemma found in the OT
         a. God promised that the Messiah would come from the loins of
         b. But a descendant through Solomon, Jeconiah (Mt 1:11), was
            so wicked that God promised none of his descendants would
            rule on the throne of David - Jer 22:24-30
         c. How then would God fulfill His promise to David?
            1) By a descendant from a son other than Solomon
            2) Which Jesus was, having descended in the flesh from
      4. So Jesus is both "legal" and "fleshly" heir to the throne of
         a. "Legal" heir by virtue of His adoption by Joseph, 
            descendant of Solomon
         b. "Fleshly" heir by virtue of His birth by Mary, descendant
            of Nathan

      1. They are unique, not only to be included in such a list, but
         in that:
         a. Three were tainted in regards to moral purity
            1) Tamar played a harlot
            2) Rahab was a harlot
            3) Bathsheba was an adulteress
         b. Ruth, though morally sweet and noble, mingled the royal
            blood line with Gentile blood!
      2. Why mention these four women?  Perhaps to suggest...
         a. The relation of Christ to the stained and sinful?
         b. Jesus would be a King to show mercy and pity to harlots,
            and open His kingdom to include Gentiles?

[Whether this was Matthew's intention here, he does illustrate later
that Christ extended mercy to the morally repugnant and would enlarge
His kingdom to include all nations.

Finally, let's consider...]


      1. He made promises...
         a. To Abraham
         b. To David
         c. Through Isaiah
         ...and the coming of Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham,
         fulfilled that promise!
      2. We can therefore have confidence that God will keep His word!
         a. E.g., the promise of His Son's final coming - cf. Ac 1:9
         b. There is no need to lose heart!
            1) The duration between this promise and its fulfillment
               has barely reached the time between the promise made to
               Abraham and its fulfillment!
            2) I.e., 2000 years passed, but God still kept His promise
               to Abraham
            3) Likewise He will keep His promise to us!

      1. Many godly fathers have had ungodly sons!
         a. Solomon had Rehoboam
         b. Hezekiah had Manasseh
         c. Josiah had Jeconiah
      2. As it has been said, "God has no grandchildren"
         a. Being a child of God does not insure that your children 
            will be God's children!
         b. As parents, let us...
            1) Be diligent to raise our children in the "nurture and 
               admonition of the Lord"
            2) Not lose heart when our children stray (even Manasseh
               eventually repented)

      1. Jesus humbled Himself when He came to this earth in the 
         likeness of men - cf. Php 2:5-8
      2. He did this for our sakes!
         a. To taste death for everyone - He 2:9
         b. To help bring us to glory - He 2:10
         c. To deliver us from the fear and power of death - He 2:14-15
         d. To become our merciful and faithful High Priest - He 2:


1. All this and much more, Jesus did by becoming what the first 
   seventeen verses of Matthew's gospel proclaims:  "...the Son of 
   David, the Son of Abraham"

2. This genealogy of Jesus Christ...
   a. Establishes the right of Jesus to be the Messiah
   b. Reminds us of God's mercy
      1) In the lives of Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba
      2) In our own lives by fulfilling His promise to send Son to die
         for our sins

Have you received the mercy God offers through "Jesus Christ...the
Son of David, the Son of Abraham"?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

Matthew: Introduction To Matthew by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                        Introduction To Matthew


1. The book of Matthew has always occupied a position of high esteem in
   the faith and life of the church:

   "When we turn to Matthew, we turn to the book which may well be
   called the most important single document of the Christian faith,
   for in it we have the fullest and the most systematic account of
   the life and the teachings of Jesus."  (William Barclay)

2. The writings of the early church fathers reveal that it was...
   a. The most frequently quoted
   b. Perhaps the most widely read gospel
   ...during the first two centuries of the church's history

[Why was this book so popular?  Perhaps we can understand why as we
consider some background information pertaining to it...]


      1. The apostolic origin and canonical rank of the gospel of
         Matthew were accepted without a doubt by the early church
      2. Matthew, surnamed Levi, had been a tax-collector...
         a. He was one of Jesus' earliest disciples - Mt 9:9; Mk 2:14
         b. He was chosen to be one of the twelve apostles - Mt 10:2-3
      3. Being a close associate of Jesus during His ministry...
         a. Matthew's gospel is a first hand account
         b. Unlike Luke who depended upon other eyewitnesses - Lk 1:1-4

   B. BEFORE 70 A.D....
      1. Irenaeus says it was written when Peter and Paul were
         preaching in Rome
      2. Eusebius states that this was done when Matthew left Palestine
         and went to preach to others (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 24)
      3. Clement of Alexandria said that the presbyters who succeeded
         each other from the beginning declared that "the gospels
         containing the genealogies (Matthew and Luke) were written
         first" (Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, VI, 14)
      4. A date before 70 A.D. is considered by many to be the most


      1. Written to Jews, designed to prove that Jesus is the Messiah
         of OT prophecy
      2. Evidenced by his frequent appeal to OT Messianic prophecies
         a. He quotes from almost every book in the OT
         b. Twelve times he identifies O.T. prophecies as fulfilled in
            the life of Jesus
            - Mt 1:22; 2:15,23; 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14,35;
              21:4; 27:9
      -- One could say that the theme is: "Jesus, King of the Jews"

      (adapted from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)
      1. The birth and childhood of Jesus Christ - 1:1-2:23
         a. Genealogy of Christ - 1:1-17
         b. Birth of Christ - 1:18-25
         c. Visit of the Magi - 2:1-12
         d. Flight into Egypt and massacre of the infants - 2:13-18
         e. Residence at Nazareth - 2:19-23
      2. The preparation for the ministry of Jesus Christ - 3:1-4:11
         a. The forerunner of Christ - 3:1-12
         b. Baptism of Christ - 3:13-17
         c. Temptation of Christ - 4:1-11
      3. The ministry of Jesus Christ - 4:12-25:46
         a. His ministry in Galilee - 4:12-18:35
            1) Residence at Capernaum - 4:12-17
            2) Call of four disciples - 4:18-22
            3) General survey of the Galilean ministry - 4:23-25
            4) Sermon on the mount - 5:1-7:29
            5) Ten miracles and related events - 8:1-9:38
            6) Mission of the twelve - 10:1-42
            7) Christ's answer to John, and related discourse - 11:1-30
            8) Opposition from the Pharisees - 12:1-50
            9) A series of parables on the kingdom - 13:1-58
           10) Withdrawal of Jesus following John's beheading - 14:1-36
           11) Conflict with the Pharisees over tradition - 15:1-20
           12) Withdrawal to Phoenecia and healing of a Canaanitish
               woman's daughter - 15:21-28
           13) Return to the Sea of Galilee and performing of miracles
               - 15:29-38
           14) Renewed conflict with the Pharisees and Sadducees - 15:
           15) Withdrawal to the region of Caesarea Philippi - 16:5-
           16) Instruction of the twelve at Capernaum - 17:24-18:35
         b. His ministry in Perea - 19:1-20:16
            1) Teaching on divorce - 19:1-12
            2) Blessing of the children - 19:13-15
            3) Interview with the rich young man - 19:16-30
            4) Parable of the laborers in the vineyard - 20:1-16
         c. His ministry in Judea - 20:17-34
            1) Another prediction of Christ's death and resurrection 
               - 20:17-19
            2) Ambitious request of Zebedee's sons - 20:20-28
            3) Healing of two blind men - 20:29-34
         d. His ministry in Jerusalem - 21:1-25:46
            1) Triumphal entry - 21:1-11
            2) Cleansing the Temple - 21:12-17
            3) Cursing of the barren fig tree - 21:18-22
            4) Questioning of Jesus' authority and his parabolic answer
               - 21:23-22:14
            5) Questioning of Jesus by various groups - 22:15-46
            6) Jesus' public denunciation of the Pharisees - 23:1-39
            7) Olivet Discourse - 24:1-25:46
      4. The suffering of Jesus Christ - 26:1-27:66
         a. Plot against Jesus - 26:1-16
         b. The final meal - 26:17-30
         c. Prediction of Peter's denial - 26:31-35
         d. Events in Gethsemane - 26:36-56
         e. Events at the Jewish trials - 26:57-27:2
         f. Remorse of Judas - 27:3-10
         g. Events at the Roman trials - 27:11-31
         h. The Crucifixion - 27:32-56
         i. Burial - 27:32-56
      5. The resurrection of Jesus Christ - 28:1-20
         a. Discovery of the empty tomb - 28:1-8
         b. Appearance of Jesus Christ - 28:9,10
         c. Report of the soldiers - 28:11-15
         d. The great commission - 28:16-20


      1. We've noted its frequent appeal to OT prophecies
      2. It's organization is mostly topical, as opposed to strictly
         chronological (a common style in Jewish literature)
      -- It appears to have been written with a Jewish audience in mind

      1. It is the only gospel which mentions the word "church"
         a. It foretells its beginning - Mt 16:18
         b. It describes some of the life in the church - Mt 18:15-17
      2. It contains lengthy discourses especially beneficial to those
         in the church
         a. Such as the sermon on the mount - Mt 5-7
         b. Such as the many parables - Mt 13
         c. Such as the Olivet discourse - Mt 24-25
      3. It contains admonitions important to disciples of Christ
         a. Such as the importance of doing the Father's will - Mt 7:
         b. Such as observing all that Jesus commanded - Mt 28:20
      -- In other words, this was a gospel designed for use by those in
         the early church

      1. It is a preaching gospel
         a. Especially when compared with the apostles' preaching found
            in Acts
         b. For it expands upon the basic elements and point made in
            their sermons
      2. Consider these themes in apostolic preaching:
         a. God's promises in the OT have been fulfilled - Ac 3:18,24
         b. The long-awaited Messiah, born of David's line, has come 
            - Ac 13:23
         c. He is Jesus of Nazareth - Ac 13:23
         d. He went about preaching and doing good through mighty works
            - Ac 10:38
         e. He was crucified according to the promise and will of God
            - Ac 2:22,23
         f. He was raised from the dead, and exalted at God's right
            hand - Ac 2:24,32-33
         h. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the
            dead - Ac 3:20-21; 17:30-31
         i. Therefore, all should heed His message, repent, and be
            baptized - Ac 2:36-38
         -- All of these points are expanded in the gospel of Matthew


1. The purpose which Matthew's gospel served in the first century was
   a. To confirm faith in Jesus as God's Anointed One (the Messiah)
   b. To instructing disciples on living the Christian life

2. It can serve a similar purpose for us today...
   a. Increase our faith in Jesus as the Christ
   b. Instruct us in the righteousness expected of those in His kingdom

The last three verses present the climax of this amazing gospel:

   And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been
   given to Me in heaven and on earth.

   "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
   them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy

   "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
   and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
                                                      (Mt 28:18-20)

Have you submitted to the authority and command of Jesus as it pertains
to becoming His disciple and observing what He taught?  If so, then you
have the precious promise of His abiding presence in your life!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011