Rain, wind and promises

Somehow this picture is linked in my mind to an old song I remember: "baby, the rain must fall" by Glenn Yarbrough. I could not remember all the words to it, so I looked it up...
Some men climb a mountain
Some men swim the sea
Some men fly above the sky
They are what they must be.

But, Baby the rain must fall
Baby the wind must blow
Wherever my heart leads me
Baby I must go
Baby I must go.

I do not love for silver
I do not love for gold
My heart is mine to give away
It never will be sold.

So, Baby the rain must fall
Baby the wind must blow
Wherever my heart leads me
Baby I must go
Baby I must go.

I am not rich or famous
But who can ever tell
I don't know now what waits for me
Maybe heaven, maybe hell.

Baby the rain must fall
Baby the wind must blow
Wherever my heart leads me
Baby I must go
Baby I must go.

To me, he has a particularly haunting voice, so click on this link to hear him sing the song:  Baby, The Rain Must fall!!! and see if you agree with me.  For me, putting the picture and the link together says that the future may bring good or evil, but I must be what I can be and not worry about the outcome.  Face it, rain will come into all our lives, but even when times are the toughest, if we have faith and believe the promises of God, we can KNOW things will eventually be all right!!!  These things bring to mind this passage from the Gospel of John...

John, Chapter 14
  1  “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.   2  In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.   3  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also.   4  Where I go, you know, and you know the way.” 

  5  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 

  6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.
Today it is bright and sunny here in Florida, but I know that in a few months hurricane season will be here and who knows what will happen then.  But, when I think of John 14, I remember to trust in God more.  If even Charlie Brown can sound wise by quoting Genesis, then there is hope for everyone who has the words of the Scriptures embedded on their hearts... After all, Jesus didn't say the words of John 14:6 for nothing!!!  So, let it rain, blow, whatever, I will let the Bible be my guide and do my best to remember every one of the promises of God!!!

This post is dedicated to our beloved minister Larry Shatzer!!!

Bible Reading, Feb. 13

Feb. 13
Genesis 44

Gen 44:1 He commanded the steward of his house, saying, "Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth.
Gen 44:2 Put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, with his grain money." He did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
Gen 44:3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys.
Gen 44:4 When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, "Up, follow after the men. When you overtake them, ask them, 'Why have you rewarded evil for good?
Gen 44:5 Isn't this that from which my lord drinks, and by which he indeed divines? You have done evil in so doing.' "
Gen 44:6 He overtook them, and he spoke these words to them.
Gen 44:7 They said to him, "Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing!
Gen 44:8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again to you out of the land of Canaan. How then should we steal silver or gold out of your lord's house?
Gen 44:9 With whoever of your servants it be found, let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondservants."
Gen 44:10 He said, "Now also let it be according to your words: he with whom it is found will be my bondservant; and you will be blameless."
Gen 44:11 Then they hurried, and every man took his sack down to the ground, and every man opened his sack.
Gen 44:12 He searched, beginning with the eldest, and ending at the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
Gen 44:13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and returned to the city.
Gen 44:14 Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, and he was still there. They fell on the ground before him.
Gen 44:15 Joseph said to them, "What deed is this that you have done? Don't you know that such a man as I can indeed divine?"
Gen 44:16 Judah said, "What will we tell my lord? What will we speak? Or how will we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants. Behold, we are my lord's bondservants, both we, and he also in whose hand the cup is found."
Gen 44:17 He said, "Far be it from me that I should do so. The man in whose hand the cup is found, he will be my bondservant; but as for you, go up in peace to your father."
Gen 44:18 Then Judah came near to him, and said, "Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord's ears, and don't let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even as Pharaoh.
Gen 44:19 My lord asked his servants, saying, 'Have you a father, or a brother?'
Gen 44:20 We said to my lord, 'We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother; and his father loves him.'
Gen 44:21 You said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.'
Gen 44:22 We said to my lord, 'The boy can't leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.'
Gen 44:23 You said to your servants, 'Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will see my face no more.'
Gen 44:24 It happened when we came up to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
Gen 44:25 Our father said, 'Go again, buy us a little food.'
Gen 44:26 We said, 'We can't go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down: for we may not see the man's face, unless our youngest brother is with us.'
Gen 44:27 Your servant, my father, said to us, 'You know that my wife bore me two sons:
Gen 44:28 and the one went out from me, and I said, "Surely he is torn in pieces;" and I haven't seen him since.
Gen 44:29 If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.'
Gen 44:30 Now therefore when I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the boy's life;
Gen 44:31 it will happen, when he sees that the boy is no more, that he will die. Your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant, our father, with sorrow to Sheol.
Gen 44:32 For your servant became collateral for the boy to my father, saying, 'If I don't bring him to you, then I will bear the blame to my father forever.'
Gen 44:33 Now therefore, please let your servant stay instead of the boy, a bondservant to my lord; and let the boy go up with his brothers.
Gen 44:34 For how will I go up to my father, if the boy isn't with me?--lest I see the evil that will come on my father."



As Luke's account of the Acts of the apostles ends, we find Paul in the city of Rome, kept under guard by the soldier who was assigned to him (Acts 28:16). It was under this type of "house arrest" that Paul found himself for two whole years (vs. 30). According to Roman law, Paul would constantly find himself chained to a soldier during the day time and guarded by two soldiers as he slept at night. Due to these circumstances, Paul could write that "...the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ." (Phil. 1:12-13) As soldiers would take their turn in being chained to Paul, they were a "captive audience" to the message of truth that Paul preached. The fact that he was allowed to dwell in his own rented house, though constantly chained to a soldier, shows God's providence toward Paul and for those who would receive the letters that he wrote to not only Ephesus, but Colosse, Philippi and Philemon during that period of time. As we read his testimony in those letters, we too are beneficiaries of God's abundant mercy to Paul and all who have heard the message he eventually died for.
Even before Paul's arrest, and as a free man, journeying throughout Asia and Greece, preaching the gospel of hope, he was troubled on every side. He reminded his brethren in Corinth of this fact when he wrote, "I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling." (1 Cor. 2:3) A study of Acts 18:1-17 confirms Paul's words. Then he spoke of how he, along with some others, suffered trouble in Asia, saying that "we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves..." (2 Cor. 1:8-9) A study of Acts 13-14 gives a detailed account of these sufferings that Paul and Barnabas endured for the sake of the gospel which they preached.
The gospel has had its greatest proliferation in times of great trial and distress. We find this to be the case in the days before Paul became a defender and proclaimer of Christ. While he was still living in ignorance to the truth, "he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison." (Acts 8:3) "At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria..." (vs. 1) In the face of such persecution, and as a result of it, "...those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word." (vs. 4) The result was the saving of many souls.
This same Paul, later found himself on the receiving end of such persecution as he and Barnabas preached throughout the regions of Asia, especially in the cities of Antioch (of Pisidia), Derbe, Lystra and Iconium. In those places, their very lives were threatened as they did the work of preaching the gospel. Before leaving that area, "they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'" (Acts 14:21-22)
During Paul's third missionary journey, he encountered the threat of the whole city of Ephesus amidst a mob scene that resulted when his preaching of the gospel conflicted with their idolatrous beliefs and threatened the jobs and livelihood of many who made silver shrines of the goddess, Diana. (Acts 19:23-41) However, despite such danger, the church was established in that city which had great influence for good throughout that region of Asia. (Acts 19:10)
These examples should give us hope in the face of despair. They give credence to the words of Paul as he affirms what we should know; "...that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Acts 8:28) If our love for God is centered around His Son and the word of truth that calls many to Him, we have this assurance that good will result.
On the heels of those encouraging words, Paul asked the following thought-provoking question; "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (vs. 31) Then he followed by asking three more questions; "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect...Who is he who condemns...and...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (vss. 33-35)
In answer to those questions, consider the fact that there are those who will falsely accuse us, but not with any success, for "It is God who justifies." (vs. 33) There will always be those who seek to condemn us, but not with any authority, for Christ's authority is firmly established in the fact of His death, burial and resurrection as He now reigns "...at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." (vs. 34) And though Satan will certainly try to separate us from the love of God, "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword" accomplish his mission? (vs. 35) The answer is a resounding NO! God's love is unconditional and cannot be effected by any of Satan's devices. Paul could relate first hand to the words of the psalmist by quoting, "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (vs. 36, quoted from Psm. 44:22) But even though this was the case in Paul's life, he could confidently reply, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (vss. 37-39)
While it may be easy to become discouraged in the Lord's work, we must understand that "...neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God gives the increase." (1 Cor. 3:7) Remember, after the long winter, the seeds that were once covered with snow will sprout in the spring to bear fruit for the harvest in its proper season.
Paul had reason not to lose heart and so do we if we put our trust in Him. Therefore he said, "...be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:58)
- Gary V. Womack - August 2004

Salk Atheism (2) by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Salk Atheism (2)

Much atheism is not fervently held. It's more of a sneaking suspicion that just won't go away. It's like a walk in gentle rain. You're lost in thought and don't notice until you feel yourself shivering that you're soaked to the bone. Much atheism hasn't been thought through. It isn't about "arguments"—it's about disappointment, the sight of world pain, the personal frustration you feel that you can't do anything about the awful wrongs of the world. "If I ruled the world…" comes to mind. Things would be different if we had the power. For many it comes closer to home—their broken marriages and families, their crushing poverty while moral decadents live better than kings--such things drive them to distraction. And if God does exist, what good is he? He does nothing! He might as well not exist.
I don't have a lot of criticism for sensitive people who feel that way. They listen to our Christian "explanations" and go away unconvinced and sometimes rather sad that they can't agree. They aren't helped, of course, by pugnacious pride-filled Christians who should have been made gracious by God's gracious gift of truth in Jesus Christ. Bullied and jeered at they have reason to wonder if they're missing anything after all in not believing.
But non-believers are not all "made of the same stuff". Some came to atheism by their brilliance, don't you see. Regret their atheistic faith? Not a bit of it; the reverse is true, they glory in it. They aren't content to speak their faith but like some Christian types they can't keep from snarling and jeering. They gloat over their vision as if somehow they created it rather than being gifted with it. I don't care where they think they got it; I'm only certain that they didn't create it. And now, having this vision they mock the blind with half-truths, some truths and some wilful ignorance.
At Salk Institute Steven Weinberg spoke of biblical faith as a crazy old aunt who nurtured lies and tyrannised the human race. Richard Dawkins raves about the God-delusion and how he'll not miss the crazy old aunt for a moment when she's dead and gone. And whimpering Sam Harris reminds us of the likes of Tim la Haye and his Rapture-obsessed followers and consigns the entire biblical faith to "faith-based nihilism." (Nice turn of phrase that.) These are not rather sad, still-wrestling-with-the-issues people; not on your life. These are militants, convinced beyond debate! "These are your gods, O humanity, who will bring you up out of the land of religious bondage into the glorious new world." (Hmmm, there's something familiar about that affirmation.)
I won't trouble you with the history that shows that the foundations of modern science and medicine were laid by deeply religious men and women who often fought the religious establishment to bring truth to the world. Sam cares nothing of that and Weinberg consciously chooses to ignore it. Nevertheless, these are the men who will save us; but who will they save and what will they save them from?
What do they offer the teeming millions who were ravaged from birth to death by the cruel and powerful? Stalin who disowned his "crazy aunt" early in life, tortured and murdered millions and left an inestimable legacy of horror—he died quickly and almost painlessly from a brain haemorrhage. What do these new gods say of all the pillaged and plundered poor of ages past? "There's no justice for them. No righting of wrongs! Nazi commandants who robbed, tormented and boasted about it, die in old age, in their sleep, after a life of opulence. There'll be no righting of wrongs!"
If that were all, we could understand H. J Blackham's atheistic groan that the greatest objection to atheism is that it's too bad to be true. He said, "It's its pointlessness!"—that's the killer.
But that's not all. Not only will there be no justice and righting of all wrongs; there's been no moral wrong! The atrocities of Stalin and the Nazis were chemical reactions. It would have been better for the sufferers if these people hadn't done what they did—but you can't call it "immoral". [Bertrand Russell was one of the few (Stratonician) atheists with the guts to admit this. Sly Steven Weinberg says our "highest" thoughts and emotions are chemical; as if our worst were something different.]  Sam Harris drones on about "genuine morality" and "right and wrong," ignoring the fact that he and his cohorts insist that morality and moral standards are chemical reactions that have no virtue or value. Thoughts, they teach us, are as mechanical as water freezing in cold temperatures. We might like some thoughts or hate some thoughts but if thoughts and feelings are chemical you can't call them good or bad, moral or immoral. You like ice-cream I like molesting children; Sam rejoices in skin grafts for little burned children and Stalin and Hitler rejoiced in burning little children. Reacting chemically we might declare some actions "illegal" but on Sam's chemically reactionary terms you can't call them "immoral". There really is no moral choice. Choice is not choice--it's chemical reaction, however complex. 
Stalin has nothing to feel guilty about! Attaboy Sam. Good old Steven.
Any philosophy that logically requires us to stand in silence before Nazi and Soviet torture and genocide, unable to call it "immoral," is a bummer of a philosophy but it's what the bags of bio-chemicals like Carolyn Porco offered at Salk.
Jesus Christ said, "I will right all wrongs." And in keeping with his Holy Father's purposes, with the prophet he would say to all the innocent pillaged and tormented, "I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten."

Salk Atheism (1) by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Salk Atheism (1)

It's almost amusing to hear the story reported by Jerry Adler about the (some) thirty bags of chemicals that ended up at the Salk Institute in LaJolla, California to wrestle with the question of faith's benefits (Newsweek, November 10th).
You must understand this: these scientists insist that nothing exists but "matter" that is worked on by a combination of chance and physical necessity. That's the totality of reality. What comes from that mix cannot be anything other than physical/chemical "reactions". Things are what they are—they don't "mean" anything, they don't have "value" other than what we label them with—they simply exist, whether they are constellations or a human brain, whether they're feelings or stagnant pools, whether they're "truths" or "superstitions". That's what the bags of bio-chemicals at Salk were saying.
But then they talked as if a proposal was "true" or "false"; how can anything be true or false when any proposal is a chemical reaction? Might as well call the smell of urine "true" or "false". It is what it is. A mental proposal or a feeling or the smell of napalm in the morning or the beauty of a little baby—they're all manifestations of chance operating on chemicals (and other forms of "matter")—they are all "reactions" to physical/chemical forces.
Steven Weinberg said that thought and emotions are biochemical reactions rather than a gift of God. [Of course, I've never known a believer who denied that biochemistry, brains and stuff were involved in thought and feelings. It isn't one or the other. Oh well.] But if the believer's thoughts and feelings are biochemical reactions so are Weinberg's and Dawkins'.
Weinberg looked forward to the day when the world would be saved from the tyranny of religion and yet thought humanity might miss "the crazy old aunt" (religion) that nurtures lies and tyrannises humans. My chemical reaction to these self-confessed bags of bio-chemicals named Dawkins and Weinberg would be different perhaps if they didn't pride themselves so much on their chemical reactions. They're clear-sighted and proud of it and castigate other bags of chemicals because they don't have the same chemical reactions they have. But I need to remember that they are only bags of bio-chemicals that by chance are hostile to faith—they haven't chosen this attitude, so to speak of "blame" or "guilt" would make no sense. Still, if I "blamed" them I shouldn't be criticised for I too am a bag of bio-chemicals that by chance blames the Dawkins bag. But, then again, if you criticised me for criticising him I couldn't blame you because you are…Oh forget it!
Even saying things like "he has" chemical reactions is nonsense if Dawkins and Weinberg are right. He doesn't "have" chemical reactions—he is chemical reactions. To say he "has" them would suggest that "he" and the reactions are distinct. There is no "he" that is somehow independent of the reactions. If Dawkins is right he doesn't have thoughts and bitter feelings against belief—he is these things. (David Hume is still an embarrassment to his atheistic colleagues even after all these years.)
Poor Sam Harris. He laments that even his non-believing readers are criticising his chemical reactions (his writings). Somehow or other he thinks that's wrong—why should they climb all over him for expressing his chemical reactions? But what's he whining about? According to him their criticism is nothing more or less than chemistry! Sam tells his critics that they make no choices, they only react. He tells them they're nothing but a collection of bio-chemical reactions and then he whinges at the nature of their chemical reactions to his chemical reactions. He might as well be whining over the fact that rotten fish smells bad. He'll take the praise and think he has earned it because somehow his thoughts are not merely chemical reactions but whines about his chemically reacting critics.
Sam and people like him are the ones who are going to rescue us from the nonsense and tyranny of biblical faith. Yeah right!

Matthew:Responding To Evil (5:38-42) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                      Responding To Evil (5:38-42)


1. When someone treats you wrong, how do you respond?
   a. Do you react in kind, treating evil with evil?
   b. Do you just stand there and take whatever abuse is given?
   -- What is the proper way to respond to evil?

2. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught concerning the
   righteousness of the kingdom...
   a. He did so by contrasting it with the righteousness of the scribes
      and Pharisees
      1) Noting how the Law had often been interpreted and applied
      2) Declaring what He expected of His disciples
   b. We have seen Jesus contrast this righteousness in such matters
      1) Murder and anger - Mt 5:21-26
      2) Adultery - Mt 5:27-30
      3) Divorce - Mt 5:31-32
      4) Swearing Oaths - Mt 5:33-37

[In this lesson, we shall look at what Jesus taught concerning
"vengeance" (Mt 5:38-42) as we discuss "Responding To Evil".  First,
let's compare...]


      1. It is found in Exo 21:24-25
      2. A parallel passage is Deut 19:21

      1. Notice carefully Deut 19:15-21; Exo 21:22-23
      2. They were given to guide the priests in meriting out proper

      1. Interpreted these statements so as to justify personal
      2. Applied them by frequently taking matters of revenge into
         their own hands
      -- Just as many people do today!

      1. Consider Lev 19:18; Pr 20:22; 24:29
      2. In both Old Testament and New Testaments, the matter of
         vengeance was to be left up to God and His duly appointed
         agent:  civil government! - cf. Ro 12:19; 13:1-4

[There really is no difference between the Law and what we find in the
New Testament in this regard:  Personal vengeance has no place in the
lives of those who are the children of God!

Now let's examine more closely...]


      1. Do not resist an evil person (39a)
         a. Not only should you not take vengeance into your own
         b. But don't even oppose (resist) the evil person when the
            evil is being done!
      2. Respond to evil by doing good! (39b-42)
         a. Jesus illustrates this principle with several examples...
            1) Responding to physical abuse  (39b)
               a) "Turn the other cheek"
               b) This may refer to offering the other cheek as an
                  expression of love
            2) Responding to a civil suit, by giving more than what the
               person is suing! (40)
            3) Responding to government oppression, by offering to do
               more than what is being demanded of you! (41)
            4) Responding to those asking for help, by giving them what
               they ask! (42)
         b. In each case, the principle is the same
            1) We are not to resist the person...
               a) Who would mistreat us
               b) Who would try to deprive us of our possessions
            2) Instead, respond in a positive manner...
               a) Demonstrate love towards them
               b) Do so by freely giving them more than they were
                  hoping to gain by force, oppression, or manipulation!

      1. Why not?
         a. We have several O.T. examples...
            1) Joseph, in forgiving his brothers - Gen 45:4-15
            2) David, in sparing the life of Saul - 1Sa 24:8-15
            3) Elisha, in feeding the army of the Arameans - 2Ki 6:
         b. We also have several N.T. examples...
            1) Jesus, our prime example - 1Pe 2:20-23
            2) Stephen, when he was being stoned - Ac 7:59-60
            3) The Hebrew Christians, who "joyfully accepted" the
               plundering of their goods - He 10:32-34
         c. We have the clear teaching of Paul in Ro 12:19-21...
            1) We are not to avenge ourselves
            2) We must seek to overcome evil with good
      2. If not, then how do we apply these words of Jesus?
         a. What does Jesus mean?
         b. Give some examples of how to apply these teachings... ???

      1. I.e., must we decide who is "worthy" to receive this kind of
         a. Jesus does not give us any indication that we are to use
         b. Paul does give some qualifying instructions (e.g., 2 Th 3:10)...
            1) But it applies to those who are Christians
            2) And we have a responsibility to "judge" those in the
               church, leaving those outside to God - 1Co 5:9-13
      2. I do find striking the attitude of Christians in the second
         century, A.D.:
         a. "Do good, and give liberally to all who are in need from
            the wages God gives you. Do not hesitate about to whom you
            should not give. Give to all. For God wishes gifts to be
            made to all out of His bounties." (Hermas, 135 A.D.)
         b. "And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our
            enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the
            good but also to be liberal givers towards those who take
            away our possessions." (Irenaeus, 185 A.D.)
         c. "Do not judge those who is worthy and who is unworthy, for
            it is possible for you to be mistaken in your opinion. In
            the uncertainty of ignorance it is better to do good to the
            unworthy for the sake of the worthy, than by guarding
            against those who are less good not to encounter the good.
            For by sparing and trying to test those who are
            well-deserving or not, it is possible for you to neglect
            some who are loved by God, the penalty for which is the
            eternal punishment of fire. But by helping all those in
            need in turn you must assuredly find some who are able to
            save you before God." (Clement of Alexandria, 190 A.D.)
         -- These statements were written at a time when Christians
            were constantly mistreated, abused, and manipulated by
      3. The teachings of Jesus in this passage are admittedly
         a. It is opposed to what we might call "human nature"
         b. But we are called upon to be "partakers of the divine
            nature" (2Pe 1:4); in other words, to be more like God
            than men
      4. As we will see in the next lesson, it is in order to be truly
         "sons of your Father in heaven" that Jesus teaches a standard
         of righteousness that far exceeds...
         a. That of the scribes and Pharisees
         b. That of most people today!
      5. At the very least, let us expend as much energy...
         a. In seeing how we can apply this passage to lives...
         b. ...as many do trying to explain how it doesn't really mean
            what it appears to say!


1. Summarizing the teaching of Jesus concerning "Responding To Evil"...
   a. We are not to resist evil
   b. We are to respond by doing good in turn

2. We may never face the exact situations Jesus used to illustrate His
   a. But the principles can be applied to so many things we do face
   b. E.g., how people treat us at work, in our communities, in our own
      families, in the church

Whenever mistreated, take the challenge to see how you might overcome
evil with good.  Then your "righteousness" will exceed that of the
scribes and Pharisees!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

Matthew: The Swearing Of Oaths (5:33-37) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                    The Swearing Of Oaths (5:33-37)


1. Are you a man or woman of your word?
   a. When you say "yes" or "no", do people take it as "gospel" (i.e., 
   b. Are you someone whose word is questioned, unless confirmed with
      an oath?

2. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus dealt with the issue of swearing 
   a. In which He set a high standard for His disciples to follow
   b. A standard that exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees, and
      exceeds the standard followed by many people today

3. In this lesson, "The Swearing Of Oaths", we shall consider what
   Jesus taught from the viewpoint of four questions:
   a. What did the Law of Moses actually teach concerning the swearing
      of oaths?
   b. How had the Jews, and in particular the Scribes and Pharisees,
      traditionally interpreted and applied the Law?
   c. What did Jesus teach in response to this abuse of the Law 
      concerning oaths?
   d. Did Jesus forbid even those oaths made in court?

[To answer the first question, "What did the Law of Moses actually
teach concerning the swearing of oaths?", let's take a moment to 


      1. "And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you 
         profane the name of your God; I am the LORD." - Lev 19:12
      2. "If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind
         himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he 
         shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth." 
         - Num 30:2
      3. "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay
         to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of 
         you, and it would be sin to you." - Deut 23:21

      1. A person must be truthful when he swears an oath; he must
         truly mean it
      2. He must also be faithful in keeping the oath; he must carry
         out his word

      1. In the Psalms - Ps 15:1-2; 24:3-4
      2. The Prophets often bemoaned the lack of truth in the heart 
         - Jer 5:1-2; Hos 4:1-2

[So the teaching of the Law was clear: Vows to the Lord should be kept,
and truthfulness in all things was expected.

This leads to our second question: "How had the Jews, and in particular
the Scribes and Pharisees, traditionally interpreted and applied the 


      1. FROM truthfulness in all things
      2. TO honoring only those vows sworn "to the Lord"
      -- As implied by Jesus comments in Mt 5:34-36

      1. That the Jews had made such arbitrary distinctions between
         their vows is seen in Mt 23:16-19
      2. Because of this distinction, daily conversations were often
         spiced with meaningless oaths to make impressions; e.g.,:
         a. "I swear by heaven"
         b. "I swear by the throne of God"
         c. "I swear...by the earth...by Jerusalem...by the altar...by
            the temple...by my head..."

[By shifting the emphasis from truthfulness to honoring only those vows
made to the Lord, the Pharisees in their application of the Law 
justified the use of meaningless vows.

Now to our third question: "What did Jesus teach in response to this
abuse of the Law concerning oaths?"]


      1. Mt 23:20-22 clearly shows that when one swears by...
         a. "the temple"
         b. "the throne of God"
         ...he is swearing by the LORD also!
      2. Mt 5:34-36 likewise teaches that one cannot swear by these
         things without involving God
         a. Heaven is the throne of God
         b. Earth is His footstool
         c. Only God can change our hair color (without the use of
      -- Therefore, any oath is an oath "to the Lord"!

      1. Let your "yes" mean "yes"
      2. Let your "no" mean "no"
      -- Any more than this is evil, and would be contrary to speaking
         "truth in his heart" (Ps 15:1-2)

[In exposing the hypocritical distinctions made by the scribes and 
Pharisees in their oaths, and in commanding us to speak simply and 
truthfully, the words of Jesus have led many to ask our fourth and 
final question: "Did Jesus forbid even those oaths made in court?"]


      1. Both Jesus and James qualified their statements concerning 
         a. Mt 5:34ff - "swear not at all" is immediately qualified by
            Jesus to refer to flippant and hypocritical oaths commonly
            voiced by the people
         b. Jm 5:12 - the command "do not swear" is also qualified by
            James to refer to the same kind of meaningless oaths
      2. Also, consider the following points:
         a. God has sworn an oath to us - He 6:16-18
         b. Jesus was willing to answer under oath before the Sanhedrin
            court - Mt 26:63-64
         c. Paul made solemn oaths in his epistles - 2Co 1:23; Ga 1:20
         d. An angel of God swore an oath - Re 10:5-7

      1. Some understand Jesus and James to condemn only the flippant,
         profane and hypocritical oaths...
         a. Used to make impressions
         b. Used to spice daily conversations
         ...but were never intended to be kept
      2. Therefore the EXCEPTION to not swearing oaths can be:
         a. Solemn oaths made in judicial circumstances
         b. Those oaths on occasions of solemn religious importance (as
            in the case of Paul)

      1. In other words, to "swear not at all"
      2. Fortunately, in this country we are allowed the option to 
         "confidently affirm"
      -- But I would not judge brethren who themselves solemnly and 
         honestly "swear oaths" in judicial circumstances


1. The righteousness of the kingdom is to exceed that of the scribes 
   and Pharisees...
   a. They would often spice their statements with vows and oaths in
      order to be believed...
   b. Christians are to be so truthful, their "yes" means "yes" and 
      their "no" means "no"
   -- So truthful and trustworthy are the disciples of Christ to be, it
      would not be necessary for them to swear oaths or have to say "I 
      promise" in order to be trusted

2. Can this be said of us, when people know that we are Christians?
   a. Can others "bank" on our words?
   b. When we say we will do something, is it as good as done?

May the words of our Lord remind us that even our speech reflects 
either honor or dishonor upon the God we serve!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011