4/17/14

From Jim McGuiggan... THE PROFOUND POWER OF TRUTH


THE PROFOUND POWER OF TRUTH

So, here’s the question: How does it come that many non-Christians live lives as gallantly and as uprightly as many Christians?

I’m going to ignore what I judge to be nonsense—the nonsense that non-Christians can’t and don’t—ever—do the right thing. There’s a sick theology [many of the people that hold it are lovely, gentle and kind people—they live better than their religious beliefs], a sick theology that says non-Christians because they are non-Christians don’t really love their parents, spouses, children, friends and such. I don’t have the time, energy or interest right now to talk about non-Christians like Lydia [Acts 16] or Cornelius [Acts 10] whose lives were beautiful before they were offered the gospel of Jesus.

Nor am I interested in developing at length the point one more time that no one—not anyone at any time in the history of the world—earned life with God or that God ever required it of them. God gifted Adam and Eve with life—they were supposed to live that gift out as a gift!

God gifted even the blessed and sinless Lord Jesus with life with him. Jesus never thought he earned life with God; he never thought he had to! Life with God is a gift, always, ceaselessly a gift. It was a gift to Jesus and he lived it out as the Holy Father’s gift. 

If there’s a single hair in our head that claims we earn life with God or that he called us to earn it we ought to pluck it out and burn it! Life with God begins with grace, is sustained by grace and is completed by grace! Without the utterly free grace of God exhibited in, through and as the Lord Jesus no one has life in fellowship with God! 

“Life” with God is more than biological existence, it’s more than forgiveness of sins—it’s a relationship of hearts, it is holy friendship with and obedient response to the Sovereign God. By God’s very nature the “life” that he offers must be of a certain quality. The gift he gives is of that nature and a heart that exults in evil and contempt of God cannot experience it. Light cannot fellowship darkness and God cannot give to and enjoy peace with impenitent God-haters. 

Back to the question: How is it that many non-Christians live lives as gallantly and uprightly as many Christians?

There is much I’m not sure of but I am sure that the moral/ethical structure and response of God's elect people ancient and more ancient had a lot in common with the non-elect. That is, much of what the elect conceived of as "the right thing to do" was common to the non-elect nations [you who have time or should make some time for such things, do some reading on this 
in Ancient Near Eastern Texts; read of the laws of pagans like Hammurabi,1 the Mari tablets or [perhaps especially] the Laws of Eshnunna.] 

Moral uprightness didn't begin with Abraham nor did it begin at Sinai. [You might think it worth your time to look at the pieces on The Torah that are on this site.]

Those in the Abrahamic family who were doing what was right were doing right before God linked doing right to his covenant with Abraham. Their prior doing right now became, in addition to what it was earlier, a storying instrument. Israel would then say to those in other nations who were doing what was right: "We do these things in Yahweh's name and in pursuit and promotion of his purpose." Not everyone in the non-elect nations was a moral jerk and while they believed [characteristically] in the gods as rulers of their world and had certain rituals and festivals to please the gods, they didn't love their wives and children and husbands and parents because the gods had delivered divine rulebooks. [This is complex—not obscure just complex—and it needs developed.]

Jews who would end up living among other nations would find themselves doing the same things the non-elect were doing. They'd love their children and such as the pagan citizens would be doing—often no better and no worse. They'd be facing the same illnesses, disappointments, worries and fears as the Babylonian populace would be facing and they'd learn how to "handle them" in the same ways as these Babylonians. 

The Jews who were doing what was right would correctly be thanking God for the ways and means by which they endured. The Babylonians who were doing right would mistakenly thank the gods for the ways and means of successful enduring. Both would owe God the thanks though the non-elect wouldn't know it; but the desire to do well, to patiently continue in doing what is right would be there in both Jews and non-Jews.

God wasn't doing magic to enable the Jews to do [sometimes perhaps poorly and in a desultory fashion] what many Babylonians might be doing better. The non-existent gods weren't helping anyone so we know God was helping the Babylonians as well as Israel

Since God rejected the Babylonians and all other nations as his elect People we know he wasn’t helping Babylonians to live uprightly via a covenant relationship with them. To be elect or non-elect had nothing to do with moral excellence. God didn’t reject the Edomites or any other nation because of immorality [see Romans 9:10-11] nor did he choose Israel because of its moral uprightness [Deuteronomy 9:6; Exodus 34:9].

Israel's wisdom literature tells us that God uses all kinds of ways to enrich, stabilize, empower and make his people devoutly wise but he didn’t do it by magic. See Proverbs 1:8-9 and chapter 3, for example. Children are urged to pay attention to the advice of upright parents. We're not to think because that's true of Israel that it wasn't true of Babylonians and Egyptians. God didn't give them the Story or the experiences that were part of the Story he gave peculiarly to Israel but he gave them everything else that was fine and lovely [do note Acts 14:16-17; 17:24-28]. The non-elect weren't utterly destitute of his truth. Increasingly the human family suppressed the truth of God that was in the world [be sure to see Romans 1:18-19] but to say it was utterly obliterated from the planet is nonsense. To claim that only Christians know what is honorable is nonsense! To claim that non-Christians cannot and do not live as honorably as some Christians do is obviously false. 

[Have you noticed that hard-liner Calvinists who [in keeping with the creed] claim all non-Christians are God-hating rebels worthy only of ceaseless, eternal and conscious torment—have you noticed that they treat them otherwise? They hire them and fully expect honesty. They hire them to look after their children or nurse their elderly parents or treat their illnesses if they are hospitalized? Have you noticed that they react angrily if they aren’t treated well by workers in restaurants and elsewhere as if these “abusers” could do anything about their behavior? What nonsense we can believe. We say of someone that he is morally straight-jacketed at birth that it’s impossible for him to behave in honor or compassion unless God works a moral miracle on him and then we rage against him because he doesn’t act in honesty, honor or compassion because God hasn’t worked that miracle on him!]

Moving on. It’s no mark of special wisdom to observe that America has suppressed the truth of God; but what do we mean when we say “America” has suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness? Do we mean that every citizen of the USA is a moral degenerate? No one in America lives decently, generously or patiently except Christians? Are we to believe that all the senators and members of congress are decadent villains and that all the laws they promote are without exception corrupt and are meant to generate moral villainy?

Say they’re non-Christians if that’s the case! Say many of them are essentially self-serving and roguish if that’s the case! But, bless me, we’re to believe that the Hebrew-Christian scriptures and good influence hasn’t shaped Americans [or whoever] to some degree and at some level? 

Has everyone who is now a Christian lived a life of moral degradation until the day when by faith they placed their lives in God’s hands to be his servants? Have they not in their tens of thousands lived [not sinless lives but] lives of love of parents and what is honorable prior to their becoming Christians? Of course they have! During those years the magnificent God was at work in them; during those years though they hadn’t made a personal commitment to God in and through Jesus he maintained a commitment to them as his created children. 

There is a grossly distorted system of doctrine that claims that everyone who has not given his/her life over to Jesus is totally depraved and wholly in favor of all that’s evil and wholly opposed to all that’s good. This doctrine is a system and that view is necessitated by other parts of their system. Because that specific view is held it means that all the goodness and kindness and self-sacrifice we see in the world is not only not good—it’s positively sinful! Ask John Piper and his ilk—he’ll tell you that’s his conviction.

How does God promote, generate and sustain faith and love and honor and all the virtues in this life of ours? 

The first thing we need to remember is this: It is God who does it! It doesn’t matter how many instruments he uses—it is God who does it.

Secondly, we need to remember that God is the one who initiates and sustains such a work—humans don’t! Humans didn’t create themselves, didn’t determine their nature as human beings and don’t exist “in and of themselves.” Humans can’t breathe by themselves so you know they can’t think or live or believe “in and of themselves”. If people come to believe in the Lord Jesus it is because—many obvious things—someone brought the gospel to them and the truth of the gospel drew them to God. Humans don’t draw themselves—the presented beauty, grace, power, goodness, holiness and love of God drew them [see John 12:32-33].

Listen, humans don’t exist “in and of themselves.” It doesn’t matter than many think otherwise. They exist within the will and purpose of God toward the human family.

Then there’s this. God by his gospel [Old Testament—Hebrews 4:1-2 as well as New Testament] has gathered around him down the centuries men and women who have borne witness of and for him and through their lives and their Story have shaped entire nations and their convictions. In this way God has shaped cultures that have admired and lived out virtues and changed nations for the better. Such people enable hosts of people to look skyward and say, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky shows his handiwork.” Such people, following their Lord [Matthew 11:25] make this massive universe a home and stamp it: THE HOLY FATHER’S PLACE.

Some believers speak as if they alone know what sin/evil is. There is ugly “Christian imperialism” here. Not only is it ugly it is counterproductive because wiser believers know that Hebrew—Christian teaching has shaped nations so that they too recognize evil when they see it. It’s true that slavery in many brutal and sophisticated forms exist today near and far but no one doubts that the best face of America [or wherever] will no longer stand for pre-Wilberforce or pre-Martin Luther King days. 

It doesn’t matter if it were true [and it isn’t true] that only Christians urged the abolition of slavery—the fact is that millions in the general populace stood up and said, “No more!”

Truth embodied in people, embodied in people shaped by truth is powerful and beautiful and Transformative. All truth is God’s truth and God has given truth into the hands of humans—Christians and non-Christians alike. God gifted non-believing scientists—medical and otherwise—with truth that has blessed his world. They may be few and far between but there have been non-believing scientists, social workers, manufacturers, teachers and others who devoted their time, energy and health and finally their lives in pursuit of truth. This is the work of God. The source of all truth that is truth is the magnificent God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who rejoices in all his works—including the human family.

So, it’s God, God’s doings, God’s loving initiative that we learn through God’s Story that climaxes in Jesus that enables us all to live with honor. As part of his Purpose God choose [and chooses] out ordinary, run-of-the-mill people, morally no better and no worse than other people, to bear witness to the truth of all that. 

So, that’s it! Truth—that’s the entire story? 

No! God and the truth about God, that’s the entire Story.

So it’s nothing but teaching? [That was Augustine’s complaint against Pelagius. “What you offer is nothing but teaching,” is a fair summary of an aspect of Augustine’s argument. In the course of the long argument Augustine came up with his distorted message that was systematized by Calvin and expressed as a creed in the Westminster Confession.]

How does it come that some believe the truth of God and many don’t? This is a profoundly interesting question for another time but whatever the answer is, we’re not to dismiss the power of God and his truth. We can deny the incredible nature of a mother’s love for a child because the child holds her in contempt. 

There’s more than one form of “power”.

(1) See: http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/Hammurabi-Prologue.html


From Kyle Butt, M.A. ... Walking Down the Produce Aisle

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=525

Walking Down the Produce Aisle

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

“Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:17-20). When Jesus spoke these words, His point could not have been clearer. Every person or philosophy that produces bad fruit is evil, while those people and philosophies that produce acceptable fruit are good. Let’s assume the role of “fruit inspector” and investigate the “fruits” of creation and of evolution.

ABORTION—A PRODUCT OF EVOLUTION

A huge debate has been undeway since 1973 when it became legal for a mother to end the life or her child through abortion. Every year in the United States, approximately 1 million babies are killed through this process. Is it right? Absolutely not! The Bible repeatedly stresses that it is a sin to “shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17). God Himself recognized unborn babies as human beings. He told the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). God values the lives of unborn babies, while our society—in violation of God’s commandments—has decided that these precious little people do not deserve to live.
What could cause a person to look casually upon the deaths of so many innocent children without lifting a finger to stop this holocaust? The concept of evolution provides one explanation as to why these murders are seen as “justifiable” in our society. One evolutionist put it this way: “Among some animal species, then, infant killing appears to be a natural practice. Could it be natural for humans too—a trait inherited from our primate ancestors…?” When the idea of evolution is taken to its ultimate end, then killing a human baby becomes nothing more than squashing a roach in your kitchen. Millions of innocent lives have been sacrifice on the altar of evolution. And all who have had a part in these activities will “give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).

WHAT HAS THE IDEA OF CREATION GIVEN SOCIETY?

On the opposite side of the coin, we need to look at the consequences of believing in creation. If a person believes that God created this amazing Universe, and that He created human in His image, then human life becomes very important. If a person believes that humans have been created in the image of God, then that person (if he is true to his belief) not only will value human life, but also will seek to protect it. Those who follow the idea of creation to its logical conclusion do not cling to the idea that “the strong should subjugate the weak” or that “might makes right.” Instead, the principles connected to creation lead people take care of those who are less fortunate and weak because of the value of human life. People who strongly believed in creation established most all of the hospitals, orphanages, and civic organizations in the world.
Also, when a person believes in creation, he or she must feel a certain moral responsibility to the Creator. It is because of this “moral responsibility” that many atheists have rejected God. The famous atheist Aldous Huxley once said: “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning…. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation…. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.” In a world with no Creator, every person can do what he or she feels like doing without feeling obligated by any sense of “right” or “wrong.” However, once a person recognizes the Creator, then that person feels obligated to obey that Creator. This moral obligation leads people to help their fellow humans, be better citizens, and be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and friends.
After inspecting only a few of the fruits of creation and of evolution, it seems clear that we need to take the axe to one of the trees—the evil tree of evolution.

From Gary... Bible Reading April 17



Bible Reading   

April 17

The World English Bible


Apr. 17
Numbers 25, 26
Num 25:1 Israel abode in Shittim; and the people began to play the prostitute with the daughters of Moab:
Num 25:2 for they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods; and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods.
Num 25:3 Israel joined himself to Baal Peor: and the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel.
Num 25:4 Yahweh said to Moses, Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up to Yahweh before the sun, that the fierce anger of Yahweh may turn away from Israel.
Num 25:5 Moses said to the judges of Israel, Everyone kill his men who have joined themselves to Baal Peor.
Num 25:6 Behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought to his brothers a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Num 25:7 When Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand;
Num 25:8 and he went after the man of Israel into the pavilion, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Num 25:9 Those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.
Num 25:10 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 25:11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I didn't consume the children of Israel in my jealousy.
Num 25:12 Therefore say, Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace:
Num 25:13 and it shall be to him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.
Num 25:14 Now the name of the man of Israel that was slain, who was slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a fathers' house among the Simeonites.
Num 25:15 The name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a fathers' house in Midian.
Num 25:16 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 25:17 Harass the Midianites, and strike them;
Num 25:18 for they harassed you with their wiles, with which they have deceived you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the prince of Midian, their sister, who was slain on the day of the plague in the matter of Peor.
Num 26:1 It happened after the plague, that Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying,
Num 26:2 Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers' houses, all who are able to go forth to war in Israel.
Num 26:3 Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying,
Num 26:4 Take the sum of the people, from twenty years old and upward; as Yahweh commanded Moses and the children of Israel, that came forth out of the land of Egypt.
Num 26:5 Reuben, the firstborn of Israel; the sons of Reuben: of Hanoch, the family of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the family of the Palluites;
Num 26:6 of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the family of the Carmites.
Num 26:7 These are the families of the Reubenites; and those who were numbered of them were forty-three thousand seven hundred thirty.
Num 26:8 The sons of Pallu: Eliab.
Num 26:9 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. These are that Dathan and Abiram, who were called of the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against Yahweh,
Num 26:10 and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died; what time the fire devoured two hundred fifty men, and they became a sign.
Num 26:11 Notwithstanding, the sons of Korah didn't die.
Num 26:12 The sons of Simeon after their families: of Nemuel, the family of the Nemuelites; of Jamin, the family of the Jaminites; of Jachin, the family of the Jachinites;
Num 26:13 of Zerah, the family of the Zerahites; of Shaul, the family of the Shaulites.
Num 26:14 These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty-two thousand two hundred.
Num 26:15 The sons of Gad after their families: of Zephon, the family of the Zephonites; of Haggi, the family of the Haggites; of Shuni, the family of the Shunites;
Num 26:16 of Ozni, the family of the Oznites; of Eri, the family of the Erites;
Num 26:17 of Arod, the family of the Arodites; of Areli, the family of the Arelites.
Num 26:18 These are the families of the sons of Gad according to those who were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred.
Num 26:19 The sons of Judah: Er and Onan; and Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan.
Num 26:20 The sons of Judah after their families were: of Shelah, the family of the Shelanites; of Perez, the family of the Perezites; of Zerah, the family of the Zerahites.
Num 26:21 The sons of Perez were: of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Hamul, the family of the Hamulites.
Num 26:22 These are the families of Judah according to those who were numbered of them, seventy-six thousand five hundred.
Num 26:23 The sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites; of Puvah, the family of the Punites;
Num 26:24 of Jashub, the family of the Jashubites; of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites.
Num 26:25 These are the families of Issachar according to those who were numbered of them, sixty-four thousand three hundred.
Num 26:26 The sons of Zebulun after their families: of Sered, the family of the Seredites; of Elon, the family of the Elonites; of Jahleel, the family of the Jahleelites.
Num 26:27 These are the families of the Zebulunites according to those who were numbered of them, sixty thousand five hundred.
Num 26:28 The sons of Joseph after their families: Manasseh and Ephraim.
Num 26:29 The sons of Manasseh: of Machir, the family of the Machirites; and Machir became the father of Gilead; of Gilead, the family of the Gileadites.
Num 26:30 These are the sons of Gilead: of Iezer, the family of the Iezerites; of Helek, the family of the Helekites;
Num 26:31 and of Asriel, the family of the Asrielites; and of Shechem, the family of the Shechemites;
Num 26:32 and of Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites; and of Hepher, the family of the Hepherites.
Num 26:33 Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
Num 26:34 These are the families of Manasseh; and those who were numbered of them were fifty-two thousand seven hundred.
Num 26:35 These are the sons of Ephraim after their families: of Shuthelah, the family of the Shuthelahites; of Becher, the family of the Becherites; of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites.
Num 26:36 These are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites.
Num 26:37 These are the families of the sons of Ephraim according to those who were numbered of them, thirty-two thousand five hundred. These are the sons of Joseph after their families.
Num 26:38 The sons of Benjamin after their families: of Bela, the family of the Belaites; of Ashbel, the family of the Ashbelites; of Ahiram, the family of the Ahiramites;
Num 26:39 of Shephupham, the family of the Shuphamites; of Hupham, the family of the Huphamites.
Num 26:40 The sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: of Ard, the family of the Ardites; of Naaman, the family of the Naamites.
Num 26:41 These are the sons of Benjamin after their families; and those who were numbered of them were forty-five thousand six hundred.
Num 26:42 These are the sons of Dan after their families: of Shuham, the family of the Shuhamites. These are the families of Dan after their families.
Num 26:43 All the families of the Shuhamites, according to those who were numbered of them, were sixty-four thousand four hundred.
Num 26:44 The sons of Asher after their families: of Imnah, the family of the Imnites; of Ishvi, the family of the Ishvites; of Beriah, the family of the Berites.
Num 26:45 Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites; of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites.
Num 26:46 The name of the daughter of Asher was Serah.
Num 26:47 These are the families of the sons of Asher according to those who were numbered of them, fifty-three thousand and four hundred.
Num 26:48 The sons of Naphtali after their families: of Jahzeel, the family of the Jahzeelites; of Guni, the family of the Gunites;
Num 26:49 of Jezer, the family of the Jezerites; of Shillem, the family of the Shillemites.
Num 26:50 These are the families of Naphtali according to their families; and those who were numbered of them were forty-five thousand four hundred.
Num 26:51 These are those who were numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred one thousand seven hundred thirty.
Num 26:52 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 26:53 To these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.
Num 26:54 To the more you shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer you shall give the less inheritance: to everyone according to those who were numbered of him shall his inheritance be given.
Num 26:55 Notwithstanding, the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.
Num 26:56 According to the lot shall their inheritance be divided between the more and the fewer.
Num 26:57 These are those who were numbered of the Levites after their families: of Gershon, the family of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites; of Merari, the family of the Merarites.
Num 26:58 These are the families of Levi: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korahites. Kohath became the father of Amram.
Num 26:59 The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt: and she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.
Num 26:60 To Aaron were born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
Num 26:61 Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before Yahweh.
Num 26:62 Those who were numbered of them were twenty-three thousand, every male from a month old and upward: for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel.
Num 26:63 These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
Num 26:64 But among these there was not a man of them who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.
Num 26:65 For Yahweh had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. There was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.




From Mark Copeland... When You're Being Oppressed (James 5:7-12)

                         "THE EPISTLE OF JAMES"

                   When You're Being Oppressed (5:7-12)
                                 
INTRODUCTION

1. Do you feel like someone is out to get you?  That they are trying to
   take advantage of you?  That you are being oppressed?

2. What should you do when you are oppressed?  What should you NOT do?

3. In James 5, we find James giving instructions to those who appear
   to have been oppressed by the rich
   a. Notice Jm 2:6
   b. The rich had been holding back their wages - cf. Jm 5:4
   c. The rich had been oppressing the righteous - cf. Jm 5:6
   -- What were the oppressed Christians to do?

4. In Jm 5:7-12 (and surrounding verses), we find principles and
   instructions which should govern Christians when they are oppressed

[These principles are just as applicable today when we are oppressed by
others.  Let's notice what they are...]

I. DON'T RESIST

   A. SUCH WAS THE BEHAVIOR OF THOSE BEING OPPRESSED IN JAMES' DAY...
      1. Notice Jm 5:4,6
      2. Though treated unjustly, they did not resist

   B. NOT RESISTING IS CONSISTENT WITH THE TEACHING OF CHRIST AND HIS
      APOSTLES...
      1. Consider Lk 6:27-30
      2. Also Ro 12:19-21
      3. And 1Pe 2:18-23

   C. ADMITTEDLY, NOT RESISTING IS CONTRARY TO HUMAN NATURE AND WISDOM...
      1. Human nature moves one to react in "justifiable anger"
      2. Human wisdom calls for "standing up for one's rights"

   D. BUT NOT RESISTING IS BASED UPON TWO THINGS...
      1. AN AWARENESS that the Lord is coming to judge - Jm 5:8-9
         a. The coming of the Lord in this passage may have reference
            to His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (as foretold by
            Jesus in Lk 21 and which occured when Rome destroyed
            Jerusalem in AD 70)
         b. But it may also refer to the Lord's final coming on the Day
            of Judgment which has yet to occur
         c. Likewise, we can look for the coming of the Lord in judgment
            in various ways (death, the second coming, etc.)
      2. A WILLINGNESS to let Him be our avenger - cf. Lk 18:7-8

[It is not easy to keep one's self from resisting, and to wait for the 
Lord to take care of it.  That's why there is a need for the next 
principle...]

II. BE PATIENT

   A. THE WORD FOUND HERE IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT THAN THAT FOUND EARLIER
      IN THIS EPISTLE...
      1. In Jm 1:3, the word is "hupomone"
         a. Which means to bear up under trials
         b. Which normally means to be patient in reference to THINGS or
            CIRCUMSTANCES
      2. In Jm 5:7-8,10, the word is "makrothumia"
         a. Which means to suffer long
         b. Which normally means to be patient in reference to PEOPLE 
            (like those who oppress you)
         c. As Vincent defines it:
            1) A patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted
               restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially
               the passion of anger
            2) The thought links itself naturally with that in the
               preceding verse:  "the righteous does not resist"

   B. THREE EXAMPLES ARE GIVEN TO ENCOURAGE US TO BE PATIENT...
      1. The FARMER:  "Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the
         precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it,
         until he receive the early and latter rain." - Jm 5:7
      2. The PROPHETS:  "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have
         spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering
         affliction, and of patience." - Jm 5:10
      3. JOB:  "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard
         of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that
         the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." - Jm 5:11

   C. EACH OF THESE EXAMPLES TEACH US...
      1. To place our trust in the Lord, that He will eventually reward
         us for our trust in Him
      2. To be stedfast, in the meantime, in our service to Him

[But such patience or long-suffering is not easily acquired.  Therefore,
there is a need to apply the third principle in this passage...]

III. ESTABLISH YOUR HEARTS

   A. THE WORD "ESTABLISH"...
      1. Means "to fix, make fast, to set" (VINE)
      2. Is translated "strengthen" in other places
      3. To establish one's heart, then...
         a. Involves strengthening our heart in a certain way
         b. Here, it means to strengthen our heart so as to be patient
            and not resist the evil being done
   
   B. THE "KEY" TO ESTABLISHING OUR HEARTS...
      1. Is the Word of God - cf. 2Pe 1:12
      2. Through constant and careful study of God's Word...
         a. Our faith in God and His eventual justice is made stronger
         b. Patience and strength to not resist is developed - cf. Ro
            15:4

[With hearts rooted and established in God's Word, we are more likely 
to act as we should when oppressed.

But there are some things we are likely to do when under stress due to 
unjust oppression.  James goes on to mention two that we are to avoid.  
The first of these is...]

IV. DON'T GRUMBLE

   A. ESPECIALLY AGAINST ONE ANOTHER (9)
      1. When others oppress us, we are likely to vent our frustrations
         as those closest and dearest to us
      2. For example, a man after a bad day at work often takes it out
         on his wife and family
      3. So brethren are likely to direct their frustration towards each
         other when being oppressed from outside

   B. WE HAVE GOOD REASON NOT TO GRUMBLE...
      1. "lest you be condemned"
      2. The sin of grumbling is a serious one - cf. 1Co 10:5-11
      3. The same Lord who will judge those who oppress others will 
         judge those who murmer and grumble!

[So don't let the oppression of others cause us to be condemned by our 
mistreatment of our brethren.

Another warning is given...]

V. DON'T SWEAR

   A. THIS IS SOMETHING ELSE ONE IS LIKELY TO DO WHEN IN TROUBLE...
      1. In other words, make rash promises
      2. Promises which God will hold you to, even if not serious - cf.
         Eccl 5:1-7

   B. THIS PROHIBITION APPLIES ESPECIALLY TO "FLIPPANT OATHS"...
      1. In Jesus' day, many Jews were prone to swear in this fashion
      2. Where they made a distinction between oaths using God's name
         and other oaths (those using His name were considered binding,
         while the others were not)
      3. Both Jesus and James condemn this distinction between different 
         kinds of oaths - cf. Mt 5:33-37; 23:16-22

[The solution is to refrain from oaths altogether, and stand by your 
word.

Finally, in times of oppression, those who are God's children have a 
powerful weapon in their arsenal.  To utilize it, they should...]

VI. PRAY

   A. THIS IS THE KEY THING TO DO WHEN OPPRESSED...
      1. As we learn from Jm 5:13
      2. This is what the Christians of James' day were doing - cf. Jm 5:4

   B. WHEN WE PRAY, GOD HEARS!
      1. As seen in Jm 5:4
      2. As promised by both Jesus and James, the Lord will avenge His 
         righteous ones - Lk 18:7-8; Jm 5:7-8
      3. It may not come when we want it, and the Lord may "bear long
         with us" - cf. Re 6:9-11
      4. But when the time is ripe, the oppressed will be avenged!

CONCLUSION

1. Therefore, when we are being oppressed...
   a. Don't resist
   b. Be patient
   c. Establish your hearts
   d. Don't grumble
   e. Don't swear
   f. PRAY!

2. When we react this way to oppression...
   a. We follow the example of Christ and the early disciples
   b. Who committed themselves to God who judges righteously
      1) Christ - "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he
         suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him
         that judgeth righteously:" (1Pe 2:23)
      2) The disciples - "Wherefore let them that suffer according to
         the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in
         well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1Pe 4:19)

3. With such a righteous God on our side, it should be a lot easier to
   endure those who oppress us!

Is the righteous God on your side?  Or rather, are you on His side?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Impossible?




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjHnWz3EyHs

Click on the above link!!! You will be very glad you did!!! Why? Because after you do, you will probably realize like I did that in reality- NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!  Sounds like I am exaggerating, doesn't it, but I am not!!!!  After viewing this, my day seemed brighter (even though it is cloudy today) and suddenly the future in my "old age" seemed more positive!!!!!!  And positive people often do AMAZING THINGS!!!! Here a Biblical reference to just the sort of person I am referring to...

Joshua, Chapter 14
 6  Then the children of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal. Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the thing that Yahweh spoke to Moses the man of God concerning me and concerning you in Kadesh Barnea.  7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of Yahweh sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land. I brought him word again as it was in my heart.  8 Nevertheless, my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; but I wholly followed Yahweh my God.  9 Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where you walked shall be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have wholly followed Yahweh my God.’ 

  10  “Now, behold, Yahweh has kept me alive, as he spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that Yahweh spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. Now, behold, I am eighty-five years old, today.  11 As yet I am as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now for war, to go out and to come in.  12 Now therefore give me this hill country, of which Yahweh spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and great and fortified cities. It may be that Yahweh will be with me, and I shall drive them out, as Yahweh spoke.” 

 13  Joshua blessed him; and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance.  14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day; because he wholly followed Yahweh, the God of Israel.  15 Now the name of Hebron before was Kiriath Arba, after the greatest man among the Anakim.
 
 
Of all the adult multitude that left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb entered the promised land. These two had faith unlike the others who were sent to reconoiter God's promised possession, even when they saw the giants (the Anakim) who dwelt there. And God rewarded both of them with long life and strength in their GOLDEN YEARS!!! And even in his old age, Caleb's faith could overcome even the Anakim  (see verses 13-15). 

Not 19, 45 or even 60 any more? There is hope, there is a future that can be full of success- have faith and do what you need to do and you will be blessed by the creator!!!  Not enough incentive?  I can only tell you that at 40 years of age I was broke and deeply in debt, but next month I turn 65 and God has provided everything I really need and more. Don't get me wrong- I am NOT RICH by any definition, but I am happy and doing things I never thought I was capable of doing.  If a 79 year old woman can dance and an old man can slay giants, I can only imagine what you can do??? So, do that which seems impossible and let others marvel at the power of God working in you!!!!