4/21/14

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 even the outline of the Laws of Eshnunna.2 See below for a section of Hammurabi's prologue.3
It's important to note that when God brought judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah Ezekiel 16:49-50 lists her crimes as arrogance, having abundance and not bringing justice to the poor and needy, as well as their abominable behavior. It's obvious from this that the power-brokers knew what they should have been doing—ignorance wasn't the problem; a moral standrad was there and recognizable. Daniel calls Nebuchadnezzar to repentance before God by, he says, breaking off his sins and iniquities by taking care of the poor [Daniel 4:27]. Such things were known to matter even to pagans!

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 that exhibited God's character and purpose in regard to theentire human family. 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. The pagan world didn't get its moral standard from the gods—it got it from the one true God.

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 hardliner 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 straightjacketed 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 that 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 exists 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 chose [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 God bringsthat’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't 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” and the greatest power imaginable is not coercive.

(1) See: http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/Hammurabi-Prologue.html
(2) See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_Eshnunna
(3) As given in Durant's Our Oriental Heritage, p. 111
At that time the gods called me, Hammurabi, the servant whose deeds are pleasing...who helped his people in time of need, who brought about plenty and abundance...to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak...to enlighten the land and further the welfare of the people.


©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

From Wayne Jackson, M.A. ... The Value of Human Suffering





http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=228




The Value of Human Suffering

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.

It has been said that there is no greater education than matriculating through the University of Hard Knocks. One thing is certain; many who have passed through the crucible of suffering will acknowledge that they have found themselves infinitely better for the experience—bitter though it may have been. Robert Browning Hamilton expressed this thought so wonderfully in verse:
I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chatted all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!
Atheism, of course, alleges that the problem of human suffering represents one of the more formidable arguments against the existence of a powerful and loving God. It is not my intention to respond to that baseless argument here; I have addressed it elsewhere in detail (see Jackson, 1983). At this point, it will suffice simply to say at that God has, as an expression of His love (1 John 4:8), granted mankind free will (Joshua 24:15; cf. Isaiah 7:15). That free will enables human beings to make their own choices. Foolish choices can have devastating consequences (e.g., suffering). Thus, the responsibility for unwise choices is man’s, not God’s. The problem of human suffering is not irreconcilable with the love of a benevolent Creator. In this article, we will limit our discussion to the benefits that suffering can provide—if we are wise enough to learn the lessons.
First, suffering highlights the fact that we are frail human beings; that is to say, we are not God. Some, however, have no greater ambition than to be their own God. They are “autotheists”—self-gods. They imagine that they are accountable to no one higher than themselves. To borrow the words of the infidel poet, William Ernest Henley, they are the masters of their fate, and the captains of their souls! These rebels submit to no law save the self-imposed law of their own arrogant minds. But when we humans suffer, we are forced to focus upon our own weakness. There is no remedy within us (see Job 6:13). It is hard to be haughty when you are hurting. Pain can be humbling; it can slap smart-aleckness out of us, and open our hearts to greater vistas.
Second, suffering can draw our interests toward the true God. When one is in a state of anguish that offers little respite, the natural inclination is to turn toward a higher source for help. Only a deliberate and forced stubbornness can quench that urge. When we are hurting, the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) is waiting to help. Joe, a personal acquaintance of this writer, was taught the gospel of Christ and happily embraced it, being united with the Lord in baptism (Romans 6:3ff.). For a while, this likable gentleman in his mid-forties struggled to remain faithful against the powerful, negative influences of a family that had zero interest in spiritual matters. Finally, he drifted away from conscientious service. Then, Joe suffered a severe heart attack. He hastened back to the Savior and maintained a contented fidelity until, some months later, his spirit slipped quietly away into eternity. Suffering can get our attention! David once wrote: “In my distress I called upon Jehovah, and cried unto my God” (Psalm 18:6).
Third, suffering can assist us in seeing sin in all of its hideous gruesomeness. The Bible clearly teaches that this planet has been heir to suffering as a consequence of man’s sin. This principle is set forth clearly by Paul in his letter to the Roman saints. He affirmed that “through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so that death passed to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). At the beginning of human history, sin, in a manner of speaking, was “crouching at the door” (see Genesis 4:7); when grandmother Eve (and subsequently her husband) opened that door, horrible effects were allowed to descend upon their offspring (Genesis 3:22). And so death—with all its attendant evils—entered the human environment as a result of man’s rebellion against his Creator. When we suffer, it ought to be a sober reminder of how terrible sin is. While we cannot escape the physical consequences of sin’s high price, we can refresh our souls in divine forgiveness. When that is done, life becomes immeasurably easier.
Fourth, suffering aids us in seeing the real worth of things. When one passes through the experience of intense suffering, and perhaps comes to the threshold of death, the entire world can take on new meaning. The singing of the birds is more vivid than it ever has been. A fresh spring day makes the soul ecstatic. Family and friends take on a new preciousness. Christopher Reeve, who starred as “Superman” in the movies, was involved in a life-threatening accident, and discovered that in real life he was not as invincible as the character he portrayed. In recent interviews, Mr. Reeve commented that since being paralyzed, he has discovered a new zest for life. Indeed, suffering can provide a sharper vision of life’s priorities. As the poet John Dryden expressed it: “We, by our suff’rings, learn to prize our bliss” (Astraea Redux). He that hath an ear, let him hear what suffering whispers to the soul.
Fifth, suffering prepares us to be compassionate to others. There is an old adage that says, “Do not judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” I suggest another proverb: “One cannot comfort effectively until he has lain in the bed of suffering.” That may be a bit of an overstatement, but it contains a grain of truth. In the second chapter of Hebrews, the writer effectively argued that Jesus Christ, as our High Priest, is qualified to “succor” (ASV) or “aid” (NASV) those who are tempted. How is that so? Hear him: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, NKJV). The song lyric, “Are you weary? Are you heavyhearted? Tell it to Jesus; tell it to Jesus,” is wonderfully meaningful in light of this passage. It has been said that the difference between “sympathy” (from the Greek syn—with, and pathos—feeling) and “empathy” (en—in, and pathos) is that in the former instance one “feels with” (i.e., has feelings of tenderness for) those who suffer, whereas in “empathy” one almost is able to “get inside” the friend who suffers—because the one doing the comforting has been there!
Sixth, suffering sharpens our awareness that this Earth is not a permanent home. Peter sought to encourage early Christians (who were being persecuted) not to despair, by reminding them that they were but “sojourners and pilgrims” upon this Earth (1 Peter 2:11). The ancient patriarchs “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” and so they looked for “a better country, that is a heavenly [one]” (Hebrews 11:13-16). Paul reminded us that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward” (Romans 8:18). It is not the will of God that men live upon this evil-plagued planet forever. We never will be “at home” until we are with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), and suffering helps make us “home sick.” Henry Ward Beecher once said: “God washes the eyes by tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more.”
Seventh, suffering enhances our ability to pray. Praying is an instinctive human response to severe hardship. But effective prayer is a learned exercise. On a certain occasion during His ministry, Jesus was praying. After He had finished, one of the disciples requested of Him: “Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). These Hebrew disciples had been praying all their lives; yet, they observed something in the intensity of Jesus’ prayers that sent them “back to school.” With Calvary ever looming before Him, Christ plumbed the depths of prayer. Note the following: “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44). A song suggests: “Pray when you’re happy; pray when in sorrow.” One should pray frequently, and in all moods; under the burden of suffering, however, one will learn how to pray as he never has prayed before.
Eighth, suffering tempers the soul and helps prepare it for eternity. Peter wrote:
[N]ow for a little while, if necessary, ye have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Just as precious metals are purified by the heat of fire, so life’s trials in general, and suffering for Christ in particular, build strength into the soul. Character does not happen by accident; rather, it is built! Out of the fires of suffering, the human spirit may emerge as precious as gold and as strong as steel.
Ninth, suffering nurtures the noblest virtues of which mankind is capable. Reflect for a moment upon the quality of courage. Civilizations universally perceive “courage” to be one of the prime traits of humanity, and, by way of contrast, cowardice is considered to be utterly reprehensible. Courage may be defined as the ability to act rationally in the face of fear. If, however, the human family were immune to hardship, danger, suffering, etc., there could be no “facing” it, hence, no courage. When we sit down to a delicious dinner with friends and loved ones on a balmy autumn evening, no courage is needed. Courage arises in the presence of danger. There are certain qualities that we simply cannot possess in the absence of hardship. Ralph Sockman wrote: “Without danger there would be no adventure. Without friction our cars would not start and our spirits would not soar. Without tears, eyes would not shine with the richest expressions” (1961, p. 66). And what of “patience”? John Chrysostom (347-407), one of the most influential figures among the “church fathers” of the post-apostolic period, described patience as “the mother of piety, fruit that never withers, a fortress that is never taken, a harbour that knows no storms” (as quoted in Barclay, 1974, p. 145). But could there ever be “patience” in the absence of difficulty?
Tenth, suffering separates the superficial from the stable. Paul cautioned the Corinthian saints against building up the church superficially. Some folks are of the “wood, hay, [and] stubble” variety, while others exhibit those qualities of “gold, silver [and] costly stones” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Saints of the latter category endure; those of the former do not. Why so? It simply is because the two groups are tested by “fire” (hardships), and that testing fire separates quality converts from those who really are not serious about their Christian commitment. Jesus once spoke of those who receive the gospel impulsively, and, for a while endure. Eventually, though, “tribulation and persecution” arise, and rather quickly the superficial fade away (see Matthew 13:20-21).
And so, while no one actively seeks suffering in his life, honesty compels us to admit that hardships do have value—great value. Certainly, the existence of suffering is not a valid reason for rejecting the Creator.

REFERENCES

Barclay, William (1974), New Testament Words (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Jackson, Wayne (1983), The Book of Job—Analyzed and Applied (Abilene, TX: Quality).
Sockman, Ralph (1961), The Meaning of Suffering (New York: Women’s Division, Christian Service Boards of Missions, The Methodist Church).

From Mark Copeland... Many Infallible Proofs (Acts 1:3)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                      Many Infallible Proofs (1:3)

INTRODUCTION

1. Luke begins the sequel to his gospel with a reminder...
   a. That his gospel described things Jesus both did and taught - Ac1:1
   b. That it covered events leading up to His ascension - Ac 1:2
   c. That Jesus presented "many infallible proofs" of His resurrection
      - Ac 1:3

2. The importance the resurrection of Christ cannot be
   overemphasized...
   a. It was the keystone of apostolic preaching - 1Co 15:14
   b. It is the foundation of our faith - ibid.
   c. If it did not occur, our faith is empty!

[We can be thankful that our faith in the resurrection of Christ is not
"empty".  It is based upon "many infallible proofs"!  What were these
infallible proofs?  They involved...]

I. THE APPEARANCES OF CHRIST

   A. TO MARY MAGDALENE...
      1. Described in Mark's gospel - Mk 16:9-11
      2. Expanded upon by John in his gospel - Jn 20:11-18
      -- She saw Jesus and talked with Him

   B. TO THE OTHER WOMEN...
      1. As revealed in Matthew's gospel - Mt 28:9-10
      2. Where Jesus reiterated what the angel had said - ibid.
      -- They touched Jesus and worshiped Him

   C. TO TWO DISCIPLES WALKING IN THE COUNTRY...
      1. Described in Mark's gospel - Mk 16:12-13
      2. Elaborated by Luke in his gospel - Lk 24:13-32
      -- They walked with Him, talked with Him, and ate with Him

   D. TO PETER ALONE...
      1. Reported after the testimony of the two disciples - Lk 24:33-35
      2. Mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:5
      -- He saw Jesus

   E. TO THE APOSTLES WITH THOMAS ABSENT...
      1. Described in detail by Luke - Lk 24:36-43
      2. Also by John - Jn 20:19-25
      -- They saw Jesus, He ate food in their presence

   F. TO THE APOSTLES WITH THOMAS PRESENT...
      1. A week later, as described by John - Jn 20:26-31
      2. Mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:5
      -- Convincing Thomas, who would not believe unless he could see
         and touch Jesus

   G. TO SEVEN DISCIPLES BY THE SEA OF GALILEE...
      1. Including Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John - Jn 21:1-2
      2. While they were fishing, and then eating together - Jn 21:3-25
      -- They saw Him, ate breakfast with Him, talked with Him

   H. TO FIVE HUNDRED BRETHREN AT ONCE...
      1. Recorded by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:6
      2. Possibly in Galilee as directed by the angel and Jesus - Mk 16:7; Mt 28:10,16-17
      3. Possibly when the Great Commission was first given - Mt 28:18-20
      -- A large number, ruling out any vision or hallucination

   I. TO JAMES THE LORD'S BROTHER...
      1. Recorded by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:7
      2. Who previously did not believe, but then became a disciple 
         - Jn 7:5; Ac 1:14
      -- Convincing a brother in the flesh who had his doubts

   J. TO THE DISCIPLES WITH ANOTHER COMMISSION...
      1. Recorded by Luke in his gospel - Lk 24:44-49
      2. This time in Jerusalem, shortly before His ascension - Ac 1:3-8
      -- They studied with Him for days, as He taught them from the
         Scriptures

   K. TO THOSE PRESENT AT HIS ASCENSION...
      1. Recorded in Mark's gospel - Mk 16:19-20
      2. Also by Luke in both of his books - Lk 24:50-53; Ac 1:9-12
      -- They looked steadfastly as they saw Him ascend

[The number of appearances certainly qualifies as "many".  But in what
way can we say these appearances qualify as "infallible proofs"? 
Consider the strength of...]

II. THE DISCIPLES' TESTIMONY

   A. THE NATURE OF THEIR TESTIMONY...
      1. Their testimony appealed to empirical evidence
         a. I.e., evidence derived from experiment and observation
            rather than theory
         b. They refused to accept second hand evidence - Mk 16:11,13;
            Jn 20:25
         c. They saw, heard, and touched Him - 1Jn 1:1-2
         d. They ate and drank with Him - Ac 10:40-41
      2. There is no way they could have been deceived or deluded
         a. If all they had were individual dreams, visions, or
            hallucinations...perhaps
         b. But they testified that Jesus appeared to them in groups as
            well as to individuals
      -- Such eyewitness testimony is the same sort of proof used in
         court today

   B. THEIR TRANSFORMED LIVES...
      1. Prior to the resurrection, Jesus' disciples were afraid and
         without hope
         a. They fled at his arrest - Mk 14:50
         b. Peter cowardly denied Him three times - Mk 14:66-72
         c. Women mourned His crucifixion - Lk 23:27
         d. His disciples were sad - Lk 24:13-17
         e. His disciples hid behind closed doors in fear - Jn 20:19
      2. After the resurrection, they fearlessly praised God and
         proclaimed Jesus!
         a. Praising God in the temple - Lk 24:52-53
         b. Proclaiming Christ despite persecution - Ac 5:28-32,41-42
      3. This transformation is strong evidence for the resurrection!
         a. "If the disciples were totally disappointed and on the
            verge of desperate flight because of the very real reason of
            the crucifixion..."
         b. "...it took another very real reason in order to transform
            them from a band of disheartened and dejected Jews into the 
            most self-confident missionary society in world history." 
            - Pinchas Lapide, former Chairman of the Applied Linguistics
            Department at Israel's Bar-Iland University (TIME, May 7, 
            1979)
      -- Their transformed lives is strong evidence of the
         resurrections of Jesus         

   C. THEIR HIGH MORAL STANDARD...
      1. They taught others to live holy lives - 1Th 4:1-7; Ep 4:25
      2. They lived their own lives in an unimpeachable way - 1Th 2:3-12
      -- Does this sound like people who propagated a lie?

   D. THEIR PERSONAL SACRIFICES...
      1. The apostles endured much suffering because of their testimony
         - 1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 11:23-28
      2. All but one died martyrs' death because of their testimony
      3. Even Jesus' brother, James, was thrown off the temple and then
         clubbed to death for his testimony!
      -- There was no motive (fame, power, wealth) for them to
         persistently lie! 

CONCLUSION

1. Jesus gave His disciples "many" proofs...
   a. He appeared to them many times during forty days
   b. He spoke with them, ate with them, let them touch Him
   c. He met with them in groups, large and small, as well as
      individually

2. Such proof was "infallible" for them...
   a. Not a single eyewitness recanted his testimony of the
      resurrection
   b. They endured great hardship throughout their lives because of
      their testimony
   c. They were willing to die for their testimony, and many did!

3. We too have "many infallible proofs", because of...
   a. The nature of their testimony
   b. The transformation that took place in their lives
   c. The high moral standard they taught and lived
   d. The personal sacrifices they made

Why not allow such proof to transform your life as it did those disciples
in the first century...? - cf. Jn 20:30-31

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary... Bible Reading April 21





Bible Reading  

April 21

The World English Bible



Apr. 21
Numbers 33, 34
Num 33:1 These are the journeys of the children of Israel, when they went forth out of the land of Egypt by their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Num 33:2 Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of Yahweh: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.
Num 33:3 They traveled from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians,
Num 33:4 while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom Yahweh had struck among them: on their gods also Yahweh executed judgments.
Num 33:5 The children of Israel traveled from Rameses, and encamped in Succoth.
Num 33:6 They traveled from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness.
Num 33:7 They traveled from Etham, and turned back to Pihahiroth, which is before Baal Zephon: and they encamped before Migdol.
Num 33:8 They traveled from before Hahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness: and they went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and encamped in Marah.
Num 33:9 They traveled from Marah, and came to Elim: and in Elim were twelve springs of water, and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there.
Num 33:10 They traveled from Elim, and encamped by the Red Sea.
Num 33:11 They traveled from the Red Sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin.
Num 33:12 They traveled from the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah.
Num 33:13 They traveled from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush.
Num 33:14 They traveled from Alush, and encamped in Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.
Num 33:15 They traveled from Rephidim, and encamped in the wilderness of Sinai.
Num 33:16 They traveled from the wilderness of Sinai, and encamped in Kibroth Hattaavah.
Num 33:17 They traveled from Kibroth Hattaavah, and encamped in Hazeroth.
Num 33:18 They traveled from Hazeroth, and encamped in Rithmah.
Num 33:19 They traveled from Rithmah, and encamped in Rimmon Perez.
Num 33:20 They traveled from Rimmon Perez, and encamped in Libnah.
Num 33:21 They traveled from Libnah, and encamped in Rissah.
Num 33:22 They traveled from Rissah, and encamped in Kehelathah.
Num 33:23 They traveled from Kehelathah, and encamped in Mount Shepher.
Num 33:24 They traveled from Mount Shepher, and encamped in Haradah.
Num 33:25 They traveled from Haradah, and encamped in Makheloth.
Num 33:26 They traveled from Makheloth, and encamped in Tahath.
Num 33:27 They traveled from Tahath, and encamped in Terah.
Num 33:28 They traveled from Terah, and encamped in Mithkah.
Num 33:29 They traveled from Mithkah, and encamped in Hashmonah.
Num 33:30 They traveled from Hashmonah, and encamped in Moseroth.
Num 33:31 They traveled from Moseroth, and encamped in Bene Jaakan.
Num 33:32 They traveled from Bene Jaakan, and encamped in Hor Haggidgad.
Num 33:33 They traveled from Hor Haggidgad, and encamped in Jotbathah.
Num 33:34 They traveled from Jotbathah, and encamped in Abronah.
Num 33:35 They traveled from Abronah, and encamped in Ezion Geber.
Num 33:36 They traveled from Ezion Geber, and encamped in the wilderness of Zin (the same is Kadesh).
Num 33:37 They traveled from Kadesh, and encamped in Mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom.
Num 33:38 Aaron the priest went up into Mount Hor at the commandment of Yahweh, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fifth month, on the first day of the month.
Num 33:39 Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died in Mount Hor.
Num 33:40 The Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the South in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel.
Num 33:41 They traveled from Mount Hor, and encamped in Zalmonah.
Num 33:42 They traveled from Zalmonah, and encamped in Punon.
Num 33:43 They traveled from Punon, and encamped in Oboth.
Num 33:44 They traveled from Oboth, and encamped in Iye Abarim, in the border of Moab.
Num 33:45 They traveled from Iyim, and encamped in Dibon Gad.
Num 33:46 They traveled from Dibon Gad, and encamped in Almon Diblathaim.
Num 33:47 They traveled from Almon Diblathaim, and encamped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo.
Num 33:48 They traveled from the mountains of Abarim, and encamped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
Num 33:49 They encamped by the Jordan, from Beth Jeshimoth even to Abel Shittim in the plains of Moab.
Num 33:50 Yahweh spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying,
Num 33:51 Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
Num 33:52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places:
Num 33:53 and you shall take possession of the land, and dwell therein; for I have given given the land to you to possess it.
Num 33:54 You shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the more you shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer you shall give the less inheritance: wherever the lot falls to any man, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers.
Num 33:55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those you let remain of them will be as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the land in which you dwell.
Num 33:56 It shall happen that as I thought to do to them, so will I do to you.
Num 34:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 34:2 Command the children of Israel, and tell them, When you come into the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to its borders),
Num 34:3 then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the side of Edom, and your south border shall be from the end of the Salt Sea eastward;
Num 34:4 and your border shall turn about southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass along to Zin; and the goings out of it shall be southward of Kadesh Barnea; and it shall go forth to Hazar Addar, and pass along to Azmon;
Num 34:5 and the border shall turn about from Azmon to the brook of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.
Num 34:6 For the western border, you shall have the great sea and the border of it: this shall be your west border.
Num 34:7 This shall be your north border: from the great sea you shall mark out for you Mount Hor;
Num 34:8 from Mount Hor you shall mark out to the entrance of Hamath; and the goings out of the border shall be at Zedad;
Num 34:9 and the border shall go forth to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazar Enan: this shall be your north border.
Num 34:10 You shall mark out your east border from Hazar Enan to Shepham;
Num 34:11 and the border shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall go down, and shall reach to the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward;
Num 34:12 and the border shall go down to the Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land according to its borders around it.
Num 34:13 Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying, This is the land which you shall inherit by lot, which Yahweh has commanded to give to the nine tribes, and to the half-tribe;
Num 34:14 for the tribe of the children of Reuben according to their fathers' houses, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to their fathers' houses, have received, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received, their inheritance:
Num 34:15 the two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan at Jericho eastward, toward the sunrise.
Num 34:16 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 34:17 These are the names of the men who shall divide the land to you for inheritance: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun.
Num 34:18 You shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land for inheritance.
Num 34:19 These are the names of the men: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
Num 34:20 Of the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud.
Num 34:21 Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon.
Num 34:22 Of the tribe of the children of Dan a prince, Bukki the son of Jogli.
Num 34:23 Of the children of Joseph: of the tribe of the children of Manasseh a prince, Hanniel the son of Ephod.
Num 34:24 Of the tribe of the children of Ephraim a prince, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan.
Num 34:25 Of the tribe of the children of Zebulun a prince, Elizaphan the son of Parnach.
Num 34:26 Of the tribe of the children of Issachar a prince, Paltiel the son of Azzan.
Num 34:27 Of the tribe of the children of Asher a prince, Ahihud the son of Shelomi.
Num 34:28 Of the tribe of the children of Naphtali a prince, Pedahel the son of Ammihud.
Num 34:29 These are they whom Yahweh commanded to divide the inheritance to the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.




From Gary... Read the signs out there


You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him eat pizza; a little saying of mine that somehow seems to go along with this sign.  Fact is: Some people do NOT WANT TO BE BOTHERED; they have their minds made up about their lives and just don't want to be bothered with anything new and become antagonistic when confronted . Well, what do you do with such people? Since each person and situation is unique, there is no "one size fits all", answer, but...

Acts, Chapter 18
4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks.  5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  6 When they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook out his clothing and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles!”

Paul was a very patient man. He endured things for the sake of his Jewish brethren that are almost unbelievable. However, there is a time to let people go their own way and reap the consequences of their actions. By the time of Acts 18, Paul had had enough and it was time to go to the Gentiles.  

Many years earlier, the following account gives us insight as to how Jesus advised dealing with a similar situation...

Mark, Chapter 6
7 He (Jesus) called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits.  8 He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse,  9 but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics.  10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there.   11 Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

Please do not misunderstand- I hope that everyone will respond to the Gospel message, but if they repeatedly refuse to listen, then let them alone. I think these two passages provide sufficient examples for this course of action. Sometimes the facts of dealing with our fellow human beings are hard to accept, but life is what it is....