From Jim McGuiggan... In this case—what matters most?

In this case—what matters most?

It's been said, and I'm going to accept it as essentially true (though these days I'm less trustful of reports of what the ancients believed unless I can see for myself their own words in context), that the heart of Pelagius' teaching was: "I can be good if I will. God rewards me when I'm good but does not make me good; His reward is an incentive to good but it's no more than that." I confess I don't trust the obviously brilliant Augustine of Hippo as a complete guide to the teaching and convictions of Pelagius.

But if that is what he taught he was dead wrong. The little we know for sure about Pelagius tells us that he was a truly upright man whose attitude and behaviour was such that most of us would wish it were our own. But my suspicion is that people of genuine moral maturity are severely tempted to think that we all can be and should be as morally upright as they are. [I think this is part of the explanation for the hardness we find in so many of them. They think the rest of us aren't trying. "If I can be morally upright to this degree everyone can be too if they truly wish it," seems to be the way they think.]

There is real appeal in that kind of thinking but I'm sure in my bones that it underestimates the difficulties of working against sin; it underestimates the differences between sinners and their life situations and it misses this truth that the Bible (and the NT in particular) stresses: "The ultimate question about a person is not how morally mature and rich he/she is but what is her/his relation to God."

Christians don't (shouldn't!) profess that they alone are morally fine. It's demonstrably true that some non-Christians have been at least as morally upright and fine as some Christians! I judge all talk to the contrary is Christian imperialism at its worst and a misuse of the Bible.

What Christians do (and should!) insist on is, that in Jesus alone sin is truly assessed and righteousness is truly exalted. This is where repentant faith enters the Christian life and message. Christians are sinners like the rest of humanity but unlike the rest of humanity by God's grace they have come to believe in Jesus in a commitment of faith, to welcome his mind as their own about sin and righteousness and God as the fountain and meaning of all that.

The difference between the Christian and the non-Christian, at this point, is a profound difference of faith. It is not that one has gained a better record than the other of moral excellence, of fine attitudes and upright behavior; the difference is one of faith! Jesus makes God to be all in all and the Christian makes everything of Jesus who is God being a man. Anything less than Jesus is less that the complete truth! One of the essential truths Jesus has brought to us is this: In humans there is not only the loathing of sin, the terror of sin, the tyranny of sin—there is also the love of it!

Sin is not adequately dealt with until by faith we look to God who is beyond ourselves and who brings us to faith and into loving someone greater than we love our sin.

On the matter of success and growth in moral excellence—does God help Christians in their pursuit of these? If, yes, how should we unpack that truth? You might think there's something useful in a brief series I've begun here.

©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.

by Kyle Butt, M.A. ... Sniffing Out Design


Sniffing Out Design

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Thoughts about sinus drainage and mucus are not pleasant. Who has not been frustrated by the feeling of a raw nose caused by excessive nose-blowing during a cold? Have you ever wondered why mucus in your nose (more commonly called snot) is there? It just so happens that snot provides a vital tool that enhances your body’s ability to smell.
For many years, researchers have attempted to design electronic “noses” that can differentiate between smells. Such noses have a host of potential uses, including being used in airports to identify chemicals used in explosives. Researchers, however, have failed to master the art of smell. The “e-nose” simply cannot perform to the level of a human nose. Recent research, however, is sniffing out new ways to make the e-nose more useful.
Researchers from the University of Warwick and Leicester University came up with a novel idea. They composed a substance that mimics the properties of naturally occurring nose mucus. This synthetic snot “substantially improved the performance of their electronic nose allowing it to tell apart smells such as milk and banana which had previously been challenging smells for the device” (“Artificial ‘Snot’...,” 2007). Furthermore, the artificial snot helped the electronic nose process the information quicker. The teams involved in the research reported their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in April of 2007.
When asked about the new research, Anthony Turner of Cranfield University said that the study shows the importance of looking to biology to find useful innovations. He said: “It’s important to keep learning from it [biology—KB]” (Simonite, 2007). Notice that Turner attributes the innovations discovered by the researchers to biology. What does that imply? If intelligent men and women from campuses across the globe log thousands of man-hours to design an electronic nose, and base much of their research on naturally occurring substances and functions in a biologic nose, but the electronic nose fails to perform as well as a real nose, then we are forced to conclude that the naturally occurring nose was designed by a superior intellect to the ones now working on the electronic nose. Yet, when asked the origin of the biologic nose, many highly educated university professors would claim it evolved over millions of years by random, purposeless evolutionary processes. Ironically, they are forced to concede that the electronic nose has a design. Such disconnected thinking would be ridiculed in other disciplines, but somehow it finds a welcomed haven in the halls of evolutionary sciences. In truth, it is simple to sniff out the divine design of the nose.


“Artificial ‘Snot’ Enhances Electronic Nose” (2007), Science Daily, April 30, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430093948.htm.
Simonite, Tom (2007), “Mucus Substitute Helps Artificial Nose Scent Success,” New Scientist, April 25, [On-line], URL: http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/dn11715-mucus-substitute-helps -artificial-nose-scent-success.html.

From Mark Copeland... Paul And Barnabas At Antioch Of Pisidia (Acts 13:13-52)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

           Paul And Barnabas At Antioch Of Pisidia (13:13-52)


1. Following their ministry on Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas arrived in Perga
   of Pamphylia...
   a. At which point John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem - Ac 13:13
   b. This later became a sore point between Paul and Barnabas - Ac 15:36-40

2. From Perga they journeyed to Antioch of Pisidia...
   a. An arduous trip over the Taurus mountain range
   b. A road known for robbers and brigands - cf. 2Co 11:26

[At some point Paul may have become ill, either in Perga or on the way
to Antioch (cf. Ga 4:13).  But neither illness nor physical dangers
prevented him from carrying on his mission.  And so we read of...]


      1. As noted earlier, Paul's custom was to first visit the local
         synagogue - Ac 13:5; 17:1-3
      2. At Antioch of Pisidia, Paul accepted an invitation to speak - Ac 13:14-16

      1. He reviews God's dealings with Israel - Ac 13:17-22
      2. He proclaims that Jesus is the promised Savior - Ac 13:23-26
      3. He reviews Jesus' death, and evidence for His resurrection - Ac 13:27-37
      4. He proclaims that forgiveness is now offered them through Jesus
         - Ac 13:38-39
      5. He warns not to fulfill prophecy by rejecting God's work in
         Christ - Ac 13:40-41

[Paul's sermon echoes the same themes preached by Peter (Ac 2:22-36;
3:12-26), and the defense given by Stephen (Ac 7:2-53).  We saw how
some responded to Peter and Stephen.  Now let's consider...]


      1. The Gentiles (people, ESV) begged for more on the following
         Sabbath - Ac 13:42
      2. Many Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who
         persuaded them to continue in the grace of God - Ac 13:43

      1. Almost the whole city came to hear the word of God - Ac 13:44
      2. The Jews were envious of the large crowds, and began resisting
         Paul - Ac 13:45
      3. Paul and Barnabas grew bold, and turned their attention to the
         Gentiles - Ac 13:46-47
         a. Jews had the privilege of hearing the gospel first
         b. But those who did not believe judged themselves unworthy of
            eternal life
         c. Gentiles would then be given the opportunity, as God 
            commanded - Isa 42:6; 49:6
      4. The Gentiles were glad and glorified the Word, and many believed
         - Ac 13:48
         a. What does "as many as had been appointed to eternal life
            believed" mean?
         b. It is a difficult passage; at face value it seems to support
            Calvinistic views of election
         c. But God desires all men to be saved; He is unwilling that any
            perish - 1Ti 2:4; 2Pe 3:9
         d. Perhaps the appointment here is based on God's foreknowledge;
            knowing that they would believe in Christ, they were 
            appointed for eternal life (e.g., given the opportunity to 
         e. When someone rejects the Word of God, they judge themselves
            unworthy of eternal life (Ac 13:46); for those who will 
            believe, God has appointed them worthy of eternal life!

[As elsewhere, there was a mixed reaction to the preaching of the Word of
God.  As would become increasingly common, the reaction on this occasion
eventually led to...]


      1. The Word was being spread throughout the region - Ac 13:49
      2. But Jews stirred up prominent devout women and chief men of the
         city - Ac 13:50
      3. Paul and Barnabas were persecuted and expelled from the region
         - Ac 13:50; cf. 2Ti 3:11
      4. Shaking the dust off their feet, Paul and Barnabas went to
         Iconium - Ac 13:51; cf. Mt 10:14

      1. Perhaps rejoicing they had suffered for righteousness' sake - Ac 13:52; cf. Mt 5:10-12
      2. Empowered by the Spirit with joy, peace, hope, in their faith 
         - cf. Ro 15:13; Ga 5:22-23


1. In Antioch, Paul and Barnabas experienced what the apostles did in
   a. Success to some degree, winning many converts to Christ
   b. Persecution for preaching Christ, but leaving a strong church

2. If you had been in Antioch of Pisidia, how might you have responded to
   Paul's ministry...
   a. Wanting to learn more?  Willing to believe and rejoice despite
   b. Envious of his success?  Easily stirred up and willing to persecute

3. And what is your standing in regards to eternal life...
   a. Have you judged yourself unworthy of eternal by rejecting the Word
      of God?
   b. Have you shown yourself appointed by God for eternal life by
      believing in Christ?

If you want to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit, then become and
remain faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who died for your sins and
rose from the grave.  In the words of Jesus...

         "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, 
            and I will give you rest. 
         "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, 
            for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
            and you will find rest for your souls. 
         "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
                                       - Mt 11:28-30

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary... Bible Reading June 6

Bible Reading  

June 6

The World English Bible

June 6
1 Samuel 5, 6

1Sa 5:1 Now the Philistines had taken the ark of God, and they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
1Sa 5:2 The Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
1Sa 5:3 When they of Ashdod arose early on the next day, behold, Dagon was fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of Yahweh. They took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
1Sa 5:4 When they arose early on the next day morning, behold, Dagon was fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of Yahweh; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands lay cut off on the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
1Sa 5:5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any who come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod, to this day.
1Sa 5:6 But the hand of Yahweh was heavy on them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and struck them with tumors, even Ashdod and its borders.
1Sa 5:7 When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us; for his hand is sore on us, and on Dagon our god.
1Sa 5:8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? They answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about to Gath. They carried the ark of the God of Israel there.
1Sa 5:9 It was so, that after they had carried it about, the hand of Yahweh was against the city with a very great confusion: and he struck the men of the city, both small and great; and tumors broke out on them.
1Sa 5:10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. It happened, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people.
1Sa 5:11 They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and they said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to its own place, that it not kill us and our people. For there was a deadly confusion throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
1Sa 5:12 The men who didn't die were struck with the tumors; and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

1Sa 6:1 The ark of Yahweh was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
1Sa 6:2 The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, "What shall we do with the ark of Yahweh? Show us with which we shall send it to its place."
1Sa 6:3 They said, "If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, don't send it empty; but by all means return him a trespass offering: then you shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you."
1Sa 6:4 Then they said, "What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him?" They said, "Five golden tumors, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
1Sa 6:5 Therefore you shall make images of your tumors, and images of your mice that mar the land; and you shall give glory to the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
1Sa 6:6 Why then do you harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When he had worked wonderfully among them, didn't they let the people go, and they departed?
1Sa 6:7 Now therefore take and prepare yourselves a new cart, and two milk cows, on which there has come no yoke; and tie the cows to the cart, and bring their calves home from them;
1Sa 6:8 and take the ark of Yahweh, and lay it on the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which you return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by its side; and send it away, that it may go.
1Sa 6:9 Behold; if it goes up by the way of its own border to Beth Shemesh, then he has done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it was a chance that happened to us."
1Sa 6:10 The men did so, and took two milk cows, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home;
1Sa 6:11 and they put the ark of Yahweh on the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their tumors.
1Sa 6:12 The cows took the straight way by the way to Beth Shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and didn't turn aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.
1Sa 6:13 They of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
1Sa 6:14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they split the wood of the cart, and offered up the cows for a burnt offering to Yahweh.
1Sa 6:15 The Levites took down the ark of Yahweh, and the coffer that was with it, in which the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day to Yahweh.
1Sa 6:16 When the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
1Sa 6:17 These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering to Yahweh: for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
1Sa 6:18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages, even to the great stone, whereon they set down the ark of Yahweh, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.
1Sa 6:19 He struck of the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh, he struck of the people fifty thousand seventy men; and the people mourned, because Yahweh had struck the people with a great slaughter.
1Sa 6:20 The men of Beth Shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
1Sa 6:21 They sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath Jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought back the ark of Yahweh; come down, and bring it up to yourselves.

From Gary... life after birth?

I wonder why we don't remember things prior to somewhere around age 4, but if we could remember pre-natal thoughts, then wouldn't it be interesting to here this exchange?  Doubting this can be possible? Then compare these two Bible verses... 
Jeremiah, Chapter 1
Jer 1:5  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

Psalm 14 (NASB)
Psa 14:1  For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.
Psa 14:2  The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God.
Psa 14:3  They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.

God says quite plainly that HE knew Jeremiah in the womb. To me, this implies sentience, for how can you be known, without being a being? More than that, God had a plan for Jeremiah; a life with a heavenly directive!!!  And yet, some people say that there is no God and that those in the womb are not people but foetuses. This concept reveals the corrupt nature of their heart and the innate foolishness of their "knowledge".  Think about these things, for ultimately we will be held responsible for what we believe and what we do!!!