8/9/14

From Jim McGuiggan...Of old dying pets and prayers


Of old dying pets and prayers

Is it okay to pray for Frank who’s in real pain because his pet is old and tired and dying? No one I know would think otherwise. Of course it is! Christ said a shepherd rejoiced over his found sheep and a woman was ecstatic over the recovery of a coin. If we can rejoice in recovery of such prized things why can’t be grieve in loss of them?

I’m aware that the psalmist in 104 is parading God’s power and honour and making the claim that all that is, exists because of him and his sustaining power. I don’t wish to narrow it down to a "sweet" little word on how "sweet" God is and how he looks after animals the way we humans look after our pets. But love of animals doesn’t have to be brought down to a sickening sweetness and to put all animals into the "pet" class is to do them an injustice (if "injustice" can be done to an animal). Love of animals can be a fine human quality! We can roll our eyes at the lengths to which people will go in relating to animals but then I’ve seen a "gushing" sticky sweetness extended to little children and other humans that made we wonder. It isn’t a warm healthy and affectionate response to fellow-creatures or family or friends that I’m critiquing here. Each one will determine what "over the top" is in a relationship.

This much is clear: God rejoices in all his works (Genesis 1:31 and see Psalm 104:31) and that includes the animal kingdom. The psalmist describes God’s glorious power in terms of his provision for cattle and wild donkeys—grass and gushing springs are made for their benefit. In Job 39—40 God isn't talking about the "pet class" when he claims that he has given freedom to the wild animals and feeds them. And in chapters 40—41, whatever, precisely, "behemoth" is, and God brags on his creation, it isn’t the kind of animal you’d expect to be housebroken or domesticated. Jesus thought that God fed even the sparrows and (so to speak) attended their funeral when they died (Matthew 10:29, Luke 12:6 and see Psalm 145:9). All that to say that those humans think too highly of themselves who dismiss as nothing the animal kingdom. Note especially Job 40:15a, where God, subtly putting Job in his place, says, "Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you..." Which I made along with you! If God prizes all of his creation then humans ought to watch their mouths.

Yes, well okay, so not everything in the creation is doing us a favour at this point; but then neither is every human. And that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? If humans weren’t selfish and grasping, greedy and self-serving what kind of world would this be for every living thing? We, as a human family as a whole, have contributed and continue to contribute to the ruin and pain and loss of the world and then shrug at the chaos.

Frank’s cherished old cat is dying and it’s hurting his heart. It’s part of the price a boy pays in this world for all the pleasure he has had with the cat. I’d be disturbed if he could dismiss the poor animal as easily as he would a broken plastic fork or a tissue he’s sneezed in.

I don't know about all the details (I don't think the Bible gives them) but ageing and dying is part and parcel of the redemptive judgement of God (it certainly embraced animals in Noah's day—and the animals were innocent). I’m unclear, beyond some plain truths, about how animals relate to the Fall though it seems clear from the Genesis texts (1:30 and 9:3) that we didn’t eat them until after it. There’s also the suggestion that they didn’t feed on or hurt each other prior to the great Alienation (Genesis 1:30 and see Isaiah 11:1-9). However vague the details are I’m certain that the drift of the Story is that animals as part of the suffering creation (Romans 8:19-22) have been caught up in the consequences of the human Rebellion. The question is not: "Do they have a soul?" But: "Can they suffer?" They can of course and I think each case of suffering is part of a grand and single network of suffering brought in the redemptive judgement of God on the entire creation. The details as to how God will finally work it all out are unknown to me.

If the above is the case or anything close to it, I think Frank's cat serves a place in the midst of it even though it’s unaware that that is so. His sensitivity toward his cat shouldn't be sneered at or dismissed as silliness. If he thinks the cat is part of the scheme of things and its death serves God's purposes then it will give a complexion to the events that could make them easier for Frank to handle. Even the death of this tired old cat speaks to a world that doesn’t much want to hear.


"Is He not Also the God of the Gentiles?" by Alden Bass


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1227

"Is He not Also the God of the Gentiles?"

by  Alden Bass

Paul asked his Roman readers this question in the first century, in response to the Jews’ proud claims of exclusive divine recognition. These first-century Jewish Christians considered themselves to be religiously elite because of the special grace God had bestowed on them in the giving of the Mosaic Law. This was a great privilege indeed. Yet in God’s eyes, the Jews were no greater than the Gentiles, in that all had sinned and stood in need of redemption. It is not unusual for the modern Christian to wonder about the Gentiles living before the time of Christ, as they seem to have been neglected by God until the Messiah appeared. Or, perhaps many honest students of the Bible simply give no thought to the matter at all, believing that the Old Testament tells about the salvation of the Jews, while the New Testament describes the redemption of all humanity.
This type of thinking is dangerous because it raises questions about the justice of God. Paul realized this, and in his discussion he stressed that “there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). God has promised that all men will be held responsible for their deeds on the Day of Judgment (Revelation 20:12); on that day, race, color, and social status will mean nothing—“great and small” will be assembled together. Each person will answer for his sin, his rebellion against God, or his obedience to the Law. Perfect justice demands that only those responsible be judged; babies, and those incapable of discerning right and wrong, will automatically enter heaven (Matthew 18:3). This necessarily implies that all who will be judged will have a knowledge of morality, or right and wrong. It would seem though, that the Gentiles who lived when the Mosaic Law was in effect were without a standard. As far as we know from the Old Testament, no law was given to the Gentiles congruent to that delivered from Sinai (Exodus 20). Further, the Law of Moses was not intended to be spread evangelically like the Gospel; the Jews did not actively proselytize because they were not commanded to do so.
Despite the absence of written law however, Paul declared that all men, particularly the Gentiles, were “without excuse” before God (Romans 1:20). To have no excuse is to have been given opportunity, but to have spurned it. It is to have a knowledge of the truth, yet neglect it. From this passage, it is clear that the Gentiles had some law, and that they were responsible to God for their actions just like everyone else who has ever lived. Paul discussed this at length in Romans 1-3, but there also is much evidence in the Old Testament which suggests that God did not forget the Gentiles. Actually, Gentiles figure largely in the Old Testament, and often are depicted as being more faithful than the covenanted Jews.
Before Moses, there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile. God did not favor any particular nation or family, but only the righteous. Abel was approved because he was more righteous than his brother (Hebrews 11:4); likewise Enoch and Noah were saved because of their righteous faith (Hebrews 11:5-7). For this reason, too, Abraham was chosen and set apart to become the “father of many nations,” that through his seed all nations should be blessed (Galatians 3:6). Paul reminded the proud physical descendants of Abraham that their father was not actually a Jew because he was the father of the Jews. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision: that he might be the father of all” (Romans 4:11). He argued that although Abraham became the patriarch of the Jewish nation, God called him when he was still uncircumcised and thus no different from the Gentiles.
We know that Abraham was not alone in his righteousness during that period. Melchizedek, King of Salem, lived concurrently with Abraham (Genesis 14), and was called “the priest of the Most High God” (Hebrews 7:1). Here was a man who served God faithfully, and eventually became a type of Christ’s priesthood (Hebrews 5:6). Undoubtedly, there were other God-fearing people in the land, else Melchizedek would have no one to whom to administer priestly rites. Also, it is widely believed that Job was a contemporary of Abraham, or at least lived in the same pre-Mosaic period. An entire book of the Bible is devoted to his story, the story of a man who followed God against all odds. Not only did Job know the true God, but his friends likewise knew Him, indicating that true worshippers were probably neither isolated nor rare. Thus, while Abraham and his family obediently traveled to Canaan, other peoples worshipped God faithfully and truly.
Knowledge of God originated from several sources during these times and those that followed. Jehovah spoke to Abraham and Job directly, sent Jacob an angel, and dreams to Joseph. This straightforward contact between God and individual families effectively ended with the transmission of the Ten Commandments on Sinai—at least with the Jews (with some exceptions; cf. Judges 13:3; Luke 1:26ff.). God chose to communicate through His written Word and through the prophets. The Law was given only to the Israelites (as were the prophets), yet there were many Gentiles who believed and worshipped God without benefit of either. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro the Midianite, was a priest (Exodus 3:1) whose alternate name, Reuel, means “friend of God” (Exodus 2:18). True religious worship among the Israelites had been suppressed under the heavy hand of the Egyptians, yet only a few hundred miles to the northeast, men and women were aware of Jehovah God and worshipped him. How did Jethro come to be a priest of God? It must have been either through tradition passed down from the patriarchs or by direct revelation from God.
Nearly forty years later, another foreign prophet arrived on the scene. Balaam, a soothsayer from Mesopotamia, was summoned by the leaders of the Moabites and the Midianites to curse the children of Israel (Numbers 22:1-3). Balaam consulted Jehovah before going, agreeing only to speak the words God gave him. Whether or not Balaam was a prophet of God is questionable (2 Peter 2:15), but we can be certain that he was familiar with the One God of Israel, and that he recognized that this God was more powerful than any lesser gods to whom he might otherwise have appealed. Thus, God apparently communicated to these Gentiles (and others) by means of oral tradition or by direct communication.
More frequently, however, God used His people as an example to the heathen nations, both collectively and individually. God told Moses that the purpose of delivering Israel was that “He might show His power, and that His name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). The effect of those miracles was far-reaching. Forty years after crossing the Red Sea, Rahab the Canaanite confessed:
For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. (Joshua 2:10-11, emp. added).
The great miracle of Israel’s deliverance prompted Rahab, and all who heard the story, to acknowledge that Jehovah was the true God. Jethro cited that event as the cause of his belief, and perhaps that of the Egyptians as well: “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they [the Egyptians—AB] behaved proudly, He was above them” (Exodus 18:11). In the New Testament, Cornelius developed his faith in God because of the righteous Jews in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-2).
Although the power of God working through His people caused whole nations to tremble, the example of individual godly lives often had similar effects. Ruth, a Moabitess, was so impressed by her mother-in-law Naomi that she adopted the Jewish faith, and eventually became a progenitor of the Messiah (Ruth 1:16; Matthew 1:5). God’s providence is seen most clearly when godly individuals were brought to the attention of Gentile monarchs, who then accepted Jehovah as God. This was the case with Joseph and the Pharaoh (Genesis 41:38-39), Elijah and Naaman (2 Kings 5:15-17), Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:29; 4:2-3), Daniel and Darius (Daniel 6:26), and Esther and Ahasuerus (Esther 8). Each of these Gentile men exercised authority over an empire, and to some degree each established true worship among his people. Nebuchadnezzar and Darius even issued specific decrees declaring the God of Israel as the one true God of all nations (Daniel 4:1-18; 6:25-27).
God showed Himself to the nations by great wonders wrought through Israel and by godly persons. In this way, the greatest empires the world has ever known—the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Medo-Persian—had the opportunity to know God. This alone would leave those nations “without excuse,” but God did not stop there. He also sent His prophets to them to encourage them to repent. Obadiah was sent to Edom (Obadiah 1:1), Nahum preached in Assyria (Nahum 1:1), Zephaniah prophesied to Canaan and Ethiopia (Zephaniah 2:5,12), and Amos and Ezekiel delivered judgments to the Ammonites, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, and the Edomites (Amos 1:3-2:3; Ezekiek 25:2; 27:2; 29:2; 35:2). Most familiar of all is the prophet Jonah, who was sent to preach repentance to the inhabitants of Nineveh in Assyria (Jonah 1:2). To his great disappointment, the entire city repented in sackcloth and ashes, and God gave them a reprieve (Jonah 3:10). That God had adequately warned all nations of His wrath against sin is evinced by the visits of these prophets, who “have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70).
The “revelation” of God to the Gentiles mentioned in Romans 1:18 classically has been interpreted as natural revelation—the Creation—an interpretation based on verse 20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” John Chrysostom wrote in the fourth century regarding this passage:
Whence was it plain then? Did He send them a voice from above? By no means. But what was able to draw them to Him more than a voice, that He did, by putting before them the Creation, so that both wise, and unlearned, and Scythian, and barbarian, having through sight learned the beauty of the things which were seen, might mount up to God (1969, 11:352).
Doubtless, God intended for His creation to be an obvious sign of His existence (Psalm 19:1), yet God has given more than that. God spoke to those Gentiles through dreams, through the example of His people, and through the prophets. Consider for a moment the wise men of Matthew 2. These men traveled a great distance, divinely guided by a star, in order to worship the Son of God. God revealed His will to these men in at least three ways. They knew to expect a Messiah to be born in Bethlehem by means of written revelation (2:5-6). An inspired dream advised them to avoid Herod on their return home (2:12). The third method God used to communicate to them is unknown, but somehow they knew to follow the star to find the Christ child. The implications of this story are intriguing, and give us reason to believe that God continued to communicate with those who truly followed Him. Paul confirmed this in his speech to the Athenians on Mars Hill when he stated that God
has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27).
During the Mosaic age, God was not the God of the Jews only, but of all nations. He worked through Israel to bring about the fulfillment of His ultimate plan, the redemption of all men, but God always has loved all men, and earnestly desires that they worship Him. He also has given all of mankind an opportunity to obey Him. He must have done so, else He could not hold them accountable for their sins. Unfortunately, then, as today, many rejected God’s gracious offer of pardon, choosing to exchange the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25). Even in those times of rampant idolatry and ungodliness, the Old Testament provides a glimpse of the faithful few in all the nations—those men and women who, despite the degraded society around them, chose to serve Jehovah God.

REFERENCES

Chryostom, John (1969), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI: Eedrmans).

"Calling on the Name of the Lord" by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

 http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=775

"Calling on the Name of the Lord"

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Considering how many people within “Christendom” teach that an individual can be saved merely by professing a belief in Christ, it is not surprising that skeptics claim that the Bible contradicts itself in this regard. Although Peter and Paul declared, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; cf. Joel 2:32), skeptics quickly remind their readers that Jesus once stated: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21; cf. Luke 6:46). Allegedly, Matthew 7:21 clashes with such passages as Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (see Morgan, 2003; Wells, 2001). Since many professed Christians seem to equate “calling on the name of the Lord” with the idea of saying to Jesus, “Lord, save me,” Bible critics feel even more justified in their pronouncement of “conflicting testimonies.” How can certain professed followers of Christ claim that they were saved by simply “calling out to Christ,” when Christ Himself proclaimed that a mere calling upon Him would not save a person?
The key to correctly understanding the phrase “calling on the name of the Lord” is to recognize that more is involved in this action than a mere verbal petition directed toward God. The “call” mentioned in Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13, and Acts 22:16 (where Paul was “calling on the name of the Lord”), is not equated with the “call” (“Lord, Lord”) Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:21).
First, it is appropriate to mention that even in modern times, to “call on” someone frequently means more than simply making a request for something. When a doctor goes to the hospital to “call on” some of his patients, he does not merely walk into the room and say, “I just wanted to come by and say, ‘Hello.’ I wish you the best. Now pay me.” On the contrary, he involves himself in a service. He examines the patient, listens to the patient’s concerns, gives further instructions regarding the patient’s hopeful recovery, and then often times prescribes medication. All of these elements may be involved in a doctor “calling upon” a patient. In the mid-twentieth century, it was common for young men to “call on” young ladies. Again, this expression meant something different than just “making a request” (Brown, 1976, p. 5).
Second, when an individual takes the time to study how the expression “calling on God” is used throughout Scripture, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that, just as similar phrases sometimes have a deeper meaning in modern America, the expression “calling on God” often had a deeper meaning in Bible times. Take, for instance, Paul’s statement recorded in Acts 25:11: “I appeal unto Caesar.” The word “appeal” (epikaloumai) is the same word translated “call” (or “calling”) in Acts 2:21, 22:16, and Romans 10:13. But, Paul was not simply saying, “I’m calling on Caesar to save me.” As James Bales noted:
Paul, in appealing to Caesar, was claiming the right of a Roman citizen to have his case judged by Caesar. He was asking that his case be transferred to Caesar’s court and that Caesar hear and pass judgment on his case. In so doing, he indicated that he was resting his case on Caesar’s judgment. In order for this to be done Paul had to submit to whatever was necessary in order for his case to be brought before Caesar. He had to submit to the Roman soldiers who conveyed him to Rome. He had to submit to whatever formalities or procedure Caesar demanded of those who came before him. All of this was involved in his appeal to Caesar (1960, pp. 81-82, emp. added).
Paul’s “calling” to Caesar involved his submission to him. “That, in a nutshell,” wrote T. Pierce Brown, “is what ‘calling on the Lord’ involves”—obedience (1976, p. 5). It is not a mere verbal recognition of God, or a verbal petition to Him. Those whom Paul (before his conversion to Christ) sought to bind in Damascus—Christians who were described as people “who call on Your [Jehovah’s] name”—were not people who only prayed to God, but those who were serving the Lord, and who, by their obedience, were submitting themselves to His authority (cf. Matthew 28:18). Interestingly, Zephaniah 3:9 links one’s “calling” with his “service”: “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord” (emp. added). When a person submits to the will of God, he accurately can be described as “calling on the Lord.” Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (among other passages) do not contradict Matthew 7:21, because to “call on the Lord” entails more than just pleading for salvation; it involves submitting to God’s will. According to Colossians 3:17, every single act a Christian performs (in word or deed) should be carried out by Christ’s authority. For a non-Christian receiving salvation, this is no different. In order to obtain salvation, a person must submit to the Lord’s authority. This is what the passages in Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 are teaching; it is up to us to go elsewhere in the New Testament to learn how to call upon the name of the Lord.
After Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel and told those in Jerusalem on Pentecost that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21), he told them how to go about “calling on the name of the Lord.” The people in the audience in Acts 2 did not understand Peter’s quotation of Joel to mean that an alien sinner must pray to God for salvation. [Their question in Acts 2:37 (“Men and brethren, what shall we do?”) indicates such.] Furthermore, when Peter responded to their question and told them what to do to be saved, he did not say, “I’ve already told you what to do. You can be saved by petitioning God for salvation through prayer. Just call on His name.” On the contrary, Peter had to explain to them what it meant to “call on the name of the Lord.” Instead of repeating this statement when the crowd sought further guidance from the apostles, Peter commanded them, saying, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (2:38). Notice the parallel between Acts 2:21 and 2:38:
Acts 2:21 Whoever Calls On the name of the Lord Shall be saved
Acts 2:38 Everyone of you Repent and be baptized In the name of Jesus Christ For the remission of sins
Peter’s non-Christian listeners learned that “calling on the name of the Lord for salvation” was equal to obeying the Gospel, which approximately 3,000 did that very day by repenting of their sins and being baptized into Christ (2:38,41).
But what about Romans 10:13? What is the “call” mentioned in this verse? Notice Romans 10:11-15:
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (emp. added).
Although this passage does not define precisely what is meant by one “calling on the name of the Lord,” it does indicate that an alien sinner cannot “call” until after he has heard the Word of God and believed it. Such was meant by Paul’s rhetorical questions: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” Paul’s statements in this passage are consistent with Peter’s proclamations in Acts 2. It was only after the crowd on Pentecost believed in the resurrected Christ Whom Peter preached (as is evident by their being “cut to the heart” and their subsequent question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”) that Peter told them how to call on the name of the Lord and be saved (2:38).
Perhaps the clearest description of what it means for an alien sinner to “call on the name of the Lord” is found in Acts 22. As the apostle Paul addressed the mob in Jerusalem, he spoke of his encounter with the Lord, Whom he asked, “What shall I do?” (22:10; cf. 9:6). The answer Jesus gave Him at that time was not “call on the name of the Lord.” Instead, Jesus instructed him to “arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do” (22:10). Paul (or Saul—Acts 13:9) demonstrated his belief in Jesus as he went into the city and waited for further instructions. In Acts 9, we learn that during the next three days, while waiting to meet with Ananias, Paul fasted and prayed (vss. 9,11). Although some today might consider what Paul was doing at this point as “calling on the name of the Lord,” Ananias, God’s chosen messenger to Paul, did not think so. He did not tell Paul, “I see you have already called on God. Your sins are forgiven.” After three days of fasting and praying, Paul still was lost in his sins. Even though he obviously believed at this point, and had prayed to God, he had yet to “call on the name of the Lord” for salvation. When Ananias finally came to Paul, he told him: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (22:16). Ananias knew that Paul had not yet “called on the name of the Lord,” just as Peter knew that those on Pentecost had not done so before his command to “repent and be baptized.” Thus, Ananias instructed Paul to “be baptized, and wash away your sins.” The participle phrase, “calling on the name of the Lord,” describes what Paul was doing when he was baptized for the remission of his sins. Every non-Christian who desires to “call on the name of the Lord” to be saved, does so, not simply by saying, “Lord, Lord” (cf. Matthew 7:21), or just by wording a prayer to God (e.g., Paul—Acts 9; 22; cf. Romans 10:13-14), but by obeying God’s instructions to “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
This is not to say that repentance and baptism have always been (or are always today) synonymous with “calling on the name of the Lord.” Abraham was not baptized when he “called upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 12:8; cf. 4:26), because baptism was not demanded of God before New Testament times. And, as I mentioned earlier, when the New Testament describes people who are already Christians as “calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 9:14,21; 1 Corinthians 1:2), it certainly does not mean that Christians continually were being baptized for the remission of their sins after having been baptized to become a Christian (cf. 1 John 1:5-10). Depending on when and where the phrase is used, “calling on the name of the Lord” includes: (1) obedience to the gospel plan of salvation; (2) worshiping God; and (3) faithful service to the Lord (Bates, 1979, p. 5). However, it never is used in the sense that all the alien sinner must do in order to be saved is to cry out and say, “Lord, Lord, save me.”
Thus, the skeptic’s allegation that Matthew 7:21 contradicts Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 is unsubstantiated. And, the professed Christian who teaches that all one must do to be saved is just say the sinner’s prayer, is in error.

REFERENCES

Bales, James (1960), The Hub of the Bible—Or—Acts Two Analyzed (Shreveport, LA: Lambert Book House).
Bates, Bobby (1979), “Whosoever Shall Call Upon the Name of the Lord Shall be Saved,” Firm Foundation, 96:5, March 20.
Brown, T. Pierce (1976), “Calling on His Name,” Firm Foundation, 93:5, July 20.
Morgan, Donald (2003), “Biblical Inconsistencies,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.shtml.
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.


From Mark Copeland... Paul Under House Arrest In Rome, Acts, Chapter 28

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                    Paul Under House Arrest In Rome

INTRODUCTION

1. We have looked at seven examples of gospel preaching in the first
   century...
   a. Three by the apostle Peter
   b. Two by the evangelist Philip
   c. Two by the apostle Paul

2. Our final example of gospel preaching is a third by the apostle
   Paul...
   a. Found at the end of the book of Acts
   b. Upon his arrival, and during his extended stay in Rome

[It was after a harrowing journey by sea involving shipwreck, as Paul is
placed under house arrest awaiting his appeal to Caesar in Rome,
Italy...]

I. THE SETTING(S)

   A. AUDIENCE WITH JEWISH LEADERS...
      1. Paul had just arrived in Rome - Ac 28:16
      2. He called Jewish leaders to explain the reason for his arrival
         - Ac 28:17-20
      3. They graciously grant him an opportunity to explain his beliefs
         - Ac 28:21-23

   B. VISITORS FOR TWO YEARS...
      1. Paul was allowed to live in a rented home awaiting his trial
         - Ac 28:30
      2. For two years he taught those who came to visit him - Ac 28:30-31

[In both settings, at the beginning and during the course of his
imprisonment, let’s now look at...]

II. THE SERMON(S)

   A. CONCERNING THE KINGDOM OF GOD...
      1. A major theme of Paul’s preaching
         a. "he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God"
            - Ac 28:23
         b. "preaching the kingdom of God" - Ac 28:31
         c. As mentioned previously by Luke - cf. Ac 19:8; 20:25
      2. A major theme of others’ preaching
         a. By John the Baptist - Mt 3:1-2
         b. By Jesus Christ - Mk 1:14-15
         c. By Philip the evangelist - Ac 8:12
      3. As summarized before, this theme likely entailed:
         a. The need to seek first the kingship and sovereignty of God
            - cf. Mt 6:33
         b. Sovereignty now exercised through His Son, Jesus - cf. Mt 28:18; Ac 2:36; 5:31
         c. In which all can now participate - cf. Col 1:13; Re 1:9
         d. By responding to the call of the gospel - cf. 1Th 2:12; 2Th 2:14
         e. Remaining faithful to Christ, even to death - cf. Re 2:10,
            26-27; 3:21

   B. CONCERNING JESUS CHRIST...
      1. Another major theme of Paul’s preaching
         a. "concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the
            Prophets" - Ac 28:23
         b. "teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ"
            - Ac 28:31
         c. As mentioned previously by Luke - cf. Ac 17:1-3; 18:28;
            26:22-23
      2. As seen from such passages, this theme proclaimed:
         a. That Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead
         b. That He would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the
            Gentiles
         c. That Jesus is the Christ foretold by the Law and the
            Prophets

   C. CONCERNING THOSE WHO DID NOT BELIEVE...
      1. Some did not believe what Paul preached - Ac 28:24
      2. The Holy Spirit had foretold such disbelief through Isaiah - Ac 28:25-27
      3. Rejection by the Jews would grant opportunity for the Gentiles
         - Ac 28:28
      4. As Paul had proclaimed to Jewish audiences before - cf. Ac 13:46-47

CONCLUSION

1. Once again, we see that gospel preaching in the first century...
   a. Proclaimed the kingdom of God and Jesus as the Christ
   b. Warned of the danger and consequences of disbelief

2. Summarizing what we have seen in these eight cases of gospel
   preaching...
   a. The gospel contains facts to believe
      1) Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again according
         to the Scriptures
      2) He now reigns as king, and will one day return to judge the
         world
   b. The gospel contains commands to obey
      1) Faith, in Jesus as the Son of God who died for our sins
      2) Repentance, making the decision to turn from sin and live for
         God
      3) Confession, of one’s faith in Jesus as the Christ and Son of
         God
      4) Baptism, immersion in water for the remission of sins
   c. The gospel contains promises to receive
      1) The remission of sins, through the blood of Christ
      2) The gift of the Holy Spirit, empowerment for holy living
      3) The promise of the resurrection and eternal life, providing
         hope and comfort

Many gladly received the gospel as preached in the first century, and
responded accordingly.  Yet many did not, and so judged themselves
unworthy of eternal life.

How about you?  Have you heard and obeyed the gospel as proclaimed in
the first century? Not some perverted gospel (cf. Ga 1:6-9), but that
gospel preached by the apostles and preachers of Jesus Christ?  I pray
that you have, for the time is coming...

   "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty
   angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know
   God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus
   Christ." - 2Th 1:7-8

Only the pure and simple gospel of Christ can spare you from the
judgment of that Great Day!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Paul At The Areopagus In Athens, Acts, Chapter 17

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                    Paul At The Areopagus In Athens

INTRODUCTION

1. We have looked at six examples of gospel preaching in the first
   century...
   a. Three by the apostle Peter
   b. Two by the evangelist Philip
   c. One by the apostle Paul

2. We now consider a sermon remarkable in that it was preached...
   a. Not to Jews or even Gentile God-fearers (like Cornelius)
   b. But to pagan philosophers and polytheists

[It was during Paul’s second missionary journey, in the city of Athens,
Greece...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. PAUL HAD JUST ARRIVED IN ATHENS...
      1. Known as a center of learning and artistry, but also for its
         idols
      2. Petronius said  that it was easier to find a god than a man in
         Athens
      3. Provoked by the idolatry,  Paul began preaching at every
         opportunity - Ac 17:16-17
         a. Reasoning in the synagogues with the Jews and Gentile
            worshipers
         b. Reasoning daily with any who happened to be in marketplace

   B. HE ATTRACTED ATTENTION OF PHILOSOPHERS...
      1. In particular, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers - Ac 17:18
         a. Some of whom viewed him as a proclaimer of foreign gods
         b. Because Paul was preaching of Jesus and the resurrection
      2. They brought him to the Areopagus (Mar’s Hill) and invited him
         to speak - Ac 17:19-21
         a. A rocky hill about 370 feet high, not far from the Acropolis
            and the Agora (marketplace) in Athens - Holman Bible
            Dictionary
         b. A place where Athenians and visitors spent their time
            discussing new ideas
         c. Not having heard of the doctrine of Christ, they wanted to
            know more

[With such an invitation, you can imagine Paul’s delight to accommodate
them...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. THEME:  THE GOD THEY DID NOT KNOW...
      1. Acknowledging their devotion, he makes mention of one altar in
         particular - Ac 17:22-23
         a. An altar with the inscription:  "To The Unknown God"
         b. So devout, they sought to worship a god they did not know
      2. He uses the opportunity to preach concerning the True God they
         did not know! - Ac 17:23

   B. MAIN POINTS...
      1. God is the creator of the universe - Ac 17:24
         a. He made the world, He is Lord of heaven and earth
         b. As such, He does not dwell in temples made with hands - cf.
            1Ki 8:22-30
      2. God is the sustainer of life - Ac 17:25
         a. He gives to all life their breath and what they need - cf.
            Jm 1:17
         b. Therefore God is not worshipped as though He needs it
      3. God is the ruler of all the nations - Ac 17:26-27
         a. He has created every nation and determined their rise and
            fall - Dan 2:20-21; 4:17
         b. Everything is designed to prompt men to seek God, who is not
            far from any of us
      4. God is the Father of mankind - Ac 17:28-29
         a. From God we come; and in Him we live, move, and have our
            very being
         b. Therefore we should not think that God is like any idol of
            gold, silver or stone
      5. God is the Judge of the world - Ac 17:30-31
         a. What ignorance He may have overlooked in the past, such is
            no longer the case
         b. He now commands all men everywhere to repent
         c. Why?  Because of the coming Judgment, in which...
            a. God will judge the world in righteousness
            b. God will judge the world through Jesus Christ - Jn 5:22,26-27; 12:48
         d. As proof such will occur, God has raised Jesus from the dead
      -- These five points are from "The Spirit, The Church, And The
         World", by John Stott

   C. RESPONSE...
      1. Mentioning the resurrection provoked a response - Ac 17:32
         a. Some mocked (to many at that time, the idea of a bodily
            resurrection was foolishness)
         b. Others were more cordial, offering to listen again at
            another time
      2. As Paul left, some joined him and believed - Ac 17:33-34
         a. Specifically mentioned are Dionysius the Areopagite, and
            Damaris, a woman
         b. Others also joined Paul and believed

[Having considered the setting and the sermon, allow me to make some...]

III. OBSERVATIONS

   A. REGARDING THE SERMON...
      1. Paul used tact - Ac 17:22-23
         a. He acknowledges their spirituality, though misdirected
         b. We should not hesitate to acknowledge the devotion one might
            have; if in error, our task is to explain "the way of God
            more accurately" - e.g., Ac 18:24-26
      2. Paul began with the present spiritual condition of his audience
         - Ac 17:23-27
         a. They believed in supreme beings, but didn’t know the True
            God
         b. With the Jews he began with the Law, with the Gentiles he
            began with the nature of God; we too should take into
            consideration where one is spiritually
      3. Paul made use of an accepted authority - Ac 17:28-29
         a. He quotes from one of their own prophets to make his point
         b. When appropriate, we can appeal to an uninspired authority
            accepted by others
      4. Paul led his audience to the main themes of the gospel - Ac 17:30-31
         a. Such as the need to repent, the coming Judgment - cf. Ac 2:38; 3:19
         b. So our ultimate goal in preaching should be the gospel
            message
      5. Paul used the resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate proof - Ac 17:31
         a. God has given assurance of the coming Judgment by raising
            Jesus
         b. Indeed, if Jesus truly did rise from the dead, it is proof
            of:
            1) The existence of God
            2) The truthfulness of all of Jesus’ claims
            3) The reality of sin, judgment, and the need to repent
         c. This is why we need to develop a strong apologetic for the
            resurrection of Jesus

   B. REGARDING THE RESPONSE...
      1. People responded in three different ways - Ac 17:32-34
         a. Rejection - "some mocked"
         b. Reluctance - "others said, 'we will hear you again on this
            matter'"
         c. Reception - "some men joined him and believed"
      2. Of those who responded favorably, it is only said that they
         "believed" - Ac 17:34
         a. Are we to conclude from this that was all they did?
         b. Did they not also "repent", as commanded in Ac 17:30?
         c. The term "believed" encompassed more than simply an
            acceptance of the facts that had been proclaimed
            1) It involved a complete reception of the message preached
            2) It included an obedience to whatever conditions had been
               proclaimed by the apostles (such as repentance, baptism)
         d. Just as faith was not explicitly mentioned in Acts 2, or
            repentance in Acts 16, but is fairly inferred from what we
            know in other passages, so also with baptism here
            1) "There is, indeed, much to be said for the contention,
               independently advocated by theologians of varied schools,
               that in the New Testament faith and baptism are viewed as
               inseparables whenever the subject of Christian initiation
               is under discussion, so that if one is referred to, the
               other is presupposed, even if not mentioned." - G. R.
               Beasley-Murray, Baptism In The New Testament, p. 272
            2) "Baptism and faith are but the outside and inside of the
               same thing" - James Denny (as quoted by Beasley-Murray,
               ibid.)
            3) "Where baptism is spoken of faith is presumed, and where
               faith is spoken of baptism is included in the thought"
               - N. J. Engelsen (as quoted by Beasley-Murray, ibid.)

CONCLUSION

1. Whether Jew or Gentile, philosopher or simpleton, the gospel of
   Christ is for all...
   a. Where we begin may vary with the spiritual condition of our
      audience
   b. Where we end must always be the same:  Jesus is the only way to
      salvation!

2. When one becomes convicted of their sinful condition and their need
   for Jesus, the proper response should also be the same no matter who
   we are...
   a. Faith in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for our sins and was
      raised from the dead
   b. Repentance from sin
   c. Baptism into Christ for the forgiveness of sins through His blood

One’s reaction to the gospel will always be one of three ways:
rejection, reluctance, or reception.  In Athens, people such as
Dionysius and Damaris exemplified the proper response.  Are you willing
to imitate their example...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Paul In The Synagogue At Antioch

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                    Paul In The Synagogue At Antioch

INTRODUCTION

1. Thus far we have considered five examples of gospel preaching in the
   first century...
   a. Three by the apostle Peter
   b. Two by the evangelist Philip

2. From the preaching of Peter and Philip, we turn now to the preaching
   of Paul...
   a. Formerly known as Saul, who persecuted the church - Ac 8:1,3;
      9:1-2
   b. Who became known as the apostle to the Gentiles - Ac 9:15; Ro 11:13

[We shall consider three examples of Paul√É­ preaching, starting with an
opportunity to preach to both the Jews and the Gentiles in the synagogue
at Antioch...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. IN ANTIOCH OF PISIDIA...
      1. Paul was on his 1st missionary journey - Ac 13:13
      2. Arriving in Antioch, he attended the synagogue on the Sabbath
         - Ac 13:14
      3. This became his evangelistic method for reaching Jews - cf. Ac 17:1-3

   B. IN THE SYNAGOGUE...
      1. Invited by the rulers of the synagogue to speak to the people
         - Ac 13:15
      2. His religious background may have been well-known - cf. Ac 22:3-5; Ga 1:13-14
      3. Paul accepts the invitation to speak to both Jews and
         God-fearers - Ac 13:16

[As recorded by Luke, Paul stood, motioned with his hands, and then
began to speak to both Jews and God-fearers (perhaps proselytes)...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. PAUL REVIEWS THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL...
      1. Their deliverance from Egypt and reception of Canaan - Ac 13:16-19
      2. The period of the Judges and the beginning of their Kings - Ac 13:20-21
      3. The promise to David, fulfilled with the coming of Jesus - Ac 13:22-25

   B. PAUL PROCLAIMS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST...
      1. Addressed to both Jews and God-fearers - Ac 13:26
      2. The death of Jesus by the rulers in Jerusalem - Ac 13:27-29
      3. The resurrection of Jesus by God, witnessed by many - Ac 13:30-31
      4. These are glad tidings, foretold by prophecy - Ac 13:32-35; cf.
         Ps 2:7; Isa 55:3; Ps 16:10
      5. For David saw corruption, while He who was raised did not - Ac 13:36-37

   C. PAUL OFFERS SALVATION WITH A WARNING...
      1. Preaching forgiveness of sins through Jesus, not the Law - Ac 13:38-39
      2. Warning them not to believe, in the words of Habakkuk - Ac 13:40-41; Hab 1:5

   D. THE RESPONSE...
      1. Begged by the Gentiles to preach the same to them the next
         Sabbath - Ac 13:42
      2. Many Jews and devout proselytes encouraged to continue in the
         grace of God - Ac 13:43

   E. THE FOLLOWING SABBATH...
      1. Almost the whole city gathered to hear - Ac 13:44
      2. Envious Jews contradicted and blasphemed the things spoken by
         Paul - Ac 13:45
      3. Having judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, Paul turned
         to the Gentiles - Ac 13:46-47
      4. Gentiles were glad and glorified the Word - Ac 13:48
      5. "And as many as had been appointed (ordained, KJV) to eternal
         life believed" - ibid.
         a. "There is no countenance here for the absolutum decretum of
            the Calvinists, since ver. 46 had already shown that the
            Jews had acted through their own choice...the Jews as a
            nation had been ordained to eternal life - they had rejected
            this election - but those who believed amongst the Gentiles
            were equally ordained by God to eternal life, and it was in
            accordance with His divine appointment that the Apostles had
            turned to them. Some take the word as if middle, not passive:
            "as many as had set themselves unto eternal life," and in
            support of this Rendall refers to 1Co 16:15..."
            - Expositor√É­s Greek Testament
         b. "The verb tatto or tasso signifies to place, set, order,
            appoint, dispose; hence it has been considered here as
            implying the disposition or readiness of mind of several
            persons in the congregation, such as the religious proselytes
            mentioned Ac 13:43, who possessed the reverse of the
            disposition of those Jews who spake against those things,
            contradicting and blaspheming, Ac 13:45." - Adam Clarke
         c. "As many as were disposed to eternal life, as many as had
            concern about their eternal state, and aimed to make sure of
            eternal life, believed in Christ." - Matthew Henry

CONCLUSION

1. In preaching the gospel in the synagogue at Antioch...
   a. Paul proclaimed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
      Christ - Ac 13:26-30
   b. Eyewitness testimony and OT prophecy were used to make his case
      - Ac 13:31-37
   c. He taught faith in Jesus as the way to forgiveness of sins, not
      the Law - Ac 13:38-39
   d. One makes themselves unworthy of eternal life by rejecting the
      Word - Ac 13:46
   e. If you are disposed to receiving eternal life, you will believe in
      Christ! - Ac 13:48

2. In making personal application, you might well ask yourself...
   a. Do you accept as truth the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
      Christ?
   b. If not, have you seriously examined the eyewitness testimony and
      OT prophecy?
   c. Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to forgiveness of sins?
   d. Or have you made yourself unworthy of eternal life by rejecting
      the gospel?
   e. I pray that you are disposed to receive eternal life!

If you are willing to listen to the Gospel and are disposed to receiving
eternal life, you will gladly glorify the Word by obeying it, and
continue in the grace of God through faithful service...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Peter In The Home Of Cornelius- Acts, Chapter 10

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                     Peter In The Home Of Cornelius

INTRODUCTION

1. Thus far we have considered four examples of gospel preaching in the
   first century...
   a. Peter on the day of Pentecost    c. Philip in the city of Samaria
   b. Peter at Solomon’s porch         d. Philip in the Gaza desert

2. The gospel preaching in each case followed a similar pattern...
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection and lordship of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Calling for a response involving faith, repentance and baptism

[Till now, the gospel was shared only to Jews or those closely related
(Samaritans).  Jesus intended His gospel to be proclaimed to all nations
(Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15), and now we consider the example of the first
Gentile (non-Jew) who was given the gospel message...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. CORNELIUS HAS A VISION...
      1. Cornelius, a centurion, is introduced as very religious - Ac 10:1-2
      2. In a vision an angel appears to him - Ac 10:3-6
         a. With an announcement that his prayers and alms have been
            noticed by God
         b. With instructions to send for Peter; please note:
            1) The angel said, "He will tell you what you must do." - Ac 10:6
            2) As Peter recounts it, "...who will tell you words by
               which you and all your household will be saved." - Ac 11:14
      3. Cornelius then sends two servants and a devout soldier to Peter
         - Ac 10:7-8

   B. PETER HAS A VISION...
      1. While the three men are traveling toward Peter, he has a vision
         - Ac 10:9-16; 11:4-10
         a. A sheet descending from heaven, containing all sorts of
            creatures
         b. A voice tells Peter to "kill and eat"
         c. Peter objects, for he has never eaten anything common or
            unclean
         d. He is told, "What God has cleansed you must not call
            common."
      2. Three times the vision is repeated

   C. THE SPIRIT INSTRUCTS PETER...
      1. The men from Cornelius arrive as Peter contemplates the vision
         - Ac 10:17-18; 11:11
      2. The Spirit tells Peter to go, "doubting nothing, for I have
         sent them" - Ac 10:19-20; 11:12
      3. Peter receives the men and takes six with him as they go to
         Cornelius - Ac 10:21-23; 11:12

   D. PETER ARRIVES AT CORNELIUS’ HOUSE...
      1. Cornelius has gathered his family and close friends - Ac 10:24
      2. Peter deflects attempts by Cornelius to worship him - Ac 10:25-26
      3. Peter explains his presence a violation of Jewish custom, but
         now understands "I should not call any man common or unclean"
         - Ac 10:27-28
      4. Asked by Peter to explain why he was called, Cornelius recounts
         the appearance and instructions of the angel - Ac 10:29-32;
         11:13-14
      5. Cornelius and his household were ready "to hear all things
         commanded you by God" - Ac 10:33

[Similar to Acts 2, miraculous events prepared both the preacher and his
audience for "things commanded...by God" (Ac 10:33) and "words by which
you...will be saved" (Ac 11:14)...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. PETER PROCLAIMS GOD...
      1. He begins with a full perception that God shows no partiality
         - Ac 10:34-35
      2. A perception started with the vision of the sheet and unclean
         beasts
      3. A perception continued with the Spirit’s instruction to go with
         the messengers
      4. A perception confirmed with the Spirit falling upon the
         Gentiles - Ac 10:44-47; 11:15-17

   B. PETER PROCLAIMS JESUS...
      1. As Lord who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power - Ac 10:36-38
      2. Who was killed, raised from the dead, seen by witnesses who
         knew Him well - Ac 10:39-41
      3. Who has commanded the apostles to proclaim Him as ordained by
         God to be the Judge of the living and dead - Ac 10:42
      4. Through Whom remission of sins is offered to those who believe
         - Ac 10:43

   C. PETER PROCLAIMS BAPTISM...
      1. After the Spirit fell upon Cornelius and his household - Ac 10:44-46
      2. The purpose of which was to show Peter and his fellow Jews that
         Gentiles could be recipients of the gospel and saved in the
         same way - cf. Ac 10:45; 11:17-18; 15:7-11
      3. How then could anyone forbid water to those who had received
         the Spirit just as the apostles did? - Ac 10:47; 2:1-4
      4. So Cornelius and his household were commanded to be baptized in
         the name of the Lord - Ac 10:48; 2:38

CONCLUSION

1. Once again, preaching the gospel followed the pattern seen before...
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Calling for a response involving faith and baptism

2. Of course, other important observations can be made...
   a. Religious people need to be saved (it is Jesus’ blood that saves,
      not religion per se!)
   b. The gospel is for everyone, for God desires all men to be saved
      - cf. 1Ti 2:3-6; 2Pe 3:9
   c. The gospel requires of all the same response:  faith and baptism
      - cf. Mk 16:16; Ac 15:11

How about you?  You may be a good moral person, religious, even like
Cornelius; but without Jesus there is no hope of salvation (cf. Jn 8:24;
14:6).

Have you received the remission of sins through an obedient faith in
Jesus Christ?  Are you ready to stand before the One ordained to be the
Judge of the living and the dead (Ac 10:42)...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading August 9




Bible Reading  

August 9

The World English Bible


Aug. 9
Nehemiah 4-6

Neh 4:1 But it happened that when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
Neh 4:2 He spoke before his brothers and the army of Samaria, and said, What are these feeble Jews doing? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned?
Neh 4:3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they are building, if a fox go up, he shall break down their stone wall.
Neh 4:4 Hear, our God; for we are despised: and turn back their reproach on their own head, and give them up for a spoil in a land of captivity;
Neh 4:5 and don't cover their iniquity, and don't let their sin be blotted out from before you; for they have provoked you to anger before the builders.
Neh 4:6 So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half the height of it: for the people had a mind to work.
Neh 4:7 But it happened that when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem went forward, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very angry;
Neh 4:8 and they conspired all of them together to come and fight against Jerusalem, and to cause confusion therein.
Neh 4:9 But we made our prayer to our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
Neh 4:10 Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.
Neh 4:11 Our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, until we come into the midst of them, and kill them, and cause the work to cease.
Neh 4:12 It happened that when the Jews who lived by them came, they said to us ten times from all places, You must return to us.
Neh 4:13 Therefore set I in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in the open places, I set there the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
Neh 4:14 I looked, and rose up, and said to the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Don't be afraid of them: remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.
Neh 4:15 It happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and God had brought their counsel to nothing, that we returned all of us to the wall, everyone to his work.
Neh 4:16 It happened from that time forth, that half of my servants worked in the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.
Neh 4:17 They all built the wall and those who bore burdens loaded themselves; everyone with one of his hands worked in the work, and with the other held his weapon;
Neh 4:18 and the builders, everyone had his sword girded by his side, and so built. He who sounded the trumpet was by me.
Neh 4:19 I said to the nobles, and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another:
Neh 4:20 in whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally there to us; our God will fight for us.
Neh 4:21 So we worked in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning until the stars appeared.
Neh 4:22 Likewise at the same time said I to the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and may labor in the day.
Neh 4:23 So neither I, nor my brothers, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us put off our clothes, everyone went with his weapon to the water.
Neh 5:1 Then there arose a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brothers the Jews.
Neh 5:2 For there were that said, We, our sons and our daughters, are many: let us get grain, that we may eat and live.
Neh 5:3 Some also there were that said, We are mortgaging our fields, and our vineyards, and our houses: let us get grain, because of the dearth.
Neh 5:4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute on our fields and our vineyards.
Neh 5:5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as their children: and behold, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought into bondage already: neither is it in our power to help it; for other men have our fields and our vineyards.
Neh 5:6 I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
Neh 5:7 Then I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers, and said to them, You exact usury, everyone of his brother. I held a great assembly against them.
Neh 5:8 I said to them, We after our ability have redeemed our brothers the Jews, that were sold to the nations; and would you even sell your brothers, and should they be sold to us? Then held they their peace, and found never a word.
Neh 5:9 Also I said, The thing that you do is not good: ought you not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the nations our enemies?
Neh 5:10 I likewise, my brothers and my servants, do lend them money and grain. Please let us leave off this usury.
Neh 5:11 Please restore to them, even this day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, that you exact of them.
Neh 5:12 Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do, even as you say. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they would do according to this promise.
Neh 5:13 Also I shook out my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that doesn't perform this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. All the assembly said, Amen, and praised Yahweh. The people did according to this promise.
Neh 5:14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brothers have not eaten the bread of the governor.
Neh 5:15 But the former governors who were before me were supported by the people, and took bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver; yes, even their servants ruled over the people: but I didn't do so, because of the fear of God.
Neh 5:16 Yes, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered there to the work.
Neh 5:17 Moreover there were at my table, of the Jews and the rulers, one hundred fifty men, besides those who came to us from among the nations that were around us.
Neh 5:18 Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this I didn't demand the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy on this people.
Neh 5:19 Remember to me, my God, for good, all that I have done for this people.

Neh 6:1 Now it happened, when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah, and to Geshem the Arabian, and to the rest of our enemies, that I had built the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though even to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates;)
Neh 6:2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, Come, let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.
Neh 6:3 I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I can't come down: why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you?
Neh 6:4 They sent to me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.
Neh 6:5 Then sent Sanballat his servant to me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand,
Neh 6:6 in which was written, It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says it, that you and the Jews think to rebel; for which cause you are building the wall: and you would be their king, according to these words.
Neh 6:7 You have also appointed prophets to preach of you at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.
Neh 6:8 Then I sent to him, saying, There are no such things done as you say, but you imagine them out of your own heart.
Neh 6:9 For they all would have made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it not be done. But now, God, strengthen my hands.
Neh 6:10 I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to kill you; yes, in the night will they come to kill you.
Neh 6:11 I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there that, being such as I, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.
Neh 6:12 I discerned, and behold, God had not sent him; but he pronounced this prophecy against me: and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
Neh 6:13 For this cause was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.
Neh 6:14 Remember, my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and also the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.
Neh 6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.
Neh 6:16 It happened, when all our enemies heard of it, that all the nations that were about us feared, and were much cast down in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was worked of our God.
Neh 6:17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them.
Neh 6:18 For there were many in Judah sworn to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as wife.
Neh 6:19 Also they spoke of his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.

 
Aug. 9, 10
Acts 23

Act 23:1 Paul, looking steadfastly at the council, said, "Brothers, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day."
Act 23:2 The high priest, Ananias, commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
Act 23:3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to judge me according to the law, and command me to be struck contrary to the law?"
Act 23:4 Those who stood by said, "Do you malign God's high priest?"
Act 23:5 Paul said, "I didn't know, brothers, that he was high priest. For it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.' "
Act 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!"
Act 23:7 When he had said this, an argument arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.
Act 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess all of these.
Act 23:9 A great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees part stood up, and contended, saying, "We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or angel has spoken to him, let's not fight against God!"
Act 23:10 When a great argument arose, the commanding officer, fearing that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
Act 23:11 The following night, the Lord stood by him, and said, "Cheer up, Paul, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must testify also at Rome."
Act 23:12 When it was day, some of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.
Act 23:13 There were more than forty people who had made this conspiracy.
Act 23:14 They came to the chief priests and the elders, and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great curse, to taste nothing until we have killed Paul.
Act 23:15 Now therefore, you with the council inform the commanding officer that he should bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to judge his case more exactly. We are ready to kill him before he comes near."
Act 23:16 But Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the barracks and told Paul.
Act 23:17 Paul summoned one of the centurions, and said, "Bring this young man to the commanding officer, for he has something to tell him."
Act 23:18 So he took him, and brought him to the commanding officer, and said, "Paul, the prisoner, summoned me and asked me to bring this young man to you, who has something to tell you."
Act 23:19 The commanding officer took him by the hand, and going aside, asked him privately, "What is it that you have to tell me?"
Act 23:20 He said, "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though intending to inquire somewhat more accurately concerning him.
Act 23:21 Therefore don't yield to them, for more than forty men lie in wait for him, who have bound themselves under a curse neither to eat nor to drink until they have killed him. Now they are ready, looking for the promise from you."
Act 23:22 So the commanding officer let the young man go, charging him, "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me."
Act 23:23 He called to himself two of the centurions, and said, "Prepare two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen, and two hundred men armed with spears, at the third hour of the night."
Act 23:24 He asked them to provide animals, that they might set Paul on one, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.
Act 23:25 He wrote a letter like this:
Act 23:26 "Claudius Lysias to the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings.
Act 23:27 "This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them, when I came with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.
Act 23:28 Desiring to know the cause why they accused him, I brought him down to their council.
Act 23:29 I found him to be accused about questions of their law, but not to be charged with anything worthy of death or of imprisonment.
Act 23:30 When I was told that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him to you immediately, charging his accusers also to bring their accusations against him before you. Farewell."
Act 23:31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
Act 23:32 But on the next day they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the barracks.
Act 23:33 When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.
Act 23:34 When the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. When he understood that he was from Cilicia, he said,
Act 23:35 "I will hear you fully when your accusers also arrive." He commanded that he be kept in Herod's palace.