From Jim McGuiggan... Why do trees clap their hands? (1)

Why do trees clap their hands? (1)

I was bathing Ethel and singing Isaiah 55:12 where he said the mountains will break into singing and the trees of the field with clap their hands. I asked her, “Why do you think the trees will clap their hands?” She said, “Probably because they’re happy!” With that she was done. Her quick response was right on target but I was looking for more and she wasn’t in the position to breathe and discuss theology at the same time.
he biblical witness tells us that at the great Rebellion, when the human race began its runaway madness and thought they’d do better with their self-created destiny—the biblical witness tells us that the earth was cursed (Genesis 3:17). It wasn’t Man that cursed it, though it was the humans that triggered the curse. God cursed it (Genesis 5:29) and he cursed it, he said, “because of you” (Genesis 3:17)!

As the Bible tells it, the non-human creation’s “well-being” and destiny is linked inextricably with the human’s relationship with God. Obviously the creation is not a choosing or self-conscious entity but the human dependence on creation is witnessed by the fact that it was out of the earth that God created the humans and it is out of the earth that God gives humans their sustenance. We can say what we like about wealth and political clout but you can’t eat or drink those things even though the power structures can keep food and drink from the powerless and poor. In the end, what we need to keep us alive at the simple biological level comes from the earth.

By the will of God the creation protests against the human perversion of power. The nature of that protest is that the creation withholds from the human family that which God initially had purposed for it to give. God gave the humans dominion over creation (Genesis 1:26-28) to live with it in his image. The face of God that we see in creation is the face of a life-bringer, a harmony and peace-bringer; we see someone who enables all to flourish and grow in the place he gave them. Creation’s lord (humankind) fell through sin from its place of glory and the creation that was a witness to and an expression of that glory was brought down with mankind. The human family that tumbled down toward futility was matched by a creation that as a consequence reflected the human fall. As the humans withheld from their Lord what was due him so the creation withheld from its lord what was due him. The peace and harmony that was experienced within the created sphere was pretty well shattered.

Paul says in Romans 8:19-22 that the creation groans in its frustration or futility and eagerly looks forward to the time when the children of God are manifested in glory because then it will be liberated from its present futility and frustration. Under its shameful lord it cannot be all that it was created to be but the Lord God made it and tied its fortunes to the human lord. Nevertheless, in withholding from its human lord the glory initially given to him the creation is bearing witness to the judgement of God against that human lord. The creation, whatever its frustration at being implicated in the Fall takes God’s side in the resultant situation.

After we’ve admitted some issues we can’t settle about the Genesis 3:17-19 and get to its central thrust, what’s the text saying to us and what does it mean by what it says to us? Whatever else it says it tells us this. By the will and wisdom of God the creation cannot finally be at peace with the human family as long as the human family is not finally at peace with God. This close tie between the creation and the humans is reflected throughout the entire biblical record.

Leviticus 18:24-28 has God saying this to Israel, “Do not defile yourself in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sins, and the land vomited out its inhabitants...And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” [Note that the punishment of the land is expressed in its vomiting out its people. Land wasn't made for that; that is a frustration of why it exists.]

Yes, I can see there are numerous things to be worked out in such texts. But after we’ve made room for “anthropomorphism” and the like, what does the text tell us about the land and what does it mean by what it tells us about the land? It tells us at least this: land as pictured in such a text is opposed to human wickedness and it acts as God’s instrument in punishing the wickedness.

But we’re to notice how close the relationship is between land and people. The land out of which humans are created and which sustains them is “punished [paqad] for its sins.” What that means, precisely, isn’t spelled out but other texts come to our aid. Just the same, though it is “punished for its sins” the land is related to God in his aversion to human sin and vomits the sinners out. [The entire notion of “visiting” iniquity needs to be looked at with care.]

God “visits” the sins committed in the land on the land itself. The land experiences drought and famine and pestilence and desolation. It is left unattended and becomes wild, people avoid it think it is jinxed; they call it a “devourer of its people.”

Here’s how Ezekiel 36:1-15 has it. God tells Ezekiel to address the land of Israel. He is not to talk about the land but to speak to the land. “Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord...Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander...This is what the Sovereign Lord says...because you have suffered the scorn of the nations...I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will suffer scorn. But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit...I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people on you...I will increase the number of men and animals upon you...I will settle people on you as in the past. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will posses you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children. Because people say to you, ‘You devour men and deprive your nation of its children,’ therefore you will no longer devour or make your nation childless.”

You’d think God was speaking to a person when you read this sort of thing. It looks like the land consciously chose to throw its people out. But 36:16-21 makes it clear that it’s God that makes exiles of his sinning people. But what extraordinary speech it is that ties the land so closely to the sins of the people and the judgement against them.

And what astonishing speech it is that teaches us that when the people of God are manifested in completed glory with their Lord that the eager creation will share in the liberation of God’s people and become the place where righteousness dwells. See Romans 8:16-23.

The intimate relationship between the land and the people, the land and the sins of the people is directly linked to the fact that the land is where God chose to live with the humans. The earth is God’s chosen dwelling place as well as man’s. We hear this in Numbers 35:34 where the people are forbidden to pollute the land because God manifests himself there.

The Pope, the Papacy, and the Bible by Moisés Pinedo


The Pope, the Papacy, and the Bible

by  Moisés Pinedo

George Bush said of him: “When you are in his presence you say to yourself: ‘Here is a great man, a great leader.’ He is a man of liberty, of faith, who suffers every time the Church, or man, is oppressed. He will occupy, with all authority, a privileged position in the history of our time. I am not Catholic, but towards him I feel a deeply profound respect and a sincere affection” (as quoted in Mirás, n.d.).
Of whom was the former president of the United States speaking? His commentary was in reference to the late Karol Wojtyla, more commonly recognized as Pope John Paul II. Having been considered for 26 years as the “successor of the apostle Peter,” and having been the heir of an endless hierarchical legacy, John Paul II was a man who influenced the hearts of many Catholics, as well as many other religious people. At his death, thousands of followers gathered in or near St. Peter’s Plaza in Rome to pay tribute to the pope, while the bells of the Catholic Church buildings rang throughout the city (see BBC News, 2005). Since April 2, 2005, the eulogies of many close associates and supporters have been heard, and it is certain that this situation will continue for some time after his burial. Even the current president of the United States has raised his voice to declare:
[T]he world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home. Pope John Paul II left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it—as a witness to the dignity of human life (Bush, 2005, emp. added).
John Paul II was, for more than a quarter of a century, a representative of the monopolized throne of the Catholic Church—the papacy. But, what is the papacy? Is there a scriptural basis for this Catholic institution? Did God designate a legacy of “ecclesiastical leaders” on Earth?
Apart from what people may think concerning this institution or its members, and apart from any eulogies, blessings, insults, or condemnations that religious people may offer concerning this ecclesiastical order, it is my desire to open the pages of the Bible, as well as the pages of history, to analyze whether the papacy (with its large list of members) is a divine institution, or whether it simply should be classified as a human invention that is unworthy of the type of honor bestowed upon it.


And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
This is the biblical verse to which the Catholic apologist inevitably turns in order to defend the establishment of the papacy. Through an arbitrary interpretation of this verse—an interpretation which suggests that God constituted Peter (and ultimately his successors) as the “rock” of the church—the Catholic Church has built a grand structure with only one man as the head.
But in order to be consistent with biblical truth, we must understand the difference between the two words used in Matthew 16:18. In reference to Peter, the Holy Spirit recorded the Greek word petros—a proper noun which denotes a stone that can be easily moved. In contrast, in reference to the “rock,” the Holy Spirit recorded the Greek word petra, which denotes a solid mass of rock (see Vine, 1999, p. 663). While the word used for Peter corresponds to the Aramaic name that Jesus had given him (Kepha, John 1:42), the word used for “rock” refers to the foundation of the church—i.e., Peter’s confession that pointed to Christ as God and the Messiah (cf. Matthew 16:16).
The biblical truth that the word “rock” was used in reference to Christ Himself is derived not only from the etymology and context of Matthew 16:16-19, but this is also a truth taught and recognized throughout the entire Bible. Peter, who received the words of Jesus first hand, used the same Greek word petra in reference to Christ (1 Peter 2:8; cf. Acts 4:11). Without a doubt, Peter, more than any religious person of our modern time, would convey the true meaning of the word used by our Lord.
The inspired apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “…and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them:and the rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4, emp. added). The truth is that, ever since the Old Testament, the rock was always Christ, not Peter. In Ephesians 2:20, Paul exhorted: “…being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone” (emp. added). In Luke 20:17-18 Jesus remarked: “What, then, is this that is written, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner? Everyone that falleth on that stone shall be broken to pieces, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust’ ” (cf. Matthew 21:42,44 and Mark 12:10). In effect, Jesus used the rejection of the rock by the builders to show the rejection of the religious leaders of His time concerning His person. Without a doubt, the One Who could tell us with total veracity what the word “rock” refers to is Jesus Himself—Who used it and applied it to Himself.
Another aspect to consider is the fulfillment of the prophecies given by Jesus. He said that “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). If the “rock” is referring to the confession made by Peter (Matthew 16:16)—which revealed the truth that Jesus was God and the anticipated Messiah—it would be upon this truth that the church would be established. In effect, this prophecy realizes fulfillment when we learn that in Acts 2:36, the truth that Jesus was God and the Messiah is presented once again as a prologue to the birth of Christianity, and ultimately, of the church. The truth of the matter is that nothing exists in this biblical text to authorize the establishment of the papacy.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that the idea (borne of tradition) that Peter was exalted over the other apostles—and thereby was transformed into the pioneer for the papal throne—is biblically unsustainable. Jesus imbued each of His apostles with the same authority (Matthew 28:19-20). When the apostles disputed among themselves over who was the greatest, Jesus sent them a clear message: “The kings of the Gentiles have lordship over them… But ye shall not be so” (Luke 22:24-26, emp. added; cf. Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48). On another occasion, Jesus told them: “Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… Not so shall it be among you” (Matthew 20:25-26, emp. added). Unfortunately there are those today who place themselves in opposition to this biblical sentiment so that an existing hierarchy should be evident among the first-century apostles, even when Jesus said it should not be!
The truth is that Peter was an apostle just like the other apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11), and was a man just like other men (with the word “man” bearing many serious implications). As a man, Peter never demanded special treatment or demanded displays of adoration for himself. When Cornelius lay prostrate before Peter (cf. Acts 10:25), he told him: “Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:26, emp. added). With this statement Peter set forth three very important points: (a) that he was also a man—that is to say, a man just like Cornelius; (b) that he was a man—that is to say, just like all men; and (c) that he was a man—that is to say that he was not God, and ultimately was not worthy of worship. [Note the position of the emphasis in the three points just made.]
Peter understood with all humility the implications of being only a man. But popes, being only men like Peter, allow multitudes to bow their knees before them, kiss their feet, and reverence them—thereby receiving worship that does not rightfully belong to them. What a tremendous difference between Peter and his supposed successors! Not even an angel of God would permit John to show him adoration by kneeling before him (Revelation 22:8-9). One can only be astonished when considering what tremendous audacity it takes to try to usurp the place where God belongs!


If Peter was not a pope, and the Bible does not record a papal hierarchy, the question arises: When and how did the papacy originate?
When Christ established His church, “he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors [i.e., bishops—MP] and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Jesus never established a single bishop over a multiplicity of others; rather, He established an impartial order of service. However, men departed from the original pattern of the Bible in search of power, honor, and deification. The first indication of this desertion was when the distinction between the words, bishops, elders, and pastors was made—titles that are used interchangeably in the Bible (e.g., Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7; 1 Peter 5:1-2; etc.)—thereby giving preeminence to the position of bishop. Quickly, the “bishop” came to take prominence over not only a congregation, but over a “diocese”—congregations of a district or a complete city (see Miller, 1976, par. 42).
One of the characters that clung to a hierarchy of the church by only one man (i.e., “the bishop”) was Ignatius of Antioch. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote:
For if I in a short time had such converse with your bishop, which was not after the manner of men but in the Spirit, how much more do I congratulate you who are closely joined with him as the Church is with Jesus Christ and as Jesus Christ is with the Father, that all things may be harmonious in unity.… Let us therefore be careful not to resist the bishop, that by our submission we may give ourselves to God (Ignatius to the Ephesians, 5:1,3, n.d.).
Later, when Emperor Constantine made Christianity a religion of “power,” the bishops strengthened and increased their prerogatives. Many new bishops (e.g., Damasus, Siricio) fought to affirm their hierarchical position in the church at Rome, appealing to their inherent “authority” in their cathedra (see Encuentra, 2000-2004). In A.D. 440, the pontificate of Leo I arrived. He became an ardent defender of the supremacy of the Roman bishop over all of the other bishops of the West. In his declaration to the Bishop of Constantinople, he wrote:
Constantinople has its own glory and by the mercy of God has become the seat of the empire. But secular matters are based on one thing, and ecclesiastical matters on another. Nothing will stand which is not built on the Rock which the Lord laid in the foundation…your city is royal but you cannot make it Apostolic (Mattox, 1961, pp. 139-140).
In mid-September of 590, Gregory the Great was designated as the bishop of Rome. He proclaimed himself as pope, and head of the “universal church.” He did his best to uphold the so-called Petrine Tradition; and towards the end of his pontificate, “the theory of the primacy of Peter and the Roman bishop as his successor and the universal head of the church was definitively established” (Mattox, p. 140). Finally, with the ascension of Boniface III to the papal throne on February 19, 607, it was established (by his own declaration!) that the only “universal bishop” would be that of Rome—ultimately, the one and only pope. Boniface III, who lived less than a year after his election, left the world of Catholic religion with many other bishops who energetically competed in the “endless race for supremacy” known as the papacy.


One of the most treasured doctrines of the Roman papacy is that of infallibility. Catholicism argues that when the pope speaks as the head of the universal church, and thereby exercises his “supreme” authority, he cannot make a mistake. Pope Pio IX established the doctrine of papal infallibility in 1870. In light of this relatively recent doctrine, the question begs to be asked: What about the other popes who exercised their power before 1870? The answer can be presented as follows:
…a dogma is an eternal truth that the Church did not invent but rather “discovered,” which, however, all of the other popes have been subject to it without knowing it (Infaliblidad, n.d., emp. added).
Nevertheless, history speaks strongly against this doctrine. For example, Pope Honorius I (625) bore (after his death) the title of “heretic” for having stood in agreement with the doctrine of monotheletism (the doctrine that acknowledged two distinct natures within Christ, but only one divine will). He was censured by the sixth ecumenical council, and later even by the seventh and the eighth (Constantinople III, 680; Nicea II, 787; and Constantinople IV, 869). Pope Leo II recognized the doctrinal error of Honorius, and for many centuries, the popes, in their enthronement, were required to swear that “they rejected the heresy whose ferment was introduced by Honorius” (see Hermosillo, n.d.). Another pope, Eugenius IV (1431), condemned Joan of Arc to be burned at the stake for considering her to be a participant of witchcraft, though Benedict XV canonized her as a “saint” on May 16, 1920 (see Infalibilidad Papal, n.d.). Other popes, like Paul III, Paul IV, Sixtus IV, Pio IX, et al., authorized, promoted, incited, and reinforced the “Holy” Inquisition for which the late Pope John Paul II had to apologize worldwide.
The same John Paul II (1978-2005) gave a fatal blow to the doctrine of infallibility. In opposition to the declarations of other popes and of Catholic doctrine itself, this pope declared:
  • The Spirit of Christ uses other churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation (1979, 4.32).
  • People outside the Catholic Church and the Gospel can attain salvation by grace of Christ (1990, 1.10).
  • People can be saved by living a moral life, without knowing anything about Christ and the Catholic Church (1993, 3).
  • There is sanctification outside the boundaries of the Catholic Church (1995, 1.12).
  • The martyrs of any religious community can find the extraordinary grace of the Holy Spirit (1995, 3.84).
Furthermore, concerning the erroneous concept of organic evolution, on October 22, 1996, Pope John Paul II declared that “new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis” (see “John Paul II,” 1996). But if evolution is to be considered more than merely a hypothesis, Adam disappears! Ultimately, then, how can it be, as Catholics allege, that humanity carries the sin of the first man? Should we not say, instead, that humanity carries the “sin” of the last primate from which we “descended” (as if primates could sin!)? Many other examples could be given, but surely the few points mentioned in this brief study provide sufficient evidence to warrant us discarding Roman Catholic doctrine. Certainly the doctrine of papal infallibility has caused, and continues to cause, many people to accept false doctrines such as original sin, the assumption of Mary, the canonization of saints, the “factuality” of evolution, and even papal infallibility itself—doctrines that are completely lacking in any biblical foundation.
What is certain is that when Pio IX declared that the pope was infallible, with the same “infallibility” that he pretended to have, he gave his final “infallible” stamp of approval for his declaration of the infallibility. Though this seems to be a jumble of words, this is exactly what happened. However, while Pio IX declared that the Pope was infallible, Adriano VI (another presumably infallible pope), declared in 1523:
It remains above all doubt that a Pope can err even in subjects touching the faith. He does this when he teaches heresy by his own judgment and decree. In truth, many roman pontiffs were heretics (as quoted in Sapia, 2000, emp. added).
So, then, Catholicism arrives at a problem in that two popes, allegedly both possessors of the same “infallibility,” affirm self-contradictory positions. How could one pope, who is supposedly infallible, condemn his own infallibility and that of others? If Pio IX was correct, Adriano VI made a mistake; and if one makes a mistake, then none of the popes can be infallible since the doctrine of infallibility supposedly involves all of the popes. Therefore, the only conclusion at which we can arrive from the history of the popes and their evident contradictions is that the doctrine of papal infallibility is unmistakably false.


The pages of the life of another member of the papacy have been written, finished, and closed. His faithful followers may weep, but soon a new pope will arise. A group of “select cardinals” who lack “infallibility” will convene in a room (conclave) and cast their secret votes (see Conclave, 1908). If all happens as planned, a new, “infallible” pope will be the result of the vote of fallible men. “Who will be the new Pope?,” many will ask. Sadly, in this moment of media racket, Catholic grief, and international suspense, many people will never hear the intense scream of the Bible to abandon the human hierarchy that apostasy has established.
The truth is that there is only one Head of the church—Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). Also, there is only one rock that serves as the foundation of the church (i.e. Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:11). To adopt another rock (i.e., another foundation) instead of that which was already laid, is to build on an unstable foundation. To place another rock instead of that which is already placed is to build upon a foundation of men. To place another rock instead of that which is already placed is to usurp the revered place of Christ.
We have no choice but to say that there is no biblical foundation or authorization for the existence of the papacy. The rock—Christ—should not be rejected in order to place human foundations in His position. Those who do so build upon an unstable foundation that one day will collapse. With Paul, faithful Christians can confidently declare: “For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11, emp. added).


BBC News (2005), Pope John Paul II Dies in Vatican, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4399715.stm
Bush, George (2005), President's Statement on the Death of Pope John Paul II, [On-line], URL: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050402-4.html
Conclave (1908), The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV, [On-line], URL: http//www.newadvent.org/cathen/04192a.htm.
Encuentra (2000-2004), El Primado Absoluto de Roma, [On-line], URL: http://www.encuentra.com/includes/documento.php?IdDoc=1026&IdSec=224
Epistles of Ignatius (no date), Ignatius to the Ephesians, [On-line], URL: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/ignatius-ephesians-lightfoot.html
Hermosillo, Legión de María (no date), Honorio (625-638 d.C.), [On-line], URL: http://www.legionhermosillo.com.mx/honoriopapa.html
Infalibilidad (no date), Infalibilidad Papal: Otro becerro de Oro, [On-line], URL: http://www.angelfire.com/ego/pdf/sp/lp/infalibilidad-papal.html
Infalibilidad Papal (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.fbinstitute.com/Espanol/various/ infalibilidad.htm
John Paul II (1979), “Catechesi Tradendae,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ jp-ii_exh_16101979_catechesi-tradendae_en.html.
John Paul II (1990), “Redemptoris Missio,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_ jp-ii_enc_07121990_redemptoris-missio_en.html.
John Paul II (1993), “Veritatis Splendor,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii _enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor_en.html.
John Paul II (1995), “Ut Unum Sint,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_ jp-ii_enc_25051995_ut-unum-sint_en.html.
John Paul II (1996), “Truth Cannot Contradict Truth,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02tc.htm.
Mattox, F.W. (1961), The Eternal Kingdom, (Gospel Light: Delight, AR).
Miller, Jule L. (1976), Historia de la Iglesia del Señor, (Gospel Services, Inc., Houston, TX).
Mirás, Eduardo V. (no date), ¿Qué Dicen de Juan Pablo II?, George Bush, [On-line], URL: http://www.aciprensa.com/juanpabloii/dicenjp.htm
Sapia, Daniel (2000), Infalibilidad Papal. Quien, Cuando y Por qué se Promulgó, [On-line], URL: http://www.conocereislaverdad.org/infalibilidadpapal.htm
Vine, W.E. (1999), Diccionario Expositivo de Palabras del Antiguo y Nuevo Testamento Exhaustivo, (Colombia, Editorial Caribe, Inc.).

From Mark Copeland... A Love That Can Hate (Romans 12:9-10)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                     A Love That Can Hate (12:9-10)


1. In Romans 12, Paul discusses the practical side of the Christian life

2. In the first part of the chapter, he establishes the general
   principle of self-sacrifice...
   a. As the foundation of all goodness - Ro 12:1
   b. Accomplished through a transformation - Ro 12:2
   c. Manifested in humble service of one's abilities - Ro 12:3-8

3. Beginning with verse 9, we find a series of exhortations...
   a. That continue to the end of the chapter
   b. That at first glance, may at time seem disconnected

4. For example, consider the exhortations in our text (Ro 12:9-10)...
   a. The first and last relate to love
   b. But the intervening clause pertains to hate
   -- But upon careful reflection, these exhortations may not be

[One way to connect these exhortations is to describe them as depicting
"A Love That Can Hate".  To see how that is possible, consider that a
Christian must first have...]


      1. We are to have a love that is honest, sincere and genuine - Ro 12:9a
      2. Whereas a love that is faked is repulsive
         a. In which someone claims to love you
         b. But their actions speak otherwise
      3. Yet sometimes our words do surpass our true feelings
         a. We talk about love, sing about it
         b. But don't always live up to it!
      4. Making us feel guilty when we read a passage such as our text
      -- How can we love sincerely and without hypocrisy?

      1. The position of this exhortation in Paul's writing may serve as
         a clue
         a. After discussing the need for being transformed by the
            renewing of our minds
         b. An honest love can't be experienced or shown without this
      2. This transformation occurs the more we contemplate the love and
         mercies of God - cf. 1Jn 4:7b ("for love is of God")
      3. Only as we let the mind of Christ be in us can we love as we
         should - cf. Php 2:2-5

[So we need to develop an honest love, one that comes by contemplating
God's love for us.  But as we continue in our text, we see that it can
also be "A Love That Can Hate"...]


      1. A mutual hatred of evil and clinging to good is necessary for
         an honest love - Ro 12:9b
      2. Why?  If not careful, love can easily lose its purity and depth
         a. The lusts of the flesh are strong
         b. They can easily pervert the nature of our love
         c. Profession of love can easily become a cover for evil
      3. Therefore the need to "abhor what is evil" - cf. Ep 5:2-5
         a. Walk in love as Christ loved us
         b. But eschew any perversion of love!

      1. Comes by clinging to what is good, not vice versa!
      2. Why do some hate evil?
         a. There are those who very quick to hate evil (e.g., "hobby
         b. Such are mostly negative and rarely positive in their
         c. They hate evil, but do not cling to what is good, creating
            an unbalance
         d. Motivated by carnal desires (power, fame), not by the spirit
            of Christ
      3. Hatred of evil should come from first clinging to that which is
         a. As implied by the Psalmist in Ps 119:103-104
         b. The powerful emotion of hate can then be properly balanced
            by a love of good!

[So the love that is to characterize Christians is to be "A Love That
Can Hate" when that hate is properly motivated and directed.  But now
let's consider how such love is to be manifested toward our brethren...]


      1. The expression "kindly affectionate" means "to love as family"
         a. Just as you would your own family members
         b. To stress the point, Paul adds "in brotherly love"
      2. We are to have great feeling of love towards those in Christ
         a. As Paul had toward the brethren at Philippi - Php 1:8
         b. As the Ephesian elders had toward Paul - Ac 20:36-38
      --  Such is "A Love That Can Hate"!

      1. This is the meaning of "in honor giving preference to one
         a. "The word preferring means going before, leading, setting an
            example." - Barnes
         b. "Thus in showing mutual respect and honor, they were to
            strive to excel; not to see which could obtain most honor,
            but which could confer most, or manifest most respect."
            - ibid.
      2. Thus we are to delight in exalting our brethren over ourselves!
         a. As commanded in Php 2:3
         b. Freeing us from petty jealousies that can threaten true love


1. What is the kind of love that God desires for His children?  "A Love
   That Can Hate"!

2. Such is the love that God has shown toward us...
   a. A love that is honest and sincere, demonstrated by the sending of
      His Son to die for our sins
   b. A love that hates evil and clings to what is good, revealed
      throughout the Word of God
   c. A love that is affectionate and delights in showing honor, as God
      has done toward His children who obey Him!

If we are in Christ, is this the kind of love we display?  If you are
not in Christ, won't you respond to this love in obedience to the gospel
of Christ...?

Note:  The main idea for this lesson came from a sermon by Alexander
MacLaren, in his Expositions Of Holy Scripture.

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading August 28

Bible Reading  

August 28

The World English Bible

Aug. 28
Psalm 11-15

Psa 11:1 In Yahweh, I take refuge. How can you say to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain!"
Psa 11:2 For, behold, the wicked bend their bows. They set their arrows on the strings, that they may shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
Psa 11:3 If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?
Psa 11:4 Yahweh is in his holy temple. Yahweh is on his throne in heaven. His eyes observe. His eyes examine the children of men.
Psa 11:5 Yahweh examines the righteous, but the wicked and him who loves violence his soul hates.
Psa 11:6 On the wicked he will rain blazing coals; fire, sulfur, and scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
Psa 11:7 For Yahweh is righteous. He loves righteousness. The upright shall see his face.
Psa 12:1 Help, Yahweh; for the godly man ceases. For the faithful fail from among the children of men.
Psa 12:2 Everyone lies to his neighbor. They speak with flattering lips, and with a double heart.
Psa 12:3 May Yahweh cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that boasts,
Psa 12:4 who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail. Our lips are our own. Who is lord over us?"
Psa 12:5 "Because of the oppression of the weak and because of the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says Yahweh; "I will set him in safety from those who malign him."
Psa 12:6 The words of Yahweh are flawless words, as silver refined in a clay furnace, purified seven times.
Psa 12:7 You will keep them, Yahweh. You will preserve them from this generation forever.
Psa 12:8 The wicked walk on every side, when what is vile is exalted among the sons of men.

Psa 13:1 How long, Yahweh? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
Psa 13:2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart every day? How long shall my enemy triumph over me?
Psa 13:3 Behold, and answer me, Yahweh, my God. Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
Psa 13:4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him;" Lest my adversaries rejoice when I fall.
Psa 13:5 But I trust in your loving kindness. My heart rejoices in your salvation.
Psa 13:6 I will sing to Yahweh, because he has been good to me.
Psa 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt. They have done abominable works. There is none who does good.
Psa 14:2 Yahweh looked down from heaven on the children of men, to see if there were any who did understand, who did seek after God.
Psa 14:3 They have all gone aside. They have together become corrupt. There is none who does good, no, not one.
Psa 14:4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and don't call on Yahweh?
Psa 14:5 There they were in great fear, for God is in the generation of the righteous.
Psa 14:6 You frustrate the plan of the poor, because Yahweh is his refuge.
Psa 14:7 Oh that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When Yahweh restores the fortunes of his people, then Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
Psa 15:1 Yahweh, who shall dwell in your sanctuary? Who shall live on your holy hill?
Psa 15:2 He who walks blamelessly does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart;
Psa 15:3 He who doesn't slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his friend, nor casts slurs against his fellow man;
Psa 15:4 In whose eyes a vile man is despised, but who honors those who fear Yahweh; he who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and doesn't change;
Psa 15:5 he who doesn't lend out his money for usury, nor take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be shaken.
Aug. 28
Romans 9

Rom 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscience testifying with me in the Holy Spirit,
Rom 9:2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart.
Rom 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brothers' sake, my relatives according to the flesh,
Rom 9:4 who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service, and the promises;
Rom 9:5 of whom are the fathers, and from whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen.
Rom 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has come to nothing. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel.
Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are Abraham's seed, are they all children. But, "In Isaac will your seed be called."
Rom 9:8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as a seed.
Rom 9:9 For this is a word of promise, "At the appointed time I will come, and Sarah will have a son.
Rom 9:10 Not only so, but Rebecca also conceived by one, by our father Isaac.
Rom 9:11 For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls,
Rom 9:12 it was said to her, "The elder will serve the younger."
Rom 9:13 Even as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be!
Rom 9:15 For he said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.
Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
Rom 9:18 So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.
Rom 9:19 You will say then to me, "Why does he still find fault? For who withstands his will?"
Rom 9:20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed ask him who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?"
Rom 9:21 Or hasn't the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?
Rom 9:22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath made for destruction,
Rom 9:23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory,
Rom 9:24 us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?
Rom 9:25 As he says also in Hosea, "I will call them 'my people,' which were not my people; and her 'beloved,' who was not beloved."
Rom 9:26 "It will be that in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' There they will be called 'children of the living God.' "
Rom 9:27 Isaiah cries concerning Israel, "If the number of the children of Israel are as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant who will be saved;
Rom 9:28 for He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."
Rom 9:29 As Isaiah has said before, "Unless the Lord of Armies had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and would have been made like Gomorrah."
Rom 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, who didn't follow after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith;
Rom 9:31 but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, didn't arrive at the law of righteousness.
Rom 9:32 Why? Because they didn't seek it by faith, but as it were by works of the law. They stumbled over the stumbling stone;
Rom 9:33 even as it is written, "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense; and no one who believes in him will be disappointed."

From Gary... Make no mitsake about it, some things are just wrong

I hate mistakes!!!  Even worse, I am more upset when I MAKE THEM!!!!  Question: Can you find the mistake above? I found it after a short while, but it did take a minute or two.  Question number two: Can God make a mistake? And along with that... is it right to question the actions of God at all?  Then, there is the following story from the book of Genesis...
Genesis 18:17-33 NASB
(17)  The LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
(18)  since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
(19)  "For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him."

(20)  And the LORD said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.
(21)  "I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know."

(22)  Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.
(23)  Abraham came near and said,  

"Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
(24)  "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?
(25)  "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You!  

Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
(26)  So the LORD said, 

"If I find in Sodom fifty righteous 

 within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account."
(27)  And Abraham replied, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes.
(28)  "Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?" And He said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
(29)  He spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose forty are found there?" And He said,  

"I will not do it on account of the forty."
(30)  Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?" And He said, 

"I will not do it if I find thirty there."
(31)  And he said, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?" And He said,  

"I will not destroy it on account of the twenty."
(32)  Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said,  

"I will not destroy it on account of the ten."
(33)  As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed, and Abraham returned to his place.
Abraham found favor with God and questioned him concerning his judgments; dangerous territory indeed!!! But God listened to Abraham, even when the judgement rested on finding ten righteous men in a city full of sin. And not just any sin- sexual sin; that of homosexuality! How did God handle this situation... read on...

Genesis 19:1-25 NASB
(1)  Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
(2)  And he said, "Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." They said however, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square."
(3)  Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
(4)  Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter;
(5)  and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them."
(6)  But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him,
(7)  and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.
(8)  "Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof."
(9)  But they said, "Stand aside." Furthermore, they said, "This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them." So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.
(10)  But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.
(11)  They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.
(12)  Then the two men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place;
(13)  for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it."
(14)  Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
(15)  When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city."
(16)  But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.
(17)  When they had brought them outside, one said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away."
(18)  But Lot said to them, "Oh no, my lords!
(19)  "Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die;
(20)  now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved."
(21)  He said to him, "Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.
(22)  "Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.
(23)  The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar.
(24)  Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven,
(25)  and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

In the United States of America it has become fashionable to accept homosexuality as "normal".  God thinks otherwise!!!  Did God make a mistake in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? Some would say that God should have just left them alone to do their own thing, or perhaps God shouldn't be so homophobic or judgemental about their lifestyle. God doesn't make mistakes!!! And it is not wrong to question him when one has a proper attitude of respect toward the almighty (see Abraham's questions in the first passage). Notice also, Abraham did not ask for the deliverance of the wicked, only the righteous.  The next time someone tries to justify a deviant lifestyle to you, remember what God has done in the past, and remind them of these verses from Genesis.  If they don't like them- that becomes a matter between them and GOD, not you.