From Ed Healy... Why?


In the news we see the images of hurt, anger, and death. Questions asking why is it so are all around. We see before us the death of people at the hands of another all around the world. It hits home in a more forceful way when we see children killing children.

Some are quick to blame others. Some are quick to give a solution. Some say it is because people are sick. Some want to restrict this or that. The survivors are always ready to tell what should have been or needs to be done now. But, one sad factor in all the hurt is that mankind has learned to have a nature that values life as cheap and instant, in this "progressive society."

We have been conditioned to accept anything as "alright" as long as we are happy and our needs, goals, desires are made full. Sadly we see that evil is good and desired in order to satisfy our self. Good becomes that which gets in the way of what we want and therefore it now becomes evil. The idea of a universal truth, standard or code of conduct becomes a restriction to reject.
This role reversal or change in values is portrayed in many different parts of the human life and society.

Why? Simply and yet not so simple, it is because we as humans have become lovers of self and not of our creator. We have rejected the very idea of God in one form or another. In so doing rejecting godly qualities of any kind. Without these qualities we are left with the imperfection and rejection of what is right or wrong based upon any standard including the Word of God.

Even in the midst of this anger and hatred towards each other man can see the truth and receive hope. The first step is to recognize that living a life without truth, love and the Creator is nothing more than living unto death.

All humanity must reject the path of anger and the lies of self-satisfaction. All of humanity must repent and turn to the light of truth and love. We have this truth and love revealed in what is called the BIBLE. Our choice is clear, turn from what we are doing to our neighbors and ourselves and turn to a common, eternal standard.

Yet still, many will reject the very idea of a creator, love or even truth. In so doing many will seal their fate as death, destruction and despair. In all this we continue to ask, Why? We hear no answer because we had rejected the truth about ourselves and thus die in the lie.

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

From Jim McGuiggan... Why do we get married?

Why do we get married?

Why do we get married? There’s more than one good answer and there are a lot of bad answers. "I got married because I got (or got her) pregnant and under the circumstances there was little choice." "I couldn’t stand my parents any longer." "My parents didn’t want me around any more." "Well, it’s what you do, isn’t it?" "I thought it would be best for the children." "It was expected of us." "Because the Bible says that’s the only way sex is to happen."

It’s no news that for many people marriage has become a matter of taste—like the extra potato, you either want it or you don’t. There are lots of things to consider like, what if we don’t get along after a while? We’d have to go through that whole divorce thing. Ugh. And we’ve heard it destroys the pleasure of sex and puts love in a straightjacket, romance and spontaneity dies. The popular song of some years back put it in perspective—Gentle on my Mind. He likes his freedom so he leaves his sleeping bag rolled up and stashed behind his girl-friend’s (or wife’s) couch as he sips from this relationship or that before free-wheeling out of town to somewhere else. "It’s knowing I’m not shackled by forgotten words and bonds, and the ink stains that have dried upon some line." Ah there it is, that’s the life, free as a bird with no obligation other than to fulfil the current urge you feel inside. And when that urge wears old drift until another comes to you. The world and life is a warehouse of possible experiences and we’re here for no other reason than to get our fill. Marriage only gets in the way. And these days in the UK, thanks to successive governments who say they are "committed to the family," it’s financially wiser to "live together" (and even financially wiser to pretend you’re unmarried) than to get married.

George Eliot in a bitter essay made much of the fact that popular preachers didn’t have to know a lot, that they were woefully ignorant of so much that goes with living. I’m sure she had a point. But these days I look at the wise heads in government and wonder how on earth they could become so blind and ignorant. As Samuel Johnston said of an acquaintance of his, "Such excess of stupidity, Sir, is not in nature."

Why do Christians get married? Well, in point of fact many of us choose not to get married and provided our motivation is not sheer selfishness that's all right with God too. Paul deals with all manner of marital questions in 1 Corinthians 7 but I’m completely satisfied that the early verses are a defense of a Christian’s right not to get married. I’m persuaded that there were those who, believing that "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18), were insisting that it is not right to remain unmarried. Paul’s opening remarks defends the single person’s right to choose to be single and even tells us that the capacity to be chaste and unmarried is a gift of God. He urges the advantages of chaste singleness throughout the chapter.

But for those who do get married: it’s hardly surprising that those who make no claim to the Christ’s don’t see their getting married as an aspect of their life before God in Jesus Christ. Why would they? But for those who are Christians it surely should be. What Christians do with their money, how they receive their food, the kind of speech that should be characteristic of them, even the way they view their sorrow (1 Thessalonians 4:13) are all to be seen in light of their relationship to God in Christ. How then should we view the covenant of marriage?

God made humans in his image as male and female (not male or female) and called their name Adam (Genesis 5:1-2). So a single male or female together reflect the divine image in humanity whether or not they are married but marriage is that covenant instituted by God that holds that truth before us as nothing else. When they marry they express in that covenant fellowship their plural unity in and before God. Their sexual pleasure in and with one another signifies the interdependence of the male and female—it says that in the other the one finds completeness and completion. Adam said of Eve, "Now [in contrast to his recognizing and naming the animals and finding no suitable mate—Genesis 2:18-20] this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."

In marrying Christians confirm and proclaim that humans image the divine fellowship in the Godhead. In marrying, Christians recognize and proclaim God’s creation intention to bless humankind (Genesis 1:28). In marrying, Christians rehearse the redeeming work of God in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:21-25,29-33). In marrying, Christians commit to raising unto God children that will be witnesses in the generations to come of the redeeming work of God in Christ (Ephesians 6:4) See

When I say, "in marrying," I don’t mean just the initial act of getting married, I mean, in living out the covenant they have entered in the name of the Lord. Getting married is not just an initial act it is a commitment to lifelong fidelity and working through the challenges, the joys and hardships of life together. The more seriously we view discipleship to the Lord Christ the more carefully will we reflect on whom we will marry, the more patiently and cheerfully we will work with the pain experienced within the union and how we will view divorce.

God Hardens Whom He Wills? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God Hardens Whom He Wills?
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Over the centuries, people have rejected Christianity for many reasons. Tragically, some have done so as the result of misconceptions regarding what the Bible actually teaches. They have heard individuals who claim to be Christians expound what they claim are Christ’s teachings. The hearers assumed that Christ’s teaching was being represented accurately, but recognizing the self-evident flaws in the presentation they heard, falsely concluded that Christ’s teaching was contradictory, when, in reality, the problem was in the one who purported to present correct Bible teaching.
One major cause of unbelief among those who have concluded that Christianity is false has been the advocacy of Calvinism. The rational, logical mind recognizes that a perfect, infinite God would not create beings in His own image (Genesis 1:27) that are not free moral agents responsible for their own decisions. Nor would He allow them to be subjected, through no fault of their own, to a condition of depravity, inherited from their parents, that makes them incapable of exercising their free moral agency to choose to accept or reject Him. Since a substantial segment of Christendom has promulgated Calvinism for over five centuries, multitudes of people unfortunately have assumed that the New Testament endorses Calvinistic tenets.
One passage that has been alleged to teach that God’s sovereignty means that He is free to override human will or do whatever He pleases (see Miller, 2003), though His actions interfere with human choice, is found in the New Testament book of Romans:
But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Romans 9:6-13, emp. added).
The parenthetical material is typically interpreted to mean that God decided to save Jacob and reject Esau before either was born, and without regard to any action of good or evil on their part. Of course, such an interpretation rips the verse from its context and places God in an unfavorable light.
In stark contrast, the context of the statement demonstrates that the apostle was referring to God’s plan to bring Christ into the world by means of the genetic line of Abraham and his descendants. Even though the bulk of the Jewish nation ended up rejecting Christ and the Gospel, God’s word concerning Abraham’s descendants was still fulfilled. How? “They are not all [spiritualDM] Israel who are of [physicalDM] Israel.” In other words, Paul insisted unequivocally that the original promise to Abraham to bless the world was fulfilled in Christ, the Gospel, and the church of Christ—not in the fleshly, physical nation of Israel. To be physically descended from Abraham does not make one a spiritual child of Abraham. As John asserted: “And do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew 3:9). Genetic offspring are “a dime a dozen.” Only spiritual descendants—i.e., those who trust and obey God, are genuine children of Abraham.
Consequently, no person has a right to maintain that simply because he descended physically from Abraham, he shares in the promise of salvation in Christ. After all, Abraham had other sons who could claim the same genetic connection to Abraham (Genesis 16:15; 25:1-2). But it was through Isaac that God chose to bring the Christ. Abraham’s other fleshly sons were not “children of the promise,” i.e., through whom God promised to bring Christ. When a person today obeys the Gospel in order to become a Christian, that person becomes a child of the promise, and then is counted as the seed of Abraham, regardless of physical nationality (Romans 4:11-12; Galatians 3:29).
Further, a person might argue that God chose Isaac over Ishmael because Hagar was not Abraham’s real wife. But what about Isaac’s sons? They were full brothers, in fact, twins, and Esau was the firstborn. Yet God selected Jacob through whom to work out His redemptive plan—a selection that did not determine Jacob’s salvation status. Two quotations from the Old Testament prove Paul’s point—the first from Genesis 25:23, and the second from Malachi 1:2-3. In both, the focus is on the two nations that eventually descended from Jacob and Esau, i.e., Israel and Edom. God was not unjust when He made the selections He made to carry out His plans to bring Christ. The Jew might tend to feel that since God chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through whom to work, then every physical descendant should be spiritually acceptable to God. Here, indeed, is the number one misconception of the nation of Israel throughout Bible history, as well as a major point of confusion for the Calvinistic misrepresentation of the sovereignty of God. When it comes to personal, individual salvation, everyone is treated impartially, as an individual. Genetic descendants of Abraham have no spiritual advantage over anyone else. Paul continued:
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? (Romans 9:14-21, emp. added).
The words that God spoke to Moses, found in Exodus 33:19, were designed to encourage him not to give up on his leadership role. God had brought the nation out of Egypt, despite Pharaoh’s opposition. No one could keep God from doing what He deemed necessary to achieve His plan to bring Christ into the world. God showed the Israelites great compassion and mercy in His physical treatment of them through the centuries. But He shows spiritual compassion (i.e., He imparts salvation) to everyone equally on the same gospel terms, i.e., on the basis of what Christ accomplished on the cross.
The Jews were constantly in a dither (“willing” and “running”—vs. 16) as they asserted their favored status to the exclusion of Gentiles. But God never intended to show gospel mercy on the basis of ethnic linkage to Abraham. His exclusive selection of Abraham was for the singular purpose of bringing Christ into the world that the entire human race might have access to forgiveness of sin. The Jewish nation misinterpreted the coincidental racial aspect of God’s dealings through them. To bring Christ, God had to make choices of people to use. But His choices had nothing to do with each individual’s own personal salvation.
Pharaoh provides a good illustration of how God worked in this regard. God purposed to show mercy to the people of Israel that they might leave Egypt, go to the Promised Land, and further advance God’s plan to bring Christ into the world. So God sent Moses to present God’s words to Pharaoh. The demand to release the people, however, only served to “raise up,” i.e., arouse, incite, or stir up Pharaoh (see Thayer, 1901, p. 222; Alford, 1877, 2:409; Vincent, 1890, 3:105; cf. Psalm 80:2). On his own volition, Pharaoh opposed God’s plan. His defiance created conditions under which God’s name was publicized to the world, alluded to in the quotation of Exodus 9:16.
Still, God gave Pharaoh opportunity after opportunity to change his mind—ten separate plagues and multiple visits from Moses (who repeatedly articulated God’s word to him). But this prolonged engagement (the longsuffering of God) resulted in giving Pharaoh more opportunities to be hardened in his rebellion—contrary to God’s will for him. Because God was the initiator and instigator of the circumstance, it may properly be said that He did the hardening. God confronts all people through circumstances and His Word, but each person is responsible for his or her own separate, individual reactions. [For a discussion of the sense in which God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, see Butt and Miller, 2003.]
But if God showed mercy to the Israelites by allowing them to escape Egyptian slavery, and if God destroyed Pharaoh for resisting His will, why then did God find fault with the Jews of Paul’s day? Why would God find fault with anyone whose heart is hardened by His demands? The answer lies in the fact that God has the divine right to use His own methods to bring about salvation for the world without interfering with our choices. Here is a marvelous feature of the sovereignty of God—His ability to work out His own purposes while simultaneously allowing the human agents involved to exercise their own free will and make their own choices. God can incorporate human beings into His overarching redemptive plans regardless of the personal choices humans make. Consequently, no one can rightfully accuse God of mistreating him or her. In fact, truth be told, human heartaches are often self-generated (cf. 1 Peter 4:15).
Thus throughout the context of Romans 9-11, Paul was not discussing personal salvation. Each individual decides salvation by the choices he or she makes. Paul was writing about how God can, and has, made use of people and nations in history to bring to fruition His grand plan of salvation. One Old Testament passage clarifies the concept:
“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:6-12, emp. added).
This passage demonstrates that people make their own choices to do evil or good, to obey or disobey God. But God can work over, under, around, or through people—depending upon their personal choices. Either way, God achieves His will while simultaneously allowing each individual to make his or her own decisions and cinch his or her own fate. In that sense, and only in that sense, He is a potter with putty in His hands (cf. Isaiah 29:16; 45:9). Each individual decides their own conduct, and God then uses them accordingly.
God must show His wrath against sin and punish sin by His power (Romans 1:18). But He is longsuffering in that He does not want anyone to perish, as illustrated by how long He put up with Pharaoh’s stubborn resistance. Similarly, He tolerated Noah’s generation for many years before bringing the Flood, and He bore with the Israelites throughout their defiant history. They were “prepared for destruction”—in the sense that they chose to so fit themselves, and did everything possible to achieve it. But such was not God’s desire for them:
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds (Romans 2:4-6).
Nor is it God’s desire for anyone today:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.... Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation (2 Peter 3:9,14-16; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4).
The nation of Israel had a long history of preparing itself for destruction—which finally came in A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. In the meantime, God endured them with much longsuffering. Why? “That He might make known the riches of His glory.” That is, He was working out His scheme of redemption. He put up with the unbelieving Jews, allowing them to proceed down the pathway of their own self-appointed destruction (Matthew 23:32), until He could bring Christ, and then get the Gospel disseminated to the Gentiles (Acts 18:5-6; Colossians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). The church of Christ was launched in A.D. 30 in the city of Jerusalem, the heart of Israel, and consisted only of Jews for several years. God could not instigate due punishment upon the Jewish nation at that point without endangering the infant church of Christ. He waited until the Gospel went forth from Jerusalem to “the end of the earth” Acts 1:8), enabling the Gentiles to be introduced to the Gospel (Acts 10). This accounts for the “lag time” between A.D. 30 and A.D. 70.
The book of Romans cannot be used successfully nor legitimately to maintain the doctrine that God can do anything He chooses without regard to human decision-making and free moral agency. Unlike the imaginary deities conjured up in the minds of misguided men, the God of the Bible is shown to be perfect, possessing attributes of excellence to a perfect degree. He is the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.


Alford, Henry (1877), The Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint).
Butt, Kyle and Dave Miller (2003), “Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2259.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Things God Cannot Do,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2292.
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Vincent, M.R. (1890), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint).

From Mark Copeland... Is It From Heaven Or From Men? (Mark 11:27-33)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

               Is It From Heaven Or From Men? (11:27-33)


1. Upon return to the temple on Tuesday, Jesus was confronted by the
   chief priests and elders...
   a. They questioned His authority - Mk 11:27-28
   b. In response, Jesus challenged them regarding the authority behind
      the baptism of John - Mk 11:29-30
   c. Since they would not answer, Jesus refused to answer their
      question - Mk 11:31-33

2. In this passage, we find an important principle regarding authority
   in matters of religion...
   a. All religious practices must come from one of two sources
   b. They come either from heaven or from men - Mk 11:30

3. What Jesus asked regarding John’s baptism, could be asked of many
   religious practices...
   a. Infant baptism
   b. Sprinkling or pouring instead of immersion
   c. Denominationalism, a clergy-laity distinction
   d. The impossibility of apostasy, observing the Sabbath
   e. Instrumental music, burning of incense, etc., in our worship
   -- Are such practices from heaven or from men?

[In this study we shall consider how one can know whether a particular
religious practice is from heaven or from man...]


      1. For He has been given all authority - Mt 28:18
      2. Both in heaven and on earth
      -- Certainly if Jesus commanded it, it is from heaven!

      1. For Jesus delegated His authority to His apostles - Jn 13:20
      2. They serve as His official ambassadors - 2Co 5:20
      3. To ensure their reliability, Jesus promised the Spirit to
         remind them of what He taught, and to guide them into all the
         truth - Jn 14:26; 16:12-13
      4. This is why the church continued steadfastly in the apostles’
         doctrine - Ac 2:42; 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13
      -- If the apostles of Christ taught it, it is from heaven!

      1. The apostles were given, and proclaimed, the whole counsel of
         God - Ac 20:27
      2. They were given all things that pertain to life and godliness
         - 2Pe 1:3
      3. The faith revealed through them was delivered once for all
         (lit., one time for all times) - Ju 3
      -- There is no need for modern day revelations, for in the
         Scriptures we have all we need to be "complete, thoroughly
         equipped for every good work" - 2 Ti 3:16-17

[If a religious practice can be found to be taught by Jesus or His
apostles, then it is truly from heaven!  Religious practices that are
from men, however, might come from a variety of sources...]


      1. Many people will accept whatever most people think about
      2. Yet Jesus warned against following the majority - Mt 7:13-14
      3. If you had followed the majority...
         a. In Noah’s day, you would have perished in the flood
         b. In Joshua’s day, you would have perished in the wilderness
      -- What the majority believes or does is not likely to be from
         heaven, but from men!

      1. Some believe "If it was good enough for Mom and Dad, it is good
         enough for me."
      2. As much as we may love and respect our parents, Christ must
         come first - Mt 10:37
      3. If every generation had simply followed their parents, then we
         who are Gentiles would likely still be idol-worshippers and
      -- Let us honor our parents, not by following them blindly, but by
         applying principles they themselves likely taught us, such as
         seek to do the right thing, obey God, etc.

      1. It is common for people to place their trust in their
         "preacher," "priest," or "pastor"
      2. They reason that surely these "men of God" could not be wrong
         or lead them astray
         a. Yet Paul warned of how we can easily be misled - cf. 2Co 11:13-15
         b. And Jesus warned about the "blind leading the blind" - Mt 15:12-14
      3. Our attitude needs to be like that of the Bereans, who
         carefully examined Paul’s teachings in light of the Scriptures
         - Ac 17:11
      -- What a preacher teaches is only as good as the authority behind
         it; unless we wish to be led astray, we have the responsibility
         to ask "Is it from God, or men?"

      1. This is where the denominations really get most of their
         a. E.g., for such things as infant baptism, pouring or
            sprinkling instead of immersion
         b. E.g., for such things as denominationalism, once saved
            always saved
      2. Indeed, adherence to the creeds of men is what produces
         a. Accept the Bible only, and you become a Christian only
         b. Accept some man-made creed or tradition, and you become
            something else!
            1) Accept the Book of Mormon, and you become a Mormon
            2) Accept papal authority, and you become a Roman Catholic
            3) Accept the Lutheran Catechism, and you become a Lutheran
      3. Creeds are really not even necessary...
         a. If they say more than what the Bible says, they say too much
         b. If they say less than what the Bible says, they say too
         c. If they say exactly what the Bible says, then why not let
            the Bible be our creed book?
      -- The fact is creeds are filled with the traditions and commands
         of men, many of which conflict with and displace the commands
         of God! - cf. Mk 7:6-9

      1. "Let your conscience be your guide" is the motto of many
      2. But our conscience cannot always be reliable
         a. Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his
            life - Ac 23:1
         b. Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians! - cf. Ac 26:9-11
      3. Our conscience is like a clock, which works properly if set
      4. Once our conscience has been "set" by the "apostles’ doctrine",
         then it can be a good guide
      -- Unless what your conscience is telling you can be confirmed by
         the Word of God, then what you believe is from man, not God!

      1. Many believe that through their own wisdom they can determine
         right and wrong
         a. If it makes sense to them, they reason it must be true
         b. If it doesn’t make sense, they won’t accept it
      2. But God’s thoughts and ways are not always our own - cf. Isa 55:8-9
      3. In fact, God has chosen to save man in a manner specifically
         designed to confound those who depend solely upon human wisdom
         - cf. 1Co 1:18-29
      4. For us to know God’s will, it was necessary for Him to reveal
         it to us - 1Co 2:9-12
         a. This He has done through His Spirit-inspired apostles
         b. Who in turn shared it with us through their writings - Ep 3:1-5
      -- Appeal to human reason to justify a certain practice, and it
         will likely be from man, not God!

      1. This is often the "standard of authority" for many people
         a. Who go by whatever "feels right"
         b. Who place stock in a religion "better felt than told"
      2. Yet the Bible declares the danger of trusting in "feelings"
         a. "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is
            the way of death." - Pr 14:12
         b. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." - Pr 28:26
         c. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not
            in man who walks to direct his own steps." - Jer 10:23
      -- It should be evident that any religious practice or doctrine
         based upon "feelings" alone is from man, not God!

      1. People will sometimes resort to the O.T. to provide authority
         for some practice
         a. When they can’t find authority for it in the teachings of
            Christ and/or His apostles
         b. For example, a clergy-laity system, burning of incense and
            use of instrumental music in worship, keeping the Sabbath
      2. But the O.T. was designed to be temporary, to fulfill a
         specific purpose and as a covenant has been replaced by the New
         Covenant (i.e., the New Testament)
         a. It was given because of transgressions, till Christ should
            come - Ga 3:19
         b. For those under the Law (Israel), it was a tutor
            1) A tutor designed to lead them to Christ - Ga 3:24
            2) A tutor that has been taken away - Ga 3:25
         c. When those who were under the Law came to Christ...
            1) They became dead to the Law - Ro 7:4
            2) They were delivered from the Law - Ro 7:6
         d. As prophesied by Jeremiah, God has made a "new covenant" to
            replace the "first covenant" which is now obsolete - He 8:7-13
      3. In handling of the issue of circumcision, the apostles
         demonstrated that one cannot use the O.T. to teach something
         which the apostles themselves did not command
         a. Some sought to enforce circumcision and the Law upon Gentile
            believers - Ac 15:1,6
         b. But the apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
            were able to defuse the problem by simply stating they "gave
            no such commandment" - Ac 15:22-29
      4. This is not to say the O.T. is not of value to Christians...
         a. It was written for our learning, to provide patience,
            comfort, and hope - Ro 15:4
         b. It was written for our admonition, that we not make similar
            mistakes - 1Co 10:6,11
         c. We just can’t use it to enjoin religious practices upon
            others which the apostles themselves did not teach!


1. Do we want to avoid being led astray...?
   a. By "blind leaders of the blind"? - cf. Mt 15:14
   b. By "false teachers...who will secretly bring in destructive
      heresies"? - cf. 2Pe 2:1

2. Then we need to know how to ascertain whether a religious doctrine or
   a. Is from God or from men
   b. Is based upon what the apostles of Christ taught, or some other

3. The solution is simple, but requires effort on our part...
   a. We must "continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" - Ac 2:42
   a. We must "search the Scriptures daily" - Ac 17:11

Only then can we be sure that what we believe or someone teaches is
truly from God, and not from man!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading January 8

Bible Reading   

January 8

The World English Bible

Jan. 8
Genesis 8

Gen 8:1 God remembered Noah, all the animals, and all the livestock that were with him in the ship; and God made a wind to pass over the earth. The waters subsided.
Gen 8:2 The deep's fountains and the sky's windows were also stopped, and the rain from the sky was restrained.
Gen 8:3 The waters receded from the earth continually. After the end of one hundred fifty days the waters decreased.
Gen 8:4 The ship rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on Ararat's mountains.
Gen 8:5 The waters receded continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
Gen 8:6 It happened at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ship which he had made,
Gen 8:7 and he sent forth a raven. It went back and forth, until the waters were dried up from the earth.
Gen 8:8 He sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from the surface of the ground,
Gen 8:9 but the dove found no place to rest her foot, and she returned to him into the ship; for the waters were on the surface of the whole earth. He put forth his hand, and took her, and brought her to him into the ship.
Gen 8:10 He stayed yet another seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ship.
Gen 8:11 The dove came back to him at evening, and, behold, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from the earth.
Gen 8:12 He stayed yet another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she didn't return to him any more.
Gen 8:13 It happened in the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth. Noah removed the covering of the ship, and looked. He saw that the surface of the ground was dried.
Gen 8:14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
Gen 8:15 God spoke to Noah, saying,
Gen 8:16 "Go out of the ship, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons' wives with you.
Gen 8:17 Bring forth with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh, including birds, livestock, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply on the earth."
Gen 8:18 Noah went forth, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives with him.
Gen 8:19 Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, whatever moves on the earth, after their families, went out of the ship.
Gen 8:20 Noah built an altar to Yahweh, and took of every clean animal, and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Gen 8:21 Yahweh smelled the pleasant aroma. Yahweh said in his heart, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again strike everything living, as I have done.
Gen 8:22 While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

From Gary... And the sun felt warm on my face

As most of you know by now, I (we) have two miniature Poodles, Buddy and Pal. But lately we have been dog-sitting two white Bichon Fris├ęs as well.  One is an older dog named Hercules and the other is a 11/2 old female called Sylvia.  Hercules is a quiet dog and reserved in all he does. Sylvia is not. She is a loving, energetic handful of a dog, who needs more attention than the other three put together!!!  

Last night, while all of us enjoyed some time together in front of the TV, Linda mentioned that the leader of the pack, Pal, had become withdrawn and sullen. I thought about it for awhile and realized she was right. So, instead of letting him stay in his cage overnight (which he loves to do), I closed the cage and put him in my bed.  After a bit, he changed. No longer withdrawn, he became more affectionate than ever.  Linda was right, Pal needed something- me!!!  Then came morning and with it my "old" Pal;happy as a clam!!!! After breakfast, I took Buddy and Pal for a walk on this cold, cold morning.  It didn't take long before my face was very cold and I wished the walk was OVER NOW. The dogs seemed to be enjoying themselves in the simplicity of the things that dogs do, but all I could think about was how cold I felt. When we emerged from the cold, cold shadow of the maintenance building in the dog-walk, I was struck by the warmth of the sun on my face and became thankful for its warmth and my gloomy mood changed to a happy one. I realized that I should enjoy even this "chore", for no matter where I was- God was there, providing what I really needed. And this applies to Pal as well. In light of this, consider the following excerpt from Ecclesiastes and perhaps you too might enjoy the encouragement of a few rays (of truth)!!!!

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3
10 I have seen the burden which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.  11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet so that man can’t find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end.  12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice, and to do good as long as they live.  13 Also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God.  14 I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; and God has done it, that men should fear before him. 15 That which is has been long ago, and that which is to be has been long ago: and God seeks again that which is passed away.