Any Christian will tell you that in Jesus Christ alone as much of God as can be seen and known in a human life is seen and known. As a Christian I hold that to be something beyond dispute!
     But that doesn't mean and we're not to believe it means that the character and will of God is seen in no other human.
     Jesus saw the love and righteousness and glory of God everywhere he looked. He stopped one day at a field of beautiful flowers and said, "Look at that! That's my Father's work. Solomon in all his glory never looked that good!"
     The writer of Ecclesiastes looked at the sun coming up and going down, up and down, up and down and he said, "Pointless. Pointless I tell you." Jesus saw the same thing and said, "Isn't my Father wonderful! He makes his sun to shine on the thankless and the righteous and he sends his rain on the fields of the atheists as well as the fields of devoted believers." He saw God's generosity where the cynic saw boredom and nothing.
      He watched a woman putting yeast into the bread she was making and he said, "Remind me to stop here later and tell you about how my Father's kingdom works." The casual observer saw rising bread and Jesus saw the invisible throbbing rise and spread of God's reign.
       He saw God reflected in people as well. Caring fathers who would feed their hungry children good food reminded him of his caring Father. He met a Roman centurion whose faith astonished him and he turned and told the crowd he hadn't seen anything like it. He spoke praise of the heart of Abraham who because he trusted the faithful God was able to see the day when God's promises would be fulfilled in Jesus and so he lived in the joy of it. A non-Jewish mother, because she believed that a God worthy of this Jewish Messiah must be generous to more than his own people Jesus said, "O woman, what great faith you have!" And despite their bickering and their flaws Jesus saw his apostolic group as friends given to him by his Father.
This is "Immanuel"!
     On a hill he sat sobbing over the coming war that would bury a million and a half of his people in 70 AD, he got angry with religious leaders who misrepresented his Holy Father and created doubt in the hearts of people and if they made a disciple they made him in their own hellish image [he said]. And as he sat on that hill sobbing over what Rome would do to his wayward nation--with the innocent as well as the guilty--he would have tuirned and looked eastward toward the capital of the evil empire and whispered, "Your day's coming! You and I will meet again; you and all kingoms like you." 
      Look around you and believe! You see God everywhere and in all kinds of people. You will if you begin to see as Jesus saw.  
      Bearing in mind that in Jesus we are seeing as much of God as a human can show we gladly acknowledge that are getting a clear picture of the Holy One in his unfathomable generosity in relentless and loving pursuit of us that he might give us life! 
      But when we remember that even Jesus can only show us something of God we are thrilled even more to hear Jesus say in John 14.28, "You think I'm wonderful, you think I'm worthy of following and worthy of being worshiped? And I am! But I wish you could fully know my Father. He's greater than I am." 
     That is the God who in and as Jesus is with us. That is "Immanuel"!

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

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

The Case of the Empty Tomb by Kyle Butt, M.A.


The Case of the Empty Tomb

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Around the year A.D. 165, Justin Martyr penned his Dialogue with Trypho. At the beginning of chapter 108 of this work, he recorded a letter that the Jewish community had been circulating regarding the empty tomb of Christ:
[A] godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilaean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.
In approximately the sixth century, another caustic treatise written to defame Christ circulated among the Jewish community. In this narrative, known as Toledoth Yeshu, Jesus is described as the illegitimate son of a soldier named Joseph Pandera. He further is labeled as a disrespectful deceiver who led many away from the truth. Near the end of the treatise, under a discussion of His death, the following paragraph can be found:
Diligent search was made and he [Jesus—KB] was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden.
Upon reading Justin Martyr’s description of one Jewish theory regarding the tomb of Christ, and another theory from Toledoth Yeshu, it becomes clear that one common thread unites them both—the tomb of Christ had no body in it!
All parties involved recognized the fact that Christ’s tomb laid empty on the third day. Feeling compelled to give reasons for this unexpected vacancy, the Jewish authorities apparently concocted several different theories to explain the body’s disappearance. The most commonly accepted one seems to be that the disciples of Jesus stole His body away by night while the guards slept (Matthew 28:13). Yet, how could the soldiers identify any thieves while they slept? And why were the sentinels not punished by death for sleeping on the job and thereby losing their charge (cf. Acts 12:6.19)? And an even more pressing question comes to the mind—why did the soldiers need to explain anything if a body was still in the tomb?
When Peter stood up to preach on the Day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, the crux of his sermon rested on the fact(s) that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. In order to silence Peter, and stop a mass conversion, the Jewish leaders needed simply to produce the body of Christ. Why did not the Jewish leaders take the short walk to the garden and produce the body? Simply because they could not! The tomb was empty. The Jews knew it and tried to explain it away, the apostles knew it and preached it boldly in the city of Jerusalem, and thousands of the inhabitants of Jerusalem knew it and converted to Christianity. John Warwick Montgomery accurately assessed the matter when he wrote: “It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus” (1964, p. 78). The tomb of Jesus was empty, and that is a fact.


Montgomery, John Warwick (1964), History and Christianity (Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity Press).

From Mark Copeland... "CHALLENGES CONFRONTING THE CHURCH" Sectarianism




1. In our previous lesson, we examined the challenge of
   a. Which involves the organization of local churches under 
      various hierarchies
   b. Each denomination with its unique names, presenting a divided
      picture of church
   c. Contrary to the prayer of Jesus and the doctrine of Paul
      - Jn 17:20-23; 1Co 1:10-13

2. A similar challenge confronting the church is what I describe as sectarianism...
   a. Though I use the term in a rather unique and limited sense
   b. But as a problem I have seen arise even in opposition to denominationalism
   c. Leading to a perspective of the church that is akin to a
      denominational mindset

[What do I mean by sectarianism?  Let’s begin by considering some
dictionary definitions...]


   A. WHAT IS A SECT....?
      1. A group of people forming a distinct unit within a larger group
         by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice
      2. A religious body, especially one that has separated from a
         larger denomination
      3. A faction united by common interests or beliefs
      -- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

      1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect or sectarian
      2. Limited in character or scope: parochial
      -- Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

      1. Sect and sectarianism are often used as synonyms for
         denomination and denominationalism
      2. In this study, I am limiting my use of the terms to these definitions:
         a. Sect:  a faction united by common interests or beliefs
         b. Sectarianism:  Limited in character or scope: parochial
      3. I am making what may be an arbitrary, but hopefully useful,distinction
         a. Denominationalism:  a mindset that sees nothing wrong with
            dividing up the body of Christ into various denominations
         b. Sectarianism:  a mindset that views the body of Christ as
            limited to a select group of churches identified by a
            particular and somewhat arbitrary set of doctrinal practices

[Using these two terms as such, perhaps I can clarify the distinction
further by reviewing two erroneous views of the church of Christ...]


      1. The Church of Christ is made up of those churches with the name
         "Church of Christ"
      2. The "Church of Christ" (as such) is but one denomination among many
      3. Together with other denominations, they constitute the
         universal church, the Body of Christ
      4. Those who hold this view include:
         a. Those in other denominations, because of their
            denominational mindset in which they view their own church
            (denomination) as but a part of the Body of Christ
         b. Sadly, many in "mainstream" churches of Christ, who are
            increasingly accepting a denominational view of the church

      1. The Church of Christ is made up only of those churches with the
         name "Church of Christ"
      2. Those churches (as such) constitute the one, true church, the
         Body of Christ
      3. People in any other congregations cannot possibly be members of
         the Body of Christ
      4. Those who hold this view include:
         a. Many in "mainstream" churches of Christ, especially those
            who view "Church of Christ" as the official and exclusive
            name for the Lord’s church
         b. Many in "non-mainstream" churches of Christ, including those
            tending to identify themselves on the basis of one
            particular issue

[With this peculiar distinction between denominationalism and
sectarianism hopefully made clear, let me suggest two...]


      1. The Scriptures use a variety of terms describing the Lord’s
         church - e.g., Ro 16:16; 1Co 1:2
      2. But some insist there is only one scriptural name (e.g., Church of Christ)
      3. This limits one’s view of the church universal to only those
         churches with the "right name"
      4. When there could be other New Testament churches scriptural in
         every way, but who choose to use a scriptural designation other
         than "Church of Christ"

      1. Churches are often judged by their stand on particular issues
         a. E.g., the issue of institutionalism
         b. E.g., the issue of divorce and remarriage
      2. This can lead to rather arbitrary standards of faithfulness
         a. For example, a church is deemed faithful if it is "non-institutional"
         b. While in fact it may engage in other unscriptural practices
            or be lacking in critical Christian attitudes (e.g., love)
      3. I often hear people asking:  "Can anyone recommend a NI Church of Christ?"
         a. Is this not reflecting a sectarian mindset, "limited in
            character or scope"?
         b. Why not ask for "...a Baptist Church of Christ?" or "...an
            Episcopal Church of Christ?"
      4. Is this not dangerously close to a denominational mindset?
         a. Inadvertently creating a new denomination?
         b. Perhaps leading to "The NI Church of Christ"?

[This is not to lessen the seriousness of erroneous doctrines and
practices, for Jesus clearly warned of the danger of false doctrine
among churches (Re 2-3).  But how can we avoid the sectarian mindset
that can easily lead to denominationalism...?]


      1. Remember what we covered in our first lesson on the universal church:
         a. Began on the day of Pentecost, composed of all Christians
         b. The Lord adds those who are being saved, He determines membership
         c. There is just one spiritual body, there is no earthly organization
      2. Thus the church universal is not composed solely of a select
         group of churches:
         a. Wearing one official name
         b. Defined by one particular issue
         c. Listed in a specialized directory of churches

      1. The faithfulness of local churches are determined ultimately by the Lord
         a. Jesus knows and judges His congregations - e.g., Re 2:2-3
         b. Congregations with false teachers might be tolerated for a time - Re 2:4-6
      2. Any evaluation we make is subject to our limited knowledge
         a. Certainly we should do our best to be faithful, and find
            faithful, churches
         b. But we must be careful in our judgment of other churches
            - cf. Jm 4:11-12
      3. Careful not to discount the possibility of other faithful
         churches unknown to us
         a. Scriptural in every way, but perhaps using a different
            scriptural name
         b. Though not listed in "our" directory of churches, or known
            by our association


1. Denominationalism and sectarianism can be distinguished by their
   views of the church...
   a. Denominationalism’s view of the church too broad
   b. Sectarianism’s view of the church is too narrow

2. Yet sectarianism often leads to denominationalism...
   b. By inadvertent use of denominational language ("NI Church of Christ")
   a. By a backlash to improper narrow-mindedness typical of sectarianism

My prayer is that we might avoid both denominationalism and sectarianism
with a proper view and understanding of the Lord’s church universal and
His churches local, while serving the Lord simply as Christians in
congregations faithful to His Word...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Gary... Bible Reading March 12

Bible Reading  

March 12

The World English Bible

Mar. 12
Exodus 22

Exo 22:1 "If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it, or sells it; he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
Exo 22:2 If the thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt of bloodshed for him.
Exo 22:3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt of bloodshed for him; he shall make restitution. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
Exo 22:4 If the stolen property is found in his hand alive, whether it is ox, donkey, or sheep, he shall pay double.
Exo 22:5 "If a man causes a field or vineyard to be eaten, and lets his animal loose, and it grazes in another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field, and from the best of his own vineyard.
Exo 22:6 "If fire breaks out, and catches in thorns so that the shocks of grain, or the standing grain, or the field are consumed; he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
Exo 22:7 "If a man delivers to his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it is stolen out of the man's house; if the thief is found, he shall pay double.
Exo 22:8 If the thief isn't found, then the master of the house shall come near to God, to find out if he hasn't put his hand to his neighbor's goods.
Exo 22:9 For every matter of trespass, whether it be for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any kind of lost thing, about which one says, 'This is mine,' the cause of both parties shall come before God. He whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.
Exo 22:10 "If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies or is injured, or driven away, no man seeing it;
Exo 22:11 the oath of Yahweh shall be between them both, whether he hasn't put his hand to his neighbor's goods; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution.
Exo 22:12 But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner.
Exo 22:13 If it is torn in pieces, let him bring it for evidence. He shall not make good that which was torn.
Exo 22:14 "If a man borrows anything of his neighbor's, and it is injured, or dies, its owner not being with it, he shall surely make restitution.
Exo 22:15 If its owner is with it, he shall not make it good. If it is a leased thing, it came for its lease.
Exo 22:16 "If a man entices a virgin who isn't pledged to be married, and lies with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife.
Exo 22:17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.
Exo 22:18 "You shall not allow a sorceress to live.
Exo 22:19 "Whoever has sex with an animal shall surely be put to death.
Exo 22:20 "He who sacrifices to any god, except to Yahweh only, shall be utterly destroyed.
Exo 22:21 "You shall not wrong an alien, neither shall you oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exo 22:22 "You shall not take advantage of any widow or fatherless child.
Exo 22:23 If you take advantage of them at all, and they cry at all to me, I will surely hear their cry;
Exo 22:24 and my wrath will grow hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
Exo 22:25 "If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor; neither shall you charge him interest.
Exo 22:26 If you take your neighbor's garment as collateral, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down,
Exo 22:27 for that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What would he sleep in? It will happen, when he cries to me, that I will hear, for I am gracious.
Exo 22:28 "You shall not blaspheme God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
Exo 22:29 "You shall not delay to offer from your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. "You shall give the firstborn of your sons to me.
Exo 22:30 You shall do likewise with your cattle and with your sheep. Seven days it shall be with its mother, then on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

Exo 22:31 "You shall be holy men to me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by animals in the field. You shall cast it to the dogs. 

From Gary... "knowledge"

Knowledge is a transitory, inexact thing; it fluctuates in depth, meaning and relevancy over time and can distort truth.  Wisdom clarifies knowledge. It gives depth and meaning and purpose to understanding.  To truly comprehend life, first look within, then above for guidance. Ultimately, truth, wisdom, knowledge and insight is found from only one source...

1 Corinthians, Chapter 1 (WEB)
 20  Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the lawyer of this world? Hasn’t God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn’t know God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe.  22 For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom,  23 but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks,  24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  26 For you see your calling, brothers, that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble;  27 but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong;  28 and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are:  29 that no flesh should boast before God.  30 But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption:  31 that, according as it is written, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.”

Think you are smart; there is always someone smarter!!!  Think you "know" something- think again!!! The depth of knowledge is not limited to a comprehension of something, it develops by a personal interaction of feelings and physical interplay.  Heady stuff!!! Simply put, know what you can know, to the depth you are capable of and THEN boast- not about yourself, but about God who gave you life in the first place.