From Jim McGuiggan... Crucified before the world began?

Crucified before the world began?

The baby of Christmas became the young man of Good Friday and if we had known God we would not have been astonished at either one. Peter speaks of the sacrificed Jesus as foreknown from the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-19) and John speaks of Christ as having been slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). What does that mean? It might mean no more than that the death of Christ was purposed right from the beginning. I’m sure that's involved and in those verses that might be all the writers had in mind; but in light of the whole biblical witness I think that's only part of the truth. Something lies behind the purpose!
The biblical Story assures us that because God is what he is, the cross was inevitable because it was built into his character. Out of sheer holy, joy-filled life God created the human family, wanting for it holy, joy-filled life with himself and on the understanding that humanity would choose to rebel he inevitably moved to redeem it.
His free and sovereign choice to redeem us arose and arises from the heart and character that is God’s own choosing. No law commanded him for he is subject to nothing and no one. What he is, is holy, by an eternal choosing, and because he is what he is and chooses to be what he is, it was inevitable that he would come to our rescue. And that is what John meant when he speaks of Christ having been slain since the foundation of the world. That’s what Peter meant when he says that the sacrifice of Christ was foreknown from the foundation of the world. That’s what Paul was declaring in the "hymn" of Philippians 2:5-11 when he said that the Word that became flesh in Jesus Christ (John 1:14) didn’t think that his equality with God was to be spent to his own advantage. In light of how he saw his own Godhood he emptied himself (that is, chose incarnation, servanthood, obedience and death as a rebel against the world powers).
When eternal holy love meets sinners it is destined to suffer on their behalf. This is not God’s fate, it is God’s eternal choosing. Had we known him leading up to creation, as we now know him in Jesus Christ, we would have known that when he created he was making a cross on which to die. The deed (as it were) was done because the character of the God shown to us in Jesus Christ was eternally present and the cross was only the historical revelation of it.
God didn’t change at the cross. He wasn’t slumming. The Hebrew writer is right. If you have really been to Calvary, if you’ve seen it and know it and are sure of it, you’ll know that this wasn’t a passing mood with God. It’s his unchanging mind toward you and not something outside of God’s "ordinary mode of life". The cross (that is, his self-sacrificing way) wasn't something he turned to in one supreme effort, something he steeled himself for, before going back to a lower and more self-absorbed mode of being. Once you know him, truly know him, you know him forever for he doesn’t change! He is the same yesterday, today and forever. That's part of what the scripture means when it says the one we know as Jesus was crucified before the world began.
©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 Benevolent, "Leavening" Influence of Christianity by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


The Benevolent, "Leavening" Influence of Christianity

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

In one of his delightfully instructive parables, Jesus set forth the following concept regarding his approaching reign:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened (Matthew 13:33).
It is agreed among Bible expositors that the “leaven” of this parable signifies the pervasive and benevolent influence of the kingdom of Christ, as this leaven would make its presence felt from the first century onward. In his classic work on the parables, Trench noted that Christianity, “[w]orking from the centre to the circumference, by degrees...made itself felt, till at length the whole Roman world was, more or less, leavened by it” (1877, p. 121). In his important treatise on the parables, Taylor affirmed that the leaven represents “the good, wholesome, aggressive influence which Christ introduced into the world when he came to earth, and lived and died, and rose again, as the Savior of sinners” (1928, p. 60).
There is, perhaps, no more graphic portrait of the vileness of the Mediterranean world than that which is painted by Paul in the opening chapter of his epistle to the Romans. It is dismal indeed. William Barclay observed:
When we read Romans 1:26-32 it might seem that this passage is the work of some almost hysterical moralist who was exaggerating the contemporary situation and painting it in colours of rhetorical hyperbole. It describes a situation of degeneracy of morals almost without parallel in human history. But there is nothing that Paul said that the Greek and Roman writers of the age did not themselves say (1957, p. 23).
The Scottish scholar then proceeded to document his depiction with ample citations from ancient historians who commented upon this period of depraved history. It was into this hostile environment that the religion of Jesus was inaugurated, gradually but surely changing—much for the better—the moral climate of that world. If one is inclined to think that this appraisal is biased, perhaps we may appeal to the testimony of a writer who never could be accused of entertaining sympathy for Christianity.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), an agnostic, has been characterized as the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He was a militant opponent of the religion of Jesus Christ, even producing a popular essay titled, “Why I am not a Christian.” I mention this to argue that whatever testimony we elicit from him certainly will not arise from a heart that is disposed toward the Teacher from Nazareth. Be that as it may, Russell, oddly enough, became an unwitting witness to the truth of the “leavening” activity of the Christian system in the Roman world.
First, the philosopher commented concerning the barbarous practice of infanticide (i.e., the destruction of newborn infants)—a practice so common in the Roman world.
Infanticide, which might seem contrary to human nature, was almost universal before the rise of Christianity, and is recommended by Plato to prevent over-population (1950, p. 92; emp. added).
Second, Russell gave a nodding tribute to the influence of Christianity relative to the status of women in the Roman world.
In antiquity, when male supremacy was unquestioned and Christian ethics were still unknown, women were harmless but rather silly, and a man who took them seriously was somewhat despised (p. 101; emp. added).
Third, there is this comment regarding Christian benevolence in general.
Christianity, as soon as it conquered the state, put an end to gladiatorial shows, not because they were cruel, but because they were idolatrous. The result, however, was to diminish the widespread education in cruelty by which the populace of Roman towns were degraded. Christianity also did much to soften the lot of slaves. It established charity on a large scale, and inaugurated hospitals (p. 137; emp. added).
Our world may be thankful indeed for the lingering influence of Jesus’ life and teaching upon this Earth.


Barclay, William (1957), The Letter to the Romans (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Russell, Bertrand (1950), Unpopular Essays (New York: Simon & Schuster).
Taylor, William (1928), The Parables of Our Savior (New York: Doubleday).
Trench, R.C. (1877), Notes on the Parables (London: Macmillan).

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




1. In previous lessons, we examined the challenges of...
   a. Denominationalism
   b. Sectarianism

2. Both of these challenges have often by exacerbated by 
   a. Leading to the rise of new denominations (38,000 and rising!)
   b. Contributing to many sectarian views of the church

[What is factionalism?  How is it often manifested?  How can it be avoided?  Let’s begin with...]


   A. FACTION...
      1. A group of persons forming a cohesive, usually contentious
         minority within a larger group
      2. Conflict within an organization or nation; internal dissension
      -- American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

      1. The splitting of a group into factions - Wiktionary
      2. Factional: self-interested; partisan - Dictionary.com

      1. The word translated "factions" is hairesis - cf. 1Co 11:19
         a. A division of people into different and opposing sets
            - ‘division, separate group.’ ‘for it is necessary that
            divisions exist among you’ or ‘the existence of divisions
            among you is inevitable’ 1Co 11:19 - Louw-Nida
         b. This Greek word is also translated as "heresies" - 2Pe 2:1
         c. Which is included among the works of the flesh - Ga 5:20
         d. Together with "dissensions" (dichostasia) - those who cause
            divisions - cf. Ro 16:17
      2. A derivative is hairetikon - cf. Tit 3:10
         a. Pertaining to causing divisions - ‘divisive, one who causes
            divisions.’ - Louw-Nida
         b. A divisive (factious) man is to be warned and then rejected
            if he does not repent!

[I would define factionalism as the tendency to split into factions,
prompted by a contentious, partisan spirit or disposition.  Let’s now consider some...]


      1. The problem at Corinth - 1Co 1:10-12
         a. Symptomatic of spiritual immaturity and carnality - 1Co 3:1-4
         b. Manifested also in their observance of the Lord’s Supper
            - 1Co 11:17-20
      2. The problem today often exists due to:
         a. Generational, racial, cultural, or doctrinal issues
         b. The development of cliques, and then the formation of factions
      1. The issue of circumcision in the early church - Ac 15:1-2
         a. Led by a faction from the church at Jerusalem
         b. Creating problems with churches in Syria and Galatia - Ga 2:11-13; 6:12
      2. Intra-church factions today often occur
         a. Where congregations often align themselves into a faction
         b. Usually the first step into sectarianism and denominationalism

      1. Undue allegiance - cf. 1Co 1:12
         a. To notable persons like a preacher, writer, editor
         b. To an institution such as a college, missionary or benevolent society
         c. To brotherhood magazines, lectureships, websites
      2. Compounded by the same spirit found at Corinth - cf. 1Co 3:1-4
         a. Spiritual immaturity - 1Co 3:1
         b. Carnality - 1Co 3:2-4

[Factionalism needs to be taken seriously.  Here are some thoughts For...]


      1. Jesus prayed for unity, He died to create unity - Jn 17:20-21; Ep 2:14-17
      2. Paul condemned division, it is a work of the flesh - 1Co 1:10-13; Ga 5:20

      1. Remember, division is often the result of carnality - 1Co 3:1-4
      2. We need the mind of Christ:  lowliness of mind and concern for others - Php 2:1-5
      3. We need to learn gentleness, longsuffering, forbearance, love, diligence - Ep 4:1-3

      1. Contending for the faith is essential - Jude 3; Php 1:27
      2. But we can contend without contentiousness, disagree without being disagreeable
      3. By displaying the gentleness and meekness of Christ, which
         together with truth are "weapons mighty in God" - 2Co 10:1-6

      1. That is, being quick to align oneself with a party, faction, group
      2. Instead, strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace - Ep 4:3-6
      3. Working toward unity if at all possible
      4. Being a part of the solution, not the problem


1. Factionalism is a terrible, destructive, work of the flesh - Ga 5:20; Tit 3:10
   a. Like denominationalism, it hinders unity
   b. Like sectarianism, it fosters division

2. Unity among brethren is a beautiful thing - Ps 133:1; Jn 17:21
   a. It is good and pleasant
   b. It helps the world to believe in Jesus

   Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one
   another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;

   not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the
   contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you
   may inherit a blessing.

   For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain
   his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him
   turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.

   For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are
   open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those
   who do evil."
                                                       - 1Pe 3:8-12

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Gary... Bible Reading March 13

Bible Reading  

March 13

The World English Bible

Mar. 13
Exodus 23

Exo 23:1 "You shall not spread a false report. Don't join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.
Exo 23:2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in court to side with a multitude to pervert justice;
Exo 23:3 neither shall you favor a poor man in his cause.
Exo 23:4 "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again.
Exo 23:5 If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen down under his burden, don't leave him, you shall surely help him with it.
Exo 23:6 "You shall not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.
Exo 23:7 "Keep far from a false charge, and don't kill the innocent and righteous: for I will not justify the wicked.
Exo 23:8 "You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds those who have sight and perverts the words of the righteous.
Exo 23:9 "You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, seeing you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exo 23:10 "For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its increase,
Exo 23:11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In like manner you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove.
Exo 23:12 "Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your handmaid, and the alien may be refreshed.
Exo 23:13 "Be careful to do all things that I have said to you; and don't invoke the name of other gods, neither let them be heard out of your mouth.
Exo 23:14 "You shall observe a feast to me three times a year.
Exo 23:15 You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib (for in it you came out from Egypt), and no one shall appear before me empty.
Exo 23:16 And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you sow in the field: and the feast of harvest, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors out of the field.
Exo 23:17 Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord Yahweh.
Exo 23:18 "You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread, neither shall the fat of my feast remain all night until the morning.
Exo 23:19 The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of Yahweh your God. "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk.
Exo 23:20 "Behold, I send an angel before you, to keep you by the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
Exo 23:21 Pay attention to him, and listen to his voice. Don't provoke him, for he will not pardon your disobedience, for my name is in him.
Exo 23:22 But if you indeed listen to his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries.
Exo 23:23 For my angel shall go before you, and bring you in to the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; and I will cut them off.
Exo 23:24 You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor follow their practices, but you shall utterly overthrow them and demolish their pillars.
Exo 23:25 You shall serve Yahweh your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from your midst.
Exo 23:26 No one will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days.
Exo 23:27 I will send my terror before you, and will confuse all the people to whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
Exo 23:28 I will send the hornet before you, which will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before you.
Exo 23:29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the animals of the field multiply against you.
Exo 23:30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and inherit the land.
Exo 23:31 I will set your border from the Red Sea even to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.
Exo 23:32 You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.

Exo 23:33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."

 Mar. 13, 14
Mark 9

Mar 9:1 He said to them, "Most certainly I tell you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come with power."
Mar 9:2 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and brought them up onto a high mountain privately by themselves, and he was changed into another form in front of them.
Mar 9:3 His clothing became glistening, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
Mar 9:4 Elijah and Moses appeared to them, and they were talking with Jesus.
Mar 9:5 Peter answered Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let's make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
Mar 9:6 For he didn't know what to say, for they were very afraid.
Mar 9:7 A cloud came, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
Mar 9:8 Suddenly looking around, they saw no one with them any more, except Jesus only.
Mar 9:9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he commanded them that they should tell no one what things they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Mar 9:10 They kept this saying to themselves, questioning what the "rising from the dead" meant.
Mar 9:11 They asked him, saying, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
Mar 9:12 He said to them, "Elijah indeed comes first, and restores all things. How is it written about the Son of Man, that he should suffer many things and be despised?
Mar 9:13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they have also done to him whatever they wanted to, even as it is written about him."
Mar 9:14 Coming to the disciples, he saw a great multitude around them, and scribes questioning them.
Mar 9:15 Immediately all the multitude, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and running to him greeted him.
Mar 9:16 He asked the scribes, "What are you asking them?"
Mar 9:17 One of the multitude answered, "Teacher, I brought to you my son, who has a mute spirit;
Mar 9:18 and wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and wastes away. I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they weren't able."
Mar 9:19 He answered him, "Unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me."
Mar 9:20 They brought him to him, and when he saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground, wallowing and foaming at the mouth.
Mar 9:21 He asked his father, "How long has it been since this has come to him?" He said, "From childhood.
Mar 9:22 Often it has cast him both into the fire and into the water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us."
Mar 9:23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."
Mar 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, "I believe. Help my unbelief!"
Mar 9:25 When Jesus saw that a multitude came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!"
Mar 9:26 Having cried out, and convulsed greatly, it came out of him. The boy became like one dead; so much that most of them said, "He is dead."
Mar 9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up; and he arose.
Mar 9:28 When he had come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we cast it out?"
Mar 9:29 He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing, except by prayer and fasting."
Mar 9:30 They went out from there, and passed through Galilee. He didn't want anyone to know it.
Mar 9:31 For he was teaching his disciples, and said to them, "The Son of Man is being handed over to the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, on the third day he will rise again."
Mar 9:32 But they didn't understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.
Mar 9:33 He came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing among yourselves on the way?"
Mar 9:34 But they were silent, for they had disputed one with another on the way about who was the greatest.
Mar 9:35 He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all."
Mar 9:36 He took a little child, and set him in the midst of them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them,
Mar 9:37 "Whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, doesn't receive me, but him who sent me."
Mar 9:38 John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone who doesn't follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn't follow us."
Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, "Don't forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me.
Mar 9:40 For whoever is not against us is on our side.
Mar 9:41 For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ's, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.
Mar 9:42 Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he was thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around his neck.
Mar 9:43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having your two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire,
Mar 9:44 'where their worm doesn't die, and the fire is not quenched.'
Mar 9:45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame, rather than having your two feet to be cast into Gehenna, into the fire that will never be quenched-
Mar 9:46 'where their worm doesn't die, and the fire is not quenched.'
Mar 9:47 If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire,
Mar 9:48 'where their worm doesn't die, and the fire is not quenched.'
Mar 9:49 For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.
Mar 9:50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." 

From Gary... Rejoice in your blessings!!!

I laughed when I saw this today. Why? Because it reminded me of my dogs and treat-time.  What started out with one dog, has now become a pack of four. And treat-time has changed as well.  The pack is more aggressive, with Hercules (AKA chicken) being the most zealous.  Yet, they still will sit for their treats and often the way they act causes me to laugh. To me, this is nothing less than a blessing from God...

Genesis, Chapter 21 (WEB)
5 Abraham was one hundred years old when his son, Isaac, was born to him.  6 Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.”  7 She said, “Who would have said to Abraham, that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.” 

Look, see God's blessings in your life- BE HAPPY!!!  And to be on the safe side- BUY PLENTY OF DOG TREATS!!!!