From Mark Copeland... "A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD" Discerning Between Good And Evil

                        "A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD"

                    Discerning Between Good And Evil


1. In the previous lesson we talked about overcoming sin by:
   a. Understanding the development of sin
   b. Utilizing the help of God to...
      1) Change our desires
      2) Limit our opportunities to sin
      3) Exercise self-control
      4) Seek forgiveness

2. Assumed in all of this, is that we know or can discern the
   difference between what is good and evil
   a. Knowing the difference does not come automatically upon conversion
   b. It is an ability that comes with time and "exercise"
      - cf. He 5:12-14

3. This lesson is designed to help us develop this ability to discern,
   so that we might truly have "A Closer Walk With God"

[Deciding what is right and what is wrong is really very simple.  It
involves asking a few questions about the matter at hand...]


      1. One list of such things is found in Ga 5:19-21
      2. A similar list is found in Ep 5:3-7

      1. At least as far as Christians are concerned
      2. There is no room for debate when the Scriptures clearly
         condemn some practice

[But not all sins are mentioned by name, for the Bible would be 
endless if that were true!  So another question needs to be asked...]


      1. When we are uncertain about some matter, we should ask whether
         it is LIKE any sins specifically mentioned
      2. For example, what about smoking marijuana?  Is it not like

      1. Notice those things in Ga 5:22-23
      2. Is the matter in question more like the "fruit of the Spirit"
         (that which is good) or the "works of the flesh" (that which
         is evil)?

[Another question to consider...]


      1. In light of the following Scriptures - 1Ti 1:5,18-19; 3:9
      2. Violating our conscience to the degree it no longer bothers us
         is a sure sign of apostasy! - 1Ti 4:1-2

      1. Doing something when you doubt its rightfulness is to violate
         your conscience
      2. That, declares Paul, is sin!
      3. So an act may be good in of itself, but...
         a. If you think it is wrong (because of incorrect knowledge)
         b. Or have doubts about its rightfulness
            ...then don't do it!

[Another help...]


      1. For mature Christians can be wrong
      2. As they would be the first to admit

      1. This is why the advice of mature Christians can be helpful
         - cf. Php 3:17
      2. The example of Rehoboam's failure to listen to the advice of
         older, mature men should teach us something - 1Ki 12:6-20
      3. Paul instructed Titus that the younger should look to those
         older - Tit 2:3-5

[Then a question that is often overlooked...]


      1. Notice his concern for how his influence affected the
         salvation of others - 1Co 9:19-23
      2. He then commands to do likewise, in which we are simply
         imitating the example of Christ! - 1Co 10:31-11:1

      1. In helping a wife win her husband to the Lord - 1Pe 3:1-2
      2. What is said of a wife's example would also be true of a
         Christian's example

[So we should be concerned as to whether a practice under question 
HELPS or HINDERS our influence for the Lord!]


      1. The Lord's parable of The Talents - Mt 25:14-30
      2. Paul's instruction concerning our bodies - 1Co 6:19-20
      3. His directions for those rich in this world - 1Ti 6:17-19

      1. There is none left for the Lord!
      2. This can be true of vocations, hobbies, etc.
      3. We should bear in mind that time is limited and therefore
         priorities must be set and kept - Ep 5:16; Mt 6:33

[Finally, we can ask...]


      1. As found in Lk 6:40
      2. To be like Jesus!

      1. If you think He would not, it is probably wrong!

      1. Studying His life, His examples, His Word
      2. So that we can have the "mind of Christ" - Php 2:5


1. I hope that these seven questions can help in identifying what is
   good and what is evil

2. The importance of properly discerning between good and evil is seen
   in such passages like 2Co 6:16-7:1
   a. Where we are reminded of how blessed we are to be the people of
   b. And the responsibility to act accordingly, if we wish to have a
      closer walk with God!


1. Do you have some older Christian to whom you feel free to go to for advice?

2. Do you feel that you usually give enough thought to the effect of
   your actions on other people?

3. Are you trying to keep a good conscience in all that you do?

4. Will you ask, when in doubt, "What would Jesus do?"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Reincarnation and the Bible by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Reincarnation and the Bible

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

The American Heritage Dictionary states that reincarnation is the “rebirth of the soul in another body.” For many years, the belief in reincarnation was generally associated with eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. However, it is becoming increasingly popular to proclaim a belief in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, yet still maintain a belief in reincarnation. The obvious question arises from such a situation, “What does the Bible say about reincarnation?”
One straightforward statement that speaks directly to the idea of reincarnation is found in Hebrews 9:27-28: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” Without any vague terms, the writer of Hebrews explains that the general course of man’s existence is to taste death only once, and then be judged based on the actions that were accomplished in that one life. In order to underscore the number of times a person dies, the inspired writer declared that men die the same number of times that Christ was offered on the cross—only once. Such a statement goes a long way to prove that the Bible does not teach for reincarnation. (This verse deals with the generality of man’s existence, and excludes miraculous situations, where Christ, an apostle, or a prophet raised someone from the dead.)
Another biblical passage that militates against the idea of reincarnation is found in Luke 16:19-31. In this passage, Jesus told a story in which a poor man named Lazarus, and a rich man, both died. The Bible explains that Lazarus died and “was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (16:22), but the rich went to “torments in Hades” (16:23). The text further states that the rich man “lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom” (16:23). Here we have three men who once lived upon the Earth but have died, yet we do not see their souls or spirits reinhabiting some earthly body. Instead, we see the three men—Lazarus, Abraham, and the rich man—in a fully cognizant state in the realm of the dead, separate and apart from any earthly ties. In fact, the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to Earth to warn his brothers, but Abraham refuses. Therefore, if Lazarus had died, and his soul no longer was on Earth, then he could not have been reincarnated to another earthly body or person. Furthermore, Abraham’s presence in this “realm of the dead” shows that Abraham had not been reincarnated either.
Again, in Luke 23:43, Jesus told the penitent thief who was crucified next to Him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” One must ask, if the body of the thief was going to remain on the Earth, and the soul of the thief was going to be with Jesus in Paradise, then what part of that man would be left to reincarnate into another earthly body?
Matthew 17:1-13 poses yet another situation that speaks against the idea that reincarnation occurs. In this passage, Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus to a high mountain where Jesus was “transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him” (17:2-3). The presence of Moses and Elijah in this instance raises a very important question: If men are reincarnated, what were Moses and Elijah doing talking with Jesus? We know that the physical bodies of Moses and Elijah were not present (see Jude 9). Therefore, their spirits were present, which means that those spirits were not inhabiting some other earthly bodies. It is interesting to note that those who believe that the Bible allows for reincarnation sometimes use Matthew 11:8-14 to claim that John the baptizer was Elijah reincarnate, yet Matthew 17:3 proves that Elijah’s spirit was not in the body of John the baptizer. On the contrary, when Jesus mentioned that John had come in “the spirit of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), He simply meant that John had similar attributes to Elijah.
In looking at the Bible, one gets the clear picture that humans die only once, and that their disembodied spirits go to a “realm of the dead” to wait for the final judgment. The idea of reincarnation does not derive from nor can it be sustained by, the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible implicitly denies even the possibility of reincarnation. Because it is “appointed for men to die once,” we should be that much more diligent to make sure that the one life we live on this Earth accords with the will of the Divine Parent of the human race (Acts 17:29).


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.

Charles Taze Russell by Brad Bromling, D.Min.


Charles Taze Russell

by Brad Bromling, D.Min.

Not all religious groups claim to foretell the future. Those that do can be exposed as false if they fail a simple test. If their prophecies fail, God has not spoken through them (Deuteronomy 18:22). Hence, they are of human origin.
In his six volumes, Studies in the Scriptures, Charles Taze Russell (founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) made many predictions that were tied to specific dates (e.g., 1878, 1910, 1915). As these volumes were reprinted, some of the dates were changed because the original dates passed without the predictions being fulfilled. In time, all of the dated prophecies failed and the movement had to reinterpret the predictions or ignore them altogether.
One example (of many) is striking. In Volume II, Mr. Russell predicted:
In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished near the end of 1915. Then the prayer of the Church, ever since her Lord took his departure—“Thy Kingdom come”—will be answered; and under that wise administration, the whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord—with knowledge, and righteousness, and peace (Psa. 72:19; Isa. 6:3; Hab. 2:14); and the will of God shall be done “on earth, as it is in heaven” (p. 101, emp. in orig.).
Realizing that even as late as 1995 (when this article was written), the world still does not know the peace promised in this “prophecy,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses have had to “spiritualize” what Russell plainly intended to be taken literally. But, say what they will, an objective observer must conclude that this prophecy failed and that the prophet was false.
[See related article: “Prophecies—True and False”]

Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover” and Those Who Are “Without Excuse” by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover” and Those Who Are “Without Excuse”

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

In Paul’s discussion of the sins of the Gentiles, the apostle explained that those Gentiles who refused to acknowledge the existence of a higher power (one that is responsible for the origin of the natural order) had no excuse for their failure in this regard:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).
If it is the case that those who refuse to believe in God (despite evidence He has presented in the material world) are without excuse, then we would expect to learn of people who, while perhaps lacking special revelation from God, nonetheless applied their God-given rationality to develop belief in a being that is responsible for the physical world. We find just such an example in one of the most famous and important philosophers, Aristotle.
In Aristotle’s Physics, the philosopher addresses the question of motion. After a lengthy discussion on the nature of motion and the immediate causes for motion, Aristotle addresses the remote cause for motion:
If everything that is in motion is moved by something that is in motion, either this is an accidental attribute of the things (so that each of them moves something while being itself in motion, but not because it is itself in motion) or it belongs to them in their own right. If, then, it is an accidental attribute, it is not necessary that that which causes motion should be in motion; and if this is so it is clear that there may be a time when nothing that exists is in motion, since the accidental is not necessary but contingent.... But the non-existence of motion is an impossibility (1984, 1:428, parenthetical item in orig.).
Aristotle, exemplary in his philosophical quest at this juncture, simply asks himself why there is motion. His conclusion, after a lengthy discussion, is essentially this: Because it is undeniable that motion exists, then there must be a first cause for the motion—an unmoved mover, whose movement (or causing of movement) is not an accidental property of His, but rather a necessary component of His being. Whereas each item in the created order is in motion because it has been moved by a distinct mover, the unmoved mover must possess the quality of motion (or the causing of motion). Aristotle lived prior to the Christian age, and was not a Hebrew; yet in his quest to understand the natural order, he was not prejudiced against belief in the supernatural.
Thomas Aquinas would adapt Aristotle’s argument to formulate what we know as part of the cosmological argument for the existence of the God of the Bible (see Maurer, 2010; cf. Jeffcoat, n.d.):
Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another.... For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality.... It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that it should move itself. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover.... Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God (1952, 19:12,13, emp. added).
Peter Kreeft summarizes Aquinas’ argument: “Since no thing (or series of things) can move (change) itself, there must be a first, Unmoved Mover, source of all motion” (1990, p. 63, parenthetical items in orig.).
The necessity of the unmoved Mover is obvious. Yet, Paul recognized that some had become so calloused by worldly concerns as to prejudice their hearts against the Creator. So, God “gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness” (Romans 1:28-30). Despite the forceful clarity with which God has revealed Himself to His creation, some will misuse their intellectual freedom and reject Him. May we, on the other hand, willingly receive a simple, yet critical, lesson from Aristotle and Aquinas concerning the necessary existence of our Creator.


Aquinas, Thomas (1952), Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Aristotle (1984), Physics, trans. R.P. Hardie and R.K. Gaye, in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Jeffcoat, W.D. (no date), “The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God,”http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/Cosmological-Argument-for-Exist.pdf.
Kreeft, Peter (1990), Summa of the Summa (San Francisco: Ignatius Press).
Maurer, Armand (2010), “Medieval Philosophy,” Encyclopaedia Brittanica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1350843/Western-philosophy/8653/Thomas-Aquinas?anchor=ref365766.

How Could Jesus be God if He was Seen by Man? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


How Could Jesus be God if He was Seen by Man?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, one of the reasons Jesus could not (and cannot) be God is because Jesus was seen by humankind. The official Web site of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.watchtower.org) indicates that “[a]s the Son of God, he [Jesus—EL] could not be God himself, for John 1:18 says: ‘No one has ever seen God’ ” (“What Does the Bible Say...,” 2000). The problem with such reasoning is two-fold.
First, it ignores the fact that man only saw Jesus (“the Word”—John 1:1) after “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He came in a veiled form. No human has ever seen Jesus in His true image (i.e., as a spirit Being—John 4:24—in all His glory and splendor). In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul mentioned that Christ—Who had existed in heaven “in the form of God”—“made Himself of no reputation,” and took on the “likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Men saw an embodiment of God as Jesus dwelt here in a fleshly form. Men saw “the Word” that “became flesh.” But no one has ever seen God’s true, complete image (as a spirit Being).
The second problem with Jehovah’s Witnesses’ denial of Jesus’ deity (based on the fact that “no one has ever seen God”) is that their argument crumbles when Jehovah God’s appearances to man are considered. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah is God and “is the name of the true God only” (“Identifying...,” 2002). According to their doctrine, Jehovah, not Christ, is God Almighty. Yet, man has seen Jehovah. Genesis chapter 18 records an occasion when “Jehovah appeared” to Abraham near Mamre (vs. 1). Jehovah spoke directly to Abraham (vs. 13), and the faithful servant of God “stood before the Lord” (vs. 22). The final verse of Genesis 18 states: “And Jehovah went his way, as soon as he had left off communing with Abraham. And Abraham returned unto his place” (vs. 33). If Jehovah’s Witnesses were consistent with their argument, Jehovah could not be Almighty God because man has seen Jehovah. If John 1:18 somehow disqualifies Jesus from being God, it must also prohibit “Jehovah” from being God, because they both were seen. What Bible students must understand is that man has only seen manifestations of God (i.e, in human flesh, or in the midst of a burning bush—Exodus 3:2, etc.); he has never seen God (the Father or the Son) in His true spirit image.
[NOTE: If you would like to read further on the subject “Has Man Seen God?” and examine the alleged contradiction between such passages as John 1:18 and Exodus 33:11, click on the following link: http://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=2682.] 


“Identifying the True God Only,” (2002), [On-line], URL:http://www.watchtower.org/library/g/1999/2/8/article_04.htm, originally appeared in Awake!, February 8, 1999.
“What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?” (2002), [On-line], URL:http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/index.htm.

“Why Are Dinosaurs Not Mentioned in the Bible?” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


“Why Are Dinosaurs Not Mentioned in the Bible?”

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

A college student visited our offices some time ago and asked what he believed were troubling questions about the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans. One question that puzzled him was why dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Bible. “If God really did create dinosaurs, and if humans cohabited the Earth with them in the past, then surely we would read the word ‘dinosaur’ at least once in the Bible.”
Admittedly, a person will not find the word “dinosaur” in most English translations of the Bible. However, this does not negate the fact that dinosaurs once cohabited the Earth with man. First, we must keep in mind that the Bible is not a taxonomical book. The Bible’s main purpose is to tell us about God and His scheme of redemption, not to list every animal God created. The Bible mentions a variety of animals (including snakes, chickens, horses, goats, etc.), but not every animal. Simply because the Scriptures do not mention an animal does not mean that the Bible teaches the animal never existed alongside humans. There are many animals the Bible never specifically mentions, including cats, kangaroos, elephants, aardvarks, anteaters, platypuses, and penguins. To say that these animals do not cohabit the Earth with man because the Bible does not mention them, would, of course, be false. To assume dinosaurs and humans never lived together because “the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs,” is equally erroneous.
Second, one must recognize that whereas the Bible was completed 1,900 years ago and was translated fully into English by 1535 (by Miles Coverdale), the English word “dinosaur” was not coined until 1842—more than 300 years after the first complete English translation of the Old and New Testaments. Obviously, one would not expect to find the English term dinosaur—meaning “fearfully great” (deinos) “lizard” or “reptile” (sauros)—in a translation of the Bible that preceded its coinage.
Third, though most modern English Bible translators have elected to omit the term “dinosaur” in translations produced after 1842, such exclusion does not necessarily mean that Bible writers refrained from mentioning dinosaurs or dinosaur-like creatures. Consider the Hebrew term tannin. In Job 7:12, it is translated “sea monster” (ASVNASBRSV), “monster of the deep” (NIV), or “sea serpent” (NKJV). In Genesis 1:21 and Psalm 148:7 where the plural form of tannin is used (tannim) in literal contexts (like Job 7:12), the word is translated “great sea creatures/monsters” (NKJVNIVASV,NASBRSV). What are these “monsters” of the sea? No one knows for sure. It is possible that these are references to dinosaur-like, water-living reptiles (e.g., plesiosaurs). Also of interest is the fact that Isaiah referred to the “flying serpent” (30:6). Although it is impossible to know the exact identity of the “flying serpent,” we know that flying reptiles with long tails and slender bodies (e.g., Rhamphorynchus, Dimorphodon) once lived (cf. Herodotus, 1850, pp. 75-76). What’s more, the Bible gives God’s description of two massive creatures in Job 40-41, behemoth and leviathan, which sound exactly like dinosaurs or dinosaur-like, water-living reptiles (see Lyons, 2001).
Finally, regardless of whether dinosaurs are mentioned specifically in the Bible or not, one can know that they were created alongside man during the Creation week (Genesis 1), and not millions of years earlier. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11, emp. added).


Herodotus (1850 reprint), Historiae, trans. Henry Clay (London: Henry G. Bohn).
Lyons, Eric (2001), “Behemoth and Leviathan—Creatures of Controversy,” Reason & Revelation, 21[1]:1-7, January, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/154.

Alabama Defines Marriage by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Alabama Defines Marriage

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

By a whopping 81%, the people of the state of Alabama have joined the ranks of 19 other states in voting overwhelmingly to define marriage biblically, i.e., one man for one woman. Only Mississippi exceeds Alabama in the percentage of voters (86%) that passed the amendment (Wetzstein, 2006). Other states that have already passed a state constitutional amendment have done so with an average of 71 percent of the vote. These states include Alaska and Hawaii (in 1998), Nebraska (in 2000), Nevada (in 2002), Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah (all in 2004), Kansas and Texas (in 2005). States that are scheduled to vote on state constitutional marriage amendments in November are Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin (Garris, 2006).
The country is in a literal life/death struggle over whether the moral principles of Christianity will continue to characterize American civilization. The outcome of this struggle will determine national survival (Jeremiah 18:7-10; Daniel 4:17). Christians must “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12), “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18), and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).


Garris, Carolyn (2006), “Marriage in the 50 States,” The Heritage Foundation, [On-line], URL: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/ Marriage50/Marriage50States.cfm.
Wetzstein, Cheryl (2006), “Alabama OKs Marriage Measure,” The Washington Times, June 8, [On-line], URL: http://washingtontimes.com/national/20060607-104125-7876r.htm.

From Jim McGuiggan... Musings on Leadership (6)

Musings on Leadership (6)

Making visible the ‘image of God’
42. Right or wrong, I’m one of those who believe that the ‘image of God’ in humans is both ontological and functional. (This is no place to discuss the subject but I need to say this in order to make my point.) I believe that humans (male and female) were created in God’s image and that that is an essential part of being a human whether or not we live up to the destiny he assigned us. I believe Christians and non-Christians are ‘in the image of God’ for no other reason than that they are God-created humans. But as I presently understand biblical teaching, we're to image God in living out our lives. That is the ‘functional’ aspect of our ‘imaging’ God (compare Eph 5:1: “As children copy their fathers you, as God’s children, are to copy him”—Phillips.) Leadership has to do with bringing the image of God and the image of God in Man into clearer focus in community living. Humans were created social beings; created to live in loving fellowship with God and one another. ‘Man’ is a ‘plural unity’ “in the image of God” (Gen 1:26-27). Leaders are to help us to be what we have been created to be (see Eph 2:10). This being in ‘the image of God’ truth has tremendous implications for the Church in relation to the world which God loves so much.

Maturity and a place of service for all

43. The principles of good leadership are seen to operate in a family unit. Relating family leadership to leadership in, for example, a religious community has biblical precedent (see 1 Tim 3:4 as one example of this). The principles of good leadership in the family are precisely those in other areas of life. Do read the passage cited.

44. Deut 4:9-10; 6:7,20-25 lays it on the heads of the families to teach the word of God to their children so that parents and children can ‘know’ and ‘revere’ God and ‘live’ with him in fellowship generation after generation. They are to teach them the meaning of the ordinances of God (6:20) as well as the words and mechanics of them. The faith of Israel was to be an informed faith, rooted in an understanding of who and what God is as he revealed himself in his saving and blessing activity. These saving and blessings acts of God are rehearsed in Israel’s feasts and ordinances. See Exodus 12:26-27; 13:8,14-16 for further illustrations of this. Passages like Lev 23:43 and Deut 5:15 make it clear that the ordinances were to be observed to remind Israel of who and what they were in relation to the self-revealed God. I repeat: Israel’s faith was to be an informed and personal faith. This faith was to result in a certain life-style; a life-style which befits a people created by and shaped by the character and person of their God. A people with a destiny and purpose created and shaped by their God.
45. Leadership within the community is not simply there to provide what the community needs and wants, there are larger concerns. Leadership functions to promote the ultimate ends for which the Community exists. Israel did not exist just to see itself fed and clothed, they were a nation with a destiny and they were on a mission for God. The choice of righteous leadership (in the Church as well as Israel) is to promote God’s aims and that means that wise, just and understanding people be appointed as leaders. (That being the case, the qualifications for such people are neither optional nor casual.)
46.  The NT also makes the point repeatedly that the Christian’s faith must be an informed faith but as usual in matters like this, the NT takes the OT teaching as its own (see Eph 6:1-3, for example). Parents are urged to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of God (6:4). There are numerous pivotal texts where leadership is immediately connected with maturation and individual contribution to community life and life in relation to non-Christians in society. 
47. Ephesians 4:8,11-16 is one such passage. Community leaders are there viewed as ‘gifts’ (to the Body, of course). They were given (as Phillips renders it) so that: “Christians might be properly equipped for their service, that the whole body might be built up until the time comes when, in the unity of common faith and common knowledge of the Son of God, we arrive at real maturity— that measure of development which is meant by ‘the fullness of Christ’.” Here is a positive statement of some of the central purposes of leadership. Leaders are to help God’s people:
   • To be equipped for service, 
   • To be edified or built up,  
   • To be developed in common faith 
     and knowledge, 
   • To gain a maturity such as reflects 
     Christ's presence in the life of his People.

48. Paul adds further explanation in 14-16 when he says it isn’t the  destiny of the People of God to remain immature (“infants”), easily  deceived  by cunning  men and so easily confused by fundamental error. No, the People of God are to be loving speakers of Truth and people who, as a Body, are maturing under their Head. When the purposes of leadership are being fulfilled each disciple makes his/her contribution as a community member to the growth of the Body. (It surely is a species of nonsense for leaders, behind closed doors, to plan out ‘programmes’ through which the assembly can express its submission to God in Christ without taking note of the nature and extent of the giftedness  of the assembly. Since that happens quite often it’s little wonder that many disciples feel like square pegs shoved into round holes.)
49.  Markus Barth has a challenging remark on this for all those who take biblical leadership with the seriousness it  warrants: “The dignity and usefulness of the special ministries given to the Church are as great or as small as their effectiveness in making every church member, including the smallest and most despised, an evangelist in his own home and environment.” This section makes it very clear that those leaders who see themselves as self-perpetuating decision-makers are missing the point entirely. Those who so lead as to make the assembly more and more dependent on them are pursuing the wrong aims in the right way or the right goals in the wrong way.
50. I’ve found it a painful experience to talk, talk, talk about developing leaders and then one day to realize my practice in a significant area of my life was in complete defiance of my talk. Much of what I had been doing in this area was protecting my decision-making power. I was doing it for the ‘best of reasons’, of course. Of course! In this particular area, my activities on behalf of the Community were kept under wraps, communication was nil, Community input was nil, no one was being groomed for leadership of any kind. In this matter, I was only one of the guilty leaders. The temptation for parents, elders, trustees, business leaders and the like, to always know "what’s best" for others is awfully strong. There are complexities in all this—I realize that—but an occasional sickening feeling comes over us when we hear leaders whine about the lack of leadership and fervently talk about developing leaders while their chosen practice violates their well-argued, well-oiled and well-delivered talk.
51. 2 Cor 13:10 is another crucial text. It reads: “This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.” Paul makes it clear that authority exercised sternly is not authority abused. If necessary he will exercise his authority in a stern fashion. But authority, exercised sternly or not, is given that the People of God might be built up rather than torn down. In language reminiscent of Jeremiah 1:9-10, Paul tells us that a godly warfare must be waged (2 Cor 10:1-7) but even that exercise of authority comes under the heading of “building up”. A leader’s work is only half done (and therefore worse than only half done) when he uproots or destroys. The ultimate aim is to clear away so as to build, to practice surgery so as to heal.
52. 1 Cor 12 is loaded with instruction about and consequences for leadership. The grand aim of chapters 12—14 is to produce loving unity. To seek or exercise leadership to the detriment of the Body is opposed to the aims of the Trinity (12:4-6) which gives leadership (giftedness) for the “common good” (12:7), to secure unity and mutual concern (12:25). Along with obviously miraculous gifts (such as ‘tongue-speaking’ and ‘working miracles’) there are gifts of ‘administration’ and ‘helpfulness’ (12:28). It’s obvious there’s nothing exhaustive in the listing of the gifts. Paul does insist that the loveless exercise of these gifts is unacceptable to God (13:1-3). He would insist that the loving exercise of them would be included in “the most excellent way” (12:31—compare Col 3:14). Because the Church exists to “give the Holy Spirit a body” the responsibility of leaders is of the utmost importance indeed since they are there to help the Body to measure up to the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13) who indwells the Body through the Spirit. This has profound implications for the Church and its leaders in relation to the world of ‘outsiders’.   
53. From these texts (a few from many), it’s clear that leadership is designed to function so that the Community or communities as well as each disciple, will move toward maturity and contribute to the corporate worship, edification, outreach and social usefulness of the Body. As leaders we must take these words from God as a test of our aims, obedience and effectiveness.
©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

From Gary... Bible Reading May 7

Bible Reading  

May 7

The World English Bible

May 7
Deuteronomy 29, 30

Deu 29:1 These are the words of the covenant which Yahweh commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.
Deu 29:2 Moses called to all Israel, and said to them, You have seen all that Yahweh did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land;
Deu 29:3 the great trials which your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders:
Deu 29:4 but Yahweh has not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, to this day.
Deu 29:5 I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes have not grown old on you, and your shoes have not grown old on your feet.
Deu 29:6 You have not eaten bread, neither have you drunk wine or strong drink; that you may know that I am Yahweh your God.
Deu 29:7 When you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us to battle, and we struck them:
Deu 29:8 and we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half-tribe of the Manassites.
Deu 29:9 Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
Deu 29:10 You stand this day all of you before Yahweh your God; your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, even all the men of Israel,
Deu 29:11 your little ones, your wives, and your foreigner who is in the midst of your camps, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water;
Deu 29:12 that you may enter into the covenant of Yahweh your God, and into his oath, which Yahweh your God makes with you this day;
Deu 29:13 that he may establish you this day to himself for a people, and that he may be to you a God, as he spoke to you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Deu 29:14 Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath,
Deu 29:15 but with him who stands here with us this day before Yahweh our God, and also with him who is not here with us this day
Deu 29:16 (for you know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed;
Deu 29:17 and you have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them);
Deu 29:18 lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from Yahweh our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood;
Deu 29:19 and it happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart, to destroy the moist with the dry.
Deu 29:20 Yahweh will not pardon him, but then the anger of Yahweh and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and all the curse that is written in this book shall lie on him, and Yahweh will blot out his name from under the sky.
Deu 29:21 Yahweh will set him apart to evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that is written in this book of the law.
Deu 29:22 The generation to come, your children who shall rise up after you, and the foreigner who shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses with which Yahweh has made it sick;
Deu 29:23 and that the whole land of it is sulfur, and salt, and a burning, that it is not sown, nor bears, nor any grass grows therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which Yahweh overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:
Deu 29:24 even all the nations shall say, Why has Yahweh done thus to this land? what means the heat of this great anger?
Deu 29:25 Then men shall say, Because they forsook the covenant of Yahweh, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt,
Deu 29:26 and went and served other gods, and worshiped them, gods that they didn't know, and that he had not given to them:
Deu 29:27 therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against this land, to bring on it all the curse that is written in this book;
Deu 29:28 and Yahweh rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as at this day.
Deu 29:29 The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deu 30:1 It shall happen, when all these things have come on you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, where Yahweh your God has driven you,
Deu 30:2 and shall return to Yahweh your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul;
Deu 30:3 that then Yahweh your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples, where Yahweh your God has scattered you.
Deu 30:4 If any of your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of the heavens, from there will Yahweh your God gather you, and from there he will bring you back:
Deu 30:5 and Yahweh your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers.
Deu 30:6 Yahweh your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.
Deu 30:7 Yahweh your God will put all these curses on your enemies, and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
Deu 30:8 You shall return and obey the voice of Yahweh, and do all his commandments which I command you this day.
Deu 30:9 Yahweh your God will make you plenteous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground, for good: for Yahweh will again rejoice over you for good, as he rejoiced over your fathers;
Deu 30:10 if you shall obey the voice of Yahweh your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law; if you turn to Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.
Deu 30:11 For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
Deu 30:12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?
Deu 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?
Deu 30:14 But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.
Deu 30:15 Behold, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil;
Deu 30:16 in that I command you this day to love Yahweh your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that you may live and multiply, and that Yahweh your God may bless you in the land where you go in to possess it.
Deu 30:17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
Deu 30:18 I denounce to you this day, that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land, where you pass over the Jordan to go in to possess it.
Deu 30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed;

Deu 30:20 to love Yahweh your God, to obey his voice, and to cleave to him; for he is your life, and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

May 6, 7
Luke 20

Luk 20:1 It happened on one of those days, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the Good News, that the priests and scribes came to him with the elders.
Luk 20:2 They asked him, "Tell us: by what authority do you do these things? Or who is giving you this authority?"
Luk 20:3 He answered them, "I also will ask you one question. Tell me:
Luk 20:4 the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?"
Luk 20:5 They reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why didn't you believe him?'
Luk 20:6 But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet."
Luk 20:7 They answered that they didn't know where it was from.
Luk 20:8 Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
Luk 20:9 He began to tell the people this parable. "A man planted a vineyard, and rented it out to some farmers, and went into another country for a long time.
Luk 20:10 At the proper season, he sent a servant to the farmers to collect his share of the fruit of the vineyard. But the farmers beat him, and sent him away empty.
Luk 20:11 He sent yet another servant, and they also beat him, and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
Luk 20:12 He sent yet a third, and they also wounded him, and threw him out.
Luk 20:13 The lord of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. It may be that seeing him, they will respect him.'
Luk 20:14 "But when the farmers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.'
Luk 20:15 They threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do to them?
Luk 20:16 He will come and destroy these farmers, and will give the vineyard to others." When they heard it, they said, "May it never be!"
Luk 20:17 But he looked at them, and said, "Then what is this that is written, 'The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the chief cornerstone?'
Luk 20:18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush whomever it falls on to dust."
Luk 20:19 The chief priests and the scribes sought to lay hands on him that very hour, but they feared the people-for they knew he had spoken this parable against them.
Luk 20:20 They watched him, and sent out spies, who pretended to be righteous, that they might trap him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the power and authority of the governor.
Luk 20:21 They asked him, "Teacher, we know that you say and teach what is right, and aren't partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God.
Luk 20:22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
Luk 20:23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Why do you test me?
Luk 20:24 Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?" They answered, "Caesar's."
Luk 20:25 He said to them, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Luk 20:26 They weren't able to trap him in his words before the people. They marveled at his answer, and were silent.
Luk 20:27 Some of the Sadducees came to him, those who deny that there is a resurrection.
Luk 20:28 They asked him, "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife, and raise up children for his brother.
Luk 20:29 There were therefore seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died childless.
Luk 20:30 The second took her as wife, and he died childless.
Luk 20:31 The third took her, and likewise the seven all left no children, and died.
Luk 20:32 Afterward the woman also died.
Luk 20:33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them will she be? For the seven had her as a wife."
Luk 20:34 Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage.
Luk 20:35 But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.
Luk 20:36 For they can't die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.
Luk 20:37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord 'The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'
Luk 20:38 Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him."
Luk 20:39 Some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you speak well."
Luk 20:40 They didn't dare to ask him any more questions.
Luk 20:41 He said to them, "Why do they say that the Christ is David's son?
Luk 20:42 David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand,
Luk 20:43 until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet." '
Luk 20:44 "David therefore calls him Lord, so how is he his son?"
Luk 20:45 In the hearing of all the people, he said to his disciples,
Luk 20:46 "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts;
Luk 20:47 who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these will receive greater condemnation."