From Mark Copeland... "THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT" The Fruit Of The Spirit - Joy

                       "THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT"

                     The Fruit Of The Spirit - Joy


1. Those who are influenced and directed by the Holy Spirit will 
   produce "the fruit of the Spirit" in their lives - cf. Ga 5:22-23
   a. We noted in our previous study that there is not a plurality of
      fruits, but one fruit
   b. Yes, only one fruit that is made up of several inter-related 
      graces or virtues, all of which will be manifested if one is 
      truly walking in the Spirit

2. Prominent, of course, will be the virtue of "love", which we 
   a. Was defined as "active good will", that which seeks the highest
      good of others
   b. Is best exemplified by Jesus Christ, who through His example has
      taught us what love really is - cf. Jn 15:13; 1Jn 3:16
   c. Should be the "universal motive" for all that we do - 1Co 16:14

3. As noted in Ga 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit also involves "joy"
   a. It is interesting to note the relationship between the Holy 
      Spirit and joy in several passages:
      1) The kingdom of God is "joy in the Holy Spirit" - cf. Ro 14:17
      2) The Thessalonians had received the word "with joy of the Holy
         Spirit" - 1Th 1:6
      3) And of course, our text in Ga 5:22
   b. Therefore, one who is led by the Spirit, and walking by the 
      Spirit, will be someone filled with much joy in his or her life!

[But what is joy?  How can Christians be filled with joy?  As we seek
to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, let's take a closer
look at "joy"...]


      1. Which Thayer defines as "joy, gladness"
      2. Vine adds "delight"
      -- By one count the word is used 60 times in the NT

      1. Which is most often translated "to rejoice"
      2. It is used 72 times in the NT

      1. Which is the word most often translated as "grace"
      2. Vine defines grace in the objective sense as "that which 
         bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable
      3. Therefore grace is what produces joy!

      1. One's joy is directly proportional to the grace one has 
         received, or at least to the perception of grace that one has
         a. Receive a small gift, and your joy might be minimal
         b. Receive a large gift, and your joyous reaction is greater
      2. When Christians' don't have much joy in their lives, something
         is wrong:  "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a
         leak in your Christianity somewhere." (BILLY SUNDAY)
      3. Here is one explanation why Christians may be joyless:  "The
         reason why many poor souls have so little heat of joy in 
         their hearts, is that they have so little light of Gospel
         knowledge in their mind.  The further a soul stands from the
         light of truth, the further he must needs be from the heat of
         comfort." (WILLIAM GURNALL)

      1. The Lord certainly does not want Christians to be joyless
         - cf. Jn 15:11
      2. The joy He gives is "inexpressible and full of glory", able to
         sustain us in the worst of circumstances - cf. 1Pe 1:6-8
         a. Unlike the "passing pleasures of sin" (He 11:25) which are
         b. Even the good things in life eventually prove to be 
            "vanity" - Ec 2:10-11
      3. Therefore He has made it possible for the Christian to say 
         with Paul:

         "Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!"
                                       - Php 4:4

[A failure to remember those things graciously given us which make for
joy in our lives can explain why some Christians do not have the degree
of "joy" (gladness, delight) they should have.

But Christians have every reason to be joyful.  We just need to 
remember what it is that produces joy.  Let's review just a few...]


      1. Joy comes from having "a confident trust" (faith) in God - cf.
         Php 1:25
         a. Without faith in God and Christ, we cannot experience 
            abiding joy
         b. Why is faith essential to joy?
            1) It dispels the attitudes that prevent joy from occurring
            2) Such as "worry" (cf. Mt 6:25-30), "doubt" and "fear"
               - cf. Mt 14:27-31
      2. Since joy is based upon faith, this emphasizes the importance
         of the Word of God in producing joy...
         a. For faith comes from the Word of God - Ro 10:17
            1) The Word of God produces faith
            2) In turn faith produces joy - cf. Ro 15:13
         b. The very teachings of Jesus are designed to give us joy 
            - Jn 15:11; 17:13
      -- Thus the need to read and study the Bible daily!

      1. Obedience to the Word of God fosters joy in the hearts of the
         a. Notice the conversion of the Samaritans - Ac 8:5-8
         b. Also the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch - Ac 8:35-38
         c. And the conversion of the Thessalonians - 1Th 1:6
      2. Conversely, disobedience dispels joy and produces fear! - cf.
         He 10:26-27
      -- Could lack of joy be an indication of lack of obedience on 
         your part?

      1. The guilt of sin is a major reason why many people lack joy
         a. Awareness of such guilt causes stress, unhappiness, and
         b. Even as Paul illustrated in describing the condition of one
            struggling with the problem of sin - cf. Ro 7:22-24
      2. But where there is forgiveness, there can be joy!
         a. Consider the 32nd Psalm of David...
            1) He introduces his theme by speaking of the "blessedness"
               (or joy) of one whose sins are forgiven - Ps 32:1-2
            2) He describes how the guilt of his sin affected him 
               inwardly - Ps 32:3-4
            3) But at last he confessed his sin and was forgiven - Ps 32:5
            4) He describes the joy that the righteous (i.e., the 
               forgiven) can experience - Ps 32:10-11
         b. The correlation between forgiveness and joy is also seen in
            Ps 51:7-12
         c. Today, those in Christ can enjoy forgiveness of sins and 
            the joy that follows - cf. Ro 5:1-2,10-11
      -- If you have not yet received the forgiveness found only in 
         Christ, there is no way to experience the abiding joy that 
         comes only "in the Lord"

      1. It is a joy just to "see" such fellowship
         a. Paul experienced joy by witnessing love and fellowship in
            Philemon - Phm 7
         b. He also found great joy in learning of the restoration of
            brethren - 2Co 7:7
      2. How much more, the joy of "experiencing" such fellowship!
         a. Paul rejoiced in the fellowship he had with the Philippians
            - Php 4:10
         b. John spoke of the joy that comes of Christian fellowship
            reunited - 2Jn 12
      -- Are you developing and nurturing the kind of Christian 
        fellowship that adds to our joy?
      1. There is the joy of spreading the gospel
         a. Barnabas rejoiced in the conversions at Antioch - Ac 11:
         b. The Christian Jews delighted to hear of the conversion of
            the Gentiles - Ac 15:3
      2. There is great joy in seeing the spiritual progress of others
         a. This was a frequent source of joy to Paul - Ro 16:19; Col 2:5; 1Th 3:6-9
         b. John wrote that this was the highest form of joy - 3Jn 4
         c. One reason this is true is that those whom we have brought
            to Christ...
            1) Will not only be a source of joy for us now
            2) But especially in the day of Christ! - cf. 1Th 2:19-20
      3. Jesus also spoke of the "blessedness" (i.e., joy) of giving to
         others - Ac 20:35
      -- All those who are willing to become involved in serving the 
         Lord, whether it be through teaching or the giving of one's 
         time, energy or money, will experience joy from such service!


1. The wonderful joy of the Lord is open to all who would receive it 
   through such things as:
   a. Faith in Christ
   b. Obedience to His Will
   c. Forgiveness through His blood
   d. Fellowship with His disciples
   e. Service in His Kingdom
   -- And it is the kind of joy that can sustain us through life, as
      Nehemiah told Israel:

              "The joy of the Lord is your strength"
                                  - Neh 8:10

2. Certainly those who are...
   a. Born of the Spirit
   b. Walking in the Spirit
   c. Being led by the Spirit
   ...will be involved in all these things, and as a consequence will
      bear the fruit of the Spirit which includes "joy"

3. Why not begin experiencing this joy today by...
   a. Obeying the gospel of Christ
   b. Receiving the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ
   c. Participate in the fellowship of Christian love as you work
      toward bringing others to salvation in Christ - cf. Ac 2:38-42

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

Is There a "Missing Quote" in the book of James? by A.P. Staff


Is There a "Missing Quote" in the book of James?

by  A.P. Staff


I have heard it stated that in the New Testament book of James, the writer referred to a quotation from the Old Testament that actually does not exist. Is there a “missing quote” from the O.T. to which James was referring?


In addressing the passage found in James 4:5 (to which this particular question refers), Albert Barnes wrote in his commentary: “Few passages of the New Testament have given expositors more perplexity than this” (1972, p. 70). Those hostile to Christianity often try to find anything they can to discredit the Bible. The slightest “discrepancy” or “contradiction” is considered as solid proof that the Bible is inaccurate and therefore unreliable. The passage in James 4:5 is one such instance where skeptics and infidels have taken a verse and tried to use it to discredit the Scriptures. In context, the passage reads as follows (the highlighted section is the particular portion in question):
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:4-7, KJV).
Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:4-7, RSV).
The KJV and RSV separate verse five into two sections. The first introduces a supposed quote with the phrase “the scripture says,” and draws attention to the second section, which seems to highlight the quotation either via quotation marks (as in the RSV) or by capitalizing the first word of the quote (as in the KJV). According to those attempting to discredit the Bible, this verse “proves” that the Bible is false since the supposed quotation is found nowhere in Scripture. If it were true that there is a missing quote in the Bible, then some would perceive it as bringing into doubt the validity of the book of James. If the Bible is legitimately called into question, then Christianity’s foundation crumbles. Thus, there is a need to answer such charges brought against the Word of God.
With some careful study, one finds that the controversy can be explained fairly simply. When James’ comment is considered in its context, and is translated correctly, it becomes apparent that he did not intend for the second half of the verse to be taken as a direct quotation from the Old Testament. The translations provided by the King James Version, Revised Standard Version, and others that render the verse as a quotation, are incorrect. [It is important to realize that the manuscripts with which translators work contain little or no punctuation. Thus, the translators must exercise some discretion when implementing punctuation marks in the text.]
Such a suggestion raises the question as to what the correct translation is for the passage. Several solutions have been presented, the most likely of which being that James did not intend to quote a specific verse, but instead was referring to ideas and concepts found throughout the whole of the Old Testament. In his commentary on the books of Hebrews and James, R.C.H. Lenski wrote:
Many pages have been written regarding the different interpretations of v. 5 and the discussions of these interpretations. We confine ourselves to two points. We are not convinced that the question is a formula of quotation. Such a formula has never been used: “Do you think that the Scripture speaks in an empty way?” If a quotation were to follow, we should certainly expect the addition “saying that.”
What follows has never been verified as being a quotation; nothing like it has been found in any writing as all admit. The fact that the Scripture does not speak in an empty way refers to v. 4 which presents as a teaching of Scripture the truth that friendship of the world is enmity against God, etc. The idea is not that this is a quotation, but that it is a teaching of Scripture and by no means empty (1966, p. 631, emp. in orig.).
The late Bible scholar, Guy N. Woods, supported the idea of James’ reference being, not to a specific quote, but rather to a general concept within the Old Testament writings. He cited Genesis 6:3-7, Exodus 29:5, Deuteronomy 32:1-21, Job 5:12, Ecclesiastes 4:4, and Proverbs 27:4 as verses where the thought behind James 4:5 is conveyed (1972, p. 214). Several commentators believe that James’ statement represents a “condensation” of the Old Testament rather than an exact quotation—a position that fits the context of the verse, and solves the problem of the “missing quote.”
James Coffman offered another possibility along the same line. He suggested that the verse is referring to the New Testament writings, particularly those of Paul, instead of those from the Old Testament (1984, p. 87). However, it appears highly unlikely that, as Coffman maintains, James’ comment refers to the Pauline epistles, since New Testament Scripture is referenced only twice in the New Testament—once where Paul (in 1 Timothy 5:18) quotes the words of Christ as written by Luke in Luke 10:7, and once where Peter (in 2 Peter 3:15-16) mentions as a whole the writings of Paul. The remainder of the citations in the New Testament come from the Old Testament, except for a quote from an Athenian poet in Acts 17:28, from Epimenides in Titus 1:12, and possibly from a now-lost hymn or poem in Ephesians 5:14.
Whether it is a reference to Old or New Testament concepts, the KJV and RSV both have done an inadequate job of translating the verse. The late, respected Greek scholar J.W. Roberts was correct in saying that the 1901 American Standard Version provides the closest match to the true meaning (1977, p. 129).
Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:4-7, ASV, emp. added).
Hugo McCord, in his independent translation of the New Testament, rendered James 4:5 very much like the American Standard Version, with a slight updating of language. His translation reads: “Do you think that the scripture speaks emptily? Does the Spirit living in us lust to envy?” (1988, p. 442).
Regardless of which version is used, it appears that James did not intend this verse to be taken as a quotation. The most likely answer is that James did indeed refer to ideas and thoughts expressed throughout the entire Old Testament, rather than quoting a specific verse.


Barnes, Albert (1972 reprint), Barnes’ Notes—James, Peter, John, and Jude (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Coffman, James Burton (1984), Commentary on James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1966), The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McCord, Hugo (1988), McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
Roberts, J.W. (1977), The Letter of James (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Woods, Guy N. (1972), A Commentary on the Epistle of James (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Galaxy's Distance Doesn't Tell Age by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Galaxy's Distance Doesn't Tell Age

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Maggie Fox recently reported that scientists believe they have discovered the “oldest” galaxy ever seen. This galaxy is supposed to be 13.2 billion years old, “only” 480 million years younger than the entire Universe (Fox, 2011). How do scientists arrive at such a great age? They base their calculations on the Big Bang theory and equate distance with age. What the scientists have actually found is what they believe to be the most distant galaxy ever seen. By equating distance with age, they conclude that the most distant galaxy must be the oldest.
If the Big Bang theory is incorrect, however, the assumption that distance equals age is false. It has been repeatedly shown that Big Bang theory cannot possibly be scientifically, mathematically, or historically true (see Thompson, Harrub, and May, 2003). Not only that, it is also true that the dating methods used to arrive at the billions-of-years scenario are faulty (DeYoung, 2005). Thus we can know that a galaxy’s distance does not indicate its age in billions of years. What we “know” (I put the word “know” in quotation marks because science often even gets the distances wrong) is approximately how far the galaxy is. The incorrect interpretation shackled to that knowledge is the idea that distance equals age.
We regularly see this tactic used in the biological sciences. Often a biologist will measure the amount of similarity between two organisms’ molecular structures. The biologist will assume Darwinian evolution to be true and report how closely the organisms are related. Yet similarity only equals relationship if evolution is true (which it is not). The irony of the situation is that these similarity studies are often used as evidence of evolution. This becomes the epitome of circular reasoning: proving evolution by proving how closely organisms are related, and basing that “relationship” on similarities that only “prove” evolution if you assume it in the first place.
As a critically thinking society, we should demand from the scientific community that they keep their incorrect assumptions and faulty interpretations to themselves, and simply report the “facts.” We are reminded of the admonition to “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Distance does not equal age, similarity does not equal relationship, and the Big Bang theory and evolution do not equal good science.


DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Fox, Maggie (2011), “Telescope Spots Oldest Galaxy Ever Seen,” Reuters, http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110127/sc_nm/us_space_galaxy/print.
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub and Branyon May (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” Reason & Revelation, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2635.

Biogenesis—The Long Arm of the Law by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Biogenesis—The Long Arm of the Law

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

In biology, one of the most widely used laws of science is the Law of Biogenesis. “Biogenesis” is composed of two words—“bio,” which means life, and “genesis,” which means beginning. Thus, this law deals with the beginning of life. And it simply says that life comes only from previous life of its own kind. We see this law played out everyday all around the world. Everyone knows that kittens come only from female cats, cows produce only calves, and puppies come only from dogs. A pig never gives birth to a horse, and a sheep never bears an iguana.
Over the years, the truthfulness of this law has been documented by thousands of scientists, one of the most famous of whom was Louis Pasteur. His work dealt a crushing blow to the notion of spontaneous generation (the idea that life arises on its own from nonliving sources). In earlier centuries, the idea that life arose from nonliving things was very popular. People believed that a person could take some wheat grains, wrap them in an old rag, stuff them in the corner of a barn, and produce mice. They also believed that old meat left on a kitchen counter would generate maggots spontaneously. However, teachers and professors correctly point out today that Pasteur triumphed over this “mythology” when he disproved the concept of spontaneous generation through his well-designed scientific experiments. Evolutionist Martin Moe correctly commented that “a century of sensational discoveries in the biological sciences has taught us that life arises only from life” (1981, 89[11]:36, emp. added). Even the eminent evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson and his colleagues observed that “there is no serious doubt that biogenesis is the rule, that life comes only from other life, that a cell, the unit of life, is always and exclusively the product or offspring of another cell” (1965, p. 144, emp. added). Yet with almost the same breath, these same teachers and professors tell their students that nonliving chemicals produced living organisms some time in the distant past—that is, spontaneous generation occurred.
The fact of the matter is that evolution could not have occurred without some form of spontaneous generation. For this reason, many scientists have concocted experiments attempting to create life from nonliving substances. But after all these attempts, life never has been created from something nonliving. Now, let’s think critically for a moment. If thousands of scientists have designed carefully planned experiments to create life from something nonliving, and yet have failed miserably every time, how in the world can we be expected to believe that nature did it by using accidents, chance, and blind forces? On the contrary, whether in nature or in the laboratory, scientists never have documented a single case of spontaneous generation! Life comes only from previous life of its own kind, which is exactly what the creation model teaches. To put it in the words of Genesis 1:24: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so.”


Moe, Martin (1981), “Genes on Ice,” Science Digest, 89[11]:36,95, December.
Simpson, G.G., C.S. Pittendrigh, and L.H. Tiffany (1965), Life: An Introduction to Biology (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World).

Deconstructing the Establishment Clause by Kevin Cain, J.D.


Deconstructing the Establishment Clause

by  Kevin Cain, J.D.

[Editor’s Note: The following article was written by A.P. auxiliary staff writer, Kevin Cain, who holds degrees from Freed-Hardeman University (B.S., M.Min.) and the Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law. A former Briefing Attorney of The First Court of Appeals, his current practice focuses on litigation at the trial and appellate levels in both State and Federal Courts.]
One wonders whether the Founding Fathers ever envisioned the intense...at times, malevolent...discourse these simple, instructive words would evoke throughout the land for over 200 years. Should “In God We Trust” be removed from our currency? Should the opening of Court not begin with an incantation to God to “save the United States and this Honorable Court”? Indeed, should reference to an awareness of God be stricken from the federal Constitutional oath of office? Or from the revered Declaration of Independence? Where does the injunction of the First Amendment lead us? (Doe v. Tangipahoa..., 2009).
I was in my car listening to a talk radio program where the subject of the day was the “separation of church and State.” The callers’ opinions were all across the board from the far left to the far right and everything in between. One gentleman finally called in and had the nerve to assert that the First Amendment nowhere contains the phrase “separation of church and State.” And then the fireworks began. Caller after caller (including the host) blasted this neophyte for claiming the First Amendment did not contain this purported phrase.
In reality, the First Amendment has two religious clauses. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (Bill of Rights, 1789, emp. added). The first clause is known as the Establishment Clause, and the second is known as the Free Exercise Clause. Not only is the phrase “separation of church and State” conspicuously absent from this short sentence we call the First Amendment, but it is not anywhere to be found in the entire Constitution of the United States (nor in any law passed by Congress).


Why is it, then, that so many people mistakenly, yet sincerely, believe that this phrase is somewhere found within the First Amendment? More importantly, why do so many believe that this phrase means that the government can have no involvement in religion or recognition of God in any form whatsoever? The origin of this phrase can be traced back to an 1802 letter penned by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. The Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson expressing concern over their lack of state constitutional protection of religious liberty and against a government establishment of religion. Specifically, the Danbury Baptists stated in their letter to President Jefferson, “Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty—That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals—That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions—That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor” (“Danbury Baptist...,” 1801). The Danbury Baptists were concerned that a religious majority might establish a state religion at the expense of the liberties of religious minorities.
Thomas Jefferson responded by letter dated January 1, 1802. He agreed with the Danbury Baptists’ views on religious liberty and the separation of civil government from involvement with religious doctrine and practice. Jefferson wrote: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State” (“Jefferson’s Letter...,” 1802, emp. added). Jefferson’s statement regarding “a wall of separation between Church & State” was a mere recognition that the government would not endorse or back a single religious group to the detriment of other Christian sects. However, the use of that phrase today bears no relation to what President Jefferson meant when he penned those words in 1802.


Many take the view that the Framers of the First Amendment intended for the government to be completely detached from any religious activity and neutral in all religious matters. In other words, they equate the phrase “separation of church and State” with absolute refusal by the government not only to engage in any religious activity, but also to passively allow any religious activity in the public sphere. This interpretation is far removed from the context or meaning of the phrase coined by Jefferson in 1802, much less the First Amendment.
To understand what the First Amendment does and does not mean, it would be helpful to look to the writings and religious/political sentiments expressed by the author and primary proponent of the First Amendment. James Madison submitted the original draft of the First Amendment to Congress, and Thomas Jefferson was one of the key supporters of the First Amendment.
It is clear from Madison’s own writings that he was concerned with the union of church and State as was prevalent in Europe at that time. The First Amendment was designed to prevent the government from joining forces with a particular religious organization as a government-endorsed religion. This can be seen in the original proposed draft of the First Amendment submitted by Madison. “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985, emp. added). “[Madison’s] original language ‘nor shall any national religion be established’ obviously does not conform to the ‘wall of separation’ between church and State idea which latter-day commentators have ascribed to him” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). Ironically, when the original draft of the First Amendment was later revised and debated in the House on August 15, 1789, Representative Peter Sylvester of New York expressed his dislike for the revised version, because it might have a tendency “to abolish religion altogether” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). However, Madison stated during this debate that “he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform” (Annals of Congress, 1789, 1:758). While the Supreme Court has never adopted this interpretation of the Establishment Clause, this is the exact meaning articulated by its own author, James Madison. After reviewing this same historical context of the Establishment Clause, Chief Justice Rehnquist concluded:
It seems indisputable from these glimpses of Madison’s thinking, as reflected by actions on the floor of the House in 1789, that he saw the Amendment as designed to prohibit the establishment of a national religion, and perhaps to prevent discrimination among sects. He did not see it as requiring neutrality on the part of government between religion and irreligion (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985).
Moreover, James Madison was a religious man who strongly believed that all public officials and governmental leaders should publicly profess their belief in Christianity:
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way (“Madison Letter...,” 1773, emp. added).
Madison was also one of the drafters who passed the Virginia Constitution, which carries the phrase, “It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other” (The Proceedings of..., 1776, p. 103). Simply put, Madison was a strong believer that governmental leaders, legislators, and even legislation should recognize and espouse submission to Christ.
In his first inaugural address, James Madison recognized that the destiny and prosperity of a nation are directly linked to the blessings and guidance given by God.
In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future (Madison, 1809).
In other words, Madison subscribed to the position that religion should have a place in the role of government. Moreover, Madison expressed a clear belief that the fate of a government was intertwined with its dependence upon and relationship with God.
Thomas Jefferson was also outspoken and clear in his opposition to a church-sponsored religion that superimposed its will on the people. Jefferson stated that he was unequivocally opposed to the government endorsing a state or national religion, much like the system that so many of our Founding Fathers left behind in England. “I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another” (Jefferson, 1799). Jefferson was especially opposed to Roman Catholicism and any manifestation of entanglement of church and State where the church assumes the role of civil government. “But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion [i.e., Jesus—KC], before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants [i.e., Roman Catholicism, for which Jefferson had little tolerance], and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State” (Jefferson, 1810).
Jefferson was not an enemy of religion; rather, he embraced and promoted religion. In his first inaugural address, Jefferson, like Madison, linked national prosperity to a national dependence on God and religion:
Let us, then, ...enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? (Jefferson, 1801).
In his second inaugural address, Jefferson made similar statements, but with a clearer endorsement of the God of the Bible:
I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, and our riper years with his wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations (Jefferson, 1805).
Simply put, Jefferson publically called upon the God of the Israelites and the God of the Bible, and likewise called upon the citizenry of this country to pray to that same God. This is clearly not the wall of separation that so many have misconstrued from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. Jefferson did not state we should all go home and privately pray to the supreme being of our choice. Rather, Jefferson used the office of the President of these United States to direct this nation to call upon the God of the Bible in prayer to beseech the blessings and guidance of the one true God. Whatever that “wall of separation” may be, it is certainly not what so many scholars and citizens presume it to mean today.
Interestingly, at about this same time in history when the First Amendment was ratified (December 15, 1791), the United States government was engaged in numerous acts that many would presume to be unconstitutional today under a contemporary interpretation of the First Amendment. However, these governmental actions simply demonstrate that Congress did not intend for the First Amendment to be a literal wall of separation between church and State.
The Northwest Ordinance, passed by Congress in 1789, provided that “[r]e­li­gion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged” (1789, 1:52). Like Madison and Jefferson in their inaugural addresses, Congress also drew a direct link between religion and government and recognizing that government and proper education cannot stand without religion and morality.
On the day after the House of Representatives voted to adopt the final version of the First Amendment Establishment Clause, Representative Elias Boudinot proposed a resolution asking the President to issue a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God” (Annals of Congress, 1789, 1:949). This resolution was passed on September 25, 1789. Within two weeks, George Washington responded:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us (Washington, 1789).
Likewise, in President Washington’s farewell address in 1796, he declared:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.... The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them (1796, emp. added).
President Washington made clear that a government cannot exist without “religion and morality.” These events and actions of the government, near the time the Establishment Clause was enacted, demonstrate that the First Amendment was not designed to extract all religion from the government. To the contrary, the political leaders of the day, the Framers, congressmen, and even the Presidents surrounding the time the Establishment Clause was passed, were clear advocates for governmental endorsement of religion in general, and Christianity in particular.
Contrast the language and endorsement of religion from Washington, Madison, and Jefferson (and nearly every President that followed) with the state of the First Amendment today. Presidents Washington, Madison, and Jefferson used the federal office of the President to persuade the people to submit to the moral guidelines of the Bible and pray to the God of the Bible. Compare that with the United States Supreme Court which held in 1985 that a public school could not allow a moment of silence for students to pray to the supreme being of their choice (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). What has happened in our national history that we have devolved from a point in time where our highest ranking national leader could actively promote prayer and submission to the God of the Bible, but today schools cannot passively even allow a moment of silence at the start of the day? As Justice Rehnquist stated in his dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree: “It is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of constitutional history, but unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson’s misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years” (1985).


From this simple phrase, “separation of church and State,” much has been presumed and contorted to satisfy the trends and leanings of our culture. When a straightforward application of the First Amendment does not reach the desired result, obscure and complicated tests are fashioned to bewilder and lead to a conclusion that unassuming and sober-minded people would never reach. A multi-pronged and amorphous test can allow anyone to reach whatever conclusion they desire. This dilemma is especially true when looking at the judicial application of the Establishment Clause in the last 50 years.
Over the years, the United States Supreme Court has fashioned several tests when scrutinizing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. There is much debate about whether all these tests are still viable, whether one test overrules another, or whether the tests are merely fact-specific as to their application. One thing is clear: these tests do not reflect the sentiment of the Founding Fathers and the states that drafted, supported, and passed this amendment into law.
It is no surprise that media sources, entertainers, academia, and the government have veered further to the left, and grown more liberal and tolerant in the arena of morality. Unfortunately, courts have likewise followed the same path, reflecting the same liberal trends we see in every other facet of contemporary culture. While many who misinterpret the First Amendment clamor for freedom of religion, they have actually traveled down a path toward freedom from religion, which eventually results in hostility toward religion. Likewise, courts’ interpretations of the Establishment Clause have moved in a direction that is more offensive and antagonistic toward religion (or, at a minimum, allows others to superimpose irreligion over religion).
This simple language known as the Establishment Clause has spawned a flurry of judicially created tests and paradigms that further confuse and muddy the waters of the religious/political landscape. Rather than providing a reasoned interpretation leading to predictable results, these tests serve as the springboard to allow courts to manipulate the outcome of a case when applying the Establishment Clause—an amendment whose meaning was once clear and obvious. However, when a test only serves to further confuse and create more questions than it answers, its usefulness is short-lived, and its purpose is suspect at best.


The first Establishment Clause test created by the United States Supreme Court is a three-part analysis often referred to as the Lemon test. The Lemon test derives its name from the 1971 case styled Lemon v. Kurtzman, in which the Court ruled that a state program providing aid to religious elementary and secondary schools violated the Establishment Clause (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971). Under the Lemon test, a court must (1) determine whether the law or government action in question has a bona fide secular purpose; (2) determine whether the state action has the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion; and (3) consider whether the action excessively entangles religion and government. These criteria are sometimes referred to respectively as the (1) “effects” prong, (2) the “purpose” prong, and (3) the “entanglement” prong. There is a lack of consensus as to how this test is to be applied. Are courts required to satisfy all three prongs, or do they merely balance these factors? Are all elements needed, or are only some needed, and if so, which elements are required and which are discretionary? Moreover, there is a question as to whether the Lemon test is still good law today, or has it been effectively overruled by the many other tests subsequently created by the United States Supreme Court.


In 1997, the United States Supreme Court appeared to modify the Lemon test in Agostini v. Felton. The Court combined the last two elements of the Lemon test, using only the purpose prong and a modified version of the effects prong (Agostini v. Felton, 1997). The Agostini Court delineated three principal criteria to determine whether government action has the primary effect of advancing religion: (1) government indoctrination, (2) defining the recipients of government benefits based on religion, and (3) excessive entanglement between government and religion (1997). In other words, we started with a three-pronged test which has now been modified into a two-pronged test by integrating two of the original prongs and adding a new three-part inquiry to help explain the new prong. Anyone confused yet? But the tests do not stop here.


The “coercion test” owes its genesis to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dissent in County of Allegheny v. ACLU. Under the coercion test, the government violates the Establishment Clause if it (1) provides direct aid to religion in a way that would tend to establish a state church, or (2) coerces people to support or participate in religion against their will (County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 1989). What would or would not coerce a person is the subject of great debate among scholars and judges, and is clearly a highly subjective standard. However, the coercion test is more strictly applied when involving grades K through 12. In Lee v. Weisman, the Supreme Court observed that “there are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools” (1992). However, Lee v. Weisman also illustrates the subjectivity and lack of predictability when applying the coercion test. In that case, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent. Both justices are professed devout Catholics and former altar boys. Both applied the same coercion test and came to opposite results: Justice Kennedy found that the prayer at issue in that case violated the Establishment Clause, while Justice Scalia found that the same prayer did not violate the Establishment Clause (1992). Given this lack of clarity, it seems only judicially natural that another ambiguous test should be crafted to further confuse and bewilder the legal landscape regarding the Establishment Clause.


Under Justice Sandra Day O’­Connor’s “endorsement test,” government action violates the Establishment Clause if it amounts to an “endorsement of religion” (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984). Under the endorsement test, government action or legislation is invalid if it creates a perception in the mind of a “reasonable observer” that the government is either endorsing or disapproving of religion. Justice O’Connor wrote: “The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person’s standing in the political community” (1984). A person is coerced under the coercion test “when the government conveys ‘a message to non-adherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community’” (1984). The endorsement test is often applied when the government is actively expressing itself, such as graduation prayers, religious signs on government property, and religion in school curriculum. As expected, there is considerable disagreement as to what constitutes a “reasonable observer” under the endorsement test. Apparently, the reasonable observer is whatever the judge decides this hypothetical person to be. As such, the reasonable observer will vary from judge to judge. However, does the reasonable observer vary based on the jurisdiction? For example, the “reasonable observer” in Muscle Shoals, Alabama will be quite different from the “reasonable observer” in San Francisco, California. Moreover, on what basis is the decision made that the observer in Muscle Shoals is unreasonable, other than the superimposed, yet subjective, opinion of a judge who unilaterally decides that to be the case? With more questions and more unresolved issues, surely another test or two is called for.


The concept of neutrality in Establishment Clause decisions requires that the government neither be an ally nor an adversary of religion. This analysis (not so much a formal test as a relaxed analysis) is often applied in cases involving funding or some form of aid given to religious organizations or schools (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 2002; Mitchell v. Helms, 2000). The focus in this approach is an inquiry into the individual’s or institution’s control over the funds and equal treatment between religious and non-religious groups.


This test, if it can, in fact, be called a “test,” originates from the case of Marsh v. Chambers. After observing the extensive history of government-paid chaplains and legislative prayer, the United States Supreme Court concluded: “In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society” (Marsh v. Chambers, 1983). It is disputed as to whether this is actually a test or, rather, a mere anomaly in Supreme Court jurisprudence, or a unique application of one of the other Establishment Clause tests. Nevertheless, the United States Supreme Court held that prayer to open the Nebraska Legislative Session was not unconstitutional because of its long history. As such, the Court ruled that this practice was a part of the fabric of America and, hence, did not violate the Establishment Clause (1983). According to the logic of Marsh v. Chambers, if a practice was instituted a long time ago, the initiators of this practice must have had a secular or non-religious purpose in mind, but if the practice is more recent, the instigators clearly had a religious purpose in mind. This amorphous and backwards approach would presume that Americans are becoming more and more religious, in spite of every secular indicator to the contrary.


At this point in our analysis, the words of Festus come to mind, when he shouted, “Paul, you are beside yourself. Much learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24). While Paul was clearly not insane, but was speaking words that were reasonable and true (vs. 25), “reason” and “truth” are not the words that come to mind when surveying the dizzying array of Establishment Clause tests that courts have concocted to reflect the leanings and trends of our contemporary culture. While sifting through all this madness—these tests, multiple elements, sub-elements, and new tests—it now becomes clear how we have digressed from a simple, straightforward Establishment Clause with a clear original purpose and history, and how we now find ourselves living in an age where the government has not only sterilized itself from all Christian religion, but is even hostile and adverse toward Christianity. Scholarly smokescreens, guised in complex and multifarious tests created over an extended period of time, hope to eventually erase history and overrule the original intent of constitutional language.
It is important to know the many tests that courts have contrived in an effort to further estrange and remove religion from our government, communities, schools, and way of life. We should be familiar with these tests so that we can combat those who try to use them to justify their anti-religious views. We should combat them with the historical context of our Founding Fathers, even the authors of the First Amendment itself. Without this knowledge, some people may even be convinced that phrases like “separation of church and State” are actually found somewhere in the pages of our Constitution. Rewriting history is a deceptive and popular way to persuade people. While it is obviously inconsistent and insincere to close one’s eyes to reality and history, it is not without precedent. As George Orwell described it:
And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became the truth. “Who controls the past” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past” (1949, Part 1, Chapter 3).
Or, as Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany under Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, put it:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State (1941).
We should be aware of the historical context and proper meaning of the First Amendment. We should also be aware of the alleged “arguments” and “legal tests” that have mutated over the years, allowing courts to confuse and delude people into an interpretation and application of the First Amendment that would be unrecognizable to its framers.


Annals of Congress (1789), [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwac.html.
Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203 (1997).
Bill of Rights (1789), The National Archives, [On-line], URL: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights.html.
Constitution of the United States (1789), [On-line], URL: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html.
County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989).
“Danbury Baptist Association’s Letter to Thomas Jefferson” (1801), October 7, [On-line], URL: http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/dba_jefferson.html.
Doe v. Tangipahoa Parish School Bd., WL 1789425, F.Supp.2d (E.D. La., 2009).
Goebbels, Joseph (1941), Die Zeit ohne Beispiel (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP), [On-line], URL: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/joseph_goebbels/.
Jefferson, Thomas (1799), “Letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799,” [On-line], URL: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/jeff1055.html.
Jefferson, Thomas (1801), “First Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line], URL: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jefinau1.asp.
Jefferson, Thomas (1805), “Second Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line], URL: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jefinau2.asp.
Jefferson, Thomas (1810), Letter to Samuel Kercheval, January 19, 1810,” Image 530, The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827, Library of Congress, [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page044.db&recNum=529&itemLink=%2Fammem%2Fcollections%2Fjefferson_papers%2Fmtjser1.html&linkText=6.
“Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists” (1802), January 1, Library of Congress, [On-line], URL: http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html.
Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992).
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).
Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984).
Madison, James (1809), “First Inaugural Address, Saturday, March 4,” [On-line], URL: http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres18.html.
“Madison Letter to Bradford” (1773), The RJ&L Religious Liberty Archive, September 25, [On-line], URL: http://churchstatelaw.com/historicalmaterials/8_7_1.asp.
Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983).
Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793 (2000).
Northwest Ordinance (1789), Statutes at Large, Library of Congress, [On-line], URL: http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db&recNum=175.
Orwell, George (1949), 1984, [On-line], URL: http://www.george-orwell.org/1984.
The Proceedings of the Convention of Delegates, Held at the Capitol in the City of Williamsburg, in the Colony of Virginia, on Monday the 6th of May, 1776 (1776), (Williamsburg, VA: Alexander Purdie).
Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985).
Washington, George (1789), “The Thanksgiving Proclamation” in The Papers of George Washington, [On-line], URL: http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/thanksgiving/transcript.html.
Washington, George (1796), “Farewell Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line], URL: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp.
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. (2002).



A “good” minister receives a lot of praise and he has the power that goes with that reputation. He’s fair, compassionate and sympathetic and he has a wonderful Message; he has all the things we associate with a good leader. Whatever his appearance he’s an attractive person because of these lovely qualities and he attracts the happy, healthy and well adjusted. He also attracts the hurting, the vulnerable, the unhappy and the troubled. They listen to him, trust him, allow him into their lives at very personal levels and people like that are open to manipulation by a powerful person.
But this is a “good” minister and deliberate manipulation while it’s possible (of course!) isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. This good minister isn’t Jesus so he has weaknesses and needs and areas of vulnerability as well as power! For these reasons he’s dangerous.
He works a lot with a lot of people. He only needs to meet one person in a hundred whose area of weakness matches his own and they’re both in serious danger. Is he inclined to over-ambition? Hungry for money? Is he a weakling in his relationships to women? Hungry for praise? Is he subject to envy or inclined to bitterness? Does depression hound him?
Let’s settle for the sexual area and suppose him to be vulnerable though he behaves uprightly. To the right person, perhaps, he’d confess that it’s something of a struggle always to behave as he knows he should and truly wants to—but by God’s grace, grace that shows itself in numerous ways, he has maintained his integrity.
Here she comes to him for help. This is a good woman coming to a good man. Her marriage isn’t at all what it should be, isn’t what it could be and she blames her husband for the bulk of the problems. But the good minister gently—though plainly—suggests maybe there’s more to it than that and proceeds to offer other perspectives. He does it all in a kind but fair way. The troubled lady may not completely agree with him but she’s pleased that the man she’s talking to is fair even to a husband she’s mad at.
He doesn’t always see things her way but he’s always sympathetic and kind. Always gives her a good listening to. She doesn’t get that from her husband (maybe she really doesn’t!) and she finds the minister thoughtful, wishes these qualities were in her husband, begins to see this man as the husband she wishes she had and is sure she doesn’t have. She’s certain that if she had a husband like this man she’d be a better Christian (and she may be right).
She begins to experience a transfer of affection from her husband to this man who is modeling before her all that she wants in the man she has loved and married. The power the minister has is working against her—she’s being “seduced”.
But the minister has no intention whatever of seducing her! He’s all the things we said he is and he’s talking with a hurting woman who needs from her husband the kind of things she sees in the minister. She goes home to her colder, less tolerant husband who’s too tired or wound up or too something to respond to her the way the good minister does and the emotional gap widens between them. This good woman had no designs on the minister nor does she mean to become involved in something sinful.
The good minister we’ve been talking about is married to a good woman who knows the good minister very well. She loves him, of course, but she doesn’t hang on his every word, doesn’t see him quite as wonderful as others do—so she’s immune to his seductive power. When he comes home her eyes aren’t always shining at his arrival (they’re sometimes tearful because she’s been peeling the onions). He tells her he thinks he’s helping “Mildred” and she wishes he’d help a bit more around the house. He speaks words of wisdom and instead of awed agreement he gets an argument. Why doesn’t his wife treat him the way Mildred and others do? He knows the answers; but knowing the answers is only half the battle, and the smallest half!
He doesn’t intend to involve himself with Mildred in anything sinful and much less to manipulate her. But she’s drawing closer to him and he’s liking the warm attention she pays to him and because they’re both vulnerable, one day a hand touches a hand, a glance is too long, an unwise phrase is used that suggests (I mean “suggests,” not says or claims)—a phrase suggests that something might be possible that should forever be impossible. An intimacy begins that neither person planned. An intimacy that should be purged immediately—for a host of good reasons. An intimacy that once indulged becomes addictive and strengthens the pattern of weakness. This means the future is less and less secure and it means misconduct with others like Mildred (or the good minister) becomes increasingly likely. And even a successful purging though it can be profoundly helpful, is not without its own dangers. (“I controlled it in the past, I can control it now.” Flashing red lights should go off everywhere.) This situation may have been unplanned, but it’s still sinful and it’s still damaging. But it was unplanned! Well, unplanned at the conscious level. If it’s a first offence it may even have been unplanned at the subconscious level. Once the good minister or Mildred sees her or his vulnerability and has enjoyed the pleasure that such intimacy brings, the planning can go on at the subconscious level despite all his or her conscious protests.
And listen, the intimacy that has developed with the good minister (but hasn’t yet reached an overtly sexual expression) has lifted Mildred’s spirits. She gets through the day better, she’s more patient with her husband, the fatigue she’s been fighting is nowhere in sight and she has now begun again to enjoy going to church. The forbidden form of intimacy lifts her to an emotional level where she’s able to desire spiritual things. How do we explain that? However we explain it, this is true; she feels better able to face life! She doesn’t weep or brood or complain as much. And while she can’t and won’t tell herself the forbidden intimacy is “good,” she cashes in on the lift it has given to her life. If she had gained a wonderful friend, that friend would have given her something of this marvelous lift—without the forbidden elements. But not even friendship can give that specific pleasure she or the minister is experiencing. (You understand that such an emotional lift can be gained in an innocent relationship. An unattached man meets an unattached lady, they find one another adorable and he feels his spirits lifted. This is commonplace. I just wish to make the point that the same emotional experience can happen in a relationship that is not innocent.)
So she rationalizes the wrong and takes advantage of the new energy she has for doing and being good in other areas and other ways. In some crazy way good is coming out of this evil so she’s tempted to think, “It isn’t really evil.” And he, though he knows better and in his more lucid moments is frightened by it, is experiencing his own surge of energy. And because of this energy surge he is more passionate in teaching, more involved in the lives of the needy and without claiming it he half-believes he is a better minister. The whole situation is corrupt and corrupting but a lot of the time it doesn’t feel that way. The whole situation is corrupt and corrupting but because many good things are part of the whole mix it can be difficult to do, decisively and permanently, what should be done—end the thing!
One of the major elements that have helped generate this situation is the good minister’s power. And it’s precisely because he draws people to him (including the vulnerable) that he is both dangerous and in danger.
I don’t doubt for a moment the existence of impenitent, plotting, hypocritical and evil men who prey on wounded and vulnerable women and children. Nor do I doubt that there are predatory women who go after vulnerable people (including children). I do know very many, personally, who live with endless remorse and shame because they’ve been in a number of sinful intimacies and fear they’ll be in more. Not one of them is an impenitent predator! Idiots, sinners, failing, sinful, weaklings—but not predators! Destructive but not self-conscious predators!

It’s a mistake to think of the minister only in terms of how dangerous he is. We need also to see him as someone in danger. It’s right to make the point that people of power—men or women—are in a position to impose themselves on others and that they have the equipment to draw and even seduce others. This is so! And it’s especially distressing that a man or woman finally gets to the position where they can really help someone and instead, they do them a terrible injury. It’s an abuse of power as well as a betrayal of trust!
We’re not to minimize any of that but there’s something else to be said. Those who have compassion, warmth, charisma and confidence draw to themselves so much more temptation than those who lack these qualities do! Anyone can hit a home run once in a blue moon, it’s someone well gifted who can do it game after game after game. Most of us can resist a trial that comes along now and then, but if we meet them week after week we have to be vigilant week after week, have to be strong week after week. Imagine this: this week I’m happy and contented so the trial isn’t severe but other weeks see me down and lonely and vulnerable and the temptation is still there. It’s not only still there, it’s stronger now because my situation is different. A full stomach is less tempted to gluttony and hoarding than an empty one. A cold and self-sufficient person is less likely to be tempted by forbidden warm intimacies than the insecure and warm person is.
A minister is under great pressure. He’s in danger as well as dangerous. He must be dealt with when he behaves improperly but he mustn’t be left alone to wrestle alone. He must be protected as well as watched. He mustn’t be made to bear all the guilt alone. If he’s half the man we think he is then he’s no predator.
It might give us a real sense of our uprightness that we’re “tough on sin” but it might be more to our credit if we understood more about sin and sins, if we worked without arrogance for the prevention and cure of sins rather than simply holding people “accountable” for their crasser sins. There is a difference between being tough “on sinners” and tough “on sin”.
Instead of watching the trouble develop without stepping in early to nip it in the bud we often let it grow to full bloom and then come down on it like a ton of bricks. Everybody loses in that case. What we call our attempts to “keep the church pure” are more like “benevolent bungling” than anything else. And often it isn’t even “benevolent” bungling.
And wouldn’t it be terrible if in our awful eagerness to “deal with the sinner” we ourselves are sinning by sending the signal to the younger people who are struggling with sexual temptation, “Here’s the kind of harsh, almost heartless, treatment you can expect from us when you’re discovered!”
Somewhere in the middle of working our way through these situations we’re desperately in need of having a heart and a wise, balanced and compassionate policy worked out. In the long term it doesn’t help for people to shout at each other, “You’re merciless” or “You’re soft on sin”. There’s got to be a way that we can lament the sin in our believing community without making full-blown lepers out of the sinners. There’s got to be a way for the congregation to come together in sadness in the face of the fall of brothers and sisters without isolating them and seeing them as second-class citizens. 
I accept that sin in leadership must be addressed!!!!!!!
And of course I’ve been writing as though ministers of the Word were the only people who wrestle with impurity and sexual misconduct—far from it! And I’ve been talking as though it’s only women who have a tough time with cold husbands or some such hardship that leads to trouble. This isn’t the case.
Sometimes boredom accounts for the kind of sin we’re talking about (though it’s never merely boredom—it’s never “merely” anything). Men and women with too much time on their hands and too little on their minds find themselves drawn into something “more adventurous”. Maybe there’s a gospel somewhere that if we heard it, would draw us into so much glorious adventure that we wouldn’t have time for the shabby and shameful but the problem doesn't lie with the gospel, does it? Maybe part of the problem is that the gospel isn't gospeled!
Let me close this for now with this and this is the riskiest part of the piece—surely the above would have everyone’s agreement though it needs further development. 
We need to expect Christians to be sinners! Read 1 John for yourself. What John will not tolerate is the view that Christians do not sin! What John does not tolerate is the view that Christians can choose to live sinful lives—lives that dismiss sin as nothing or as non-existent. Nevertheless he fully expects sinners to sin even while they walk in the light (1:5-10)! We must receive his word as the truth of God as well as the witness of our eyes and ears—we actually see and hear Christians sinning! Unless we are completely insensitive we experience sin in our own lives and do we seriously imagine that the world doesn't know we're sinners? Is it not a brand of stupidity for us to refuse to acknowledge before the world (with appropriate sadness) that we too wrestle with sin?
John wants to encourage no one to sin—ever (2:1)! But he says, “If anybody does sin we have an advocate with the Father.” This last sentence has a comforting and comfortable sound not only because we all know we do and will “sin” but because the word “sin” is a nice general term—a term Christians are very familiar with. It’s so familiar and general it doesn’t cut to the bone by being too specific. It’s not like the word “slander” or “embezzle” or “commit adultery”. Try allowing John to say this: “I write this to you that you will not sin. But if anybody does commit adultery, we have an advocate with the Father.”
All of a sudden a familiar text that never troubled us—that assured and consoled us—is hardly recognizable. This response says nothing about the truth of the text; it does say something about our way of seeing life and consequently our way of reading God’s word. The passage that many Christians were sure dealt with what John Watson all those years ago called “respectable sins”—that passage we’re now being asked to believe includes the sins we’re loathe to forgive because they’re “not my sin.”
All sins are enemies to the human family, all sins are unlike Jesus Christ and he didn’t come at the Holy Father’s bidding to make it easier for us to sin or enable us to become friends with our sins! But it’s never wise to be “wiser” than God; it’s never righteous to be more “righteous” than God; it’s never Christlike to despise those Jesus thinks are “sick and need a physician” (Matthew 9:10-13).
(To be continued, God enabling)

From Gary... Bible Reading July 27

Bible Reading  

July 27

The World English Bible

July 27
2 Chronicles 13-15

2Ch 13:1 In the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah.
2Ch 13:2 Three years reigned he in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.
2Ch 13:3 Abijah joined battle with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: and Jeroboam set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, who were mighty men of valor.
2Ch 13:4 Abijah stood up on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, Hear me, Jeroboam and all Israel:
2Ch 13:5 Ought you not to know that Yahweh, the God of Israel, gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
2Ch 13:6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up, and rebelled against his lord.
2Ch 13:7 There were gathered to him worthless men, base fellows, who strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.
2Ch 13:8 Now you think to withstand the kingdom of Yahweh in the hand of the sons of David; and you are a great multitude, and there are with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made you for gods.
2Ch 13:9 Haven't you driven out the priests of Yahweh, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves after the manner of the peoples of other lands? so that whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams, the same may be a priest of those who are no gods.
2Ch 13:10 But as for us, Yahweh is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and we have priests ministering to Yahweh, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites in their work:
2Ch 13:11 and they burn to Yahweh every morning and every evening burnt offerings and sweet incense: the show bread also set they in order on the pure table; and the lampstand of gold with its lamps, to burn every evening: for we keep the instruction of Yahweh our God; but you have forsaken him.
2Ch 13:12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with the trumpets of alarm to sound an alarm against you. Children of Israel, don't you fight against Yahweh, the God of your fathers; for you shall not prosper.
2Ch 13:13 But Jeroboam caused an ambush to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambush was behind them.
2Ch 13:14 When Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind them; and they cried to Yahweh, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.
2Ch 13:15 Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it happened, that God struck Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
2Ch 13:16 The children of Israel fled before Judah; and God delivered them into their hand.
2Ch 13:17 Abijah and his people killed them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.
2Ch 13:18 Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on Yahweh, the God of their fathers.
2Ch 13:19 Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with its towns, and Jeshanah with its towns, and Ephron with its towns.
2Ch 13:20 Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and Yahweh struck him, and he died.
2Ch 13:21 But Abijah grew mighty, and took to himself fourteen wives, and became the father of twenty-two sons, and sixteen daughters.
2Ch 13:22 The rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the commentary of the prophet Iddo.
2Ch 14:1 So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David; and Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land was quiet ten years.
2Ch 14:2 Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of Yahweh his God:
2Ch 14:3 for he took away the foreign altars, and the high places, and broke down the pillars, and cut down the Asherim,
2Ch 14:4 and commanded Judah to seek Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.
2Ch 14:5 Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the sun images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
2Ch 14:6 He built fortified cities in Judah; for the land was quiet, and he had no war in those years, because Yahweh had given him rest.
2Ch 14:7 For he said to Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars; the land is yet before us, because we have sought Yahweh our God; we have sought him, and he has given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
2Ch 14:8 Asa had an army that bore bucklers and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bore shields and drew bows, two hundred eighty thousand: all these were mighty men of valor.
2Ch 14:9 There came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an army of a million troops, and three hundred chariots; and he came to Mareshah.
2Ch 14:10 Then Asa went out to meet him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
2Ch 14:11 Asa cried to Yahweh his God, and said, Yahweh, there is none besides you to help, between the mighty and him who has no strength: help us, Yahweh our God; for we rely on you, and in your name are we come against this multitude. Yahweh, you are our God; don't let man prevail against you.
2Ch 14:12 So Yahweh struck the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
2Ch 14:13 Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar: and there fell of the Ethiopians so many that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before Yahweh, and before his army; and they carried away very much booty.
2Ch 14:14 They struck all the cities around Gerar; for the fear of Yahweh came on them: and they despoiled all the cities; for there was much spoil in them.
2Ch 14:15 They struck also the tents of livestock, and carried away sheep in abundance, and camels, and returned to Jerusalem.
2Ch 15:1 The Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded:
2Ch 15:2 and he went out to meet Asa, and said to him, Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: Yahweh is with you, while you are with him; and if you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.
2Ch 15:3 Now for a long season Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law:
2Ch 15:4 But when in their distress they turned to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them.
2Ch 15:5 In those times there was no peace to him who went out, nor to him who came in; but great troubles were on all the inhabitants of the lands.
2Ch 15:6 They were broken in pieces, nation against nation, and city against city; for God troubled them with all adversity.
2Ch 15:7 But you be strong, and don't let your hands be slack; for your work shall be rewarded.
2Ch 15:8 When Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominations out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from the hill country of Ephraim; and he renewed the altar of Yahweh, that was before the porch of Yahweh.
2Ch 15:9 He gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those who sojourned with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that Yahweh his God was with him.
2Ch 15:10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
2Ch 15:11 They sacrificed to Yahweh in that day, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep.
2Ch 15:12 They entered into the covenant to seek Yahweh, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul;
2Ch 15:13 and that whoever would not seek Yahweh, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
2Ch 15:14 They swore to Yahweh with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
2Ch 15:15 All Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and Yahweh gave them rest all around.
2Ch 15:16 Also Maacah, the mother of Asa the king, he removed from being queen, because she had made an abominable image for an Asherah; and Asa cut down her image, and made dust of it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
2Ch 15:17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
2Ch 15:18 He brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
2Ch 15:19 There was no more war to the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.

Jul. 26, 27
Acts 16

Act 16:1 He came to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess who believed; but his father was a Greek.
Act 16:2 The brothers who were at Lystra and Iconium gave a good testimony about him.
Act 16:3 Paul wanted to have him go out with him, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Act 16:4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been ordained by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.
Act 16:5 So the assemblies were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.
Act 16:6 When they had gone through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
Act 16:7 When they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit didn't allow them.
Act 16:8 Passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
Act 16:9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night. There was a man of Macedonia standing, begging him, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us."
Act 16:10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go out to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Good News to them.
Act 16:11 Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the day following to Neapolis;
Act 16:12 and from there to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the foremost of the district, a Roman colony. We were staying some days in this city.
Act 16:13 On the Sabbath day we went forth outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together.
Act 16:14 A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul.
Act 16:15 When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay." So she persuaded us.
Act 16:16 It happened, as we were going to prayer, that a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling.
Act 16:17 Following Paul and us, she cried out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation!"
Act 16:18 She was doing this for many days. But Paul, becoming greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" It came out that very hour.
Act 16:19 But when her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.
Act 16:20 When they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men, being Jews, are agitating our city,
Act 16:21 and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans."
Act 16:22 The multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore their clothes off of them, and commanded them to be beaten with rods.
Act 16:23 When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely,
Act 16:24 who, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and secured their feet in the stocks.
Act 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Act 16:26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were loosened.
Act 16:27 The jailer, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.
Act 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Don't harm yourself, for we are all here!"
Act 16:29 He called for lights and sprang in, and, fell down trembling before Paul and Silas,
Act 16:30 and brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
Act 16:31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Act 16:32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his house.
Act 16:33 He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was immediately baptized, he and all his household.
Act 16:34 He brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his household, having believed in God.
Act 16:35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, "Let those men go."
Act 16:36 The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore come out, and go in peace."
Act 16:37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, without a trial, men who are Romans, and have cast us into prison! Do they now release us secretly? No, most certainly, but let them come themselves and bring us out!"
Act 16:38 The sergeants reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans,
Act 16:39 and they came and begged them. When they had brought them out, they asked them to depart from the city.
Act 16:40 They went out of the prison, and entered into Lydia's house. When they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them, and departed.