12/16/16

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Does Your Temple Need Cleaning? (21:12-14) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

               Does Your Temple Need Cleaning? (21:12-14)

INTRODUCTION

1. Shortly after entering Jerusalem at the beginning of His final week,
   Jesus entered the temple - Mt 21:12-14
   a. Angered by the presence of the moneychangers and merchants, He
      drove them out
   b. He decried their turning the house of God into a den of thieves
   c. With the temple cleansed, He then healed blind and lame

2. Jesus had cleansed the temple before - Jn 2:13-17
   a. It was during the Passover, three years before
   b. Then He rebuked them for making the house of God a house of
      merchandise

3. In both cases, we see Jesus' anger for their misuse of the temple...
   a. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with buying and
      selling
   b. But it was not the proper place, or use of the temple

4. How about your temple?
   a. Is it being properly used? 
   b. Does it need cleaning?
   c. Are you aware that you even have a temple?  

[Yes, you do have a temple.  As with the temple in Jerusalem, it is to
be used in the service and praise of God.  If it is not, then it too
needs a cleaning!  What am I talking about...?]

I. YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE

   A. A TEMPLE FOR GOD TO INDWELL...
      1. Your physical body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who in you
         - 1Co 6:19
         a. This "indwelling" refers to a special relationship between
            you and the Spirit
            1) By which God strengthens you - cf. Ep 3:16
            2) By whom we can deal with the power of sin - cf. Ro 8:
               11-13
         b. As Solomon recognized with the temple in Jerusalem, no
            physical dwelling can contain the omnipresent God - cf.
            2Ch 6:18
         c. Such is true of the Spirit of God - cf. Ps 139:7-12
         d. Yet the uniqueness of the Spirit's presence in the life of
            a Christian is such that it is proper to speak of Him
            "indwelling" the Christian - cf. Ga 4:6
      2. What is said of the physical body, is also said of the church
         as a whole - 1Co 3:16
      3. What is said of the church as a temple, is also true of the
         body - 1Co 3:17
         a. Defile the temple of God, and you incur the wrath of God!
         b. For the temple is to be holy!

   B. A TEMPLE FOR DEVOTED SERVICE TO GOD...
      1. The temple of Jerusalem was to be a place of prayer - cf.
         Mt 21:13; 2Ch 6:19-21
      2. So your temple, including both body and mind, is to be devoted
         in service to God
         a. Your body is to be a living sacrifice - Ro 12:1; cf. Col 3:
            5-9
         b. Your mind is to be renewed, focused on things above -
            Ro 12:2; cf. Col 3:1-2

   C. A TEMPLE THAT CAN BE ABUSED...
      1. We have seen how the temple in Jerusalem was abused
         a. A place designed for prayer, turned into a marketplace
         b. A place that need to be cleansed, once and again
      2. The same can be true of our temples...
         a. We can become guilty of setting our minds on earthly things
            1) We begin serving our bellies (fleshly appetites), rather
               than Jesus - Php 3:18-19
            2) We find ourselves unable to abide by will of God - Ro 8:
               5-8
         b. We can begin offering our bodies to that which it does not
            belong
            1) Some which is inherently sinful - cf. 1Co 6:13-18
            2) Other things (cares, riches, pleasures of life) which
               detract us from our true service and hinder our ability
               to serve God with our bodies - cf. Lk 8:14

[What is the condition of your temple?  Perhaps you are in need of a
"major overhaul" (salvation).  Perhaps you need some "spring cleaning"
(restoration and rededication).  In either case, the principles for
cleaning are similar...]

II. WHAT YOU NEED TO BE CLEANSED

   A. THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST...
      1. Jesus is an expert at "temple-cleansing"!
      2. Even more so, when it comes to cleansing the temples of our
         bodies and spirits
         a. He knows that it must occur from the inside out - cf. Mt23:25-27
         b. He died, that He might purify us - Tit 2:11-14
         c. His blood is the cleansing power to purify us from all sin
            - 1Jn 1:7
      3. How do we ensure the presence of Christ in our "temples"?
         a. Through faith - Ep 3:17
         b. Through obedience - Jn 14:21,23; 1Pe 1:22
      4. For the non-Christian, such faith and obedience includes
         baptism
         a. For baptism unites us with Christ, that the body of sin
            might be destroyed - Ro 6:3-4
         b. For in baptism we put on Christ - Ga 3:27
      5. For the Christian in need of cleansing, faithful obedience
         includes repentance and prayer - cf. Ac 8:22
         a. Repentance, as Christ counseled the Laodiceans - Rev 3:
            14-19
         b. Prayer, through which the Lord is allowed back into our
            hearts - Rev 3:20

   B. THE POWER OF CHRIST...
      1. Jesus exercised strength to overturn the tables and drive out
         the merchants
      2. Even more so, does He offer strength for the Christian
         a. Without Him, we can do nothing - Jn 15:4-5
         b. With Him, we can do everything - Php 4:13
      3. Thus we need to stand strong "in the power of His might" -
         Ep 6:10; Col 1:11; cf. Isa 40:29-31; 41:10

   C. OUR PARTICIPATION WITH CHRIST...
      1. While we are dependent upon Christ for our cleansing, we 
         cannot sit by idly
         a. We must "cleanse ourselves" - 2Co 7:1
         b. We must "pursue holiness" - He 12:14
      2. This involves both "putting off" and "putting on" things in
         our life
         a. As counseled by James - Jm 1:21
         b. As instructed by Peter - 1Pe 2:1-2
         c. As commanded by Paul - Ep 4:22-32; Col 3:8-14
      3. Our cleansing will be greatly facilitated by what we allow in
         our minds
         a. For things that are worthy of praise and virtue will ensure
            God's presence in our lives - Php 4:8-9
         b. Our transformation will take place as our minds are renewed
            - Ro 12:1-2

CONCLUSION

1. In what condition is your "temple"?
   a. Is it a place where God, Jesus, and the Spirit can reside?
   b. Is your body and mind "a place of prayer", one that brings glory
      to God?
   -- Or have you allowed the mundane things of life to so preoccupy
      your "temple" that it is not what God intended, a place that is
      common and profane?

2. If your temple needs cleaning, then look to Jesus...
   a. Only He can provide the cleansing you need
   b. But He also provides power for godly living

3. But be careful that you do not just let Jesus clean your temple
   and nothing else...
   a. For cleansing without replacement can make thing worse - cf.
      Mt 12:43-45
   b. Therefore we must fill our "temples" with prayer, praise, virtue,
      and godliness
   c. Otherwise our "temples" will soon be filled with idols

Do not forget the words of the apostle Paul:

   "And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are
   the temple of the living God."

   "As God has said: `I will dwell in them And walk among them. I 
   will be their God, And they shall be My people.' Therefore `Come
   out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch
   what is unclean, And I will receive you.  I will be a Father to
   you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD
   Almighty.'"

   "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse 
   ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting
   holiness in the fear of God."
                                               (2Co 6:16-7:1)

Are you participating with Christ in your cleansing, and perfecting
holiness in the fear of God?
 

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Served By Greatness, Serve To Be Great (20:20-28) by Mark Copeland



                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

           Served By Greatness, Serve To Be Great (20:20-28)

INTRODUCTION

1. What good mother does not desire the best for her children?
   a. The mother of James and John was no different
   b. She desired great things for her two sons - Mt 20:20-21

2. Yet she was not aware of the significance of what she was asking 
   Jesus...
   a. Serving in His kingdom would require great sacrifice and 
      suffering - Mt 20:22-23
   b. Her request could only be granted by the Father - Mt 20:23

3. This request in behalf of James and John displeased the other 
   apostles - Mt 20:24
   a. Upon which Jesus used this opportunity to teach an important
      lesson - Mt 20:25-28
   b. I.e., to be great in the kingdom one must serve, even as the Son
      of Man came to serve

[This is a lesson that every Christian needs to remember, yet it goes
against what the world would have us believe.  To encourage us in being
willing to serve, perhaps it would help to recall that we have been...]

I. WE HAVE BEEN SERVED BY GREATNESS

   A. SERVED BY JESUS...
      1. He came to serve, not to be served - Mt 20:28
      2. He served by giving His life a ransom, dying on the cross for
         our sins
      3. He serves even now, as our High Priest who intercedes for us
         - He 7:24-25

   B. SERVED BY THE PROPHETS...
      1. The prophets spent their lives in service for our benefit 
         - 1Pe 1:10-12
      2. Thus we have been served by men like Moses, Samuel, David,
         Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and many other "heroes of faith"!

   C. SERVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT...
      1. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets - 1Pe 1:11
      2. He also inspired the apostles to reveal the gospel - 1Pe 1:
         12; Jn 16:13

   D. SERVED BY THE APOSTLES...
      1. They are the ones who preached the gospel to us - 1Pe 1:12
      2. Through them, we have come to believe in Jesus - cf. Jn 17:20
      3. Thus we have been served by men like Peter, James, John, and
         Paul, who suffered greatly in their ministry to us! - cf.
         1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 11:24-29

   E. SERVED BY ANGELS...
      1. They had a keen interest in the things being revealed - 1 Pe 1:12
      2. For they had a part in the process of revelation - cf. Dan 8,
         9; Lk 1:11-19,26-38
      3. Thus they too have ministered to us - cf. He 1:13-14

   F. SERVED BY OTHER CHRISTIANS...
      1. Someone taught us the gospel, others continue to teach us and
         our children
      2. Some have made it possible for us to assemble, and each week
         clean up what we leave behind
      3. In times of sickness, many have prayed and rendered various
         forms of service

[With so many rendering so much service, it is easy to feel pampered.
Indeed, we have been "served by greatness"!  Do we take it for granted?
I hope not.  We can show our appreciation by emulating those who served
us.  So let me offer just a few ways that we can serve others...]

II. LET US SERVE TO BE GREAT

   A. SERVE OTHERS IN EVANGELISM...
      1. Someone led you to Christ, can you not lead another to Him?
         - cf. Jn 1:35-42
      2. Begin by being hospitable, offering acts of kindness and
         service
      3. At the very least, invite to services, offer a Bible 
         correspondence course
      4. Hone your skills in personal evangelism, seek to improve your
         ability to teach the gospel to others

   B. SERVE OTHERS IN EDIFICATION...
      1. Many have contributed to your spiritual growth, can you help
         others? - cf. Ep 4:16
      2. Begin by being present at every service, greeting every one
         present
      3. Take a special interest in those who are new, encourage them
      4. Offer to help teach our children, even if it only means to
         assist another teacher
      5. Volunteer whatever service you can render in the work and
         worship of the church

   C. SERVE OTHERS IN BENEVOLENCE...
      1. Has anyone ever showed you kindness?  "Be kind to one another"
         - cf. Ep 4:32
      2. Visit the sick or elderly in hospitals, and at home
      3. Render service such as cleaning, transportation, errands, etc.
      4. Minister to the poor, hungry, or those otherwise in need

CONCLUSION

1. The important thing is that we be people of service...
   a. People who serve others, not just benefiting from the efforts of
      others
   b. People who are producers, not just consumers

2. Serving others is not just the path to greatness in the kingdom, it
   is also the path to happiness  in life:

   "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you
   must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus,
   that He said, `It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
                                                        (Ac 20:35)

Shall we not follow both the example and teaching of the Son of Man,
and live to serve others?
 

Killing, Murder, and the Bible by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=2794

Killing, Murder, and the Bible

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Eight minutes and 18 seconds into his 15-minute opening speech during our February 12, 2009 Darwin Day debate, Dan Barker claimed that the God of the Bible cannot exist because biblical teachings regarding killing are contradictory. He stated:
In Exodus 20:13, in the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not kill.” In Leviticus 24:17 a different phrasing of it with a different Hebrew word: “He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.” However, we find in Exodus 32: “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Put every man his sword by his side, slay every man his brother, his companion and neighbor.” First Samuel 6: “The people lamented because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.” The Bible is filled with examples of the biblical God committing, commanding, and condoning killing. The God of the Bible says “Don’t kill.” The God of the Bible says “Kill.” He does not exist (Butt and Barker, 2009).
Is it true that the biblical position on killing is hopelessly contradictory and can be used as evidence that the God of the Bible cannot exist? Certainly not. The biblical injunctions about killing and murder are in perfect harmony with themselves, and with the principles of justice, and cannot be used as evidence against the God of the Bible.
First, according to Dan, the command to avoid killing in the Ten Commandments is a blanket statement that includes avoiding every type of killing. Yet, we must consider that just one chapter later, in Exodus 21:12-17, we read several injunctions pertaining to capital punishment in which the death sentence is permitted for those who premeditatively murder another person due to malice, who kidnap a person to sell him, or who curse their father or mother. The original readers understood that the commandment in Exodus 20:13 did not mean that all killing was wrong, including capital punishment. They understood that certain qualifications, as are detailed in the rest of the Law, put limits, restrictions, and allowances on the term “kill.” Barker would have us to believe that whoever wrote the book of Exodus was so ignorant that he did not catch contradictory statements that are separated by less than one chapter. Yet, such an idea is ridiculous in light of the remarkable accuracy and acumen of the Old Testament instructions (see Butt, 2008) that were used by the Jewish community for almost 1,500 years, many of which were the basis for the legal codes of modern nations. The arrogance of the current atheistic community to assume that the original readers of the Old Testament were so dim-witted as to accept contradictory statements less than a chapter apart is astounding. If a statement about killing is made, and then within a few verses, the statement is qualified and expounded upon, the allegation that all killing is being included in the original instruction cannot be maintained.
Second, Barker frequently uses this alleged contradiction in his writings as well as his debates. In his book, godless, he claimed that the commandment in Exodus 20:13 cannot be translated “Thou shalt not murder,” because the Hebrew word ratsach sometimes means something other than murder. To prove his point, he listed the following five Hebrew words most commonly translated as “kill” or “murder”:
muth: (825) die, slay, put to death, kill
nakah: (502) smite, kill, slay, beat, wound, murder
harag: (172) slay, kill, murder, destroy
zabach (140) sacrifice, kill
ratsach (47) slay [23], murder [17], kill [6], be put to death [1] (Barker, 2008, p. 204).
To further “prove” his point, he listed several places in the Old Testament in which the term ratsach, means something other than murder. He cited Deuteronomy 4:42, a verse that uses the term to refer to involuntary manslaughter. He also noted Numbers 35:30-31, in which the term is used for the justifiable capital punishment inflicted on a murderer. Barker’s contention, then, is that if the term can ever be used to mean something besides murder, then it must be used that way in Exodus 20:13.
The fatal flaw in Barker’s assertion is that of equivocation. “Equivocation is classified as both a formal and informal fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time)” (“Equivocation,” 2009, emp. added). [NOTE: Although Wikipedia is not usually considered a scholarly source, equivocation is a commonly used concept and Wikipedia’s wording was the most concise and clear of the various sources consulted.] Notice how Barker is equivocating in this instance. He is rightly saying that the term ratsach might be used for justified killing like capital punishment, but he is insisting that this definition must be used in Exodus 20:13. Yet, when we see the other definitions, such as murder, for the word ratsach that are available, we realize that the definition of murder fits the context of Exodus 20:13, not the concept of justifiable killing such as capital punishment. By forcing the word ratsach to have the same definition in all places, Dan alleges to have found a contradiction. Dan stated: “Modern preacher must be smarter than Hebrew translators if they claim that ratsach means “murder” exclusively” (1992, pp. 207-208). But the claim is not that the word means murder exclusively, but that in the context of Exodux 20:13 the context shows that the word means murder. In truth, Barker must be smarter than the entire Hebrew nation and all linguists since the time of the Bible’s writing to be able to prove that ratsach cannot mean murder in Exodus 20:13, when both the context and standard meanings of the word allow for such to be the case. His logical fallacy of equivocation, however, is plain to see and is inexcusable for a man who has been studying his Bible and debating for as many years as Dan has.
The only proper way to determine the meaning of a word with multiple meanings is to look at the context. In the context of Exodus 20:13 and other injunctions to avoid “killing,” the clear meaning is that some types of killing, such as premeditated murder out of malice, are forbidden, while other types of killing, such as that done by the government as punishment for certain wrong doings, are permissible.
The use of our English word “kill” provides a good example of how words can be used. Suppose we say: “It is wrong to kill your neighbor,” but then we say, “It is not always wrong for a policeman to kill his neighbor.” Are these two statements contradictory? No. Not if in the first instance we use “kill” to mean intentionally, premeditatively killing out of malice, etc., but in the second we mean the policeman may shoot his neighbor if the neighbor was shooting at him, was holding hostages at gunpoint, etc. Biblical statements about killing, murder, and capital punishment are not contradictory.
Besides this alleged contradiction, Dan and his fellow atheists also contend that it is unfair for God to be in the position to decide when killing is justifiable or not. They contend that humans should have the same prerogative about deciding who lives and dies as God should have. Thus, they say, God cannot be in a position to determine when killing is justified if humans are not in this same position—the same rules must apply to God as to all humans. Barker opined: “Why is God special?” (2008, p. 204). Atheists continually overlook, however, the concept of authorization. Not everyone has the same authority to administer punishment. While it is true that a thief might deserve 10 years in prison, an individual cannot capture the thief, lock him in his basement for ten years and be considered moral. Only the government has the right to try the thief, find him guilty, and sentence him to prison. A vigilante cannot break into a federal penitentiary and kill all the inmates on death row, even though they are sentenced to death. Why? Because that individual does not have the authorization to kill those people. God has authority over life and death because He gives it, and he knows all the thoughts of those committing crimes and all the consequences of the punishment He administers (see Butt, 2004). The atheists’ contention that God and humans have the same prerogative over matters of life and death is logically flawed.
In conclusion, the biblical instructions regarding killing, when viewed in context and not equivocated, are clearly harmonious and without contradiction. Certain types of killing, such as premeditated murder done out of malice, are easily identified from the context as forbidden killing. While capital punishment administered by the proper authority is clearly not under discussion in the biblical statements against “killing.” Alleged Bible contradictions that exhibit such poor scholarship and dishonesty should be viewed by the reasonable observer as evidence against atheism and for the Bible’s accuracy and unity.

REFERENCES

Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle (2004), “The Skeptic’s Faulty Assumption,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2230.
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God, (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Equivocation” (2009), Wikipedia, [On-line], URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation.

God’s Original Superhydrophobic Material by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1785

God’s Original Superhydrophobic Material

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

One cannot help but be amazed at ever-increasing technology that continues to offer better, more efficient products and services. Hardly a week goes by that a new discovery does not find its way into the headlines. Interestingly, many of the most advanced, beneficial discoveries are occurring in the field of study known as biomimicry—the copying or mimicking of the natural, biological world.
For instance, on February 23, 2006, the on-line version of Technology Review featured an article titled “Super-Repellent Plastic.” Admittedly, the title of the article itself does not indicate that biomimicry is involved. Yet, knowing that many new discoveries derive from mimicking nature, I could not help but think that this new plastic might be the result of some phenomenon that God had already designed. As I suspected, about three-fourths of the way through the article, the reader is informed that the scientists who are working on this new plastic “took their inspiration from the leaves of the lotus plant, which is naturally superhydrophobic.... GE set out to mimic this pattern on the surface of its polycarbonate materials” (Talbot, 2006).
This amazing new superhydrophobic (“extremely repellent of water”) plastic will “shed” liquids at a much more efficient rate than many current materials, and it will be more inexpensive to manufacture than current substances—like Teflon. Multiple uses for this plastic have been suggested, including ketchup bottles in which the ketchup will not adhere to the sides of the container, and building panels that would be virtually self-cleaning because rain would wash away dirt (Talbot, 2006).
The technology is not supposed to be on the consumer market for another five years, but its potential is excitedly anticipated. In the midst of the excitement, do not lose sight of an important aspect of this technological wonder. Very intelligent, well-educated scientists have spent hundreds (or thousands) of hours on this advancement. And yet, the prototype for it, the lotus plant, has contained the superhydrophobic capacity for the entirety of its existence. What Intelligent Designer is responsible for endowing this amazing plant with such efficient water-shedding abilities? Those who believe in evolution would say that it acquired this ability over millions of years due to random, chance processes at work in nature. But with the same breath they would laud the creative abilities of the GE scientists. Why is it that evolutionists miss the implication that to recognize design in human invention, while attributing the more efficient design in nature to non-intelligent processes, is logically irrational. It is high time that the Creator of nature’s design be given the plaudits He deserves as the Ultimate Engineer.

REFERENCE

Talbot, David (2006), “Super-Repellent Plastic,” Technology Review, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16415,295,p1.html.

Exorcism, Demons, Witchcraft, and Astrology by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1198

Exorcism, Demons, Witchcraft, and Astrology

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Many theories have been advanced to account for the origin of demons. Some say demons are the offspring of angels cohabiting with women (Genesis 6:1-4). But angels are sexless beings who apparently are incapable of such unions (Matthew 22:30). Instead, “sons of God” and “daughters of men” in Genesis chapter six is an idiomatic expression for the intermingling of good people with bad people—which inevitably results in moral corruption (1 Corinthians 15:33) [see Major, 1993].
Some say demons are the spirits of wicked dead men whom God permitted to leave the hadean realm to indwell some people in harmony with His divine purposes. Still others say demons are fallen angels who were allowed to escape their confinement (cf. Jude 6) to accomplish some divine purpose. The fact of the matter is, the Bible simply does not tell us where demons came from. No legitimate or useful purpose is served by dwelling on the matter.
On the other hand, the Bible does tell us many things about demons. For example, demons are spirits (Matthew 8:16; Luke 24:39). Demons are always depicted as unclean, evil, and malevolent. They are associated with Satan’s influence (Matthew 9:34; 12:24,43,45; Luke 11:15). Demons also are shown to be conscious, intelligent entities who possess true knowledge of God and Christ. In Mark 1:24, a demon spoke to Jesus, “I know who you are—the holy one of God.” Demons exercised volition and even locomotion (Matthew 12:44-45).
Demons frequently caused physical and/or mental illness. For instance, in Matthew 9:32, the victim of demon possession experienced “dumbness,” i.e., the inability to talk. Such illnesses were distinguishable from the demons themselves (Matthew 4:24). Some say demons have never actually existed, and that the Bible account of demons is simply the superstitious, pre-scientific explanation of epilepsy and other physical or emotional disorders. But in the New Testament, a clear distinction is drawn between demons and the illnesses that a demon might cause. Some demons had superhuman strength (Mark 5:4; Acts 19:16). No reason is given in the New Testament for why some individuals were singled out for demon possession. Included were men (Matthew 9:32), women (Luke 8:2), and even children (Mark 7:30).
What was the purpose of demons, and what was their relationship to God? It is clear from the Bible that God had ultimate control over them. For example, in Luke 10:17, the seventy returned from their preaching tour and said to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through your name.” A careful study of the New Testament will disclose the fact that demon possession was divinely permitted to show the supreme authority of Christ and His inspired representatives. During His earthly stay, Jesus demonstrated His power over: (1) nature and the created order (Mark 4:31); (2) disease (Mark 1:32-34); (3) physical substances (John 2:9); (4) death (John 11:44); and (5) the spirit realm and Satan (Mark 1:27). This supreme authority and manifestation of power set the stage for the establishment of His kingdom. In Luke 11:20, Jesus said: “But if I, with the finger of God, cast out demons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” The reader is urged to study carefully John 12:31, Ephesians 2:2 and 4:8, Colossians 2:15, Acts 10:38, Luke 10:17-20, and Matthew 12:28-29. John explained that “he who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose, the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). John’s statement correlates well with Hebrews 2:14, where the writer states: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
These passages show that when Christ effected His death, resurrection, and kingdom, Satan’s power was dealt a blow that resulted in a measure of limitation. He was restrained to the extent that direct, supernatural influence over a human being ended. Just as the ability to expel demons has ceased (Mark 16:17; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10), so the ability of demons to possess humans has ceased. When direct miraculous ability gradually ceased as the apostolic age drew to a close, so demonic activity also ceased.
That is the Bible picture. This picture is very different from the claims being made today regarding demon possession and Satanism. In the New Testament, Jesus expelled evil spirits publicly and in the presence of multitudes (Luke 4:36). But much of the work of exorcists today is hidden and only reported second hand. The alleged exorcisms by those who are daring enough to operate publicly are contrived and unconvincing.
In the New Testament, expulsion of demons was achieved by a word with immediate results. For example, “Jesus rebuked the demon; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour” (Matthew 17:18). Read also Acts 19:12. But exorcism today is a long, drawn-out process in which multiple attempts are made. In the New Testament, demon possession caused the malfunction of otherwise normal body traits. You simply do not find in the New Testament the theatrical manifestations alleged by those who affirm demon possession occurs today—fire from the mouth, bulging eyes, transparent teeth, green slime spewing forth, and electricity emitted from fingers.
Another significant difference between demon possession in the Bible and alleged demon possession today is that in the New Testament, demons were respectful of deity and acknowledged Jesus as the “holy one of God” (Mark 1:24; 3:11). Demons knew that Jesus ultimately would banish them to torment (Matthew 8:29). They did not blaspheme deity. But claims today include curses and blasphemy directed against God.
In view of these biblical facts, what must we conclude? Demons do not possess people today. The Old Testament predicted that demon possession would cease in the first century.
In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. And it shall come to pass in that day says the Lord of hosts that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land and they shall no more be remembered; and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land (Zechariah 13:1-2).
In addition, the Bible everywhere condemns those who practice spiritualism, sorcery, witchcraft, astrology, and all other forms of divination. Moses warned the Israelites as they were about to enter Canaan:
When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the lord; and because of these detestable things the lord your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so (Deuteronomy 18:9-14, NASB).
To God, all of these magical arts were an abomination.
Isaiah declared that all of Babylon’s sorceries and spells would be unable to avert the punishment that God would inflict against her (Isaiah 47:8-15). This observation points to a significant conclusion. The Bible repeatedly portrays those who claim sorcerous powers as fakes and counterfeits (e.g., Genesis 41:8; Exodus 7:10-12; Daniel 2:2-11). Even the action of the so-called “witch of Endor,” who actually is identified in the text as a “medium” (NKJV) or having a “familiar spirit” (KJV) [1 Samuel 28:3ff.], must be deemed fraudulent for three reasons: (1) she was surprised that a spirit actually appeared (vs. 12); (2) she thought the spirit was elohim—the Hebrew word for God or gods (vs. 13); and (3) she did not recognize Samuel, but had to describe him to Saul who in turn recognized him (vs. 14). In the New Testament, the claims of both Simon in Acts 8 and Elymas in Acts 13 also were bogus. All these sorcerers and astrologers were fakes who had no real power—though they fooled a lot of people into thinking they did.
Astrology, witchcraft, sorcery, spiritualism, and yes, those who claim to be “psychic mediums,” are all condemned by God. Why? Because these practices implicitly present themselves as substitutes for God, the one and only true power of the Universe, and His Word, the one and only valid spiritual guide. No wonder witchcraft is listed as a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). No wonder the Bible declares in no uncertain terms that “sorcerers...shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). The only “crossing over” that is actually occurring is by those whose spirits exit their bodies (i.e., they die) and who then are transported to the hadean realm to await the Day of Judgment and eternity. Their abode is fixed and unchanging (Luke 16:26-31).

CONCLUSION

The Bible speaks decisively and definitively on the subject of demon possession, witchcraft, astrology, sorcery, divination, enchantment, and wizardry. With a united and concerted voice, God’s Word condemns it and pronounces it false. People could be possessed by demons for a brief period of time in the first century. But this phenomenon has ceased. Those who wish to be Christians—those who wish to be pleasing to God—will give no credence to such claims today. No doubt, many of us like to break open that fortune cookie at the oriental restaurant and read the note inside; we might even occasionally glance at our horoscope in the newspaper—but only as a source of amusement, because there is absolutely no validity to it. The moment a person puts trust in such, and thinks that the future is determined by such, he or she is trusting in something other than God, and is sinning.
The only reliable guide in life is the Bible. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). The Word of God is living and active, quick and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). It is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). By that Word we will be judged one day (John 12:48). May we set aside all other claims to guidance and rely solely and strictly upon the Bible, wonderful words of life—the all-sufficient and authoritative Word of God.

REFERENCES

Major, Trevor (1993), “Genesis 6:1-4 and the ‘Sons of God,’” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/reprints_pdf/sonsgod.pdf.

Is Jesus Really Michael the Archangel? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

 
http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=1473

Is Jesus Really Michael the Archangel?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Jesus is not God and never claimed to be” (“Should You Believe…?,” 2000). Rather, Jesus can be understood “from the scriptures to be Michael the Archangel” (The Watchtower, 1979, p. 29). “Michael the great prince is none other than Jesus Christ himself,” they allege (The Watchtower, 1984, p. 29). The May 15, 1969 issue of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower magazine suggested: “There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return” (p. 307). Where is the “scriptural evidence” for such a doctrine? In an article titled “The Truth About Angels” that appears on the official web site of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.watchtower.org), 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude 9 were the only two passages listed as proof that “the foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael” (2001).
Michael the archangel is mentioned only five times in the Bible (Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7), and yet never do these passages indicate that he is to be equated with the preincarnate Christ, nor with the ascended Jesus. First Thessalonians 4:16 also alludes to “an archangel,” and, although the name Michael is not mentioned, this is the passage Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently cite as proof of Jesus being the archangel. Concerning the Second Coming of Christ, Paul wrote: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (emp. added). Supposedly, since Jesus is described as descending from heaven “with the voice of an archangel,” then He must be the archangel Michael. However, this verse does not teach that Jesus is an archangel, but that at His Second Coming He will be accompanied “with the voice of an archangel.” Just as He will be attended “with a shout” and “with the trumpet of God,” so will He be accompanied “with the voice of an archangel.” Question: If Jesus’ descension from heaven “with the voice of an archangel” makes Him (as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim) the archangel Michael, then does His descent “with the trumpet of God” not also make Him God? Jehovah’s Witnesses reject this latter conclusion, yet they accept the first. Such inconsistency is one proof of their erroneous teachings about Jesus.
One of the strongest arguments against Jesus being an angel is found in the book of Hebrews. In chapter one, the writer of Hebrews showed the superiority of Jesus over the angelic beings, and contrasted Him with them.
For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? (1:5-13).
Jesus’ superiority over the angels is seen in the fact that the Father spoke to Jesus as His special begotten Son to Whom He gave the seat of honor at His right hand (1:5,13). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews indicated that God commanded all angels to worship Jesus (1:6; cf. Revelation 5:11-13; Philippians 2:10). Yet, if Jesus were an angel, how could He accept the worship of other “lesser” angels when, according to Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9, angels do not accept worship, but rather preach the worship of God, and no other? Hebrews chapter one is a death knell to the idea of Jesus, the Son of God, being Michael, the archangel. [NOTE: Interestingly, John H. Paton, the most frequently used contributing writer in 1879 of Charles Taze Russel (the founder of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), admitted such when he stated in The Watchtower magazine near the end of its inaugural year: “Hence it is said, ‘let all the angels of God worship him’: (that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God)…” (1879, p. 4, emp. added). Sadly, even though Paton rejected the idea of Jesus being Michael the archangel, and even though Russell, The Watchtower's founder and first editor and publisher, allowed such a teaching in the magazine's first year of publication, Jehovah’s Witnesses today hold firmly to the doctrine that Jesus is Michael, the archangel.]
The writer of Hebrews returned to the subject of Jesus’ superiority over angels in chapter two, saying, “He [God] has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels” (2:5). To whom will the world be in subjection? Scripture indicates that it would be Jesus, “the appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2). “All authority” has been given, not to any angel, but to Jesus (Matthew 28:18). All angels, authorities, and powers “have been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him” (Hebrews 2:8, NIV, emp. added). Jesus, therefore, is not Michael, the archangel, “for it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5, RSV).
One final proof that Jesus is not Michael the archangel actually comes from one of the five passages in which Michael’s name is found in Scripture—Jude 9. According to Jude: “Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” Whereas Michael would not dare pronounce a railing judgment against the devil (cf. 2 Peter 2:11), Jesus once declared about Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Jesus did not approach the subject of rebuking Satan with the same hesitation as godly angels like Michael. Jesus, as Lord of heaven and Earth (Matthew 28:18), boldly called the devil a murderer and liar, and even went so far as to declare that “there is no truth in him.” The Son of God obviously is not Michael the archangel.
I find it extremely puzzling how Jehovah’s Witnesses can conclude that there is no biblical proof of Jesus being deity, and yet at the same time allege that “[t]here is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return” (Watchtower, 1969, p. 307, emp. added). Where is the evidence? There is none. Jesus is not Michael the archangel; rather, He is exactly Who the apostle John said He was (John 1:1,14), Who Thomas said He was (John 20:28), and even Who His enemies accused Him of making Himself (John 5:18; 10:33). Jesus is God!

REFERENCES

“Should You Believe in the Trinity?” (2000), [On-line], URL: http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/index.htm.
The Truth About Angels (2001), [On-line], URL: http://www.watchtower.org/library/w/1995/11/1/the_truth_about_angels.htm, originally appeared in The Watchtower, November 1, 1995.
The Watchtower, 1879, November.
The Watchtower, 1969, May 15.
The Watchtower, 1979, February 15.
The Watchtower, 1984, December 15.

Computer Puts Evolution In “Jeopardy” by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=3736

Computer Puts Evolution In “Jeopardy”

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Science fiction writers have been portraying the face-off between computers and humans for years. Ever so often, what once was science fiction becomes a reality. Such is the case with the upcoming television showdown between the two most-winning contestants from the popular game show “Jeopardy” and a new supercomputer named Watson (Fitzgerald and Martin, 2011).

On February 14-16, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter will be challenged by the latest in computing technology. The humans in the contest are certainly no slouches. Jennings won 74 “Jeopardy” games in a row. And he and Rutter combined to amass over 3.3 million dollars in prize money. Their challenger, Watson, an IBM supercomputer named after the founder of the company, can store the equivalent of over 200 million pages of information, is “the size of 10 refrigerators,” and is the “result of four years of work by IBM researchers around the globe.” In a practice round with the human champions, Watson outscored its opponents $4,000 to Jennings’ $3,400 and Rutter’s $1,200.

As enjoyable as contests like these are to watch, they bring to light a very serious truth that needs to be underscored. Would any person who was thinking correctly look at a supercomputer like Watson and conclude it did not have an intelligent designer (or several) behind its construction? To suggest such would be absurd. And yet it challenges brilliant humans, who are much less physically bulky, and who have proved their mental prowess repeatedly on “Jeopardy.” Does it make sense to suggest that Watson was the product of thousands of man-hours of IBM’s most brilliant researchers across the globe, but the human contestants were the products of blind chance and random evolutionary processes that lacked any type of intelligence and had no goal in mind? Certainly not. If Watson is the product of intelligence, then the IBM technicians who built it and the “Jeopardy” champions competing against it must have been designed by an even more impressive Super-intellect. As Hebrews 3:4 says, “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” One could express that sentiment in another way and just as truly state that every computer is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. Supercomputer Watson adds one more piece of evidence that puts the theory of evolution in “Jeopardy!”

REFERENCE

Fitzgerald, Jim and David Martin (2011), “Computer Could Make 2 ‘Jeopardy!’ Champs Deep Blue,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110114/ap_on_hi_te/us_man_vs_machine/print, January 14.

God and the Pledge of Allegiance by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1570

God and the Pledge of Allegiance

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Here we go again. A federal judge in Sacramento, California has ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the reference to “one nation under God” violates the constitutional right of students to be “free from a coercive requirement to affirm God” (“Federal Judge Rules...,” 2005). Fortunately, there are those who recognize the audacity and absurdity of such an action—which entails the usurpation of the Constitution. The Pledge Protection Act, introduced by Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, would restrict the jurisdiction of the federal courts from ruling on the constitutionality of the Pledge (Akin, 2003).
During the last 40 years or so, America has moved farther and farther away from God and its original religious moorings. A small but growing number of liberal politicians, educators, entertainers, and activist judges have been working feverishly to expel Christianity from public life and to transform American civilization into a religionless (or religiously neutral) country. Their central strategy has been their claim that the Founding Fathers (and the Constitution they wrote) rejected references to the God of the Bible or the Christian religion in public life—whether in the government, public schools, or the community. They claim that references to the Christian religion in schools violate the principle of “separation of church and state,” and specifically, the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment.
It was Adolf Hitler who is purported to have said: “By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell—and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.” In actuality, the Constitution makes no reference to any notion of an alleged separation of church and state—a phrase which the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist labeled “a misleading metaphor,” insisting that it ought to be “frankly and explicitly abandoned” (Wallace v. Jaffree). The Founding Fathers did not believe that the Christian religion should be banned from public life—since they, themselves, frequently referred to God in their official public actions, statements, and written documents. The Declaration of Independence, for example, refers to the “Creator,” “Nature’s God,” “Divine Providence,” and “the Supreme Judge of the world”—four unmistakable references to the God of the Bible.
While the Pledge was written in the late 1800s, the words “under God” were added in 1954 by Congress at the behest of President Dwight Eisenhower. At the time, he stated: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war” (“Pledge of Allegiance...,” 2002). Yet a liberal, activist federal judge in 2005 would have us to believe that the Congress of the United States—the legislative body who made a law in harmony with the consent of the governed, those millions of Americans whom they represented at the time—as well as the millions of American teachers and students who have repeated those words for over 50 years now, have all been in direct violation of the Constitution and the will of the Founders? Ridiculous! Such foolishness flies in the face of voluminous evidence to the contrary (see, for example, Barton, 2000).
But what about all the atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, et al. who do not share the Christian values and belief system that dominated the nation for the first 180+ years? Is not the use of the Pledge “insensitive” and “offensive” to them and their children? To put this question into perspective, consider another question: what about all the atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, et al. who attended public schools from 1954 to the present—before “under God” was challenged? History records that America has always had individuals within her borders who have not shared the Christian worldview of the Founders (though they have always been in a minority). What about them? Were they treated “insensitively” in violation of the Constitution? Answer: the Founders certainly did not think so—nor did their judicial and political successors for nearly two centuries. While they did not advocate the persecution of atheists or those who embrace false religious ideologies, neither did they indicate that provision or adjustments were to be made in public life to accommodate such erroneous belief systems! In fact, they insisted that it was only because the American Republic was grounded on the free exercise of Christian principles that enabled non-Christian citizens not to be persecuted (see State Supreme Court cases City Council of Charleston v. Benjamin, 1846 and Lindenmuller v. The People, 1860). Imagine what would happen to an atheist if he went to a Muslim nation and insisted that they adjust their social policies in order to avoid offending his unbelief!
Did the Founders intend to create a nation that adjusts itself to accommodate every ideology, religion, and hair-brained philosophy that comes to our shores? They did not. To do so now is to undermine the foundations of the Republic. Besides, it is impossible to please everybody. The world religions conflict with and contradict each another. The only sane course to follow, the only one that will perpetuate the Republic, is the one articulated by the psalmist some three millennia ago: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). “For the nation and kingdom which will not serve [God] shall perish” (Isaiah 60:12).

REFERENCES

Akin Todd (2003), “We Must Keep ‘Under God’ in the Pledge,” [On-line], URL: http://www.house.gov/akin/updates/20030825ed.html.
Barton, David (2000), Original Intent (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press), third edition.
City Council of Charleston v. Benjamin (1848), 2 Strob. L. 508 (S. C. 1848).
“Federal Judge Rules Reciting Pledge in Schools Unconstitutional” (2005), Fox News, September 15, [On-line], URL: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,169379,00.html.
Lindenmuller v. The People (1861), 33 Barb (N.Y.) 548.
“Pledge of Allegiance Declared Unconstitutional” (2002), June 26, [On-line], URL: http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa062602a.htm.
Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 92 (1984).

Did Jesus Contradict the Law of Biogenesis in John 12:24? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=1590&b=Romans

Did Jesus Contradict the Law of Biogenesis in John 12:24?

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Q:

Did Jesus contradict the Law of Biogenesis in John 12:24?

A:

In John 12:24, Jesus said concerning His approaching death, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (emp. added). The Law of Biogenesis says that in nature, life comes only from life of its own kind (Miller, 2012). Life cannot spontaneously generate or create itself. So, how could a grain which “dies,” subsequently produce living things? Does this phenomenon contradict the Law of Biogenesis? Did Jesus make a mistake? Was He ignorant of the scientific principle we call the Law of Biogenesis?
First, scientists understand today that a seed is typically not considered lifeless for some time, but rather, is dormant, and therefore, still able to produce life. Seeds are alive when they produce other life, in keeping with the Law of Biogenesis. Seeds can remain dormant for centuries and still produce life (cf. Quick, 1961, pp. 94-99). For instance, a seed from Masada in Israel that was radiocarbon-dated to the time of Christ was recently germinated and studied for over two years as it grew (Sallon, et al., 2008). A seed’s ability to produce life does not contradict the Law of Biogenesis. But does that mean that Jesus was wrong in saying that a grain “dies”?
The answer is seen in understanding that the words “life” and “death” can mean different things, depending on the context in which they are used. This is especially true in the Bible. “Death” in the Bible simply means a separation of some sort (Butt, 2006). Spiritual death occurs when we commit sin, which separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). One’s faith is dead when it is not coupled with works of obedience (James 2:26). Physical death occurs when the spirit is separated from the physical body (James 2:26). Plants were not created in the image of God, like humans (Genesis 1:26), and were not endowed with a spirit, although sadly, many confused individuals in the world would likely disagree (cf. Miller, 2008). So, Jesus is not talking about death in the same way humans die.
But what “separation” has occurred in the case of the grain Jesus mentioned? The text helps to illuminate its own meaning. When a grain “falls to the ground,” it dies. Falls from where? Obviously, it falls from its stalk. So, when it falls, being separated from its stalk, it is no longer receiving nourishment from it, and has undergone a form of death. It is no longer growing and being nurtured by its stalk, but rather, begins to slowly decay. This is not in contradiction to the Law of Biogenesis, which indicates that life cannot come from lifeless matter in nature. A seed is typically not considered “lifeless” for centuries or longer. The renowned Greek lexicographers, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, help to illuminate the distinction between lifeless death and the death implied by mere separation, explaining that the meaning of apothnasko (i.e., the Greek word translated “dies” in John 12:24), when speaking of plants and animals, is not necessarily “death” as we typically use the word when referring to lifeless death. They note that in John 12:24, the word technically means “decay” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:36), but contextually, is meant to imply the idea of “death” in Jesus’ illustration, which is why the translators used “died” (Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, 1979, p. 91).
Armed with this information, Jesus’ meaning in the passage is clear, and alleged error cannot be sustained against Jesus or the Bible. A grain of wheat must die, i.e., be separated from its stalk and nourishment and fall to the ground, decaying, in order to produce more wheat. Similarly, Jesus had to die, i.e., His soul had to be separate from His physical body in order to bear fruit in the form of disciples—followers washed in the blood that He shed for us. Rest assured, the Bible does not contradict the laws of science. After all, God, Himself, authored them (Job 38:33).

REFERENCES

Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Butt, Kyle (2006), “Does Death Imply Annihilation?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1861.
Miller, Jeff (2008), “Off With Their Heads!” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=2485.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Sallon, Sarah, Elaine Solowey, Yuval Cohen, Raia Korchinsky, Markus Egli, Ivan Woodhatch, Orit Simchoni, and Mordechai Kislev (2008), “Germination, Genetics, and Growth of an Ancient Date Seed,” Science, 320[5882]:1464.
Quick, Clarence R. (1961), “How Long Can a Seed Remain Alive?” Yearbook of Agriculture (Washington, D.C.: The United States Government Printing Office), The United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/misc/yoa1961_quick001.pdf.

They were obedient to the faith by Roy Davison

http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/019-obedienttothefaith.html
 
They were obedient to the faith
“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).


What is the difference between believing and being obedient to the faith?

An example will make this clear: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42, 43).

Contrary to the traditional doctrine of many Protestant denominations, one cannot be saved by faith only. Otherwise these cowardly rulers, who were afraid to confess their faith in Jesus, would also be saved.

Even the demons would be saved if salvation were by faith alone. James writes: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe --- and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:19-24).

How is it possible that so many people think they can be saved by faith only when the Holy Spirit distinctly states that a man is not justified by faith only!

The priests in Acts six were obedient to the faith!

What is meant by 'the faith' and how does one obey this faith?


What is the faith?

“The faith” is the doctrine of Christ that Christians believe and obey.

They “continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22; Colossians 1:23), “keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), “stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13), they are “established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7), “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13) and “steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9).

Paul preached “the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Galatians 1:23).

He tells Christians: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). “Some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1), some have “denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8), “some have strayed from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10, 21).

Notice that one obeys 'the' faith. There is “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5). This one faith, that must be obeyed, is the original faith revealed by Christ and made known through His apostles in the first century: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

This one faith is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At God's command the gospel has been made known to the whole world by means of sacred Scriptures: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:25, 26). Why was the gospel made known to all nations? “For obedience to the faith.”

Faith and obedience go together: “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name” (Romans 1:5).


The gospel must be obeyed.

Although faith alone is not sufficient, faith is the starting point. Someone who does not believe the message, will not obey the gospel: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'LORD, who has believed our report?'” (Romans 10:16).

What will happen to those who, like the Jewish rulers, do believe but refuse to obey? When Jesus returns he will take “vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).

On the day of judgment there will be indignation and wrath for those who “do not obey the truth” (Romans 2:8).


What is the gospel?

The word 'gospel' means 'good news'.

The good news is that we can be reconciled to God by the blood of Christ.

“All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and sin separates us from God. “Your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).

Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.

Many people do not understand how blood can take away sins.

Because sin is rebellion against God, God determines how sins are forgiven. God has given blood as the means of atonement. In Leviticus 17:11 He explains: “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

Atonement is satisfaction for an offense, resulting in the mending of a broken relationship.

“According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Covenant there was atonement through the blood of animals. This prefigured the blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God.

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through
the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:12-14).

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Christ was qualified to pay the penalty for our sin because He Himself was without sin. Since He was not under the same condemnation, He could voluntarily take our place. “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).


What must we do to obey this good news?


We must believe in Christ.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

If you believe in Christ, that is wonderful.

But if you have accepted the false doctrine that one can be saved by faith only, you are still lost. James wrote: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). No one in the New Testament was ever told that he could be saved by faith only.


Repentance is also necessary.

Repenting is being sorry for one's sins and deciding to obey God.

Jesus told His hearers: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). In addition to believing, one must repent.


One must also confess his faith.

Peter confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Paul wrote: “With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Timothy had “confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).

If you believe in Jesus, have repented of your sins, and have confessed your faith, that is wonderful.

Yet, if you accepted the false doctrine that baptism is not necessary for salvation, you are still lost, even if you have been immersed.


One must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

It is not enough just to believe “ in” Jesus. One must also believe Jesus, believe what He teaches. And Jesus said: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).

Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, commanded: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

If you were not “baptized for the remission of sins” but only “as an outward sign” according to the practice of many human denominations, you have not obeyed the gospel and are still lost. According to the commandment of the Holy Spirit, everyone must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Paul was told: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). If Paul had to be baptized to wash away his sins, is anything less required of you?

By one Spirit we are “all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13) which is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23). The Lord adds those who are saved to His church (Acts 2:47).

Have you been obedient to the faith? Have you obeyed the gospel?

If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if you are sorry for your sins and want to dedicate your life to God, if you are willing to confess your faith in Christ, but have not yet been baptized for the forgiveness of sins, we urge you to do so as soon as possible so your sins can be blotted out, washed away by the blood of the Lamb, so you can be saved and added to the church of Christ. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Bible Reading December 16, 17, 18 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading December 16, 17, 18 (World English Bible)
Dec. 16
Joel 1-3

Joe 1:1 The Word of Yahweh that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel.
Joe 1:2 Hear this, you elders, And listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?
Joe 1:3 Tell your children about it, and have your children tell their children, and their children, another generation.
Joe 1:4 What the swarming locust has left, the great locust has eaten. What the great locust has left, the grasshopper has eaten. What the grasshopper has left, the caterpillar has eaten.
Joe 1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
Joe 1:6 For a nation has come up on my land, strong, and without number. His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a lioness.
Joe 1:7 He has laid my vine waste, and stripped my fig tree. He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away. Its branches are made white.
Joe 1:8 Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth!
Joe 1:9 The meal offering and the drink offering are cut off from Yahweh's house. The priests, Yahweh's ministers, mourn.
Joe 1:10 The field is laid waste. The land mourns, for the grain is destroyed, The new wine has dried up, and the oil languishes.
Joe 1:11 Be confounded, you farmers! Wail, you vineyard keepers; for the wheat and for the barley; for the harvest of the field has perished.
Joe 1:12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all of the trees of the field are withered; for joy has withered away from the sons of men.
Joe 1:13 Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests! Wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the meal offering and the drink offering are withheld from your God's house.
Joe 1:14 Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of Yahweh, your God, and cry to Yahweh.
Joe 1:15 Alas for the day! For the day of Yahweh is at hand, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Joe 1:16 Isn't the food cut off before our eyes; joy and gladness from the house of our God?
Joe 1:17 The seeds rot under their clods. The granaries are laid desolate. The barns are broken down, for the grain has withered.
Joe 1:18 How the animals groan! The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture. Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
Joe 1:19 Yahweh, I cry to you, For the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.
Joe 1:20 Yes, the animals of the field pant to you, for the water brooks have dried up, And the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Joe 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh comes, for it is close at hand:
Joe 2:2 A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn spreading on the mountains, a great and strong people; there has never been the like, neither will there be any more after them, even to the years of many generations.
Joe 2:3 A fire devours before them, and behind them, a flame burns. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them, a desolate wilderness. Yes, and no one has escaped them.
Joe 2:4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so do they run.
Joe 2:5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
Joe 2:6 At their presence the peoples are in anguish. All faces have grown pale.
Joe 2:7 They run like mighty men. They climb the wall like warriors. They each march in his line, and they don't swerve off course.
Joe 2:8 Neither does one jostle another; they march everyone in his path, and they burst through the defenses, and don't break ranks.
Joe 2:9 They rush on the city. They run on the wall. They climb up into the houses. They enter in at the windows like thieves.
Joe 2:10 The earth quakes before them. The heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 2:11 Yahweh thunders his voice before his army; for his forces are very great; for he is strong who obeys his command; for the day of Yahweh is great and very awesome, and who can endure it?
Joe 2:12 "Yet even now," says Yahweh, "turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning."
Joe 2:13 Tear your heart, and not your garments, and turn to Yahweh, your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and relents from sending calamity.
Joe 2:14 Who knows? He may turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meal offering and a drink offering to Yahweh, your God.
Joe 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion! Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly.
Joe 2:16 Gather the people. Sanctify the assembly. Assemble the elders. Gather the children, and those who suck the breasts. Let the bridegroom go forth from his room, and the bride out of her chamber.
Joe 2:17 Let the priests, the ministers of Yahweh, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, "Spare your people, Yahweh, and don't give your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?' "
Joe 2:18 Then Yahweh was jealous for his land, And had pity on his people.
Joe 2:19 Yahweh answered his people, "Behold, I will send you grain, new wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied with them; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.
Joe 2:20 But I will remove the northern army far away from you, and will drive it into a barren and desolate land, its front into the eastern sea, and its back into the western sea; and its stench will come up, and its bad smell will rise." Surely he has done great things.
Joe 2:21 Land, don't be afraid. Be glad and rejoice, for Yahweh has done great things.
Joe 2:22 Don't be afraid, you animals of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness spring up, for the tree bears its fruit. The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Joe 2:23 "Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causes the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before.
Joe 2:24 The threshing floors will be full of wheat, and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
Joe 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the great locust, the grasshopper, and the caterpillar, my great army, which I sent among you.
Joe 2:26 You will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied, and will praise the name of Yahweh, your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:27 You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:28 "It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions.
Joe 2:29 And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days, I will pour out my Spirit.
Joe 2:30 I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.
Joe 2:31 The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes.
Joe 2:32 It will happen that whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.

Joe 3:1 "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
Joe 3:2 I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will execute judgment on them there for my people, and for my heritage, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have divided my land,
Joe 3:3 and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.
Joe 3:4 "Yes, and what are you to me, Tyre, and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Will you repay me? And if you repay me, I will swiftly and speedily return your repayment on your own head.
Joe 3:5 Because you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my finest treasures into your temples,
Joe 3:6 and have sold the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem to the sons of the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their border.
Joe 3:7 Behold, I will stir them up out of the place where you have sold them, and will return your repayment on your own head;
Joe 3:8 and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the children of Judah, and they will sell them to the men of Sheba, to a faraway nation, for Yahweh has spoken it."
Joe 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: "Prepare for war! Stir up the mighty men. Let all the warriors draw near. Let them come up.
Joe 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'
Joe 3:11 Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves together." Cause your mighty ones to come down there, Yahweh.
Joe 3:12 "Let the nations arouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
Joe 3:13 Put in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the winepress is full, the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great."
Joe 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of Yahweh is near, in the valley of decision.
Joe 3:15 The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 3:16 Yahweh will roar from Zion, and thunder from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth will shake; but Yahweh will be a refuge to his people, and a stronghold to the children of Israel.
Joe 3:17 "So you will know that I am Yahweh, your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem will be holy, and no strangers will pass through her any more.
Joe 3:18 It will happen in that day, that the mountains will drop down sweet wine, the hills will flow with milk, all the brooks of Judah will flow with waters, and a fountain will come forth from the house of Yahweh, and will water the valley of Shittim.
Joe 3:19 Egypt will be a desolation, and Edom will be a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
Joe 3:20 But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
Joe 3:21 I will cleanse their blood, that I have not cleansed: for Yahweh dwells in Zion."



Dec. 17
Amos 1-4

Amo 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
Amo 1:2 He said: "Yahweh will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds will mourn, and the top of Carmel will wither."
Amo 1:3 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Damascus, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron;
Amo 1:4 but I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, and it will devour the palaces of Ben Hadad.
Amo 1:5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him who holds the scepter from the house of Eden; and the people of Syria shall go into captivity to Kir," says Yahweh.
Amo 1:6 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Gaza, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they carried away captive the whole community, to deliver them up to Edom;
Amo 1:7 but I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, and it will devour its palaces.
Amo 1:8 I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him who holds the scepter from Ashkelon; and I will turn my hand against Ekron; and the remnant of the Philistines will perish," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 1:9 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Tyre, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they delivered up the whole community to Edom, and didn't remember the brotherly covenant;
Amo 1:10 but I will send a fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will devour its palaces."
Amo 1:11 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Edom, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity, and his anger raged continually, and he kept his wrath forever;
Amo 1:12 but I will send a fire on Teman, and it will devour the palaces of Bozrah."
Amo 1:13 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border.
Amo 1:14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour its palaces, with shouting in the day of battle, with a storm in the day of the whirlwind;
Amo 1:15 and their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together," says Yahweh.

Amo 2:1 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Moab, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime;
Amo 2:2 but I will send a fire on Moab, and it will devour the palaces of Kerioth; and Moab will die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet;
Amo 2:3 and I will cut off the judge from their midst, and will kill all its princes with him," says Yahweh.
Amo 2:4 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Judah, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have rejected Yahweh's law, and have not kept his statutes, and their lies have led them astray, after which their fathers walked;
Amo 2:5 But I will send a fire on Judah, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem."
Amo 2:6 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Israel, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes;
Amo 2:7 They trample on the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and deny justice to the oppressed; and a man and his father use the same maiden, to profane my holy name;
Amo 2:8 and they lay themselves down beside every altar on clothes taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
Amo 2:9 Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
Amo 2:10 Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
Amo 2:11 I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites. Isn't this true, you children of Israel?" says Yahweh.
Amo 2:12 "But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, 'Don't prophesy!'
Amo 2:13 Behold, I will crush you in your place, as a cart crushes that is full of grain.
Amo 2:14 Flight will perish from the swift; and the strong won't strengthen his force; neither shall the mighty deliver himself;
Amo 2:15 neither shall he stand who handles the bow; and he who is swift of foot won't escape; neither shall he who rides the horse deliver himself;
Amo 2:16 and he who is courageous among the mighty will flee away naked on that day," says Yahweh.

Amo 3:1 Hear this word that Yahweh has spoken against you, children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying:
Amo 3:2 "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all of your sins."
Amo 3:3 Do two walk together, unless they have agreed?
Amo 3:4 Will a lion roar in the thicket, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
Amo 3:5 Can a bird fall in a trap on the earth, where no snare is set for him? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when there is nothing to catch?
Amo 3:6 Does the trumpet alarm sound in a city, without the people being afraid? Does evil happen to a city, and Yahweh hasn't done it?
Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord Yahweh will do nothing, unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
Amo 3:8 The lion has roared. Who will not fear? The Lord Yahweh has spoken. Who can but prophesy?
Amo 3:9 Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, "Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria, and see what unrest is in her, and what oppression is among them."
Amo 3:10 "Indeed they don't know to do right," says Yahweh, "Who hoard plunder and loot in their palaces."
Amo 3:11 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: "An adversary will overrun the land; and he will pull down your strongholds, and your fortresses will be plundered."
Amo 3:12 Thus says Yahweh: "As the shepherd rescues out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be rescued who sit in Samaria on the corner of a couch, and on the silken cushions of a bed."
Amo 3:13 "Listen, and testify against the house of Jacob," says the Lord Yahweh, the God of Armies.
Amo 3:14 "For in the day that I visit the transgressions of Israel on him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar will be cut off, and fall to the ground.
Amo 3:15 I will strike the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory will perish, and the great houses will have an end," says Yahweh.

Amo 4:1 Listen to this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who tell their husbands, "Bring us drinks!"
Amo 4:2 The Lord Yahweh has sworn by his holiness that behold, "The days shall come on you that they will take you away with hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.
Amo 4:3 You will go out at the breaks in the wall, everyone straight before her; and you will cast yourselves into Harmon," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:4 "Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, and sin more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days,
Amo 4:5 offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim free will offerings and brag about them: for this pleases you, you children of Israel," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 4:6 "I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in every town; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:7 "I also have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city. One place was rained on, and the piece where it didn't rain withered.
Amo 4:8 So two or three cities staggered to one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:9 "I struck you with blight and mildew many times in your gardens and your vineyards; and your fig trees and your olive trees have the swarming locust devoured: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:10 "I sent plagues among you like I did Egypt. I have slain your young men with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camp, yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:11 "I have overthrown some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick plucked out of the fire; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:12 "Therefore thus will I do to you, Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.
Amo 4:13 For, behold, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought; who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the high places of the Earth: Yahweh, the God of Armies, is his name."


Dec. 18
Amos 5-9

Amo 5:1 Listen to this word which I take up for a lamentation over you, O house of Israel.
Amo 5:2 "The virgin of Israel has fallen; She shall rise no more. She is cast down on her land; there is no one to raise her up."
Amo 5:3 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: "The city that went forth a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went forth one hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel."
Amo 5:4 For thus says Yahweh to the house of Israel: "Seek me, and you will live;
Amo 5:5 but don't seek Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and don't pass to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing.
Amo 5:6 Seek Yahweh, and you will live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, and there be no one to quench it in Bethel.
Amo 5:7 You who turn justice to wormwood, and cast down righteousness to the earth:
Amo 5:8 seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, Yahweh is his name,
Amo 5:9 who brings sudden destruction on the strong, so that destruction comes on the fortress.
Amo 5:10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks blamelessly.
Amo 5:11 Forasmuch therefore as you trample on the poor, and take taxes from him of wheat: You have built houses of cut stone, but you will not dwell in them. You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.
Amo 5:12 For I know how many your offenses, and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the just, who take a bribe, and who turn aside the needy in the courts.
Amo 5:13 Therefore a prudent person keeps silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.
Amo 5:14 Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be with you, as you say.
Amo 5:15 Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the courts. It may be that Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."
Amo 5:16 Therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of Armies, the Lord: "Wailing will be in all the broad ways; and they will say in all the streets, 'Alas! Alas!' and they will call the farmer to mourning, and those who are skillful in lamentation to wailing.
Amo 5:17 In all vineyards there will be wailing; for I will pass through the midst of you," says Yahweh.
Amo 5:18 "Woe to you who desire the day of Yahweh! Why do you long for the day of Yahweh? It is darkness, and not light.
Amo 5:19 As if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him; Or he went into the house and leaned his hand on the wall, and a snake bit him.
Amo 5:20 Won't the day of Yahweh be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?
Amo 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I can't stand your solemn assemblies.
Amo 5:22 Yes, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat animals.
Amo 5:23 Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Amo 5:24 But let justice roll on like rivers, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Amo 5:25 "Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, house of Israel?
Amo 5:26 You also carried the tent of your king and the shrine of your images, the star of your god, which you made for yourselves.
Amo 5:27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus," says Yahweh, whose name is the God of Armies.

Amo 6:1 Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who are secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come!
Amo 6:2 Go to Calneh, and see; and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. are they better than these kingdoms? or is their border greater than your border?
Amo 6:3 Those who put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
Amo 6:4 Who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch themselves on their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
Amo 6:5 who strum on the strings of a harp; who invent for themselves instruments of music, like David;
Amo 6:6 who drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the best oils; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
Amo 6:7 Therefore they will now go captive with the first who go captive; and the feasting and lounging will end.
Amo 6:8 "The Lord Yahweh has sworn by himself," says Yahweh, the God of Armies: "I abhor the pride of Jacob, and detest his fortresses. Therefore I will deliver up the city with all that is in it.
Amo 6:9 It will happen, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
Amo 6:10 "When a man's relative carries him, even he who burns him, to bring bodies out of the house, and asks him who is in the innermost parts of the house, 'Is there yet any with you?' And he says, 'No;' then he will say, 'Hush! Indeed we must not mention the name of Yahweh.'
Amo 6:11 "For, behold, Yahweh commands, and the great house will be smashed to pieces, and the little house into bits.
Amo 6:12 Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow there with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness;
Amo 6:13 you who rejoice in a thing of nothing, who say, 'Haven't we taken for ourselves horns by our own strength?'
Amo 6:14 For, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, house of Israel," says Yahweh, the God of Armies; "and they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of the Arabah."

Amo 7:1 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me: and behold, he formed locusts in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and behold, it was the latter growth after the king's harvest.
Amo 7:2 It happened that, when they made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, "Lord Yahweh, forgive, I beg you! How could Jacob stand? For he is small."
Amo 7:3 Yahweh relented concerning this. "It shall not be," says Yahweh.
Amo 7:4 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me and behold, the Lord Yahweh called for judgment by fire; and it dried up the great deep, and would have devoured the land.
Amo 7:5 Then I said, "Lord Yahweh, stop, I beg you! How could Jacob stand? For he is small."
Amo 7:6 Yahweh relented concerning this. "This also shall not be," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 7:7 Thus he showed me and behold, the Lord stood beside a wall made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand.
Amo 7:8 Yahweh said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said, "Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I will not again pass by them any more.
Amo 7:9 The high places of Isaac will be desolate, the sanctuaries of Israel will be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."
Amo 7:10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words.
Amo 7:11 For Amos says, 'Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.' "
Amo 7:12 Amaziah also said to Amos, "You seer, go, flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
Amo 7:13 but don't prophesy again any more at Bethel; for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a royal house!"
Amo 7:14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was a herdsman, and a farmer of sycamore figs;
Amo 7:15 and Yahweh took me from following the flock, and Yahweh said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'
Amo 7:16 Now therefore listen to the word of Yahweh: 'You say, Don't prophesy against Israel, and don't preach against the house of Isaac.'
Amo 7:17 Therefore thus says Yahweh: 'Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided by line; and you yourself shall die in a land that is unclean, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.' "

Amo 8:1 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit.
Amo 8:2 He said, "Amos, what do you see?" I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then Yahweh said to me, "The end has come on my people Israel. I will not again pass by them any more.
Amo 8:3 The songs of the temple will be wailings in that day," says the Lord Yahweh. "The dead bodies will be many. In every place they will throw them out with silence.
Amo 8:4 Hear this, you who desire to swallow up the needy, and cause the poor of the land to fail,
Amo 8:5 Saying, 'When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may market wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel large, and dealing falsely with balances of deceit;
Amo 8:6 that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and sell the sweepings with the wheat?' "
Amo 8:7 Yahweh has sworn by the pride of Jacob, "Surely I will never forget any of their works.
Amo 8:8 Won't the land tremble for this, and everyone mourn who dwells in it? Yes, it will rise up wholly like the River; and it will be stirred up and sink again, like the River of Egypt.
Amo 8:9 It will happen in that day," says the Lord Yahweh, "that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day.
Amo 8:10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will make you wear sackcloth on all your bodies, and baldness on every head. I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day.
Amo 8:11 Behold, the days come," says the Lord Yahweh, "that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Yahweh.
Amo 8:12 They will wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will run back and forth to seek the word of Yahweh, and will not find it.
Amo 8:13 In that day the beautiful virgins and the young men will faint for thirst.
Amo 8:14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, 'As your god, Dan, lives;' and, 'As the way of Beersheba lives;' they will fall, and never rise up again."

Amo 9:1 I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said, "Strike the tops of the pillars, that the thresholds may shake; and break them in pieces on the head of all of them; and I will kill the last of them with the sword: there shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape.
Amo 9:2 Though they dig into Sheol, there my hand will take them; and though they climb up to heaven, there I will bring them down.
Amo 9:3 Though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out there; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent, and it will bite them.
Amo 9:4 Though they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it will kill them. I will set my eyes on them for evil, and not for good.
Amo 9:5 For the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, is he who touches the land and it melts, and all who dwell in it will mourn; and it will rise up wholly like the River, and will sink again, like the River of Egypt.
Amo 9:6 It is he who builds his chambers in the heavens, and has founded his vault on the earth; he who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth; Yahweh is his name.
Amo 9:7 Are you not like the children of the Ethiopians to me, children of Israel?" says Yahweh. "Haven't I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?
Amo 9:8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord Yahweh are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the surface of the earth; except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob," says Yahweh.
Amo 9:9 "For, behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet not the least kernel will fall on the earth.
Amo 9:10 All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, 'Evil won't overtake nor meet us.'
Amo 9:11 In that day I will raise up the tent of David who is fallen, and close up its breaches, and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old;
Amo 9:12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations who are called by my name," says Yahweh who does this.
Amo 9:13 "Behold, the days come," says Yahweh, "that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the one treading grapes him who sows seed; and sweet wine will drip from the mountains, and flow from the hills.
Amo 9:14 I will bring my people Israel back from captivity, and they will rebuild the ruined cities, and inhabit them; and they will plant vineyards, and drink wine from them. They shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
Amo 9:15 I will plant them on their land, and they will no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them," says Yahweh your God.

 

Dec. 16
2 John

2Jn 1:1 The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not I only, but also all those who know the truth;
2Jn 1:2 for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever:
2Jn 1:3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
2Jn 1:4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father.
2Jn 1:5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
2Jn 1:6 This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don't confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.
2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him,
2Jn 1:11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.
2Jn 1:12 Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full.
2Jn 1:13 The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.



Dec. 17
3 John

3Jn 1:1 The elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth.
3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers.
3Jn 1:3 For I rejoiced greatly, when brothers came and testified about your truth, even as you walk in truth.
3Jn 1:4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth.
3Jn 1:5 Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers.
3Jn 1:6 They have testified about your love before the assembly. You will do well to send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God,
3Jn 1:7 because for the sake of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the Gentiles.
3Jn 1:8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
3Jn 1:9 I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn't accept what we say.
3Jn 1:10 Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly.
3Jn 1:11 Beloved, don't imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God. He who does evil hasn't seen God.
3Jn 1:12 Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true.
3Jn 1:13 I had many things to write to you, but I am unwilling to write to you with ink and pen;
3Jn 1:14 but I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.



Dec. 18
Jude

Jud 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
Jud 1:2 Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.
Jud 1:3 Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I was constrained to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jud 1:4 For there are certain men who crept in secretly, even those who were long ago written about for this condemnation: ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:5 Now I desire to remind you, though you already know this, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who didn't believe.
Jud 1:6 Angels who didn't keep their first domain, but deserted their own dwelling place, he has kept in everlasting bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
Jud 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having, in the same way as these, given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.
Jud 1:8 Yet in like manner these also in their dreaming defile the flesh, despise authority, and slander celestial beings.
Jud 1:9 But Michael, the archangel, when contending with the devil and arguing about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him an abusive condemnation, but said, "May the Lord rebuke you!"
Jud 1:10 But these speak evil of whatever things they don't know. What they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, they are destroyed in these things.
Jud 1:11 Woe to them! For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in Korah's rebellion.
Jud 1:12 These are hidden rocky reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you, shepherds who without fear feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn leaves without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Jud 1:13 wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever.
Jud 1:14 About these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
Jud 1:15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Jud 1:16 These are murmurers and complainers, walking after their lusts (and their mouth speaks proud things), showing respect of persons to gain advantage.
Jud 1:17 But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:18 They said to you that "In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts."
Jud 1:19 These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit.
Jud 1:20 But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.
Jud 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
Jud 1:22 On some have compassion, making a distinction,
Jud 1:23 and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh.
Jud 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep them from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy,
Jud 1:25 to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.