1/26/17

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" He Has Done All Things Well (7:31-37) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                 He Has Done All Things Well (7:31-37)

INTRODUCTION

1. I would like for you to ask yourself:  What has Jesus done for
   you...?
   a. Anything?
   b. Something?

2. If Jesus has done anything for you, how would you describe it...?
   a. More than you expected?
   b. Less than you expected?

[If less than expected, keep it mind as we begin reading in Mk 7:31
about Jesus healing a deaf mute...]

I. THE NARRATIVE

   A. THE JOURNEY TO THE SEA OF GALILEE...
      1. Jesus left the region of Tyre and Sidon - Mk 7:31
         a. Where he had healed the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician
            woman
         b. A woman blessed for her faith - Mk 7:24-30
      2. He traveled through the region of Decapolis - Mk 7:31
         a. So called after ten cities in the area, mostly SE of the Sea
            of Galilee
         b. Damascus, Raphana, Hippos, Abila [or Canatha], Gadara,
            Scythopolis, Pella, Dion, Gerasa, and Philadelphia [Amman]
         c. Predominately Gentile and Hellenistic in their culture
         d. Where the man healed of legions of demons proclaimed Christ
            - Mk 5:20
      3. Matthew's gospel adds a few details - Mt 15:29-31
         a. Jesus went to a mountain and sat down
         b. Many lame, blind, mute and maimed were brought and healed
         c. The multitude marveled and glorified the God of Israel
            (these are likely Gentiles)

   B. JESUS HEALS A DEAF MUTE...
      1. People bring a deaf mute to Jesus and beg Him to heal him 
          - Mk 7:32
      2. Aside from the multitude, Jesus begins the healing - Mk 7:33-34
         a. Putting His fingers in the deaf mute's ears, spitting, and
            touching his tongue
         b. Looking to heaven, sighing, and saying "Ephphatha" (Aramaic
            for "Be opened")
      3. The healing is instantaneous - Mk 7:35
         a. His ears are opened
         b. He begins to speak plainly

   C. JESUS' REQUEST AND THE CROWD'S RESPONSE...
      1. He commanded them to tell no one, but they widely proclaim it
         - Mk 7:36; cf. Mk 1:44-45
      2. They are astonished, saying "He has done all things well" 
         - Mk 7:37

[This is a detailed and rather unusual account of one of Jesus' miracles
of healing.  The response of the crowd is also worthy of note.  Allow me
therefore to offer...]

II. SOME OBSERVATIONS

   A. REGARDING THE HEALING...
      1. Jesus may have been using sign language to explain what He was
         doing
      2. The fingers in the ears - "Something will be done for your
         ears...and I will do it."
      3. The touch of the tongue - "Something will be done for your
         tongue...and I will do it."
      4. The spit - His intention was to heal, as saliva was thought to
         have medicinal properties
      5. The look to heaven - indicating His help came from above
      6. The sigh - the sympathizing Jesus, taking the man's condition
         to heart - cf. Isa 53:4
      -- William Hendriksen (Baker's New Testament Commentary)

   B. REGARDING THE DECLARATION...
      1. "He has done all things well"
         a. He astonished those who saw His miracles - Mk 7:37
         b. He astonished those who heard His teachings - Mk 1:22; 6:2
         c. This is before His amazing death, resurrection, and
            ascension to heaven!
      2. Has Jesus done all things well for you?
         a. Given you rest for your soul? - Mt 11:28-30
         b. Saved you from you sins? - Mk 16:15-16
         c. Given you the peace the world cannot give? - Jn 14:27
      3. If not, why not?
         a. Could it be for lack of faith? - cf. Mk 6:5-6
         b. Could it be your heart is restricted? - cf. 2Co 6:11-13
            1) The Corinthians restricted themselves from receiving
               Paul's love
            2) Might we be guilty of doing the same in receiving Jesus'
               love and power?
      4. As God has often asked His people:
         a. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" - Gen 18:14
         a. "Has the Lord's arm been shortened?" - Num 11:23
         b. "Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?" 
             - Isa 50:2
         c. "Or have I no power to deliver?" - Isa 50:2
         d. "Is the Spirit of the LORD restricted?" - Mic 2:7
      -- Think about these things, if your spiritual life is vapid!

CONCLUSION

1. Jesus has certainly done all things well...
   a. "He changed sunset into sunrise." - Clement of Alexandria
   b. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation..." 
       - 2Co 5:17

2. But has He done all things well for you...?
   a. If your spiritual life is insipid, remember His words to the
      Laodiceans - Re 3:14-22
   b. It is most likely you have not been following Jesus as fervently
      as you should

   "What good is having someone who can walk on water if you don't
   follow in his footsteps?" - Author Unknown

Jesus, who has done all things well, stands ready to open your eyes to
see the beauty of His salvation, to open your mouth to proclaim the
glory of His redemption...!
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" A Gentile Blessed For Her Faith (7:24-30) by Mark Copeland


                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                A Gentile Blessed For Her Faith (7:24-30)

INTRODUCTION

1. Many Christians today take their faith and its privileges for
   granted...
   a. Perhaps it is the old adage, "familiarity breeds contempt"
   b. But Gentile Christians in particular should never lose sight of
      the grace shown them

2. I refer to privileges that were long bestowed on the Israelites...
   a. Such as a covenant relationship with God
   b. With all the blessings that accompany such a relationship
   c. Which are now available to all who come to God with faith in
      Christ

[An incident in the life of Christ reminds me of "the way we were".  It
involves a Gentile woman who was blessed for her faith.  In Mk 7:24, we
begin as we pick up with...]

I. THE NARRATIVE

   A. THE SEARCH FOR PRIVACY...
      1. Jesus had travelled about 40 miles from Capernaum
      2. He came to the region of Tyre and Sidon, also known as
         Syro-Phoenecia - Mk 7:24
      3. He sought privacy, probably needing rest - cf. Mk 6:31-32

   B. THE REQUEST FOR A MIRACLE..
      1. A woman with a daughter possessed by an unclean spirit came to
         Him - Mk 7:25
      2. She was a Greek (Gentile), a Syro-Phoenician by birth - Mk 7:26
      3. She "kept asking" Jesus to cast out the demon - Mk 7:26
      4. She even acknowledged Jesus as "O Lord, Son of David!" 
         - cf. Mt 15:22
      5. Matthew reveals that initially Jesus did not speak to her - cf.
         Mt 15:23
      6. That she began pestering His disciples - cf. Mt 15:23

   C. THE REFUSAL TO HEAL...
      1. Matthew's account explains Jesus' thinking - cf. Mt 15:24
         a. "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of
            Israel."
         b. Compare His charge regarding the "Limited Commission" - cf.
            Mt 10:5-6
         c. His mission was to fulfill prophecy concerning Israel's
            Messiah
         d. He would later expand His ministry to the world 
             - cf. Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15
      2. Jesus' response to her suggested as much - Mk 7:27
         a. "Let the children be filled first..."
         b. There were promises to Israel that needed to be filled
            before those to the Gentiles

   D. THE RESPONSE TO FAITH...
      1. The woman's response to Jesus shows her faith - Mk 7:28
         a. "Yes, Lord..." - she acknowledge the right for Him to refuse
            her request
         b. "...yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the
            children's crumbs.." - she would be happy with "crumbs" left
            over from His ministry to the Jews
      2. Jesus admired her faith and healed her daughter - Mk 7:29-30
         a. Matthew adds that Jesus said, "O woman, great is your
            faith!" - cf. Mt 15:28
         b. And that her daughter "was healed instantly" - cf. Mt 15:28

[Thus this Gentile woman was blessed for her faith.  With this incident
fresh on our mind...]

II. SOME OBSERVATIONS

   A. OTHER GENTILES BLESSED BY FAITH...
      1. The centurion at Capernaum - Mt 8:5-13
      2. Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to the gospel - Ac 10:1-6
      -- The first centurion ate "crumbs", the latter the first to "sit
         at the table"

   B. GENTILES ARE NOW BLESSED BY FAITH...
      1. We are no longer:
         a. Without Christ
         b. Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel
         c. Strangers from the covenants of promise
         d. Having no hope and without God in the world  - Ep 2:11-12
      2. We are now:
         a. Brought near by the blood of Christ - Ep 2:13
         b. Reconciled as one body in Christ - Ep 2:14-17
         c. With access by one Spirit to the Father - Ep 2:18
         d. Fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household
            of God - Ep 2:19-22
      -- True to Jesus' promise (Mt 8:11-12), Gentiles can now sit at
         the table!

   C. ARE WE MAKING GOOD USE OF OUR BLESSINGS...?
      1. Not if we refuse to come to the table
         a. By not obeying the gospel
         b. Jesus now invites everyone - Mk 16:15-16
      2. Not if we refuse to eat at the table
         a. Through disobedience and neglect
         b. This was the mistake of many of the Jews - cf. Mt 8:11-12;
            21:43
      3. Not if we eat only the crumbs
         a. Through apathy and neglect
         b. This was the problem with Sardis and Laodicea 
            - cf. Re 3:1-2,14-19
      -- If the "sons" will be cast out, how much more ungrateful
         "dogs"? - cf. Ro 11:21-22

CONCLUSION

1. This incident, "A Gentile Blessed For Her Faith", should remind us
   of...
   a. The way we were before Christ
   b. The blessings we now enjoy in Christ

2. Do we have her kind of faith...?
   a. Persisting even when first rebuffed?
   b. Willing to accept even the smallest of blessings?

For those who do, a spiritual feast awaits...! - cf. Ep 1:3
 

Questions and Answers: Was the Robe Placed on Jesus Scarlet or Purple by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=175

Questions and Answers: Was the Robe Placed on Jesus Scarlet or Purple

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Q.
Was the robe placed upon Jesus scarlet or purple (Matthew 27:28; John 19:2)?
A.
All would agree that we sometimes see colors a little differently. What one person calls blue, someone else may be more specific and call navy blue. A die-hard football fan may refer to his team’s color as dark red, whereas someone else who sees the team’s faded uniforms for the first time at the end of a grueling season might conclude that the team’s color is more maroon. While coloring pictures for their parents, one child may color an orange-yellow Sun, while the other draws a Sun that is bright yellow.
Surely no one would accuse these individuals of lying or being deceitful because one was more specific than another. Likewise, skeptics have no solid ground on which to stand when they disregard common sense and create biblical contradictions that do not exist. The simple fact is, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote from different perspectives. In the same way that individuals today look at colors and see different tones, shades, and tints, the writers of the gospels wrote about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus from different angles.
The garment placed upon Jesus after his brutal scourging likely was similar to faded football uniforms, but in His case we read of “a scarlet robe...faded to resemble purple” (Wycliffe). [It is difficult to imagine Pilate arraying Jesus’ bloody body with a new robe. More likely, it was one that had been worn and cast off as worthless.] Furthermore, according to Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, there were various shades of purple and scarlet in the first century and it was not always easy to distinguish the colors or tints. In fact, the ancients (especially the Romans) frequently used the term “purple” when speaking of various shades of red. Consequently, these different colors sometimes would be called by the same name. The charge of a contradiction occuring within the Scriptures in this instance simply cannot be sustained in light of the facts.

REFERENCES

Robertson, A.T. (1997), Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1985), Electronic Database: Biblesoft.

Justin Martyr: An Apologetic Hero by Brad Bromling, D.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=377

Justin Martyr: An Apologetic Hero

by  Brad Bromling, D.Min.

The Samaritan’s head rolled from his twitching body. Another Christian was dead. He knew the cost, and yet refused to denounce Christ. Society felt threatened by the new religion and could not tolerate those who rejected the gods of the state. “Kill them, kill them all” was the cry.
The martyr’s name was Justin. A passionate man of probing intellect, he studied and rejected many of the philosophies of second-century Rome. Instead, he found great joy in the teachings of Socrates and Plato. That changed one day. A stranger confronted him with the Gospel of Christ, and Justin embraced it with his whole heart. It became the focus of his life—and the reason for his death.
In the millennia since Christ’s ascension, many men and women have traded life for faith, mostly in anonymity. Justin’s name is known and his story is repeated because of his literary deposits to history. Eusebius reported that Justin had written many valuable books, and listed at least eight that were in circulation in the fourth century (Eusebius, pp. 154-155). Today, only three works remain that are accepted without question to be genuinely Justinian: The First Apology of Justin, The Second Apology of Justin, and Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew. The latter work is a discussion between Justin and Trypho (a prominent Jew of his day). In it Justin tells of his conversion and urges Trypho to accept Christ as Messiah. (Interestingly, they argue over whether Isaiah 7:14 should be translated “young woman” or “virgin.”)
His Apologies (which are addressed to Roman authorities) argue that, when correctly understood, Christianity need not be persecuted. Christians should be judged on their own merits—not on rumors or the deeds of evil-doers who merely claim allegiance to Christ. His approach contains strategies that are useful to modern apologists.
First, Justin’s apology centers on the belief that man is a rational being and that Christianity is a sensible religion. He wrote: “In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative” (1:172). He thus pleaded with the Romans to base their decisions about Christians upon clear, honest thinking. “Reason directs those who are truly pious and philosophical to honour and love only what is true...it is incumbent on the lover of truth, by all means, and if death be threatened, even before his own life, to choose to do and say what is right.” (1:163; cf. 1:191). This appeal to rationality is foundational to any defense of the Faith. Without that footing, no meaningful discussion can be built.
Second, Justin compared the behavior of Christians to that of the average Roman. Christians, he argued, are morally, ethically, and spiritually exemplary (1:167-168). He revealed the inconsistency of persecuting Christians by showing the absurdities of idolatry. Confusion over what was to be worshiped by the Romans was common. Some people worshiped animals that others used as sacrificial offerings (1:171). In light of such comparisons, Christianity was not deserving of persecution. This line of argumentation may be employed today. What better citizen can a country have than a morally upright person who believes that governments rule by divine right, and that prayers are to be offered for rulers before the Almighty’s throne? (See Romans 13:1-6, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, and 1 Peter 2:13-17.)
Third, the great apologist argued for Christianity by showing that Christ fulfilled a host of Old Testament prophecies (1:173-181). So convinced was he of the force of this argument that he made no excuse for referring to Scripture. Clearly, fulfilled prophecy remains one of the most impressive evidences for Christianity. It not only demonstrates the divine origin of Scripture, but also shows Christ to be worthy of praise, glory, and honor.
Western culture is running headlong into the same corruption of ancient Rome. Justin’s society is now ours, as is his battle. The Lord still summons His people to stand in defense of the Faith (1 Peter 3:15; Philippians 1:16-17). Who will stand with Justin Martyr?

REFERENCES

The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1955 reprint).
The First Apology of Justin, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973 reprint).

Here I Raise My Ebenezer! by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=909

Here I Raise My Ebenezer!

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Many of us have grown up going to worship services where we sang age-old songs that were brought down to us from many years ago. In those songs, we often sing words or phrases that might not retain a popularly understood sentiment. Yet, even though we might not understand what we are singing, that has not stopped many of us from following the song leader through misunderstood stanzas of our old favorites.
One of the phrases that is of particular interest comes from the song O, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. The lyrics of this song (which originally was titled Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing) were written by Robert Robinson in 1758. The second verse of the song begins with these words: “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” If you are like many who have sung this song, the word “Ebenezer” immediately brings to your mind visions of old Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ Christmas Carol, screaming at Bob Cratchet to conserve coal and get to work. Yet, we all know that is not the idea behind this song. Where, then, does the term Ebenezer originate, and what does it mean?
In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel and the Israelites found themselves under attack by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives, the Israelites begged Samuel to pray for them in their impending battle against the Philistines. Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God listened to Samuel, causing the Philistines to lose the battle and retreat back to their own territory. After the Israelite victory, the Bible records: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’ ” (1 Samuel 7:12).
The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer), which simply mean “stone of help” (see Enhanced…, 1995). When Robinson wrote his lyrics, he followed the word Ebenezer with the phrase, “Here by Thy great help I’ve come.” An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. In Robinson’s poem, it figuratively meant that the writer—and all who subsequently sing the song—acknowledge God’s bountiful blessings and help in their lives.
The next time you sing about raising your Ebenezer, you will be able to “sing with the understanding” that you are acknowledging God’s help in your life (1 Corinthians 14:15).

REFERENCES

Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (1995), (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).

Did the Laws of Science Apply in the Beginning? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=3710

Did the Laws of Science Apply in the Beginning?

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


It is relatively easy for the rational man to disprove the idea that matter can spontaneously generate. Of course, even intuition does not back spontaneous generation. Recall Richard Dawkins’ commentary on the matter: “Of course it’s counterintuitive that you can get something from nothing. Of course common sense doesn’t allow you to get something from nothing” (Dawkins and Pell, 2012, emp. added). It matters not how long you sit in your chair and stare at an empty desk. A pencil will not eventually materialize on the desk before you. Things—no matter how simplistic—do not pop into existence from nothing.
The idea, that structured, law-abiding, physical matter (i.e., like that which we see all around us in the created order) could come into being from nothing, is even more far-fetched. Beyond intuition, this matter is laid to rest when we consider the implications of the First Law of Thermodynamics and the Law of Conservation of Matter (see Miller, 2013c). To paraphrase, the amount of energy and matter in a system will remain constant unless there is input from some outside source. In other words, it does not matter how long you stare at the desk; unless someone comes by your desk and puts an already existing pencil on it, or you put the pencil on it yourself, or the pencil falls on the desk from some other place, a pencil will not appear on the desk. This idea, applied to the origin of the Universe, indicates that the Universe has either always existed (an idea which violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics—see Miller, 2013c), or Someone put it here.
Naturalists do not take such news sitting down. Scientists like Stephen Hawking claim that in the beginning, at the alleged Big Bang, “the laws of science…would break down” (1988, p. 88). Theoretical physicist Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology in Egypt highlighted the Big Bang singularity as a devastating deficiency of the Big Bang Theory: “The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there” (as quoted in Zyga, 2015). So, in other words, according to naturalists, one cannot use the laws of physics to disprove the spontaneous origin of the cosmic egg, because those laws could not apply to the cosmic egg at the beginning.
To what are the naturalists referring when they claim that the laws of nature “break down” at the cosmic egg that gave birth to the Universe—that the laws did not apply then? One of the first concepts taught in a study of calculus is that of a “limit.” A “limit” is a way to solve what will be the end result of an equation if its variable(s) was allowed to move to its ultimate destination. For example, imagine a bottle full of water with a leak at its base. As the water leaks from the bottle, the water level, ℎ, gets smaller. A limit equation seeks to determine what the end result will be of such a scenario. The “limit” of “ℎ” in the bottle over time, ℎ(t), as the water leaks from the bottle, will be zero—the final height of the water when it has all drained from the bottle . Now imagine trying to find the limit of the same equation, but with the ℎ(t) term in the denominator of the function . Over time, the height of the water in the bottle, ℎ(t), still moves to zero, which results in a situation where one must find the limit of an equation with a one divided by a zero. You do not have to know much about math to know that dividing one by zero is a problem. Such a scenario does not fit the rules. The usual laws do not work. We call it a “singularity,” and something similar happens when cosmologists attempt to work out the equations that explain what would occur at the beginning of the hypothetical Big Bang. This is why Stephen Hawking said, “The beginning of real time would have been a singularity, at which the laws of physics would have broken down” (n.d.).
In response, first notice that there is a reason that physicists consider the singularity a “problem.” Arguing that a singularity must have occurred at the beginning of the Big Bang admits that the laws of nature do not work in the way they are supposed to in the Big Bang model. The Big Bang requires the singularity, and yet the laws of nature do not work with singularities. So, by definition, the Big Bang event is not natural. It is supernatural—and therefore, the Big Bang naturalist must give up on being a naturalist, or remain in a self-contradictory position.
One physicist contacted me at Apologetics Press and went further in trying to get around the Universal origin problem. Paraphrasing, he said, “The laws of nature involve the interaction of matter and energy. The laws wouldn’t work in a situation where you don’t have matter and energy—like at the very beginning, before the cosmic egg appeared. So the laws wouldn’t be violated if matter and energy popped into existence from nothing, because there wouldn’t be any interaction for the laws to govern. So, no law would be able to stop matter/energy from popping into existence.” Is his statement true that the laws of physics only involve the interaction of matter and energy?
No. In thermodynamics, for example, we often work problems, specifically First Law of Thermodynamics problems, where you begin with a system with nothing in it, and then energy or matter moves into the system from outside of the system. So the problems involve a system bearing the interaction of nothing with energy/matter, and this is the precise scenario that poses a problem for the origin of the cosmic egg.
Still, the naturalistic scientist “usually assumes that the current laws of physics did not apply then” (Linde, 1994, emp. added). Granted—certain assumptions are often necessary in science. Granted—no one was around to make scientific observations about the origin of matter. But wait…that’s the point. No one was there to observe the beginning. So we have to be very careful in making assumptions. If we wish to be rational and not hold to a blind “faith,” we have to look at evidence available to us and only draw those conclusions that are warranted by that evidence. But naturalists throw out the current evidence, since it does not provide them with a naturalistic answer to the origin question that they seek, and proceed to engage in wild speculation. How is it scientific to throw aside solid science—making the assumption that there were no such things as laws of science in the beginning—with no evidence to support such a claim? This, naturalists do, even when all empirical evidence that has ever been observed by scientists leads to the conclusion that the laws of physics are, always have been, and always will be immutable (i.e., until they are destroyed along with the physical Universe on the Day of Judgment—2 Peter 3:7-10)—that they do not “break down.” Recall Stephen Hawking’s words regarding the laws of nature: “But what’s really important is that these physical laws, as well as being unchangeable, are universal. They apply not just to the flight of the ball, but to the motion of a planet and everything else in the Universe. Unlike laws made by humans, the laws of nature cannot ever be broken. That’s why they are so powerful…. [T]he laws of nature are fixed” (“Curiosity…,” 2011). In spite of such bold assertions, this same Hawking irrationally contradicted himself in claiming that in the Big Bang model, which he subscribes to, “the laws of science…break down” (1988, p. 88). If we behave rationally—drawing conclusions based on the evidence—a naturalist would have to conclude that the laws did not “break down” at the beginning. But if they did not break down, then naturalism has been falsified—and such a truth cannot be swallowed by naturalists.
Ironically, evolutionists take great pains to prove the immutability of certain scientific assertions, at least when it suits their agenda. For instance, creationists point out that the dating techniques utilized by evolutionary geologists are based on certain assumptions which are far from reasonable when all of the evidence is considered—like the assertion that physical constants used in dating methods have, in fact, remained constant throughout time. Mark Isaak of “The TalkOrigins Archive” attempts to respond to this criticism by describing certain constants which have purportedly remained constant for billions of years (Isaak, 2007). Creationists have no problem with the idea that certain constants could have remained essentially the same over long periods of time (though we do not believe that the Universe has existed for billions of years). However, scientific evidence indicates that not all physical constants have remained unchanged forever—like constants that are used in evolutionary dating techniques (cf. Stober, 2010; Miller, 2013b; Butt, 2010b; Reucroft and Swain, 2009; Gardner, 2010). For instance, catastrophic phenomena, such as volcanoes (cf. Akahane, et al., 2004), can significantly accelerate the rate of processes generally thought to take millions of years. The conclusion: dating techniques that make unscientific assumptions are flawed (cf. Miller, 2013b). But scientific laws, by definition, are without exception.
Notice again that, on one hand, naturalists do not want to grant that the laws of science have always been constant, although all scientific evidence indicates that they have; but they do want to make erroneous claims about physical constants that have been shown to be in contradiction with the scientific evidence, since it suits their agenda. And further notice that the evolutionist’s dilemma is not improved upon even if we grant the possibility that the laws of science were inapplicable at the beginning. Would evolutionists have us to believe that in the beginning, not only matter, but the physical laws that govern that matter popped into existence with the matter as well (see Miller, 2012b)? How can there be a law without a law maker? How is such an assertion scientific? And how is such an assertion allowed to go unchallenged by many scientists? The bias of those in the evolutionary community against accepting the rational and scientific alternative to their faulty theories is profound.
After Stephen Hawking admits on his Web site that “the laws of physics would have broken down” at the singularity, in the next sentence he contradicts himself, saying, “Nevertheless, the way the universe began would have been determined by the laws of physics” (n.d.). The naturalist wishes to have his cake and eat it, too. One cannot sidestep the thrust of the First Law of Thermodynamics by trying to say the laws did not apply in the beginning, and then simultaneously claim that natural law—namely quantum law—would bring about the Universe, which is precisely what naturalists wish to do (see Miller, 2013a). If you acknowledge that the natural laws cannot work in your model, you must acknowledge that your model is a supernatural model—not a naturalistic model. If the evolutionist cannot use science and its laws to bring about the Universe, then he has, in reality, given up on naturalism and become a believer in supernaturalism. In other words, if the laws of nature did not apply in the beginning, by implication, only supernatural phenomena could have existed to bring about the Universe (see Miller, 2012a). The next step is only to decide which supernatural entity is the true Creator—God, with His supporting evidences; or magic, with its lack thereof. [NOTE: The fact that naturalists must believe in supernatural phenomena illustrates that naturalistic theories amount to religion. Consistency, therefore, would dictate that those schools that do not allow the Creation model to be taught in their science classes should eliminate naturalistic theories as well. However, this author believes that the correct solution would be to teach the evidence from science, wherever it leads. Truth is the goal. The scientific evidence detailed in this book points to a Creator. So it should be taught. Any theory which contradicts the evidence should be removed from scientific discussion. See Houts, 2007, for more on the idea that evolution is religion, not science.]
Although assumptions are often necessary in science, scientific assumptions must carry the quality of being reasonable in order for them to be permissible in scientific discussion (See Miller, 2013b for a discussion on scientific assumptions.). What scientific evidence could be cited to back such a grandiose claim that there was a time that the laws of nature did not hold? The only way the claim that the laws of science did not apply in the beginning can be made and considered to be reasonable is if the person has made another equally unscientific assumption upon which that claim is based. The person would have to assume that there was no One here at the beginning that organized matter in keeping with the Laws which that Being set in motion. The Creation model in no way contradicts the laws of physics. On the other hand, the atheistic evolutionary model contradicts the laws of physics in a myriad of ways. Yet, oddly, creationists are the ones who are branded as unscientific.

References

Akahane, Hisatada, Takeshi Furuno, Hiroshi Miyajima, Toshiyuki Yoshikawa, and Shigeru Yamamoto (2004), “Rapid Wood Silicification in Hot Spring Water: An Explanation of Silicification of Wood During the Earth’s History,” Sedimentary Geology, 169[3-4]:219-228, July 15.
Butt, Kyle (2010b), “New Findings Show Flaws in Old-Earth Dating Methods,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=3770.
“Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Dawkins, Richard and George Pell (2012), “Religion and Atheism,” ABC Australia, http://www.abc.net.au/tv/quanda/txt/s3469101.htm, April 9.
Gardner, Elizabeth (2010), “Purdue-Stanford Team Finds Radioactive Decay Rates Vary With the Sun’s Rotation,” Purdue University News Service, http: //www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100830FischbachJenkinsDec.html.
Hawking, Stephen (1988), A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam).
Hawking, Stephen (n.d.), “The Beginning of Time,” Stephen Hawking: The Official Web Site, March 1, 2016.
Houts, Michael G. (2007), “Evolution is Religion—Not Science [Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 27[11]:81-87, November, http://www.apologeticspress.org/pub_rar/27_11/0711.pdf.
Isaak, Mark (2007), “Claim CE410,” The TalkOrigins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy, http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CE/CE410.html.
Linde, Andrei (1994), “The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe,” Scientific American, 271[5]:48, November.
Miller, Jeff (2012a), “The Atheistic Naturalist’s Self-Contradiction,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=4225.
Miller, Jeff (2012b), “The Laws of Science –by God,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=4545.
Miller, Jeff (2013a), “Can Quantum Mechanics Produce a Universe from Nothing?” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4584&topic=57.
Miller, Jeff (2013b), “Don’t Assume Too Much: Not All Assumptions in Science Are Bad,” Reason & Revelation, 33[6]:62-64,69-70, June, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1122&article=2153.
Miller, Jeff (2013c), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=2786.
Reucroft, Steve and J. Swain (2009), “Ultrasonic Cavitation of Water Speeds Up Thorium Decay,” CERN Courier, June 8, http://cerncourier.com/cws/article/cern/39158.
Stober, David (2010), “The Strange Case of Solar Flares and Radioactive Elements,” http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/breaking/2010/08/23/the-strange-case-of-solar-flares-and-radioactive-elements/.
Zyga, Lisa (2015), “No Big Bang? Quantum Equation Predicts Universe Has No Beginning,” Phys.Org, February 9, http://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html.
[Article Revised 2016]

Is God Racist? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1007

Is God Racist?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

A certain segment of the American population has succeeded in perpetrating the notion of “political correctness” (PC) across a broad base of society. This ideology has infiltrated politics, education, and religion. While touted as a manifestation of “compassion” and “respect” for those with whom one disagrees, the fact is that PC seeks to silence any expression of disagreement that is not in line with its covert agenda.
What, specifically, is PC? A working definition would be the belief that we should avoid language and actions that could be offensive to others, especially those relating to gender and race. For example, the word “fireman” is considered to be a “sexist” term that slights women; the politically correct term would be “firefighter.” Those who embrace PC seek to avoid any forms of expression or action that might be perceived to “exclude,” “marginalize,” or insult any group that is deemed “socially disadvantaged” or discriminated against. Hence, the PC advocate constantly uses terms like “inclusion,” “tolerance,” and “multiculturalism.”
Observe that the term “offensive” refers to the subjective feelings of the individual who deems the term to be hurtful. This definition implies that no objective standard exists by which all conduct, language, and behavior are to be measured. However, the fact is that if there is a God, and He is the God described on the pages of the Bible, then the only standard by which human conduct may be measured and evaluated legitimately is by the Word of God and the Christian moral framework depicted within its pages. If there is no objective, higher standard that transcends human opinions and to which all humans are amenable, then who is to say what is politically correct? Who can authoritatively define “compassion” and “offensive”? Suddenly, all of society is thrown into a confused hodge-podge of conflicting views on proper speech and behavior. Each person becomes a law unto himself and what offends one person is deemed by another as appropriate and valid.
Hence, PC is driven by two foundational presuppositions: (1) since no absolute truth exists, every person’s views are to be considered as equally valid and steps should be taken to facilitate his views and silence all those who disagree; and (2) the beliefs, values, and moral precepts of Christianity are to be rejected and aggressively opposed. This latter assumption explains why the PC people are so accommodating to the encroachment of Islam into American institutions (though Islam is categorically opposed to PC and those who promote it). It also accounts for the open and widespread hostility that exists in the media, Hollywood, and among liberal politicians against Christian morality. Even as Amos described his contemporaries in their quest to silence his righteous pleadings: “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly” (Amos 5:10). In their campaign to banish “hate speech,” the PC proponent is hypocritically guilty of the same. The solution? “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
The irrationality of the PC crowd is on display in their frenzied efforts to silence candidates and their supporters who say anything that conflicts with the PC agenda. The expression of any Christian belief that labels certain human behaviors as immoral or sinful is deemed “hate speech” and “racist.” Even otherwise clear-thinking Christians can be caught up in the societal propaganda that redefines critical Bible concepts, twisting them to the service of PC, including “love,” “grace,” “hate,” and “racism.” Even if a Christian possesses deep love and concern for a person overtaken in the sin of homosexuality, or the gender confusion associated with transgenderism, merely to speak against the behavior and suggest homosexual acts to be immoral, sinful, and evil is to invite accusations of “hate” and “intolerance.” Sadly, such sentiments demonstrate the extent to which American civilization and the church itself have lost touch with Almighty God.
After all, under the Law of Moses (authored by God Himself), God required the death penalty for same-sex relations: “You shall not lie with a male as lieth a woman; it is an abomination…. lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean” (Leviticus 18:22,28, emp. added, ESV). Question: When God identified a particular human behavior as “an abomination” that would cause the land to expel its practitioners, was He guilty of “hate speech” and being “racist”?
Two chapters later, God again declared His view of homosexuality:
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them…. You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them (Leviticus 20:13,22-23, emp. added, ESV).
Question: When God stated that he detested those who engage in same-sex relations, was He guilty of “hate speech” and being “racist”?
The psalmist called upon righteous people to possess the appropriate level of disdain for that which God defines as “evil”: “You who love the LORD, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10). Solomon taught the same concept: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13). The prophet Amos articulated the same sentiment: “Hate evil, love good” (Amos 5:15). The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are not to hate anyone (e.g., Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 6:27-36). Question: When God issued these divine admonitions to hate specific actions committed by humans, was He guilty of “hate speech” and “racism”?
Have Americans, and even Christians, become so accustomed to the moral filth that is rampant across the nation that they no longer blush or possess the same revulsion that God Himself possesses? (Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12). Can we no longer identify with the psalmist when he said: “I hate and abhor lying, but I love Your law” (Psalm 119:163, emp. added)? The words of Proverbs 24:24-25 are extremely apropos: “He who says to the wicked, ‘You are righteous,’ him the people will curse; nations will abhor him. But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.”
Rather than being caught up in the PC atmosphere of our day, Christians would do well to breathe in the Spirit of God by adopting the disposition, attitude, and thinking of Him who sits upon the throne: “[T]he cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Such forthright expressions arise from the very nature and character of deity. We would do well to adopt the same perspective, and approach our current moral and spiritual confusion with a firm reliance on the example of God. Indeed, Americans desperately need to reacquaint themselves with the God of the Bible. Failure to do so will inevitably result in national crisis and reproach—“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

Biblical Consistency and the Believer’s Treatment of False Teachers by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=482&b=1%20Timothy

Biblical Consistency and the Believer’s Treatment of False Teachers

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

If Christians are to be kind and loving to everyone (Luke 10:29-37), some question why 2 John 10-11 teaches, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine (‘the doctrine of Christ’—vs. 9), do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (emp. added; cf. Wells, 2015). Also, why did Paul instruct Timothy to “shun profane and idle babblings” (2 Timothy 2:16; 1 Timothy 6:20-21)? Are Christians to shun those with whom we disagree, and even go so far as not to greet them or allow them into our homes?
First, Scripture, indeed, repeatedly calls for Christians to love everyone—whether family, friends, fellow Christians, or enemies (Matthew 5:43-48; 22:36-40; Romans 12:9-21). We are to “[r]epay no one evil for evil” (Romans 12:17, emp. added), but strive to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave” us (Ephesians 4:32). But Christian kindness and love is not antithetical to such things as, for example, punishing rule breakers. A father who loves his son, and would even die for him, will promptly discipline him for unruly conduct (Proverbs 13:24; Ephesians 6:4). A school principal may genuinely love and care for every student under his oversight, but he may occasionally have to expel a disorderly child from the school for at least two reasons: (1) so that the hundreds of other students who want to get an education can safely and successfully do so, and (2) in hopes that such drastic measures will cause the unruly child to awaken to his senses before it is too late (and he does something far worse as a teenager or as an adult). An uninformed outsider, who sees a father disciplining his son or a school principal punishing a student, may initially think less of these adults and wonder how they could call themselves Christians. The logical, more informed bystander, however, will quickly size up the situation and easily see the consistency in the loving, disciplinary actions.
In the epistle of 2 John, the apostle expressed his concern for the eternal destiny of Christians, saying, “Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward” (vs. 8, NASB). John was alarmed because deceptive false teachers who denied the incarnation of Jesus were a serious threat to the salvation of Christians. “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 7). These false teachers (known as Gnostics) alleged that Christ could not have been incarnated because the flesh is inherently sinful. And, since the flesh is supposedly intrinsically evil, Gnostics taught that Christians did not need to resist fleshly temptations. Just “do whatever feels good” and know that such wicked actions are only physical and not spiritual. Allegedly, the soul could still be pure, even if the individuals themselves participated in wicked activity. (For more information, see “Gnosticism,” 1982, 2:484-490.)
The apostle John (who had “seen” and “handled” the actual body of Christ—1 John 1:1-4; i.e., Jesus did come in the flesh) repeatedly condemned the central teachings of certain Gnostics who were confusing and misleading first-century Christians.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world (1 John 4:1-3, emp. added).
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil…. Whoever has been born of God does not sin (1 John 3:4-9).
False doctrine was a real and present danger in the first-century church, just as it is today. Christians were (and are) to be on “guard” because “some have strayed concerning the faith”—profane and idle babblers and teachers of contradictory doctrines of “what is falsely called knowledge” (Greek gnosis; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; cf. 2 Timothy 2:15-26). Denying the physical life, death, burial, and resurrection of the body of Christ was heresy, and thus John and others warned the early church of such deception. What’s more, claiming that “all unrighteousness is not sin,” was to directly contradict the Law of Christ. In truth, “the works of the flesh are evident,” and “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19,21, emp. added). John wrote: “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God,” because “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 3:10; 5:17, emp. added).
Christians are commanded to withdraw fellowship (lovingly, faithfully, and sorrowfully) from brethren who rebel against the teachings of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). Such actions by Christians and churches are taken for at least two reasons: (1) to keep the church and the Christian families that comprise her from being harmed spiritually by the defiantly unfaithful (whose very tolerated presence would have even more damaging affects than an incessantly disruptive student in a school room; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6-7), and (2) in hopes of causing the wayward child of God to come to his senses (being “ashamed” of his sinful conduct; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 5:5)—repenting of sin and being restored to the family of God.
Similarly, in 2 John 10-11, the apostle of the Lord instructed hospitable Christians to recognize the seriousness of greeting and housing deceptive false teachers. [NOTE: “The greeting was ‘Chairo!’ literally, goodspeed or God speed. This greeting was more than mere formality; it was an approval of the course being pursued by the one thus greeting, and included a desire for success in the effort attempted” (Woods, 1979, p. 349, italics in orig.).] First-century roaming teachers and preachers “depended on the generosity of the members of the church” for their housing and hospitality (Marshall, 1978, p. 74, emp. added). John the apostle, however, wanted the church to understand the serious threat that these dangerous false teachers posed to the precious bride of Christ. Doctrinal error is not something to “play with,” especially when such error involves the foundation of the Church (the life of Christ—2 John 7) and the denial of sin (the very thing that results in eternal death for the impenitent—Romans 6:23; Luke 13:3,5). By refusing to house and bid God-speed to deceptive teachers, the ungodly efforts of these misleading “messengers” would be greatly diminished. In time, they might choose to (or have to) stop their sowing of error altogether because of lack of opportunities, assistance, and encouragement. Such a result combined with genuine repentance would be the very thing for which Christians hope and pray.
Anyone who can see the reasonable and loving consistency of parents telling their children to “be nice to everyone,” but “don’t listen to these dangerous people” (showing them pictures of known child molesters), should be able to see the consistency of God’s message concerning Christian love and hospitality, and the way Christians react to false teachers who espouse damnable error. Children who shun dangerous sexual predators are protecting their own innocence, as well as keeping themselves and their families from a moment (or a lifetime) of grief. What’s more, the avoided, dangerous strangers are not given the opportunity to continue in their sins. Thus, the children’s obedient avoidance of them could be of great help to the sinful strangers in the highest way possible—if they awaken to their spiritual senses.
Christians are actually fulfilling the Law of Christ to “do good to all” (Galatians 6:2,10) even as we identify and refuse to embrace and fellowship false teachers. We are “doing good” to the “household of faith” by helping keep her pure and unaffected by cancer-spreading deceptive teachers (2 Timothy 2:17-18). Allowing error to spread would be tantamount to “rejoicing in iniquity,” which is unloving (1 Corinthians 13:6). What’s more, the false teachers themselves are in no way encouraged to continue down the road of deceit. Rather, it is the hope and prayer of Christians that false teachers would become convicted of the error of their ways and repent before the Master Teacher (Luke 2:47; John 7:46) returns and judges them eternally for their doctrinal deceit (2 Peter 2).
[NOTE: Near the conclusion of his excellent commentary on 2 John, Guy N. Woods made an appropriate observation that both Christians and critics of 2 John 10-11 should consider: “John does not here forbid hospitality to strangers, or, for that matter, to false teachers when, in so doing, false teaching is neither encouraged nor done. Were we to find a teacher known to be an advocate of false doctrine suffering, it would be our duty to minister to his need, provided that in so doing we did not abet or encourage him in the propagation of false doctrine…. What is forbidden is the reception of such teachers in such fashion as to supply them with an opportunity to teach their tenets, to maintain an association with them when such would involve us in the danger of accepting their doctrines…. The test is, Does one become a partaker by the action contemplated? If yes, our duty is clear; we must neither receive them nor give them greeting; if No, the principle here taught is not applicable” (pp. 349-350, emp. added).]

REFERENCES

“Gnosticism” (1982), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Marshall, I. Howard (1978), The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Wells, Steve (2015), “Should Believers Discuss Their Faith with Nonbelievers?” http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/discuss.html.
Woods, Guy N. (1979), New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

God is love by Roy Davison


http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/godislove.html

God is love
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Love is an innate characteristic of God. Love is His nature. We must learn to love; we must grow in love. God is love.

This may not be reversed. That God is love does not mean that love is God. This misconception reduces God to the personification of a virtue. John also says, “God is light” (1 John 1:5). This does not mean that light is God.

'God is love' defines His nature.

In John's first letter he emphasizes God's love for us and how we should respond.

God showed His love by sending His Son.

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9, 10).

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “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). “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16).

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4, 5).

Nothing external can separate us from God's love: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

God's love comforts us and gives us confidence to have a close relationship with Him: “We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16-19).

“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

God deserves our utmost love. Jesus said, “'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37, 38).

Paul refers to “haters of God” in Romans 1:30.

God has demonstrated His love. He deserves our love. He inspires our love. Yet, each person chooses either to love or to hate God. A neutral attitude to God is not possible. God punishes those who hate Him and blesses those who love Him (Exodus 20:5, 6).

Why would anyone hate God? Because he has more love for something else. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

When we accept the loving grace of God by being baptized, God's Spirit is poured out on us: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

Through the Spirit, the love of God is poured out in our hearts: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).

We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit when we are baptized: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

The love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us. Because we have experienced God's love, we want to love Him and others the way He loves us.

He who loves God must love his brother also.

“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:7-12).

Paul told the Thessalonians: “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:9).

“This is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11).

People ought to recognize us as followers of Christ because of our love for one another. Jesus tells His followers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).
It is not enough to say we love our brethren. True love gives practical assistance where needed: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).

“If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20, 21).

He who loves God keeps His commandments.

Jesus says: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:12-14).

“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6).

Some misuse the statement, “If we love one another, God abides in us” (1 John 4:12) to claim that what we teach or how we worship is not important as long as we love one another. But John explains: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2, 3). “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 6).

If our teaching and worship are not according to the word of the Lord, we are liars when we say we love God and we are liars when we say we love the brethren, according to the Apostle John.

What have we learned about God's love and our response?

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

God showed His love by sending His Son. We love Him because He first loved us. He who loves God must love his brother also. He who loves God keeps His commandments.

“Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21).

“Be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Roy Davison

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

Bible Reading January 26 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading January 26 (World English Bible)


Jan. 26
Genesis 26

Gen 26:1 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, to Gerar.
Gen 26:2 Yahweh appeared to him, and said, "Don't go down into Egypt. Live in the land I will tell you about.
Gen 26:3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you. For to you, and to your seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
Gen 26:4 I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and will give to your seed all these lands. In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed,
Gen 26:5 because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my requirements, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."
Gen 26:6 Isaac lived in Gerar.
Gen 26:7 The men of the place asked him about his wife. He said, "She is my sister," for he was afraid to say, "My wife," lest, he thought, "the men of the place might kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to look at."
Gen 26:8 It happened, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was caressing Rebekah, his wife.
Gen 26:9 Abimelech called Isaac, and said, "Behold, surely she is your wife. Why did you say, 'She is my sister?' " Isaac said to him, "Because I said, 'Lest I die because of her.' "
Gen 26:10 Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!"
Gen 26:11 Abimelech commanded all the people, saying, "He who touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death."
Gen 26:12 Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year one hundred times what he planted. Yahweh blessed him.
Gen 26:13 The man grew great, and grew more and more until he became very great.
Gen 26:14 He had possessions of flocks, possessions of herds, and a great household. The Philistines envied him.
Gen 26:15 Now all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped, and filled with earth.
Gen 26:16 Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go from us, for you are much mightier than we."
Gen 26:17 Isaac departed from there, encamped in the valley of Gerar, and lived there.
Gen 26:18 Isaac dug again the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father. For the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham. He called their names after the names by which his father had called them.
Gen 26:19 Isaac's servants dug in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.
Gen 26:20 The herdsmen of Gerar argued with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, "The water is ours." He called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him.
Gen 26:21 They dug another well, and they argued over that, also. He called its name Sitnah.
Gen 26:22 He left that place, and dug another well. They didn't argue over that one. He called it Rehoboth. He said, "For now Yahweh has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land."
Gen 26:23 He went up from there to Beersheba.
Gen 26:24 Yahweh appeared to him the same night, and said, "I am the God of Abraham your father. Don't be afraid, for I am with you, and will bless you, and multiply your seed for my servant Abraham's sake."
Gen 26:25 He built an altar there, and called on the name of Yahweh, and pitched his tent there. There Isaac's servants dug a well.
Gen 26:26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath his friend, and Phicol the captain of his army.
Gen 26:27 Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, since you hate me, and have sent me away from you?"
Gen 26:28 They said, "We saw plainly that Yahweh was with you. We said, 'Let there now be an oath between us, even between us and you, and let us make a covenant with you,
Gen 26:29 that you will do us no harm, as we have not touched you, and as we have done to you nothing but good, and have sent you away in peace.' You are now the blessed of Yahweh."
Gen 26:30 He made them a feast, and they ate and drank.
Gen 26:31 They rose up some time in the morning, and swore one to another. Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
Gen 26:32 It happened the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had dug, and said to him, "We have found water."
Gen 26:33 He called it Shibah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.
Gen 26:34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wife Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
Gen 26:35 They grieved Isaac's and Rebekah's spirits.


Jan. 25, 26
Matthew 13

Mat 13:1 On that day Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the seaside.
Mat 13:2 Great multitudes gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat, and sat, and all the multitude stood on the beach.
Mat 13:3 He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, "Behold, a farmer went out to sow.
Mat 13:4 As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them.
Mat 13:5 Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn't have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth.
Mat 13:6 When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away.
Mat 13:7 Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them.
Mat 13:8 Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.
Mat 13:9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Mat 13:10 The disciples came, and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"
Mat 13:11 He answered them, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them.
Mat 13:12 For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn't have, from him will be taken away even that which he has.
Mat 13:13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don't see, and hearing, they don't hear, neither do they understand.
Mat 13:14 In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, 'By hearing you will hear, and will in no way understand; Seeing you will see, and will in no way perceive:
Mat 13:15 for this people's heart has grown callous, their ears are dull of hearing, they have closed their eyes; or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and should turn again; and I would heal them.'
Mat 13:16 "But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.
Mat 13:17 For most certainly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see, and didn't see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and didn't hear them.
Mat 13:18 "Hear, then, the parable of the farmer.
Mat 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom, and doesn't understand it, the evil one comes, and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown by the roadside.
Mat 13:20 What was sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;
Mat 13:21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
Mat 13:22 What was sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
Mat 13:23 What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word, and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit, and brings forth, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty."
Mat 13:24 He set another parable before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field,
Mat 13:25 but while people slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel weeds also among the wheat, and went away.
Mat 13:26 But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the darnel weeds appeared also.
Mat 13:27 The servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where did this darnel come from?'
Mat 13:28 "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and gather them up?'
Mat 13:29 "But he said, 'No, lest perhaps while you gather up the darnel weeds, you root up the wheat with them.
Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, "First, gather up the darnel weeds, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn." ' "
Mat 13:31 He set another parable before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field;
Mat 13:32 which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches."
Mat 13:33 He spoke another parable to them. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, until it was all leavened."
Mat 13:34 Jesus spoke all these things in parables to the multitudes; and without a parable, he didn't speak to them,
Mat 13:35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world."
Mat 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitudes away, and went into the house. His disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the darnel weeds of the field."
Mat 13:37 He answered them, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
Mat 13:38 the field is the world; and the good seed, these are the children of the Kingdom; and the darnel weeds are the children of the evil one.
Mat 13:39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
Mat 13:40 As therefore the darnel weeds are gathered up and burned with fire; so will it be at the end of this age.
Mat 13:41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and those who do iniquity,
Mat 13:42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43 Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat 13:44 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found, and hid. In his joy, he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
Mat 13:45 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a merchant seeking fine pearls,
Mat 13:46 who having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Mat 13:47 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet, that was cast into the sea, and gathered some fish of every kind,
Mat 13:48 which, when it was filled, they drew up on the beach. They sat down, and gathered the good into containers, but the bad they threw away.
Mat 13:49 So will it be in the end of the world. The angels will come forth, and separate the wicked from among the righteous,
Mat 13:50 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth."
Mat 13:51 Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?" They answered him, "Yes, Lord."
Mat 13:52 He said to them, "Therefore, every scribe who has been made a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a householder, who brings out of his treasure new and old things."
Mat 13:53 It happened that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed from there.
Mat 13:54 Coming into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom, and these mighty works?
Mat 13:55 Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother called Mary, and his brothers, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
Mat 13:56 Aren't all of his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all of these things?"
Mat 13:57 They were offended by him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and in his own house."
Mat 13:58 He didn't do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.