4/3/17

Bible Reading April 3 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading April 3 (World English Bible)


Apr. 3
Leviticus 23, 24

Lev 23:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 23:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'The set feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my set feasts.
Lev 23:3 " 'Six days shall work be done: but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no manner of work. It is a Sabbath to Yahweh in all your dwellings.
Lev 23:4 " 'These are the set feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their appointed season.
Lev 23:5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, is Yahweh's Passover.
Lev 23:6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to Yahweh. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.
Lev 23:7 In the first day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work.
Lev 23:8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh seven days. In the seventh day is a holy convocation: you shall do no regular work.' "
Lev 23:9 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 23:10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap its the harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest:
Lev 23:11 and he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you. On the next day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Lev 23:12 On the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb without blemish a year old for a burnt offering to Yahweh.
Lev 23:13 The meal offering with it shall be two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to Yahweh for a pleasant aroma; and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, the fourth part of a hin.
Lev 23:14 You shall eat neither bread, nor roasted grain, nor fresh grain, until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God. This is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
Lev 23:15 " 'You shall count from the next day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be completed:
Lev 23:16 even to the next day after the seventh Sabbath you shall number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering to Yahweh.
Lev 23:17 You shall bring out of your habitations two loaves of bread for a wave offering made of two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour. They shall be baked with yeast, for first fruits to Yahweh.
Lev 23:18 You shall present with the bread seven lambs without blemish a year old, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to Yahweh, with their meal offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of a sweet aroma to Yahweh.
Lev 23:19 You shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings.
Lev 23:20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before Yahweh, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to Yahweh for the priest.
Lev 23:21 You shall make proclamation on the same day: there shall be a holy convocation to you; you shall do no regular work. This is a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
Lev 23:22 " 'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap into the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest: you shall leave them for the poor, and for the foreigner. I am Yahweh your God.' "
Lev 23:23 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 23:24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest to you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
Lev 23:25 You shall do no regular work; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh.' "
Lev 23:26 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 23:27 "However on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh.
Lev 23:28 You shall do no manner of work in that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your God.
Lev 23:29 For whoever it is who shall not deny himself in that same day; shall be cut off from his people.
Lev 23:30 Whoever it is who does any manner of work in that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.
Lev 23:31 You shall do no manner of work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
Lev 23:32 It shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall deny yourselves. In the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall keep your Sabbath."
Lev 23:33 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 23:34 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say, 'On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of tents for seven days to Yahweh.
Lev 23:35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation: you shall do no regular work.
Lev 23:36 Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. On the eighth day shall be a holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. It is a solemn assembly; you shall do no regular work.
Lev 23:37 " 'These are the appointed feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh, a burnt offering, and a meal offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, each on its own day;
Lev 23:38 besides the Sabbaths of Yahweh, and besides your gifts, and besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to Yahweh.
Lev 23:39 " 'So on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruits of the land, you shall keep the feast of Yahweh seven days: on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest.
Lev 23:40 You shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God seven days.
Lev 23:41 You shall keep it a feast to Yahweh seven days in the year: it is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall keep it in the seventh month.
Lev 23:42 You shall dwell in booths seven days. All who are native-born in Israel shall dwell in booths,
Lev 23:43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.' "
Lev 23:44 Moses declared to the children of Israel the appointed feasts of Yahweh.

Lev 24:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 24:2 "Command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.
Lev 24:3 Outside of the veil of the Testimony, in the Tent of Meeting, shall Aaron keep it in order from evening to morning before Yahweh continually: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.
Lev 24:4 He shall keep in order the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before Yahweh continually.
Lev 24:5 "You shall take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes of it: two tenth parts of an ephah shall be in one cake.
Lev 24:6 You shall set them in two rows, six on a row, on the pure gold table before Yahweh.
Lev 24:7 You shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be to the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire to Yahweh.
Lev 24:8 Every Sabbath day he shall set it in order before Yahweh continually. It is on the behalf of the children of Israel an everlasting covenant.
Lev 24:9 It shall be for Aaron and his sons; and they shall eat it in a holy place: for it is most holy to him of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire by a perpetual statute."
Lev 24:10 The son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel; and the son of the Israelite woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp.
Lev 24:11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name, and cursed; and they brought him to Moses. His mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.
Lev 24:12 They put him in custody, until the will of Yahweh should be declared to them.
Lev 24:13 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 24:14 "Bring out of the camp him who cursed; and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
Lev 24:15 You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.
Lev 24:16 He who blasphemes the name of Yahweh, he shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him: the foreigner as well as the native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
Lev 24:17 " 'He who strikes any man mortally shall surely be put to death.
Lev 24:18 He who strikes an animal mortally shall make it good, life for life.
Lev 24:19 If anyone injures his neighbor; as he has done, so shall it be done to him:
Lev 24:20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has injured someone, so shall it be done to him.
Lev 24:21 He who kills an animal shall make it good; and he who kills a man shall be put to death.
Lev 24:22 You shall have one kind of law, for the foreigner as well as the native-born: for I am Yahweh your God.' "
Lev 24:23 Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they brought forth him who had cursed out of the camp, and stoned him with stones. The children of Israel did as Yahweh commanded Moses.


Apr. 2, 3
Luke 3
Luk 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
Luk 3:2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
Luk 3:3 He came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for remission of sins.
Luk 3:4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.
Luk 3:5 Every valley will be filled. Every mountain and hill will be brought low. The crooked will become straight, and the rough ways smooth.
Luk 3:6 All flesh will see God's salvation.' "
Luk 3:7 He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptized by him, "You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Luk 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and don't begin to say among yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father;' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones!
Luk 3:9 Even now the axe also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn't bring forth good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire."
Luk 3:10 The multitudes asked him, "What then must we do?"
Luk 3:11 He answered them, "He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise."
Luk 3:12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what must we do?"
Luk 3:13 He said to them, "Collect no more than that which is appointed to you."
Luk 3:14 Soldiers also asked him, saying, "What about us? What must we do?" He said to them, "Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages."
Luk 3:15 As the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he was the Christ,
Luk 3:16 John answered them all, "I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire,
Luk 3:17 whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor, and will gather the wheat into his barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Luk 3:18 Then with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people,
Luk 3:19 but Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done,
Luk 3:20 added this also to them all, that he shut up John in prison.
Luk 3:21 Now it happened, when all the people were baptized, Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying. The sky was opened,
Luk 3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove on him; and a voice came out of the sky, saying "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased."
Luk 3:23 Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years old, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,
Luk 3:24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,
Luk 3:25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
Luk 3:26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah,
Luk 3:27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
Luk 3:28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er,
Luk 3:29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
Luk 3:30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim,
Luk 3:31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
Luk 3:32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
Luk 3:33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Aram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
Luk 3:34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
Luk 3:35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
Luk 3:36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
Luk 3:37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan,
Luk 3:38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

The Holy Spirit by J.C. Bailey


http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Bailey/John/Carlos/1903/Articles/holyspir.html

The Holy Spirit

This is a subject of much controversy both in the church and out of the church. I hope we can add something to the educational process, that we might better understand the work of the Holy Spirit. We are instructed to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). God does something we cannot do. The next verse tells us that there is one Spirit (Eph. 4:4). The Bible reveals that the Spirit is a person, not an influence. It is true that he may influence people but he is a person: "Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come...." (John 16:13); "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things" (John 14:26). So this person is to teach the apostles all things and then through their words we will have unity. He is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). We are sanctified in the truth and God's word is truth (John 17:17). Truth is always in harmony with truth. Therefore the Holy Spirit will not guide, or instruct us, into something contrary to the word. That the teachings of the apostles were the words of the Holy Spirit is made evident in this passage: "Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe in me through their word: that all may be one, even as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou didst send me" (John 17:20-21).

The apostles did not interpret the Spirit to us. They did not tell us what the Spirit meant. They told us what the Holy Spirit said, "But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things which were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth, combining spiritual things with spiritual words (I Cor. 2:12-13). We read again: "For no prophecy ever came by will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). We are told that we need the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible to us. If the Holy Spirit did not tell us what He meant the first time then how would we know that he was telling us the truth the second time? In the Bible there is oneness but when men begin to interpret the Bible we have confusion.

It would be impossible for the Spirit to teach us something different from the word of God, or it is not the word of God that we have. For Truth cannot contradict Truth. Two and two are four. We never learn anything that contradicts that no matter how far we may go in mathematics. So He is the Spirit of Truth. The Bible is the Word of Truth. So they must be in harmony. To make this abundantly clear Jesus said, "It is the spirit that giveth life, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life" (John 6:63).

We are to keep the unity of the Spirit. The Bible says, there is one God. That we accept. There is one Lord Jesus Christ, that we accept. There is one Spirit. In theory we accept that, but in practice many reject it. The very same verse that says there is One Spirit says that there is One Body (Eph. 4:4). That body is the church but people who claim to be directly guided by the Holy Spirit say that the church consists of many bodies, that the church consists of the various religious bodies or at least certain people within the various religious bodies, that the church is not one body as the Bible teaches and hence the Holy Spirit teaches. The unity of the Holy Spirit has been destroyed and not enhanced as these people would like us to believe. This is one of the remarkable things about those who claim to be directly guided by the Spirit today: immediately they reject what the Holy Spirit said about one body, the church.

The Holy Spirit reveals the church as a glorious thing but those who claim today to be led by the Spirit reject the Bible concept of the church for a fragmented denominationalism. The Bible teaches that as a husband and wife are to live together in true fidelity, so Christ and the church are to live (Eph. 5:25- 26). Not only is there only one Spirit and one body (church) but there is only One Lord. The word Lord means ruler. When you have more than one church you have more than one ruler. Each church has its own system of government and its laws. Then every church with its own government also has its own faith. So the faith is fragmented. The Holy Spirit tells us that the faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). So anything newer than the New Testament is not the faith.

Then there is one baptism. As we have more Lords we have more bodies, we have more faiths and we have more baptisms. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit, by Peter, told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. The command is plain. We have no trouble understanding what it says but men have used barrels of ink and tons of paper trying to show that this did not mean exactly what it says. Why? The Lordship has been altered, the faith that has been added teaches something else besides the One Baptism that the Holy Spirit reveals (Acts 2:38). Note this significant statement. "They then that received his word were baptized and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). So this is the one baptism. We hear the word of the Spirit as given on Pentecost and we obey it. God is over this plan and in this plan (Eph. 4:6).

But someone asks the question, "What about Holy Spirit baptism?" Let us see what the Bible tells us about this. In other words, we shall see what the Holy Spirit said about baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us the fulfillment of this promise. Here is the prophecy as made by John the Baptist: "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire." Then John goes right on to tell us what the baptism of fire will be. It is unquenchable fire that shall burn up the chaff (Matthew 3:11-12).

After his resurrection Jesus tells us about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and I want you to study with me very carefully: "The former treatise I made O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach until the day in which he was received up after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God, and being assembled together with them [notice that the antecedent to 'them' must be the apostles and only the apostles] he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: For John indeed baptized with water but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:1-5). So Jesus said that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for the apostles and there was no promise that it would ever be given to any other person.

Now let us note carefully what happened: We quote from Acts 2: "And when the day of Pentecost was now come they [the apostles] were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as the rushing of a might wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues, parting asunder like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4). When the Holy Spirit came the result was that these people spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit.

After explaining the purpose of the Spirit coming they then preached the gospel to these people. They told them of the miracles of Christ. Jesus did these things that we might be believers and be saved, not by any direct operation of the Holy Spirit, but by believing the miracles that Jesus worked. Let us read carefully: "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing might have life in his name" (John 20:30-31). So Peter by the Holy Spirit preached about the miracles of Jesus.

We are to be saved by our faith in the gospel: "And he said unto them, Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). Paul told us that the gospel was the facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-5). Peter ended the first part of his sermon with these words: "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye have crucified (Acts 2:36). This did not cause people to fall down on the floor. This caused people to ask a question. They believed the message that the Holy Spirit gave and this caused them to ask a question: "now when they heard this, they were pricked in the heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter was baptized in the Holy Spirit along with the rest of the apostles and here was the answer. He did not tell them to pray through. He did not tell them that since they had become believers, there was nothing for them to do. Listen to the answer of the Holy Spirit: "Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

He said that the gift of the Holy Spirit would be given to the people who were baptized for the remission of sins. Then we have it made more plain in Acts 5:32. Peter is talking: "and we are witnesses of these things: and so is the Holy Spirit whom God hath given to those who obey him." Here is a promise from the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey. We may not fully understand this but we can believe it and we can learn from the Scriptures something of this at least, if not everything.

As I write I have an electric light beside me. I do not know much about electricity but I can make much use of it. So the Christian has the indwelling of the Spirit and we can make use of it even if our knowledge is not perfect. The New Testament provides us with all that we need to know. Paul wrote to Timothy or rather the Holy Spirit wrote to Timothy and used Paul as his secretary. Here is what he had to say, "and that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture inspired of God is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Tim. 3:15-17). So I can learn the word of God, I can believe the word of God and the Holy Spirit says I am completely furnished unto every good work.

However, we must realize that the mere learning of the Scripture is not enough. Christ by the Spirit, by faith, must dwell in the inner man. We read, "That he would grant you, according to the richness of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love..." (Eph. 3:16-17). So we are grounded by faith in Christ, the Spirit, dwells in the inner man.

This indwelling Spirit is something peculiar to the gospel. We have inspiration in the Old Testament. We have healing in the Old Testament. We had the miracles of creation and we have the miracles that Moses worked. We have miracles that were worked by the apostles during the personal ministry of Christ. But there was something beyond all this, for we learn in John 7:37-39: "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not glorified." So the gift of the Spirit was for Christians in a way that others did not receive it. We shall return to this in a moment but we must notice that the Spirit was not given to the world but to the believer: "even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him, for he abideth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:17). The gospel is the power of God to save the believer (Rom. 1:16). Yet, the people of the world pray that the Holy Spirit will come in converting power to the sinner. Jesus said that the sinner cannot receive the Holy Spirit.

If we do not have the Spirit we cannot lose the Spirit. The Thessalonians were told not to quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). Jude told us that some so sinned that they did not have the Spirit (Jude 19).

How do I know that I have the Spirit? Because I have the fruit of the Spirit? Paul tells us of the fight that goes on. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh and these are contrary to one another (Gal. 5:16-21). Then he says the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self control: against such there is no law (Gal 5:22-23). In order for the Spirit to abide, we must crucify the flesh with its passions (verse 24).

God operates according to law. Miracles were always an exception. He made Adam from dust. He made Eve from a rib and then natural law went into operation and all people come into the world through natural law. Moses turned water into blood. That was a miracle but by natural law in our bodies every day, water is turned into blood. If this were not so, man would soon perish from the earth. Jesus fed five thousand by a miracle. God feeds billions every day by natural law. God must put the life into every grain of wheat, or rice, or any other food. No man can do that. The light and heat of the sun is brought 93 million miles and is not expended. Man cannot do that. God sends the rain. No man can do that. So God's natural laws are far greater than any miracle but these miracles were done to show his power (Mk. 16:29-30; Heb. 2:3-4).

When the New Testament was complete the purpose of these signs was fulfilled. Paul was a great worker of miracles but they had fulfilled their purpose: He said tongues would cease and that prophecy would fail (I Cor. 13:8-9). John tells us that with Revelation, prophecy was complete (Rev. 22:18-19). Paul told Timothy to take some medicine for his sickness (1 Tim. 5:23). The old soldier, the man who had kept the faith, says that he left Trophimus at Miletus sick (2 Tim. 4:20). Even in the midst of His miracles Jesus said the sick need a doctor (Mk. 2:17). The miraculous does not change man. Balaam, the son of Beor, was a prophet but he loved the hire of wrong doing. Caiaphas was a prophet and told of the death of Christ but he was a wicked man. The Corinthian church had many miraculous gifts but the church had many sins. The indwelling Spirit which is the right of every baptized believer will lift up to the better plain. "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11). When the Spirit would come, Jesus said that from the believer would flow living water. The last invitation is to take freely of the water of life (Rev. 22:17).

J.C. Bailey (January 1986, Bengough, Saskatchewan)


Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Confused Critics, Not God by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=507&b=Genesis

Confused Critics, Not God

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

One of the many criticisms that skeptics have levied against the Bible writers is that the Scriptures paint a contradictory picture of God, specifically regarding whether or not God “authors confusion.” Since God confused the language of man at Babel (11:1-9; apparently in the days of Peleg—Genesis 10:25), then, allegedly, Paul’s claim that “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33) must be erroneous. How could He purposefully confuse mankind, while at the same time not be the “author of confusion”?
Certainly, God punished mankind for his disobedience at Babel by confusing their language (i.e., He brought into existence additional languages). After the Flood, God had instructed man to “[b]e fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1, emp. added). At Babel, however, humanity rebelled against God’s will, saying, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens...lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4, emp. added). What’s more, the descendants of Noah at Babel also were guilty of attempting to “make a name” for themselves (11:4; cf. 1 John 2:16). Thus, God chose to “confuse their language” that they might be “scattered...over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).
This kind of confusion, however, was not the same kind that Paul had in mind when he wrote 1 Corinthians. When Paul wrote, “God is not the author of confusion” (14:33), he was addressing problems that the Corinthian Christians were having in the worship assembly. He gave specific instructions about how those with spiritual gifts (e.g., tongues, prophecies, interpretations) were to conduct themselves in the assembly. Those with the gift of tongues were to speak “in turn” (14:27), and if no interpreter was present they were to “keep silent in the church” (14:28). Those with the gift of prophecy were to “prophecy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged” (14:31, emp. added). Paul concluded this section of his letter by encouraging the church to “[l]et all things be done decently and in order” (14:40). In short, God desires worship that is free from the kind of chaos and confusion caused when (among other things) various individuals are speaking at the same time.
Consider the teacher who tells his class that he is not a person of confusion (i.e., he likes order and wants an orderly class). Later, however, this same teacher coaches a football team and desires to “cause confusion” among the opposing team’s players by implementing a complex game plan on both offense and defense. Might this man still be considered a man of integrity, whose personality is one that others would describe as the antithesis of chaotic? Certainly. Simply because a person initiates confusion in one particular setting does not mean that his very nature is chaotic.
Attempting to equate the dispersion God caused among sinful people at Babel with the confusion God condemned in Corinth is both unjustified and unreasonable. Remember, for there to be a legitimate contradiction, one must make sure that the words (or concepts) under discussion are used in the same sense. In Genesis 11:9 and 1 Corinthians 14:33, they are used in totally different senses.

Situation Ethics—Extended Version by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=645

Situation Ethics—Extended Version

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Human beings throughout history have been susceptible to a desire to be freed from the dictates of higher authority. Most people wish to be free to do whatever they desire to do. This attitude runs rampant among the baby boomers whose formative years occurred during the 1960s. Expressions that were commonplace at the time included “Do your own thing” and “Let it all hang out.” These simple slogans offer profound insight into what really was driving the countercultural forces at that time. Underneath the stated objectives of love, peace, and brotherhood were the actual motives of self-indulgence and freedom from restrictions. This ethical, moral, and spiritual perspective has proliferated, and now dominates the American moral landscape.
The Israelites at Mt. Sinai provide a good case study of this. Their unbridled lust manifested itself when they cast aside restraint. Awaiting the return of Moses, they “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6)—“play” being used euphemistically to refer to sex play (cf. Genesis 26:8) [Harris, et al., 1980, 2:763; Clarke, n.d., 1:464]. The drinking and dancing (vs. 9) apparently included lewd, even nude, party-like revelry, with the people being “naked” (KJV), “broken loose” (ASV), “unrestrained” (NKJV), or “out of control” (NASV—vs. 25). The “prodigal son” was gripped by this same “party on” mentality. He went to the far country to party, to live it up, and to “get down.” There he indulged himself in riotous, loose living—totally free and unrestrained in whatever his fleshly appetites urged him to do (Luke 15:13).
Despite all of their high and holy insistence that their actions are divinely approved, and the result of a deep desire to do Christ’s will and save souls, could it possibly be that those within Christendom who seek to relax doctrinal rigidity are, in reality, implementing their own agenda of change simply to relieve themselves of Bible restrictions? Is it purely coincidental that the permissive preachers have been both willing and eager to accommodate the clamor for “no negative, all positive” preaching? Is it completely accidental and unrelated that many voices are minimizing strict obedience under the guise of “legalism,” “we’re under grace, not law,” “we’re in the grip of grace” (Lucado, 1996), and that we are “free to change” (e.g., Hook, 1990)?
No, these circumstances are neither coincidental nor unrelated. They are calculated and conspiratorial. Those who have aversion to law have breathed in the same spirit that has led secular society’s psychological profession to view guilt as destructive, while unselfish, personal responsibility is labeled “co-dependency.” They have embraced the same subjective, self-centered rationale that secular society offers for rejecting the plain requirements of Scripture in order to do whatever they desire to do: “God wants me to be happy!” and “It meets my needs!” The spirit of liberalism has indeed taken deep root, both in the country and in the Christian religion (see Chesser, 2001).

SITUATIONISM DEFINED

In the mid-1960s, Joseph Fletcher published the book, Situation Ethics, thereby securing for himself the dubious distinction “the Father of Situation Ethics” (1966). Of course, Fletcher was by no means the first to advance the ideals of situationism. Men like Emil Brunner (The Divine Imperative), Reinhold Niebuhr (Moral Man and Immoral Society), Harvey Cox (The Secular City), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Ethics), and John A.T. Robinson (Honest to God) promoted ethical relativism before Fletcher’s popular expression of the same. Existentialist philosophers like Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger promulgated this same subjectivism. Though Fletcher at first attempted to deny this tie to existential philosophy (1967, p. 75), he ended up admitting it (pp. 77,234). However, we need not think that situation ethics is a twenty-first-century phenomenon that was invented by modern theologians and social scientists. Situationism goes all the way back to Eden when Satan posed to Eve circumstances that he alleged would justify setting aside God’s law (Genesis 3:4-6).
Fletcher summarized his ideas in terms of six propositions that he came to identify as “the fundamentals of Christian conscience” (1967, pp. 13-27). This ethical theory stresses “freedom from prefabricated decisions and prescriptive rules” in exchange for “the relative or nonabsolute and variant or nonuniversal nature of the situational approach” (p. 7). “Right and wrong depend upon the situation” (p. 14). The “situation” is defined as “the relative weight of the ends and means and motives and consequences all taken together, as weighed by love” (p. 23). The situation ethicist feels free to “tinker with Scripture” and to form “a coalition with the utilitarian principle of the ‘greatest good of the greatest number’” (pp. 18-19; cf. p. 56).
Situationism is simply ethical relativism, in that it moves “away from code ethics, from stern and ironbound do’s and don’ts, from prescribed conduct and legalistic morality” (p. 24). Situationism bears close affinity with existentialism (pp. 26,77,234). “Imitative practice,” uniformity and conformity, and “metaphysical morals” are all disdained (pp. 26,106,240). Objective principles and abstract rules are repudiated, in exchange for “freedom and openness” (pp. 72,76,233,235). Concrete absolutes are viewed unfavorably as “authoritarianism” and “rules-bound thinking” (p. 240).
In contrast, situationism calls for “creative” moral conduct, accommodation to “pluralism,” “freedom,” and “openness,” as well as “spontaneity and variety in moral decision-making” (pp. 78,123-124,235,241). Constant emphasis is placed on “love” as the only intrinsic good, with the loving thing to do depending on each situation that arises. Since “love” is the only inherent, intrinsic value, the moral quality or value of every thing or action is extrinsic and contingent—depending upon the situation (pp. 14,26,34,38,55,76,123-124).
Though Fletcher offered formal expression to these concepts several decades ago, it would not be an exaggeration to state that situationism has “gone to seed” in American society and now constitutes the prevailing approach to making ethical decisions. As pollster guru George Barna remarked in a 2003 survey of American moral behavior:
This is reflective of a nation where morality is generally defined according to one’s feelings. In a postmodern society, where people do not acknowledge any moral absolutes, if a person feels justified in engaging in a specific behavior then they do not make a connection with the immoral nature of that action…. Until people recognize that there are moral absolutes and attempt to live in harmony with them, we are likely to see a continued decay of our moral foundations (2003, emp. added).

FLAWS IN SITUATIONAL THINKING

At least two foundational errors cause Fletcher’s theory of situationism to be irreparably flawed. The first is the failure to grasp the Bible’s identification of the central concern of human beings: to love, honor, glorify, and obey God (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Micah 6:8; Matthew 22:37; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 5:9; 10:5; 1 Peter 4:11). Fletcher is virtually silent on this dimension of human responsibility. Instead, he focuses his entire theory on love for fellowman. While love for fellowman is certainly crucial to Christian ethics and absolutely mandatory for the Christian (e.g., Luke 10:25-37) it must be viewed in its rightful position, subsumed beneath the greater, higher responsibility of loving God. One cannot love God without loving one’s neighbor (e.g., 1 John 4:20-21). But, theoretically, one could love another person without loving God. Consequently, love for fellowman must be viewed in the larger framework of focusing one’s life on pleasing God first and foremost.
Since this must be the singular all-consuming passion of human beings, God’s Word must be consulted in order to determine how to love God and fellow man. In other words, to comply with the number one responsibility in life, one must consult the absolute, prefabricated, prescriptive, ironbound do’s and don’ts of Scripture! This, by definition, is love for God (1 John 5:3; John 14:15). It follows, then, that Fletcher is incorrect in identifying the only intrinsic good as “love” for fellow man (1967, p. 14). According to the Bible, intrinsic good includes fraternal love. But superceding even this love is filial love, i.e., love for God (Matthew 22:36-37; cf. Warren, 1972, pp. 87ff.). Consequently, God defines what love entails in man’s treatment of both God and fellow man. But those definitions are found in the Bible in the form of prescriptive rules, regulations, and ironbound do’s and don’ts.
The second fundamental flaw of Fletcher’s brand of situationism is the subtle redefinition of “love.” While Fletcher was correct when he identified love as an active determination of the will rather than an emotion (pp. 20-21), his idea of “love” is materialistic and secular, rather than scriptural or spiritual. “Love,” to Fletcher, is what human beings decide is “good” or “best” in a given situation. This humanistic approach allows man and his circumstances to become the criteria for defining morality, rather than allowing God to define the parameters of moral behavior: “The metaphysical moralist with his intrinsic values and laws says, ‘Do what is right and let the chips fall where they may.’ The situational moralist says, ‘Whether what you do is right or not depends precisely upon where the chips fall!’” (1967, p. 26).
But the Bible simply does not place law and love in contradistinction to each other. In fact, according to the Bible, one cannot love either God or fellow man without law. The only way for an individual to know how to love is to go to the Bible and discern there the specifics of loving behavior. When Paul declared, “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:19), he did not mean that it is possible to love one’s neighbor while dispensing with the law (see Fletcher, 1967, p. 70; Hook, 1984, p. 31). Rather, he meant that when you conduct yourself in a genuinely loving manner, you are automatically acting in harmony with the law (i.e., you are not killing, stealing, coveting, bearing false witness, etc.). God, in His laws, defined and pinpointed how to love. To treat any of God’s laws as optional, flexible, or occasional is to undermine the very foundations of love.
In situationism, human beings become the standard of morality. The human mind, with its subjective perceptions of the surrounding moral environment, becomes the authority, in direct conflict with the words of an inspired prophet: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). The psalmist certainly could be accused of being a “metaphysical moralist with his intrinsic values and laws.” In his great psalm on the law of the Lord (Psalm 119), the writer conveyed his conviction that objective, prescriptive rules and prefabricated principles were indispensable to his survival. Observe closely a small portion of his unrelenting extolment of divine laws: “You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently” (vs. 4); “I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments” (vs. 6); “Behold, I long for Your precepts” (vs. 40); “I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love” (vs. 47); “I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life” (vs. 93); “Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (vs. 104); “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (vs. 160); “My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly. I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, for all my ways are before You” (vss. 167-168).
To Fletcher, “love” directed toward one’s fellowman is a materialistically defined love that he calls “personalism.” “Personalism” is “the ethical view that the highest good, the summum bonum or first-order value, is human welfare and happiness” (1967, p. 33). Fletcher’s ethical humanism is “a personalist devotion to people, not to things or abstractions such as ‘laws’ or general principles. Personal interests come first, before the natural or Scriptural or theoretical or general or logical or anything else” (p. 34, emp. added). What such assertions really mean in practical, behavioral terms is that, ultimately, human beings may do whatever they deem “good” or “best.” A glance at Fletcher’s illustrations shows that the most “loving” decisions are those that ease physical pain, alleviate hardship, lessen emotional suffering, or accommodate human desire and personal preference. For Fletcher, “evil” is physical imprisonment, separation from family, the hardship of unjust labor, an unpleasant marriage, or lack of commitment to a person (e.g., pp. 32,39). “Human happiness” is, by definition, what human beings think will make them happy—not what God says actually will bring true happiness—even in the midst of, and while enduring, unjust or unpleasant circumstances.
Sin, in situationism, is not “transgression of God’s law” (1 John 3:4). Rather, “sin is the exploitation or use of persons” (p. 37). It is withholding what a person perceives to be the means to personal happiness. But this understanding of sin is a radical redefinition of love and happiness in comparison to the Bible. In contrast, Scripture makes clear that “intrinsic evil on the purely physical level does not exist” and “neither pain nor suffering is intrinsically evil” (Warren, 1972, pp. 93,40). Since sin (i.e., violation of God’s law) is the only intrinsic evil, “evil” and “good” exist only in relation to the will of God (pp. 39,41).
By Fletcher’s definitions, many people in Bible history were not sinners as previously supposed, but were, in fact, mature, responsible individuals who acted lovingly: Eve (Genesis 3:1-6); Cain (Genesis 4:3); Lot and Lot’s wife (Genesis 13:12; 19:16,26); Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3); the Israelites (Numbers 21:4-6); Balaam (Numbers 22-24); Saul (1 Samuel 13:9; 15:9,21); and Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6ff.). On the other hand, if situationism is correct, many persons in the Bible were not righteous, as is claimed, but were slaves to abstract rules and principles, and were unloving in their conduct toward their fellow man including: Noah (Genesis 6; 2 Peter 2:5); Joseph (Genesis 39:7-12); Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:6-9); Phinehas (Numbers 25:6-9); Joshua (Joshua 7:24-25); and John the baptizer (Mark 6:18-19). Here were people who set aside the preferences of their fellow man, ignoring their contemporaries’ desire for “happiness” and “self-fulfillment,” and instead followed divine prescriptions—even though those precepts were considered to be contrary to the consensus view.
Taking into account the components of “the situation” as Fletcher recommends—“the end, means, motive, and foreseeable consequences” (1967, p. 25)—Uzzah would have to receive Fletcher’s sanction as a loving, moral person (2 Samuel 6:1-7). His motive was unquestionably good, since he wanted to avoid the unpleasant end and foreseeable consequences of the Ark of the Covenant toppling from its precarious resting place. The means that Uzzah used were the only ones available to him at that particular moment in time. His only mistake, which resulted in his immediate execution by God, was his failure to give heed to the prefabricated, prescriptive, abstract, legalistic, absolute, metaphysical, ironbound “don’t” of Numbers 4:15 [For a useful treatment of situation ethics, especially for young people, see Ridenour, 1969].

SITUATIONISM ILLUSTRATED

The true nature of any false philosophy or ethical system is often apparent in the concrete examples that advocates set forth as illustrative of their position. Fletcher is no exception in this regard. He approves of divorce “if the emotional and spiritual welfare of both parents and children in a particular family can be served best” (1967, p. 23, emp. in orig.). He would approve of the suicide of a captured soldier under torture to avoid betraying comrades to the enemy (p. 15). Two additional instances are seen in the following comments. Fletcher said that he knew of
a case, in which committing adultery foreseeably brought about the release of a whole family from a very unjust but entirely legal exploitation of their labor on a small farm which was both their pride and their prison. Still another situation could be cited in which a German mother gained her release from a Soviet prison farm and reunion with her family by means of an adulterous pregnancy. These actions would have the situationist’s solemn but ready approval (p. 32).
Additional examples of situation ethics at work are seen in the statements: “Lying could be more Christian than telling the truth. Stealing could be better than respecting private property” (p. 34). Fletcher asks: “Is the girl who gives her chastity for her country’s sake any less approvable than the boy who gives his leg or his life? No!” (p. 39). Further,
a couple who cannot marry legally or permanently but live together faithfully and honorably and responsibly, are living in virtue—in Christian love. In this kind of Christian sex ethic the essential ingredients are caring and commitment.… There is nothing against extramarital sex as such, in this ethic, and in some cases it is good (pp. 39-40, emp. in orig.).
Consider the situation ethicist’s view of abortion:
When anybody “sticks to the rules,” even though people suffer as a consequence, that is immoral. Even if we grant, for example, that generally or commonly it is wrong or bad or undesirable to interrupt a pregnancy, it would nevertheless be right to do so to a conceptus following rape or incest, at least if the victim wanted an abortion” (p. 36; cf. Hook, 1984, p. 34).
When one abandons the objective standard conveyed by the eternal God from Whom flows infinite goodness, the means for assessing human behavior is “up for grabs” and pitched into the subjective realm of human opinion in which “everyone does what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Such a person will inevitably begin misrepresenting the biblical treatment of Christian liberty and freedom, and will maintain that “freedom in Christ” means being relieved of the “burden” of a “legal code.”

FREEDOM IN THE BIBLE: JOHN 8:12-59

The Bible certainly speaks of the wonderful freedom that one may enjoy in Christ. But biblical freedom is a far cry from the release from restriction, restraint, and deserved guilt touted by the antinomian agents of change (cf. Hook, 1984, pp. 43ff.). The Bible does not speak of the “flexibility and elasticity” of God’s laws (pp. 29-31). Rather, with sweeping and precise terminology, Jesus articulated the sum and substance of what it means to be “free in Christ.” In a specific context in which He defended the validity of His own testimony (John 8:12-59), He declared the only basis upon which an individual may be His disciple. To be Christ’s disciple, one must “continue” in His word (vs. 31). That is, one must live a life of obedience to the will of Christ (Warren, 1986, pp. 33-37). Genuine discipleship is gauged by one’s persistent and meticulous compliance with the words of Jesus.
Freedom in Christ is integrally and inseparably linked to this emphasis upon obeying God. While it is ultimately God and Christ Who bestow freedom from condemnation upon people, they do so strictly through the medium of the written words of inspiration (vs. 32). The “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) is the law that gives liberty to those who are “doers of the word” (James 1:22). These same words will function as judge at the end of time (John 12:47-48).
It thus becomes extremely essential for people to “know the truth” in order for the truth to make them free (vs. 32). What did Jesus mean by “the truth?” “The truth” is synonymous with: (1) the Gospel (Galatians 2:14; Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5-6—genitive of apposition or identification); (2) the Word (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:2); (3) the Faith (Acts 14:21-22; Ephesians 4:5); and (4) sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10-11). In other words, “the truth” is the content of the Christian religion. It is the New Testament—the doctrines of the one true religion (cf. James 5:19). For a person to “know” the truth, he or she must both understand it and submit to it. Christ’s teachings must become the supreme law of daily life. The servant must both know his master’s will, and act in accordance with that will (Luke 12:47).
The freedom that Jesus offers through obedience to His truth is noted in His interchange with the Jews over slavery. Those who sin (i.e., transgress God’s will—1 John 3:4) are slaves who may be set free only by permitting Christ’s teachings to have free course within them (vs. 34-37). This kind of freedom is the only true freedom. Genuine freedom is achieved by means of “obedience to righteousness” (Romans 6:16). Freedom from sin and spiritual death is possible only by obedience to God’s words (vs. 51).
Nevertheless, these Jews—though they were believers (vs. 30-31)—were unwilling to obey Christ’s will, and to function in a faithful manner as Abraham had (vs. 39). Consequently, Jesus labeled them children of the devil (vs. 44). They were not “of God” because they were unwilling to “hear” God’s words, i.e., comply with them (vs. 47). Though they believed, they would not obey the truth. “Indignation and wrath” await those who will not “obey the truth” (Romans 2:8). J.W. McGarvey summarized the interpenetration of freedom, obedience, and knowing the truth: “Freedom consists in conformity to that which, in the realm of intellect, is called truth, and in the realm of morality, law. The only way in which we know truth is to obey it, and God’s truth gives freedom from sin and death” (n.d., p. 457).

SITUATIONIST PROOF TEXTS: THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN

Another way to grasp the substance of a false philosophy is to assess the way in which the Scriptures are given treatment to support the philosophy. The remainder of this article will confine itself to examining several favorite proof texts frequently marshaled in an effort to defend situationism.
“What about the woman taken in adultery? Didn’t Jesus free her from the rigid restrictions of the Law?” One of the most misused, mishandled, and misapplied passages in the Bible is the narrative of the woman caught in adultery, recorded in John 8:1-11. [For a discussion of the technical aspects of this passage as a textual variant, see Metzger, 1968, pp. 223-224; 1971, pp. 219-222; McGarvey, 1974 reprint, p. 16; Woods, 1989, p. 162.] This passage has been used by situation ethicists (e.g., Fletcher, 1967, pp. 83,133), libertines, and liberals to insist that God is not “technical” when it comes to requiring close adherence to His laws. The bulk of Christendom has abetted this notion by decontextualizing and applying indiscriminately the remark of Jesus: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (vs. 7). The average individual, therefore, has come to think that Jesus was tolerant and forgiving to the extent that He released the woman from the strictures of God’s law that called for her execution. They believe that Jesus simply “waved aside” her sin, and thereby granted her unconditional freedom and forgiveness—though the Law called for her death (Leviticus 20:10). After all, isn’t it true that Jesus places people “in the grip of grace” (Lucado, 1996)?
Those who challenge conclusions such as these are derided as “traditionalists” who lack “compassion,” and who are just like the “legalistic” scribes and Pharisees who cruelly accused the woman and wanted her handled in strict accordance with Mosaic Law. Did Jesus set aside the clear requirements of Mosaic legislation in order to demonstrate mercy, grace, and forgiveness? A careful study of John 8:1-11 yields at least three insights that clarify the confusion and misconception inherent in the popular imagination.
First, Mosaic regulations stated that a person could be executed only if there were two or more witnesses to the crime (Deuteronomy 19:15). One witness was insufficient to invoke the death penalty (Deuteronomy 17:6). The woman in question was reportedly caught in the “very act” (vs. 4), but nothing is mentioned about the identity of the witness or witnesses. There may have been only one, thereby making execution illegal.
Second, even if there were two or more witnesses present to verify the woman’s sin, the Old Testament was equally explicit concerning the fact that both the woman and the man were to be executed (Deuteronomy 22:22). Where was the man? The accusing mob completely sidestepped this critical feature of God’s Law, demonstrating that this trumped-up situation obviously did not fit the Mosaic preconditions for invoking capital punishment. Obedience to the Law of Moses in this instance actually meant letting the woman go!
A third consideration that often is overlooked concerning this passage is the precise meaning of the phrase “He who is without sin among you…” (vs. 7). If this statement were to be taken as a blanket prohibition against accusing, disciplining, or punishing the erring, impenitent Christian, then this passage flatly contradicts a host of other passages (e.g., Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5; Galatians 6:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14; Titus 3:10; 2 John 9-11). Jesus not only frequently passed judgment on a variety of individuals during His tenure on Earth (e.g., Matthew 15:14; 23; John 8:44,55; 9:41; et al.), but also enjoined upon His followers the necessity of doing the same thing (e.g., John 7:24). Peter could be very direct in assessing people’s spiritual status (e.g., Acts 8:23). Paul rebuked the Corinthians’ inaction concerning their fornicating brother: “Do you not judge those who are inside? …Therefore put away from yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13, emp. added). Obviously, Paul demanded that Christians must judge (i.e., make an accurate evaluation of) a fellow Christian’s moral condition. Even the familiar proof text so often marshaled to promote laxity (i.e., “Judge not, that you be not judged”—Matthew 7:1) records Jesus admonishing disciples: “…then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye” (vs. 5). The current culture-wide celebration of being nonjudgmental (cf. “I’m OK, You’re OK”) is clearly out of harmony with Bible teaching.
So Jesus could not have been offering a blanket prohibition against taking appropriate action with regard to the sins of our fellows. Then what did His words mean? What else could possibly be going on in this setting so as to completely deflate, undermine, and terminate the boisterous determination of the woman’s accusers to attack Him, by using the woman as a pretext? What was it in Christ’s words that had such power to stop them in their tracks—so much so that their clamor faded to silence and they departed “one by one, beginning with the oldest” (vs. 9)?
Most commentators suggest that He shamed them by forcing them to realize that “nobody is perfect and we all sin.” But this motley crew—with their notorious and repeatedly documented hard-heartedness—would not have been deterred if Jesus simply had conveyed the idea that, “Hey, give the poor woman a break, none of us is perfect,” or “We’ve all done things were not proud of.” These heartless scribes and Pharisees were brazen enough to divert her case from the proper judicial proceedings and to humiliate her by forcibly hauling her into the presence of Jesus, thereby making her a public spectacle of her. Apparently accompanied by a group of complicit supporters, they cruelly subjected her to the wider audience of “all the people” (vs. 2) who had come to hear Jesus’ teaching. They hardly would have been discouraged from their objective by such a simple utterance from Jesus that “nobody’s perfect.”
So what is the answer to this puzzling circumstance? Jesus was striking at precisely the same point that Paul drove home to hard-hearted, hypocritical Jews in Rome: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1, emp. added). Paul was especially specific on the very point with which Jesus dealt: “You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?” (vs. 22). In other words, no person is qualified to call attention to another’s sin when that individual is in the ongoing practice of the same sin. Again, as Jesus previously declared, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). After all, it is the “spiritual” brother or sister who is in the proper position to restore the wayward (Galatians 6:1).
Consequently, in the context under consideration, it may well be that Jesus knew that the woman’s accusers were guilty of the very thing for which they were willing to condemn her. (It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the fellow with whom the woman had committed adultery was in league with the accusers.) Jesus was able to prick them with their guilt by causing them to realize that He knew that they, too, were guilty. The old law made clear that the witnesses to the crime were to cast the first stones (Deuteronomy 17:7). The death penalty could not be invoked legally if the eyewitnesses were unavailable or ineligible. Jesus was striking directly at the fact that these witnesses were unqualified to fulfill this role since they were guilty of the same sin, and thus deserved to be brought up on similar charges. They were intimidated into silence and retreat by their realization that Jesus was privy to their own indiscretions—and possibly on the verge of divulging them publicly.
Observe carefully that at the withdrawal of the accusers, Jesus put forth a technical legal question when he asked to: “Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee?” (ASV), or “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” (vs. 10, KJV). The reason for Jesus to verify the absence of the accusers who had brought the charges against the woman was that the Law of Moses mandated the presence of eyewitnesses to the crime before guilt could be established and sentence passed. The woman confirmed, “No man, Lord” (vs. 11). Jesus then affirmed: “Neither do I condemn you….” The meaning of this pronouncement was that if two or more witnesses to her sin were not able or willing to document the crime, then she could not be held legally liable, since neither was Jesus, Himself, qualified to serve as an eyewitness to her action. The usual interpretation of “neither do I condemn you” is that Jesus was flexible, tolerant, and unwilling to be judgmental toward others or to condemn their sinful actions. Ridiculous! The Bible repudiates such thinking on nearly every page. Jesus was declaring the fact that the woman managed to slip out from under judicial condemnation on the basis of one or more legal technicalities. But, He said (to use modern-day vernacular), “You had better stop it! You were fortunate this time, but you must cease your sinful behavior!”
Incredible! These scribes and Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus in a trap. Yet Jesus, as was so often the case (e.g., Matthew 21:23-27), “turned the tables” on His accusers and caught them in a trap instead! At the same time, He demonstrated a deep and abiding respect for the governing beauty and power of law—the law that He and His Father had authored. Jesus was the only person Who ever complied with Mosaic legislation perfectly (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). He never sought to excuse human violation of law, nor to minimize the binding and authoritative application of law to people. Any interpretation of any passage that depicts Jesus as violating God’s law in order to forgive or accommodate man is a false interpretation, as is any interpretation that relegates law to a status of secondary importance (cf. Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:13; Psalms 19:7-11; Romans 7:12). Jesus was not in sympathy with the permissive mindset of today’s doctrinally lax thinkers who soften doctrine and the binding nature of law in the name of “grace,” “freedom,” or “compassion.”

SITUATIONIST PROOF TEXTS: THE SPIRIT AND LETTER OF THE LAW

“But doesn’t the Bible make a legitimate distinction between the ‘letter of the law’ and the ‘spirit of the law’?” It is argued that sometimes it is necessary, even mandatory, to violate the “letter of the law” in order to act in harmony with the “spirit of the law.” According to this line of thinking, those who insist that obedience to the law of God is always required without exception are “hung up on the letter of the law” instead of being led by the “spirit of the law” (cf. Hook, 1984, p. 42).
This perspective naturally breeds and nurtures a relaxed attitude toward obedience. It militates against a desire to be precise and careful in conformity to biblical teaching. One individual explained how his feelings of devotion to Jesus made him feel that as long as he maintained a close “sense of nearness” to Christ, he did not have to fret over “nit picky” concerns, like whether Christians should be meticulous in their obedience to the laws of the land. Another person avowed that she did not “sweat the small stuff” since she was living her life in recognition of God’s grace, and felt certain that Jesus would “cut her some slack.” The “small stuff” to which she referred included such things as whether God would accept instrumental music in worship to Him, whether God would approve of unscriptural divorce and remarriage, and whether sprinkling may pass for New Testament baptism.
The primary passage in the New Testament marshaled in an effort to support the “spirit vs. letter” antithesis is Paul’s remarks to the church of Christ in Corinth (2 Corinthians 3:4-18). I urge the reader to pause and read the third chapter of Second Corinthians before reading the analysis that follows. Two phrases are typically excised from the context and used as proof texts to support a notion contrary to the chapter: “not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (vs. 6), and “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (vs. 17). These phrases are set forth by some as proof that Christians ought not to be too meticulous in conforming strictly to various New Testament directives. Those who suggest such assume that “letter” refers to the commands of God—the written statements of Scripture that specify and regulate human behavior. They also assume that “spirit” refers to one’s attitude or feelings. Hence, if the individual feels devoted, concerned, and sincere, he or she is deemed in line with “the spirit of the law.” On the other hand, the individual who appears inflexible and rigid, or overly concerned with strict obedience, is perceived to lack “compassion” and “sensitivity,” and too concerned with “the letter of the law.”
However, if a person takes the time to study God’s Word and refrain from mishandling its intended meaning (Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:15), he or she will see that neither Paul nor any other inspired writer agreed with such thinking. In a pericope dealing with his apostolic ministry, Paul crafted a beautiful allegory—what D.R. Dungan called “the most perfect antithesis to be found in the whole Bible” (1888, p. 349). By arranging the contrasting phrases of the antithesis into two columns, the Bible student is able more easily to grasp Paul’s intended meaning:
2 CORINTHIANS 3
Old Covenant New Covenant
Ministers of the new covenant (vs. 6)
Of the letter (vs. 6) Of the Spirit (vs. 6)
The letter kills (vs. 6) The Spirit gives life (vs. 6)
Ministry of Death (vs. 7) Ministry of Spirit (vs. 8)
Written/Engraved on stones (vs. 7)
Ministry of condemnation (vs. 9) Ministry of righteousness (vs. 9)
Glorious (vss. 7,9.11) Much more glorious (vss.8-9,11)
Passing away (vs. 7) Remains (vs. 11)
Veil on Moses’s face (vs. 13) Great boldness of speech (vs. 12)
Veil remains in reading O.T. (vs. 14) Veil taken away in Christ (vs. 14)
Veil lies on their heart (vs. 15) Veil taken away when one turns to the Lord (vs. 16)

Comparison of “the letter” vs. “the spirit” of the law (O.T./N.T.)
It should be immediately evident to the unbiased observer that “the two legs of the antithesis are the New Covenant in contrast with the Old Covenant” (Dungan, p. 268). Precisely the same meaning is conveyed by the same terminology in Paul’s letter to the Romans (2:29; 7:6). The Old Testament legal system, though an excellent system for what God had in mind (Romans 7:12), was unable to provide ultimate forgiveness for violations of law and, in that sense, “kills.” It took Jesus’ death on the cross to make “life” possible, i.e., actual cleansing from sin.
When one recognizes the existing contextual meaning, it becomes apparent that these verses have absolutely nothing to do with the alleged “spirit vs. letter” contention! In fact, the Bible nowhere postulates such a thing. Like all liberal thinking, one must refrain from thinking too much about it if one does not wish to see the absurdity and nonsensical nature of it. The “spirit vs. letter” contrast is “better felt than told” gobbledygook that makes no sense. In an article titled “The Letter That Killeth” written on April 3, 1897, J.W. McGarvey responded to just this type of thinking:
Just once in the course of his writings Paul makes the declaration that “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:7); and no remark that he ever made has been applied in a greater number of unlicensed ways. If a man insists upon preserving some ordinance in the very form of its original appointment, such an ordinance as baptism or the Lord’s Supper, for example, he is accused of contending for the letter that killeth, while the man who makes the charge, and who changes the ordinance, claims that he is following the spirit that giveth life. All of that large class of writers who make free with the Scriptures while claiming to reverence their authority, employ this device to excuse their departures from the word of God, while those who remonstrate with them for their license are denounced as literalists or sticklers for the letter that killeth. In all these instances, it seems to be claimed that if you stick close to the ordinance as Christ gave it, you will kill somebody. The last example that attracted my attention was in connection with the number of elders that should be appointed in a church. The writer says: “It has been thought to be a greater evil to have a congregation without a plurality of elders than to have an eldership without the requisite qualifications;” and he adds: “This is to do violence to the spirit of the New Testament in an effort to be loyal to its letter.” But which, in this case, is the letter, and which is the spirit? To have a plurality of elders is certainly the letter of the New Testament; that is, it is the literal requirement; and the literal requirement also is to have elders of prescribed qualifications. Where, then, is the spirit as distinguished from the letter? Echo answers, Where? The writer was so in the habit of using this favorite expression where he wished to justify a departure from Scripture precedent that he evidently applied it in this instance from pure habit and without thought. The watchful reader will have seen many examples of the kind (1910, pp. 160-161).
Indeed, redefining the biblical expressions “spirit of the law” and “letter of the law” enables the situationist to promote his agenda under the cloak of Bible backing.
If one wishes to use the expression “the spirit of the law” to refer to a proper attitude, and “the letter of the law” to refer to compliance with the explicit dictates of Scripture, it is certainly true that a person can distort or disregard “the spirit of the law” while following carefully “the letter of the law.” A person may engage in external, rote compliance without heartfelt, genuine love for God and His will. But it is impossible to represent faithfully “the spirit of the law” (i.e., to have the right attitude) while acting out of harmony with the specific details of the law. When Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands” (John 14:15), He pinpointed the fact that “love” for Him includes “obedience.” It is possible to obey and not love; but it is not possible to love and not obey. One may have good intentions in one’s religious pursuits, but if those religious actions are contrary to God’s specified will, the activity is unacceptable to God. The situationist’s claim that sincerity and feelings of “love” legitimize whatever action “love” takes, is in direct contradiction to Bible teaching.
The fact of the matter is that God has always required that people approach him “in truth,” i.e., according to the divine directives that he revealed to man. The only worship that has ever been acceptable to God has been that worship which has been undertaken with (1) a proper attitude, frame of mind, and disposition conducive to spirituality, and (2) faithfulness to the specific items which God pinpointed as the proper external acts to be performed. Jesus made this fact very clear in His encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4:23-24). God has never accepted one without the other. He has always required both. He has always required two facets of response to His will: the right action with the right attitude. Notice the following chart of scriptures:
PASSAGE ATTITUDE ACTION
John 4:24 spirit truth
Joshua 24:14 sincerity truth
Ecclesiastes 12:13 fear God keep commands
Acts 10:35 fear Him work righteous
James 2:17 faith works
1 John 3:18 word/tongue deed/truth
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 fear/love—heart walk/ways
Romans 1:9 with my spirit in the gospel
To emphasize one dimension of obedience over the other is to hamper one’s acceptance by God. Bible history is replete with instances of those who possessed one without the other and were unacceptable to God. The Pharisees (Matthew 23:3), Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:2-4), and the people of Amos’ day (Amos 5:21-24) engaged in the external forms, but were unacceptable because of their insincerity. Paul (Acts 22:3; 23:1), Cornelius (Acts 10:1-2), and Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6) all demonstrated genuine motives, but were unacceptable to God because of their failure to observe the right forms.
Think for a moment of the many in biblical history who failed to approach God “in truth,” that is, they approached God, but did so without sufficient attention to complying with the details and guidelines that God had articulated. Adam and Eve, regardless of the condition of their attitude, were condemned by God for the external act of eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17; 3:11). Likewise, Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3), the Sabbath breaker (Numbers 15:32-36), Moses (Numbers 20:11,12), Achan (Joshua 7), Saul (1 Samuel 13:13,14; 15:19-23), Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:1-7; 1 Chronicles 15:12,13), King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-18), and Ezra’s contemporaries (Ezra 10)—all experienced the displeasure of God for their deviation from divine directions.
God has not changed in His insistence upon man’s loving obedience to His instructions (John 14:15; 15:14; 1 John 5:3). The Old Testament was written, among other reasons, in order for Christians to learn from the example of those who departed from God’s way (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). New Testament faith, the kind of faith that Christians must possess if they wish to be pleasing and acceptable to God, is obedient trust—trust that conforms to God’s will (Hebrews 11; James 2).
The psalmist understood that God’s truth consisted of God’s written words (cf. Psalm 119:30,43,142,151,160). So did Jesus when He said, “Thy word is truth,” and declared that the basis of judgment would be the words that He spoke (John 17:17; 12:47-48). Worshipping God “in truth” is equivalent to “doing truth,” which entails “deeds” or external actions which are prescribed by God (John 3:19-21; cf. loving “in truth” in 1 John 3:18). When Jesus taught the way of God “in truth” (Matthew 22:16), He related information that accurately represented God’s will. When the Colossians heard “the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5), they heard the specific tenets, doctrines, requirements, and teachings to which they had to conform their lives.
Situationism, antinomianism (freedom from law), and liberalism (loosing where God has bound) share in common their mutual aversion to law keeping. Christians must not fall prey to these sinister forces that attempt to soften and obscure the clear call from God to render obedience to His directives. What He seeks from people is conformity to His laws out of hearts full of sincerity, earnestness, and love.

SITUATIONIST PROOF TEXTS: THE GRAINFIELD

“But what about that time when the Pharisees reprimanded Jesus’ disciples for picking grain and eating on the Sabbath? Was not that incident a clear case of Jesus advocating freedom from the ‘letter of the law’ in order to keep the ‘spirit of the law’? Was not Jesus sanctioning occasional violations of law in order to serve the higher good of human need and spiritual freedom?”
A chorus of voices within Christendom is insisting that the report of Jesus’ disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8) does, indeed, advocate Christian “freedom” (i.e., freedom from law) and its priority over rule-keeping (e.g., Clayton, 1991, pp. 21-22; Collier, 1987, pp. 24-28; Lucado, 1989; Woodruff, 1978, pp. 198-200). Abilene Christian University professor David Wray wrote in reference to Jesus: “He healed and allowed his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath. Jesus then used ‘theological reflection’ to help his followers understand that people take priority over rule keeping and legalism” (1992, p. 1, emp. added). Richard Rogers claimed: “Jesus taught…that people took priority over the rules” (1989, p. 14, emp. added). Compare these statements to the one made by Randy Fenter: “It is not what we follow, but who we follow; not a set of values but a Person. ...Are you committed to a set of Christian values, or are you committed to Jesus Christ who died for you?” (1993, p. 1, emp. in orig.). Frank Cox claimed that Jesus had “the power to modify or change the rules of Sabbath observance. Sabbath observance must bend to human needs” (1959, p. 41, emp. added). Another writer insisted that “there are occasions when necessity outweighs precept, as Jesus himself indicated in Matthew 12:1-5” (Scott, 1995, p. 2, emp. added). Still another writer claimed that Jesus was suggesting, “the Sabbath commandment was optional if inconvenient” (Downen, 1988, emp. added). Hook insists, “David and his soldiers ate the bread of the Presence and Jesus gave His approval of the action” (1984, p. 30, emp. added).
Interestingly enough, these remarks are insidiously reminiscent of the very ideas promoted by the most theologically liberal sources imaginable. The “Father of Situation Ethics,” himself, wrote that “Christians, in any case, are commanded to love people, not principles” (1967, p. 239, emp. added). He referred specifically to Matthew 12 when he said that Jesus was “ready to ignore the Sabbath observance” and that He “put his stamp of approval on the translegality of David’s action, in the paradigm of the altar bread” (pp. 15,17, emp. added). A Fort Worth First United Methodist Church minister stated: “Instead of putting the Scriptures first we should put God first” (as quoted in Jones, 1988, 1:8). This sort of humanistic inclination constitutes a great threat to the stability of the church and the Christian religion. It undermines the authority of Scripture, and further fosters the shift to emotion, feelings, and subjective perception as the standard for decision-making (see “The Shift to Emotion” in Miller, 1996, pp. 52-63).
It never seems to dawn on those who promulgate the “love Jesus vs. love law” antithesis that they are striking directly against the Bible’s own emphasis. Their contrast is not only unbiblical, but borders on blasphemy. Was the psalmist “legalistic” when he declared to God, “Oh, how I love Your law!” (Psalm 119:97)? Was he “idolatrous” or guilty of “bibliolatry” (book-worshipping) when he declared: “How sweet are Your words to my taste; sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)? Over and over again, he affirmed his love for God’s Word: “…Your commandments, which I love” (vss. 47-48); “I love Your law” (vs. 113); “I love Your testimonies” (vs. 119); “I love Your commandments more than gold” (vs. 127); “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it” (vs. 140); “I love Your precepts” (vs. 159); “I love Your law” (vs. 163); “Great peace have those who love Your law” (vs. 165); “I love them exceedingly” (vs. 167). He claimed that God’s words were his delight (vss. 24,35,70,77,92,143,174), his hope (vss. 43,49,74,81,114,147,166), and his life (vs. 50). He even stated: “I opened my mouth and panted for, I longed for Your commandments” (vs. 131; cf. vss. 20,40).
The fact of the matter is one cannot love God or Jesus without loving and being devoted to Their teachings. That is why Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21). “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23). “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (John 14:24). John echoed his Savior when he said: “[W]hoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5), and “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). How ludicrous and contrary to the essence of deity to place in contrast—to pit against each other—God and God’s laws. This is a bogus, unscriptural juxtaposition. It is not a matter of either/or; it is both/and. To minimize one is to minimize the other. Those who do so are surely in the same category as those of whom Paul spoke: “…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10, emp. added).
It likewise does not seem to dawn on those who espouse the “rules must bend to human necessity” philosophy that they are insulting the God of heaven—He Who authored the rules. Does it even remotely begin to make sense that God would author a law, tell humans they are obligated to obey that law, but then “take it back” and tell them they do not have to obey that law if it is “inconvenient,” or if it is in conflict with “human need,” or if necessity requires it? And who, precisely, is to make the determination as to whether God’s law in a particular instance is “inconvenient”? Surely not man—since “it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). And which people in all of human history ever found conformity to God’s laws “convenient”? “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2, emp. added; cf. 16:2).
Imagine parents telling their children that it is the will of those parents that the children obey the following instructions: “Do not steal, cheat, or lie.” Then imagine those same parents additionally stating: “But kids, if any of these requirements are inconvenient, or if your friends ask you to go help them steal a car, or if you feel you must cheat on a test to insure graduation, hey, ‘people take priority over rules,’ so if you must, feel free to ignore these requirements.” Those parents who take this approach to parenting inevitably produce lawless, undisciplined, unruly, irresponsible children. In fact, those parents eventually find that their children do not love them!

MEANING OF MATTHEW 12:1-8

Many commentators automatically assume that the charge leveled against Jesus’ disciples by the Pharisees was a scripturally valid charge. However, when the disciples picked and consumed a few heads of grain from a neighbor’s field, they were doing that which was perfectly lawful (Deuteronomy 23:25). Working would have been a violation of the Sabbath law. If they had pulled out a sickle and begun harvesting the grain, they would have been violating the Sabbath law. However, they were picking strictly for the purpose of eating immediately—an action that was in complete harmony with Mosaic legislation (“but that which everyone must eat”—Exodus 12:16). The Pharisees’ charge that the disciples were doing something “not lawful” on the Sabbath was simply an erroneous charge (cf. Matthew 15:2).
Jesus commenced to counter their accusation with masterful, penetrating logic, advancing successive rebuttals. Before He presented specific scriptural refutation of their charge, He first employed a rational device designated by logicians as argumentum ad hominem (literally “argument to the man”). He used the “circumstantial” form of this argument, which enabled Him to “point out a contrast between the opponent’s lifestyle and his expressed opinions, thereby suggesting that the opponent and his statements can be dismissed as hypocritical” (Baum, 1975, p. 470, emp. added). This variety of argumentation spotlights the opponent’s inconsistency, and “charges the adversary with being so prejudiced that his alleged reasons are mere rationalizations of conclusions dictated by self-interest” (Copi, 1972, p. 76).
Observe carefully the technical sophistication inherent in Jesus’ strategy. He called attention to the case of David (vss. 3-4). When David was in exile, literally running for his life to escape the jealous, irrational rage of Saul, he and his companions arrived in Nob, tired and hungry (1 Samuel 21). He lied to the priest and conned him into giving them the showbread, or “bread of the Presence” (twelve flat cakes arranged in two rows on the table within the Tabernacle [Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-6]), to his traveling companions—bread that legally was reserved only for the priests (Leviticus 24:8-9; cf. Exodus 29:31-34; Leviticus 8:31; 22:10ff.). David clearly violated the law. Did the Pharisees condemn him? Absolutely not! They revered David. They held him in high regard. In fact, nearly a thousand years after his passing, his tomb was still being tended (Acts 2:29; cf. 1 Kings 2:10; Nehemiah 3:16; Josephus, 1974a, 13.8.4; 16.7.1; Josephus, 1974b, 1.2.5). On the one hand, they condemned the disciples of Jesus, who were innocent, but on the other hand, they upheld and revered David, who was guilty. Their inconsistency betrayed both their insincerity as well as their ineligibility to bring a charge against the disciples.
After exposing their hypocrisy and inconsistency, Jesus next turned to answer the charge pertaining to violating the Sabbath. He called their attention to the priests who worked in the temple on the Sabbath (12:5; e.g., Numbers 28:9-10). The priests were “blameless”—not guilty—of violating the Sabbath law because their work was authorized to be performed on that day. After all, the Sabbath law did not imply that everyone was to sit down and do nothing. The Law gave the right, even the obligation, to engage in several activities that did not constitute violation of the Sabbath regulation. Examples of such authorization included eating, temple service, circumcision (John 7:22), tending to the care of animals (Exodus 23:4-5; Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Matthew 12:11; Luke 13:15), and extending kindness or assistance to the needy (Matthew 12:12; Luke 13:16; 14:1-6; John 5:5-9; 7:23). The divinely authorized Sabbath activity of the priests proved that the accusation of the Pharisees brought against Jesus’ disciples was false. [The term “profane” (vs. 5) is an example of the figure of speech known as metonymy of the adjunct in which “things are spoken of according to appearance, opinions formed respecting them, or the claims made for them” (Dungan, 1888, p. 295, emp. added). By this figure, Leah was said to be the “mother” of Joseph (Genesis 37:10), Joseph was said to be the “father” of Jesus (Luke 2:48; John 6:42), God’s preached message was said to be “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:21), and angels were said to be “men” (e.g., Genesis 18:16; 19:10). Priestly activity on the Sabbath gave the appearance of violation when, in fact, it was not. Coincidentally, Bullinger classified the allusion to “profane” in this verse as an instance of catachresis, or incongruity, stating that “it expresses what was true according to the mistaken notion of the Pharisees as to manual works performed on the Sabbath” (p. 676, emp. added)].
After pointing out the obvious legality of priestly effort expended on the Sabbath, Jesus stated: “But I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple” (12:6). The underlying Greek text actually has “something” instead of “One.” If priests could carry on tabernacle/temple service on the Sabbath, surely Jesus’ own disciples were authorized to engage in service in the presence of the Son of God! After all, service directed to the person of Jesus certainly is greater than the pre-Christianity temple service conducted by Old Testament priests.
For all practical purposes, the discussion was over. Jesus had disproved the claim of the Pharisees. But He did not stop there. He took His methodical confrontation to yet another level. He penetrated beneath the surface argument that the Pharisees had posited and focused on their hearts: “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (12:7). In this verse, Jesus quoted from an Old Testament context (Hosea 6:6) in which the prophet of old struck a blow against the mere external, superficial, ritualistic observance of some laws, to the neglect of heartfelt, sincere, humble attention to other laws while treating people properly. The comparison is evident. The Pharisees who confronted Jesus’ disciples were not truly interested in obeying God’s law. They were masquerading under that pretense (cf. Matthew 15:1-9; 23:3). But their problem did not lie in an attitude of desiring careful compliance with God’s law. Rather, their zest for law keeping was hypocritical and unaccompanied by their own obedience and concern for others. They possessed critical hearts and were more concerned with scrutinizing and blasting people than with honest, genuine applications of God’s directives for the good of mankind.
They had neutralized the true intent of divine regulations, making void the Word of God (Matthew 15:6). They had ignored and skipped over the significant laws that enjoined justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). Consequently, though their attention to legal detail was laudable, their misapplication of it, as well as their neglect and rejection of some aspects of it, made them inappropriate and unqualified promulgators of God’s laws. Indeed, they simply did not fathom the teaching of Hosea 6:6 (cf. Micah 6:6-8). “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” is a Hebraism (cf. Matthew 9:13) [McGarvey, 1875, pp. 82-83]. God was not saying that He did not want sacrifices offered under the Old Testament economy (notice the use of “more” in Hosea 6:6). Rather, He was saying that He did not want sacrifice alone. He wanted mercy with sacrifice. Internal motive and attitude are just as important to God as the external compliance with specifics.
Samuel addressed this same attitude shown by Saul: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). Samuel was not minimizing the essentiality of sacrifice as required by God. Rather, he was convicting Saul of the pretense of using one aspect of God’s requirements, i.e., alleged “sacrifice” of the best animals (1 Samuel 15:15), as a smoke screen for violating God’s instructions, i.e., failing to destroy all the animals (1 Samuel 15:3). If the Pharisees had understood these things, they would not have accused the disciples of breaking the law when the disciples, in fact, had not done so. They “would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7, emp. added).
While the disciples were guilty of violating an injunction that the Pharisees had made up (supposing the injunction to be a genuine implication of the Sabbath regulation), the disciples were not guilty of a technical violation of Sabbath law. The Pharisees’ propensity for enjoining their uninspired and erroneous interpretations of Sabbath law upon others was the direct result of cold, unmerciful hearts that found a kind of sadistic glee in binding burdens upon people for burdens’ sake rather than in encouraging people to obey God genuinely.
Jesus placed closure on His exchange with the Pharisees on this occasion by asserting the accuracy of His handling of this entire affair: “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (vs. 8). In other words, Jesus affirmed His deity and, therefore, His credentials and authoritative credibility for making accurate application of the Law of Moses to the issue at hand. One can trust Jesus’ exegesis and application of Sabbath law; after all, He wrote it!
Matthew 12 does not teach that Jesus sanctions occasional violation of His laws under extenuating circumstances. His laws are never optional, relative, or situational—even though people often find God’s will inconvenient and difficult (e.g., John 6:60; Matthew 11:6; 15:12; 19:22; Mark 6:3; 1 Corinthians 1:23). The truth of the matter is that if the heart is receptive to God’s will, His will is “easy” (Matthew 11:30), “not too hard” (Deuteronomy 30:11), nor “burdensome” (1 John 5:3). If, on the other hand, the heart resists His will and does not desire to conform to it, then God’s words are “offensive” (Matthew 15:12), “hard,” (John 6:60), “narrow” (Matthew 7:14), and like a hammer that breaks in pieces and grinds the resister into powder (Jeremiah 23:29; Matthew 21:44).

SITUATIONIST PROOF TEXTS: "LEGALISM"

“But this all sounds so legalistic! I thought the Bible condemned legalism.” One pervasive cultural phenomenon in American society is the predilection to be averse to law, restriction, and limitation. “Freedom” gradually has come to be conceptualized as freedom from restraint. Those who do not embrace a lax, casual, and open attitude toward moral value and ethical behavior are labeled “intolerant” and “mean-spirited.” Even within Christian circles, stressing the need to conform strictly to the will of God in all matters of faith and practice can cause one to be labeled as a “fundamentalist.” He is set aside as an immature and pharisaical misfit who simply has never “grown” to the point of grasping the true spirit of Jesus. He is “negative” and lacks “compassion.” And, yes, he is a “legalist.”
Listening carefully to the majority of those who fling about the term “legalistic,” it is soon apparent that they understand the term to refer to too much attention to legal detail. In the 1960s, Fletcher pinpointed the popular notion of “legalism”:
In this ethical strategy the “situational variables” are taken into consideration, but the circumstances are always subordinated to predetermined general “laws” of morality. Legalistic ethics treats many of its rules idolatrously by making them into absolutes.… In this kind of morality, properly labeled as legalism or law ethics, obedience to prefabricated ‘rules of conduct’ is more important than freedom to make responsible decisions (1967, p. 31).
It would be difficult to underestimate the cataclysmic consequences of this depiction on the moral fiber of human civilization. Typical of the widespread misconception that “legalism” has to do with giving too much attention to complete obedience, is the illustration given by a preacher, college professor, and prominent marriage and family therapist in a university lecture titled “Getting Ahead: Taking Your Family With You:”
I found out when you’re dialing numbers...you have to dial about eighteen numbers to get started, and then you have to dial eighteen more—you know what I’m talking about? And if you miss, what? If you miss ONE—just ONE—you say ugly things to yourself, don’t you? Because you know you blew it again. It is amazing how legalistic the telephone company is (Faulkner, 1992, emp. added).
The very idea that obedience to God’s laws would one day be viewed as negative by those who profess adherence to Christianity, and then for this obedience to be denounced as “legalism,” is utterly incomprehensible. Such a posture should be expected to shake the very foundations of a nation’s standards of morality, stimulating a corresponding widespread relaxation of moral behavior. Yet is this not precisely what has happened to American civilization in the last forty years?
What exactly is “legalism” according to the Bible? Is “legalism” to be equated with too much concern for obedience? Is “legalism” equivalent to ardent determination to keep God’s commandments? One who possesses such a view would naturally tend to gloss over “details” of New Testament teaching, relegating to the realm of minimal importance various matters that he or she deems are not “weightier matters of the law.” In the words of one rather permissive preacher, “We don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Surprisingly, the term “legalism” does not actually occur in the Bible. However, many extrabiblical words have been coined to describe biblical concepts (e.g., “providence”). In its classical, negative usage, “legalism” entails trusting one’s own goodness. Legalism pertains to one’s attitude about his own person (i.e., having an inflated sense of self-importance—Luke 18:11-12; Proverbs 25:27; Romans 12:3) and practice (i.e., thinking he or she can earn or merit salvation on the basis of performance—Luke 17:10; Romans 3:9-18,23; 11:35; 1 Corinthians 9:16). Legalism does not pertain to the propriety of the practices themselves. God always has condemned the person who is proud of his obedient actions, who trusts in his own goodness, and who expects to receive God’s grace on the basis of those actions (cf. Luke 18:9ff.; Romans 9:31ff.). But He always has commended the person who maintains absolute fidelity to the specifics of His commands (e.g., John 14:15; Romans 2:6-7,13; 6:16; Hebrews 5:9). The difference between the former and the latter is the attitude of the individual—a factor that only God is in a position to perceive (Luke 6:8). How presumptuous it is for one Christian to denounce another Christian simply on the basis that the latter exhibits meticulous loyalty to God’s Word—as if the former is able automatically to know his brother’s motive, and thus somehow read his mind. Purveyors of religious error often redefine otherwise good terms, placing their own spin on the word, thereby subtly slipping their false doctrine in on unsuspecting listeners. The liberal has redefined “legalism,” shifting the meaning from the attitude of being self-righteous to the action of conscientious obedience to all of God’s Word.
As proof of this contention, consider the classic examples of “legalism” in the New Testament: the Pharisees. Why may the Pharisees be classified as legalists? To answer that question, one must examine wherein Jesus found fault with the Pharisees. He reprimanded them for three central failings. First, they were guilty of hypocrisy. They pretended to be devoted, and went to great lengths to appear righteous, but they did not actually follow through with genuine, loving obedience to God (Matthew 23:4-7,25-28). Second, they gave attention to some biblical matters, but neglected others of greater importance (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). Jesus referred to this tendency as straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel (Matthew 23:24). (Of course, He was, thereby, neither advocating nor endorsing gnat swallowing.) Third, they misinterpreted Mosaic law (Matthew 5:17-48), and even went about binding and enforcing their fallacious interpretations, elevating these human traditions, laws, and doctrines to the level of scripture (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). Jesus repeatedly upbraided the Pharisees for these three spiritual maladies. But with these three shortcomings in mind, notice that the “legalism” of the Pharisees did not have to do with fervent attention to fulfilling the “letter of the law.” The Pharisees were not condemned because they were too zealous about strict obedience to God’s will. They were condemned because “they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:2).
As a matter of fact, God always has been vitally concerned that those who wish to be pleasing to Him give great care to obeying the details and particulars of His instructions (e.g., Leviticus 10:1-3; 2 Samuel 6:1-7; 1 Chronicles 15:12-13). Jesus even equated this crucial sensitivity to obedience with love for Him (John 14:15; 15:14). Many who possess a flippant, blasé attitude toward rigid obedience, think that they are avoiding a “legalistic” syndrome, when they actually are demonstrating lax, weak spirituality and unfaithfulness.
“Faithfulness” is, by definition, obedient trust or loyal compliance with the stipulations of God’s will (James 2:17-26). “Righteousness” is, by definition, right doing (Acts 10:34-35; 1 John 3:7). Abraham understood this (Genesis 26:5; Hebrews 11:8). Moses understood this (Deuteronomy 4:2; 6:17; 10:12; 11:8,13,22,27-28). Joshua understood this (Joshua 23:6,11; 24:14-15). John understood this (1 John 5:3). So did Paul (Romans 6:16).
In reality, outcries of “legalism” can serve as a convenient smoke screen to justify departure from the faith, and to cloak an agenda that seeks to introduce unbiblical worship innovations into the body of Christ. Make no mistake: there are hypocrites in the church, as well as those with critical hearts whose demands for conformity arise out of self-righteous arrogance. But the major threat confronting the people of God today is the perennial problem of humanity: a stubborn, rebellious propensity for deviation/apostasy—i.e., an unwillingness to submit humbly to God’s directives (e.g., Genesis 4:7; 1 Samuel 15:22-23; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Micah 6:8; Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 3:10-12; 6:16; 10:21; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). That is precisely why, after rebuking the Pharisees for neglecting the “weightier matters of the law,” i.e., justice, mercy, faith, and the love of God (cf. John 5:42), Jesus reiterated: “These [i.e., the weightier matters—DM] you ought to have done, without leaving the others [i.e., the less weightier matters—DM] undone” (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42, emp. added). This is also why Jesus declared: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20). He meant that careful attention to all of God’s commandments—including those deemed “least”—demonstrates a conscientious regard for pleasing God. Whether under Judaism or in the kingdom of Christ, seeking to obey God with an humble attitude is paramount. Those who relegate some doctrinal matters to a status of less importance (e.g., worshipping God without human additions—like instrumental music, praise teams, choirs, and baby dedications), and teach others to participate in these unscriptural innovations, thinking that God will not be “nit-picky” over such “minor” things, will find themselves facing eternal tragedy.
Yes, we must avoid “legalism.” A smug sense of superiority and spiritual self-sufficiency will cause a person to be lost eternally (e.g., Luke 18:9-14). But who would have imagined—who could have anticipated—that the day could come when God’s demand for obedience would be circumvented, derided, and set aside as “legalism”? Those who advance this viewpoint are, in actuality, advocating “illegalism”! We dare not mistake “legalism” for loving obedience to the will of God in every facet of our lives. Instead, we must carefully “do all those things which are commanded” (Luke 17:10), recalling Jesus’ words: “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). We must stake our lives upon the grace of God, but then we must love and obey Him, remembering that “this is love for God: that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3).

SITUATIONIST PROOF TEXTS: 1 CORINTHIANS 6:12; 10:23

Another allusion to Scripture by the situationist in an attempt to bolster his case is Paul’s statement: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23; cf. 6:12). Fletcher appealed to this statement by Paul as proof that moral absolutes are not binding in all situations:
As Paul said twice in his letter to Corinth (chs. 6:12; 10:23), this approach fails to perceive that it is not its being “lawful” that makes a thing good but whether it is expedient, edifying, constructive—whether it builds up. What else could make a thing “lawful” (i.e., loving) except agapeic expediency? Theodore Roosevelt was either not quite candid or not very thoughtful when he said, “No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.” He was much too mired down in “intrinsic” moralism (1967, p. 22; cf. Hook, 1984, pp. 47-48).
Fletcher makes precisely the same mistake that the Corinthians had made in misunderstanding Paul’s teaching. In context, Paul was referring to the legality of consuming foods sacrificed to idols, in contrast with the inexpediency of doing so in light of weaker brothers. He was teaching that Christians must be willing to make concessions on indifferent, technically lawful, matters for the sake of weak Christians.
Paul certainly was not saying that absolute, unchanging laws do not exist, or that God’s laws possess a “flexibility and elasticity” that enables them occasionally to be set aside! As McGarvey and Pendleton observed, the Corinthians “had erred in taking the rule as to things indifferent, such as natural appetites, and so applying it as to make it cover not only sinful things, but even those grossly so, such as sensuous lusts” (n.d., pp. 76-77). So when Paul said “all things are lawful for me,” he was not referring to the absolute laws of God; he was referring to things that are legally optional. The eating of meat to which the context refers was lawful. But to eat or not to eat it was a matter of option and personal opinion. In such cases, and only in such cases, Paul taught that one’s decision must be made on the basis of expediency, i.e., how it affected the spiritual condition of others (cf. Woods, 1986, 2:161-162). Fletcher is guilty of the very thing for which the Corinthians were rebuked and corrected.

CONCLUSION

Probably no greater threat to the stability of society exists in our day than the humanistic, antinomian philosophy of situationism and its multi-faceted pluralistic and/or post-modernistic manifestations. It is part and parcel of the general rebellion against the authority of God’s Word that engulfs America. Vast numbers of people are living life and making decisions based upon their own subjective perceptions and personal feelings. For them, the concepts of right and wrong, truth and error are obscure, blurred, hazy, gray, and complex. What is wrong in one situation may be right and acceptable in another situation. Satan has done his job well. He has made great strides in American culture in the last half century in his effort to break down biblical values and moral absolutes. He has succeeded in replacing this framework with a tolerant, open, permissive attitude and outlook that refrains from passing judgment on anybody or anything. The “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” perspective has been embedded firmly into American civilization.
The mindset of today’s situationist is not new. We humans do not generally regard rules and regulations as positive phenomena. We usually perceive them as infringements on our freedom—deliberate attempts to restrict our behavior and interfere with our “happiness.” Like children, we may have a tendency to display resentment and a rebellious spirit when faced with spiritual requirements. We may feel that God is being arbitrary and merely burdening our lives with haphazard, insignificant strictures. But God would never do that. He has never placed upon anyone any requirement that was inappropriate, unnecessary, or unfair. During the Israelites' final encampment on the plains of Moab prior to entrance into Canaan, Moses articulated a most important principle: “[T]he Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes…for our good always” (Deuteronomy 6:24, emp. added; cf. 10:13). God never would ask us to do anything that is harmful to us. He does not restrict us or exert His authority over us in order to purposely make us unhappy. Quite the opposite! God knows exactly what will make us happy. Compliance with His wishes will make a person happy (John 13:17; James 1:25), exalted (James 4:10), righteous (Romans 6:16; 1 John 3:7), and wise (Matthew 24:45-46; 7:24).
Those who wish to relieve themselves of restriction will continue to invent ways to circumvent the intent of Scripture. They will continue to “twist” (2 Peter 3:16) and “handle the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2). They will exert pressure on everyone else to “back off,” “lighten up,” and embrace a more tolerant understanding of ethical conduct. But the “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) will “take heed how [he/she] hears” (vs.18). The good heart is the one who “reads...hears...and keeps those things which are written therein” (Revelation 1:3, emp. added). After all, no matter how negative they may appear to humans, no matter how difficult they may be to obey, they are given “for our good.”
The Bible simply does not countenance situation ethics. Jesus always admonished people to “keep the commandments” (e.g., Matthew 19:17). He kept God’s commands Himself—perfectly (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26). And He is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9, emp. added).

REFERENCES

Barna, George (2003), “Morality Continues to Decay,” [On-line], URL: http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=152&Reference=F.
Baum, Robert (1975), Logic (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston).
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1955), Ethics, ed. Eberhard Bethge (SCM Press).
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Brunner, Emil (1947), The Divine Imperative, trans. Olive Wyon (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Chesser, Frank (2001), The Spirit of Liberalism (Huntsville, AL: Publishing Designs).
Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary: Genesis-Deuteronomy (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury).
Clayton, John N. (1991), “Creation Versus Making—A Key to Genesis 1,” Does God Exist?, 18[1]:6-10, January/February.
Collier, Gary (1987), “Bringing the Word to Life: An Assessment of the Hermeneutical Impasse in Churches of Christ; Part II: ‘The Scholarship Movement,’” Paper presented to the Christian Scholars Conference at Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA, July.
Copi, Irving (1972), Introduction To Logic (New York: Macmillan).
Cox, Frank (1959), Treatises of Luke (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Cox, Harvey (1965), The Secular City (New York: MacMillan).
Downen, Ray (1988), Personal letter, Joplin, MO, September 7.
Dungan, D.R. (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Faulkner, Paul (1992), “Getting Ahead: Taking Your Family With You” (Henderson, TN: F-HU Lectureship).
Fenter, Randy (1993), “Person or Principles: To Which Are You Committed?,” The Christian Caller, 19:48, Golf Course Road Church of Christ Bulletin (Midland, TX), December 1.
Fletcher, Joseph (1966), Situation Ethics (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Fletcher, Joseph (1967), Moral Responsibility (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Hook, Cecil (1984), Free In Christ (New Braunfels, TX: Privately published by author), seventh printing.
Hook, Cecil (1990), Free To Change (New Braunfels, TX: Privately published by author).
Josephus, Flavius (1974a reprint), Antiquities of the Jews (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Josephus, Flavius (1974b reprint), Wars of the Jews (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Jones, Jim (1988), “Methodist Minister Opposes Move Toward Bible’s Primacy,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 24.
Lucado, Max (1989), “When Religion Goes Bad,” Audiotape of a sermon presented at the Oak Hills Church of Christ, San Antonio, TX, October 29.
Lucado, Max (1996), In the Grip of Grace (Dallas, TX: Word).
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
McGarvey, J.W. (1875), Commentary on Matthew and Mark (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
McGarvey, J.W. (1910), Biblical Criticism (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
McGarvey, J.W. (1974 reprint), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
McGarvey, J.W. and Philip Pendleton (no date), Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Metzger, Bruce M. (1968), The Text of the New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press), second edition.
Metzger, Bruce (1971), A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Society).
Miller, Dave (1996), Piloting the Strait (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications).
Niebuhr, Reinhold (1932), Moral Man and Immoral Society (New York: Charles Scribner’s).
Ridenour, Fritz (1969), The Other Side of Morality (Glendale, CA: Regal Books).
Robinson, John A.T. (1963), Honest to God (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press).
Rogers, Richard (1989), “Encouraging Things I See,” Image, 5[1]:1-2, January.
Scott, Buff (1995), “Wayne Jackson Rides Again!,” The Reformer, 11[6]:2, November/December.
Warren, Thomas B. (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Warren, Thomas B. (1986), The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Woodruff, James (1978), in Thomas B. Warren’s “Charts You Can Use in Preaching, Teaching, Studying on Divorce and Remarriage” (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Woods, Guy N. (1986), Questions and Answers (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Woods, Guy N. (1989), A Commentary on the Gospel According to John (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Wray, David (1992), “Future Directions for Religious Education,” Directions in Ministry, 1[4]:1, College of Biblical Studies, Abilene Christian University.