5/1/17

THE EMPOWERING GOD by Jim McGuiggan

https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/02/


THE EMPOWERING GOD


It is God who empowers! All things were made by Him and without Him nothing was created that was created. God sustains all He created and it is by Him that all things hold together. The “laws of physics” which all material things obey are nothing other than the free and sovereign will of their creator. So that when the Psalmist says the heavens declare the glory of God he was speaking more truth than he could unpack. By the sustaining will of God mountains and seas, red dwarfs and colossal quasars have their place alongside galaxies and expanding space.
Paul said that God has given us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17). He permitted rebellious nations to go their own way but did not leave them without witness of Himself but did good, giving rain and sunshine and food and filling their hearts with joy (Acts 14). All this we might call “naked power”—He wills it in keeping with His purpose and it comes to be and it is sustained by that same divine power.
(I’m purposely stressing His “free and sovereign will.”)
By this same creative power He freely chose to create something unlike the mindless mountains and stars and seas something that He chose and something that He gifted with self-consciousness and choice. In freely and sovereignly choosing to do that He was freely and sovereignly determining how He would relate to the humans He created. He wouldn’t relate to Humanity as He would relate to mountains or monsters of the deep because He willed to have humans as His active companions and to enjoy fullness of life with Him as the creator and sustainer. His free and sovereign choice of the nature of humans determined by free and sovereign choice how He would communicate with the humans and how He would reveal Himself to them that they might know Him, serve Him and enjoy Him.
As the Holy Scriptures tell it, humanity exercised its freedom to choose and introduced Sin into the world (Romans 5 & Genesis 3) and so alienation from God and fullness of life became a reality. God freely and sovereignly chose not to obliterate humankind but purposed to fulfill his creation intention to bring a human family to immortal glory with its Head and Lord as Jesus of Nazareth (Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:16). To complete that creation purpose God freely and sovereignly purposed to reconcile a sinful human family to Himself. This purpose He graciously pursued down the centuries, working with creatures whose will and desire to please Him was weakened by their sins and they became blind in their sinful ignorance and dark in their minds.
Yet the sovereign God pursued them, revealing Himself in various ways suited to the nature of the human creature He had created. It wasn’t trees and rocks and rivers He was dealing with but humans whose hearts He wanted in a free choice. He could have forced them to serve Him but that was the kind of response that Pharaoh looked for and not the kind of relationship He freely and lovingly sought. The ultimate expression of His free heart’s desire for reconciliation with the human family was when He became Incarnate in the one we know as Jesus of Nazareth. In that particular human God’s desire to be at one with a sinful human was spelled out as it could not be spelled out in any other way. The Word who was with God and was God became (a) human and was came in the likeness of sinful humanity (Romans 8:3) and in Him, in keeping with all the ways God revealed Himself before, humans came to know the God they rejected and the “world” they had chosen and the soul-hunter who made them his prey and himself the prince of that “world”.
Reconciliation is what God freely, lovingly and graciously sought and that was more than “pardon” and more than “forgiveness” for it was friendship, companionship, glad and happy obedience that God sought and that could not be gained by mere pardon. Nor could it be gained simply by some grand act of self-giving on His part when in and as Jesus Christ he lived and died to bring forgiveness. A heartless human with a divine pardon in her pocket might have been pardoned but she would not have been reconciled. Reconciliation would require a change of heart so that the sinner’s heart would be realigned with the heart of the God she chose to make an enemy of. Without an reorientation of life that flowed from a realignment of heart toward God there could be no reconciliation and it is that that God freely and lovingly and sovereignly wants—that’s His heart’s desire and He finds no pleasure in the death of the impenitent wicked (Ezekiel 18).
Faith and repentance are distinct words and speak of distinct aspects of a rich experience we may call “conversion”. We can speak of them as distinct in order to understand them better but they cannot be isolated or severed in an actual conversion experience. There is no reconciling faith without repentance and repentance cannot exist without such faith. As with all big rich words there is no exhaustive definition. We can describe them and illustrate to some degree but in order to speak of them in the area of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ we have to gain a sense of who it is and through whom it is that we are reconciled and takes us beyond exhaustive understanding.
It is the goodness of God that leads sinners to repentance (Romans 2) and repentance that results in life is a gift from God (Acts 11 & 2 Timothy 2). The same God is the one who opens the sinner’s heart and brings them to faith in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16 & Philippians 1:29; Acts 18:27; Romans 10:17).
Faith in the incarnate Lord overcomes the world (1 John 5:3-4) because in faith (the ­ commitment of faith) the believer receives as true and commits to Jesus and what He means and stands for as the self-revelation of the God who reconciles sinners. His faith is not in his faith but in the Incarnate God, the One who has come in the flesh (as a human).
This is something of what happens (but only something) in saving faith: the person and work of Jesus is embraced and in that repentant faith the evil usurper Satan, the god of the corrupted “world” is rejected and Jesus the true Lord and King is embraced and allegiance is offered. This is the foundational act of the sinner who is reconciled to God in Jesus Christ (compare John 6:27-29). The faith that overcomes the world is the sinner’s personal embracing of “the faith” (that is Jesus and what is savingly true of Him). It combines subjective faith and objective faith.
Such a faith not only results in life with God it is a definitive triumph over “the world”. That is not a triumph over this sin or that sin, it is victory, triumph over the entire “world” that is cosmic evil, organized corruption that is anti-God, anti-life and anti-human. The victory of faith is not because of its quantity or strength but because of its reality and who it is in whom it is placed—Jesus Christ. God in Christ did not deal simply with this sin or that, or with a huge quantity of specific sins—He dealt with Sin in principle. He dealt with that which makes a sin sinful. He neutralized Sin so that it isn’t a barrier between the sinner and the God who seeks at-one-ment. Anyone’s sins are neutralized, any number of sins is neutralized because Sin has been neutralized, made impotent. The Sinned-against-One will not allow Sin or sins to keep His alienated children from fullness of life with Him. Anyone can be reconciled with God in and through Christ—no one need stay away thinking that his/her sins are an immovable wall. The wall itself has been torn down! Point to a person whose sins were not dealt with by the reconciling God?
This faith we’re talking about does more than bring forgiveness, it conquers the world! It brings to those who want it a share in the triumph of Jesus Christ (John 16:33).
God empowers us to defeat the world! Defeat THE WORLD! And He does it by bringing us to faith in the Incarnate One. Is that power or what?
Faith and hope are distinct words that speak of distinct aspects of the conversion experience. They can be completely severed in a lexicon but not in an actual conversion experience. Hope empowers and maintains energy (1 Corinthians 15:58 and context, Hebrews 11:1; Romans 5:1-5; 1 Peter 1:3-4).
None of this means anything if there is no God and no gospel of which He is the source. But if there is such a God, deeper than we know, richer than we know, kinder than we know, more loving, more faithful, more generous then the truth about Him changes everything! The truth about Him! Yes, the truth about God is the revelation of God’s self! And how does that come to us?
God doesn’t do magic. If we want magic we go to the movies. God makes Himself present to us and in us by his self-revelation in Jesus Christ and that comes to us through the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God given to us by the Holy Spirit. “The words that I speak unto you are spirit and life,” said Jesus (John 6:63). “Sanctify them through thy truth, Thy word is truth,” Jesus said to His Father (John 17:17). “God chose you to salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief of the truth, to which He called you by our gospel,” Paul said (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 with 1 Thessalonians 2:13). “You were born again not by corruptible seed but by incorruptible, through the word of God…desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby,” Peter said (1 Peter 1:23; 2:2). “Now I commend you to God and the word of His grace which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.” Paul said that in Acts 20:32. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…(Colossians 3:16). “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) “I am not ashamed of he gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation…for in it is revealed the righteousness of God.” (Romans 1:16) “The message of the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…the power of God…” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21-25). “The word of the Lord is alive and powerful…” (Hebrews 4:12). “Every scripture inspired of God is profitable…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against thee.) Psalm 119:11.
We pay lip service to the word of God and look for some mystic spatial indwelling of the Trinity inside our bodies to do nobody knows what to assure us that we’re going to win through against sins. (“Muslims don’t have Mohammed inside them but we have Jesus/Holy Spirit inside our bodies and that’s why we can overcome sin.” I think that is sad.)
To sever the Spirit-inspired word of God from the Spirit of God is nonsense. Prophets wrote the word only because the Holy Spirit moved them (2 Peter 1) and the word of God is the “sword of the Spirit” (not our sword, His sword (Ephesians 6).
The Spirit of God brings the word of God He inspired to people in countless ways and He uses it to transform our hearts and minds, to sanctify us initially and progressively. By making God present in our lives by the truth about God He guides us and produces His fruit in us. What Christians have that no other religion offers is the truth about the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ revealed by the Holy Spirit of God and exhibited in the Incarnate Lord Jesus. If that gospel doesn’t generate faith, inspire, thrill, enrich, stabilize, energize, console, comfort and encourage and equip us for every good work I don’t think there is any hope for us. But obviously that isn’t enough for some; it seems we must have Jesus and the Holy Spirit spatially and literally residing inside each person’s body.

"Who hath wounds without cause?" The Scourge Of The Ages By Cliff Goodwin

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/sep/page20.shtml

"Who hath wounds without cause?"
The Scourge Of The Ages

By Cliff Goodwin

The Preacher of old penned by inspiration of God's Spirit, "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" (Ecclesiastes 7:29).  Indeed, man was created in the divine image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), having the volition and moral capability to do good, but sadly he has often veered from the paths of right into schemes of sin and iniquity.  In departing from God and his fellowship, man has traveled countless avenues.  In ancient times it was quite common for man to forsake the true and the living God for dumb idols of wood and gold.  A myriad of human souls have turned away from Jehovah in search of carnal fulfillment in fleshly lusts.  But always lurking in the human background, even from ancient times, is the evil companion modern science has termed "alcohol."  In the great expanse of eternity many a soul will be forever lost due to alcohol and its surrounding sins. Alcohol may be truly called "the scourge of the ages," for drunkenness is recorded in God's Word as early as the postdiluvian life of Noah (Genesis 9:20-24).  The menace of this sin can be traced throughout Old Testament history, and it is condemned in the New Testament as well.  "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying" (Romans 13:13).  "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;" (Ephesians 5:18).  Sadly, however, the day has not come in which man has become wise to alcohol and its both damaging as well as damning effects.  The proverb writer recorded, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).
Also in the book of Proverbs is preserved an inspired description of alcohol as detailed in 23:29-35.  A more vivid and even "sobering" elaboration of alcohol would be hard to find in all of God's Word.  In this passage one is presented with the reality of alcohol's evils.  For example, its bite and sting are compared to those of the serpent and adder respectively (Proverbs 23:32).  In keeping with such a portrayal, one may discern at least three points from the text at hand pertaining to alcohol.
Alcohol is an ANTAGONISTIC substance.  This is to say that alcohol actually opposes its very partaker.  It is true that a sparkling cup may promise some comfort--some little excursion of the mind for a while, but ultimately no solace is found.  The inebriated state will soon pass only to leave the drinker as dejected as before, only afterward the unhappiness is almost always worse.  Alcohol's stairway may be depicted as one which spirals continually downward, only plummeting the drinker deeper and deeper into darkness and despair.  Note from Proverbs 23:29-30 that wine brings not comfort or solace, but rather woe, sorrow and contentions.  It renders one to such a state that he cannot recall the origin of wounds on his own body.  Yes, alcohol is an antagonist indeed, regardless of any false hope or comfort it may offer.
Alcohol is an ALTERING substance.  One only has to witness another person in a drunken state to know that alcohol alters both the body and mind.  Because alcohol is not broken down in digestion, it is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream and carried to the brain and other major organs.  In these tissues and organs its effects are devastating.  A person's speech is often reduced to babbling and his eyes become red and bloodshot (Proverbs 23:29).  But even more, alcohol tears down one's inhibitions.  While drunken a person will do things that he would never do while sober.  The text reveals that the drunken will behold strange women, and their hearts will utter perverse things (Proverbs 23:33).  Acts of lasciviousness, fornication and even adultery are often committed by those who have kneeled at the fount of inebriation.  In the drunken state marriage vows are broken, vain promises are made and rash statements are uttered.  Does anyone really want an inanimate substance to have dominant control of one's own life?
Alcohol is an ADDICTIVE substance.  The closing lines of the given text read, ". . . when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again" (Proverbs 23:35).  Though the hand alcohol deals to the drinker is always a losing one, he seems powerless to refuse when it is time for the next hand.  This is the addictive nature of the substance.  Alcohol is a drug, and like other drugs, it is often not finished with a person when he would long have been finished with it.  Illustrated here would be the digressive nature of sin--sin left alone only worsens and worsens.  Likewise, alcohol depicts the spiraling stairway mentioned above which descends and descends until there is no hope.
The fact that alcohol may be described as "the scourge of the ages" is no excuse for anyone to be under its evil influence today to any degree.  This would include the "social" drinker as well as the alcoholic.  The evils of alcohol are plainly set forth in Proverbs 23:29-35 as well as numerous other passages.  Romans 12:9 reads, "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."  If one is to abhor that which is evil, such as drunkenness and such like (Galatians 5:21), then he must abstain from alcohol, the only exception being for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23).

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Paul's Sermon In Athens (17:16-34) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                  Paul's Sermon In Athens (17:16-34)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Acts, we have several examples of gospel preaching; such include...
   a. Three by the apostle Peter - Ac 2,3,10
   b. Two by the evangelist Philip - Ac 8
   c. One by the apostle Paul - Ac 13

2. The sermons recorded thus far were to those who believed in one God...
   a. Like Jews and Samaritans
   b. Or Gentile God-fearers like Cornelius

3. Now we have an opportunity consider a sermon to pagan philosophers
   who were polytheists

[It was during Paul's second missionary journey, in the city of Athens, Greece...] 

I. THE SETTING

   A. PAUL HAD JUST ARRIVED IN ATHENS...
      1. Known as a center of learning and artistry, but also for its idols
      2. Petronius said that it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens
      3. Provoked by the idolatry, Paul began preaching at every opportunity 
          - Ac 17:16-17
         a. Reasoning in the synagogues with the Jews and Gentile worshipers
         b. Reasoning daily with any in the marketplace

   B. HE ATTRACTED ATTENTION OF PHILOSOPHERS...
      1. In particular, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers - Ac 17:18
         a. Some of whom viewed him as a proclaimer of foreign gods
         b. Because Paul was preaching of Jesus and the resurrection
      2. They brought him to the Areopagus (Mar's Hill) and invited him
         to speak - Ac 17:19-21
         a. A rocky hill about 370 feet high, not far from the Acropolis
            and the Agora (marketplace) in Athens - Holman Bible Dictionary
         b. A place where Athenians and visitors spent their time discussing new ideas
         c. Not having heard of the doctrine of Christ, they wanted to know more

[With such an invitation, you can imagine Paul's delight to accommodate
them (cf. Ro 1:16-17)...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. THEME:  THE GOD THEY DID NOT KNOW...
      1. Acknowledging their devotion, he makes mention of one altar in
         particular - Ac 17:22-23a
         a. An altar with the inscription:  "To The Unknown God"
         b. So devout, they sought to worship a god they did not know
      2. He uses the opportunity to preach concerning the True God they
         did not know! - Ac 17:23b

   B. MAIN POINTS...
      1. God is the creator of the universe - Ac 17:24
         a. He made the world, He is Lord of heaven and earth
         b. As such, He does not dwell in temples made with hands - cf. 1Ki 8:22-30
      2. God is the sustainer of life - Ac 17:25
         a. He gives to all life their breath and what they need - cf. Jm 1:17
         b. Therefore God is not worshipped as though He needs it
      3. God is the ruler of all the nations - Ac 17:26-27
         a. He has created every nation and determined their rise and
            fall - Dan 2:20-21; 4:17
         b. Everything is designed to prompt men to seek God, who is
            not far from any of us
      4. God is the Father of mankind - Ac 17:28-29
         a. From God we come; and in Him we live, move, and have our very being 
         b. Therefore we should not think that God is like any idol of gold, silver or stone
      5. God is the Judge of the world - Ac 17:30-31
         a. What ignorance He may have overlooked in the past, such is no longer the case
         b. He now commands all men everywhere to repent
         c. Why?  Because of the coming Judgment, in which...
            a. God will judge the world in righteousness
            b. God will judge the world through Jesus Christ - Jn 5:22, 26-27; 12:48
         d. As proof such will occur, God has raised Jesus from the dead
      -- These five points are from "The Spirit, The Church, And The World", by John Stott

   C. RESPONSE...
      1. Mentioning the resurrection provoked a response - Ac 17:32
         a. Some mocked (to many at that time, the idea of a bodily
            resurrection was foolishness)
         b. Others were more cordial, offering to listen again at another time
      2. As Paul left, some joined him and believed - Ac 17:33-34
         a. Specifically mentioned are Dionysius the Areopagite, and  Damaris, a woman
         b. Others also joined Paul and believed

[Having considered the setting and the sermon, allow me to make some...]

III. OBSERVATIONS

   A. REGARDING THE SERMON...
      1. Paul used tact - Ac 17:22-23
         a. He acknowledges their spirituality, though misdirected 
         b. We should not hesitate to acknowledge the devotion one might
            have; if in error, our task is to explain "the way of God 
            more accurately" - e.g., Ac 18:24-26
      2. Paul began with the present spiritual condition of his audience - Ac 17:23-27
         a. They believed in supreme beings, but didn't know the True God 
         b. With the Jews he began with the Law, with the Gentiles he
            began with the nature of God; we too should take into 
            consideration where one is spiritually
      3. Paul made use of an accepted authority - Ac 17:28-29
         a. He quotes from one of their own prophets to make his point 
         b. When appropriate, we can appeal to an uninspired authority accepted by others
      4. Paul led his audience to the main themes of the gospel - Ac  17:30-31
         a. Such as repentance, the judgment, Jesus and the resurrection - cf. Ac 17:18
         b. So our ultimate goal in preaching should be the gospel 
            message - e.g., Ac 2:38; 3:19
      5. Paul used the resurrection of Jesus as ultimate proof - Ac 17:31
         a. God has given assurance of the coming Judgment by raising Jesus 
         b. Indeed, if Jesus truly did rise from the dead, it is proof of:
            1) The existence of God
            2) The truthfulness of all of Jesus' claims
            3) The reality of sin, judgment, and the need to repent
         c. This is why we need to develop a strong apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus

   B. REGARDING THE RESPONSE...
      1. People responded in three different ways - Ac 17:32-34
         a. Rejection - "some mocked"
         b. Reluctance - "others said, 'we will hear you again on this matter'"
         c. Reception - "some men joined him and believed"
      2. Of those who responded favorably, it is only said that they "believed" - Ac 17:34
         a. Are we to conclude from this that was all they did?
         b. Did they not also "repent", as commanded in Ac 17:30? 
         c. The term "believed" encompassed more than simply acceptance
            of the facts that had been proclaimed
            1) It involved a complete reception of the message preached
            2) It included an obedience to whatever conditions had been
               proclaimed by the apostles (such as repentance, baptism)
         d. Just as faith was not explicitly mentioned in Acts 2, or
            repentance in Acts 16, but is fairly inferred from what we 
            know in other passages, so also with baptism here
            1) "There is, indeed, much to be said for the contention,
               independently advocated by theologians of varied schools,
               that in the New Testament faith and baptism are viewed as
               inseparables whenever the subject of Christian initiation
               is under discussion, so that if one is referred to, the 
               other is presupposed, even if not mentioned." - G. R. 
               Beasley-Murray, Baptism In The New Testament, p. 272
            2) "Baptism and faith are but the outside and inside of the
               same thing" - James Denny (as quoted by Beasley-Murray, ibid.)
            3) "Where baptism is spoken of faith is presumed, and where
               faith is spoken of baptism is included in the thought" 
               - N. J. Engelsen (as quoted by Beasley-Murray, ibid.) 

CONCLUSION

1. Whether Jew or Gentile, philosopher or simpleton, the gospel of Christ is for all...
   a. Where we begin may vary with the spiritual condition of our audience
   b. Where we end must always be the same:  Jesus is the only way to salvation!

2. When one becomes convicted of their sinful condition and their need 
   for Jesus, the proper response should also be the same no matter who we are...
   a. Faith in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead
   b. Repentance from sin
   c. Baptism into Christ for the forgiveness of sins through His blood

One's reaction to the gospel will always be one of three ways: rejection,
reluctance, or reception.  In Athens, people such as Dionysius and 
Damaris exemplified the proper response.  

Are you willing to imitate their example...?
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Two Mindsets In Berea (17:10-15) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                   Two Mindsets In Berea (17:10-15)

INTRODUCTION

1. Following "The Tumult In Thessalonica" (Ac 17:1-10)...
   a. Paul and Silas were sent away by night to Berea - Ac 17:10
   b. Where once again they went into the synagogue of the Jews - cf. Ac 17:1-3

2. The city of Berea...
   a. Its name means "a place of many waters"
   b. Was located near natural springs
   c. One of the most populous cities of Macedonia

3. The Jews of Berea...
   a. Described as "more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica" (NKJV)- Ac 17:11
   b. Other translations describe them as "more noble" (ESV), "more open-minded" (HCSB)
   c. He used a word (eugenesteros) that originally meant high born but
      came to have a more general connotation of being open, tolerant,
      generous, having the qualities that go with "good breeding."
      - Polhill, J. B. (1995). Acts. The New American Commentary (Vol.
      26). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[The mindset of the Berean Jews is worthy of emulation by all people
today.  But in what way were they more "noble" or "open-minded"...?]

I. THE NOBLE BEREANS

   A. THEIR RECEPTION OF PAUL'S WORDS...
      1. First, they received his words with all readiness (NKJV) - Ac 17:11
         a. Other translations say "with all eagerness" (ESV)
         b. This suggests a willingness to listen so as to understand, 
            to give Paul a fair hearing
      2. This willingness to give a fair hearing...
         a. Was taught in the Law - Deut 13:14
         b. Was exemplified by Nicodemus - Jn 7:50-51
      3. The "Berean attitude" involves first seeking to understand what someone is saying
         a. Often in religious discussions, people are unwilling to
            understand what others believe
         b. Then they argue without understanding another's position,
            which is folly - Pr 18:13

   B. THEIR STUDY OF GOD'S WORDS...
      1. Second, they searched the Scriptures daily (NKJV) - Ac 17:11
         a. Other translations say "examining the Scriptures daily" (ESV)
         b. This suggests a willingness to let the Scriptures be their authority
      2. This willingness to let the Scriptures be their authority...
         a. Was taught in the Law - Deut 4:1-2
         b. Is taught in the New Testament - 2Ti 3:16-17; Re 22:18-19
      3. The "Berean attitude" involves study of God's word to confirm 
         what someone is saying
         a. Often in religious discussions, people simply believe what
            others have told them
         b. Arguing what they've always believed, hindering their ability
            to learn the truth - 2Ti 3:7

[Because of the mindset of those in Berea, the Word of God bore fruit
(Ac 17:12).  We emulate the mindset of "The Noble Bereans" only when we
apply both principles:

   *  Listen carefully to understand others 

   *  Study the Scriptures diligently to determine what is true

Otherwise, we are susceptible to developing a different mindset: 
becoming more like...]

II. THE IGNOBLE THESSALONIANS

   A. LIKE OTHERS BEFORE THEM...
      1. The unbelieving Jews in:
         a. Jerusalem - Ac 6:9-14
         b. Antioch of Pisidia - Ac 13:50
         c. Iconium - Ac 14:2
      2. Harassing Paul from town to town
         a. Like the unbelieving Jews from Antioch and Iconium - Ac 14:19
         b. So did the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica - Ac 17:13

   B. LIKE SOME TODAY...
      1. Among denominations, attacking churches of Christ
         a. Misrepresenting their views regarding the church, baptism
         b. Calling them by prejudicial names (e.g., "Campbellites", "a cult")
      2. Among mainstream churches of Christ, attacking more conservative brethren
         a. Misrepresenting their views regarding church cooperation, benevolence, etc.
         b. Calling them by prejudicial names (e.g., "anti", "orphan haters")
      3. Among conservative churches of Christ, attacking some less conservative than they
         a. Presuming those who oppose them just have no respect for the Scriptures
         b. Calling them by prejudicial names (e.g., "liberal")

CONCLUSION

1. Because of the persecution of the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica...
   a. Paul was forced to leave Berea - Ac 17:14
   b. Arriving in Athens, to await the arrival of Silas and Timothy - Ac 17:15

2. The noble Bereans provide a mindset sorely needed today...
   a. Giving others a fair hearing
   b. Examining all things in the light of God's Word

3. The ignoble Thessalonians provide a mindset we must avoid...
   a. Blind adherence to previously held beliefs
   b. Leading to zealous persecution of the innocent

Which mindset do we possess?  Do we seek first to understand, then to
be understood?  Do we study the Scriptures daily, examining not only
the beliefs of others, but constantly testing our own beliefs?  

If so, then we are truly "fair-minded", and more likely to come to a
knowledge of the truth...
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

U.S. Presidents on Islam by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=5341

U.S. Presidents on Islam

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

George Washington

“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.”1
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.”2

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams

“We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”3

John Quincy Adams

“In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle…. [H]e declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…. The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.”4

Barack Obama

“Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism—it is an important part of promoting peace.”5

EndNotES

1 George Washington (1779), “Speech to the Delaware Chiefs,” in The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, 15:55, emp. added, http://preview.tinyurl.com/Washington-G-1779. The author assumes that Washington’s belief in the priority of the Christian religion would apply to the Muslim as well as the Native American.
2 George Washington (1778), “General Orders, May 2, 1778,” George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, emp. added, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw3&fileName=mgw3g/gwpage003.db&recNum=181. Again, it is assumed that, if Washington considered being a Christian a person’s highest glory, being a Muslim would not be so considered.
3 “American Peace Commissioners to John Jay” (1786), The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827, Library of Congress, March 28, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib001849. The letter refers to Jefferson and Adam's meeting with the Ambassador from the Muslim country of Tripoli.
4 Joseph Blunt (1830), The American Annual Register for the Years 1827-8-9 (New York: E. & G.W. Blunt), 29:269, emp. added, http://www.archive.org/stream/p1americanannual29blunuoft.
5 Barack Obama (2009), “Remarks by the President on a New Beginning,” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, June 4, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-cairo-university-6-04-09.

"Contradictions" Regarding the Ark of the Covenant by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=767

"Contradictions" Regarding the Ark of the Covenant

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

How does the “20 years” reference in 1 Samuel 7:2 harmonize with the fact that the ark was not brought from Kirjath-jearim until 2 Samuel 6:4—more than 40 years later?
Even though God’s Word can be substantially communicated from one language to another, the translation process is sufficiently complex to the extent that many of the subtleties of the parent language are lost in translation. These subtleties rarely, if ever, involve matters that are critical to the central purpose of revelation. However, apparent discrepancies on minor details can surface that require a careful re-examination of the actual linguistic data of the parent language (in this case Hebrew) in order to dissolve the apparent discrepancy.
The individual clauses of 1 Samuel 7:2-3 are linked in Hebrew by “waw consecutives” that bring the statements into close logical and temporal connection. The three verbs of verse two are a continuation of the infinitive, which points to the main sentence being resumed in verse three (“and Samuel spoke”). The gist of these grammatical data is that the writer is informing us that after the ark’s capture, the people endured Philistine oppression for the next twenty years. Though all Israel “lamented after the Lord,” He allowed the Israelites to continue their suffering at the hands of the Philistines for 20 years—at which time Samuel called upon the nation to put away its idols.
First Samuel describes the final years of the period of the judges. The reliance upon the ark as a sort of mystical talisman brought swift military tragedy, precipitating yet another period of foreign oppression by Israel’s enemies due to their own apostasy. This period of Philistine preeminence went on for twenty years before the lamentations of God’s people were finally heard. At the end of the twenty years, Samuel called on them to couple their lamentations with genuine penitence (1 Samuel 7:3). When they put away their idolatry (vs. 4), they once again enjoyed the services of the judge (vs. 6), who assisted them in throwing off Philistine oppression by military defeat (vss. 10ff.).
Thus the twenty years refers—not to the total number of years that the ark remained in Kirjath-jearim—but merely to the number of years the ark was in Kirjath-jearim before the Lord chose to hear the people’s lamentations and provide them with intervention through Samuel.

The Universe Just Got Much Bigger—On Paper by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1016

The Universe Just Got Much Bigger—On Paper

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Every now and then I come across an article on modern “scientific” findings that absolutely stuns me, not necessarily because of the newest “findings,” but because of how casually information that was declared to be so scientifically accurate can be disregarded with a few computer keystrokes. Last week research was discussed that will forever change the way we look at the Universe (if you read the right article), and the irony is that you probably are not even aware of it.
For many years, cosmologists (scientists who study the Universe and its supposed origins) have explained to us that our Universe appears to be approximately 28 billion light years across. A light year is the distance light travels in one year. Since light travels at about 186,000 miles per second, the distance it covers in one year is about 5.9 trillion miles. That means if light were to start at one end of our Universe, travelling 186,000 miles per second, it would take 28 billion years to get to the other side. At least that is what we have been told for about a decade.
New studies, however, indicate that cosmologists have been wrong, on a grand scale, about the size of our Universe. Last week, Ed Oswald wrote an article for Yahoo! Tech titled, “How Big is the Universe? Attempting to Answer One of Astronomy’s Most Complex Questions.” In the article, he explained the complicated processes of how cosmologists attempt to measure the size of the Universe. Using the latest information, he wrote, “Physicists…now believe the radius of the observable universe is now roughly 46.5 billion light years away.”1 That is much bigger than we were told it appeared in years past. But Oswald does not stop there. He goes on to make clear that the galaxies that we see at the edge of our Universe are too “well-formed” to have appeared immediately following the Big Bang. (He incorrectly assumes the reality of the Big Bang.)2 That being the case, he mentions researchers at Oxford who believe that our Universe could be “as big as 250 times the size of our observable universe. Try to wrap your mind around that.”3
So what does all this mean? First, it shows us the serious limitations of science. We are often told to bow to the modern dating methods of the Universe, conform to the “real science” that proves the Bible false, and admit the validity of “current scientific findings.” Yet, we learn every day how limited and incorrect these often are. We are told that such is the nature of science; that it is a “self-correcting” endeavor, so that the most current material must be accurate. That simply is not the case. Many times, what passes for science in cosmology is not self-correcting, it is self-refuting. What we learn from situations in which the size of the Universe can greatly expand on paper is that those researchers who purported to present scientific facts about the Universe’s age, size, or composition were giving us nothing of the sort. They were wrong, the whole time. What happens, then, to the person who demanded that we shove the “modern scientific findings” into the biblical account and make it fit? He is left holding a battered Bible in one hand, and useless, “outdated” (read that as false) cosmology in the other.
Furthermore, the better we understand the Universe, the more we realize that atheistic, Big Bang explanations are not scientifically adequate to explain its origin. Before this latest “discovery,” the atheistic understanding of the origin of the Universe already had a real problem explaining how a tiny “singularity” could explode and bring into existence a 28-billion-light-year Universe. Now the problem has been further compounded, since the Universe appears to be much larger, maybe even 250 times bigger for all we know. Atheism’s conundrum is that to get a 93-billion-light-year Universe from a tiny singularity violates the Law of Cause and Effect that says for every material effect there must be a cause that was greater than it. What in the world is big enough to give us a 93-billion-light-year Universe? A tiny singularity smaller than the period at the end of this sentence is not a legitimate, scientific answer.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” The only plausible explanation for a Universe that is 93 billion light years across is an eternal, all-powerful Creator.

Endnotes

1 Ed Oswald (2016), “How Big is the Universe? Attempting to Answer One of Astronomy’s Most Complex Questions,” Yahoo! Tech, https://www.yahoo.com/tech/big-universe-attempting-answer-one-230016820.html.
2 Branyon May, et al. (2003), “The Big Bang—A Scientific Critique,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1453&topic=57.
3 Ibid.

Mistaking Cowardliness for Humility by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=747

Mistaking Cowardliness for Humility

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In 2006, Baylor University published the results of a survey indicating more Americans claim affiliation with Christianity than with any other religion. In fact, the report claimed that “82 percent of Americans are Christians” (see Tooley, 2006). Sadly, the vast majority claiming Christianity as their religion, have no respect for what their law (the New Testament) or their lawgiver (the Christ) teach.
One year after Baylor University published their findings, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life surveyed 35,000 Americans. Seventy percent of those surveyed answered in the affirmative that “many religions can lead to eternal life” (Van Biema, 2008). “Nearly across the board, the majority of religious Americans” believe that Christianity is not the only way to everlasting life, including 83 percent of mainline Protestants, 79 percent of Roman Catholics, and 57 percent of Evangelicals (“Americans...”). C. Welton Gaddy, the president of Interfaith Alliance, was encouraged by the outcome of the survey, saying, “It indicates a level of humility about religion that would be of great benefit to everyone” (“Americans...”).
Sadly, millions of Americans have bought into Gaddy’s “humble religion.” The truth is, however, “Christians” claiming that Christ is not the only way to eternal life are actually conceited, cowardly conmen (or disturbingly uninformed of the teaching of Christ and the New Testament apostles and prophets). The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, emp. added). Later, Peter appeared before the Jewish Council and proclaimed that salvation is only through Jesus: “[T]here is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NASB, emp. added). Jesus and Peter made it very clear. If someone wants to know the truth about the way to eternal life, he will only learn that truth through Christ, “Who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” As if that were not clear enough, Jesus declared: “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, emp. added). “No one else” is able to give a person salvation; “there is no other name under heaven...by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, emp. added).
How can a rational person profess to be a Christian, while at the same time maintaining that “many religions can lead to eternal life”? The New Testament unmistakably teaches that the way to salvation is not through Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, or Krishna; it is only through Christ, Whose words will judge the world in the last day (John 12:48). Thus, Jesus instructed man to “[e]nter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus has drawn a line in the sand. He stands on one side ready to lead followers to eternal life. On the other is any and all others who “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
To call oneself a Christian, and then proclaim that there are many ways to eternal life, does not indicate “a level of humility about religion that would be of great benefit to everyone.” On the contrary, it exposes the “Christian” as a coward, who arrogantly dismisses the words of the Son of God. This so-called “Christian” has no respect for the rigidness of the Truth that Jesus embodied and taught. Sadly, this most recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life simply shows that America is a country full of professed “Christians” who have lost their spiritual bearings.
“Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
“God...commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man [Jesus] whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

REFERENCES

“Americans: My Faith Isn’t the Only Way to Heaven” (2008), Associated Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,370588,00.html.
Tooley, Mark D. (2006), “God is Back,” CBS News, [On-line], URL:http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/29/ opinion/main2053026.shtml.
Van Biema, David (2008), “Christians: No One Path to Salvation,” TIME, [On-line], URL: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1817217,00.html?imw=Y.

The Benevolent, "Leavening" Influence of Christianity by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=248

The Benevolent, "Leavening" Influence of Christianity

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.

In one of his delightfully instructive parables, Jesus set forth the following concept regarding his approaching reign:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened (Matthew 13:33).
It is agreed among Bible expositors that the “leaven” of this parable signifies the pervasive and benevolent influence of the kingdom of Christ, as this leaven would make its presence felt from the first century onward. In his classic work on the parables, Trench noted that Christianity, “[w]orking from the centre to the circumference, by degrees...made itself felt, till at length the whole Roman world was, more or less, leavened by it” (1877, p. 121). In his important treatise on the parables, Taylor affirmed that the leaven represents “the good, wholesome, aggressive influence which Christ introduced into the world when he came to earth, and lived and died, and rose again, as the Savior of sinners” (1928, p. 60).
There is, perhaps, no more graphic portrait of the vileness of the Mediterranean world than that which is painted by Paul in the opening chapter of his epistle to the Romans. It is dismal indeed. William Barclay observed:
When we read Romans 1:26-32 it might seem that this passage is the work of some almost hysterical moralist who was exaggerating the contemporary situation and painting it in colours of rhetorical hyperbole. It describes a situation of degeneracy of morals almost without parallel in human history. But there is nothing that Paul said that the Greek and Roman writers of the age did not themselves say (1957, p. 23).
The Scottish scholar then proceeded to document his depiction with ample citations from ancient historians who commented upon this period of depraved history. It was into this hostile environment that the religion of Jesus was inaugurated, gradually but surely changing—much for the better—the moral climate of that world. If one is inclined to think that this appraisal is biased, perhaps we may appeal to the testimony of a writer who never could be accused of entertaining sympathy for Christianity.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), an agnostic, has been characterized as the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He was a militant opponent of the religion of Jesus Christ, even producing a popular essay titled, “Why I am not a Christian.” I mention this to argue that whatever testimony we elicit from him certainly will not arise from a heart that is disposed toward the Teacher from Nazareth. Be that as it may, Russell, oddly enough, became an unwitting witness to the truth of the “leavening” activity of the Christian system in the Roman world.
First, the philosopher commented concerning the barbarous practice of infanticide (i.e., the destruction of newborn infants)—a practice so common in the Roman world.
Infanticide, which might seem contrary to human nature, was almost universal before the rise of Christianity, and is recommended by Plato to prevent over-population (1950, p. 92; emp. added).
Second, Russell gave a nodding tribute to the influence of Christianity relative to the status of women in the Roman world.
In antiquity, when male supremacy was unquestioned and Christian ethics were still unknown, women were harmless but rather silly, and a man who took them seriously was somewhat despised (p. 101; emp. added).
Third, there is this comment regarding Christian benevolence in general.
Christianity, as soon as it conquered the state, put an end to gladiatorial shows, not because they were cruel, but because they were idolatrous. The result, however, was to diminish the widespread education in cruelty by which the populace of Roman towns were degraded. Christianity also did much to soften the lot of slaves. It established charity on a large scale, and inaugurated hospitals (p. 137; emp. added).
Our world may be thankful indeed for the lingering influence of Jesus’ life and teaching upon this Earth.

REFERENCES

Barclay, William (1957), The Letter to the Romans (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Russell, Bertrand (1950), Unpopular Essays (New York: Simon & Schuster).
Taylor, William (1928), The Parables of Our Savior (New York: Doubleday).
Trench, R.C. (1877), Notes on the Parables (London: Macmillan).

Inevitable--Given Enough Time? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=3729

Inevitable--Given Enough Time?

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Macroevolutionists often point the proverbial finger at the laws of probability in a pointless attempt to traverse the gaping chasms which exist in the theory of evolution and Big Bang Theory and thereby substantiate them. However, the gaps that exist, such as the origin of matter (cf. Miller, 2013), the origin of life (cf. Miller, 2012), and macroevolution (cf. Brooks and Deweese, 2009), are many and cannot be traversed without violation of recognized scientific laws. In spite of this dilemma, many evolutionists have long cited the principles of probability in an effort to support their dogma, noting that as long as the required events do not have a probability of zero, they are inevitable, given enough time (cf. Erwin, 2000). As far back as 1954, George Wald, writing in Scientific American concerning the origin of life on Earth, penned the words:
However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps it involves, given enough time, it will almost certainly happen at least once. And for life as we know it, once may be enough. Time is the hero of the plot.... Given so much time, the “impossible” becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, and the probable becomes virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs miracles (Wald, p. 48, emp. added).
There are at least two problems with this assertion. First, several of the events that are necessary in order for the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory to be true, indeed, have a probability of zero. So, the question is not really one of improbability, but impossibility. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports the contention that, for instance, matter could spontaneously generate or life could come about from non-life (i.e., abiogenesis). In fact, quite the opposite is true. The experimental results of renowned scientist Louis Pasteur forever killed the possibility of the spontaneous generation of life back in the 19th century, and the Law of Biogenesis drove the nails into its coffin (cf. Miller, 2012). This truth creates an impenetrable barrier for evolutionists—a gaping chasm that must be crossed in order for the theory of evolution to be plausible. So, according to the scientific evidence, there is a probability of zero that abiogenesis can occur. According to the laws of probability, specifically Kolmogorov’s first axiom, when the probability of an event is zero, the event is called an “impossible event (Gubner, 2006, p. 22, emp. added). Since several events that are necessary in order for the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory to be true have a probability of zero, according to the laws of probability, these atheistic theories are impossible.

The second problem with this contention is that we are not “given enough time” for macroevolution to have occurred. We at Apologetics Press have documented this fact time and time again (cf. Jackson, 1983; Thompson, 2001). Years ago, in his article “The Young Earth,” Henry Morris listed 76 dating techniques, based on standard evolutionary assumptions, which all indicate that the Earth is relatively young (Morris, 1974). Donald DeYoung documented extensive, compelling evidence for a young Earth as well, in the book Thousands...Not Billions (2005). Of course, such information is not broadcasted widely due to its implications. If atheistic evolutionists were sincerely interested in the truth—if they were interested in giving all options a fair shake—they would hear the silent but forceful cry of the evidence: “Macroevolution is impossible! There is a God!”

REFERENCES

Brooks, Will and Joe Deweese (2009), “A Response to the 21st Century Science Coalition Standards of Science Education,” Reason & Revelation, 29[6]:41-43, June, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240161.
DeYoung, Donald (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

Erwin, Douglas (2000), “Macroevolution is More Than Repeated Rounds of Microevolution,” Evolution and Development, 2[2]:78-84.

Gubner, J. A. (2006), Probability and Random Processes for Electrical and Computer Engineers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Jackson, Wayne (1983), “Our Earth—Young or Old?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/yng-old.pdf.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis [Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Miller, Jeff (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2786.

Morris, H. (1974), “The Young Earth,” Acts & Facts, 3[8], http://www.icr.org/article/young-earth.

Thompson, Bert (2001), “The Young Earth,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1991.

Wald, George (1954), “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191:45-53, August.

The Moral Majority is Shrinking by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1540

The Moral Majority is Shrinking

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The University of New Hampshire recently released a poll which indicates that 50% of Americans disapprove of gay and lesbian marriages. While 11% refuse to commit on the subject, 37% approve of same-sex marriage (“Poll...,” 2005). Assuming this survey is accurate, its results are mind-boggling—when one considers the historic stance of Americans from 1776 to the 1960s. For most of American history, same-sex relations have been viewed by 99.9% of Americans as immoral and illegal. Yet, the liberal forces of “political correctness” have been chipping away at America’s moral sensibilities. The gradual but persistent erosion of Christian morals has reduced national opposition to homosexuality from near 100% to 50% in less than fifty years. Who would have ever imagined such was even possible—let alone that it could actually happen?
This decline in commitment to foundational moral principles is simply a reflection of the concomitant loss of loyalty to the Bible as God’s inspired Word. That Word speaks very directly to our failing national conscience:
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust (1 Timothy 1:8-11, emp. added).
Similarly, Paul declared very firmly to the Christians who lived in the very sexually promiscuous city of Corinth: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites... will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, emp. added).
Interestingly, the poll demonstrated the massive disparity that has come to exist in America with regard to age, political affiliation, and commitment to attending Christian worship services. Americans older than age 65, Republicans, Protestants, regular churchgoers, and Southerners were more likely to oppose gay marriage. On the other hand, Americans under age 35, Democrats, and people who do not attend worship services (or attend sporadically) were more likely to support gay marriages (“Poll...,” 2005).
How tragic that so many are willing to throw away their very souls for all of eternity in exchange for temporary, momentary, inordinate desires that mar the body and soul. How unfortunate that so many are willing to approve of those who do so (cf. Romans 1:32). In the process, these defenders of sexual perversion will share considerable responsibility for contributing to the downfall of an entire nation—when the righteous God eventually reacts (cf. Genesis 19).

REFERENCES

“Poll: U.S. Divided on Same-sex Marriage” (2005), Associated Press, MSNBC News, May 15, [On-line], URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7860056/.

Inconsistent Allegations by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=1606&b=Numbers

Inconsistent Allegations

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Several years ago, the Kerrville, Texas Daily Times on-line newspaper published two stories on their front page about the same basic event—the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors’ meeting in Galveston, Texas. The headline for the first story was “Times Wins 17 Awards in Statewide Contest” (emp. added). The second story was titled, “Times Gets 16 Awards in First Day” (emp. added). One story clearly indicated that the newspaper had won 16 awards, while the other used the number 17. Apparently, however, none of the Kerrville Daily Times staff believed that their stories were contradictory. (The stories remained on the Daily Times homepage for a few days.) What’s more, there was no indication that others were accusing the newspaper of being inconsistent or dishonest in their reporting. Why? Because most anyone who read the two titles quickly understood that the newspaper won 17 awards in all—16 of which they collected on the meeting’s “first day.”
If most anyone can easily understand and accept such differences as were found on the Kerrville Daily Times Web site, one wonders why similar logical differences cannot easily be acknowledged in Scripture. For example, when Moses wrote about the sexual immorality and idolatry that the Israelites committed in Moab, he noted that “those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand” (Numbers 25:9, emp., added). When the apostle Paul alluded to the number of Israelites who committed sexual immorality (apparently referring to the events in Numbers 25:1-9), he wrote: “in one day twenty-three thousand fell” (1 Corinthians 10:8, emp. added). Skeptics and certain others (e.g., Davids, et al, 1996, pp. 598-599) would have us believe that Paul erred in writing 23,000, rather than 24,000. But notice that Paul included the phrase “in one day twenty-three thousand fell” (emp. added). Though Moses would later write about what happened “in the day of the plague” (Numbers 25:18; cf. Genesis 2:17; 1 Kings 2:37,42; Lyons, 2002), he did not use a numerical adjective to delineate clearly a set period of one day as Paul did. Thus, the difference in the two numbers can easily (and logically) be resolved by taking into account that Paul’s number included what happened within a literal 24-hour period, while Moses’ number included everyone who died “when the plague came” (Numbers 25:18, NIV), however long it lasted.
Of course, as with many alleged Bible discrepancies, oftentimes more than one possible explanation exists for differences between two or more Bible passages. Regarding 1 Corinthians 10:8, some believe that Paul was referring to a different time in Israelite history (cf. Archer, 1982, p. 401; Geisler and Howe, 1992, pp. 458-459). Others believe that Numbers 25:9 is, indeed, the actual “sister” passage to 1 Corinthians 10:8, but that the additional 1,000 in the book of Numbers also included those whom the judges executed (Numbers 25:4-5; see Jamieson, et al., 1997). Still, it may be that Paul’s number only included the portion of those who were actually guilty of “sexual immorality,” while Moses included both harlots and idolaters (Numbers 25:1-3).
The fact is, several plausible explanations exist for the differences between Numbers 25:9 and 1 Corinthians 10:8. Exactly what the explanation for the difference is, we may never know. But, we can know that the skeptic has not proven these passages to be discrepant. Furthermore, it is the skeptic who should be questioned as to why he readily accepts the understandable, non-discrepant differences in many modern-day writings (e.g., the Kerrville Daily Times), yet loudly protests against similar logical, explainable differences in Scripture. Undoubtedly, this kind of “inconsistent” allegation should be under scrutiny.

REFERENCES

Archer, Gleason L. (1982), An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan).
Davids, Peter H., Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch (1996), Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Geisler, Norman L. and Thomas A. Howe (1992), When Critics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Lyons, Eric (2002), “Why Didn’t Adam Die Immediately?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=797.

Rejoice in God and cast your care on Him. by Roy Davison


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


Rejoice in God and cast your care on Him.
Around 1990 Rita and I were walking through the narrow streets of a village in Germany after dark when two teenage boys sauntered past singing, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

This refrain from Bobby McFerrin’s song expresses two teachings of Christ. “Do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25) and “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matthew 5:12).

This does not mean that we have no troubles. As Bobby McFerrin sings: “In every life we have some trouble. When you worry you make it double.”

Christians rejoice in God and cast their cares on Him.

Don’t worry!

Worry is excessive concern.

“Do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25). “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).

Christians need not worry because God has promised: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6, 7).

A distinction must be made between healthy concern and worry. Emotional involvement in problems is not wrong. It can lead to constructive action. Paul spoke of his “deep concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).

There is a big difference, however, between thinking about a problem and worrying about a problem. Worry involves a feeling of dread and anxiety that is negative, depressing, exhausting and paralyzing.

Materialism causes much worry. We worry when we are overly concerned about material and temporal things. Jesus explained: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. [Mammon is the god of money.] Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:24-26).

When we see how richly God provides for life on earth, we know that He will care for us as well. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:32-34).1 Worry pulls tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine.

Trusting in the providence of God, we can take life as it comes. Jesus does not deny that we have troubles. He just tells us to deal with them one day at a time. Each day, God will give us what we need for that day. Jesus tells us to pray, “Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).

Paul also tells us to pray rather than worry: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Praying and thankfully counting our blessings puts our troubles into perspective.

I once saw an amusing wall plaque: “Why pray when you can worry?”

Worry is futile. If you can do something about a problem, ask God for help and get to work. If you can do nothing about a problem, turn it over to God in prayer.

Be happy!

God wants us to be happy. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matthew 5:12). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

In Christ we have the joy of salvation. After the Philippian jailer was baptized “he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:34). The Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing after he was baptized by Philip (Acts 8:39).

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1, 2). We rejoice “in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:11).

The joy that dwells in the heart of a Christian does not preclude grief. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). “Jesus wept” even when He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. But we are never defeated by grief.

Even in the darkest hour we can have inner happiness because we have hope. The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our hope of eternal life.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

We can rejoice even in the midst of persecution: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11, 12).

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! for indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke 6:22, 23).

Peter explains: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12, 13).

Jesus tells His followers: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). We rejoice because Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-3, 27, 28).

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1). “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Don’t worry. Be happy. Rejoice in God and cast your care on Him.

Roy Davison
1 See also Luke 12:22-31.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise. Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
http://www.oldpaths.com

Bible Reading May 1 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading May 1 (World English Bible)


May 1
Deuteronomy 17, 18
Deu 17:1 You shall not sacrifice to Yahweh your God an ox, or a sheep, in which is a blemish, or anything evil; for that is an abomination to Yahweh your God.
Deu 17:2 If there be found in the midst of you, within any of your gates which Yahweh your God gives you, man or woman, who does that which is evil in the sight of Yahweh your God, in transgressing his covenant,
Deu 17:3 and has gone and served other gods, and worshiped them, or the sun, or the moon, or any of the army of the sky, which I have not commanded;
Deu 17:4 and it be told you, and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire diligently; and behold, if it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is done in Israel,
Deu 17:5 then you shall bring forth that man or that woman, who has done this evil thing, to your gates, even the man or the woman; and you shall stone them to death with stones.
Deu 17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he who is to die be put to death; at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deu 17:7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from the midst of you.
Deu 17:8 If there arises a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates; then you shall arise, and go up to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose;
Deu 17:9 and you shall come to the priests the Levites, and to the judge who shall be in those days: and you shall inquire; and they shall show you the sentence of judgment.
Deu 17:10 You shall do according to the tenor of the sentence which they shall show you from that place which Yahweh shall choose; and you shall observe to do according to all that they shall teach you:
Deu 17:11 according to the tenor of the law which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the sentence which they shall show you, to the right hand, nor to the left.
Deu 17:12 The man who does presumptuously, in not listening to the priest who stands to minister there before Yahweh your God, or to the judge, even that man shall die: and you shall put away the evil from Israel.
Deu 17:13 All the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.
Deu 17:14 When you are come to the land which Yahweh your God gives you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein, and shall say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me;
Deu 17:15 you shall surely set him king over yourselves, whom Yahweh your God shall choose: one from among your brothers you shall set king over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.
Deu 17:16 Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he may multiply horses; because Yahweh has said to you, You shall henceforth return no more that way.
Deu 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart not turn away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
Deu 17:18 It shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
Deu 17:19 and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear Yahweh his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them;
Deu 17:20 that his heart not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he not turn aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel.

Deu 18:1 The priests the Levites, even all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of Yahweh made by fire, and his inheritance.
Deu 18:2 They shall have no inheritance among their brothers: Yahweh is their inheritance, as he has spoken to them.
Deu 18:3 This shall be the priests' due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep, that they shall give to the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.
Deu 18:4 The first fruits of your grain, of your new wine, and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him.
Deu 18:5 For Yahweh your God has chosen him out of all your tribes, to stand to minister in the name of Yahweh, him and his sons for ever.
Deu 18:6 If a Levite comes from any of your gates out of all Israel, where he lives as a foreigner, and comes with all the desire of his soul to the place which Yahweh shall choose;
Deu 18:7 then he shall minister in the name of Yahweh his God, as all his brothers the Levites do, who stand there before Yahweh.
Deu 18:8 They shall have like portions to eat, besides that which comes of the sale of his patrimony.
Deu 18:9 When you are come into the land which Yahweh your God gives you, you shall not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
Deu 18:10 There shall not be found with you anyone who makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices sorcery, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer,
Deu 18:11 or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
Deu 18:12 For whoever does these things is an abomination to Yahweh: and because of these abominations Yahweh your God does drive them out from before you.
Deu 18:13 You shall be perfect with Yahweh your God.
Deu 18:14 For these nations, that you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice sorcery, and to diviners; but as for you, Yahweh your God has not allowed you so to do.
Deu 18:15 Yahweh your God will raise up to you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him.
Deu 18:16 This is according to all that you desired of Yahweh your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I not die.
Deu 18:17 Yahweh said to me, They have well said that which they have spoken.
Deu 18:18 I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.
Deu 18:19 It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
Deu 18:20 But the prophet, who shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.
Deu 18:21 If you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which Yahweh has not spoken?
Deu 18:22 when a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh, if the thing doesn't follow, nor happen, that is the thing which Yahweh has not spoken: the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you shall not be afraid of him.

 

May 1
Luke 17

Luk 17:1 He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no occasions of stumbling should come, but woe to him through whom they come!
Luk 17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.
Luk 17:3 Be careful. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him.
Luk 17:4 If he sins against you seven times in the day, and seven times returns, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."
Luk 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
Luk 17:6 The Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you would tell this sycamore tree, 'Be uprooted, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
Luk 17:7 But who is there among you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say, when he comes in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down at the table,'
Luk 17:8 and will not rather tell him, 'Prepare my supper, clothe yourself properly, and serve me, while I eat and drink. Afterward you shall eat and drink'?
Luk 17:9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded? I think not.
Luk 17:10 Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty.' "
Luk 17:11 It happened as he was on his way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee.
Luk 17:12 As he entered into a certain village, ten men who were lepers met him, who stood at a distance.
Luk 17:13 They lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
Luk 17:14 When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." It happened that as they went, they were cleansed.
Luk 17:15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice.
Luk 17:16 He fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks; and he was a Samaritan.
Luk 17:17 Jesus answered, "Weren't the ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
Luk 17:18 Were there none found who returned to give glory to God, except this stranger?"
Luk 17:19 Then he said to him, "Get up, and go your way. Your faith has healed you."
Luk 17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, he answered them, "The Kingdom of God doesn't come with observation;
Luk 17:21 neither will they say, 'Look, here!' or, 'Look, there!' for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you."
Luk 17:22 He said to the disciples, "The days will come, when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.
Luk 17:23 They will tell you, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Don't go away, nor follow after them,
Luk 17:24 for as the lightning, when it flashes out of the one part under the sky, shines to the other part under the sky; so will the Son of Man be in his day.
Luk 17:25 But first, he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Luk 17:26 As it happened in the days of Noah, even so will it be also in the days of the Son of Man.
Luk 17:27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:28 Likewise, even as it happened in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;
Luk 17:29 but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from the sky, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:30 It will be the same way in the day that the Son of Man is revealed.
Luk 17:31 In that day, he who will be on the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away. Let him who is in the field likewise not turn back.
Luk 17:32 Remember Lot's wife!
Luk 17:33 Whoever seeks to save his life loses it, but whoever loses his life preserves it.
Luk 17:34 I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed. The one will be taken, and the other will be left.
Luk 17:35 There will be two grinding grain together. One will be taken, and the other will be left."
Luk 17:36 Two will be in the field: the one taken, and the other left."
Luk 17:37 They, answering, asked him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there will the vultures also be gathered together."