10/23/17

"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" From Heirs Apparent To Heirs Actual (4:1-7) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

              From Heirs Apparent To Heirs Actual (4:1-7)

INTRODUCTION

1. In his epistle to the churches of Galatia, Paul...
   a. Opposed those teaching that Gentiles must be circumcised and keep
      the Law of Moses
   b. Presented a series of five arguments contending that we are
      justified by faith in Christ

2. We have seen Paul make three of these arguments so far...
   a. The personal argument - Ga 3:1-5
      1) How they received the Spirit
      2) From whom they received the Spirit
   b. The scriptural argument - Ga 3:6-25
      1) The example of Abraham
      2) The curse of the Law
      3) The priority of the Promise over the Law
      4) The purpose of the Law
   c. The practical argument - Ga 3:26-29
      1) In Christ they are one, as children of God, Abraham's seed
      2) As such they are heirs of the promise regarding the Seed

3. As we begin the fourth chapter, Paul continues with his practical
   argument...
   a. Under the Law they were simply "heirs apparent"
   b. In Christ Jesus they have become "heirs actual"

[That we might appreciate our blessings in Christ, especially the
earnest of our inheritance, let's examine Paul's explanation of how they
went "From Heirs Apparent To Heirs Actual"...]

I. UNDER THE LAW AS HEIRS APPARENT

   A. THEY WERE NO DIFFERENT THAN SLAVES...
      1. They were still children - Ga 4:1-2
         a. Heirs, yet no different from slaves regarding inheritance
         b. Masters, yet still under guardians and stewards
      2. They were in bondage under the elements of the world - Ga 4:3
         a. "The word rendered 'elements' (stoicheion), properly means a
            row or series; a little step; a pin or peg, as the gnomen of
            a dial; and then anything 'elementary,' as a sound, a
            letter. It then denotes the elements or rudiments of any
            kind of instruction, and in the NT is applied to the first
            lessons or principles of religion; He 5:12." - Barnes
         b. "Here the figure is kept up of the reference to the infant
            (Ga 4:1,3); and the idea is, that lessons were taught under
            the Jewish system adapted to their nonage - to a state of
            childhood. They were treated as children under tutors and
            governors." - Barnes, ibid.

   B. THEY WERE UNDER GUARD...
      1. They were kept under guard by the Law - cf. Ga 3:23
      2. The Law had been their tutor, schoolmaster (paidagogos) - cf.
         Ga 3:24
         a. "a tutor, i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the
            Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy
            slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the
            life and morals of boys belonging to the better class.  The
            boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house
            without them before arriving at the age of manhood."
            - Thayer
         b. "paidagogos; from pais (G3816), a child, and agogos, a
            leader, which is from ago (G71), to lead. An instructor or
            teacher of children, a schoolmaster, a pedagogue (1Co 4:15;
            Ga 3:24-25). Originally referred to the slave who conducted
            the boys from home to the school. Then it became a teacher
            or an educator." - Complete Word Study Dictionary

[Such was the condition of those under the Law of Moses.  But now in
Christ things are dramatically different...]

II. IN JESUS CHRIST AS HEIRS ACTUAL

   A. THEY ARE NOW SONS...
      1. They are no longer under a tutor
         a. The Law had served its purpose as tutor well - cf. Ga 3:
            23-24a
         b. But now they were called to be "justified by faith" 
            - cf. Ga 3:24b-25
      2. They are now sons of God
         a. Through faith in Christ Jesus - cf. Ga 3:26
         b. For those baptized into Christ have put on Christ 
            - cf. Ga 3:27
         c. They have been "born again" - cf. Jn 3:5

   B. THEY HAVE RECEIVED THE ADOPTION OF SONS...
      1. They have been redeemed - Ga 4:4-5
         a. By the Son sent by His Father
            1) When the fullness of time had come (when conditions were
               just right)
            2) Born of a woman (Mary), born under the Law (of Moses)
         b. For the purpose of:
            1) Redeeming those under the Law (Jews)
            2) Receiving the adoption as sons (both Jews and Gentiles)
      2  They have received the Spirit of God in their hearts - Ga 4:6
         a. By whom they cry out "Abba, Father!" - cf. Ro 8:15
         b. Who bears witness with their spirit that they are children
            and heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ - cf. Ro 8:16-17
         c. Who pours out the love of God in their hearts - cf. Ro 5:5
         d. As explained by others:
            1) "And being made sons by the Son through the operation of
               faith (Jn 1:12), the Spirit of Christ is bestowed upon us
               to bring us to blissful realization of our son ship, so
               that we may speak to God, calling him Abba, Father.  Abba
               is the Syriac for father. The Syriac and Greek names are
               both used by Paul, probably that all the tender
               associations which, to either Jews or Greeks, clustered
               around the paternal name, might be, at the sound of the
               sacred word, transferred to God. Thus, by the blessed
               ministration of Christ, all who believed on him in
               Galatia passed from servitude and wardship to the estate
               of sons and heirs - Ro 8:17." - McGarvey on Ga 4:6
            2) "For ye did not receive the spirit of bondage. The time
               is referred to when they were born again, and entered the
               kingdom of God. They did not receive the spirit of
               bondage, of slavery to sin, so that they would obey its
               dictates, and thus be in fear of death. Instead, they
               received the Holy Spirit according to promise (Ac 2:38)."
               - B. W. Johnson on Ro 8:15
            3) "The Spirit of adoption. The Spirit God bestows upon
               those who are accepted as his children. Paul was writing
               to the Romans, among whom the adoption of children, not
               their own by nature, was common. They would understand
               this to mean that those converted, or born again, are
               adopted as children of God; upon those thus adopted he
               bestows his Spirit; this Spirit in their hearts produces
               a loving trust that enables them to address God as
               Father." - Johnson, ibid.
      3. They are heirs of God through Christ - Ga 4:7; cf. Ro 8:16-17
         a. Receiving the Spirit as a guarantee (arrabon) - cf. Ep 1:
            13-14; 2Co 1:22; 5:5
            1) "An earnest; money which in purchases is given as a
               pledge or down payment that the full amount will
               subsequently be paid." - Thayer
            2) "A pledge, something which stands for part of the price
               and paid beforehand to confirm the transaction. Used in
               the NT only in a figurative sense and spoken of the Holy
               Spirit which God has given to believers in this present
               life to assure them of their future and eternal
               inheritance." - Complete Word Study Dictionary
         b. The Spirit is but the first fruits - cf. Ro 8:23
            1) With the redemption of the body (the resurrection) yet to
               come - cf. Ep 4:30
            2) Until the redemption of the purchased possession 
               - cf. Ep 1:14
            3) When we will receive the ultimate inheritance:  "God is
               with us!" - Re 21:1-7

CONCLUSION

1. To seek justification by the works of the Law is to return to being
   "heirs apparent"...
   a. In which one is but a child under a guardian
   b. In which one is still in bondage to basic elements of religion

2. To be justified by an obedient faith in Christ is to become "heirs
   actual"...
   a. In which one has begun to receive the inheritance as sons of God
   b. The first fruit being the Spirit of God, who is a guarantee of
      that which is to come

3. Are we benefiting from the blessing of the Spirit in our lives...?
   a. Promised to those who believe? - Jn 7:37-39
   b. Given to those who become children of God? - Ga 4:6
   c. Whose indwelling should engender a strong affection for God as our
      Father? - Ga 4:6; Ro 5:5

Paul will have much more to say about the Spirit in the life of the
Christian in his epistle to the Galatians (cf. Ga 5:5,16-25; 6:8).  For
now, let Peter remind you how to receive the Spirit... - cf. Ac 2:38-39

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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BLOOD—The Liquid of Life by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=843

BLOOD—The Liquid of Life

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Blood always has been a curious substance whose vast mysteries and capabilities have yet to be fully explored. Doctors in the twenty-first century transfuse it, draw it, separate it, package it, store it, ship it, and sell it. And, although modern-day scientists have not uncovered completely all of the wonders of blood, they have discovered that it is the key to life. Without this “liquid of life,” humans and animals would have no way to circulate the necessary oxygen and proteins that their bodies need in order to survive and reproduce. Hemoglobin found in the red blood cells carries oxygen to the brain, which in turn uses that oxygen to allow it to control the entire body. A brain without oxygen is like a car without gas or a computer without electricity. Blood makes all of the functions in the body possible.
In the past, ignorance of blood’s value caused some “learned” men to do tragic things. For instance, during the middle ages, and even until the nineteenth century, doctors believed that harmful “vapors” entered the blood and caused sickness. For this reason, leeches were applied to victims of fever and other illnesses in an attempt to draw out blood containing these vapors. Also, the veins and arteries located just above the elbow were opened, and the patient’s arms were bled to expunge the contaminated blood. George Washington, the first President of the United States, died because of such misplaced medical zeal.
Maybe you have seen a red and white striped, twirling pole at the entrance to a barbershop. In the middle ages, barbers did much more than cut hair. They also performed minor surgeries (such as tooth extractions). One of their most frequent feats was bloodletting. Barbershops generally kept on hand a fresh supply of leeches—stored in a basin on top of the pole.
But what does all this have to do with the Bible? Thousands of years before the lethal practice of bloodletting was conceived, mankind had been informed by God that blood was indeed the key to life. In Leviticus 17:11, Moses wrote: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Because red blood cells carry oxygen (due to hemoglobin in the cells), life is made possible. In fact, we know today that human red blood cells carry approximately 270,000,000 molecules of hemoglobin per cell. If there were any less, there would not be enough residual oxygen to sustain life after, say, a hard sneeze or a hefty pat on the back.
Today, we understand completely the truthfulness of Moses’ statement that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” But how did an ancient shepherd like Moses come to know such information? Just a lucky guess? How could Moses have known almost 3500 years ago that life was in the blood, while it took the rest of the scientific and medical community thousands of years (and thousands of lives!) to discover this truth? That answer, of course, is that Moses was guided by the Great Physician—and therein lies the difference between life and death.


Feeling Design by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2469


Feeling Design

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Those in the medical field of prosthetics (artificial limbs) are faced with a daunting task—to mimic human body parts. Experts in this field of study are quick to admit that the natural, biological human body is far superior to anything that humans can design. Yet, even though prostheses are clumsy, awkward, and inefficient when compared to human limbs, progress is slowly being made toward more human-like limbs.
One step toward better prosthetics is the ability to feel, also known as tactile sensation. “[S]cientists from Northwestern University, in Chicago, have shown that transplanting the nerves from an amputated hand to the chest allows patients to feel hand sensation there” (Singer, 2007). This new technology has the potential to enable amputees to feel sensations such as cold and hot, distinguish between surface texture such as smooth (like marble) or rough (like sandpaper), and various other sensations that biological hands can feel.
Todd Kuiken, the lead doctor in the research that was presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Kuiken, et al., 2007), said that improving and refining the technology will take time. Emily Singer, writing for Technology Review, commented on the process of creating usable, “feeling” prostheses, saying, “The task is likely to be difficult” (2007). Kuiken further noted: “Our hands are incredible instruments that can feel things with exquisitely light touch and incredible resolution; to emulate that through a device is incredibly challenging.... All we’re giving our patients is a rough approximation, but something is better than nothing” (as quoted in Singer, 2007).
Notice the necessary inference implied in this research. Humans are brilliant, creative beings. They are using existing nerves to design prostheses that have “a rough approximation” of the sense of touch that a biological hand has. Millions of dollars are being spent, thousands of hours used, and massive amounts of various other resources are being employed to make this muted sensation available. Yet, evolutionary scientists expect thinking people to believe that the original, biological limbs that have an “exquisite” sense of touch and “incredible resolution” arose due to blind processes and random chance over multiplied billions of years of haphazard accidents overseen by no intelligence? Such a conclusion is irrational. Design demands a designer. If the “rough” prostheses have a designer, the human limbs after which they are modeled must, of logical necessity, have one as well.

REFERENCES

Kuiken, Todd, et al. (2007), “Redirection of Cutaneous Sensation from the Hand to the Chest Skin of Human Amputees with Targeted Reinnervation,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, [On-line], URL: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/50/20061.
Singer, Emily (2007), “Prosthetic Limbs that Can Feel,” Technology Review, [On-line], URL:http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19759/?nlid=689.

Unity, Division, Doctrine, and Jesus' Prayer by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1189


Unity, Division, Doctrine, and Jesus' Prayer

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Who would question the importance of unity in the body of Christ? God wants every Christian to be united and at peace with every other Christian (Philippians 2:1-4). He wants us to be knit together cohesively in love and fellowship (Ephesians 4:1-3,16; 1 John 1:5-7). He wants us working together harmoniously to accomplish the same objectives (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). Far too many congregations of the Lord’s people have been racked by division and discord due to petty jealousy, immaturity, prideful self-assertiveness, and unjustified disagreement over matters of opinion.
In addition to the division that sometimes exists within individual congregations, churches of Christ currently are experiencing a significant cleavage brotherhoodwide. Such division has occurred in the past over a variety of issues, including instrumental music, multiple communion containers, support of orphan homes, located preachers, and cooperation among congregations in mission work.
Beyond the division that exists within churches of Christ is the widespread division that exists within “Christendom.” Look at the multiplicity of religious groups, churches, and movements that claim affinity and affiliation with Christ and Christianity: the Protestant denominational world, Catholicism, the so-called “cults” (a term historically applied to Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, Christian Science, and Jehovah’s Witnesses), and the prolific spawning of “nondenominational” community churches. Beyond the division that exists within “Christendom,” look at the religious smorgasbord that exists among the world religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam—involving billions of people.
What is the solution to division? Can division be eliminated? How does God want us to achieve unity? Perhaps the premiere proposal being advanced to solve the matter of division today is—de-emphasize doctrine! This relaxation of doctrinal stance manifests itself in at least two ways. Some reduce the fervency with which they hold to doctrinal positions. Doctrinal viewpoints that previously were unquestioned—and for which compromise would have been considered intolerable—now are being softened and held as mere opinion. Those who continue to affirm the importance of those same doctrinal viewpoints are labeled “legalists” or “radicals.”
Other brethren cope with division by attempting to reduce the number of doctrinal viewpoints that one must firmly hold. This maneuver has given rise to the notion of “unity in diversity,” and a so-called “core doctrine” classification scheme. Those who travel this route insist that many of our past doctrines (like the exclusion of instrumental music, the use of choirs, and female leadership in worship) should not be considered matters of fellowship. They say that, ultimately, the only doctrinal belief that matters is Jesus. If a person acknowledges God as Father and Jesus as Lord, he or she should be considered a saved believer, and in full fellowship with every other Christian (see Miller, 1996, pp. 282-331 for a more complete discussion of this concept).
Several writers and speakers appeal to Jesus’ prayer for unity in John chapter seventeen as evidence of this alleged need to override doctrinal concerns for the sake of unity. One well-known writer and speaker has stressed that, when Jesus got ready to depart the planet, His final remarks—His parting words—did not pertain to instrumental music or doctrinal soundness, but to unity: the need for believers to be one (John 17:21).
Appealing to Jesus’ prayer for unity as justification for replacing unity based on truth with unity based on undiscriminating acceptance, and an emotional sense of togetherness, is both unfortunate and unscriptural. If the reader will take the time to read John 17, one will see that the unity for which Jesus called was unity based on correct doctrine. Notice His repetitious reference to the “truth,” the “word,” and the need for “keeping” and “receiving” that word (John 17:6,8,14,17,19). Clearly, obedience to a body of doctrinal truth must precede unity.
Jesus also identified how unity is to be achieved among believers: “through their word” (John 17:20). In other words, people must hear the word that the apostles preached which, in addition to the Lordship of Christ, includes the gospel plan of salvation (faith, repentance, confession, and baptism for the remission of sins), as well as faithful Christian living. The compliance that occurs as a result of “their word” automatically brings unity and fellowship with Christ and each other (1 John 1:3,6-7).
Further, those of whom Jesus spoke in His prayer were clearly those who would become New Testament Christians. He was speaking with reference to the church of Christ—not the world with its denominationalism (John 17:9,16). Until one obeys the gospel plan of salvation, one is not a genuine believer in Christ. It is possible to be a “believer”—in the sense that one recognizes Who Jesus is, acknowledges that fact, and even offers a measure of commitment—and still not be acceptable to God (John 8:30,31,44; 12:42; Acts 8:13,20-23). The believers for whom Jesus prayed were members of the church of Christ—not members of denominations that profess faith in Christ. Jesus was praying for unity in His church. To identify adherents of denominationalism as “believers” is to redefine the term in an unscriptural sense.
How ironic that the very passage, to which agents of change frequently appeal in order to advance their agenda of change, finds its most pertinent application today in them! They are tampering with the foundational principles of Christianity in order to broaden the borders of the kingdom. In so doing, they are guilty of creating division, and are wreaking havoc on the body of Christ! Jesus prayed that such damage might not happen.
To understand Jesus’ prayer in John 17 as a call to make unity top priority—even over truth and doctrine—is to misconstrue the entire book of John. The purpose of John’s gospel account was to prove the deity of Christ in order to elicit an obedient belief. He selected seven signs as evidence to verify Christ’s claim. Belief is based on truth (forms of which are used some 40 times), and knowing (used 87 times). John made it clear that it is not enough to acknowledge the deity of Christ. One must listen to Christ’s words, and then comply with them (e.g., John 6:63,68; 8:31; 12:48; 14:24). Contextually, unity among believers is possible only when the believers commit themselves to the doctrine that Christ imparted.
If one desires to be sensitive to context, and engage in genuine exposition of the Word, the prominent passage in the New Testament that addresses division within the body of Christ is 1 Corinthians. The entire letter constitutes Paul’s plea for Christians to be united. The theme is stated in 1:10: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (NKJV). The rest of the book delineates one doctrinal item after another in order to correct divisive Corinthian conduct. These items include their sexual behavior (chs. 5-7), their use of food in relation to idolatry (chs. 8-10), disorders in the worship assembly [including female leadership (11:1-16), Lord’s Supper (11:17-34) and the use of miraculous gifts (chs. 12-14)], misconceptions about the resurrection (ch. 15), and the collection (16:1-4).
Their aberrant (i.e., divisive) behavior was directly due to their doctrinal error. Consequently, the solution was not to de-emphasize doctrine! The solution was not to lessen or downplay doctrinal commitment. The solution was not to relegate all but one or two doctrines to an optional status. The solution is clearly stated: speak the same thing! Be joined together in the same mind and judgment! Christians have the divine obligation to study their Bibles, and to arrive at the truth on every matter that God sets forth as essential. God’s doctrine concerning salvation, worship, the church, and Christian living is critical, and every believer must come to knowledge of that doctrine, and submit to it.
Ironically, those who push for unity at the expense of truth and doctrine are now compromising even on the essentiality of water baptism for the remission of sins. Yet in the very context where division within the body of Christ is discussed, Paul advanced an argument that showed the necessity of baptism. In rebuking the factious Corinthians, he asked: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1:13). Notice that Paul gave two prerequisites to salvation. Before an individual can say “I am of ” another person, first, the person would have to have been crucified for that individual, and second, the individual would have to be baptized in the name of the person. Christ was crucified for all of us. But you and I cannot legitimately say we are “of Christ” until we have been baptized in His name! Unity and fellowship cannot be extended to anyone who has not been baptized to be saved!
Countless sermons have been preached in recent years recounting the division that has plagued churches of Christ. The preacher inevitably insists that our factions are due to our over-emphasis upon doctrinal purity, and our insistence upon being doctrinally correct on every point possible. He then affirms that if we will cease our concern for doctrinal accuracy, or focus upon a few commonalities that we share with the denominational world, we can achieve the unity God demands. It never seems to dawn on such agents of change that the denominational world (which they want us to emulate, embrace, and fellowship) are hopelessly divided and are splintered into as many factions as we—maybe more! Frank S. Mead documented many years ago in his Handbook of Denominations that all of the mainline denominations (Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians) are divided into multiple groups, as are virtually all other religious groups—Catholics, Pentecostals, and Mormons, as well as the Moslems, Buddhists, and Hindus. Neither unity nor division proves that a group possesses God’s truth (cf. Mead, 1979).
The pathway to unity is simple. God’s truth can be ascertained and known (John 7:17; 8:32). All who truly submit themselves to the Word of God can and will be united. Those who do not conform to the parameters of truth will automatically be separated from the obedient. But theywill be held responsible for the disunity that results. Cain was responsible for the break between himself and his brother—not Abel—because of his own departure from the instructions of God! (cf. Genesis 4:3-8; Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12). Those who remain faithful to God’s words will continue to enjoy the unity that Jesus said was possible. Doctrine, and compliance with that doctrine, take precedence over unity. No wonder Jesus declared: “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).

REFERENCES

Mead, Frank S. (1979), Handbook of Denominations (Nashville, TN: Abingdon).
Miller, Dave (1996), Piloting the Strait: A Guidebook for Assessing Change in Churches of Christ(Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications).

The Only True God by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=5014


The Only True God

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Bible is full of scriptures that, when quoted without any consideration of the immediate and remote contexts, a person can misuse in all sorts of ways. As proof that we do not have to work to provide for our family’s material needs, some may quote Jesus’ statement, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27). In order to show that Jesus was a liar, the Bible critic might quote Jesus’ acknowledgement: “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true” (John 5:31). Those who exclude baptism from God’s plan of salvation often quote John 4:2: “Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples.” When the Bible reader is “rightly dividing” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV) or “handling accurately the word of truth” (NASB), however, he will remember that “[t]he sum of thy [God’s] word is truth” (Psalm 119:160, emp. added). Since the Bible teaches “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10; cf. 1 Timothy 5:8), Jesus never implied that working to help feed one’s family is wrong (John 6:27). “He simply was saying that spiritual food is more important than physical food, and as such, should be given a higher priority” (Butt, 2003, emp. in orig.). Jesus did not confess wrongdoing in John 5:31. He simply acknowledged that, in accordance with the law (cf. Deuteronomy 19:15), His testimony apart from other witnesses would be considered invalid or insufficient to establish truth (cf. John 8:13-20; see Lyons, 2004). Likewise, Jesus never taught that baptism was unnecessary for salvation. In fact, He taught the very opposite (cf. John 3:3,5; Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:18-20; see Lyons, 2003).
Consider another proof text from the Gospel of John regarding the nature of Christ. Some (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses) contend that Jesus was not deity since, on one occasion, He prayed to the Father: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3; cf. “Should You Believe...?,” 2000). Allegedly, by calling the Father, “the only true God,” Jesus excluded Himself from being deity. Such an interpretation of John 17:3, however, contradicts numerous other passages within John’s own gospel account. From beginning to end, John bore witness to the deity of Christ. Some of the evidence from the Gospel of John includes the following:
  • In the very first verse of John, the apostle testified: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (emp. added; cf. 1:14,17).
  • Two verses later the reader learns that “[a]ll things came into being by Him [the Word], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3, NASB).
  • Still in the first chapter of John, the apostle testified that John the Baptizer was the one whom Isaiah foretold would “prepare...the way of Jehovah” (Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23; cf. 14:6). For Whom did John the Baptizer come to prepare the way? Isaiah called Him “Jehovah.” The apostle John, as well as John the Baptizer, referred to Jehovah as “Jesus” (John 1:17), “the Christ” (3:28), “the Word” (1:1), “the Light” (1:17), “the Lamb” (1:29), “the Truth” (5:33), etc.
  • When the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well told Jesus, “I know that Messiah is coming” (John 4:25), Jesus responded, “I who speak to you am He” (vs. 26). Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be called “Mighty God” (9:6) and “Jehovah” (40:3). Thus, by claiming to be the Messiah, Jesus was claiming to be God.
  • In John chapter nine, Jesus miraculously healed a man with congenital blindness (vs. 1). When this man appeared before various Jews in the synagogue and called Jesus a prophet (vs. 17), he was instructed to “give glory to God,” not Jesus, because allegedly Jesus “is a sinner” (vs. 24). Later, after the man born blind was cast out of the synagogue, he confessed faith in Jesus and worshiped (Greek proskuneo) Him (vs. 38). In the Gospel of John, this word (proskuneo) is found 11 times: nine times in reference to worshiping the Father (John 4:2-24), once in reference to Greeks who came to “worship” in Jerusalem during Passover (12:20), and once in reference to the worship Jesus received from a man whom He had miraculously healed, and who had just confessed faith in Jesus. Indeed, by accepting worship Jesus acknowledged His deity (cf. Matthew 4:10; Hebrews 1:6).
  • While at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, Jesus claimed: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (vs. 31). Why did Jesus’ enemies want to stone Him? The Jews said to Christ: “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (vs. 33, emp. added; cf. 5:17-18).
  • After Jesus rose from the dead, the apostle Thomas called Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus responded: “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (vs. 29). Notice that Jesus did not deny His deity, rather He acknowledged Thomas’ faith and commended future believers. Believers in what? In that which Thomas had just confessed—that Jesus is Lord and God.
It was in the overall context of John’s gospel account, which is filled with statements testifying of Jesus’ deity, that the apostle recorded Jesus’ prayer to His Father the night of His betrayal (John 17). But how can Jesus’ statement about His Father being “the only true God” (17:3) be harmonized with statements by Jesus, the apostle John, John the Baptizer, Thomas, etc. affirming the deity of Christ? When a person understands that Jesus’ statement was made in opposition to the world’s false gods, and not Himself, the reference to the Father being “the only true God” harmonizes perfectly with the many scriptures that attest to the deity of Christ (including those outside of the book of John; cf. Matthew 1:23; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:5-13). On the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, it was completely natural for Him to pray that “all flesh/people” (John 17:2, NKJV/NIV), many of whom were (and still are) pagan idolaters, would come to know “the only true God” and receive eternal life (17:3). Thus, Jesus contrasted Himself not with the Father, but “with all forms of pagan polytheism, mystic pantheism, and philosophic naturalism” (Jamieson, et al., 1997).
Furthermore, if Jesus’ reference to the Father being “the only true God” somehow excludes Jesus from being deity, then (to be consistent) Jesus also must be disqualified from being man’s Savior. Jehovah said: “Besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11; cf. Hosea 13:4; Jude 25). Yet, Paul and Peter referred to Jesus as our “Savior” several times in their inspired writings (Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 1:1,11; 2:20; etc.). Also, if Jesus is excluded from Godhood (based on a misinterpretation of John 17:3), then, pray tell, must God the Father be excluded from being man’s Lord? To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote that there is “one Lord” (4:4, emp. added), and, according to Jude 4 (using Jehovah’s Witnesses own New World Translation) “our only Owner and Lord” is “Jesus Christ” (emp. added). Yet, in addition to Jesus being called Lord throughout the New Testament, so is God the Father (Matthew 11:25; Luke 1:32; Acts 1:25) and the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Obviously, when the Bible reveals that there is only one God, one Savior, one Lord, one Creator (Isaiah 44:24; John 1:3), etc., reason and revelation demand that we understand the inspired writers to be excluding everyone and everything—other than the triune God. As former Jehovah’s Witness David Reed explained: “Jesus’ being called our ‘only’ Lord does not rule out the Lordship of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the Father’s being called the ‘only’ true God does not exclude the Son and the Holy Spirit from deity” (1986, p. 82).

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2003), “Wearing Gold and Braided Hair,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2264.
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Faussett, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Lyons, Eric (2003), “The Bible’s Teaching on Baptism: Contradictory or Complementary?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/617.
Lyons, Eric (2004), “Was Jesus Trustworthy?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/516.
Reed, David (1986), Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
“Should You Believe in the Trinity?” (2000), The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.

Appendix Not Useless, But Evolution Is by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2300

Appendix Not Useless, But Evolution Is

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


In this month’s Reason & Revelation, Dr. Houts explains that for several decades now, evolutionists have been using various worn out, disproven lines of reasoning in an attempt to bolster their increasingly fragile theory of common descent for all organisms. One of these outmoded tactics is the idea that the human body contains leftover, virtually useless vestiges that once, in our early ancestors, were vibrant organs necessary for survival. In fact, in the late 1800s, evolutionary scientists believed that the human body supported more than 180 such organs.
These “useless” vestiges of evolution, however, turned out to be nothing of the sort. Dr. Houts noted that these organs were “useless” only in the sense that scientists and medical doctors were ignorant of their functions. As the medical community applied more research to the human body, the list quickly dwindled to a tiny fraction of the original number. Today, there is not a single organ that scientists can accurately and confidently proclaim to be a useless vestige of evolution. This realization, however, has not yet trickled down to the popularizers of evolution.
Live Science posts several “Top 10” articles that give the alleged Top 10 items in a given category. For example, there is a list of the “Top 10 Killer Tornadoes” and another of the “Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth.” One of their lists is titled, “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs)” (Miller, 2007). Listed as number one in that article is the human appendix. Concerning the appendix, Miller wrote: “Biologists believe it is a vestigial organ left behind from a plant-eating ancestor” (2007). He then reiterated ideas that Alfred Romer penned in 1949, stating “that the major importance of the appendix would appear to be financial support of the surgical profession, referring to, of course, the large number of appendectomies performed annually” (2007).
As one would expect if God designed the human body, aspects of the body would exist that our finite human minds could assess only after years of intense research. Such is the case with the appendix. Elsewhere in this issue of R&R, Dr. Houts notes several functions and uses already known for the appendix. A recent article published in Theoretical Biology, however, adds another interesting function to the appendix’s increasing workload. Researchers from Duke University believe they have stumbled upon another reason humans have an appendix, and it is not because it is an evolutionary leftover (Borenstein, 2007).
Human digestion requires huge amounts of beneficial bacteria. Certain illnesses, however, destroy or remove both good and bad bacteria from the intestines. In order for digestion to continue, cultures of the good bacteria must be regrown to repopulate the gut. That is where the appendix comes in according to the latest research. Borenstein noted: “Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix’s job is to reboot the digestive system in that case” (2007). Bill Parker, co-author of the latest research, said that the appendix “acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating the good germs” (Borenstein, 2007).
Evolutionists should simply admit that the idea of vestigial organs is false, they should promptly remove it from their arsenals, and reevaluate the data that supposedly prove evolution true. But that is not what happens. Because evolution is so “plastic” and can be expanded to fit any data, even data that is exactly the opposite of what has been used in the past to teach evolution is twisted as new “proof” of evolution. Borenstein quoted Brandies University biochemistry professor Douglas Theobald as saying that the explanation for the function of the appendix “seems by far the most likely” and that the idea “makes evolutionary sense” (2007). So, we are told that the appendix is a useless leftover, and that “fact” proves evolution to be true. Then we are told that the appendix has a very important function and that fact “makes evolutionary sense.” Which is it? In truth, that which proves too much proves nothing. Finding an important function for the appendix is exactly what one would expect if the human body was designed by God.
As for other organs in the human body that have been dubbed vestigial in the past, those who use the vestigial argument should proceed with extreme caution. Borenstein wrote: “The theory led Gary Huffnagle, a University of Michigan internal medicine and microbiology professor, to wonder about the value of another body part that is often yanked: ‘I’ll bet eventually we’ll find the same sort of thing with the tonsils’” (several functions of which already are known, see Bergman, 2000). The only thing that appears to be useless in this discussion is the theory of evolution and the false evidence used to support it.

REFERENCES

Bergman, Jerry (2000), “Do Any Vestigial Organs Exist in Humans?” Technical Journal, [On-Line], URL: http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i2/vestigial.asp.
Borenstein, Seth (2007), “Scientists: Appendix Protects Good Germs,” [On-line], URL:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071006/ap_on_he_me/appendix_s_purpose;_ ylt=Ak5.0FtXAiVHNNcRPfiNLsus0NUE.
Miller, Brandon (2007), “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs),” [On-line], URL:http://www.livescience.com/animals/top10_vestigial_organs-1.html.

Christianity is in the Constitution by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=2556

Christianity is in the Constitution

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Those who insist that America was not intended to be a “Christian nation” point to the obvious absence of specific directives regarding Christianity in the federal Constitution. The popular propaganda since the 1960s has been that “the irreligious Framers did not want the nation to retain any attachment to the Christian religion.” Such an assertion is a monstrous perversion of historical fact. The truth of the matter is that they were fearful of the potential interference by the federal government in its ability to place restrictions on the free exercise of the Christian religion. Consequently, they desired that the specifics of religion be left up to the discretion of the several states.
Nevertheless, we must not think for a moment that the federal Framers did not sanction the nation’s intimate affiliation with Christianity, or that they attempted to keep religion out of the Constitution. On the contrary, the Christian religion is inherently assumed and implicitly present in the Constitution. In fact, the United States Constitution contains a direct reference to Jesus Christ! Consider three proofs for these contentions (See Constitution of the United..., 1789).
First, consider the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” We have been told that, by “establishment of religion,” the Framers meant for the government to maintain complete religious neutrality and that pluralism ought to prevail, i.e., that all religions (whether Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism), though equally tolerated, must not be given any acknowledgement in the public sector. But such an outlandish claim is absolutely false. All one has to do is to go directly to the delegate discussions pertaining to the wording of the First Amendment in order to ascertain the context and original intent of the final wording (Annals of Congress, 1789, pp. 440ff.). The facts of the matter are that by their use of the term “religion,” the Framers had in mind the several Protestant denominations. Their concern was to prevent any single Christian denomination from being elevated above the others and made the State religion—a circumstance that the Founders had endured under British rule when the Anglican Church was the state religion of the thirteen colonies. They further sought to leave the individual States free to make their own determinations with regard to religious (i.e., Christian) matters (cf. Story, 1833, 3.1873:730-731). The “Father of the Bill of Rights,” George Mason, actually proposed the following wording for the First Amendment, which demonstrates the context of their wording:
[A]ll men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others (as quoted in Rowland, 1892, 1:244, emp. added).
By “prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the Framers intended to convey that the federal government was not to interfere with the free and public practice of the Christian religion—the very thing that the courts have been doing since the 1960s.
Second, consider the wording of a sentence from Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution: “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it....” “Sundays excepted”? The government shuts down and does not transact business on Sunday? Why? If this provision had been made in respect of Jews, the Constitution would have read “Saturdays excepted.” If provision had been made for Muslims, the Constitution would have read “Fridays excepted.” If the Founders had intended to encourage a day of inactivity for the government without regard to any one religion, they could have chosen Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Instead, the federal Constitution reads “Sundays excepted”—proving conclusively that America was Christian in its orientation and that the Framers themselves shared the Christian worldview and gave political recognition to and accommodation of that fact.
Third, if these two allusions to Christianity are not enough, consider yet another. Immediately after Article VII, the Constitution closes with the following words:
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth....
Did you catch it? Their work was done “in the Year of our Lord.” The Christian world dates all of human history in terms of the birth of Christ. “B.C.” means “before Christ,” and “A.D.” is the abbreviation for the Latin words “anno Domini,” meaning “year of our Lord.” If the Framers were interested in being pluralistic, multi-cultural, and politically correct, they would have refrained from using the B.C./A.D. designation. Or they would have used the religionless designations “C.E.,” Common Era, and “B.C.E.,” Before the Common Era (see “Common Era,” 2008). In so doing, they would have avoided offending Jews, atheists, agnostics, and humanists. Or they could have used “A.H.” (anno hegirae—which means “in the year of the Hijrah” and refers to Muhammad’s flight from Mecca in A.D. 622), the date used by Muslims as the commencement date for the Islamic calendar. Instead, the Framers chose to utilize the dating method that indicated the worldview they shared. What’s more, their reference to “our Lord” does not refer to a generic deity, nor does it refer even to God the Father. It refers to God the Son—an explicit reference to Jesus Christ. Make no mistake: the Constitution of the United States contains an explicit reference to Jesus Christ—not Allah, Buddha, Muhammad, nor the gods of Hindus or Native Americans!
Let’s get this straight: The Declaration of Independence contains four allusions to the God of the Bible. The U.S. Constitution contains allusions to the freedom to practice the Christian religion unimpeded, the significance and priority of Sunday worship, as well as the place of Jesus Christ in history. So, according to the thinking of the ACLU and a host of liberal educators, politicians, and judges, the Constitution is—unconstitutional! Go figure.

REFERENCES

Annals of Congress (1789), “Amendments to the Constitution,” June 8, [On-line], URL:http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=001/llac001.db&rec Num=221.
“Common Era” (2008), Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Online, [On-line], URL:http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/128268/Common-Era.
Constitution of the United States (1789), [On-line], URL:http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html.
Rowland, Kate (1892), The Life of George Mason (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Story, Joseph (1833), Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston, MA: Hilliard, Gray, & Co.), [On-line], URL: http://www.constitution.org/js/js_344.htm.


Was Shealtiel or Pedaiah the Father of Zerubbabel? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=465&b=Matthew


Was Shealtiel or Pedaiah the Father of Zerubbabel?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

If a teenage boy whom you just met told you that his parents were “David and Marie,” but then a few minutes later you overheard him tell a county clerk that he was the son of “John and Joanne,” you might assume that the teen had lied either to you or to the county clerk. The fact of the matter is, however, the teen could be telling the truth. It may be that most people recognize his parents by their middle names—David and Marie, but for more official business his parents use their first names—John and Joanne. Or, perhaps the boy had been reared by his grandparents because his parents had died in a tragic car accident when he was an infant. The boy may refer to his grandparents as “mom” and “dad” since they were the only “mom” and “dad” he ever really knew (experientially). In turn, the grandparents may refer to him as their “son.” In most all unofficial documents and casual conversations the terms “mom,” “dad,” and “son” are used. For nearly all official documents and in most formal conversations, the terms “grandparents” and “grandson” are used. These are two very real possibilities as to why a teenage boy may refer to his parents by different names. Assuming and alleging the worst about the teen without knowing all of the facts would be unfair and inappropriate.
The fact is, family ties are often complicated (and especially confusing to outsiders who are unaware of others’ family history). I met two teenage girls a few years ago who informed me that their mother was also their grandmother. I was puzzled initially. Then they told me (if I recall correctly) that their mother had abandoned the family several years earlier and that their dad eventually married their birth mother’s mother. In time, the girls began calling their grandmother “mom.”
There are many names and family ties in Scripture that can be confusing—even in the genealogy of Jesus. Abraham married Sarah, his half-sister (Genesis 20:12; cf. 17:15-16; 22:17). Their son, Isaac, married Rebekah, his second cousin (Genesis 22:20-23; 24:4,15). Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, married his first cousins, Rachel and Leah, who were sisters (Genesis 24:29; 29:15-30). Years later, Jacob’s son, Judah, committed sexual immorality with his own daughter-in-law (thinking she was a prostitute), and she subsequently gave birth to two sons—Perez and Zerah. In one sense, these boys were his sons; in another sense, they were his grandsons (Genesis 38:12-30).
Zerubbabel is another historical figure in the genealogy of Christ around whom there is some confusion. While the books of Ezra (3:2,8; 5:2), Nehemiah (12:1), Haggai (1:1,12,14; 2:2; 2:23), Matthew (1:12), and Luke (3:27) all indicate that Zerubbabel was the “son of Shealtiel,” the chronicler noted the following about his immediate ancestry: “[T]he sons of Jeconiah, the prisoner, were Shealtiel his son, and Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah. And the sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Simei” (1 Chronicles 3:17-19a, NASB, emp. added). The obvious question is: “Why does 1 Chronicles indicate that Pedaiah was Zerubbabel’s father, if everywhere else in Scripture his father is said to be Shealtiel?”
Skeptics are quick to list 1 Chronicles 3:19 as a contradiction. The truth is, however, there are reasonable, potential solutions to this conundrum. First, it may be that Zerubbabel was sired by one brother and reared by another. Recall that Mordecai was a father figure to Queen Esther (he “had brought up” the future queen of Persia; Esther 2:7), though he was actually her cousin. Jesus, “being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph,” was, in reality, “of God,” not of man (Luke 3:23). Joseph helped to rear Jesus, and was perceived to be His biological father (Matthew 13:55), but in no way was he Jesus’ father in the normal sense. The fact is, sometimes a “son” is reared by a “dad,” who is not his father in the strictest sense of the word.
Another legitimate, possible explanation to the differences in the aforementioned verses involves a Law of Moses with which many are unfamiliar—the levirate marriage law. According to Deuteronomy 25:5-6,
If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel (emp. added; cf. Matthew 22:24-26).
If Shealtiel had been married, yet died prior to siring a son, his brother Pedaiah may have taken Shealtiel’s wife to be his wife. If such was the case, their firstborn son (Zerubbabel) would be called after Shealtiel, not Pedaiah (even though, in the strict biological sense, Zerubbabel would be Pedaiah’s son).
Admittedly, the Bible does not explain why 1 Chronicles 3:19 differs from the other passages in Scripture that refer to Zerubbabel as Shealtiel’s son. What can be established, however, is that logical possibilities exist for the differences. In truth, without more information, it would be just as unfair to accuse the chronicler of lying about Zerubbabel’s father as it would be to disparage a teenager we meet in the community who refers to his grandfather as his “dad.” Surely we can see the rationality of restraint and the foolishness of jumping to unproven conclusions.
Suggested Resources

God has revealed the mystery of His will to His saints! by Roy Davison

http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/052-mysteries.html
God has revealed the mystery of His will to His saints!
The Bible unveils a great mystery. Paul proclaimed “the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Colossians 1:25, 26).
The mystery, revealed in the Bible, is described in various ways: the mystery of God (Colossians 2:2; Revelation 10:7), the mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9), the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 4:3), the mystery of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11), the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19), the mystery of the faith (1 Timothy 3:9), and the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16).
In the Bible, a mystery is a hidden truth that can be known only by revelation.

God has revealed mysteries to man.
Daniel declared: “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things” (Daniel 2:21, 22).
God has revealed His mysteries to enable man to do His will: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

These mysteries are not understood by all.
“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight’” (Luke 10:21).
“And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’” (Matthew 13:10-13).

Why do some fail to understand?
Although man’s ears cannot be closed physically, they can be switched off. Zechariah said of God’s rebellious people: “They refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets” (Zechariah 7:11, 12).
God instructed His people for their good, “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward” (Jeremiah 7:24). God’s word is keyed to those who “incline their ear,” to those who are eager to learn.

How do people avoid hearing?
By not listening! People tune out what they do not want to hear. They prefer to watch dramatic presentations that require little effort or thought.
To really learn something however, especially if it is a little complicated, active listening is required. Like in school, one must listen to learn.
A preacher notices certain people who are listening to every word to learn more about the will of God. He notices others who sit with a blank expression, apparently thinking about something else, or nothing at all. Some allow themselves to be easily distracted by little disturbances rather than focusing on the message. Some even go to the rest room ... to see who just sent them a text message on their cell phone!
A preacher spends many hours in study and preparation to present a message from the word of God. But he is not an entertainer: he cannot mesmerize your mind like television.
While God’s word is being preached, the hearer also has a task to perform. He must listen attentively.
This lesson about the mystery of God will require concentration. We will be reading some beautiful, yet complicated passages of Scripture. Listen carefully so you can understand what God is telling us in His word.

Who can understand the mysteries of God?
About the coming reign of righteousness it was foretold: “The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen” (Isaiah 32:3).
Only those who want to do the will of God understand the mysteries of the kingdom. Jesus said: “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17).
Paul explains that the mysteries of God are comprehended only by people who value spiritual realities: “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
Paul had not based his message on human wisdom, so their faith would be in God, not man (verses 4 and 5). To the mature Paul speaks “the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.” Even before creation, God had a marvelous plan for man. This plan could not be known by human wisdom.
Paul continues: “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The blessings God has prepared are so vast that they not only cannot be known by human wisdom, they cannot even be imagined!

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11). The mystery of the wisdom of God and the unimaginable blessings He has in store for those who love Him, have been revealed through the Spirit!
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). The mystery of the grace of God has been revealed by the Spirit.
Paul continues: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Some claim that the ideas in the Bible are inspired, but not the words. Paul emphasizes, however, that he communicated the revealed mystery in words taught by the Spirit.
He concludes: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Thus, spiritual discernment is required to understand “the things of the Spirit,” the mystery of the wisdom and will of God.

The mystery was revealed to the apostles in the first century.
Paul’s understanding of the mystery came by revelation. He explained: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles - if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:1-4).
Paul gained knowledge of the mystery of Christ by revelation. Others can obtain this knowledge by reading what Paul has written.
“Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power” (Ephesians 3:5-7).
The mystery of salvation by Christ, made known to the apostles and prophets in the first century, included the truth that believing Jews and believing Gentiles would be united in the same body, the church of Christ.
Paul’s special mission was to preach the gospel to the Gentiles: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).
But he also addressed everyone, “And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God” (Ephesians 3:9).
The fellowship of the mystery is the fellowship of the saved of every nation in the church of Christ, as determined by God before creation.
“To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-12).
Never underestimate the importance of the church of Christ. The mystery of the manifold wisdom of God is made known by the church, not only to man on earth, but also to the principalities and powers in heaven!
This purpose is accomplished in Christ who is the source of salvation for mankind.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth” (Ephesians 1:7-10).
For the sake of the church, Paul was willing to suffer so the mystery - the word of God - might be preached: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Colossians 1:24-26).
It was God’s will that the saints might know the glory awaiting those in whom Christ dwells: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:27, 28).
Paul had a burning desire to help people understand the mystery of God so they might enjoy the blessings God gives to those who are in Christ.
“To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 1:29 - 2:3).

Through the Scriptures this mystery is made known to all nations.
After the mystery of salvation was revealed to the apostles, God commanded that the gospel be made known to all nations through inspired Scriptures: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith - to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever” (Romans 16:25-27).

Preachers are stewards of the mysteries of God.
They must faithfully proclaim the gospel. Referring to Peter, Apollos and himself, Paul wrote: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2).
We are to pray that preachers will boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints - and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20). “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:2-4).
The Bible is a book of mysteries revealed. What have we learned?
- God has revealed the mystery of His will to His saints.
- Only those who want to do the will of God comprehend the mysteries of the kingdom.
- Only those with spiritual discernment understand the mystery of God’s wisdom revealed by the Spirit.
- The mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ was revealed to the apostles and prophets in the first century.
- It was God’s good pleasure to make these mysteries known. He wants us to know the mystery of God.
- God commanded that the revelation of this mystery be made known to all nations through inspired Scriptures.
- Preachers must faithfully proclaim the mysteries of God.
- We are to pray that they will boldly do so.
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
What a tremendous blessing that God has revealed to us the mystery of salvation! Through the Scriptures this mystery has been made known to all nations for a purpose, “for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:26).
Thus Jesus commands: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16). “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).
What is the mystery revealed? The good news that sinful man can be saved by the grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Accept God’s mystery of salvation by believing in Christ and confessing His name (Romans 10:10), by repenting and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Do not delay. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Amen.
Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)