"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS" A Church Worthy Of Imitation (1:6-10) INTRODUCTION 1. A good role model is very important... a. It demonstrates what can be done b. It provides direction for what should be done c. It inspires one to do what ought to be done 2. Christians are blessed to have many role models... a. As individuals, we have many good role models in the Scriptures b. As churches, we also have role models that ought to inspire any congregation 3. Among the many churches described in the New Testament, the church of the Thessalonians proved to be a congregation worthy of emulation... a. Paul commended their example in 1Th 1:7 b. Even though they were a rather young church [In 1Th 1:6-10, Paul mentions several things for which the Thessalonians were exemplary. To encourage us both individually and as a congregation of the Lord, we shall review why they were "A Church Worthy Of Imitation". Note first that they were commended for...] I. THEIR IMITATION OF PAUL AND THE LORD (6a) A. NOTE THAT THEY WERE IMITATORS THEMSELVES... 1. Following after the example of Paul and the Lord 2. Following after the example of other churches - 1Th 2:14 3. Something Paul commanded the church in Corinth to do - 1Co4:16 4. He likewise commanded the Philippians to imitate or follow the example of others - Php 3:17 5. Even as he himself sought to imitate Christ - 1Co 11:1 -- Note well: those who would be good examples to others must first be imitators! B. HOW ABOUT US TODAY...? 1. Are we seeking to imitate others who are good examples? 2. As disciples of Jesus, we should certainly seek to imitate Him! - cf. Jn 13:13-15 3. As children of God, we should also imitate Him - Ep 5:1 4. It is likely that we also have other role models worthy of emulation, both individuals and churches -- Focus on being good imitators, and we shall also be "A Church Worthy Of Imitation"! [Next we notice that Paul commends them for...] II. THEIR RECEPTION OF THE WORD (6b) A. NOTE HOW THEY RECEIVED THE WORD... 1. First, it was "in much affliction" a. They received the word despite persecution - cf. Ac 17: 1-10; 1Th 3:1-4 b. In this they were like the churches in Judea - 1Th 2:14 2. Second, it was "with joy of the Holy Spirit" a. Joy is a fruit of following after the Spirit - Ga 5:22 b. In response to prayer, God imparts joy to the believer through the Holy Spirit - Ro 15:13 c. Especially when the Word is received in times of persecution - Ac 13:49-52 3. Later, Paul describes further how they received the Word - 1Th 2:13 a. Not as the word of men b. But as the Word of God -- An important part of becoming an example worthy of imitation is receiving the Word of God in the right way B. HOW ABOUT US TODAY...? 1. How is our reception of the Word of God? a. Do we receive the Word only when it is convenient? b. Do we take advantage of opportunities to study God's Word? c. Is our attendance of worship and Bible study classes haphazard? d. If we do not experience the joy the Holy Spirit imparts, could it be related to neglecting the Word of God? 2. Are we "A Church Worthy Of Imitation" when it comes to the Word Of God? a. If every one studied the Bible like we do... 1) Would churches grow? 2) Would churches have elders? b. As individuals, are we receiving the Word properly? 1) With meekness, aware of our need for the Word? - Jm 1:21 2) Like newborn babes desire their mothers' milk, knowing that the Word is necessary for spiritual growth? - 1 Pe 2:1-2 -- If we do not set the right example regarding our reception of the Word, then we will be following the example of those who were rebuked - cf. He 5:12 [The Thessalonians were not only good students and learners of the Word, they were also commended for...] III. THEIR SPREADING OF THE WORD (8) A. NOTE HOW THEY HAD PROCLAIMED THE WORD... 1. From them the Word had "sounded forth" a. They did not keep quiet about their faith b. They did not limit their evangelistic efforts to just being good examples of what it means to be a Christian 2. From them the Word spread to other places a. Throughout Macedonian and Achaia (provinces of modern day Greece) b. Also in every place (to regions beyond their own country) 3. Such was clear indication of their "faith toward God" a. Not only the Word itself, but their own faith had become known to others b. Implying that spreading the Word is an indication of faithfulness -- "A Church Worthy Of Imitation" will be one with an evangelistic focus that looks beyond the local community B. HOW ABOUT US TODAY...? 1. Do we have a similar evangelistic focus? a. Are we looking beyond the needs of our local community? b. Are we working toward spreading the gospel in other places? 2. The need for such churches is still great today! a. How shall people believe unless they have heard, and how shall they hear without preachers who are sent? - Ro 10: 14-17 b. Just as Antioch sent out Paul and Barnabas - Ac 13:1-3 c. Just as Gaius helped missionaries along the way - 3Jn 5-8 -- Until a church grows to the point that it sounding forth the Word in other places by sending or supporting preachers, it has yet to become "A Church Worthy Of Imitation" [Just as the Word of God and the faith of the Thessalonians spread and become known, so had news regarding...] IV. THEIR SERVICE TO GOD (9) A. NOTE THE CHANGE THAT LED TO THEIR SERVICE... 1. They had "turned to God from idols" a. The word "turned" suggests a conversion b. A dramatic shift from devotion to idols to devotion to God c. Which Paul preached on other occasions - cf. Ac 14:15 2. This conversion made their service to God possible a. One cannot serve both God and idols b. To serve God, we must turn away from those things that would draw us away from God - cf. Mt 6:24 -- Genuine, faithful service to God requires a true conversion, in which we turn away from things of the world as well as turn toward God B. HOW ABOUT US TODAY...? 1. There are "idols" from which we need to turn away a. E.g., covetousness is defined as idolatry - Ep 5:5; Col 3:5 b. We can be just as guilty of idolatry today, when we allow other things to distract our service to God 2. Is our service to God hindered by divided devotion? a. Trying to serve God while still wanting to serve the world? b. Wanting to love the things of the world while loving the Father? -- As John made clear, such divided devotion is not possible! - 1Jn 2:15-17 [Finally, the church in Thessalonica was "A Church Worthy Of Imitation" regarding...] V. THEIR ANTICIPATION OF JESUS (10) A. NOTE THAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR JESUS TO RETURN... 1. The word "wait" suggests they were looking for and anticipating His return - cf. Php 3:20 2. This anticipation is one that all Christians are to have - Tit 2:11-13; 2Pe 3:11-12 3. For Jesus will come for salvation to those who "eagerly wait for Him" - He 9:28 -- A church worth imitating will be one that always has the hope of Jesus returning B. HOW ABOUT US TODAY...? 1. Are we eagerly waiting for Jesus to return? 2. Does the return of Jesus even enter our minds? a. When it does, do we hope that it will be delayed? b. Or is our attitude like that of John, who prayed "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" - Re 22:20 -- How we answer such questions reveals much about our spiritual condition, and whether we as a church are worthy of imitation! CONCLUSION 1. Remember that the church in Thessalonica was very young... a. It had been established only a short time before Paul penned these words b. Yet Paul could write such complimentary words about them 2. It demonstrates what can happen when people totally give themselves to Jesus... a. When they seek to imitate Jesus and His apostles b. When they receive the Word, even it the middle of persecution c. When they turn from the world, and turn to God in full devotion d. When they let the promise of Jesus' return motivate their lives -- Through such a church the Word of God will be "trumpeted forth", as well as the reputation of their faith...Will this be true of us? 3. In conclusion, we note that Jesus' coming will deliver us from "the wrath to come"... a. In his second epistle to this church, Paul described that wrath to come - 2Th 1:7-10 b. How does Jesus deliver us from that wrath? 1) Through His death on the cross - Ro 5:8-9 2) Through His life which reconciles us to God - Ro 5:10-11 Will Jesus deliver us from that wrath to come when He comes again? It all depends upon whether we accept the goodness of God that should lead us to repentance - cf. Ro 2:4-10
A Look at 1 Corinthians 7:15
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
A current misconception with regard to divorce and remarriage is the notion that 1 Corinthians 7:15 is “later revelation” which “modifies” or “clarifies” Matthew 19:9. It is argued that 1 Corinthians 7:15 permits the Christian, who is deserted by a non-Christian mate, to remarry on the sole ground of that desertion. On the other hand, Matthew 19:9, which permits remarriage only on the ground of fornication, applies strictly to a Christian married to a Christian and therefore is not to be considered applicable to the Christian who is married to a non-Christian. Several factors make such a viewpoint untenable:
First, the context of Matthew 19 is divorce (Matthew 19:3), while the context of 1 Corinthians 7 is not divorce, but the propriety of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1ff.). Jesus applied God’s original marriage law (paraphrased from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in Matthew 19:4-6) to the question of divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19:9. But Paul applied God’s general marriage law (paraphrased in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11) to several different questions which relate to celibacy and the legitimacy of marriage for widows/widowers, Christian/non-Christians, and singles.
Second, it is fallacious to hold that if 1 Corinthians 7:15 relates to a Christian married to a non-Christian, Matthew 19:9 must refer exclusively to a Christian married to a Christian. Matthew 19:9 was uttered in context to a group of Jews who were seeking an answer to their question concerning Jewish divorce (Matthew 19:3). Jesus gave them an answer that was intended for them—as well as for all those who would live during the Christian age. He appealed to Genesis 2 which resides in a pre-Jewish context and clearly applies to all men—the totality of humanity. Genesis 2 is a human race context. It reveals God’s ideal will for human marriage for all of human history—pre-Mosaic, Mosaic, and Christian. Though divorce and remarriage for reasons other than fornication was “allowed” (though not endorsed—Matthew 19:8) during the Mosaic period, Jesus made clear that the Jews had strayed from the original ideal because of their hard hearts. He further emphasized (notice the use of δε [“but”] in Matthew 19:8-9) that the original marriage law, which permitted divorce and remarriage for fornication alone, would be reaffirmed as applicable to all persons during the Christian age. Prior to the cross, ignorance may have been “unattended to” (Acts 17:30), that is, God did not have a universal law, as is the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16), but with the ratification of the New Testament, all men everywhere are responsible and liable for conforming themselves to God’s universal laws of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. God’s original marriage law was and is addressed to all people (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). Christ’s application to the question of divorce was implied in the original law and is addressed to all people (Matthew 19:9). Paul’s application to questions of sex, celibacy, and non-Christian mates is addressed to all people (1 Corinthians 7). Scripture harmonizes beautifully and God treats all impartially. Thus “to the rest” (1 Corinthians 7:12) cannot be applying to other marriage relationships since Jesus had already referred to all marriages (whether Jew or non-Jew, Christian or non-Christian).
Third, 1 Corinthians 7 does not address different “classes” of marriages. The Corinthian letter was written in response to correspondence previously sent to Paul by the Corinthian (cf. 1:11; 5:1; 7:1; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1). Thus, 1 Corinthians amounts to a point-by-point response to matters previously raised by the Corinthians themselves. When Paul refers to the general question of sexual activity/celibacy (7:1), he is alluding to the method by which he is organizing his remarks in direct response to questions asked by the Corinthians. Thus, “to the rest” (7:12) refers to the rest of the matters or questions about which the Corinthians specifically inquired (and to which Jesus did not make specific application while on Earth). These matters (not marriages) are easily discernible from what follows. The “rest” of the questions would have included the following:
- Should a Christian husband who has a non-Christian wife sever the relationship (vs. 12)?
- Should a Christian wife who has a non-Christian husband sever the relationship (vs. 13)?
- Are Christians somehow ceremonially defiled or rendered unclean by such a relationship (vs. 14)?
- Are children born to such relationships ceremonially unclean (vs. 14)?
- Is a Christian guilty of sin if his or her non-Christian mate severs the relationship (vss. 15-16)?
- Does becoming a Christian mean that one should dissolve all conditions and relationships which were entered into before becoming a Christian (vss. 17-24)?
- What should be the sexual and/or marital status of virgins and widows in light of the current period of distress (vss. 25-40)?
Fourth, the specific context of 1 Corinthians 7:15 relates to the person who becomes a Christian, but whose mate does not. The unbeliever now finds himself married to a different person (in the sense that his mate underwent a total change in thinking and morals, and began to live a completely different lifestyle). The unbeliever consequently issues an ultimatum, demanding that his mate make a choice: “either give up Christ, or I’m leaving!” Yet, to live in marriage with an unbeliever who makes continuance of the marriage dependent upon the believer’s capitulation (i.e., compromise of Christian responsibility or neglect of divinely-ordained duty) would amount to slavery (i.e., “bondage”—being forced to forego the Christian life). But neither at the time the marriage was contracted, nor at the present time, has the Christian been under that kind of bondage (such is the force of the perfect indicative passive in Greek). God never intended or approved the notion that marriage is slavery. Christians are slaves only to God—never to men or mates (Matthew 23:10; Romans 6:22; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:24; Philemon 16; 1 Corinthians 7:15). So, Paul is saying that, though a believer is married to an unbeliever (and continues to be so), the believer is not to compromise his or her discipleship. To do so, to back away from faithful loyalty to Christ, at the insistence of the unbelieving mate, would constitute a form of slavery which was never God’s intention for marriage. To suggest that δεδουλωται (“bondage, enslaved, reduced to servitude”) refers to the marriage bond is to maintain that in some sense and in some cases the marriage bond is to be viewed as a state of slavery. But God does not want us to view our marital unions as slave relationships in which we are “under bondage.” Yes, if our marriage is scriptural, we are “bound” (δεο—1 Corinthians 7:27,39; cf. Romans 7:2), but we’re not “enslaved” (1 Corinthians 7:15). So Paul was not commenting on the status of a believer’s marital status (i.e., whether bound or loosed). Rather, he was commenting on the status of a believer’s spiritual responsibilities as a Christian in the context of marital turmoil generated by the non-Christian mate and calculated to derail the Christian’s faithfulness to Christ. Paul was answering the question: “How does being married to a non-Christian affect my status as a Christian if he/she threatens to leave?” He was not answering the question: “How does being married to a non-Christian affect my status as a husband/wife (with the potential for remarriage) when the non-Christian departs?” Jesus already answered that question in Matthew 19:9—divorce and remarriage is permitted only upon the basis of your mate’s sexual unfaithfulness. Paul, too, spoke more directly to this question back in verses 10-11 when he ruled out remarriage.
Summarizing, though God’s marriage law is stringent (for everybody), and though God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), nevertheless, there are times when an unbelieving mate will actually force the believer to make a choice between Christ and the unbelieving mate. To choose the mate over Christ—to acquiesce to the non-Christian mate’s demand to compromise one’s faithfulness in any area of obligation to God—would be to subject oneself to, and to transform the marriage into, a state of slavery (i.e., “bondage”). Yet, the believer is not now and never has been in such enslavement. Thus, the believer must let the unbeliever exit the relationship in peace. The believer must “let him depart”—in the sense that the believer must not seek to prevent his departure by compromising his loyalty to Christ. Of course, the Christian would continue to hold out hope that the marriage could be saved. If, however, the non-Christian forms a sexual union with another, the Christian is permitted the right to exercise the injunction of Matthew 19:9 by putting away the non-Christian solely on the grounds of fornication, freeing the innocent Christian to marry an eligible person.
Fifth, one final factor to consider. Verses 17-24 cannot be requiring an individual to remain in whatever marital state he or she is in at the time of conversion. Paul uses the examples of slavery and circumcision to show that, merely because a person becomes a Christian, he is not absolved of his pre-Christian circumstances. If he is a slave prior to baptism, he will continue to be a slave after baptism, and should not think that becoming a Christian gives him the right to shirk his legal status as a slave. Such is why Paul instructed Onesimus to return to his position of servitude (Philemon 12). So, Paul was encouraging the person who becomes a Christian, but whose mate does not become a Christian, to remain in that marriage rather than think that becoming a Christian somehow gives him or her the right to sever the relationship with the non-Christian mate. Being married to a non-Christian mate is not sinful in and of itself (see Miller, 2002). But Paul was not placing his stamp of approval upon relationships, practices, and conditions that were sinful prior to baptism and encouraging Christians to remain in those relationships. Such would contradict what he later tells the Corinthians concerning unequal yokes (2 Corinthians 6:17) and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). He was referring to relationships and conditions that were not sinful prior to baptism. Christians still have the same obligations to conduct themselves appropriately (i.e., according to God’s laws) within those pre-conversion situations, though they have now become Christians. Such instructions apply to any relationship, practice, or condition that was not sinful (i.e., in violation of Christ’s laws) prior to baptism. But this directive does not apply to any practice or relationship that was sinful prior to baptism (i.e., adultery, homosexuality, evil business practices, etc. cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
May God grant us the humility and determination to conform our lives to His will concerning marriage—no matter how “narrow” it may seem (Matthew 7:14). May the church of our day be spared any further harm that comes from the promotion of false theories and doctrines which are calculated to re-define God’s will as “wide” and “broad” (Matthew 7:13). May we truly seek to please, not men, but God (Galatians 1:10).
REFERENCESMiller, Dave (2002), “Be Not Unequally Yoked,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=431&topic=37.
A God Like That
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
If a hundred atheists, agnostics, or unbelievers were asked why they do not believe in God, they might give a hundred different reasons. Certainly, no single reason has emerged as the quintessential answer for unbelief. The problem of evil, pain, and suffering would rank at the top of the list, as well as the claim that “religion” is unscientific.
There is, however, another primary reason that many people give for not believing in the God of the Bible. They say that they would believe in a god if he acted different than the one in the Bible, but they simply “cannot” believe in a god that would act like the one discussed in the “holy book.” An excellent example of this argument comes from an article written by Ronald Defenbaugh. In it, he chronicled his life, pointing out specific times when his unbelief was confirmed by a particular action or idea taught by a “religious” individual or institution. In a paragraph detailing his early years of raising a family, he stated:
One evening, a friend about the same age as us rode home with us from one of our children’s sporting events. This was the first time I realized I may have a real problem with believing. She was a good friend of my spouse’s, a member of our Church and very religious. I don’t remember how the subject came up but salvation was our subject of conversation. She stated that even though my father had been an honest, caring person who did nothing but good, he would not receive salvation. He could only go to Heaven if he accepted Christ as his Savior. I remember thinking that I wanted no part of a deity that sent my father to Hell under those circumstances. Why would a baby, or my father, or even me be sent to Hell just because we didn’t accept Christ as our Savior? What about the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists? Again, what about me? This started me thinking that I probably was without belief. Or at least I didn’t understand it. It didn’t fit my logic (2003).While his reference to God sending a baby to hell is without any biblical support, his understanding of the teaching of the concept that the God of the Bible will send to hell all individuals who have reached the age of accountability (the level of mental maturity at which a person is capable of understanding the concept of his or her own sin) and who have not accepted Jesus Christ, is absolutely accurate (John 8:24). Understanding this precept very clearly, he stated that he “wanted no part of a deity” like that. It is almost as if he is implying that if the God of the Bible were a little different, or if He better “fit” Defenbaugh’s own ideas, then he might be willing to believe in such a God.
Let’s analyze this position. Those who “cannot” believe in a God like the one in the Bible, conveniently accept as true all the characteristics of God that make Him look like a heartless tyrant. For instance, they accept that the God of the Bible is a deity Who has ordered executions of “immoral” nations that do not worship Him. They also accept that the God of the Bible will confine certain individuals to eternal destruction due to the “wrong” decisions of those individuals. (The word wrong is in quotation marks because the actions the Bible labels as wrong and the actions accepted as wrong by many unbelievers often are quite different.) After flipping through the Bible and compiling a list of all the things that they think a true god should not do, they then declare that they cannot believe in a god that would do such things.
In doing this, they neglect to accept the other characteristics of the God of the Bible that would make acceptable His actions and decisions. For instance, 1 John 3:20 states that God “knows everything.” There is not an unbeliever alive who would claim to know everything. Could it be that the things known by the God of the Bible, which are unknown to the skeptic, might just be the very things that could sufficiently explain God’s actions? Isaiah 55:8-9 states: “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” If the skeptic accepts from the Bible the ideas about God with which he disagrees, is he not equally obligated to accept the statements about God that explain the depth of God’s character? If the thoughts of God and the ways of God are far above all the ways of man, could it be that, in the great cosmic scheme of things, an all-knowing God might have some plans of which the skeptic is not fully informed?
To postulate a capricious God Who confines people to eternal destruction simply because those people do not “dot a few i’s” or “cross a few t’s” seems an easy straw man to destroy. Yet, when the “rest of the story” is told, the picture becomes much clearer. The fuller portrait of the God of the Bible is of a deity Who is all knowing (1 John 3:20) everlastingly righteous (Psalm 119:142), loving (John 3:16), compassionate and merciful (James 5:11), anxious for all men to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), and willing to give them numerous opportunities to do so (Acts 17:26-27).
The later portion of Defenbaugh’s article reveals the true essence of rejecting the God of the Bible. Defenbaugh commented that atheism “means no belief—no belief at all, godly, ungodly or otherwise. No Satan, Hell, Heaven, God, Jesus, Angel, Holy Ghost, no nothing. I am free of all constraints. The only person I have to answer to is Man—each man.” Once again, Defenbaugh hit the nail on the head when it came to his concept of the God of the Bible. God demands certain things from His human creation. But since Defenbaugh does not want to comply with those things, he has chosen instead to disbelieve, so that he can be “free of all constraints.” Yes, it truly is easy to answer “each man” since all human opinion carries equal weight. But “God is not a man” (Numbers 23:19), and “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). In reality, after the Bible’s entire picture of God is allowed to shine through, in all its glory, no other god could measure up to “a God like that.”
REFERENCESDefenbaugh, Ronald (2003), “Why I Couldn’t Deconvert,” [On-line], URL: http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=263.
A Flawed Assumption Many Make About Kings and Chronicles
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Thirty-three times in 1 & 2 Kings1 you will find the phrase “the book of the chronicles of the kings of” Israel/Judah.2 Ten times in 1 & 2 Chronicles3 you will discover the phrase “the book of the kings of” Israel/Judah.4 Many Bible readers assume that “the book of the chronicles” mentioned in 1 & 2 Kings is a reference to 1 & 2 Chronicles, while “the book of the kings” mentioned in 1 & 2 Chronicles is a reference to 1 & 2 Kings.5 Is such an assessment correct? Is “chronicles” in Kings a reference to 1 & 2 Chronicles, and is “kings” in Chronicles a reference to 1 & 2 Kings?
First, consider the matter from purely a common-sense perspective. How could each book be a reference to the other book? It makes sense that one of the books could possibly refer to the other or could prophesy about the future existence of the other, but how could both be referring to each other as already being in existence? If one book was written before the other, then the other book obviously was not yet written, and therefore the reference to it already being in existence would be impossible and nonsensical. (Imagine the original recipients reading over 30 times about a book that was not yet in existence. If such a thing happened with a written record today, we would call it “fiction,” not history.) Thus, on the surface alone, it should be evident that at least one of these books is not referring to the other.
Second, the evidence favors Chronicles being written a century or so after Kings. The final event recorded in Kings is Jehoiachin’s release from prison in the 37th year of Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 25:27-30), which would have been in 560 B.C.6—the earliest date of the writing of Kings. On the other hand, Chronicles concludes in the first year of the Persian King Cyrus (in 538 B.C.),7 when he wrote his public proclamation allowing all Jews in his kingdom to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 36:22-23). Also, some of the Jewish descendants listed in the genealogies in Chronicles8 push the earliest date of the writing of Chronicles easily back to about 500 B.C. What’s more, if Ezra, “the skilled scribe in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6), wrote Chronicles (as Jewish tradition reasonably contends),9 the earliest date of Chronicles is moved back even further—to approximately 450 B.C.10 Thus, given the likely general time periods of the writing of Kings and Chronicles, it seems quite safe (and rational) to conclude that “the book of the chronicles of the kings” mentioned more than 30 times in Kings does not refer to Chronicles—a history written perhaps 100 years later.
Third, Kings appeals to “the book of the chronicles of the kings” for further details about various matters that are not recorded in 1 & 2 Chronicles. For example, regarding Nadab, the second king of Israel, 1 Kings 15:31 states: “Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” However, none of Nadab’s acts are recorded in 1 & 2 Chronicles. (In fact, the inspired chronicler records very little activity of the kings of the northern kingdom.) What’s more, 1 Chronicles 9:1 refers to a vast amount of genealogical information (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:1-8:40) in “the book of the kings of Israel,” which quite clearly is not from 1 & 2 Kings. (There simply is very little genealogical information in 1 & 2 Kings other than the overall, general succession of the kings of Israel and Judah. And there certainly is nothing like what the chronicler records in 1 Chronicles 1:1-8:40.)
Finally, consider the fact that Kings and Chronicles mention a number of different books about which the inspired writers (a) were aware and (b) used (by inspiration) as reference books. Kings documents the existence of “the book of the acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41), while Chronicles mentions “the book of Nathan the prophet,” “the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite,” “the visions of Iddo the seer” (1 Chronicles 9:29), “the chronicles of King David” (1 Chronicles 27:24), “the book of Jehu the son of Hanani” (2 Chronicles 20:34), etc.11 Thus, it was quite natural for the inspired writers of Kings and Chronicles to reference non-canonical records in their historical writings. After all, if the inspired apostle Paul could occasionally quote from pagan poets (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12), couldn’t the inspired prophets who penned Kings and Chronicles refer to any number of relevant sources in their histories? To ask is to answer.
Rather than go through life assuming the Bible teaches “this” or “that,” let’s resolve to reason through God’s inspired revelation and draw only those conclusions warranted by the evidence. In the case at hand, we learn that in addition to God’s inspired books of Kings and Chronicles, there were various relevant, historical, non-canonical writings to which the penmen of Kings and Chronicles alluded (which were not each other). Taking special note of these facts not only helps us in properly understanding the text, but it can also aid us in responding to Bible critics who may assume contradiction on the part of the writers of Kings and Chronicles.
Endnotes1 First and Second Kings were originally one book in the Hebrew Bible.
2 This phrase is found 18 times in reference to the book of the kings of Israel and 15 times in reference to the book of the kings of Judah.
3 First and Second Chronicles were originally one book in the Hebrew Bible.
4 This phrase is found seven times in reference to both Israel and Judah and three times in reference to Israel alone. In addition, the phrase “the book of the kings” is found once without any particular kingdom specified.
5 In fact, just recently I heard an otherwise great Bible lesson where a preacher misidentified these books in this manner.
6 If Jehoiachin was carried away into captivity in 597 B.C. (1 Kings 24:8-16), and he was in captivity for 37 years (1 Kings 25:27), then his release (and the closing of the book of Kings) would have taken place in 560 B.C.
7 See J. Barton Payne (1988), “1 & 2 Chronicles,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 4:304.
8 Including two grandsons of Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:17-21).
9 Cf. the language at the end of 2 Chronicles (36:22-23) and the beginning of Ezra (1:1-4).
10 See Payne, 4:304-306.
11 For more information on various non-canonical writings referenced in the Bible, see AP’s article “Are There Lost Books of the Bible?” (2003), www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=66.
A Critical Blunder In "Christianity for Blockheads"
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Making the Bible and Christianity easier to understand for Christians and non-Christians is certainly a noble aspiration. Douglas Connelly and Martin Manser have attempted to do this very thing in their new book Christianity for Blockheads. There are many things this book gets right (e.g., God’s existence, Jesus’ divinity, the Bible’s inspiration, salvation being a free gift from God, etc.). Like so many denominational writers, however, Connelly and Manser have misled their readers regarding the Bible’s teaching on how to receive the gift of salvation.
In chapter eight, titled “Your Life’s Greatest Change: Salvation,” Connelly and Manser claim that the Bible associates faith and repentance with “the act of becoming a Christian” (p. 150), but “you are not delivered from sin’s penalty...because you were baptized” (p. 149). Non-Christians are instructed simply to say the “sinner’s prayer” in order to become a Christian (p. 151). But, the fact of the matter is, a non-Christian does not become a Christian merely by praying. Jesus made this clear in Mark 16:16 (cf. Matthew 7:21). Peter made this clear in Acts 2:38. Ananias made this clear in Acts 22:16. And Paul made this clear in Galatians 3:27. [NOTE: Ananias did not tell Paul that his sins were washed away when he spoke to Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4-6), or when he fasted for three days (9:9), or when he prayed (9:11), but when he was baptized (22:16).]
In addition to faith and repentance, the New Testament teaches that one’s immersion in water also precedes salvation (not that H20 saves us, but that the blood of Jesus saves us [Revelation 1:5], when we are baptized). It is mentioned numerous times throughout the New Testament, and both Jesus and His disciples taught that it precedes salvation (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38). The apostle Paul’s sins were washed away only after he was immersed in water (Acts 22:16; cf. Acts 9:18). [NOTE: Even though it was on the road to Damascus that Paul heard the Lord, spoke to Him, and believed on Him (Acts 9), Paul did not receive salvation until he went into Damascus and was baptized.] The book of Acts is replete with examples of those who did not receive the gift of salvation until after they professed faith in Christ, repented of their sins, and were baptized (Acts 2:38-41; 8:12; 8:26-40; 10:34-48; 16:14-15; 16:30-34; 18:8). Furthermore, the epistles of Peter and Paul also call attention to the necessity of baptism (1 Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:1-4). If a person wants the multitude of spiritual blessings found “in Christ” (e.g., salvation—2 Timothy 2:10; forgiveness—Ephesians 1:7; cf. Ephesians 2:12; etc.), he must not stop after confessing faith in the Lord Jesus, or after resolving within himself to turn from a sinful lifestyle. He also must be “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3) “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
Sadly, Christianity for Blockheads builds a roadblock to heaven. Unless readers of this cliff-note version of the New Testament return to the New Testament itself and let the Bible writings speak for themselves, those who read this book will remain ignorant of the final step one must take in order to have his or her sins forgiven. This is the final step Peter told the thousands on Pentecost to take (Acts 2:28), the final step that Ananias told Paul to take (Acts 22:16), and the step that saturates Luke’s account of the first 30 years of the church.
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:37-38, emp. added).*For more information on what a non-Christian must do to become a Christian, please read our free e-book, Receiving the Gift of Salvation.
REFERENCESConnelly, Douglas and Martin Manser (2009), Christianity for Blockheads (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (no date), Receiving the Gift of Salvation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Total Inherited Depravity
- Sovereignty of God
- Total Inherited Depravity of Man
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement
- Irresistible Grace
- Perseverance of the Saints
More Refuting Calvinism
IntroductionThe absolute extension of the sovereignty of God is the foundation of Calvinism, but the total inherited depravity of man is the first cornerstone laid upon that foundation. In the Calvinistic system of belief, this tenet logically requires our need for unconditional election and the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. Because of its fundamental nature, the entire system of Calvinism, falls if total inherited depravity cannot be established by the Bible.
The Appeal of Total Hereditary DepravityAlmost all doctrines that deviate from the Bible ultimately have at least one of two purposes and motivations for their heresy: one, to promote the recognition and fame of its chief supporters; or two, to provide justification for sin. Few if any false doctrines, fail to provide loopholes, through which the believer gains license to sin. It is the most sophisticated and dangerous form of rationalization (II Thessalonians 2:10-12).
The doctrine of total hereditary depravity states that all men, with the possible exception of the first people, Adam and Eve, were and are born completely void of moral judgment. Each infant begins life utterly depraved - desiring, understanding, and doing only what is selfish and wicked. Even if they try to do good, it is still evil.
"By this sin (eating the forbidden fruit) they (our first parents) fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. From the original corruption, whereby we are utterly disposed, disabled and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions." (From a prominent denomination's Confession of Faith)Every person, who has ever struggled to be righteous or good, has felt the pull and temptation of selfishness and evil. None of us go through life without eventually succumbing to these temptations (Romans 3:23). Often we want desperately to be pleasing to God, but we fall - and frequently (Matthew 26:41; Romans 7:14-25). Although maybe not its original intention, in the eyes of many of its modern believers, the doctrine of total hereditary depravity effectively removes the guilt of the sinner, because they could not help but do otherwise, and excuses them to continue to sin, because they cannot help but do otherwise. This eases the guilt of their own sins and relaxes their diligence to try to do better - appealing to the sensual part of all human beings.
The Bible Doctrine of DepravityOne thing that can make this discussion confusing is the fact that the Bible does warn about moral depravity. However, the possibility and danger of depravity is not under question; rather, it is the question of how one becomes depraved that is under consideration. Does one choose to become depraved, even if by default and his lack of determination? Or, is he born depraved by no choice of his own?
In some versions (NAS), II Timothy 3:8 actually uses the word "depraved" to describe some false teachers. In other passages, the word is referenced, not directly but by its characteristics.
"This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." Ephesians 4:17-19These statements reflect the attributes and symptoms of depravity: a state in which one's conscience becomes seared over, like with a hot iron (I Timothy 4:1-2), and he or she no longer cares about goodness or the consequences of their sin.
The Road to DepravitySo, the Bible certainly teaches the possibility and danger of being depraved. But, how does one become depraved? It would be good to examine how these Gentiles, as mentioned in Ephesians, became depraved. If we could find verses that explained how they became "past feeling" and "having their understanding darkened" , then we would have part of our answer.
In Paul's letter to the Romans, we find just such a passage describing how the pagan Gentile world became depraved.
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:20-21These verses ascribe to these Gentiles the same attribute of depravity, using the same words as in Ephesians, but how did they become this way? The passage says they knew God, but did not give Him the glory He deserved, neither were they thankful for their lives, given to them by the Creator. How did they show this ingratitude?
"Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.When these Gentiles became idolaters, God "gave them up to uncleanness" and to their "lusts". The word "therefore" implies that not only did it follow after their choice, but it was because of their idolatry that God let them go wild (Romans 1:26). They quickly descended into the depths of moral depravity because of their desire to distance themselves from God and His will for them, so they became what they desired. God gave them what they wished and the consequences thereof.
"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." Romans 1:22-25
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" Romans 1:28
The Inherent Innocence of ManWe have seen how man's desire to disobey God leads to a willful ignorance and eventually a mind, deprived of sound judgment and moral consciousness. However, the Bible not only teaches that man chooses to become depraved, but it also teaches that each person begins life in innocence, as did Adam and Eve. Notice what Moses said of the Israelite children, who would come to posses the promised land of Canaan:
"Moreover your little ones and your children , who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil , they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it." Deuteronomy 1:39The Israelite children were in a condition of innocence, having "no knowledge of good and evil". This is the parallel to the initial condition of Adam and Eve, before they ever sinned (Genesis 3:5, 22). They were both born innocent - neither redeemed nor corrupt, but innocent, knowing neither good nor evil. Just as Adam and Eve had a clean and pure beginning, so does each child. Moreover, children have admirable qualities of trust, humility, and compassion such that Jesus encourages us to become like little children (Matthew 18:1-4).
Unfortunately, children often bear consequences for their parents sin (II Samuel 12:13-14), just as an infant can be born handicapped or a drug addict through no fault of his own but because of his parents abuse. However, the Bible clearly teaches that no man will bear the spiritual guilt and responsibility for his parents sins.
"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." Ezekiel 18:20This entire chapter from Ezekiel explains that a child bears no accountability for his parents sins, neither can he claim salvation through their righteousness; rather, each man will bear his own burden (Galatians 6:5 ). Furthermore, final judgment will based upon each man's works (II Corinthians 5:10), not the works of his forefathers.
"utterly disposed, disabled and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil" ; and the elect who have been unconditionally cleansed from such corruption. There is no spectrum of degrees, but only wholly evil and regenerated. However, Jesus' parable of the sower (farmer) speaks of four kinds of hearts, which had not even received the word of God.
"And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable:Fortunately, we are not left to wonder what this parable illustrates, but Jesus explains the meaning and interpretation to us.
"A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Luke 8:4-8
"Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.How can there be more than two types of ground? How can God's Word produce a "plant" which ultimately dies, if the plant was lost or saved from eternity? What was its condition before it withered, while it was flourishing?
"But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
"Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. "
"But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience." Luke 8:12-15
The hardened ground, or the wayside, matches our Biblical description of the depraved, spiritually blind, and unheeding. But, the good ground was good before it even received the word. In fact, these people heard the gospel "with a noble and good heart". How could they have done this, while being "wholly inclined to all evil" ? Unless we are prejudiced and determined to hold fast to the traditions of men, the implications of these passages seem clear.
ConclusionMany Calvinists relate to the overwhelming worthlessness, which is imposed upon them by this doctrine. It speaks to their own guilt, consoling and excusing their sin while allowing them to continue in it. However, the Bible, although condemning the sinner, manifests confidence in him by calling him to repentance through the gospel. We have seen that one can become depraved and hardened through repetitive rejection of God's Word, even though he begins life in innocence. We have also seen that children are innocent of their parents sins, and begin life with a "clean slate", just as did Adam and Eve in the beginning. Knowing that there are different types of hearts that are planted by, and spring up from the Word of God, and that we will be judged according to our works; the only question that remains is, "What type of 'ground' will you be?" Will you be one who listens with a noble and good heart or one who hardens his heart until the devil comes and takes the opportunity away? Which type of ground will you choose to be?
Next: Unconditional Election
I have to admit, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. But as I think about its origin I have to admit, I am amazed at the backdrop of the first Thanksgiving celebration. For one thing, it really emerges out of a time extreme emotional pain and suffering.
History tells us that more than half of the 100 plus pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in November of 1620 were dead by the first Thanksgiving a year later. “The great sickness,” as it was called, was probably a combination of scurvy from the ocean crossing, typhus, and pneumonia. Among the adult males, only 16 of the original 38 survived. For adult women, there were 11 survivors out of 27.
Here’s how Governor Bradford told it: “So they died sometimes 2 or 3 a day, and of the 100 odd persons, scarce 50 remained. And of these, in the time of most distress, there was but 6 or 7 sound persons who, to their great commendations be it spoke, spared no pains, night or day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed their meat, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them — in a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure here to be named.”
Bradford also makes it clear that without the help of the local Indians, the pilgrims would never have made it to the first Thanksgiving. They generously shared food with the English settlers during the first winter and then showed them how to plant and cultivate corn the next spring and summer. Luckily the first harvest was a generous one.
A three day feast was planned in late November, and the pilgrims invited the Indian chief and his people. 90 native Americans arrived with 5 deer to eat, in addition to the wild turkeys, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, squash, and beetroot that the Englishmen had prepared.
Can you imagine the mix of emotions that must have been present at that first Thanksgiving. Everyone of those early settlers had reason to be grieving, having been ravaged by disease and despair, and having lived in freezing, filthy huts the first winter, watching half the people they knew and loved die in their arms.
Imagine the spiritual strength it must have taken, after all the hardships and horrors they had to endure. There they celebrated and were positive and even were hospitable despite their recent losses.
Bradford wrote in his history of that first Thanksgiving: “Although it may not always be so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish others partake of our plenty.”
Now how’s that for a Thanksgiving vision: these devastated pilgrims saying that “by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish others partake of our plenty.”
It seems to me that mankind has this inherit need or desire at some point to give thanks, feel gratitude, and even celebrate even if we go through a season of great suffering. We see examples of this throughout history, and we see example of this in the Bible.
But why? Why do we have this need? I personally think it comes down to this: Because even though our lives may not be perfect and we experience trouble, sorrow, disasters, sickness, and hardship on every side, God has designed us where we can only go so long without feeling a sense of hope, or faith that something better just might be around the corner. And despite our troubles and hardships, a spirit of thanksgiving emerges for what blessings that we do have and is also in part a celebration of faith and what is yet to come.
The Apostle Paul wrote some amazing verses in Philippians 4:4-9, he instructed the early Christian who had begun to suffer for their faith in Christ, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
As Paul instructs the early Christians here (and just to remind you, he writing this from prison) he writes:
‘May your gentleness be evident to all, ‘ and ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ (always) Why?
For one reason the Lord is near. He’s closer than you realized. We may not be able to see Him with these eyes of flesh, but you are never out of His sight. Paul wanted his readers to find comfort in that fact. No matter how bad things may get, whether you are sick, afraid, lonely, or even trapped in a prison cell, God is close by and can hear every whisper and prayer you make.
And so he writes do not worry, & don’t be anxious. Don’t let anxiety get the best of you, rather, reach out to your Father. Go to Him in prayer, even petition Him with a spirit of thanksgiving (because He does love you and He is close by). Ask Him what you need to ask.
And he goes on to say that if you believe and trust in your Father God that much, His peace, a peace which He offers, which transcends all human understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Jesus. That faith, that trust, that spirit of thanksgiving will comfort you on the coldest of nights.’
I came across an interesting article on the internet written by Sharon Carroll, it was part of a speech she made to a group in Singapore. It goes like this.
“There have been many times this past year when I was anything but thankful. In fact, on a number of occasions I was often stunned, confused, and downright angry with God, wondering where He was in the midst of the most difficult trials in my life.
A year ago I got the shocking phone call that my younger brother had committed suicide, leaving behind his wife and two precious children. Six months later another one of those phone calls came, this time in the middle of the night, with the news that my older brother had suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 48-leaving his four children (aged between 8 and 21) without their father. Both deaths came out of nowhere and left me devastated. I was now the only sibling left in my family. I found myself often crying out, “Lord, where are you?”
All that only made the next bit of news even harder to take. Two weeks after I returned to Singapore from my older brother’s funeral I found a lump in my breast. After the biopsy, the doctor informed me that the lump was malignant. I had cancer. I can still remember the knot I felt in my stomach when the doctor told me this. It was the day before my 45th birthday. My first thoughts were for my husband and my children. Would I live to see Kimberly graduate from high school next year-and Chris 3 years later?
Would I get to grow old with Charles, my wonderful husband of these past 21 years? And what about my Mother? How could she take another blow?
These and many other thoughts and questions played havoc with my emotions during those difficult days six months ago.
But, I soon found encouragement and strength in the God I gave my life to so many years ago. He had always been faithful through previous trials, and I discovered afresh that He would not let me down in my hour of greatest need. My heavenly Father, through the promises of His Word, gave me a deep sense of peace.
For example, in Isaiah 49:16 He says, “See! I will not forget you . . . I have carved you on the palm of my hand.” And in Jeremiah 29:11 He says, “For I know the plans I have for you . . . they are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
With these promises I found the strength to face the days ahead-surgery (a partial mastectomy), the further diagnosis that my cancer was a very aggressive kind, that it was 3rd stage (that is, that the malignant cells had already spread into the blood stream), the powerful doses of chemotherapy-10 sessions in all-along with all sorts of weird effects on my body, weakness, nausea, the loss of my hair-that was probably the hardest part of all. And now, 31 sessions of radiation-to be completed by Christmas.
Through it all, I can honestly come to this Thanksgiving Day and say, “Thank you, Lord,” for He has taught me many valuable lessons through the storms of this past year:1)That life is short-don’t waste any of it.
2) That people, especially our families and friends, are special. Don’t take them for granted.
3) That we have a choice in life, as to how we will respond to adversity-either we choose to feel sorry for ourselves and call ourselves “victims,” or we choose to overcome and be a “victor.”
4) That the trials will serve to either make us bitter-or better.
5) That faith in God-and trusting in Him-is the key to it all.
6) And that an “attitude of gratitude” is always better than having a “pity-party.” As American author and humorist Barbara Johnson reminds us in the title of her book, Pain is Inevitable, but Misery is Optional.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all who stood with me and encouraged me with their words, prayers, and many expressions of love: my own family, my fellow church members, my colleagues at SAS, and my friends in the community.
Most of all, I want to thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who has touched me and healed me. After a series of extensive tests two weeks ago, my oncologist told me that at this point she could find no trace of cancer in my body. While she cannot give me complete medical clearance for three years due to the nature of my illness, I believe God has indeed healed me and set me free from the curse of death.
On that first Thanksgiving Day, more than 370 years ago, the early pilgrims stood in the snow of a bitter winter and paused to give thanks to God. They chose to look beyond the difficulties of their surroundings and circumstances and put their eyes on the Lord God Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and Finisher of the Faith-believing firmly that He who began a good work in them was able to complete it. In all reality, that first Thanksgiving was a declaration of faith-that God’s faithfulness in the past would see them through to a glorious future. And that’s exactly what happened. A great nation was established in the years ahead.
Today, on the eve of yet another Thanksgiving Day, years later and a world away from the early pilgrims, I want to join in the spirit of our forefathers and give thanks to God. The circumstances, if I chose to focus on them, are not so great. I don’t always feel so good. I get tired easily. My hair is shorter than my son’s. My brothers are gone and their families are still trying to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. But, this Thanksgiving Day, I choose to praise God. His grace has been sufficient. He has touched me and healed me. He has given me life-abundant and eternal-and with it the promise of heaven. One day, I will be reunited with my brothers. One day, I will be given a new body. One day, I will see my Savior face to face, and He will wipe away every tear and take away every pain. That’s why I rejoice tonight. That’s why I can truly wish you a “Happy Thanksgiving.”
Psalm 75:1, says, “We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near.”
Psalm 107:1, says “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His loving kindness is everlasting.”
My challenge this week is let that thankful spirit surface in you. Make a effort to be thankful for something every day. And if you want that peace of God that the apostle Paul talked about, I also challenge you to do what he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Remember that the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Mar. 18, 2011
Okay, face it, admit it, and stop trying to find it. There are no shortcuts, loopholes, and no doubt about the commandments of God. The only hole in the gospel, is the one that leads to destruction for those who disobey it. It is either obey the gospel, or reject it. It’s just that simple.Jn 14:15; 1 Jn 5:3; 2 Jn 6,9; 1 Cor 15:1-4; Rom 10:17; Rom 10:10; Acts 2:38; Rev 2:10; 2 Thess 1:7-9
https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/07/Imagine a man who has committed a terrible crime and is imprisoned for it. During his trial he is utterly unrepentant, snarling and swearing that if he had the chance he’d do it again and worse. That man does more than endure the penalty in prison; he remains the evildoer within. If he were to complete his sentence and be freed he would still be that evil-doer because he carries the love of his evil with him and even exults in it.
But if he comes to see his crime in all its ugliness and to hate it, to wish he had never committed it and would never want to do it again—he would be a different man even while he endures the chastisement.
In this new state of mind (repentance) he would be seeing the crime with other eyes and another heart—with the eyes and with the heart of the victim’s parents, with the eyes of the judge and jury. He doesn’t now rage against their decision; he isn’t now untouched by the pain of the people he hurt; now he would undo it all if he could. He can’t change the fact that he has committed the crime but he is no longer the man who committed the crime. The deeper and purer his repentance becomes the further he is removed from the man who did this awful thing. (We see that in Paul—do we not?) In a very real and profound way (not the only way) this man has been delivered from the power of evil. Once more, the man who did the evil and was put in prison is not the same man who now bears the judgment. If it should be that he is somehow pardoned his fully repentant heart would match the utter freeness of the forgiveness graciously bestowed on him.
When we bear in mind that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, that it is God in His kindness who gives us the gift of repentance unto life through the Lord Jesus then we realize that we are delivered from the power of sin by the inner transformation He brings about. (Romans 2:4; Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25) By his grace we come over on to God’s side and our hearts are in tune with his. That’s one face of reconciliation. I’m saying that God’s gift in the Lord Jesus of freedom from sin means that Sin no longer stands between God and us; it is no longer the destructive power that alienates us from the Holy Father—we’re forgiven and our sins are remembered against us no more. I mean it also includes our new mind (repentance) which is God-generated and Christ-shaped so that our life’s direction has changed and we no longer admire or wish to live as an enemy of God’s character or eternal purpose. John Masefield’s poem expresses this marvelously. Here’s a piece of it that describes the changed heart of the once bitter, foul-mouthed and drunken prizefighter, Saul Kane. (The Everlasting Mercy)
I did not think, I did not strive,
The deep peace burnt my me alive;
The bolted door had broken in,
I knew that I had done with sin.
I knew that Christ had given me birth
To brother all the souls on earth,
O glory of the lighted mind,
How dead I’d been, how dumb, how blind,
The station brook to my new eyes,
Was babbling out of Paradise;
The waters rushing from the rain
Were singing Christ has risen again.
I thought all earthly creatures knelt
From rapture of the joy I felt.
This is one face of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus. In drawing us to Himself (John 12:32) He draws us to His Holy Father. He re-orients our hearts He reconciles us to God and we know with Saul Kane “that we are done with Sin.” (Romans 6:1-14)
(Holy Father thank you for doing more for us than forgiving us our sins. Thank your bringing our hearts and longings and purposes into at-one-ment with your heart. Whatever battles and wrestlings lie ahead of us in our future, we are “done with sin.This prayer and commitment in the Lord Jesus Christ.)
God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church
After Adam and Eve sinned, God appointed the husband as leader in the home: “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you’” (Genesis 3:16).
The leadership position of men in the church is supported by Paul in this way: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:13, 14).
Thus, God’s appointment of men as leaders is based on the order of creation (1) and on the Fall (2), not on temporary cultural circumstances as is sometimes claimed.
The husband is the head of his wife.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24).
The head leads the body. But this assumes that the body listens to the head. Otherwise it is an uncoordinated body, a body that does not function properly. But there is also feedback from the body to the head to which the head must listen. If the head tells the hand to pick up something hot, the hand lets the head know about it!
Providing leadership for your wife is a fascinating challenge and a big responsibility. There are no leaders without followers. Thus the admonition: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18). This is much easier if the husband is obedient to the Lord’s command: “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28).
But what if the husband is inadequate? “Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1, 2).
When the husband does not treat his wife and children correctly, godly women can find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances. In such cases, discussing the problem with fellow Christians can be helpful.
Peter goes on to say, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered“ (1 Peter 3:7).
I want to encourage you men to appreciate your wives. The wife does not have an easy position in the family.
I appreciate Rita more and more as time goes by, which means that I did not appreciate her enough in the past! We have been married only 48 years, but we have known each other for 63 years, since secondary school.
It is also good to express your appreciation, which is sometimes hard for men to do. We must not be like the farmer in Carl Sandburg’s “The People, Yes” who told his wife: “When I think how much you’ve meant to me all these years, it’s almost more than I can do, to keep from saying something about it.”
Let us appreciate and honor our wives.
In the family, both the husband and wife provide leadership for the children.1
Men have been appointed by God as leaders in the church.
Jesus, the Head of the church, is a man.2 The twelve Apostles are men. Elders and deacons are men - since they must be “the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2, 12).
As leaders in the church, men have a heavy responsibility. Paul told the elders at Ephesus: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
An elder must hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).
Elders are instructed by Peter: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2, 3).
Younger Christians are to submit to their elders: “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).
Some restrictions are placed on women.
Women have extremely important tasks in the church.3 To substantiate God’s appointment of men as leaders in the church, however, certain restrictions are placed on the activity of women.
In the various passages we notice three restrictions that will be discussed individually: (1) women are to remain silent in the assembly, (2) they are not to teach men, and (3) they are not to exercise authority over men.
Women must remain silent in the assembly.
“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35).
This measure applied to all congregations,4 even though there were differences in customs among Jews, Greeks and Romans.
These passages are not difficult to understand but they are difficult for some people to accept.
Sometimes they are flatly rejected. When a female cleric in Holland was asked what she thought of this passage, she replied: “I wipe my feet on it.”
Someone who wants to appear to follow the Scriptures must resort to evasive, false arguments.
Some claim that ‘remain silent’ here means ‘stay calm’ and that ‘speak’ means ‘speak noisily’, and that women may therefore speak if they speak calmly! First, this does not fit the context since it relates to a difference between men and women. Is it acceptable then for men to speak noisily? Are men then not required to stay calm? Second, anyone who has studied Greek knows that these are the ordinary words for ‘keep silent’5 and ‘speak’6. (See the endnotes for more information.)
Since men are to lead, women may not teach or lead when men are present. To substantiate men’s leadership role, and to avoid any misunderstanding, women are commanded to be silent in the assembly.
This does not apply to singing together, since in that case women are not exercising leadership or authority, but are following the brother who is leading the congregation. It is wrong, however, for a woman to sing a solo or to be part of a “worship team” that leads the singing.
What about women who prophesied? Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Paul mentions women who prophesied (1 Corinthians 11:4-10).
Some misuse these examples to invalidate the commandment that women must be silent in the assembly. It is never said, however, that women prophesied in the assembly. They who make that claim are not joining the Scriptures together, but are tearing the Scriptures apart! Several passages must be combined on the basis of what is stated. They may not be brought into conflict by adding something not stated. Since women were not permitted to speak in the assembly, their prophesying would have been outside the assembly.
Women are not permitted to teach men.
“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:11-14).
This prohibition underpins the leadership role God has assigned to men. Also outside the assembly, a woman is not to serve as a teacher of men. This restriction is not violated when a woman teaches women or children.
If women are allowed to ask questions and make comments in a mixed Bible study that is not part of the assembly, the study itself must still be led by a man.
This certainly does not mean that a man may never learn something from a woman! Apollos is an example of this. “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the ways of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24-26).
Notice that they “took him aside” and notice that they “explained” the way of God to him more accurately. These expressions depict a conversational situation.
This passage is sometimes misapplied to appoint a woman, or a man and woman together, to lead a mixed Bible class. In the case of Apollos, however, there was not a teacher-student relationship.
The example of Aquila and Priscilla does show that a Christian couple may invite a preacher into their home and explain the way of the Lord to him more accurately! Many preachers have benefited from such help!
Older women teach younger women. “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanders, not given to much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5).
Women may not exercise authority over men.
“And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12).
Again, this restriction is simply a consequence of God’s appointment of men to lead the church. Leadership is not limited to the assembly. Just as a woman may not teach men, neither may she lead men. For this reason, prayers are led by men in a mixed Bible study, although women join in the discussion.
Some try to justify women participating in “chain” prayers (where they go around the room and everyone says a prayer) by claiming that each one is just saying his own private prayer, and is not leading the others. According to Jesus, however, private prayers should be said in private (Matthew 6:6).
According to Paul, group prayers should be understandable, so “amen” can be said afterwards (1 Corinthians 14:15, 16). The thoughts of the group are being led by the one saying the prayer. Thus, outside the assembly as well, the prayers in a mixed group must be led by men.
When a church has elders, decisions are of course made by the elders who are men. When a church does not have elders, since women are not to exercise authority over men, decisions must be made by the men of the congregation. Good leaders discuss decisions beforehand with those being led, which includes getting feedback from women as well as men. Only then can informed decisions be made.
Man’s leadership is compared to Christ’s leadership.
This applies both in the home and in the church.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).
To the church at Corinth, where some women were rebellious, Paul wrote: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).
Man’s leadership does not mean that he may be a tyrant. He himself is under the authority of Christ. His leadership must agree with the word of God. He has no right to contradict God’s word or to exercise authority that belongs to the Scriptures. In such a case Peter’s explanation to the Jewish leaders would apply: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Let us respect God’s appointments.
God has appointed the husband as head of the wife, and men as leaders in the church. As a consequence, women are not to teach men, are not to exercise authority over men, and are not to speak in the assembly. Decisions for the church are made either by the elders or, if there are none, by the men of the congregation. God has appointed men as leaders in the home and in the church. Amen.
Roy Davison The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
1 “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Fathers have a great responsibility: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Fathers are responsible for bringing up their children in the training and admonition of the Lord. This requires much wisdom and constant attention from birth until the child is grown.
Bringing up children in the training and admonition of the Lord means that their upbringing must be according to the word of God. It also involves teaching children the Scriptures, not only in word, but even more importantly, by example.
Timothy knew the Scriptures from childhood (2 Timothy 3:15). The genuine faith which first dwelt in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice, was also in him (2 Timothy 1:5).
2 In Acts 17:31 it is stated that God “will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.” The word used here is ἀνήρ, which is the specific word for a male, rather than the generic word for man(kind): ἄνθρωπος.
3 The contribution of women is extremely important in the body of Christ. There are many examples of godly women in the New Testament.
a. Women provided for Jesus from their means (Luke 8:1-3).
b. A woman anointed Christ’s body beforehand for His burial (Matthew 26:6-13).
c. Dorcas was full of good works and charitable deeds. She made tunics and garments for widows (Acts 9:36-39).
d. Aquila and Priscilla explained the way of God more accurately to Apollos in private (Acts 18:26). Paul calls Prisca and Aquila his fellow workers in Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3).
e. Philip the evangelist had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).
f. Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea, was a helper of many including Paul (Romans 16:1, 2).
g. Euodia and Syntyche were fellow workers with Paul in the gospel (Philippians 4:2, 3).
4 The Greek word for ‘church’, ἐκκλησία, means ‘assembly’ sometimes in the actual sense and sometimes in the definitive sense. Someone who speaks in an unknown language must “keep silence in church“ unless there is a translator (1 Corinthians 14:28). This refers to the actual assembly. That “the women should keep silence in the churches“ (1 Corinthians 14:34) and that “it is shameful for a women to speak in church“ (1 Corinthians 14:35) also refer to the actual assemblies. In 1 Corinthians 14:33 we find the definitive sense (“As in all the churches of the saints“) followed by the actual sense in verse 34 (“the women should keep silence in the churches“). Thus, “all the churches of the saints“ does not refer to the actual assemblies, but to all local churches of Christ. In other words, in all churches of Christ the women remain silent in the assemblies.
5 The Greek word here for ‘remain silent’ is σιγάτωσαν, the present, imperative form of σιγάω. What do Greek lexicons say? Analytical: ‘To be silent, keep silence’; Thayer: ‘To keep silence, hold one’s peace’; Arndt & Gingrich: ‘Be silent, keep still ... in the senses: a. say nothing, keep silent ... b. stop speaking, become silent ... c. hold one’s tongue, keep something (a) secret.’ A. & G. classify 1 Corinthians 14:34 under meaning a. ‘say nothing, keep silent’.
Here are all passages where σιγάω is found:
- Luke 9:36 - “And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.“
- Luke 18:39 - “And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent.“
- Luke 20:26 - “But marveling at his answer they were silent.“
- Acts 12:17 - “But motioning to them with his hand to be silent...“
- Acts 15:12 - “And all the assembly kept silence.“
- Acts 15:13 - “And after they finished speaking...“ [became silent].
- Romans 16:25 - “Kept secret for long ages“.
- 1 Corinthians 14:28 - “But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church“ [referring to speaking in foreign languages].
- 1 Corinthians 14:30 - “If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent.“
- 1 Corinthians 14:33,34 - “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches.“
6 The Greek word for ‘speak’ (“For they are not permitted to speak,“ “For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church“) is λαλεῖν, infinitive of λαλέω. Anyone who has studied even a little Greek, knows that this is the common word for ‘speaking‘. It does not have the special meaning of ‘speaking noisily’.
Published in The Old Paths Archive