12/3/18

"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS" The Grace Of God That Brings Salvation (2:11-15) by Mark Copeland


                         "THE EPISTLE TO TITUS"

            The Grace Of God That Brings Salvation (2:11-15)

INTRODUCTION

1. The doctrine of grace is a wonderful concept...
   a. Grace means "goodwill, loving-kindness, favor" (Thayer)
   b. A popular definition is "unmerited favor"

2. The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace...
   a. We are justified freely by God's grace through the redemption in
      Christ - Ro 3:24
   b. God's gift is salvation by grace through faith, not of works 
       - Ep 2:8-9; cf. Tit 3:4-7

3. Yet some misunderstand and abuse the concept of grace...
   a. Believing that grace allows one to sin without consequence
   b. Which Paul and Jude sought to counter in their writings - cf. Ro 6:1-2; Jude 3-4

[In Tit 2:11-15, we read about "The Grace Of God That Brings Salvation",
and how it certainly does not permit license (freedom to sin).  As we
consider our text more closely, note first that God's grace...]

I. HAS APPEARED TO ALL MEN

   A. ONCE IT WAS A HIDDEN MYSTERY...
      1. Kept secret since the world began - Ro 16:25
      2. Which had been hidden from ages and from generations - Col 1:
         26-27
      3. God's plan for redeeming man had been a mystery, even to angels
         - cf. 1Pe 1:10-12

   B. BUT HAS NOW BEEN REVEALED...
      1. Starting with the teaching of Christ Himself - Mt 13:10-11,  34-35
      2. Continued with the preaching of the apostles - Ep 3:3-5
      3. Now made known to all nations - Ep 3:8-9; Ro 16:25-26

[The grace of God that brings salvation, unlike Gnosticism which shrouds
itself in privileged secrecy, is good news that God intends for every
one to hear.  Not just to hear, but also to heed...]

II. TEACHES US HOW TO LIVE

   A. DENYING UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS...
      1. Teaching us to say "No!" to ungodliness (asebeia)
         a. Impiety toward God, ungodliness, lack of reverence - TCWD
         b. Wickedness in general, neglect or violation of duty toward
            God, our neighbor or ourselves, joined with and springing
            from impiety toward God - ibid.
      2. Teaching us to deny worldly lusts (kosmikos epithumia)
         a. Improper desires pertaining to this life - the desire of
            wealth, pleasure, honor, sensual indulgence - Barnes
         b. Such passions as the people of this world are prone to
            - ibid.
      3. For one cannot love the Father if they love such things in the
         world - 1Jn 2:15-17
         a. Grace is certainly not license to sin!
         b. It calls us to love the Father, which should affect the way
            we live

   B. LIVING SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, AND GODLY...
      1. To live soberly (sophronos)
         a. With sound mind, soberly, temperately, discreetly - Thayer
         b. As conduct becoming older men (temperate), young women
            (sober), young men (sober minded) - Tit 2:2,4,6
      2. To live righteously (dikaios)
         a. Justly, conformable to justice; honestly, without injuring
            anyone - TCWD
         b. This refers to the proper performance of our duties to our
            fellow-men - Barnes
         c. Perhaps best summed up in the "Golden Rule" - Mt 7:12
      3. To live godly (eusebos)
         a. Piously, godly - Thayer
         b. In a godly manner, according to the Word of God, and
            agreeably to the will of God; and in all godly exercises,
            both public and private, and to the glory of God - Gill
      4. Notice how these three virtues point inward, outward and
         upward:
         a. "Soberly," that is, with self-restraint, in relation to
            one's self
         b. "Righteously" or justly, in relation to our neighbor
         c. "Godly" or piously, in relation to God (not merely amiably
            and justly, but something higher, godly, with love and
            reverence toward God) - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown

   C. IN THIS PRESENT AGE...
      1. An evil age, from which Christ died to save us - Ga 1:4
      2. In which we now live - in the world, but not of the world - cf.
         Jn 17:14-16

   D. LOOKING FOR THE BLESSED HOPE AND GLORIOUS APPEARING...
      1. Awaiting with anticipation the return of Jesus Christ! - cf.
         1Co 1:7; Php 3:20-21
      2. Described here as "our great God and Savior" (asserting the
         deity of Christ) - Tit 2:13

[Thus the grace of God teaches us how to live in this world, all the
while preparing and looking for the world to come!  Of course, this
wonderful grace of God that has appeared to all men...]

III. INVOLVES JESUS' GIFT OF HIMSELF

   A. TO REDEEM US FROM EVERY LAWLESS DEED...
      1. Redeem (lutroo) - to redeem, liberate by payment of ransom
         - Thayer
      2. From every lawless deed (anomia) - the condition of without
         law, because ignorant of it or because of violating it;
         contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness - Thayer
      3. Jesus died to liberate us from the guilt of lawlessness, by
         offering His precious blood as compensation - 1Pe 1:18-19

   B. TO PURIFY US FOR EVERY GOOD WORK...
      1. Purify (katharizo) - to make clean, to purify from wickedness
         - Thayer
      2. For every good work (kalos) - works that are "beautiful,
         handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious,
         useful, suitable, commendable, admirable" - Thayer
      3. This He accomplishes through the washing of regeneration and
         renewal of the Holy Spirit (an allusion to baptism) - Tit 3:4-5;
         cf. Jn 3:3-5

   C. TO BE HIS SPECIAL PEOPLE, FULL OF ZEAL...
      1. Special (periousios) -  It refers to God's chosen people in
         whom He has a special interest, one which exceeds His common
         concern for mankind in general. Thus the phrase should better
         be translated, 'His treasured people' - TCWD
      2. Zealous (zelotes) -  A zealot, one zealous for or eagerly
         desirous of something - TCWD
      3. In particular, as stressed in this epistle, zealous for good
         works! - Tit 2:14; cf. 3:1,8,14
      4. Though when all is said and done, our works have not saved us
         by their own merit - cf. Lk 17:10

CONCLUSION

1. Concerning such things Titus was to speak to his brethren - Tit 2:15
   a. Exhorting and rebuking with all authority
   b. Letting no one to despise him
   c. Certainly such should be equally emphasized in our preaching today

2. What then is the proper response to God's grace...?
   a. It does not preclude obedience - cf. He 5:9
   b. It does not include works of merit - cf. Tit 3:5

3. It begins with faith, repentance, and baptism...
   a. Faith in Jesus who gave Himself for us - Ro 3:24-26
   b. Repentance for sin, which God commands of all - Ac 17:30-31
   c. Baptism into Christ, in which we experience a renewal - Ro 6:1-4;
      cf. Tit 3:4-8

4. But then God's grace teaches us to...
   a. Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts
   b. Live soberly, righteously, and godly
   c. Be zealous for every good work

What has been our response to the grace of God?  To excuse continuing in
a life of sin, or a serious effort to live a life of holiness to the
Lord...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Meaning of "Psallo" in the New Testament by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=868


The Meaning of "Psallo" in the New Testament

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


After failing to discover a biblical command, a binding example, or a necessary inference for the use of mechanical instruments in Christian worship, those who advocate the use of such music often somtimes allege that the term psallo includes the use of instrumental music. Psallo is the Greek verb translated “making melody” in Ephesians 5:19, and “I will sing” in 1 Corinthians 14:15. The noun form of this term, psalmos, appears in such passages as 1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16. If one looks up psallo in a Greek lexicon, he probably will find the following definitions: to touch, pull, or pluck; to twitch the strings on a carpenter’s line; to pluck or strike the cords on a musical instrument; to sing praises. Upon reviewing these definitions, some claim that Paul’s use of psallo and psalmos implies the use of a stringed instrument in worship. They further assert that these words always convey the idea of instrumental accompaniment to singing, even if the instrument is not mentioned. Are they correct? If not, why not?
When one studies the etymology of this word, he will find that it is incorrect to say that every time psallo was used in antiquity, it meant to play an instrument. By studying reliable Greek lexicons (dictionaries) and various historical documents, one soon comes to understand that the term psallohas had a variety of meanings in different periods of its history. In fact, the evidence indicates that even before Christ came to Earth, psallo no longer meant to play instruments of music. Numerous scholarly sources could be cited to prove this point, but for the sake of space, three will suffice. First, Walter Bauer’s highly respected lexicon, revised by Frederick Danker in 2000, indicates that even in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament that appeared about 250 years before Christ was born), it “is usually the case” that psallo is translated as only “to sing” (2000, p. 1096). In Henry Thayer’s often-quoted Greek lexicon, he noted that by the time the events recorded in the New Testament took place, psallo meant “to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song” (1962, p. 675). Finally, E. A. Sophocles, a native Greek and for thirty-eight years a professor of the Greek language at Harvard University, declared (after examining a plethora of secular and religious historical documents) that there was not a single example of psallo ever used in the time of Christ that involved or implied the use of an instrument; rather, it always meant to chant or sing religious hymns (see Kurfees, 1999, p. 47).
When one wishes to know the definition of a word from times past, he must inquire as to how the word was used at any particular time in history. For example, when one reads the word “prevent” in the King James Version (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:15), he must understand that this word does not mean the same thing it did when this version was first produced in 1611. Then, it meant “to go before; to precede.” Today, it means “to keep from happening; to impede.” The word “idiot” was used in the seventeenth century in reference to one “in a private station, as distinguished from one holding public office.” Today, it is used to speak of “an unlearned, or ignorant person.” Just as these English words once had meanings that now are entirely obsolete, the Greek word psallo once meant “to pluck or strike the chords of a musical instrument.” But, before the beginning of the New Testament period, it had lost this meaning. In his well-researched book, Instrumental Music in the Worship, M.C. Kurfees noted that the word psallo never is used in the New Testament or in contemporaneous literature to mean anything other than to sing (1999, p. 45). The other meanings had entirely disappeared by the time the New Testament was written.
The fact is, however, even if this word had retained all of its original meanings (and the evidence shows that it had not), the letters Paul penned to the Christians in Ephesus and Colossae specifically name the “plucked” instrument—the heart. Thus, a harp, piano, banjo, or any other kind of musical instrument are not integral part of psallo.

REFERENCES

Danker, Frederick William (2000), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Kurfees, M.C. (1999 reprint), Instrumental Music in the Worship (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), first published in 1911.
Thayer, Joseph Henry (1962), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

The Mayan Calendar and the End of the World by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=4544

The Mayan Calendar and the End of the World

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


You’ve no doubt heard the hubbub: Supposedly, the ancient Mayans predicted that the world will end on December 21, 2012 at 11 p.m. A recent poll found that “nearly 10% of people believe that the year 2012 on the Mayan calendar signifies an apocalyptic collapse” (“New Mayan…,” 2012). What is one to make of such claims? How concerned ought we to be?
In reality, the only reliable source of information concerning end-time events is the Bible. It is, in fact, the only book on the planet of divine origin (cf. Butt, 2007). All other books that claim to be from the one true God do not bear up under objective scrutiny. Only the Bible possesses the attributes of inspiration. Only the Bible can provide humans with accurate insight into the future. That being the case, one would hardly expect a pagan, idolatrous civilization to serve as a legitimate source for ascertaining the truth regarding the end of the world.
So what does the Bible say on the matter? Throughout the thousands of years of human history, bona fide representatives of the one true God frequently predicted future events with complete accuracy. The Old Testament is filled with prophecy and prediction concerning a host of historical occurrences—all of which came true as predicted (cf. Thompson, 2003). In stark contrast, however, the Bible goes out of its way to avoid setting a date for the end of the world. In fact, Jesus stated unequivocally the truth on the matter: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36, emp. added).
But why? Since the Bible contains hundreds of prophecies of future events, why would God refrain from giving signs, indicators, and predictions concerning the end of the world? For one thing, it would be unfair to do so, because it would give people living long before the end the advantage of knowing Jesus would not come in their day. It would be contrary to God’s nature since it would imply that He is partial.
Speaking in A.D. 30, Jesus stressed very firmly that, while there would be clear signs heralding the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later in A.D. 70 by the Romans (Matthew 24:1-35), He was equally adamant that no such signs would mark the end of the world and His second coming (Matthew 24:36-25:46). In stark contrast, the return of Jesus and the end of the world will be comparable to Noah’s day:
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37-39, emp. added).
The return is also compared to the arrival of a thief: “[I]f the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:43-44, emp. added; cf. 2 Peter 3:10—“[T]he day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”). Jesus further declared: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13). [NOTE: The quibble that suggests that Jesus merely meant that you cannot know the hour or day, but that you can know the year or the general time, sidesteps the force of these verses and evades the very point that Jesus was making, i.e., the time of the end is unpredictable and unknown to humans.]

MAYAN CALENDAR DETAILS

So what are the specific details surrounding the Mayan calendar? One must turn to the experts—the scholars who have spent their lives studying Mayan civilization. The fact is that they speak with one accord. The 2012 hype comes—not from the studied authorities of Mayan civilization—but, as noted by Susan Gillespie, University of Florida anthropologist, “from media and from other people making use of the Maya past to fulfill agendas that are really their own” (MacDonald, 2007). Maya archaeoastronomer and curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Susan Milbrath, explained: “It would be impossible [that] the Maya themselves would have known that” (MacDonald). What’s more, she says, “we have no record or knowledge that they would think the world would come to an end at that point” (emp. added).
The facts of the matter are that December 21, 2012 on the Mayan Long Count calendar is simply the day that the calendar will go to what scholars call the next “b’ak’tun” or cycle. Sandra Noble, executive director of the Mesoamerican research organization FAMSI, noted that “for the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle” (“The Long…,” n.d.). Hence, she considers the alleged December 2012 hoopla to be “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in” (“The Long…”). The Mayan calendar simply shows the ancient Mayans’ fascination with ongoing “cycles of time”—with no indication that they even entertained the notion of the end of the world (Vance, 2012). Further, scholars have just recently discovered wall writings in Guatemala show Mayan calendars that go well beyond 2012 (Vergano, 2012; Potter, 2012).

NOTHING NEW

Indeed, such sensational allegations are not new. Legion are the instances over the last 2,000 years in which individuals and groups have set “firm” dates for the end of the world. Consider a few. [NOTE: The following is taken from “Library of Date Setters…,” n.d.] Events leading up to the year A.D. 1000 were viewed by many as harbingers of the end. These included a solar eclipse in 968 that created panic in the German army of Emperor Otto I and Hailey’s Comet in 989. The decade preceding January 1, 1000 saw people giving their worldly goods to the poor, pilgrims massing in Jerusalem to meet Jesus, buildings left in disrepair, fields unplanted, and even criminals released from jails. Thirty years later, the approach of A.D. 1033 was believed by many to be the onset of the millennium, since they thought it marked 1,000 years since the crucifixion of Christ. A terrible famine struck France in 1030, together with an eclipse and a massive earthquake the same year, convincing many of an imminent end, eliciting penitential processions, including a mass pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
To Londoners in 1666, the end of the world must have seemed self-evident. In addition to the bubonic plague, which killed some 100,000 people, the Great Fire of London swept the city the same year. Since 1666 was a millennium (1,000 years) coupled with the mark of the beast (666), many were firmly convinced the end was near. In 1843, William Miller attracted much attention and many followers when he announced the return of Christ between 1843 and 1844. Though a spectacular meteor shower in 1833 was seen as a harbinger, the predicted date of March 21, 1843 passed without incident. In 1910, the return of Hailey’s Comet was again seen by some to be an indication of the end. Impetus was gained when the Earth actually passed through the comet’s gaseous tail. Charles Taze Russell, along with the establishment of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, commenced an end-times movement that has repeatedly set the time of the end, the first in 1914—with many to follow. With each failure, recalculations are made and theology is adjusted accordingly.
Circumstances surrounding the formal establishment of the modern state of Israel in May of 1948 unleashed a flood of endless predictions, speculations, and allegations that continue to this day—all claiming the end is near. These include Hal Lindsey (Late Great Planet Earth, 1970); Ron Reese (“In the Twinkling of an Eye”); Moses David (The Children of God); the True Light Church; Walter Simmons (The Day of the Lord, 1978, The Final Warning Sign); Bill Maupin (Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation); Edgar Whisenant (“Rapture in Rosh Hashanna”); David Koresh and the Branch Davidians; John Hinkle (Christ’s Church, Los Angeles); and Harold Camping (Are You Ready?). And of course, Y2K unleashed a whole new round of doomsday conmen who proposed everything from massive natural disasters (e.g., Jack Van Impe), to WWIII, and worldwide shutdown of computer systems.
While most of these would-be prophets have claimed affiliation with Christianity, the non-Christian community has had its own share of prognosticators—including the Harmonic Convergence predicted by New Age proponents in 1987; California psychic Sheldon Nidle, who predicted 16 million space ships would converge on Earth in 1996; the International Association of Psychics in 1997, who claimed that 92% of their 120,000 members had the same end-time vision; a Russian scientist who, relying on Nostradamus prophecies, predicted the end in 1997 in the form of a shifting of the Earth’s axis, causing massive flooding and the arrival of aliens; the Sacerdotal Knights of National Security who predicted an alien invasion November 11, 1997; psychic Edgar Cayce who alleged the end in 1998 with massive disruption to the Earth; psychic Charles Criswell King who predicted the end in 1999; and many, many others. In fact, the present hype surrounding the Mayan calendar comes largely from New Age writers misinterpreting the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar (cf. Lawrence Joseph’s Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation Into Civilization’s End; spiritual healer Andrew Smith’s The Revolution of 2012: Vol. 1, The Preparation; and Daniel Pinchbeck’s 2012; see “The Truth About…,” n.d.).
Gamaliel rightly warned his contemporaries concerning those who would lead people astray 2,000 years ago:
For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed (Acts 5:36-37).
Even regarding the signs that Jesus said would precede the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, He warned: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:23, emp. added). Why? Jesus said, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27). Similarly, when God brings about the end of time, no one will need any input from any other human to know of its occurrence; the end will be so cataclysmic that it will be evident to all (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
While the world may well end this month—it will not be due to the Mayan calendar or any other would-be prophet knowing it. But do not take the scholars word for the truth about the Mayan calendar. Just wait until 11:00 p.m. December 21 to see for yourself. When the alleged end fails to materialize, rather than breathe a sigh of relief and go on your merry way, you would do well to turn to the Bible for the unchanging truth and solid rock of God’s Word. We are again reminded of the unerring words of the Savior of the world in His assessment of His return:
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:42-44, emp. added).
Are you ready?

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Library of Date Setters for End of the World” (no date), http://www.bible.ca/pre-date-setters.htm.
“The Long and Short Count ‘Mayan Calendar,’” Spanish Institute of Merida, http://www.simerida.com/courses/longandshortcalendar.php.
MacDonald, G. Jeffrey (2007), “Does Maya Calendar Predict 2012 Apocalypse?” USA Today, March 27, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-03-27-maya-2012_n.htm.
“New Mayan Calendar Artifacts Discovered” (2012), June 29, FoxNews.com, http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/06/29/new-mayan-calendar-artifacts-discovered/#ixzz22WYnFYg8.
Potter, Ned (2012), “Oldest Known Maya Calendar Found; No Signs of 2012 Doomsday,” ABC News, May 11, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/05/oldest-known-maya-calendar-found-no-signs-of-2012-doomsday/.
Thompson, Bert (2003), In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration, /pdfs/e-books_pdf/idobi.pdf.
“The Truth About the ‘Mayan Calendar,’” Spanish Institute of Merida, http://www.simerida.com/courses/mayancalendar.php.
Vance, Erik (2012), “Mayan Calendar: World Will Not End In December 2012, Expert Says,” Scientific American, July 8, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/08/mayan-calendar-world-will_n_1655135.html.
Vergano, Dan (2012), “Newly Discovered Mayan Calendar Goes Way Past 2012,” USA Todayhttp://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/story/2012-05-08/maya-apocalypse-calendar-2012/54879760/1.

The Marriage of Joseph and Mary by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=5398


The Marriage of Joseph and Mary

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Q:

Were Mary and Joseph actually married, just not in a consummated relationship, before they travelled to Bethlehem, or had they only had the betrothal ceremony of marriage?

A:

The Jewish concept of betrothal is unique and unlike the American concept of “engaged.” Under Mosaic Law, unfaithfulness during the betrothal period was tantamount to adultery and elicited the death penalty (Deuteronomy 22:23-28; Leviticus 20:10; Ezekiel 16:38; cf. John 8:5). A betrothed couple were essentially considered to be husband and wife—as evident from the fact that during the betrothal period Joseph is identified as “her husband” (Matthew 1:20). The angel instructed Joseph: “Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife” (vs. 20). This phrase means to “recognize her as such, and to treat her as such.”1 Did he obey the angel and proceed to take her as his wife? He did: “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife” (vs. 24, emp. added). This action of marriage preceded Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, as McGarvey observed, “several months prior to the birth of Jesus.”2 Though the couple was officially married prior to Jesus’ birth, the text makes clear that the couple refrained from sexual relations: he “did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son” (Matthew 1:25).

ENDNOTES

1 Albert Barnes (2005), Notes on the New Testament: Matthew and Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), p. 6, emp. added. By “treat,” Barnes meant to treat her as his wife rather than as a non-wife, with no intention to refer to the sexual relationship.
2 J.W. McGarvey (no date), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: Standard), p. 27.

The Land of Nod by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=546


The Land of Nod

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


After Cain killed Abel and was declared a “fugitive and vagabond” by God (Genesis 4:12), the Bible says that he “went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod” (4:16). It was in this land that “Cain knew his wife” (4:17), and it was here that his son Enoch was born.
When a person reads about Nod in Genesis 4, he often pictures a land where a large group of people already were dwelling by the time Cain arrived. Because the Bible gives this land a name (“Nod”), many assume it was called such before Cain went there. Furthermore, many believe that it was in this land that Cain found his wife. Based upon these assumptions, some even claim that God must have specially created other humans besides Adam and Eve, otherwise there would not have been a land of Nod, nor would Cain have been able to find a wife there. Are these assumptions and conclusions correct? What can be said about these matters?
It is very likely that when Moses wrote the name “Nod” (Genesis 4:16), he was using a figure of speech called “prolepsis” (the assignment of something, such as an event or name, to a time that precedes it). People often use prolepsis for the sake of convenience, so that the reader or audience can better understand what is being communicated. For example, I might say, “My wife and I dated two years before we got married,” when actually she was not my wife when we were dating, but a very dear friend. We may see a special on television about when President Ronald Reagan was boy, but the fact is, Ronald Reagan was not President of the United States when he was a boy. From time to time, even the Bible uses this kind of language. In John 11, the Bible speaks of a woman named Mary who “anointed the Lord with ointment” (11:1-2), yet this anointing actually did not occur for about three months. John merely spoke about it as having already happened because when he wrote his gospel account this event was generally known. Another example of prolepsis is found in Genesis 13:3 where we read that Abraham “went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel.” This area actually did not wear the name Bethel until years later when Jacob gave it that name (Genesis 28:19). However, when Moses wrote of this name hundreds of years later, he was free to use it even when writing about a time before the name actually was given.
When Moses used the name Nod in Genesis 4, the reader must understand the land probably was not given that name until sometime after Cain moved there. This is consistent with the meaning of the name Nod (“wandering”), which in all probability was given because God told Cain he was to be a wanderer upon the Earth (Genesis 4:12). Thus, the land of Nod almost certainly was not an area filled with people whom Cain might eventually befriend. It might become that in time, nevertheless it probably was not such a place upon his arrival.
But, someone might ask, did Cain not find his wife in the land of Nod? Actually, the Bible never tells us that Cain’s wife came from Nod. The text simply says that Cain “dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch” (Genesis 4:16-17).
To conclude that God specially created others besides Adam and Eve because “there was a large group of people living in Nod when Cain arrived” and “from this group Cain got his wife” is faulty reasoning. Scripture does not teach the above premises, nor does it ever hint that God specially created others than Adam and Eve. In fact, the Bible teaches the very opposite when it makes plain that Adam was the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45) and that Eve would be the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20, emp. added). If Adam was the first man, and Eve was the mother of all, then it is clear that there could have been no other people on the Earth contemporaneous with them (except, of course, their own children). Even though some teach that God specially created other people beside Adam and Eve, in light of Scripture, this is not a valid possibility.

Beneath the Celtic Cross by EE Healy


http://www.eehealy.com/commentary/a-cross.jpg


The Importance of Baptism by Trevor Bowen

http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/baptism.html

The Importance of Baptism

Introduction

To stress the importance of baptism may be strange to some, simply because most denominations and their creeds fail to emphasize it.  Some may question if it is even necessary.  However, if we turn to God’s Word, we will find God’s answer to our question concerning the importance of baptism.  A more in depth answer is provided here for those who are interested, because of the large number of questions often raised concerning baptism.

Examining the Passages

One of the first passages that should be examined is Christ’s commission to his apostles:
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 ... " (Matthew 28:19-20)
This verse teaches that part of making disciples was "baptizing them".  (Please examine the parallel account of this event in Mark's book - Mark 16:15-16).  Shortly after receiving this commission, the apostles began to preach Christ.  As an example, please listen to the words of the apostle Peter when he was asked what to do to be saved:
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; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 2:38)
The apostle Peter included baptism as a part of being saved and as a condition for receiving the remission of sins.  He later states unequivocally that it is through baptism that one is actually saved:
"... when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (I Peter 3:20-21)
Please notice the context of I Peter 3:21, because it solidifies the meaning of this verse:  The subject of the analogy is Noah.  God saved Noah "through water", which is the type. Likewise, God also saves us today through the waters of baptism, which is the "antitype". (Some translations read "symbol" or "like figure".)  If we are convinced that God saved Noah "from the water", in spite of what I Peter 3:20 states, then we should ponder, "What would happen if Noah had not built the ark?" Would God have saved him in is disobedience? In truth, the waters actually saved Noah. They saved him from suffering persecution and the corrupt influence of a grossly wicked world, which is the subject of the greater context of I Peter 3 (please read I Peter 3:12-4:19).

The Significance of Baptism

Some may wonder how being dipped in water can result in one's salvation.  The answer to this is also in the above verse.  It is not the "removal of the filth of the flesh", or the washing in water, that is special, but it is the demonstration through baptism of one trying to have a "good conscience toward God".  However, this action does not earn us salvation - it is merely a condition.  Just as Naaman of the Old Testament did not earn his physical healing by dipping in the Jordan River, we also today do not earn spiritual healing when we obey His conditions (II Kings 5:1-16).  It is granted out of mercy and grace.  Baptism does not warrant salvation; it is merely a condition by which God graciously grants redemption.
Why baptism?  Why dipping in water?  No person today can answer why God chose the symbol of baptism, but some explanation can be provided by examining what is symbolized by baptism.  Please consider the following verses:
"How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? ... For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." Romans 6:1-6
"by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, ... buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Colossians 2:11-12)
From these verses we learn that baptism symbolizes two things.  First, it represents our decision to "crucify the old man", or to turn from our past sinful life.  Second, it symbolizes a spiritual union with Christ’s redeeming blood through us being "buried and raised in the likeness of Christ."  If we study these verses closely, we will recognize that it as the point of baptism that God redeems us through Christ’s blood.  Under the New Testament, one cannot contact Christ’s blood without baptism, and consequently, will not be redeemed.  This is a necessary logical inference from these verses.

Baptized Through Faith

The above statements can be better understood when they are tied together with the following passages:
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27)
The Bible teaches that those who are part of Christ’s body, or have a relationship to Christ, will be saved (Ephesians 1:322234:4).  This passage from Galatians and the earlier one from Colossians teach that there are at least two essential steps for us to get into this body: "through faith" and "by baptism into Christ".  This is understood by recalling that salvation occurs at the point of baptism and realizing that one only gets to that point by faith.  So then faith works through baptism.  The two are inseparably intertwined.  The Bible clearly teaches that faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:14-26).  But, works without faith is just as dead (Amos 5:21-24; Miciah 6:6-8; Matthew 23:23).
The entire salvation process can be illustrated as chain with many links.  God let down a chain to us, made up of several links: His love, His mercy, Christ’s death and resurrection, and the revelation of His plan through the gospel.  There is nothing we could do to replace any of these links.  If he had not lowered this chain, we would have no hope.  Yet, we must link a chain to His.  We must first hear, believe, confess, and finally be baptized (God’s Plan of Salvation).  If any of these links are broken, then the connection is not made, and we are lost.  But, if we connect these links, one by one to His, then we will be saved when the final link is made, which is baptism.  Without it, the gap is not spanned, and the other efforts will be in vain.  It takes all links working together - any one broken, renders the chain useless.

The Example of the Conversion of Paul

Examining all of the examples of conversion in the book of Acts is compelling, but also overwhelming.  So for brevity, only the example of the conversion of Saul (later became the apostle Paul) will be examined here.  If you have not already, you will want to read the account of Saul's conversion (Acts 9:1-22).   After Saul's name was changed to Paul, he also recounted his conversion in two different speeches (Acts 21:37-22:2426:1-32).
Once you have read these passages, you will see that Saul was not saved after Christ appeared to Him.  We know this because Christ instructed him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." (9:6).  And yet, later in the city he still was in need of having his sins forgiven three days later because God’s prophet, Ananias, told Saul to "wash away your sins." (22:16).
The question is how did Saul wash away his sins?  Let's look a little closer at this verse in the parallel account:
"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16)
This example teaches us that repentance alone is not enough for salvation.  Reread the verses that tell what Saul did for the three days between the appearance of Christ and when Ananias came (Acts 9:8-1119).  For three days, Saul had been fervently praying and fasting; yet, his obvious repentance was not enough.  Ananias instructed him to wash away his sins through baptism.  Also from this verse, we learn that is through baptism that one "calls upon the name of the Lord."  This is consistent with the verse we looked at earlier about baptism being an appeal to God towards a good conscience (I Peter 3:21).

Conclusions

In summary, the following 4 points were made regarding the importance of baptism:
  1. Several Bible passages directly state that it is essential
  2. Inferences can be drawn from passages about the symbol of baptism that teach it is essential
  3. More passages explain that is through baptism is the culmination of our faith and God’s grace in His plan of salvation
  4. Finally, the example of Saul's conversion teaches its essential role in his salvation
We must always be careful to approach God’s Word as avenue to receive answers from God, and not as means to justify our preconceived opinions.  What conclusion will an open and honest heart make from these passages?  More importantly, we must all ask ourselves, "Am I open to God’s Word?"  What is our decision?  What does the Bible say about the importance of baptism?
If you any questions or comments regarding this essay, please e-mail any of our local contacts.  They will be glad to discuss your questions or comments.
 Trevor Bowen

Daniel Part 1 (By Ben Fronczek)

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=1227

Daniel – No Pork Chops Thank-You


Daniel Part 1    (By Ben Fronczek)

Background: In Deut. Chapter 28, God promised to bless the Jewish nation as long as they remained faithful to Him and the covenant they had made with Him. He also warns them that if they turned their back on the covenant they made with Him and disobeyed His holy law, and if they chased after false foreign gods they would suffer the consequences until they repent.
But despite the numerous warnings over the years, the Jews turned their back on God and the covenant they had made with Him.  After sending Israel and Judah prophet after prophet to warn them to repent, God followed through with the promises made during the time of Moses. In Deut. 28 God told them that He would allow another nation that they did not know to come in and invade them. Their nation would be destroyed, only a few of them would survive, and some of their sons and daughters would be carried off in exile to a foreign land to serve their conquering king.
It is not only a Biblical fact it is also a historical fact that all this took place in 587BC. That leads us to the opening chapter of Daniel.
But before we read Chapter 1 there is one lesson I would like you to remember hereGod does not forget the promises He makes, to bless or curse. He never forgets His promises!  In 2 Peter 3:3-13 we read how some people made fun of and scoffed at the promises God has make. But Peter reminds and warns people that there is a great day coming. “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
Even though men are short-sighted and forget, God, and His word, and His promises last forever. They are never forgotten by Him, so we can take comfort in His promises..
Read  Daniel:1:1-4 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.”
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Jews and some were carried off into exile as predicted. Then the king ordered that some of the finest young men be groomed and trained to serve in the royal palace.   
I believe we see our 2nd lesson here.  The king, (the enemy) was not  interested in the weak, the blind, the poor, the lame, nor the simple in his service, but rather he wanted Israel’s finest, those of noble or royal birth, those who not only looked good, but also those who were intelligent, wise and able to learn.  I would dare to say that our enemy the devil is just as cunning.  I believe he is more interested in enlistings those of us who are children of God. He already has the rest of the world so I believe he especially goes after those who have the most influence in God’s kingdom; the elders, the preachers, the Bible professors and Sunday school teachers, and those who are dedicated Christians. I believe he wants to win us over and into his service hoping that we compromise truth; maybe so that we will allow that which is untrue, even ungodly into our churches and schools to influence those who are weak.
Herein is where we learn from Daniel’s example.  Read Dan. 1:5-16 “The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”     So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.”
The Babylonian strategy was to take the brightest and best from each culture and make them Babylonian in their thinking and Babylonian in their religion.
Daniel and his friends were humble and smart enough not to balk at being renamed, they knew that sticks and stones and Babylonian spears can break their bones, but changing their names could not really harm them. Name back then had more significance than names today.
In Hebrew DANIEL meant:  “MY JUDGE IS ELOHIM.” Or GOD IS MY JUDGE                            BELTESHAZZAR meant: “BEL (Lord of the World) PROTECTS THE KING.” ( Bel was the patron god of Babylon.)
HANANIAH meant:  UNDER YAHWEH’S GRACE. Or God’s favored
SHADRACH meant: UNDER AKU’S  Command  (another Babylonian god)
MISHAEL meant:  WHO IS WHAT GOD IS?
MESHACH meant:  WHO IS WHAT AKU IS?
AZARIAH meant:  SERVANT OF YAHWEH. Jehovah has helped
ABEDNEGO meant: SERVANT OF NEGO. (their god of wisdom and Literature)
They could handle being renamed but when it came to changing what they had to eat and drink, that was another story. Long before we knew about germs and microbes and the nature of diseases, God knew. So He forbid the nation of Israel from eating certain foods that were prone to disease if not handled right. Foods like pork chops and crustaceans. Foods that the King likely to serve for dinner.
In addition, the Babylonians had a practice of offering their animals up to their gods as sacrifices before they ate them. So Daniel and his friends wanted to stay away from eating any meat that had been offered to idols. And this is where we see what Daniel and his companions are made of, and why I believe God preserved their lives and did not destroy them along with almost all the other Jews.
Neb. was trying to get them to do the very thing that God had told them not to do from the time of Moses. Neb. would have them turn their back on the Lord and what He commanded in His law. It was the very reason He allowed Babylon to conquer Judea in the first place. Even at a young age (probably around 16) Daniel and his companions recognized this and they made a decision not to eat the king’s food or drink the kings wine.
Another thing we see here is that Daniel and his friends never said anything negative about the Babylonians or their particular customs and eating habits.  They didn’t necessarily agree with all of it, but they were wise enough not to insult them and simply chose not to do that was against their moral and religious beliefs.  They simply chose to follow God’s way not matter what.
As I thought about this I could not help but ask myself, ‘In the land of the Jews where immorality seem to prevail  and the fear of God had faded away, how and where did these boy acquire the good morals and religious ethics that we see them possessing here?’
I can think of no place other than their home. Either one or both of their parents must have thought it important to teach their sons about God and what pleases Him even though everyone else was doing their own thing.  That up-bringing, the religious instruction, and hearts that loved and honored YAHWAH is probably what saved their lives and brought them to Babylon.
But here they were again, having to make a decision to do something different than what everyone else was doing. Before they probably acted different than everyone else in Israel, now they chose to be different than everyone else in Babylon. They simply chose to do what God asked of them before they were ever  captured.
But how could they do that? Why did they do that?
Well, they probably understood that God is in control.  They may have even understood why God allowed Babylon to conquer their homeland and why they were in the palace this foreign king.  It was all there in Deuteronomy 28. It was not a mistake. And maybe they recognized that God had placed them there for a purpose. So the culture did not threaten them. After all that they witnessed, they probably feared God more than they feared the king.
And because of their desire to obey God, rather than taking the easy way out they chose to obey God rather than this man. And what happens, God shows them favor in the eyes of the kings servant who would care for them.
Not only that, God blesses Daniel and his companions with healthy bodies, healthier than all the other young men. So the servant allowed Daniel and his companions to continue on with their diet.
So Here is Another lesson: If you want to be wise and set yourself on a course for success always chose to do what God wants you to do over what others want and expect of you. You don’t have do what everyone else is doing. You don’t have to go along with things that are popular in our culture, in your workplace, or school. Nor should we  be the one going around  complaining and criticizing the culture we live in or particular customs of others. Instead, live with freedom and peace of mind knowing that our God in heaven rules. Just live right, be a good example. Be salt and light and God will help you rise above and even lead others if you put Him first. He was even polite as he asked the servant of the king, by saying, ‘please’.
Read Daniel 1:17-21 “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.  And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
Because Daniel and his companions remained faithful and true to Him, we read here that God continued to bless them with intelligence, wisdom and more over the next three years of their training. The text goes on to say that they were 10 timeswiser that anyone else in the kingdom.
I personally believe Daniel and his companions entered Babylon with more wisdom and understanding than any of those other young men from other conquered lands.  Why do I believe that? Because faithful Jewish boys in that day, as well as some today, are taught by their fathers to read, study, and memorize Scripture. And Scripture carries with it a promise of making your wise and smart. – This might explain why over 90% of all Nobel prizes have been won by ethnic Jews, even though ethnic Jews make up less than 1% of the world’s population. They study the scriptures.
The author of Ps. 119:99-100 wrote, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws.  100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.
Daniel and his friends had high I.Q’s. because they knew God’s word.
So our final lesson for today is seen right here. If you want to grow in wisdom and understanding, read God’s word, study it, digest it, even memorize it if you can. By doing so, the wisdom of God will become yours.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566