2/14/20

"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Jonah - Messenger To Nineveh (1:1-4:11) by Mark Copeland




                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                Jonah - Messenger To Nineveh (1:1-4:11)

INTRODUCTION

1. We now come to the most well known of "The Minor Prophets":  Jonah,
   whose name means "Dove"

2. His book does not contain prophecy per se, rather it contains the
   history of a prophet...
   a. A prophet reluctant to fulfill the mission God assigned him
   b. A prophet who complained when his mission proved successful
   -- What kind of prophet is that?  Perhaps one that reveals what may
      be true of ourselves!

3. This short book of "Jonah" easily falls into four sections...
   a. "Running Away From God" (chapter one)
   b. "Running To God" (chapter two)
   c. "Running With God" (chapter three)
   d. "Running Ahead of God" (chapter four)

4. In this brief survey of the book, we will simply read our way through it...
   a. Making observations as we go along
   b. Offering lessons that can be glean from each section

[With the first chapter then, we soon find Jonah...]

I. "RUNNING AWAY FROM GOD" (1:1-17)

   A. AN OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER...
      1. God commissions Jonah to preach in Nineveh - 1:1-2
      2. Jonah rebels against God's plan - 1:3
      3. God has a plan for Jonah - 1:4-17
         a. He sends "a great wind on the sea" - 1:4-16
         b. He prepares "a great fish" - 1:17

   B. OBSERVATIONS IN READING THE TEXT...
      1. Jonah is also mentioned in 2Ki 14:23-25
         a. He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (ca. 793-753 B.C.)
         b. He was from Gath Hepher (4 miles NE of what was later
            Nazareth in Galilee)
      2. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria
         a. It was located about 220 NNW of the present city of Baghdad
         b. The Assyrians were noted for their cruelty, especially to prisoners
      3. The city of Tarshish
         a. A Phoenician outpost in SW Spain
         b. On the edge of the Mediterranean world, Jonah was running
            in the opposite direction of Nineveh
      4. In retrieving Jonah, God gained some converts (the sailors)- cf. 1:14-16

   C. LESSONS FROM CHAPTER ONE...
      1. God concerns Himself with the wickedness of heathen nations - 1:2
      2. One cannot run away from God! - cf. Ps 139:7-11
      3. God is able to use incidents in the lives of His servants for
         His glory - cf. 1:5 with 1:14-16

[With the end of chapter one, Jonah is now in the belly of the great
fish.  Having run away from God, we now find him...]

II. "RUNNING TO GOD" (2:1-10)

   A. AN OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER...
      1. Jonah's prayer - 2:1-9
      2. Jonah's deliverance - 2:10

   B. OBSERVATIONS IN READING THE TEXT...
      1. The prayer is written like a psalm; its present form may have
         been composed after the fact, looking back
      2. Jonah realized that what happened was God's doing - 1:3
      3. It is interesting to note that his prayer is more of a
         THANKSGIVING, than a petition

   C. LESSONS FROM CHAPTER TWO...
      1. "Someone has observed that there are times when we must be
         made to go into the lowest depths that we may regain a living faith" (Hailey)
      2. Prayers in time of need should be made with an attitude of
         thanksgiving as well as petition - cf. Php 4:6

[Having learned his lesson, Jonah is now ready to do God's will; so we
next see him...]

III. "RUNNING WITH GOD" (3:1-10)

   A. AN OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER...
      1. The Lord again commissions Jonah to preach in Nineveh - 3:1-2
      2. Jonah obeys and proclaims God's message - 3:3-4
      3. The people of Nineveh are moved to repent, including the king- 3:5-9
      4. The Lord takes notice, and relents of the disaster He had
         intended to bring - 3:10

   B. OBSERVATIONS IN READING THE TEXT...
      1. Jonah's message was brief, yet clear - 3:4
      2. An unusual fast is proclaimed  - 3:5-7
         a. Three days without food AND water
         b. For both man AND beast
      3. With sackcloth for both man and beast, the king calls for a
         true change of behavior - 3:8-9
      4. The king of Assyria reasons like the prophet Joel - cf. 3:9 with Joel 2:14
      5. Nineveh's example of repentance is a rebuke of Israel...
         a. Israel in Jonah's own day - cf. 2Ki 17:13-14,18; 2Ch 36:15-16
         b. Israel in the days of Jesus - cf. Mt 12:41

   C. LESSONS FROM CHAPTER THREE...
      1. Such preaching of condemnation is often conditional - cf. Jer 18:7-10
      2. The least likely prospects might be the ones who will convert
         - e.g., 1Co 6:9-11
      3. We see the place of fasting and prayer, as one seeks to
         petition God - e.g., Ezr 8:21-23

[Jonah's mission was a success!  Souls headed for destruction were
saved!  You would think that Jonah would have been elated.  But in the
final chapter we are surprised to see this prophet...]

IV. "RUNNING AHEAD OF GOD" (4:1-11)

   A. AN OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTER...
      1. Jonah vents his anger - 4:1-4
         a. Angry because he knew that God would relent - 4:1-2
         b. So angry that he desires to die - 4:3-4
      2. God uses a plant, a worm, and a hot east wind to teach Jonah- 4:5-11
         a. A plant to provide shade for Jonah - 4:5-6
         b. A worm to destroy the plant - 4:7
         c. A vehement east wind that with the sun exhausts Jonah - 4:8
      3. God uses the plant to teach Jonah an object lesson - 4:9-11
         a. Jonah is angry about the plant - 4:9
         b. Shouldn't he have similar pity on Nineveh? - 4:10-11

   B. OBSERVATIONS IN READING THE TEXT...
      1. We find Jonah manifesting a sectarian spirit
         a. Perhaps there was an underlying racism in Jonah's heart
         b. This may explain why he fled to Tarshish in the beginning
      2. He possessed the same spirit as:
         a. The elder brother of the prodigal son - cf. Lk 15:11-32
         b. The Pharisees toward Jesus eating with sinners - Mt 9:10-11
      3. Jonah is shown to have more compassion for a plant, than for
         innocent children!

   C. LESSONS FROM CHAPTER FOUR...
      1. We learn the danger of a sectarian spirit
         a. It makes us to be petty
         b. It blinds us to matters of greater importance
      2. We see God's nature
         a. He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger
         b. Abundant in lovingkindness, He is willing to relent when
            there is repentance

CONCLUSION

1. The book of Jonah is of value to PREACHERS...
   a. Never prejudge an audience
   b. Don't try to avoid the responsibility God has placed on you

2. The book of Jonah is of value to ALL CHRISTIANS...
   a. Don't have a selfish, narrow-minded, sectarian spirit
   b. Be concerned for all the wicked, whoever and wherever they are

3. The book of Jonah is of value to SINNERS...
   a. God loves you
   b. Destruction is coming...
      1) But He sent Christ and the apostles to reveal His will and save you
      2) Today He has His preachers and teachers to warn you
   c. Salvation is available wherever there is true repentance and obedience!

Finally, may the example of Nineveh's repentance remind us of what Jesus said:

   "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this
   generation and condemn it, because they repented at the
   preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here."
                                                   (Mt 12:41)

Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah; have we repented at the
preaching of One (Jesus) Who is much greater?

Apologetics and the Growth of the Early Church by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=5308

Apologetics and the Growth of the Early Church

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

To say that the first-century church was a growing church would be a major understatement. The early church did not merely grow; she exploded onto the scene and continued multiplying in number for many years. About 3,000 souls obeyed the Gospel the very day the church was born in Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago (Acts 2:41). To that number, “the Lord added…daily those who were being saved” (2:47). Despite attempts to stifle the preaching of Jesus and the growth of His church, “many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men1 came to be about five thousand” (Acts 4:4). “Believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (5:14). In Jerusalem, “the disciples multiplied greatly;” even “a great many” of the Jewish priests were “obedient to the faith” (6:7). In Samaria, “the multitudes with one accorded heeded the things spoken by Philip” (8:6); “both men and women were baptized” (8:12). Indeed, “the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria…continued to increase” (9:31, NASB).
After Paul’s conversion to Christ, He took the Gospel to Cilicia where the young “churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (16:5). Later, “all who dwelt in Asia [Minor] heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (19:10). Even Paul’s enemies testified to how “throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people” from idolatry (19:26). Paul and his companions also carried the Gospel to Europe, where “a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women” joined them (17:4). And what did Paul learn upon his return to Jerusalem following his third missionary journey? That “many myriads of Jews” had come to believe in Jesus (21:20). That is, within less than 30 years, the Lord’s church had increased to become many tens of thousands of Christians strong.2

Causes of Growth in the Early Church

The early church increased in number so dramatically in a relatively short period of time for a variety of reasons. First, the church of Christ was not established at “just anytime” in history. “Before time began” God purposed to offer salvation to the world through Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:9). God planned for Jesus to come to Earth and for His church to be established at a special and specific point in time in human history, which God chose and foretold. So, “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4), that is, “the time which God in His infinite wisdom counted best,”3 Jesus came to Earth and subsequently established His promised, prophesied, and prepared-for church.4 Thus, a rapidly growing early church should come as no surprise.
Still, human beings have free will. Simply because God foreknew that the early Christians would multiply in number throughout the world does not mean He overrode their ability to reject the Gospel or to reach out to others with it (even if they did initially obey it). The early church grew so rapidly because the apostles, evangelists, and early Christians were courageous in their constant teaching and preaching of the Word of God. The Christians increased in number because they put a priority on souls and eternal salvation rather than upon materialism and temporary, earthly matters. Despite negative peer pressure, poverty, and persecution, the early church grew because so many disciples were committed (individually and collectively) to telling the world that the Savior, the promised Messiah, had died and risen from the dead, and “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). They were a praying and preaching people who would not be stopped.5 In fact, for so many early Christians, death was the only thing that would keep them from spreading the Good News of Jesus.6 Ironically, it was the death of Stephen and the great persecution that arose against the church in Jerusalem which actually assisted in the spread of the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, and many other places around the world (Acts 8:1-4; 11:19-20).

A Major (Yet Often-Overlooked) Contributing Factor to the Early Church’s Growth

Indeed, the kingdom of Christ grew so rapidly in the first century for a number of noteworthy reasons (which, incidentally, Christians in every generation desperately need to emulate in their work for the Lord). Yet, one reason for the rapidly expanding early church often gets ignored in today’s shallow, better-felt-than-told religious environment: the first-century Christians’ commitment to apologetics.

What Is Apologetics?

Sometime ago a Christian lady e-mailed our offices at Apologetics Press, saying, “I am leery of your name...apologetics…. I am a servant of the Living God and have no need to apologize for anything. But I am seeking an answer and saw your site. So please if you may, answer me this....” In truth, we were happy to respond to Jennifer and let her know that apologetics is, in fact, all about giving answers (and not “apologizing,” as so many think of it in 21st-century America). The English word apologetics is derived from the Greek apologia, meaning, “defense.”7 God does not want Christians to “apologize” (be sorry for) their allegiance to the Lord. Rather, as Peter declared, “[S]anctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). The word apologetics can apply to almost any subject matter, but most often it is discussed in the context of Christian apologetics. God expects Christians to give an outward defense of their inward hope. He wants His people, not to take up swords in an attempt to spread Christianity with carnal warfare, but to charge ahead with “knowledge” and “the word of truth” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7). Disciples of Christ look to “destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, RSV). God desires for Christians to base their actions upon Truth that is honestly and logically defended rather than false doctrine, which is dishonestly or naively accepted and emotionally driven.
Admittedly, the early Christians were full of emotions. They joyfully recognized that the long-awaited, much-anticipated Messiah had just recently come into the world and established His spiritual kingdom.8 They penitently acknowledged their sins (Acts 2:37; 8:24). They lovingly sacrificed their material possessions in order to help the poor among them (4:32-37). They were concerned for the safety of their brethren who preached openly in the face of their enemies (21:12). They rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer shame” for the name of Jesus (4:41) and courageously continued “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence” (28:31). But in the end, whatever feelings they had, whatever emotions they felt—these sensations were not the driving force behind their allegiance to Jesus Christ. The early church grew in faith and number, not because they had a better-felt-than-told kind of religion, but because they sincerely believed Truth (cf. John 8:21-36), which they were joyfully committed to spreading and defending.

Luke’s Opening of Acts

Luke, the physician and inspired writer of Acts, sets the “defense” tone from the very beginning of his brief history of the first 30 years of the Lord’s church. In the first sentence, He reminds his readers of his previous account (the Gospel of Luke), where he recorded those things that Jesus did and taught. In the very next sentence, he concisely, yet reasonably, addressed one critical piece of evidence that would be repeated throughout Acts9 and that lies at the heart of the Good News: Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. How did Luke briefly convey the resurrection of Christ? Was it merely an unverifiable “hope” that he communicated? Did he make an emotionally based appeal using flowery words? Not at all. From the very outset, Luke set an apologetic tone for the book of Acts.
Luke indicated that to the apostles Jesus “presented Himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (1:3, ESV). Notice that Luke affirms that Jesus “presented” (parestasen) Himself alive. Jesus’ dead body was not stolen and buried elsewhere. He did not just escape the tomb to leave everyone in doubt about a possible resurrection. He “presented” or “showed” (NIV) Himself. Luke used this term 13 times in Acts, including in Acts 9:41 where, after God raised Dorcas from the dead, Luke noted that Peter “called the saints and widows” and “presented her alive” to them. He proved to them that she was no longer dead. Likewise, the once-lifeless body of the Lord rose from the dead, and then, over the next 40 days, Jesus repeatedly presented Himself alive to the apostles—offering “many proofs.”
Jesus did not offer vague, subliminal messages to His apostles in order to convince them of His resurrection. He did not offer mere whispers in the wind. Luke reminds his readers that Jesus offered “many proofs” (pollois tekmanriois). According to Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich, tekmanriois is “that which causes something to be known in a convincing and decisive manner.”10 No wonder several reputable translations include the word “infallible” or “convincing” alongside “proofs” in Acts 1:3.11 Jesus did not just offer a little support of His resurrection; He gave many “surely and plainly known,”12 convincing proofs that He had risen from the dead.
So, to what exactly is Luke referring? No doubt to some of the very proofs that he discussed in his “former account” (and that the other gospel writers gave in their treatises). During the 40 days that Jesus was on Earth after His resurrection and prior to His ascension, He appeared to several individuals at different times, including on one occasion to more than 500 disciples (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). When He appeared to the apostles, He showed them His pierced hands and feet and challenged them to “handle” Him in order to “see” that He was not a mere spirit, “for a spirit does not have flesh and bones” as Jesus had (Luke 24:39). As further physical proof of His “flesh and bones” bodily resurrection, Jesus actually ate with the apostles (Luke 24:41-43). (If you want to prove to someone that you are a real, physical being, eating actual food in their presence would certainly be appropriate confirmation.) Lastly, the Master Teacher taught them the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-49). Indeed, as Luke testified, Jesus gave an apologia—He “presented Himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3, emp. added).

Peter’s Defense on Pentecost

On the first Pentecost after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Peter stood before thousands of Jews and reasoned with them about becoming followers of the recently crucified descendant of David. Consider that his sermon was not an emotionally based appeal for his hearers to “repent…and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). No, in contrast to incoherent, drunken babblers (2:15), Peter testified that what the assembly was hearing and witnessing—the apostles miraculously speaking in languages which they had never studied (2:6,8,11)—was a fulfillment of Joel’s 800-year-old prophecy. Furthermore, Peter reminded his hearers that God “attested” (apodedeigmenon) to the miracles that Jesus worked while He was alive and in their midst. That is, God “demonstrated”13 proof of the divine origin, message, and mission of Christ in such a way that people could actually see the evidence and make an informed, rational decision about Him.
The assembly on Pentecost knew that Jesus had been “put to death” only days earlier (2:23), but unlike the tomb of King David, Jesus’ tomb was empty only three days later. Unlike the body of David, which saw corruption, the dead body of Christ had been raised and would never see corruption. Notice that Peter directed the assembly to evaluate the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, including the implied empty tomb (2:24,29-32), the fulfillment of Psalm 16:8-11 (2:25-31), and the witnesses who stood before them testifying that they had actually seen the risen Savior (2:32).
The some 3,000 individuals who obeyed the Gospel on Pentecost were not swayed by flowery words, phony miracles, or mere emotional appeals. They were “cut to the heart” by reason-and-revelation-based preaching. They reacted to a sermon filled with sensible argumentation and properly applied Scriptures. They responded to the apologia of Christ—to Christian apologetics.

Apologetics and the Preaching of Paul

How did the second greatest missionary the world has ever known (the first being Jesus, of course; Luke 19:10) go about publicly and privately proclaiming the Word of God? What did he say to people? How did he lay out the Gospel before his hearers? Was he like so many modern-day preachers and televangelists who appear infatuated with entertaining audiences with emotionally based productions? Did he ramble on about needing a mere “self-help,” feel-good religion to get through the trials of life and onward to heaven? What did God do through Paul that resulted in so many people in the first century hearing the Gospel and becoming dedicated servants in the Kingdom of God?
Christians do not have to wonder or speculate what Paul did. The inspired book of Acts details more about Paul’s work and teachings than anyone else’s in the early church. Just read Acts and you will find that from the time Paul became a Christian until the close of the book (28:30-31), he preached rational, well-argued, truth-based, thought-provoking sermons, “proving (sumbibazon) that…Jesus is the Christ” (9:22). The Greek word sumbibazon means “to present a logical conclusion;” to “demonstrate.”14 Paul gave evidence that lead honest-hearted people to the logical conclusion that, indeed, Jesus is the promised, prophesied Messiah: the Savior of mankind.
Though space will not allow for an exhaustive review of all of Paul’s work as an evangelist, consider some of what Luke recorded about Paul’s preaching on just his second and third missionary journeys. Pay close attention to the words that Paul himself used in his preaching and that Luke, one of Paul’s traveling companions (16:10-16), recorded in describing Paul’s work.

Thessalonica

After planting the church in Philippi and being asked to depart the city by the unjust and cowardly magistrates (16:11-40), Paul travelled to Thessalonica and entered a Jewish synagogue (which was his custom—17:2).15 There he “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ’” (17:3-4).
In contrast to his jealous, unbelieving enemies, who used intimidation tactics and mob-like violence to bring about a chaotic scene within the city (17:5-9), the life-changing Gospel of Christ that Paul preached was built upon facts that he explained and demonstrated using the Old Testament Scriptures and the historical life of Christ. To “explain” (dianoigo) is to “open” or to “interpret.”16 Just as Jesus “opened the Scriptures” to the uninformed disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:32), God used Paul “to open the sense of the Scriptures” to the Thessalonians.17 He demonstrated (paratithami) to them by “pointing out” what they were missing.18 Paul was pointing out or “bringing forward in proof passages of Scripture” and making “plain to the understanding the meaning.”19 As Wayne Jackson so capably observed:
The apostle’s method of argument, impeccably logical, was to: 1) Appeal to the authoritative Old Testament scriptures; 2) Direct attention to the prophecies concerning “the Christ;” 3) Introduce the fact of history relative to Jesus of Nazareth (e.g., His suffering, death, and resurrection); 4) Press the conclusion that Jesus fulfills the declarations regarding the promised Messiah.
This must be the foundation of all gospel preaching. Christianity is grounded in solid, provable history. There are facts to be believed or else man cannot be a Christian. No teacher who neglects this method of instruction can be effective in producing genuine converts.20
Those who were persuaded to become followers of Christ 2,000 years ago in Thessalonica responded to Truth and to the fair and reasonable interpretation of it.

Berea

The Bereans were open-hearted, honest investigators. Rather than immediately shut their ears at the teaching of Paul because of some bias, or rather than naively believing everything they heard without serious investigation, the Bereans “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (17:11). The Bereans had a more noble disposition than the many envious, strife-causing Thessalonian Jews. The Bereans listened enthusiastically (prothumias)21 to the teachings of Paul and Silas and searched or examined (anakrino) the Old Testament Scriptures daily. The Greek word anakrino means to “engage in careful study of a question;” to “question, examine.”22 It is to “sift up and down;” “to make careful and exact research as in a legal process.”23 In fact, Luke used this word elsewhere in the context of “a judicial inquiry or investigation.”24 Indeed, similar to how Pilate “examined” (anakrino) Jesus and found no fault with Him concerning the things of which He was being accused (Luke 23:14), the Bereans examined the Scriptures daily to see whether the things that Paul preached were true.
And how did the Bereans respond to the Word of God? “Many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (17:12). “Many” people who made a continual, careful examination of the Scriptures came to the conclusion that what Paul preached was true. Consider this important implication: if the Bereans were honest-hearted individuals who seriously investigated the teachings of Paul, and yet came to the reasoned conclusion that Paul’s word was factual, then Paul’s preaching was of such high caliber that it could withstand a daily, judicial-type inquiry. Yes, the early church grew out of the New Testament apostles’ and prophets’ commitment to “testable teaching” and “provable preaching.” Indeed, Christian apologetics played a critical role in the spiritual and numerical growth of the early church in Berea.

Athens

Paul journeyed from Berea down to Athens, where he found a city “full of idols” (17:16). Notice that he became emotionally agitated (“provoked;” paroxuneto) by the thoroughly idolatrous and spiritually ignorant city. “His spirit was aroused within him (by anger, grief, or a desire to convert them)”25—or perhaps all three.  He was not provoked in a sinful manner (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:5), but with righteous exasperation he was moved to preach to a thoroughly pagan people. Interestingly, Paul’s emotional, inward stirring did not lead to an irrational, substanceless, emotional rant. On the contrary, upon given the opportunity to speak in the midst of the Council of the Areopogus,26 Paul delivered a masterful apologia before those who questioned his beliefs and teachings.
Paul did not begin with the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, which was his normal approach when reasoning with the Jews.27 Paul never even directly quoted from the Scriptures. Why? Because Paul knew that his audience on this occasion consisted of pagan Gentile philosophers who knew little-to-nothing about the Old Testament and certainly did not view it as divinely inspired and authoritative. So, Paul began with something the Greeks recognized—an altar with the inscription “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” (17:23).
Paul enlightened the Athenians about this Deity (the true God) Whom they publicly acknowledged not knowing (17:18,23). He spoke powerful truths about the foolishness of idolatry, but seemingly as inoffensively as possible. Rather than attack the Athenians as ignorant idolaters, He reasoned with them about the existence of “God, who made the world and everything in it,” Who is “Lord of heaven and earth,” and “does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (17:24-25). The God Paul served and preached is the omnipotent Creator of the Universe and, marvelously, all human beings are His offspring.28 The clear conclusion that Paul wanted his hearers to understand is that the true Divine Nature could not possibly be represented by anything made of gold, silver, or stone. “God certainly must be conceived as being infinitely greater than man whom he has made; hence he cannot be like…anything that is far beneath man, namely metal and stone although it be worked up ever so artistically by man’s art and thought.”29
Although some mocked Paul when he later testified to the resurrection of Jesus (17:32), others were convinced by his sound reasoning “and believed,” including Dionysius the Areopagite, “one of the twelve judges of the Athenian Court,”30 the Council of the Areopagus (17:34). Indeed, Paul’s public apologia on the supremacy of the true God of the Universe (over manmade idols) had a positive impact on those who were sincerely interested in truth.

Ephesus

Whereas on Paul’s second missionary journey he only briefly visited the city of Ephesus (Acts 18:19-21), on his next mission trip he remained there for the next three years.31 He began his work by teaching a dozen disciples of John the Baptizer “the way of God more accurately” (cf. 18:26), which logically led to these honest-hearted souls being “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (19:1-7). Paul then spent the next three months in the synagogue “reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (19:8). To “reason” (dialegomai) like Paul frequently did is “to engage in speech interchange;” to “converse, discuss, argue;”32 “to say thoroughly;”33 used especially “of instructional discourse.”34 Paul was an instructor of Truth that he could (and did) defend. He rightly divided the Old Testament Scriptures and accurately applied the relevant prophecies to Jesus and His kingdom. However, eventually “some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude” (19:9). Thus, Paul chose to take the disciples with him to the school of Tyrannus,35 where he spent the next two years “reasoning (dialegomai) daily” with them, “so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (19:9-10).
Although Paul decimated the illogicality of idolatry in Athens on his second missionary journey (Acts 17), perhaps nowhere in the book of Acts is the contrast between true, Christian apologetics and the irrationality of idolatry made clearer than in Ephesus (Acts 19). Paul had spent months in the local synagogue and years in the school of Tyrannus “reasoning” about Christianity. Furthermore, God worked amazing miracles through Paul as further proof that the apostle’s message was of divine origin and not merely a tall tale repeated in attempts to become rich and famous (19:11; cf. Hebrews 2:3-4). Paul “coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel” (20:33). His message was true; his defense was logical; and his intentions were honorable. The Ephesian idolaters, however, were the exact opposite. In fact, they did not even attempt to hide their religion-for-earthly-gain mindset. “Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: ‘Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade,’” and, if Paul is not silenced, “this trade of ours” is “in danger of falling into disrepute” and “the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed” (19:24-25,27). Whereas Paul reasoned that “they are not gods which are made with hands” (19:26), the pagan Ephesians were more concerned about money and tradition than truth and reason (19:25). They proceeded to be driven by angry emotions as “the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord…. [M]ost of them did not even know why they had come together,” yet for two hours “all with one voice cried out...‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians!’” (19:29,32,34). Imagine that—repeatedly shouting the same exact expression (“Megala a Artemis Ephesion”) for 120 minutes. As Lenski noted, such is “typical mob psychology. There was no leader, no sense, no object and purpose, no consideration even of the foolishness of its own demonstration.”36 Can you imagine repeating the same phrase hundreds of times for 120 minutes? Even the unbelieving city clerk of Ephesus could see that there was no legitimate “reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering” (19:40).
Again, do not miss the stark contrast between the true Gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul defended and the repetitive, emotionally charged nonsense that Demetrius and the pagan Gentiles preached. Paul “persuaded and turned away” (from idolatry to the true and living God) “many people” in Ephesus and “throughout almost all Asia” (19:26). He did it without force or the threat of force. He did it without reverting to dishonest, better-felt-than-told, foolish tactics (which were not only characteristic of the Ephesians, but also of many modern-day, phony faith-healers, covetous prosperity preachers, and the like). Paul sought to persuade open-minded, honest-hearted people to follow the Lord Jesus Christ with crystal-clear arguments that could withstand scrutiny, with Scripture that was rightly divided, and with genuine love for the Lord and lost souls.

Conclusion

The Acts of the Apostles could be titled Acts of the Apologists, for what the apostles and early disciples did throughout the book of Acts was repeatedly give rational defenses of the Christian faith. Though critics of Christianity often suggest that the Bible advocates a blind faith, the Bible writers themselves expressly noted that they “did not follow cunningly devised fables…but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). The apostles bore witness of things that they had actually “looked upon” and “handled” (1 John 1:1-2). They followed the example of the Lord, Who was (and is) the Master logician.37 They continually offered evidence for the case of Christianity as they spoke “words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).
And what was the result? What effect did such unadulterated, courageous gospel teaching, preaching, and defending have on the world? Within 30 years of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ the Gospel had been “proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Colossians 1:23) and many tens of thousands of souls turned to the Lord (Acts 21:20). May God help His church in the 21st century to have the same passion for lost souls and commitment to rationally defending the Way of Jesus Christ that the early church admirably exemplified.

Endnotes

1 Though the Greek aner may sometimes refer to both men and women (cf. Luke 11:31), “this word here appears to be used of men only” (R.J. Knowling [2002], The Expositor’s Greek New Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson], 2:123-124). Cf. Matthew 14:21; Mark 6:44. Thus, only a few weeks after the Lord’s church had been established, it seems that she consisted of 5,000 men, plus all of the female Christians.
2 The word “myriad” is transliterated from the Greek muriades, which may mean strictly “ten thousand” or an indefinite “very large number” (Frederick Danker, et al. [2000], Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament [Chicago, IL: University of Chicago], p. 661). Considering that Luke had just used this word two chapters earlier to communicate “ten thousand” (19:19; where five muriadesis understood to mean 50,000), it seems appropriate to conclude that “many tens of thousands of Jews” had become Christians by the time Paul returned to Jerusalem.
3 Adam Clarke (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
4 Genesis 12:1-4; Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 4:1-2; Daniel 2:1-44; Matthew 3:1-3; Matthew 10:7; Mark 9:1; Matthew 16:18.
5 Acts 4:18-31; 5:25-32,40-42.
6 Consider the dedication of Peter and John (Acts 4-5), of Paul (14:19-22), and the many Christians who “went everywhere preaching the word,” even as their lives were in great danger (8:1-4).
7 Frederick Danker, et al. (2000), Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago), p. 117.
8 Cf. John 4:25-42; Acts 2:30-47; 8:12.
9 Acts 2:24-36; 3:15; 4:10,33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:3,31.
10 Danker, et al., p. 994, emp. added.
11 KJV; NKJV; NASB; etc.
12 J.H. Thayer (1962), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), p. 617.
13 Knowling, 2:82.
14 Danker, et al., p. 957, emp. added.
15 Cf. Acts 9:20; 13:5,14; 17:10; 18:4; etc.
16 Danker, et al., p. 234.
17Dianoigoo” (2003), Thayer’s Abridged (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
18 Danker, et al., p. 772.
19 Knowling, 2:358.
20 Wayne Jackson (2005), The Acts of the Apostles: From Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications), p. 202, emp. added.
21 With “eagerness, rushing forward.” In Berea, they “joyfully welcomed” Paul and Silas (A.T. Robertson [1997], Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament [Electronic Database: Biblesoft]). Christians today should have the same Berean-type eagerness to study and learn the foundational truths of Christianity. Until such serious individual investigation takes place, one’s faith will be weak, and his defense of Christianity even weaker.
22 Danker, et al., p. 66.
23 Robertson.
24 Knowling, 2:362.
25 Danker, et al., p. 780.
26 Areopagus means “the hill of Ares,” the Greek god of war (which corresponds to the Roman “Mars”). According to F.F. Bruce, “The Council of the Areopagus,” was “so called because the hill of Ares was its original meeting place. In NT times, except for investigating cases of homicide, it met in the ‘Royal Porch’ in the Athenian market-place (agora), and it was probably here that Paul was brought before the Areogagus (Acts 17:19) and not, as AV puts it, ‘in the midst of Mars’ hill’ (v. 22). It was the most venerable institution in Athens, going back to legendary times, and, in spite of the curtailment of much of its ancient powers, it retained great prestige, and had special jurisdiction in matters of morals and religion. It was therefore natural that ‘a preacher of foreign divinities’ (Acts 17:18) should be subjected to its adjudication” (“Areogagus” [1996], New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, third edition], p. 79).
27 Acts 13:17-41; 17:2-4,11.
28 Paul even quoted from the Athenians’ own poets to prove his point (Acts 17:28).
29 R.C.H. Lenski (2001 reprint), The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), p. 734.
30 Lenski, p. 740.
31 Acts 19:8,10; 20:31.
32 Danker, et al., p. 232.
33Dialegomai: 1256” (1999), Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
34 Danker, et al., p. 232.
35 Tyrannus “is usually supposed to have been the lecturer who taught” in “the lecture hall of Tyrannus,” but it is possible that he was merely the owner of the building (F.F. Bruce [1988], The Book of the Acts [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans], p. 366).
36 Lenski, p. 812.
37 For more information on the logic and sound argumentation Jesus used throughout His ministry, see Dr. Dave Miller’s excellent two-part Reason & Revelation article titled “Is Christianity Logical?” (2011, 31[6-7]:50-52,56-59,62-64,68-71, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=3869&topic=92).

An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality by Dave Miller, Ph.D. Brad Harrub, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1401

An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series that we authored on the issue of homosexuality. The first part (“ ‘This is the Way God Made Me’—A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the ‘Gay Gene’ ”) appeared in the August 2004 issue of Reason & Revelation.]
Nothing less than “complete and total acceptance!” This often is the answer given when homosexual activists are asked what they are seeking from the public in general. Such activists equate acceptance with civil liberties and equality. They believe that those individuals who do not accept the homosexual “lifestyle” are committing the unpardonable sin—the sin of intolerance (see Bloom, 1987, p. 25). In fact, certain school systems today actively teach youngsters the idea that we must embrace every concept that society popularizes, else we will be unloving and intolerant. Thus, many children are quietly convinced from a very young age that if they do not give everyone “complete and total acceptance,” then they are bigoted and mean spirited.
Using books like Heather Has Two Mommies or Daddy’s Roommate, teachers have begun instructing that there are essentially no right or wrong actions when it comes to relationships and families. Anything goes, as long as “love” is the ultimate motivation. Consider the message that children receive when they sit in classrooms filled with pictures of family units composed of two female “parents” or two male “parents,” alongside a picture of a husband and wife. [James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, has suggested: “The number one issue for the family today is the homosexual activist agenda“ (as quoted in Floyd, 2004, p. 49).] Homosexual activists argue that some homosexual couples show more love than heterosexual couples, so where is the harm? By focusing attention on love and acceptance, homosexual activists have successfully taken the spotlight off of their immoral behavior and abnormal acts. Students are told that homosexual parents are “normal,” and that they should be “accepted.” If a student rejects that tact, then he or she is labeled as (gulp!) “intolerant.”
Those who actually graduate from the halls of academia, and yet still object to homosexuality, are castigated as “homophobes,” “hatemongers,” “bigots,” “sexists,” “puritanical fanatics,” “religious fundamentalists,” etc. Homosexuality no longer is referred to as sodomy (the longtime historical term for same-sex relations), but rather as an “alternative lifestyle.” The media do not view homosexuality as sin, but rather as a valuable contribution to “diversity.” Individuals (or organizations) who dare to speak out against homosexuality in order to expose it as an immoral practice, often are confronted by militant activists who work diligently to spin the issue back into a “civil rights” matter.
Unfortunately, the success of the homosexual movement in this area has resulted in numerous Christians remaining silent, for fear of being labeled as hatemongers—or worse. Some Christians seem to have forgotten the words of the Savior:
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake (Matthew 5:10-11).
Yet, the homosexual’s quest for “complete and total acceptance” often goes unchallenged because the Scriptures have been twisted and perverted to accept “alternative lifestyles,” while believers in Bible morality have been effectively silenced. That silence has allowed the social engineers of “political correctness” to achieve significant success in reversing the historically universal rejection by American civilization of the legality, political legitimacy, and social propriety of homosexuality, with the most recent being “gay marriages.”
Monday, May 17, 2004, was a day that will live in moral and spiritual infamy. Homosexual and lesbian couples were granted by the state of Massachusetts the right to marry—the first state in U.S. history to do so. On November 18, 2003, four activist justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Court paved the way for this occurrence by ruling that the Commonwealth must recognize the right of homosexual couples to marry (“Is Homosexual Marriage...?,” 2003). Perhaps this should not be surprising, since only five months earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historically and constitutionally unprecedented elimination of state sodomy laws (“Lawrence...,” 2003)—a reversal of the high court’s own 1986 decision that upheld state sodomy laws and reinforced the historic stance that homosexuality is not a constitutional right (“Bowers...,” 1986).
In the midst of this reshaping of societal sensibilities, some who wish to retain their affiliation with the Bible, but also maintain political correctness, insist that the Bible itself teaches that same-sex relations are not inherently sinful. They argue that the Bible, in fact, condones homosexuality in the same way, and to the same extent, that it approves of heterosexuality.

CONFUSION EVEN WITHIN RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS

As the militant pressures of homosexual activists penetrate various realms of society, homosexuality slowly but methodically has begun to spread into various denominations. Homosexual theologians and individuals with a specific agenda have been effective at obscuring the true issues. For instance, Peter J. Gomes, a self-confessed homosexual—and a Baptist minister—alleges that the use of the Bible to condemn homosexuality is the end result of simplistic interpretative methods that reflect a failure to comprehend the context in which the Scriptures were written. Such proceduralism he calls “textual harassment.” These attacks flow easily, of course, from those who reject the plain testimony of God’s Word in the interest of their own personal agenda. For example, Gomes tries to create an artificial distinction in types of homosexual relationships. At first, he contends that Paul, in his various letters, merely was condemning the “debauched pagan expression” of homosexuality; later, he alleges that the apostle hardly can be faulted for his ignorance, since he knew nothing of “the concept of a homosexual nature” (1996, p. 158). He also suggests (p. 25) that there was a homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan—a notion not even remotely reflected in the Old Testament narrative regarding these great men. Gomes obviously is desperate to find some semblance of support for his aberrant lifestyle.
On March 7, 2004, V. Gene Robinson—an open homosexual who has lived with his “partner” Mark Andrew—became the ninth bishop of New Hampshire for the Episcopal Church. During his investiture, he remarked: “Journeys of faith, you know, are a risky business. God is always calling us out of our comfort zone” (see Diocese of New Hampshire, 2004). At the conclusion of that service, Robinson disclosed: “I’m just having the best time being your bishop. The rest of the world is watching us. This is going to be a great adventure.” Adventure indeed! Currently Michael W. Hopkins and Susan N. Blue, two priests who favor same-sex blessings, are leading an Episcopal diocesan task force to develop a same-sex “blessing ceremony” (Benson, 2004, p. 19). The Episcopal Church is struggling to prevent a major split in that denomination between those who disagree with Robinson’s appointment as bishop, and the new direction that the Episcopal Church is going. As Ronnie Floyd put it in his book, The Gay Agenda, when the decision to accept Robinson as a church bishop was made, “both rejoicing and lamentation broke out in that denomination as never before” (2004, p. 14).
This major news story fell on the heels of other denominations that already have begun to accept homosexual preachers or priests. In America, five of the major denominations openly “ordain” homosexuals as ministers, and recognize same-sex marriages (Floyd, p. 46). In Australia, the Uniting Church—the third largest church in the country—has become that country’s first mainstream denomination to accept homosexual priests (Little, 2003). The president of Australia’s Uniting church, Dean Drayton, said that the church had been living in what he referred to as “the messy middle” for six years, and thus has voted to formalize the unofficial tolerance and allow the ordination of openly gay ministers (Little, 2003).
The United Methodist Church (UMC) also is trying to maintain some sense of direction, having “been in turmoil over the issue for decades” (Floyd, p. 48). In fact, in early 2004, the UMC carried out an ecclesiastical trial (and subsequent exoneration!) of self-professed lesbian “minister” Karen Dammann. The Methodist Book of Discipline contains a number of clauses relating to homosexuality, such as, “Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals* are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” The asterisk (*) by the word “homosexuals” refers to a footnote at the bottom of the page, which reads as follows: “ ‘Self-avowed practicing homosexual’ is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual” (Par. 304.3). And yet, 13 ministers from Dammann’s own conference did not uphold these basic tenets. Her defense counsel, Robert Ward, observed that the Church should not elevate “a few, select paragraphs” of the Discipline above another passage that spoke in vague terms of “inclusiveness” (Vitagliano, 2004). Georgia Methodist bishops Michael Watson and Lindsey Davis protested vociferously:
[I]t is a clear sign of rebellion when a group chooses to flagrantly ignore [The Book of Discipline], substituting their own perspective for the corporate wisdom [of the church] (Vitagliano).
In many instances, the Bible has been completely discarded, as many denominations not only overlook the sin of homosexuality, but even embrace it. Groups such as “More Light” (a Presbyterian organization that is “seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church”) are becoming common within denominations that are trying to bolster their numbers. Church slogans with words like tolerance, inclusiveness, and love are now being touted, and are paraded on banners and in commercials—neglecting any precepts from the Word of God. Thus, religious groups all over the world are scrambling to determine on which side of the homosexual fence they want to be found.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

Homosexuality in the Patriarchal Period

What, precisely, is God’s will concerning human sexuality? That will was demonstrated originally in the creation of the first human beings: “Male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). God’s decision to create a female counterpart to the male was not coincidental. The female uniquely met three essential criteria: (1) “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18); (2) a helper, suitable to him, was needed (Genesis 2:18,20); and (3) the human race was to be perpetuated through sexual union (Genesis 1:28). Both Jesus and Paul reiterated this same understanding (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:2). So the woman was: (a) the divine antidote to Adam’s loneliness; (b) a helper fit for him; and (c) the means of the propagation of the human race. Here, we see the divine arrangement for the human species.
Not long after God set into motion the created order—which He had pronounced as “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—man began to tamper with the divine will, and altered God’s original intentions concerning human sexuality. Lamech—not God—introduced polygamy into the world (Genesis 4:19). God could have created two women for Adam, but He did not. Rather, He made one man for one woman for life. That is the divine will—“male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27; cf. Matthew 19:1-9). Genesis 19:1-11 now comes into view.
Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door (vss. 4-11).
Defenders of homosexuality who seek justification for their viewpoint from the Bible have pursued a revisionist interpretation of the account of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (along with Admah and Zeboiim, Deuteronomy 29:23). This passage has traditionally been understood to be a denunciation of homosexuality. This understanding has been so universal that the word “sodomy” was incorporated into English vernacular as referring to “any of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality” (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000, p. 1651). How may the account of Sodom be reinterpreted to place same-sex relationships in a favorable light? Two explanations have been offered in an effort to promote the biblical legitimacy of homosexuality.
(1) Inhospitality or Homosexuality?
The first claim maintains that the men of Sodom simply were guilty of inhospitality. The text says that the men of Sodom insisted on Lot bringing the angelic visitors out to them, “that we may know them” (Genesis 19:5). It thus is argued that “know” refers to their intention to meet, greet, get to know, or become acquainted with the visitors. However, contextual indicators exclude the feasibility of this interpretation.
First, while the Hebrew verb translated “know” (yada) has a wide range of meanings, including “to get to know” or “to become acquainted” (for the most part, the nuances of the Hebrew verb parallel the corresponding English verb), Hebrew, in common with other ancient languages, also used “know” as a euphemism for sexual intercourse (Genesis 4:1; 19:8). Other Semitic euphemisms similarly used include “lie with” (2 Samuel 11:4), “uncover the nakedness of ” (Leviticus 18), “go in unto” (Genesis 16:2; 38:2), and “touch” (Genesis 20:6; Proverbs 6:29; 1 Corinthians 7:1). Ancient languages that shared this figurative use of “know” included Egyptian, Akkadian, and Ugaritic (Botterweck, 1986, pp. 455-456,460), as well as Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Greek (Gesenius, 1979, p. 334). When Hebrew scholars define “know,” as used in Genesis 19:5, they use terminology like “sexual perversion” (Harris, et al., 1980, 1:366), “homosexual intercourse” (Botterweck, 1986, 5:464), and “crimes against nature” (Gesenius, p. 334).
Second, if “know” simply means “to get acquainted,” why did the Bible writers repeatedly use forms of the word “wicked” to refer to the actions of the Sodomites? Lot pleaded, “Do not do so wickedly!” (Genesis 19:7). Moses, by inspiration, already had given God’s assessment in the words, “But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13); “their sin is very grievous” (Genesis 18:20). Peter referred to the “filthy conduct of the wicked” sodomites and their “lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:7-8). But “getting acquainted” is not “wicked”! In fact, if the men of Sodom were nothing more than a group of friendly, civic-minded neighbors who sought to make the visitors welcome to their city, God surely would have commended them—not condemned them!
Third, if “know” simply means “to get to know,” then why did Lot offer his virgin daughters to the men? He would not have offered his daughters for the purpose of the men “getting to know” or “becoming acquainted” with them. The daughters were already residents of Sodom, and would have been known to the men. Lot was offering his daughters to the men as sexual alternatives. Lot specifically said: “I have two daughters who have not known a man” (Genesis 19:8, emp. added). “Known” is another reference to sexual intercourse. Lot referred to their sexual status for the very reason that these men were interested in sexual impropriety. As astonishing and objectionable to us as it may seem for a father to sacrifice his own daughters in such a fashion, it verifies the fact that the unnatural lust of homosexuality was considered far more repugnant than even illicit heterosexuality. Scholars have further noted that in antiquity, a host was to protect his guests at the cost of his own life (Whitelaw, 1950, 1:253).
Fourth, the men of Sodom threatened Lot with the words, “we will deal worse with you than with them” (Genesis 19:9). If their intention was simply to “get to know” the male visitors, what would “dealing worse” with Lot entail? Perhaps it would have entailed their becoming so thoroughly “acquainted” with Lot that they would perpetually remain in his presence and make a pest of themselves? Maybe they intended to impose on Lot’s hospitality to the point that they would monopolize his living room couch, consume all of his snack foods, and refuse to vacate his home at a courteous hour?
In a further effort to achieve sanction for homosexuality, attention has been directed to the words of Jesus in His commissioning of the Seventy. He instructed them, in their evangelistic travels, to enter into those cities that would receive them and to feel free to partake of their hospitality (Luke 10:7-8). However, should a city fail to receive them, they were to shake the dust off their feet against the city (Luke 10:10-11). Jesus then declared: “It will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:12). Defenders and practitioners of same-sex relations claim that Jesus was drawing a comparison between the inhospitality of Sodom and the cities that the disciples would encounter. They claim that the inhospitality of a city that would reject Christ’s emissaries would be a greater evil than Sodom’s inhospitable treatment of the angelic visitors.
However, if “hospitality” was the issue at stake in Sodom, the Sodomites should have been commended, since they only wanted to “get to know” and be hospitable to the visitors. In fact, Lot should have been the one condemned, since he attempted to deter the hospitable overtures of the “Welcome Wagon.” In reality, the words of Jesus in Luke 10 were not directed against the cities’ refusal to be hospitable toward the disciples. Rather, He condemned them for their refusal to accept the teaching of the disciples. Jesus pinpointed their task when He warned: “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me” (Luke 10:16). Jesus placed Sodom at the top of the list of the most notoriously wicked cities of antiquity. He stressed the fact that to reject Christ and the Gospel would be a far greater offense than what the most wicked city in human history ever did. What the inhabitants of Sodom did was repulsive, repugnant, disgusting, and incredibly depraved. But to reject the antidote to sin is the ultimate insult and the final infraction against God!
Yet another argument marshaled in an effort to justify homosexuality concerns the allusions in the prophets to Sodom. Isaiah (3:9), Jeremiah (23:14), and Ezekiel (16:49) all refer to the sinfulness of Sodom, but none explicitly mentioned homosexuality as the problem. In fact, Ezekiel pinpointed the specific sins of “pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness,” as well as her unwillingness to aid the poor and needy. In response, we should not be surprised that a city that was guilty of sexual perversion also would be guilty of additional violations of God’s will.
Isaiah, in his discussion of Sodom, did not specify a particular sin, but merely noted how brazen and open the Sodomites were with their sin: “The look on their countenance witnesses against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom; they do not hide it.” Interestingly, this depiction is very apropos of the “in-your-face” attitude of those who seek to advance the homosexual agenda in our day. Jeremiah made essentially the same point in his comparison between Judah and Sodom when he wrote that “no one turns back from his wickedness.” He, too, was noting the sodomites’ blatant, unbending, determined intention to proceed with their sin. Ezekiel, though mentioning the additional sins that we have listed above, nevertheless referred repeatedly to Sodom’s “abomination” (16:50; cf., vs. 43,47,51,52,58). Moses also linked “abomination” with homosexual activity (Leviticus 18:22).
(2) Homosexual Rape?
The second explanation offered to justify homosexual relations is that the men of Sodom were not condemned for their homosexuality, but for their inhospitable intention to engage in homosexual rape. Rape, some suggest (whether homosexual or heterosexual), being nonconsensual, is wrong, and is worthy of condemnation. However, this extension of the inhospitality quibble is likewise contextually indefensible. First, if gang rape was the issue, why did Lot offer his daughters in exchange for the visitors? Rape would have been at issue in both cases. Lot’s offer of his daughters indicated his clear concern over gender and same-sex relations. Second, the men of Sodom were declared wicked and guilty of “very grievous” sin before the visitors ever came to town (Genesis 18:20).
Third, Jude cinched the matter in his discussion of the sin of Sodom. He wrote that Sodom and her sister cities had “given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh” (Jude 7). “Given themselves over to sexual immorality” is a translation of the compound word ekporneusasai, which combines the verb porneuo (to commit illicit sexual intercourse) with the preposition ek (out of). The attachment of the prepositional prefix indicates intensification, i.e., that the men of Sodom possessed “a lust that gluts itself” (Thayer, 1977, p. 199). Their sexual appetites took them beyond the range of normal sexual activity. The idea of force or coercion is not in the meaning of the word. “Strange” refers to “one not of the same nature, form, class, kind” (Thayer, p. 254), and so pertains to the indulgence of passions that are “contrary to nature” (Barnes, 1949, p. 392)—“a departure from the laws of nature in the impurities practiced” (Salmond, 1950, 22:7). The frequent allusion to “nature” by scholars is interesting, in view of the fact that Scripture elsewhere links same-sex relations with that which is “against nature” (Romans 1:26-27) or unnatural, i.e., out of harmony with God’s original arrangement of nature (e.g., Genesis 1:27; 2:22; Matthew 19:4-6). Summarizing, Jude asserted that the sin of Sodom was homosexual relations—not homosexual rape.
Fourth, homosexuality itself is specifically condemned in Scripture. Under the Law of Moses, God made homosexuality a capital crime, and stipulated that both participants in the illicit sexual activity were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:13). God would not have required the innocent victim of homosexual rape to be executed along with the rapist.
American culture may well reach the point where the majority approves of homosexuality as acceptable behavior. And those who disapprove may well be accused of being “politically incorrect,” intolerant, and “homophobic.” It surely is reminiscent of our day to observe that when Lot urged the sodomites not to do “so wickedly,” the men accused Lot of being judgmental (Genesis 19:9; cf. Deuteronomy 23:17-18). Nevertheless, the objective, unbiased reader of the Bible is forced to conclude that God destroyed the men of Sodom on account of their sinful practice of homosexuality.

Homosexuality in the Mosaic Period

In addition to the pre-Mosaic, Patriarchal Period of history, God made clear His will on this matter when He handed down the Law of Moses to the Israelite nation. In a chapter dealing almost exclusively with sexual regulations, His words are explicit and unmistakable.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.... Do not defile yourselves with any of these things,...lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you (Leviticus 18:22-30).
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them (Leviticus 20:13).
We suggest that a reader would need help to misunderstand these injunctions.
Another graphic account is presented during the period of the judges, which was a time of spiritual and moral depravity and decay—the “Dark Ages” of Jewish history. Judges 19 records that “sons of Belial” (i.e., wicked scoundrels) surrounded a house where travelers had taken refuge for the night. As in Sodom, they desired to “know” the male guests (vs. 22). The host, like Lot, knew exactly what they meant, as is evident from the fact that, like Lot, he offered them a sexual alternative (which, of course, God did not approve). Their sexual desire was labeled as “wickedness,” “outrage,” “vileness,” “lewdness,” and “evil” (Judges 19:23-24; 20:3,6,10,12,13). The rest of the Old Testament corroborates this judgment of same-sex relations. For example, during the period of the kings, Josiah instituted sweeping moral and religious reforms, including tearing down the homes of the Sodomites (2 Kings 23:7).

Homosexuality in the New Testament Period

The New Testament is equally definitive in its uncompromising and unquestioned condemnation of illicit sexual activity. Paul summarized the “unrighteous” and “ungodly” behavior of the Gentile nations, and declared:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 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. ...who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:26-32, emp. added).
Observe that “God gave them up” to “vile passions.” Other renderings include “lusts of dishonor” (Bengel, 1971, 2:26), “passions of dishonor” (Lenski, 1951, p. 113), and “passions which bring dishonour” (Cranfield, 1985, p. 125). The passions to which the heathen nations were given are declared to be vile and debased. Barrett observed: “No feature of pagan society filled the Jew with greater loathing than the toleration, or rather admiration, of homosexual practices” (1967, p. 39). In fact, Melina noted that homosexuality is the sin that lies at the heart of idolatry. Therefore the Jews despised this practice that defiled both the soul as well as the body (1998, 25:57-68). The “women” and “men” (i.e., the “females” and “males” of verse 26) had descended “to the brutish level of being nothing but creatures of sex” (Lenski, p. 113; Bengel, 2:26).
The contrast between the “natural” and the “unnatural” shows that the Gentiles had “left aside and thus discarded” the natural form of intercourse between a man and his wife (Lenski, p. 113). The fact that this exchange involved sexual intercourse is well established (Bauer, 1979, p. 886; Cranfield, p. 125). And Lenski adds, “It was bad enough to sin with males, vastly worse and the very limit of vice to sin as they did” (p. 114). Kent Hughes observed that Paul singled out homosexuality “because it is obviously unnatural and therefore underlines the extent to which sin takes mankind” (1991, p. 43). Indeed, same-sex relations were “quite prevalent in the Greco-Roman society in which he [Paul] lived” (Fitzmyer, 1993, p. 275).
Paul’s observation that homosexual activity goes “against nature” harks back to the Creation model when God created the first human beings (Genesis 1:26). Homosexual practices go against the natural pattern established by God when He created “male and female” (Deyoung, 1988, pp. 429-441). Such behavior is “contrary to the intention of the Creator” (Cranfield, p. 123). Therefore, homosexuality goes against the natural order of marriage, not of Jews or Gentiles; the marriage bed should be undefiled in all nationalities and cultures.
The males mentioned in verse 27 are equally as debased as their previously discussed female counterparts. Being “set on fire” with lust for each other, one must realize that “[t]he moment God is taken out of the control in men’s life, the stench of sex aberration is bound to arise. It is so in the world to this day. Without God sex runs wild” (Lenski, p. 115). One of the consequences that follows for those who engage in homosexual relations is that they receive “in themselves the penalty of their error which was due”—“the vicious effect of the unnatural sexual vices upon men’s own bodies and their minds, corruption, destroying, disintegrating” (p. 116).
Such forthright words—“set on fire”—from an inspired apostle are set against a specific social and cultural milieu. In his survey of homosexuality in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian era to the 14th century, John Boswell depicted how Rome had a severe problem with homosexuality, contributing significantly to the glorification and proliferation of homosexual activity. He noted that 14 out of the first 15 Roman emperors were homosexuals, and spent 25 pages detailing facts that prove Rome to have been a hotbed of homosexual activity. For example, during the Augustan reign, the government not only allowed male homosexual prostitutes to operate on her streets, but also taxed them and gave them a national day off work (1980, p. 70). The Emperor Hadrian, called by some “the most outstanding of the ‘five good emperors,’ ” according to Boswell, “appears to have been exclusively gay” (p. 84). Dupont adds that “it was said of Caesar that he was the ‘husband of all women and the wife of all husbands,’ ” identifying his bisexual nature (1993, p. 117). One needs only peruse any reputable historical account of the life and times of the average Roman citizen to see that homosexual activity played a major role in the politics, recreations, and commerce of the first century. It is no surprise then that the apostle Paul spoke so stringently on such practices.
Those who attempt to soften or contradict the clear teaching of Paul in Romans 1 regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality sometimes attempt to sidestep the clear import of the passage by insisting that it applied only to its original recipients. Boswell claimed that the idea of the passage is not to “stigmatize sexual behavior but to condemn Gentiles for their general infidelity” (p. 108). Martin has suggested that Paul referred to the Gentile culture, not the “universal human condition” (1995, p. 338). But is Romans 1:26-27 a “cultural chastisement,” or a universal condemnation? The immediate context (1:18-3:20) consists of God’s pronouncement that all humans in every culture and nation are under sin—“all the world” (3:19). In fact, the entire book of Romans is the New Testament’s flagship declaration of the means of justification for all persons—“everyone” (Romans 1:16). Hence, the condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1 is parallel to its like condemnation of murder, deceit, covetousness, and all the other sins itemized by Paul.
One final observation regarding Romans 1 is noteworthy. Not only is God displeased with those who participate in homosexual behavior, but Paul indicates that He is equally displeased with those who are supportive of such conduct—even if they do not engage in the activity themselves. The wording is: “[T]hose who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (vs. 32). On this count alone, many have earned the disapproval of God.
Compare Paul’s remarks to the church at Rome with the question he posed to the Corinthian church:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, emp. added).
The Greek word translated “homosexual” in this passage is a metaphorical use of a term that literally means “soft,” and when referring to people, refers to males allowing themselves to be used sexually by other males. Again, lexicographers apply the term to the person who is a “catamite,” i.e., a male who submits his body to another male for unnatural lewdness—i.e., homosexually (Thayer, p. 387; Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 489).
“Sodomites” (“abusers of themselves with mankind” in the KJV) is a translation of the term arsenokoitai. It derives from two words: arsein (a male) and koitei (a bed), and refers to one who engages in sex with a male as with a female (Thayer, p. 75). Paul used the same term when he wrote to Timothy to discuss certain behaviors that are both “contrary to sound doctrine” and characteristic of the one who is not “a righteous man” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).
As D. Gene West correctly observed regarding Paul’s letter to Timothy:
We can see from the context that homosexual activities are classed with such sins as patricide, matricide, homicide, kidnapping, and perjury. If we accept that any of these things are sins, we must accept that all are sins. If it is a sin to be a whoremonger, to pursue a lascivious life with prostitutes, then it is likewise a sin to engage in homosexual acts. There is no way to escape that conclusion. If it is a sin to murder one’s father, or mother, or some other human being, then it is a sin for both males and females to “cohabitate” (2004).
When Paul said to the Christians at Corinth, “such were some of you,” he proved not only that homosexuals may be forgiven, but that they can cease such sinful activity. Here we have a clear biblical indication that someone can change their sexual orientation, and can be forgiven of a past immoral lifestyle. We are forced to conclude that sexual activity between persons of the same sex is not a matter of genetics; but is a behavioral phenomenon associated largely with environmental factors (see the August 2004 issue of Reason and Revelation).

CONCLUSION

Homosexuality is only one of many departures from God’s will for human morality and sexuality that society is facing. The Greek term for fornication, porneia, is a broad term that covers every form of illicit sexual intercourse, including adultery, incest, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, bisexuality, homosexuality, pedophilia, necrophilia, and more. Our sex-crazed society is so promiscuous, and so estranged from God’s view of human sexuality, that our public schools consider it appropriate to teach children to simply “take precautions” when they engage in sexual escapades outside of marriage. But God never encouraged people to practice that kind of “safe sex.” The Bible definition of “safe sex” is sex that is confined to a divinely authorized, scriptural marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2-5). God insists that people can, and must, exercise self-control, self-discipline, and moral responsibility. The Bible teaches that we are not to be self-indulgent. We are to put restraints on ourselves, controlling our sexual urges in accordance with God’s teachings.
Encouraging young people simply to “take precautions” only encourages additional illicit behavior. It encourages more promiscuity. It contributes to an increase—not a decrease—in the number of pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Despite several decades of having inundated our schools with sex education and the promotion of so-called “safe sex,” the statisticians inform us that in the next thirty days alone, 83,850 unwed girls will become pregnant in this country (“Teens in Crisis,” 2001, p. 1). The liberals’ “solution” has not worked. In fact, the problem has greatly worsened.
The depths to which our country has slumped morally is evinced by the legality of the distribution birth control devices to students, and the illegality to distribute Bibles or to teach Bible principles. The time has come for our nation to wake up, and for all citizens to understand that freedom requires restraint. Rights require personal responsibility. People must take responsibility for their personal choices, and accept the consequences of their own actions. Paul declared: “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18). He did not write, “engage in ‘safe’ fornication”! There is no such thing as “safe” sin or “safe” immorality, because all sin is damning (James 1:15). God said a person must run away from it, resist it, and reject it (2 Corinthians 6:18). To a youth, Paul said: “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). The writer of Hebrews insisted that the marriage bed is to be kept “undefiled.” “[F]ornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). There should not be so much as a hint of sexual immorality among Christians (Ephesians 5:3).
Please understand: God loves all sinners—regardless of the specific sins they have committed. But it is imperative that we be about the business of alerting those who are engaged in sexual sin regarding God’s will, in an effort to “snatch them out of the fire” (Jude 23), and to “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). One day it will be too late for both those who “not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Indeed, the “sexually immoral...shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
Sexual sin undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the major contributors to the moral and spiritual deterioration, decline, and downfall of American society. Homosexuality is one more glaring proof of the sexual anarchy that prevails in American civilization. One wonders how much longer such widespread unchastity can continue in our land before God will “visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25). We know today that homosexuality is not caused by genetics (see Harrub, et al., 2004). It is not “nature,” but “nurture” that is responsible. It is not a life “style,” but rather a life “choice.” And it is wrong.
Every society in human history that has followed a course of moral and spiritual depravity has either been destroyed by God or has imploded from within. Like these previous civilized nations, our society will not be permitted to survive indefinitely into the future—unless, of course, God is prepared to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.

REFERENCES

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Barnes, Albert (1949 reprint), Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments—James-Jude (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Barrett, C.K. (1967), A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, ed. Henry Chadwick (London: Black).
Bauer, Walter (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans., rev., and ed. William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition.
Bengel, John Albert (1971), New Testament Word Studies, trans. Charlton Lewis and Marvin Vincent (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel).
Benson, Rusty (2004), “Paper vs. Practice,” AFA Journal, 28[5]:17-19, May.
Bloom, Allan (1987), The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Boswell, John (1980), Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Botterweck, G. Johannes and Helmer Ringgren (1986), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
“Bowers v. Hardwick et al.” (1986), [On-line], URL: http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0478_0186_ZS.html.
Cranfield, C.E.B. (1985), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, ed. J.A. Emmerton and C.E.B. Cranfield (Edinburgh: Clark).
Deyoung, James B. (1988), “The Meaning of ‘Nature’ in Romans and Its Implications for Biblical Proscriptions of Homosexual Behavior,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 31:429-441.
Diocese of New Hampshire (2004), “Our Search Process,” [On-line], URL: http://www.nh episcopal.org/BishopSearch/bishop_search_news.htm.
Dupont, Florence (1993), Daily Life in Ancient Rome, trans. Christopher Woodall (Cambridge: Blackwell).
Fitzmyer, Joseph A. (1993), Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday).
Floyd, Ronnie W. (2004), The Gay Agenda (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press).
Gesenius, William (1979), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Gomes, Peter J. (1996), The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (New York: William Morrow).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer Jr., and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Harrub, Brad and Dave Miller (2004), “ ‘This is the Way God Made Me’—A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the ‘Gay Gene,’ ” Reason & Revelation, 24:73-79, August.
Hughes, R. Kent (1991), Righteousness from Heaven (Wheaton, IL: Crossway).
“Is Homosexual Marriage a Constitutional Right?” (2003), The Bill of Rights Institute, [On-line], URL: http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/print.php?sid=430.
“Lawrence et al. v. Texas” (2003), [On-line], URL: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&navby=case&vol= 000&invol=02-102.
Lenski, R. C. H. (1951), The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Columbus, OH: Wartburg).
Little, Jane (2003), “Australia Church Accepts Gay Priests,” BBC NEWS, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3075739.stm.
Martin, Dale B. (1995), “Heterosexuality and the Interpretation of Romans 1.18-32,” Biblical Interpreter, 3:332-355.
Melina, Livio (1998), “Homosexual Inclination as an Objective Disorder: Reflections of Theological Anthropology,” Communio-International Catholic Review, 25:57-68.
Salmond, S.D.F. (1950), The Pulpit Commentary—Jude, ed. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
“Teens in Crisis” (2001), Teen Help (Las Vegas, NV: World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1977 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Vitagliano, Ed (2004), “Mutiny Among the Methodists,” AFA Journal, 28[5]:20-21, May.
West, D. Gene (2004), “Homosexuality, Alternative or Deviate Lifestyle” [a tract], (Moundsville, WV).
Whitelaw, Thomas (1950), The Pulpit Commentary—Genesis, ed. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

All Law, No Love? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=530

All Law, No Love?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

When contrasting the Old Testament with the New Testament, we often hear those in the religious world make statements such as: “The old law was concerned only about man’s actions, whereas the new law emphasizes the heart of man,” or “The Old Testament stressed rules and regulations; the New Testament is all about love,” or “The old law emphasized being pure on the outside; the new law is concerned about the inside.” Statements like these have caused many people to view the Old Testament, and perhaps even the “God of the Old Testament,” as cold, cruel, and unmerciful. But is that really how we should view the first 39 books of the Bible? Was the old law concerned only about the actions of man? Was it oblivious to such concepts as love, mercy, and kindness? Just how are we to understand the Old Testament?
The Old Testament contains numerous laws, and story after story of people breaking these laws and suffering the consequences (e.g., the book of Judges). However, the Bible declares that the Old Testament (and the “God of the Old Testament”) also placed great emphasis on the “heart” of man. Even before the Law of Moses ever was given, we learn that God judged both man’s thoughts and actions. Prior to the Flood He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5, emp. added). It was not only their actions that were evil, but also their thoughts. Once the Law of Moses was given, God revealed to the Israelites that He was still concerned with man’s inner self. Moses commanded them to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6). A few hundred years later when David was about to be anointed King of Israel, the Lord told Samuel that He “does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, emp. added). Then, approximately 700 years before the new law was given, the prophet Isaiah taught that actions apart from a sincere heart are worthless: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men” (Isaiah 29:13).
As one can see, the old law was not as cold and heartless as some theologians would have us believe. In fact, the apostle Paul summed up the Law of Moses with these words:
[L]ove one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law [the law of Moses—EL]. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10, emp. added).
And as if Paul’s summary were not enough, Jesus summed up the old law thusly: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets” (v.12, emp. added). Jesus explained that doing “to others what you would have them do to you” is a summary expression of all that the Old Testament required. The Master Teacher Himself let us know that the Old Law, although unable to take away the sins of man and make him perfect (i.e., Hebrews 10:1,11), was not the cold, cruel law that so many make it out to be. Rather, it was intended to prick both the heart and actions of man.

DEATH VERSUS RESURRECTION by Jim McGuiggan

http://theabidingword.com/logos/index.html

DEATH VERSUS RESURRECTION

Death affects not only the body—it affects the entire person. It’s a well-intentioned remark when we say of someone, “She isn’t dead; that’s only her body,” but it isn’t true. “I” die when I die—not just a part of me! Death affects me!
Nevertheless, there is something that is identifiable as the person that continues to be after the person has experienced biological death. We call it “the soul” or “the spirit”. (The words are used in various ways in the Holy Scriptures and context is what determines how they are being used in the various texts. I’m not interested in pursuing that truth right now though it is certainly worthy of development.)
I don’t think that that “something” that is identifiable as us, that survives biological death, is a physical “substance”—even a very refined substance (as if it were a “mist” or a “cloud” as the movies sometimes show us).
I’m currently content to believe what I’ve said is true. However we should speak of it I’m certain that those who die continue to be and I believe that because I take Philippians 1:23 at face value (though it needs developed). Furthermore, I take at face value what Jesus said to the crucified thief, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, this day you will be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. (There are some people who wish to move the comma and have Jesus say, “Verily I say to you this day, you will be…” This is desperation. Conditional immortality may be true but this is no way to make it look creditable.) And with Paul, I’m one of countless that believes that those who die in the Lord Jesus have not “perished”. 1 Corinthians 15:18, where he will not tolerate such a view.
Taking the above to be true (pursue me at holywoodjk@aol.com or holywoodjk@gmail.com if you wish), I take the view that the body of our current fallen state falls apart (the body of our humiliation or “lowly body,”—Philippians 3:21) and we continue in a disembodied state and not non-existent. (In the coming resurrection we are not replaced—I am I and you are you—not substitutes for the having utterly perished.)
Death leads to the corruption and destruction of the physical body but it also robs us of embodiment and God did not create us for such a state. In the death experience we are robbed of embodiment which is an essential element of fullness of life as God has purposed us to experience as humans.
Jesus during His experience of death experienced what every other human experiences in dying—disembodiment. While disembodiment continues fullness of life—the fullness of life that God eternally purposed for humans—isn’t possible. Death is an enemy and the one thing that scares it witless is the word resurrection.
But not simply the word (which is used in regard to Lazarus who was raised—John 12:1 and who would die again); the word when it is used about the man Jesus!  It is in and through and as Him that life and immortality was/is brought to light (2 Timothy 1:9-10 Acts 26:23; Ephesians 1:19-21, passim). The OT has no developed doctrine of resurrection (that is disputed) but it repeatedly speaks of a coming One in whom human glorification would take place (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46; Acts 17:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “according to the Scriptures”; Romans 1:4).
I think it important to accept that while those who are embraced in God’s saving work, carried out in and through and as Jesus Christ, are safe and blessed they are yet dead! Death is to be viewed from numerous angles but one of them is this: Death is disembodiment! Disembodiment is robbery and is the wages of Sin (Romans 6:23). And as long as we are disembodied Death is lord over us (see Romans 8:17-25 & 1 Corinthians 15:24-26). Those who are blessed, being reconciled to God by His Son’s death, will be saved by His life (His resurrection)—Romans 5:10.
In light of Jesus and His resurrection beyond the limitations of current creaturely weakness (though without jettisoning His humanity!) we need not fear Death though it might well be that we do when it approaches.
Sin reigns through Death and Death through Sin (Romans 5:12-21) over the entire human family. Even the innocent (babies and other innocent ones) are hurt by our having chosen alienation from God and life. The consequences of that choice of Sin/alienation affects all of us.
Humanity’s history and current experience is in Adam (“the old man”)—our experience in relation to him is one under Sin & Death. In being baptized into the Lord Jesus the history and experience of people is/are altered. The “old man” dies (Romans 6:6)—that is, our relationship to Adam dies and a new relationship comes into being (Romans 7:1-6), and there’s a beginning of a new history that culminates in the utter death of Death and the glorification of God when the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:24-26, 45) surrenders the dominion to God in contrast to the old Adam who seized a dominion that because it was alienation from the source of life was actually Sin and Death.
Death is not to be seen as merely a biological  experience. It is that, of course; it is sadness, pain, disruption and more but it is bigger than all those; for those who believe in Jesus Christ and have something of an understanding of the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Death is to be seen as Sin’s reign that affects the creation. Only by gaining a further understanding of the gospel realities about GOD and His Holy Son that come to an unending climax in His resurrection to glory and fullness of life do we see Death & Sin for the vile life-sucking but losing predators they really are!