From Gary... Restoring "normal"

Even upside down this picture makes sense.  Young children can recognize a "doggie" no matter whether the picture makes sense to us or not.  But, it does seem strange to my adult mind to look at it this way. You know, its supposed to be the other way round, isn't it?  Yet, in spite of all this, I still understand what is going on, but frankly, it is very unsettling to look at this picture for any length of time!!!  

Forget this picture for a moment (if you can) and think of what is going on in the world. All over this planet, evil is increasing. It is obvious that we are on the brink of some cataclysmic event that will destroy the human race. Doubt that; well, think about how many nations have nuclear weapons and remember that not all of them appear to be functioning rationally! And this revelation of evil is not just showing its character militarily. Killing unborn babies has become a way of life (no pun intended) in our country. Bad behavior and morals are now the norm as evidenced by our inundated penal system. And these things are "normal"??

Having said these things, take a few minutes and read the scriptures cited below...

Acts, Chapter 17 (WEB)
  1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.  2 Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,  3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 

  4  Some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas, of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and not a few of the chief women.  5 But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people.  6 When they didn’t find them, they dragged Jason and certain brothers  before the rulers of the city, crying, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here also,  7 whom Jason has received. These all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!”

Proverbs, Chapter 14 (WEB)
12 There is a way which seems right to a man,

but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs, Chapter 16 (WEB)
25 There is a way which seems right to a man,

but in the end it leads to death.

The new testament was written during the heyday of the Roman Empire. It ruled most of the known world with an iron fist! Paganism was the norm and even the ruler of Rome, Caesar, was considered a "god".

Along come Paul and Silas and preach Jesus. This is upsetting to their pagan minds and violence naturally follows. Today is no different- at the preaching of Jesus, ungodly minds react the same way. Human beings have not changed; man "knows" what is good for him and nobody should even think of telling him anything different, or there will be "trouble". 

God's way is not man's way. Notice the quote from the book of Proverbs: two different verses from two separate chapters, saying the exact same thing. When God repeats himself, we had better listen!!!

Upside down or not, the world belongs to God and not us. And if we want to understand the truth, we need to actually listen to God and not ourselves. 

Humm, And who knows, perhaps if we become like little children, we just might "get" it!!! You know, I think I have heard that somewhere before?  

Mark, Chapter 10 (WEB)
 15  Most certainly I tell you, whoever will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it.” 

From Gary... Bible Reading March 7

Mar. 7
Exodus 17

Exo 17:1 All the congregation of the children of Israel traveled from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to Yahweh's commandment, and encamped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
Exo 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?"
Exo 17:3 The people were thirsty for water there; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?"
Exo 17:4 Moses cried to Yahweh, saying, "What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
Exo 17:5 Yahweh said to Moses, "Walk on before the people, and take the elders of Israel with you, and take the rod in your hand with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Exo 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exo 17:7 He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, "Is Yahweh among us, or not?"
Exo 17:8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Exo 17:9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us, and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with God's rod in my hand."
Exo 17:10 So Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Exo 17:11 It happened, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
Exo 17:12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset.
Exo 17:13 Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Exo 17:14 Yahweh said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky."
Exo 17:15 Moses built an altar, and called its name Yahweh our Banner.

Exo 17:16 He said, "Yah has sworn:'Yahweh will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.' "

Mar. 7, 8
Mark 6

Mar 6:1 He went out from there. He came into his own country, and his disciples followed him.
Mar 6:2 When the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many hearing him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things?" and, "What is the wisdom that is given to this man, that such mighty works come about by his hands?
Mar 6:3 Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" They were offended at him.
Mar 6:4 Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house."
Mar 6:5 He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.
Mar 6:6 He marveled because of their unbelief. He went around the villages teaching.
Mar 6:7 He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
Mar 6:8 He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse,
Mar 6:9 but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics.
Mar 6:10 He said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there.
Mar 6:11 Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"
Mar 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent.
Mar 6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.
Mar 6:14 King Herod heard this, for his name had become known, and he said, "John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."
Mar 6:15 But others said, "He is Elijah." Others said, "He is a prophet, or like one of the prophets."
Mar 6:16 But Herod, when he heard this, said, "This is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead."
Mar 6:17 For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, for he had married her.
Mar 6:18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Mar 6:19 Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn't,
Mar 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.
Mar 6:21 Then a convenient day came, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee.
Mar 6:22 When the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those sitting with him. The king said to the young lady, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you."
Mar 6:23 He swore to her, "Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom."
Mar 6:24 She went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" She said, "The head of John the Baptizer."
Mar 6:25 She came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptizer on a platter."
Mar 6:26 The king was exceedingly sorry, but for the sake of his oaths, and of his dinner guests, he didn't wish to refuse her.
Mar 6:27 Immediately the king sent out a soldier of his guard, and commanded to bring John's head, and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
Mar 6:28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the young lady; and the young lady gave it to her mother.
Mar 6:29 When his disciples heard this, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Mar 6:30 The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
Mar 6:31 He said to them, "You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
Mar 6:32 They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Mar 6:33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.
Mar 6:34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
Mar 6:35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is deserted, and it is late in the day.
Mar 6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."
Mar 6:37 But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"
Mar 6:38 He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see." When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."
Mar 6:39 He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass.
Mar 6:40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
Mar 6:41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all.
Mar 6:42 They all ate, and were filled.
Mar 6:43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish.
Mar 6:44 Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Mar 6:45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the multitude away.
Mar 6:46 After he had taken leave of them, he went up the mountain to pray.
Mar 6:47 When evening had come, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he was alone on the land.
Mar 6:48 Seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them, about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and he would have passed by them,
Mar 6:49 but they, when they saw him walking on the sea, supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;
Mar 6:50 for they all saw him, and were troubled. But he immediately spoke with them, and said to them, "Cheer up! It is I! Don't be afraid."
Mar 6:51 He got into the boat with them; and the wind ceased, and they were very amazed among themselves, and marveled;
Mar 6:52 for they hadn't understood about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mar 6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore.
Mar 6:54 When they had come out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him,
Mar 6:55 and ran around that whole region, and began to bring those who were sick, on their mats, to where they heard he was.
Mar 6:56 Wherever he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch just the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched him were made well.

From Roy Davison... We must obey God’s word to be saved


We must obey God’s word to be saved

Lecture presented at the Ghanaian church of Christ in Amsterdam, Holland on 25 September 2010.
The audio includes a Twi translation.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls’” (Jeremiah 6:16). The Bible reveals the old paths we must follow to be saved.
Many people are ignorant of the Bible.
They may believe in God, but they do not know the gospel. They do not have saving faith because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). If you want to be saved, you must learn the gospel.
Some people reject the Bible.
They may know the Scriptures, but they reject what God says. People who reject God’s word will be rejected by God. Like it or not, they will be judged by the Bible, not by their own ideas.
Jesus said: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him --- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
Some people know the Scriptures but do not obey God.
They will be lost.
Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
Some people have been deceived by false teachers.
Jesus commanded: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The apostle John warned: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
We must check everything by the Bible to know what is true and what is false.
Some obey the commandments of men rather than the word of God.
Even though they are religious, they will be lost.
Jesus said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teachingas doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8, 9).
Many people confuse the Old and New Testaments.
This causes many wrong practices.
The Old and the New Testaments together form the Holy Scriptures.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
This does not mean that everything in the Bible applies to us as law.
Noah was commanded to build an ark. We learn from his example of faith and obedience, but we do not have to build an ark!
God gave a law to Israel through Moses.
Although we learn much from the Law of Moses, it is not the law of the church of Christ. The church obeys the teachings of Jesus and His apostles.
In the first century some confused the law of Moses and the gospel. 
Some Jewish Christians wanted to force non-Jewish Christians to keep the law of Moses. “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses’” (Acts 15:5).
“And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: ‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they’” (Acts 15:7-11).
This applies to all disciples, not just to the Gentiles. Christians are not under the law of Moses because it is a yoke that no one can bear.
The Old Testament has value for instruction.
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17, 18).
Although the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount was different from the law, He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill its predictions. 
Jesus came to replace the old law with a new one.
Although the law would be replaced, the law would not be destroyed, because this replacement was predicted in the Old Testament itself!
Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted in Hebrews as proof that the Old Covenant no longer applies. 
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LordFor this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, Know theLord,” for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ In that He says, A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:6-13).
Many people support non-Christian practices and doctrine with the Old Testament.
Some examples are: centralized denominational governments; a separate priest class; the use of candles, incense and music instruments in worship; observing the sabbath; obligating people to give a tenth. None of these things are part of the New Covenant. But people who want to practice such things, quote the Old Testament in an arbitrary manner to support their ideas. 
I say “in an arbitrary manner” because to be consistent they would have to do everything in the law of Moses, but of course they do not want to do that.
Some claim that we must keep the ten commandments as law, although they admit that the rest of the Old Testament no longer applies. Their argument is: “What? May we murder, steal and commit adultery?” Some are deceived by this false argument.
We are not under the ten commandments because Christ’s teaching is superior. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus demands more than the ten commandments. Jesus not only forbids murder and adultery, but also the causes: hate and lust (Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28).
Paul explained that the ten commandments have been replaced by something greater. “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which [glory] was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?” (2 Corinthians 3:7, 8). 
The ten commandments, engraved on stone, were a ministry of death that has passed away. The glorious teaching of Christ brings life.
The gospel contains all fundamental moral truths of the ten commandments.
Certainly, Christians may not steal or murder. But they are to avoid such things because they love God and their fellow man, not because there is a command: “You shall not kill.”
Certain externals in the ten commandments are not included in the New Covenant.
A Christian has never been forbidden to be a sculptor and make a statue. All idol-worship is forbidden, however. Under the ten commandments one was not allowed even to make an image.
Christens are not commanded to keep the sabbath. “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16, 17).
Although we can learn much from the Old Testament, we live under the New Testament, a covenant of grace.
We are not under the law of Moses.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:14, 15). 
“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24, 25). 
The New Testament took effect after the death of Christ.
“For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Hebrews 9:16, 17). 
Jesus Himself lived under the Old Covenant. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4, 5). 
This means that many things in the four Gospels relate to the Old Covenant, although Jesus taught many things in the Gospels that are part of the New Covenant. If we use our common sense, we can tell the difference.
Certain false doctrines result from confusing the old and the new in the Gospels. 
Some say, for example: “Jesus kept the sabbath, so we must do the same.” Jesus was also circumcised and worshipped in the temple. Must we do these things? Of course not. Circumcision, temple worship and sabbath-keeping were part of the Old Covenant. 
Some have claimed that Jesus’ teaching about divorce and remarriage in the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to us because that was said before His death, when the New Covenant took effect. From the context, however, it is clear that Jesus is teaching something different from the law of Moses. 
“But I say to you,” is found five times in the Sermon on the Mount to introduce something different from what was taught previously.
All the Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testaments, are useful for our instruction. But we are not under the law of Moses. We obey the gospel of Christ.
We are saved by the gospel of Christ, not by the law of Moses.
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1). 
The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin.
“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
“All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and sin separates us from God. “Your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).
Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.
Many people do not understand how blood can take away sins. 
Because sin is rebellion against God, God determines how sins are forgiven. God has given blood as the means of atonement. In Leviticus 17:11 He explains: “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” 
Atonement is satisfaction for an offense, resulting in the restoration of a broken relationship. 
“According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Covenant there was atonement through the blood of animals. This prefigured the blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God. 
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).
“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:12-14). 
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Christ was qualified to pay the penalty for our sin because He was without sin. Since He was not under the same condemnation, He could voluntarily take our place. “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
What must we do to be saved?
We must believe in Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
If you believe in Christ, that is wonderful.
But if you have accepted the false doctrine that one can be saved by faith only, you are still lost. James wrote: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). No one in the New Testament was ever told that he could be saved by faith only.
Repentance is also necessary.
Repenting is being sorry for one’s sins and deciding to obey God. 
Jesus told His hearers: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). In addition to believing, one must repent.
One must also confess his faith.

Peter confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
Paul wrote: “With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).
Timothy had “confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
If you believe in Jesus, have repented of your sins, and have confessed your faith, that is wonderful.
Yet, if you accepted the false doctrine that baptism is not necessary for salvation, you are still lost, even if you have been immersed.
It is not enough just to believe “ in” Jesus. One must also believe Jesus, believe what He teaches. And Jesus said: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, commanded: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
If you were not “baptized for the remission of sins” but only “as an outward sign” as is taught by many false teachers, you have not obeyed the gospel of Christ and are still lost.
Paul was told: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). If Paul had to be baptized to wash away his sins, is anything less required of you?
By one Spirit we are “all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13) which is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23). The Lord adds those who are saved to His church (Acts 2:47).
Thus, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if you are sorry for your sins and want to dedicate your life to God, if you are willing to confess your faith in Christ, but have not yet been baptized for the forgiveness of sins, we urge you to do so as soon as possible so your sins can be blotted out, washed away by the blood of Christ, so you can be saved and added to the Lord’s church.
Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive

From Jim McGuiggan.. Tools Needed for Bible Study

Tools Needed for Bible Study

You'll need a Bible! Preferably one with big print so you won't tire so easily in your reading. Most serious Bible students have a favourite version. You might choose the New King James (NKJV) or the New International Version (NIV) or the Revised Standard Version (RSV). The last two sound like each other and are more modern in their presentation than the NKJV. Still, the NIV is more modern than the RSV. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) despite the attemp to be more up to date and politically correct is even better (I think) than the RSV. Then there's The Simple English Bible. Any of these would do until you become more experienced. And listen: Read the Bible!
You'll need a notebook! The truth is you could get by with nothing more than a Bible but a notebook and the suggestions which follow will definitely help. The notebook will allow you to write down questions which arise as you read and to note interesting truths you come across. (Questions and truths you'll forget if you don't write them down.)
You'll need some basic books! You can get by with nothing more than a Bible but this makes the task more difficult. You might borrow or buy a concordance and a Bible Dictionary. The concordance will help you to locate verses from any part of the Bible. The dictionary will give you some basic information on almost any subject you read about in the Bible. In English, a Young's or Strong's concordance will do the job you want done. The New Bible Dictionary is perhaps the best single-volume dictionary available. (Ask the bookseller or the one you borrowed them from to show you how they work!)
You'll need a friend or acquaintance to give you some guidance! The very fact that you're reading this material says you are willing to receive guidance. You can read the Bible for yourself without anyone's help but experienced Bible students can make the task easier for you.
(There's always a danger in asking for help. The person who offers the help may hold really strange views. Views that are fundamentally bad. If the person you seek help from is part of a little group that is angry with everyone but themselves, look for assistance elsewhere! But, if what they say can easily be seen in the verses they show you, don't be afraid to ask for help. A high-ranking diplomat wasn't slow to ask for help when he felt he needed it Acts 8:30-31. And you'll become more discerning as you study.)
Some Qualities Needed for Bible Study
You'll need commitment to the task! No one makes any progress at anything without commitment. If we're not willing to invest the time and energy, there's no point in complaining about lack of progress. You can't study the Bible (or Shakespeare or Maths) with one eye trained on the TV or stretched out on a comfortable chair in front of the fire. And you can't spend five minutes a month (when you're "in the mood") and hope to make headway. Little boys and girls become swimming kings and queens, ordinary people become concert pianists or brilliant medical researchers, tradesmen become experts at their job but they all have one thing in commonthey invested the time and energy! The only place 'success' comes before 'work' is in a dictionary.
You'll need patience! The Bible is a big book and it's complex. There is no magic to so learning it as to feel at home in it. You must be satisfied, in the beginning, to know a little and to follow good study procedures. You mustn't expect of yourself more than you are able to grasp. Each new and significant discovery will increase your awareness of your ignorance as well as your stock of good knowledge. The Bible is amazingly rich and each answer will raise more exciting questions. It isn't a "quick fix" book dealing with trivial concerns. You've joined in a quest with eternal consequences!
You'll need humility! But isn't this true in every pursuit of truth? We must come as students, willing pupils to the feet of Music if we wish to become accomplished musicians. We must allow the truths of Maths to have influence with us if we are to enter into the mysteries and grandeur of numbers. And we must allow Shakespeare or Dickens or Hugo to be our guides if we are to be blessed by their literature. If we won't come to the Bible with a humble heart, seeking to hear its message, why then, we'll waste the time we invest. But since the Bible is like no other book in the world and in it God speaks to us, do give it a fair hearing.
In the days when people thought ships had to be made out of wood if they were to float, someone made the claim that ships made of iron could float. A certain blacksmith sneered at this and proved it wrong by throwing a horse-shoe into the water and watching it sink. He didn't really give the idea a fair hearing, did he?! If he had wanted to do that he would have open-heartedly tested the theory on its own terms. To open the Bible and fight it at every step, denying its every word before hearing the message as a whole, is sure to result in nothing gained. Don't suppress your intellect. The Bible doesn't require that from you. But try not to come filled with animosity or driven by prejudice. So conduct your study that whatever happens in the end, you will be able to say: "I really did listen!"
Who Wrote the Bible?
The Bible was written by God! You'll come across hundreds of instances of "Hear the word of the Lord" or "This is what the Lord says" or "The Lord spoke unto me saying" or "What I'm telling you is the command of God" or "the word of the Lord came to me saying" or "the Lord spoke". On many occasions you'll come across sections in which God speaks in the 'first person', "I am God and besides me there is no saviour." Sometimes God just tells a man to "write this down in a book!" All over the Bible there are claims that God is its author.
The Bible was recorded by ancient people from many different walks of life! Doctors, priests, shepherds, fishermen, statesmen, kings, tax-collectors, theologians. They all had one thing in common: they believed in the God they wrote about and in whose name they spoke! They believed in him because they had heard him and they had experienced him.
It's true that there are large segments of the Bible where God doesn't expressly attach his name. But even in modern books we're satisfied with the author's name on the front of the book a time or two. We mustn't demand more from God in regard to his book!
How Can This Be?
But how can a man's word be God's word also? It can be if God tells him what to write (as the Bible often says he did). It can be if the man's experience is something God wants us to hear. It can be if the man's historical narrative covers the material God wants covered. It can be if the wisdom the man has learned from God is the guidance God wants others to hear. It can be if the man's pain is like our own and God wants him to express it for us. It can be if, as the Bible claims, God superintends the writing of the material. Holy men wrote because they were moved by God (2 Peter 1:20-21). Hurting men protested and God had it written down, brave men lived well and God had others to record it.  
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Does God Dwell in Light or Darkness? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Does God Dwell in Light or Darkness?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In the February 12, 2009 Butt/Barker Debate on the existence of the God of the Bible, atheist Dan Barker spent nearly two-thirds of his opening 15-minute speech alleging that the Bible’s portrayal of God is contradictory. Barker alleged several discrepancies (most all of which we have answered elsewhere on our Web site), including that God cannot logically dwell in light and darkness. Twelve minutes and five seconds into his first speech, Dan Barker asserted:
Does God live in light or does God live in darkness? First Timothy 6: “The King of kings, Lord of Lords dwelling in the light which no man can approach.” James 1:17: He’s “the Father of lights” and on and on we see God is light. There’s no darkness in him at all. However, in 1 Kings 8: “Then spake Solomon: “The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.” First Samuel 22: “He made darkness pavilions round about Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the sky.” Psalm 18:11: “He made darkness his secret place.” So, God lives in light. God lives in darkness.
Do these verses paint a contradictory picture of God? Not at all.
First, the Bible uses the terms “light” and “darkness” in several ways and in a variety of contexts. God’s dwelling place in the spiritual realm of the heaven of heavens is filled with “unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16), because His unrestrained glory illuminates it (Revelation 21:23). God made light in the physical Universe during the six-day Creation and “called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night” (Genesis 1:5). He made the Sun, Moon, and stars on day four of Creation, thus making Him the “Father of lights” (James 1:17). Jesus was miraculously transfigured before three of His apostles and “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). The psalmist referred to light in the sense of divine instruction: “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (119:130). Conversely, the psalmist referred to those who “do not know, nor...understand,” as those who “walk about in darkness” (82:5). While addressing the subjects of sin and righteousness, the apostle John used the terms light and darkness symbolically: “God is light (i.e., holy) and in Him is no darkness (i.e., sin)” (1 John 1:5). This same apostle referred to Jesus as “the Light” throughout his gospel account (1:4-9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:34-36,46), and Matthew recorded that Jesus spoke of His disciples as “the light of the world” (5:14-16), reflectors of His righteousness.
Notice that Barker never hinted at the different ways in which the word “light” and “darkness” are used in Scripture. He simply positioned a phrase like that found in James 1:17 regarding God being the Creator (“Father”) of lights against the poetic statement found in Psalm 18:11 (“He made darkness his secret place”) and expected his listeners to believe they are contradictory. But the fact is, God being the Father of the Sun, Moon, and stars made on day four, has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether God dwells in darkness or light. What God has created and where God dwells are two different things. One cannot fault Scripture when a critic compares apples and oranges. For there to be a legitimate contradiction, the same thing must be under consideration.
Second, the passage in 1 Kings 8:12 that Barker noted (“The Lord said that he would dwell in thick darkness”—KJV) is not discussing God’s dwelling place in the heaven of heavens. First Kings 8:12-13, along with 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, discuss God’s presence in the physical temple of God in Jerusalem. Just as “the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” in the days of Moses (Exodus 40:34), so “the house of the Lord [the temple], was filled with a cloud” (2 Chronicles 5:13). Similarly, the highly poetic wording in Psalm 18 and 1 Samuel 22 (a quotation of Psalm 18) pictures God, not on His majestic, glorious throne in heaven, but as One Who “came down” from heaven (Psalm 18:9), “flew upon the wings of the wind” (18:10), and delivered his servant David from his enemies while making “darkness His secret place” and “His canopy...dark waters” (18:11). As H.C. Leupold commented:
The picture is that of a violent storm—a figure so frequently used in the Scriptures to furnish the accompaniment of God’s approach, He Himself being as it were housed in the storm. From the time of Sinai onward these figures become standard (cf. Exod. 19:16-18; Judg. 5:4,5; Ps. 68:7;77:16-18; Is. 29:6; 30:27ff.; etc.). As the storm sweeps near, He is in it. The thick storm clouds are the material upon which He rides (1959, pp. 166-167).
Once again, when a person takes the time to carefully inspect Dan Barker’s allegation that the Bible paints a contradictory picture of God, the sincere truth seeker will discover the vacuousness of his charges. Time and again, both in his debate with Kyle Butt on the existence of the God of the Bible and in his writings, Barker has disregarded the fact that for a legitimate contradiction to exist, one must be referring to the same person, place, or thing, at the same time, in the same sense (for more information, see Lyons, 2003 and 2005).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Leupold, H.C. (1959), Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Lyons, Eric (2003), The Anvil Rings: Volume 1 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2005), The Anvil Rings: Volume 2 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Abortion and the Self-Contradiction of Political Correctness by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Abortion and the Self-Contradiction of Political Correctness

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In May 2004, 16-year-old Erica Basoria asked her boyfriend, Gerardo Flores, to stomp on her belly, since she did not want to give birth to his twin sons, and her own efforts to kill her babies had been unsuccessful. Flores complied and subsequently was arrested on the basis of Texas’ 2003 Prenatal Protection Act which extends the protections of the entire criminal code to “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth” (“State Homicide Laws...,” 2006). His lawyer argued that the Texas law used to prosecute was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Flores received a double capital murder conviction with two concurrent life sentences, making him ineligible for parole for 40 years—a ruling that was upheld by the Texas Ninth Court of Appeals (Ertelt, 2007).
Wait a minute. If Flores had been to medical school, he would have been legally free to employ barbaric instruments of torture to butcher the children in the womb. Or he could have pulled the babies’ bodies from his girlfriend’s womb, leaving only their heads, jammed scissors into their skulls to make a hole, and then sucked out their brains with a suction tube (see “Abortion Methods,” n.d.). But, no, young Flores did not have access to such sophisticated “education” and “expertise.” He simply stomped on his girlfriend’s stomach. Now he’s doing time for most of the rest of his life, while hundreds of abortion doctors continue to practice their deadly trade to the tune of 54 million+ babies since 1972—while being paid enormous sums of money (“Abortion in the...,” n.d.).
Such is the moral confusion, hypocrisy, and self-contradiction, or shall we say insanity, that grips America by its spiritual throat, brought on by the forces of political correctness over the last half century. The innocent blood that has been shed in the United States of America cries out for justice and retribution—which one day will surely be meted out (Proverbs 6:17). As Thomas Jefferson declared: “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever” (1787, Query XVIII). Or as Solomon affirmed: “The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice” (Proverbs 21:7). The God of the Bible eventually “administers justice for the fatherless” (Deuteronomy 10:18). “The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6).


“Abortion Methods” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://readthetruth.com/abortion-methods.htm.
“Abortion in the United States: Statistics and Trends” (no date), National Right to Life, [On-line],URL: http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/abortionstats.html.
Ertelt, Steven (2007), “Texas Appeals Court Upholds Law Protecting Pregnant Women, Babies,” Life News, January 29, [On-line], URL: http://www.lifenews.com/state2046.html.
Jefferson, Thomas (1787), Notes on the State of Virginia, [On-line], URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/jevifram.htm.
“State Homicide Laws That Recognize Unborn Victims” (2006), National Right to Life, December 30, [On-line], URL: http://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/Statehomicidelaws092302.html.

“Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began” by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


“Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began”

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Twenty years ago, John Horgan, staff writer for Scientific American, wanted to write an article titled, “Pssst! Don’t Tell the Creationists, but Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began.” His editor at the time did not like the title and changed it. Horgan has waited 20 years, however, and the original editor is gone who did not like his title, so he simply re-used it for an article he wrote in February of 2011, two decades later (Horgan, 2011). The fact that Horgan could accurately say that the scientific community did not have a clue 20 years ago about the origin of life, and the situation has not changed in two decades of intense research, speaks volumes about the false theory of evolution and its explanation of the origin of life.
The reason that “scientists don’t have a clue how life began” is because those whom Horgan is labeling as “scientists” have prejudicially eliminated the only viable option for the origin of life. What Horgan means is that scientists who believe in evolution cannot give any plausible, naturalistic scenario that would make life possible. Horgan mistakenly equates “scientists” with “evolutionary scientists.” The fact of the matter is, thousands of scientists across the country know exactly how life began—God created life during the six-day Creation week. In fact, we at Apologetics Press have several highly qualified staff and auxiliary scientists who have studied the evidence and know how life began.
The quandary that Horgan and evolutionary scientists are in arises from the fact that, according to evolution, life had to spontaneously generate from non-living chemicals—and there is no plausible naturalistic accounting for this. To defend his position that “scientists” do not have a clue, Horgan explained that the idea of DNA molecules forming spontaneously has major problems: “DNA can make neither proteins nor copies of itself without the help of catalytic proteins called enzymes. This fact turned the origin of life into a classic chicken-or-egg puzzle: Which came first, proteins or DNA?” (2011). Horgan then noted that origin-of-life scientists have postulated that RNA might be the answer to the beginning of life. But he concluded: “The RNA world is so dissatisfying that some frustrated scientists are resorting to much more far out—literally—speculation” (2011). The far out ideas to which Horgan eluded are notions that life was dropped off by aliens, or that microbes from outer space “seeded” our planet. Horgan correctly observed that such outlandish suggestions only “push the problem of life’s origin into outer space. If life didn’t begin here, how did it begin out there?”
In his concluding paragraph, Horgan wrote: “Creationists are no doubt thrilled that origin-of-life research has reached such an impasse…but they shouldn’t be. Their explanations suffer from the same flaw: What created the divine Creator? And at least scientists are making an honest effort to solve life’s mystery instead of blaming it all on God” (2011). Horgan is exactly right when he says that scientists (read that “evolutionary scientists”) do not have a clue how life began. He is wrong, however, to insist that the evolutionary scenario of life’s origin rests on the same footing as the concept of creation. The origin-of-life research has not shown that a naturalistic origin for life is merely improbable; instead, it has shown that it is impossible—life does not and cannot spontaneously generate from non-living chemicals. That being the case, the only truly “scientific” idea left would be to follow the evidence where it leads—to an intelligent, supernatural creator. Antony Flew, at one time the world’s foremost atheistic philosopher, came to just such a conclusion when he wrote: “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind” (2007, p. 132).


Flew, Antony and Roy Varghese (2007), There Is No God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York: HarperOne).
Horgan, John (2011), “Pssst! Don’t Tell the Creationists, but Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began,” Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=pssst-dont-tell-the-creationists-bu-2011-02-28.