Bible Reading November 11, 12, 13 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading November 11, 12, 13 (World English Bible)

Nov. 13
Jeremiah 1-4

Jer 1:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
Jer 1:2 to whom the word of Yahweh came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
Jer 1:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, to the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
Jer 1:4 Now the word of Yahweh came to me, saying,
Jer 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.
Jer 1:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord Yahweh! behold, I don't know how to speak; for I am a child.
Jer 1:7 But Yahweh said to me, Don't say, I am a child; for to whoever I shall send you, you shall go, and whatever I shall command you, you shall speak.
Jer 1:8 Don't be afraid because of them; for I am with you to deliver you, says Yahweh.
Jer 1:9 Then Yahweh put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and Yahweh said to me, Behold, I have put my words in your mouth:
Jer 1:10 behold, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.
Jer 1:11 Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what see you? I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.
Jer 1:12 Then said Yahweh to me, You have well seen: for I watch over my word to perform it.
Jer 1:13 The word of Yahweh came to me the second time, saying, What see you? I said, I see a boiling caldron; and its face is from the north.
Jer 1:14 Then Yahweh said to me, Out of the north evil shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land.
Jer 1:15 For, behold, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says Yahweh; and they shall come, and they shall set everyone his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah.
Jer 1:16 I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, in that they have forsaken me, and have burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.
Jer 1:17 You therefore gird up your waist, and arise, and speak to them all that I command you: don't be dismayed at them, lest I dismay you before them.
Jer 1:18 For, behold, I have made you this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land.
Jer 1:19 They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you: for I am with you, says Yahweh, to deliver you.

Jer 2:1 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,
Jer 2:2 Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says Yahweh, I remember for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your weddings; how you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
Jer 2:3 Israel was holiness to Yahweh, the first fruits of his increase: all who devour him shall be held guilty; evil shall come on them, says Yahweh.
Jer 2:4 Hear you the word of Yahweh, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:
Jer 2:5 thus says Yahweh, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me, that they have gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?
Jer 2:6 Neither said they, Where is Yahweh who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of the shadow of death, through a land that none passed through, and where no man lived?
Jer 2:7 I brought you into a plentiful land, to eat its fruit and its goodness; but when you entered, you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.
Jer 2:8 The priests didn't say, Where is Yahweh? and those who handle the law didn't know me: the rulers also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
Jer 2:9 Therefore I will yet contend with you, says Yahweh, and with your children's children will I contend.
Jer 2:10 For pass over to the islands of Kittim, and see; and send to Kedar, and consider diligently; and see if there has been such a thing.
Jer 2:11 Has a nation changed its gods, which yet are no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.
Jer 2:12 Be astonished, you heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be you very desolate, says Yahweh.
Jer 2:13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the spring of living waters, and cut them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Jer 2:14 Is Israel a servant? is he a native-born slave? why is he become a prey?
Jer 2:15 The young lions have roared on him, and yelled; and they have made his land waste: his cities are burned up, without inhabitant.
Jer 2:16 The children also of Memphis and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head.
Jer 2:17 Haven't you procured this to yourself, in that you have forsaken Yahweh your God, when he led you by the way?
Jer 2:18 Now what have you to do in the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Shihor? or what have you to do in the way to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River?
Jer 2:19 Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backsliding shall reprove you: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and a bitter, that you have forsaken Yahweh your God, and that my fear is not in you, says the Lord, Yahweh of Armies.
Jer 2:20 For of old time I have broken your yoke, and burst your bonds; and you said, I will not serve; for on every high hill and under every green tree you did bow yourself, playing the prostitute.
Jer 2:21 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then are you turned into the degenerate branches of a foreign vine to me?
Jer 2:22 For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before me, says the Lord Yahweh.
Jer 2:23 How can you say, I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals? see your way in the valley, know what you have done: you are a swift dromedary traversing her ways;
Jer 2:24 a wild donkey used to the wilderness, that snuffs up the wind in her desire; in her occasion who can turn her away? all those who seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.
Jer 2:25 Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst: but you said, It is in vain; no, for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.
Jer 2:26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets;
Jer 2:27 who tell a stock, You are my father; and to a stone, You have brought me forth: for they have turned their back to me, and not their face; but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.
Jer 2:28 But where are your gods that you have made you? let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble: for according to the number of your cities are your gods, Judah.
Jer 2:29 Why will you contend with me? you all have transgressed against me, says Yahweh.
Jer 2:30 In vain have I struck your children; they received no correction: your own sword has devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.
Jer 2:31 Generation, see the word of Yahweh. Have I been a wilderness to Israel? or a land of thick darkness? why say my people, We are broken loose; we will come no more to you?
Jer 2:32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
Jer 2:33 How trimmest you your way to seek love! therefore even the wicked women have you taught your ways.
Jer 2:34 Also in your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor: you did not find them breaking in; but it is because of all these things.
Jer 2:35 Yet you said, I am innocent; surely his anger is turned away from me. Behold, I will enter into judgment with you, because you say, I have not sinned.
Jer 2:36 Why go you about so much to change your way? you shall be ashamed of Egypt also, as you were ashamed of Assyria.
Jer 2:37 From there also you shall go forth, with your hands on your head: for Yahweh has rejected those in whom you trust, and you shall not prosper with them.

Jer 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, will he return to her again? Won't that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the prostitute with many lovers; yet return again to me, says Yahweh.
Jer 3:2 Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see; where have you not been lain with? By the ways have you sat for them, as an Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your prostitution and with your wickedness.
Jer 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain; yet you have a prostitute's forehead, you refused to be ashamed.
Jer 3:4 Will you not from this time cry to me, My Father, you are the guide of my youth?
Jer 3:5 Will he retain his anger forever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, you have spoken and have done evil things, and have had your way.
Jer 3:6 Moreover Yahweh said to me in the days of Josiah the king, Have you seen that which backsliding Israel has done? she is gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there has played the prostitute.
Jer 3:7 I said after she had done all these things, She will return to me; but she didn't return: and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jer 3:8 I saw, when, for this very cause that backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a bill of divorce, yet treacherous Judah, her sister, didn't fear; but she also went and played the prostitute.
Jer 3:9 It happened through the lightness of her prostitution, that the land was polluted, and she committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
Jer 3:10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not returned to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, says Yahweh.
Jer 3:11 Yahweh said to me, Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
Jer 3:12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, you backsliding Israel, says Yahweh; I will not look in anger on you; for I am merciful, says Yahweh, I will not keep anger forever.
Jer 3:13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against Yahweh your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed my voice, says Yahweh.
Jer 3:14 Return, backsliding children, says Yahweh; for I am a husband to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
Jer 3:15 and I will give you shepherds according to my heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Jer 3:16 It shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says Yahweh, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of Yahweh; neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they miss it; neither shall it be made any more.
Jer 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Yahweh; and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of Yahweh, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.
Jer 3:18 In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I gave for an inheritance to your fathers.
Jer 3:19 But I said, How I will put you among the children, and give you a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the armies of the nations! and I said, You shall call me My Father, and shall not turn away from following me.
Jer 3:20 Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, house of Israel, says Yahweh.
Jer 3:21 A voice is heard on the bare heights, the weeping and the petitions of the children of Israel; because they have perverted their way, they have forgotten Yahweh their God.
Jer 3:22 Return, you backsliding children, I will heal your backsliding. Behold, we are come to you; for you are Yahweh our God.
Jer 3:23 Truly in vain is the help that is looked for from the hills, the tumult on the mountains: truly in Yahweh our God is the salvation of Israel.
Jer 3:24 But the shameful thing has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
Jer 3:25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us; for we have sinned against Yahweh our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God.

Jer 4:1 If you will return, Israel, says Yahweh, if you will return to me, and if you will put away your abominations out of my sight; then you shall not be removed;
Jer 4:2 and you shall swear, As Yahweh lives, in truth, in justice, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
Jer 4:3 For thus says Yahweh to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and don't sow among thorns.
Jer 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to Yahweh, and take away the foreskins of your heart, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn so that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Jer 4:5 Declare you in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow you the trumpet in the land: cry aloud and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities.
Jer 4:6 Set up a standard toward Zion: flee for safety, don't stay; for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.
Jer 4:7 A lion is gone up from his thicket, and a destroyer of nations; he is on his way, he is gone forth from his place, to make your land desolate, that your cities be laid waste, without inhabitant.
Jer 4:8 For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and wail; for the fierce anger of Yahweh hasn't turned back from us.
Jer 4:9 It shall happen at that day, says Yahweh, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.
Jer 4:10 Then said I, Ah, Lord Yahweh! surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, You shall have peace; whereas the sword reaches to the life.
Jer 4:11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A hot wind from the bare heights in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow, nor to cleanse;
Jer 4:12 a full wind from these shall come for me: now will I also utter judgments against them.
Jer 4:13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as the whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us! for we are ruined.
Jer 4:14 Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?
Jer 4:15 For a voice declares from Dan, and publishes evil from the hills of Ephraim:
Jer 4:16 make you mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.
Jer 4:17 As keepers of a field are they against her all around, because she has been rebellious against me, says Yahweh.
Jer 4:18 Your way and your doings have procured these things to you; this is your wickedness; for it is bitter, for it reaches to your heart.
Jer 4:19 My anguish, my anguish! I am pained at my very heart; my heart is disquieted in me; I can't hold my peace; because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
Jer 4:20 Destruction on destruction is cried; for the whole land is laid waste: suddenly are my tents destroyed, and my curtains in a moment.
Jer 4:21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
Jer 4:22 For my people are foolish, they don't know me; they are foolish children, and they have no understanding; they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
Jer 4:23 I saw the earth, and, behold, it was waste and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
Jer 4:24 I saw the mountains, and behold, they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth.
Jer 4:25 I saw, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the sky had fled.
Jer 4:26 I saw, and behold, the fruitful field was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of Yahweh, and before his fierce anger.
Jer 4:27 For thus says Yahweh, The whole land shall be a desolation; yet will I not make a full end.
Jer 4:28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and I have not repented, neither will I turn back from it.
Jer 4:29 Every city flees for the noise of the horsemen and archers; they go into the thickets, and climb up on the rocks: every city is forsaken, and not a man dwells therein.
Jer 4:30 You, when you are made desolate, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with scarlet, though you deck you with ornaments of gold, though you enlarge your eyes with paint, in vain do you make yourself beautiful; your lovers despise you, they seek your life.
Jer 4:31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, the anguish as of her who brings forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, who gasps for breath, who spreads her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul faints before the murderers.

Nov. 11
Titus 1

Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's chosen ones, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
Tit 1:2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who can't lie, promised before time began;
Tit 1:3 but in his own time revealed his word in the message with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior;
Tit 1:4 to Titus, my true child according to a common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
Tit 1:5 I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order the things that were lacking, and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you;
Tit 1:6 if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior.
Tit 1:7 For the overseer must be blameless, as God's steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain;
Tit 1:8 but given to hospitality, as a lover of good, sober minded, fair, holy, self-controlled;
Tit 1:9 holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict those who contradict him.
Tit 1:10 For there are also many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
Tit 1:11 whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for dishonest gain's sake.
Tit 1:12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and idle gluttons."
Tit 1:13 This testimony is true. For this cause, reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
Tit 1:14 not paying attention to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
Tit 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
Tit 1:16 They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.

Nov. 12
Titus 2

Tit 2:1 But say the things which fit sound doctrine,
Tit 2:2 that older men should be temperate, sensible, sober minded, sound in faith, in love, and in patience:
Tit 2:3 and that older women likewise be reverent in behavior, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good;
Tit 2:4 that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
Tit 2:5 to be sober minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that God's word may not be blasphemed.
Tit 2:6 Likewise, exhort the younger men to be sober minded;
Tit 2:7 in all things showing yourself an example of good works; in your teaching showing integrity, seriousness, incorruptibility,
Tit 2:8 and soundness of speech that can't be condemned; that he who opposes you may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say about us.
Tit 2:9 Exhort servants to be in subjection to their own masters, and to be well-pleasing in all things; not contradicting;
Tit 2:10 not stealing, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God, our Savior, in all things.
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
Tit 2:12 instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world;
Tit 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ;
Tit 2:14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good works.
Tit 2:15 Say these things and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no man despise you.

Nov. 13
Titus 3

Tit 3:1 Remind them to be in subjection to rulers and to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
Tit 3:2 to speak evil of no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing all humility toward all men.
Tit 3:3 For we were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
Tit 3:4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward mankind appeared,
Tit 3:5 not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
Tit 3:6 whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior;
Tit 3:7 that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Tit 3:8 This saying is faithful, and concerning these things I desire that you affirm confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men;
Tit 3:9 but shun foolish questionings, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
Tit 3:10 Avoid a factious man after a first and second warning;
Tit 3:11 knowing that such a one is perverted, and sins, being self-condemned.
Tit 3:12 When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me to Nicopolis, for I have determined to winter there.
Tit 3:13 Send Zenas, the lawyer, and Apollos on their journey speedily, that nothing may be lacking for them.
Tit 3:14 Let our people also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they may not be unfruitful.
Tit 3:15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

Christians pray for God's will to be done by Roy Davison


 Christians pray for God's will to be done
Jesus taught, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9, 10).

We need to pray this because God's will is not done on earth as it is in heaven. Earth is a hotbed of rebellion. Satan is making his last futile stand against God.

In the Revelation, John writes: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time'” (Revelation 12:7- 12).

Jesus came to enforce the will of God and vanquish Satan by first saving those who believe and then, when He comes again, by “taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Christians participate in this battle to overcome evil. When the seventy returned from preaching, Jesus said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18).

Paul wrote to the saints at Rome: “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20).

God wants us to pray: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We pray that Christians might stand firm in the will of God: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).

When we pray that God's will be done on earth, we must of course begin with ourselves. Like David, we pray, “Teach me to do Your will” (Psalm 143:10).

Man's will conflicts with the will of God.

This is obviously true of those who outright reject the will of God. But it is also a problem for those who want to do God's will! Paul warns: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16, 17).

Although Jesus foretold His crucifixion, He did not want to die! “He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.' He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will'” (Matthew 26:37-39).

It is not wrong to be sorrowful and distressed when we face suffering and death, even though we know it is, or may be, the will of God. Nor is it wrong to pray for deliverance. Yet, we must qualify our prayer, as Jesus did: “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

Jesus warned: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

Jesus told Peter: “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (John 21:18). Peter was willing to die for Christ, but he did not wish to die.

Later Peter wrote: “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:17, 18).

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1, 2). “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19).

Time and chance happen to them all.

The Scriptures do not teach that everything is a direct result of God's will. Many things happen by chance. Solomon wrote: “I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12).

Although God intervenes to ensure that His ultimate purposes prevail, He often allows things to run their course, but with the promise that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). God will take care of his children, no matter what happens to them. Jesus said: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).

One man whom Jesus healed, showed great insight in this: “And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.' Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' Immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:12, 13). This man knew Jesus could heal him. Yet he also understood that it might not be according to His will. In this case it was, but in many cases it is not. As Jesus told the Jews: “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27).

Paul recounts his own experience: “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

How do we pray according to the will of God?

We must have the attitude of Jesus: “Not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).

To the extent that God has revealed His will in Scripture, we can pray with full assurance that we will receive what He has promised: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

In everyday matters, however, we often do not know God's will. We pray according to our best insight with the humble realization that we do not know what to ask, but also with confidence in this promise: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26, 27).

What have we learned from the Scriptures about prayer and the will of God?

We are to pray that God's will might be done and that Christians might stand firm in the will of God. Realizing that man's will conflicts with the will of God, we pray that God's will be done rather than our own. It is not wrong to pray for deliverance but we must understand that it can be God's will that we suffer, even if we do not understand why. God is not directly responsible for all that happens. Time and chance happen to them all. Just because God can heal someone, does not mean that it is according to His will. For those who love God, all things work together for good. We can pray with full assurance that we will receive what God has promised in Scripture. In everyday affairs, however, we depend on the Holy Spirit to intercede for us according to the will of God. Let us pray for God's will to be done. Amen.
Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive

At What Hour was Jesus Crucified? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


At What Hour was Jesus Crucified?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One allegation leveled by Bible critics is the difference that exists between Mark and John in their reporting of the hour of the crucifixion (McKinsey, 2000, pp. 295-296; Wells, 2013). Mark records that the Lord was crucified at the third hour (15:25), while John records that Jesus was tried before Pilate at the sixth hour (19:14)—which would seem to be after the time Mark says Jesus was crucified. The harmonization of this surface difference is quite simple and further underscores the sophistication of Bible inspiration.
Living as we do in the 21st century, we fail to remember or recognize that time has not always been reckoned the way it is today worldwide. We are able to calculate quickly the time anywhere in the world. For example, if it is 9:00 a.m. in Montgomery, Alabama (which is on Central time), it is 10:00 a.m. in New York City (which is on Eastern time), 3:00 p.m. in London, and 12:00 midnight in Sydney, Australia. Not so in antiquity. The ancients used a variety of systems by which they reckoned time.
A careful study of the biblical text reveals the fact that John (who wrote near the end of the first century, several years after the writings of the synoptic writers, away from Palestine, and addressing an eclectic, Hellenistic audience) based his calculations on Roman civil time. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, on the other hand, computed their allusions to days and hours according to Jewish time (cf. Smith, 1869, 2:1102; Robertson, 1922, p. 285; Lockhart, 1901, p. 28; Geisler and Howe, 1992, p. 376; Brewer, 1941, pp. 330-331; McGarvey, 1892, 2:181-182).
In light of these facts, read the context of John’s allusion to the “sixth hour”:
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away (John 19:13-16, emp. added).
John does not actually refer to the hour of the crucifixion, but only to the proceedings leading up to the crucifixion, specifically, the general timeframe when Pilate handed Jesus over to the Roman guards to commence the execution procedures. At this point, there yet remained the torturous, time-consuming journey to the place of execution. These events began to occur “about” 6:00 a.m.
Mark’s account reads as follows:
Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take. Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him (Mark 15:21-25, emp. added).
Using Jewish reckoning, Mark’s “third hour” is 9:00 a.m.—three hours after John’s “sixth hour” (see also Miller, 2007). Ample time is provided for the events leading up to the actual crucifixion, the proper sequence is preserved, and the Bible’s pristine historicity is vindicated.
It is truly tragic that skeptics are so bent on discovering discrepancies in inspired writ that they manifest such extreme prejudice. An honest, unbiased individual will take the time to examine the details of Scripture and extend a fair hearing to its record—the same fairness that the skeptic desires for himself. Despite the ongoing assault of those who view the Bible with disdain—an assault that has spanned two millennia—the Bible remains unscathed in its claim to be of divine origin.


Brewer, G.C. (1941), Contending For the Faith (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Geisler, Norman and Thomas Howe (1992), When Critics Ask (Wheaton: IL: Victor).
Lockhart, Clinton (1901), Principles of Interpretation (Delight, AR: Gospel Light), revised edition.
McGarvey, J.W. (1892), New Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Miller, Dave (2007), "Sunday and the Lord's Supper," Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1254&topic=288.
Robertson, A.T. (1922), A Harmony of the Gospels (New York: Harper & Row).
Smith, William (1869), Dictionary of the Bible, ed. H.B. Hackett (New York: Hurd & Houghton).
Wells, Steve (2013), The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/hour.html.

Deconstructing the Establishment Clause by Kevin Cain, J.D.


Deconstructing the Establishment Clause

by  Kevin Cain, J.D.

[Editor’s Note: The following article was written by A.P. auxiliary staff writer, Kevin Cain, who holds degrees from Freed-Hardeman University (B.S., M.Min.) and the Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law. A former Briefing Attorney of The First Court of Appeals, his current practice focuses on litigation at the trial and appellate levels in both State and Federal Courts.]
One wonders whether the Founding Fathers ever envisioned the intense...at times, malevolent...discourse these simple, instructive words would evoke throughout the land for over 200 years. Should “In God We Trust” be removed from our currency? Should the opening of Court not begin with an incantation to God to “save the United States and this Honorable Court”? Indeed, should reference to an awareness of God be stricken from the federal Constitutional oath of office? Or from the revered Declaration of Independence? Where does the injunction of the First Amendment lead us? (Doe v. Tangipahoa..., 2009).
I was in my car listening to a talk radio program where the subject of the day was the “separation of church and State.” The callers’ opinions were all across the board from the far left to the far right and everything in between. One gentleman finally called in and had the nerve to assert that the First Amendment nowhere contains the phrase “separation of church and State.” And then the fireworks began. Caller after caller (including the host) blasted this neophyte for claiming the First Amendment did not contain this purported phrase.
In reality, the First Amendment has two religious clauses. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (Bill of Rights, 1789, emp. added). The first clause is known as the Establishment Clause, and the second is known as the Free Exercise Clause. Not only is the phrase “separation of church and State” conspicuously absent from this short sentence we call the First Amendment, but it is not anywhere to be found in the entire Constitution of the United States (nor in any law passed by Congress).


Why is it, then, that so many people mistakenly, yet sincerely, believe that this phrase is somewhere found within the First Amendment? More importantly, why do so many believe that this phrase means that the government can have no involvement in religion or recognition of God in any form whatsoever? The origin of this phrase can be traced back to an 1802 letter penned by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. The Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson expressing concern over their lack of state constitutional protection of religious liberty and against a government establishment of religion. Specifically, the Danbury Baptists stated in their letter to President Jefferson, “Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty—That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals—That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions—That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor” (“Danbury Baptist...,” 1801). The Danbury Baptists were concerned that a religious majority might establish a state religion at the expense of the liberties of religious minorities.
Thomas Jefferson responded by letter dated January 1, 1802. He agreed with the Danbury Baptists’ views on religious liberty and the separation of civil government from involvement with religious doctrine and practice. Jefferson wrote: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State” (“Jefferson’s Letter...,” 1802, emp. added). Jefferson’s statement regarding “a wall of separation between Church & State” was a mere recognition that the government would not endorse or back a single religious group to the detriment of other Christian sects. However, the use of that phrase today bears no relation to what President Jefferson meant when he penned those words in 1802.


Many take the view that the Framers of the First Amendment intended for the government to be completely detached from any religious activity and neutral in all religious matters. In other words, they equate the phrase “separation of church and State” with absolute refusal by the government not only to engage in any religious activity, but also to passively allow any religious activity in the public sphere. This interpretation is far removed from the context or meaning of the phrase coined by Jefferson in 1802, much less the First Amendment.
To understand what the First Amendment does and does not mean, it would be helpful to look to the writings and religious/political sentiments expressed by the author and primary proponent of the First Amendment. James Madison submitted the original draft of the First Amendment to Congress, and Thomas Jefferson was one of the key supporters of the First Amendment.
It is clear from Madison’s own writings that he was concerned with the union of church and State as was prevalent in Europe at that time. The First Amendment was designed to prevent the government from joining forces with a particular religious organization as a government-endorsed religion. This can be seen in the original proposed draft of the First Amendment submitted by Madison. “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985, emp. added). “[Madison’s] original language ‘nor shall any national religion be established’ obviously does not conform to the ‘wall of separation’ between church and State idea which latter-day commentators have ascribed to him” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). Ironically, when the original draft of the First Amendment was later revised and debated in the House on August 15, 1789, Representative Peter Sylvester of New York expressed his dislike for the revised version, because it might have a tendency “to abolish religion altogether” (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). However, Madison stated during this debate that “he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform” (Annals of Congress, 1789, 1:758). While the Supreme Court has never adopted this interpretation of the Establishment Clause, this is the exact meaning articulated by its own author, James Madison. After reviewing this same historical context of the Establishment Clause, Chief Justice Rehnquist concluded:
It seems indisputable from these glimpses of Madison’s thinking, as reflected by actions on the floor of the House in 1789, that he saw the Amendment as designed to prohibit the establishment of a national religion, and perhaps to prevent discrimination among sects. He did not see it as requiring neutrality on the part of government between religion and irreligion (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985).
Moreover, James Madison was a religious man who strongly believed that all public officials and governmental leaders should publicly profess their belief in Christianity:
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way (“Madison Letter...,” 1773, emp. added).
Madison was also one of the drafters who passed the Virginia Constitution, which carries the phrase, “It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other” (The Proceedings of..., 1776, p. 103). Simply put, Madison was a strong believer that governmental leaders, legislators, and even legislation should recognize and espouse submission to Christ.
In his first inaugural address, James Madison recognized that the destiny and prosperity of a nation are directly linked to the blessings and guidance given by God.
In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future (Madison, 1809).
In other words, Madison subscribed to the position that religion should have a place in the role of government. Moreover, Madison expressed a clear belief that the fate of a government was intertwined with its dependence upon and relationship with God.
Thomas Jefferson was also outspoken and clear in his opposition to a church-sponsored religion that superimposed its will on the people. Jefferson stated that he was unequivocally opposed to the government endorsing a state or national religion, much like the system that so many of our Founding Fathers left behind in England. “I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another” (Jefferson, 1799). Jefferson was especially opposed to Roman Catholicism and any manifestation of entanglement of church and State where the church assumes the role of civil government. “But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion [i.e., Jesus—KC], before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants [i.e., Roman Catholicism, for which Jefferson had little tolerance], and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State” (Jefferson, 1810).
Jefferson was not an enemy of religion; rather, he embraced and promoted religion. In his first inaugural address, Jefferson, like Madison, linked national prosperity to a national dependence on God and religion:
Let us, then, ...enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? (Jefferson, 1801).
In his second inaugural address, Jefferson made similar statements, but with a clearer endorsement of the God of the Bible:
I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, and our riper years with his wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations (Jefferson, 1805).
Simply put, Jefferson publically called upon the God of the Israelites and the God of the Bible, and likewise called upon the citizenry of this country to pray to that same God. This is clearly not the wall of separation that so many have misconstrued from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. Jefferson did not state we should all go home and privately pray to the supreme being of our choice. Rather, Jefferson used the office of the President of these United States to direct this nation to call upon the God of the Bible in prayer to beseech the blessings and guidance of the one true God. Whatever that “wall of separation” may be, it is certainly not what so many scholars and citizens presume it to mean today.
Interestingly, at about this same time in history when the First Amendment was ratified (December 15, 1791), the United States government was engaged in numerous acts that many would presume to be unconstitutional today under a contemporary interpretation of the First Amendment. However, these governmental actions simply demonstrate that Congress did not intend for the First Amendment to be a literal wall of separation between church and State.
The Northwest Ordinance, passed by Congress in 1789, provided that “[r]e­li­gion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged” (1789, 1:52). Like Madison and Jefferson in their inaugural addresses, Congress also drew a direct link between religion and government and recognizing that government and proper education cannot stand without religion and morality.
On the day after the House of Representatives voted to adopt the final version of the First Amendment Establishment Clause, Representative Elias Boudinot proposed a resolution asking the President to issue a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God” (Annals of Congress, 1789, 1:949). This resolution was passed on September 25, 1789. Within two weeks, George Washington responded:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us (Washington, 1789).
Likewise, in President Washington’s farewell address in 1796, he declared:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.... The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them (1796, emp. added).
President Washington made clear that a government cannot exist without “religion and morality.” These events and actions of the government, near the time the Establishment Clause was enacted, demonstrate that the First Amendment was not designed to extract all religion from the government. To the contrary, the political leaders of the day, the Framers, congressmen, and even the Presidents surrounding the time the Establishment Clause was passed, were clear advocates for governmental endorsement of religion in general, and Christianity in particular.
Contrast the language and endorsement of religion from Washington, Madison, and Jefferson (and nearly every President that followed) with the state of the First Amendment today. Presidents Washington, Madison, and Jefferson used the federal office of the President to persuade the people to submit to the moral guidelines of the Bible and pray to the God of the Bible. Compare that with the United States Supreme Court which held in 1985 that a public school could not allow a moment of silence for students to pray to the supreme being of their choice (Wallace v. Jaffree, 1985). What has happened in our national history that we have devolved from a point in time where our highest ranking national leader could actively promote prayer and submission to the God of the Bible, but today schools cannot passively even allow a moment of silence at the start of the day? As Justice Rehnquist stated in his dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree: “It is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of constitutional history, but unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson’s misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years” (1985).


From this simple phrase, “separation of church and State,” much has been presumed and contorted to satisfy the trends and leanings of our culture. When a straightforward application of the First Amendment does not reach the desired result, obscure and complicated tests are fashioned to bewilder and lead to a conclusion that unassuming and sober-minded people would never reach. A multi-pronged and amorphous test can allow anyone to reach whatever conclusion they desire. This dilemma is especially true when looking at the judicial application of the Establishment Clause in the last 50 years.
Over the years, the United States Supreme Court has fashioned several tests when scrutinizing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. There is much debate about whether all these tests are still viable, whether one test overrules another, or whether the tests are merely fact-specific as to their application. One thing is clear: these tests do not reflect the sentiment of the Founding Fathers and the states that drafted, supported, and passed this amendment into law.
It is no surprise that media sources, entertainers, academia, and the government have veered further to the left, and grown more liberal and tolerant in the arena of morality. Unfortunately, courts have likewise followed the same path, reflecting the same liberal trends we see in every other facet of contemporary culture. While many who misinterpret the First Amendment clamor for freedom of religion, they have actually traveled down a path toward freedom from religion, which eventually results in hostility toward religion. Likewise, courts’ interpretations of the Establishment Clause have moved in a direction that is more offensive and antagonistic toward religion (or, at a minimum, allows others to superimpose irreligion over religion).
This simple language known as the Establishment Clause has spawned a flurry of judicially created tests and paradigms that further confuse and muddy the waters of the religious/political landscape. Rather than providing a reasoned interpretation leading to predictable results, these tests serve as the springboard to allow courts to manipulate the outcome of a case when applying the Establishment Clause—an amendment whose meaning was once clear and obvious. However, when a test only serves to further confuse and create more questions than it answers, its usefulness is short-lived, and its purpose is suspect at best.


The first Establishment Clause test created by the United States Supreme Court is a three-part analysis often referred to as the Lemon test. The Lemon test derives its name from the 1971 case styled Lemon v. Kurtzman, in which the Court ruled that a state program providing aid to religious elementary and secondary schools violated the Establishment Clause (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971). Under the Lemon test, a court must (1) determine whether the law or government action in question has a bona fide secular purpose; (2) determine whether the state action has the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion; and (3) consider whether the action excessively entangles religion and government. These criteria are sometimes referred to respectively as the (1) “effects” prong, (2) the “purpose” prong, and (3) the “entanglement” prong. There is a lack of consensus as to how this test is to be applied. Are courts required to satisfy all three prongs, or do they merely balance these factors? Are all elements needed, or are only some needed, and if so, which elements are required and which are discretionary? Moreover, there is a question as to whether the Lemon test is still good law today, or has it been effectively overruled by the many other tests subsequently created by the United States Supreme Court.


In 1997, the United States Supreme Court appeared to modify the Lemon test in Agostini v. Felton. The Court combined the last two elements of the Lemon test, using only the purpose prong and a modified version of the effects prong (Agostini v. Felton, 1997). The Agostini Court delineated three principal criteria to determine whether government action has the primary effect of advancing religion: (1) government indoctrination, (2) defining the recipients of government benefits based on religion, and (3) excessive entanglement between government and religion (1997). In other words, we started with a three-pronged test which has now been modified into a two-pronged test by integrating two of the original prongs and adding a new three-part inquiry to help explain the new prong. Anyone confused yet? But the tests do not stop here.


The “coercion test” owes its genesis to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dissent in County of Allegheny v. ACLU. Under the coercion test, the government violates the Establishment Clause if it (1) provides direct aid to religion in a way that would tend to establish a state church, or (2) coerces people to support or participate in religion against their will (County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 1989). What would or would not coerce a person is the subject of great debate among scholars and judges, and is clearly a highly subjective standard. However, the coercion test is more strictly applied when involving grades K through 12. In Lee v. Weisman, the Supreme Court observed that “there are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools” (1992). However, Lee v. Weisman also illustrates the subjectivity and lack of predictability when applying the coercion test. In that case, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent. Both justices are professed devout Catholics and former altar boys. Both applied the same coercion test and came to opposite results: Justice Kennedy found that the prayer at issue in that case violated the Establishment Clause, while Justice Scalia found that the same prayer did not violate the Establishment Clause (1992). Given this lack of clarity, it seems only judicially natural that another ambiguous test should be crafted to further confuse and bewilder the legal landscape regarding the Establishment Clause.


Under Justice Sandra Day O’­Connor’s “endorsement test,” government action violates the Establishment Clause if it amounts to an “endorsement of religion” (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984). Under the endorsement test, government action or legislation is invalid if it creates a perception in the mind of a “reasonable observer” that the government is either endorsing or disapproving of religion. Justice O’Connor wrote: “The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person’s standing in the political community” (1984). A person is coerced under the coercion test “when the government conveys ‘a message to non-adherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community’” (1984). The endorsement test is often applied when the government is actively expressing itself, such as graduation prayers, religious signs on government property, and religion in school curriculum. As expected, there is considerable disagreement as to what constitutes a “reasonable observer” under the endorsement test. Apparently, the reasonable observer is whatever the judge decides this hypothetical person to be. As such, the reasonable observer will vary from judge to judge. However, does the reasonable observer vary based on the jurisdiction? For example, the “reasonable observer” in Muscle Shoals, Alabama will be quite different from the “reasonable observer” in San Francisco, California. Moreover, on what basis is the decision made that the observer in Muscle Shoals is unreasonable, other than the superimposed, yet subjective, opinion of a judge who unilaterally decides that to be the case? With more questions and more unresolved issues, surely another test or two is called for.


The concept of neutrality in Establishment Clause decisions requires that the government neither be an ally nor an adversary of religion. This analysis (not so much a formal test as a relaxed analysis) is often applied in cases involving funding or some form of aid given to religious organizations or schools (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 2002; Mitchell v. Helms, 2000). The focus in this approach is an inquiry into the individual’s or institution’s control over the funds and equal treatment between religious and non-religious groups.


This test, if it can, in fact, be called a “test,” originates from the case of Marsh v. Chambers. After observing the extensive history of government-paid chaplains and legislative prayer, the United States Supreme Court concluded: “In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society” (Marsh v. Chambers, 1983). It is disputed as to whether this is actually a test or, rather, a mere anomaly in Supreme Court jurisprudence, or a unique application of one of the other Establishment Clause tests. Nevertheless, the United States Supreme Court held that prayer to open the Nebraska Legislative Session was not unconstitutional because of its long history. As such, the Court ruled that this practice was a part of the fabric of America and, hence, did not violate the Establishment Clause (1983). According to the logic of Marsh v. Chambers, if a practice was instituted a long time ago, the initiators of this practice must have had a secular or non-religious purpose in mind, but if the practice is more recent, the instigators clearly had a religious purpose in mind. This amorphous and backwards approach would presume that Americans are becoming more and more religious, in spite of every secular indicator to the contrary.


At this point in our analysis, the words of Festus come to mind, when he shouted, “Paul, you are beside yourself. Much learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24). While Paul was clearly not insane, but was speaking words that were reasonable and true (vs. 25), “reason” and “truth” are not the words that come to mind when surveying the dizzying array of Establishment Clause tests that courts have concocted to reflect the leanings and trends of our contemporary culture. While sifting through all this madness—these tests, multiple elements, sub-elements, and new tests—it now becomes clear how we have digressed from a simple, straightforward Establishment Clause with a clear original purpose and history, and how we now find ourselves living in an age where the government has not only sterilized itself from all Christian religion, but is even hostile and adverse toward Christianity. Scholarly smokescreens, guised in complex and multifarious tests created over an extended period of time, hope to eventually erase history and overrule the original intent of constitutional language.
It is important to know the many tests that courts have contrived in an effort to further estrange and remove religion from our government, communities, schools, and way of life. We should be familiar with these tests so that we can combat those who try to use them to justify their anti-religious views. We should combat them with the historical context of our Founding Fathers, even the authors of the First Amendment itself. Without this knowledge, some people may even be convinced that phrases like “separation of church and State” are actually found somewhere in the pages of our Constitution. Rewriting history is a deceptive and popular way to persuade people. While it is obviously inconsistent and insincere to close one’s eyes to reality and history, it is not without precedent. As George Orwell described it:
And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became the truth. “Who controls the past” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past” (1949, Part 1, Chapter 3).
Or, as Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany under Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, put it:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State (1941).
We should be aware of the historical context and proper meaning of the First Amendment. We should also be aware of the alleged “arguments” and “legal tests” that have mutated over the years, allowing courts to confuse and delude people into an interpretation and application of the First Amendment that would be unrecognizable to its framers.


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