"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Fasting That Pleases God (6:16-18) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   Fasting That Pleases God (6:16-18)


1. You don't hear much about fasting these days
   a. In a culture where the landscape is dotted with shrines to the
      "Golden Arches" and an assortment of "Pizza Temples" (Richard
      Foster, Celebration Of Discipline, p.47)...
   b. ...fasting seems out of place, out of step with the times

2. But the Scriptures have much to say about fasting...
   a. There is more teaching in the NT on fasting than repentance and
   b. Jesus taught more on fasting than on baptism and the Lord's 
   -- Yet some question whether fasting is something for Christians 

3. In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught concerning "Fasting That
   Pleases God"...
   a. In connection with other acts of righteousness like charity and 
   b. In calling His disciples to exceed the righteousness of the 
      scribes and Pharisees

[In this study, we will examine Mt 6:16-18, and consider what Jesus
had to say about "Fasting That Pleases God."  But in so doing, let's
begin by answering a few questions...]


      1. He fasted during his forty day period of temptation in the 
         wilderness - Lk 4:1-2
      2. In His teaching on the subject of fasting:
         a. He assumed His disciples would fast -- He said "when" not
            "if" - Mt 6:16-17
         b. He said they would fast when He was gone - Mt 9:14-15
         c. He taught:
            1) How to fast so as to incur God's good pleasure - Mt 6:
            2) When done properly, fasting would incur God's good 
               pleasure - Mt 6:18b
            3) Fasting should be done only when appropriate - Mt 9:16-
            4) There were occasions when prayer needed to be joined
               with fasting - Mt 17:20-21

      1. The brethren at Antioch - Ac 13:1-3
         a. Fasting in their service to the Lord
         b. Fasting and praying as they send out Paul and Barnabas
      2. The churches in Galatia - Ac 14:21-23
         a. Done in EVERY church
         b. When appointing elders

      1. He listed fasting among things which proved him as a minister
         of Christ - cf. 2Co 11:23-28
      2. Are we not commanded to imitate him, even as he imitated
         Christ? - 1Co 11:1 (and both fasted in their service to God!)

[At the very least, we can say that it is not inappropriate for
Christians to fast today.  Unless we have medical reasons not to fast,
we have very good examples to motivate us TO fast!  But to be sure that
we fast for the right reason, we should answer another question...]


      1. Some do it solely for health reasons
      2. Others do it only in times of grief and sorrow
      3. Still others do it as a way to gain self-control
      -- But these are not reasons Christians should fast in their
         service to God - cf. Col 2:20-23

      1. In the Old Testament; people of God fasted...
         a. In times of war, or at the threat of it (Israel)
         b. When loved ones were sick (David)
         c. When seeking God's forgiveness (Ahab, Daniel)
         d. When seeking God's protection (Ezra)
      2. In the New Testament; fasting occurred...
         a. When dealing with temptations (Jesus)
         b. When serving the Lord (the church at Antioch)
         c. When beginning a work for the Lord (again at Antioch)
         d. When selecting and appointing elders (in Galatia)
      3. Such fasting should be done in conjunction with prayer
         a. For fasting, when done properly...
            1) Humbles the soul - Ps 35:13
            2) Chastens the soul - Ps 69:10
         b. The prayers of the humble are more likely to be heard! 
            - cf. Ezr 8:21-23

[This being true, this should help us to answer the next question 


      1. These may be occasions on an individual level
         a. When faced with difficult temptations
         b. When faced with the serious illness of a loved one
      2. These occasions might be on a congregational level
         a. As when appointing elders
         b. As when sending out missionaries

      1. Such would be an occasion for fasting joined with prayer
      2. Are we not taught that God is more likely to answer our
         a. If we are persistent? - cf. Lk 18:1-8
         b. If we fast in the proper way? - cf. Mt 6:17-18

[So whenever there is a matter requiring much prayer, fasting in 
conjunction with such prayer would be appropriate.  Finally, let's take
a look at...]


      1. As practiced by the hypocrites of Jesus' day, it involved:
         a. Doing so with a "sad countenance"
         b. Doing so with "disfigured faces" (perhaps by applying
         -- The only good such fasting might do them is win the praise
            of men, but certainly not of God! - Mt 6:16
      2. Rather, our fasting is to be seen of God
         a. To be done without any outward appearance of fasting - Mt 6:17
            1) Therefore, it should include "anointing your head"
            2) Also, "washing your face"
            -- I.e., what people would normally do to as part of their
               daily ablutions
         b. By doing this, only God will see your fasting and He will
            reward you openly (perhaps by answering prayers offered 
            while fasting) - Mt 6:18

      1. This point Jesus made in Mt 9:14-17
      2. It should be done only when the occasion calls for it (such as
         situations where you would already be spending much time in 

      1. Cf. Isa 58:3-9
      2. All the praying, all the fasting, is of no avail if it is not
         accompanied with penitent obedience on our part

      1. Don't go out and fast just because it sounds like "a neat 
         thing to do"
         a. Take the subject seriously and prayerfully
         b. Fast only when the occasion is a serious one
         c. One in which you desperately desire God's help
      2. If you have never fasted before...
         a. Start slow, fast only for brief periods of time
         b. End slow, gradually breaking your fast with fresh fruits
            and vegetables in small amounts
      3. Fast when you have time to spend in prayerful meditation
         a. Remember the purpose for fasting
         b. To humble oneself in God's sight; to seek a favorable 
            answer to prayer for some important plea


1. There is much more that could be said on the subject of fasting
   (cf. Fasting - A Special Study)

2. But I hope this suffices to stimulate our thinking on a subject
   which has often been neglected in both study and practice

3. But implied in Jesus' teachings is that His disciples would fast,
   and so it is important that we know what is involved in "Fasting
   That Pleases God"

Now as useful as fasting might be, praying and fasting alone cannot
save a person who is lost.  Paul found this out when he fasted three
days after coming to believe in Jesus as the Lord (Ac 9:3-9; 22:6-16).

Have you heeded what Paul was told to do?

   'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash
   away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' (Ac 22:16)

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Prayer That Pleases God (6:5-15) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                    Prayer That Pleases God (6:5-15)


1. A wonderful privilege enjoyed by the children of God is prayer...
   a. Through prayer we can receive mercy and grace to help in time of
      need - He 4:14-16
   b. Through prayer we can find peace that guards our hearts and mind
      - Php 4:6-7

2. But the privilege of prayer assumes God will heed our prayers...
   a. Not all prayers are acceptable to God - cf. Pr 28:9
   b. Indeed, God does not hear the prayers of all men - cf. Isa 59:
      1-2; 1Pe 3:12
   c. Jesus described the prayer of one man which did not please God
      - Lk 18:9-14

3. Do we know what qualifies as "Prayer That Pleases God"?
   a. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus had much to say about prayer
   b. Especially the kind of prayer which finds favor in God's sight

[In this study, let's take a look at Mt 6:5-15, where Jesus taught
His disciples regarding prayer.  First, we find Jesus telling us...]


      1. Who love to pray...
         a. Standing in the synagogues
         b. On the corners of the streets
      2. This they do "that they may be seen of men" - Mt 6:5

      1. That is, they are indeed seen by men
      2. But that is the extent of their reward (the praise of men)
      3. They have no reward or blessing from God!

      1. Evident from the fact that He Himself prayed in public -  
Mt 11:25; Jn 11:41
      2. As did Paul - Ac 27:35

[The emphasis is the same as stated in Mt 6:1, "do not do your [deeds
of righteousness] before men, TO BE SEEN BY THEM."

How, then, are we to pray as to be heard by God?]


      1. This is the main idea of "praying in secret" - Mt 6:6
      2. "The sincere and humble worshiper, one who is not interested
         in making a public display for the sake of enhancing his
         prestige, will find the secluded nook or den to be most
         appropriate for his devotions." (unknown)
      3. The person who prays much in secret is praying to be seen of
         God, not men!

      1. Avoiding the use of "vain repetitions" - Mt 6:7
         a. As was often practiced by the heathen religions
         b. "The heathen tried to tire out their gods with such endless
            prayers. Mere formulas were repeated over and over again;
            the Jews had such prayer formulas, Catholics also have
            them in the form of their rosary." (Lenski)
      2. This is not condemning all repetition, but "vain" (insincere,
         useless) repetition
         a. Jesus repeated Himself in prayer at Gethsemane - Mt 26:
         b. Paul repeated his requests concerning his "thorn in the
            flesh" - 2Co 12:7-8
      3. Since "your Father knows the things you have need of before
         you ask Him," prayers to be heard by God do not have to be
         filled with superfluous words
         a. Have you ever noted the brevity of prayers recorded in the
         b. God is not swayed the by quantity of words, but by the
            quality of the heart!

      1. The phrase "in this manner" suggests that this prayer...
         a. Is a pattern for praying
         b. Not a liturgical exercise as sometimes practiced
      2. The pattern of proper prayer:
         a. First, simplicity
            1) Notice the word "therefore"
               a) It connects what follows with what was said before
               b) Jesus' pattern for prayer is an "illustration" in
                  contrast to the "many words" used by the heathen
            2) In the prayer itself, note the brevity of words
         b. Then, in its content, proper prayer includes...
            1) Reverence for God and His "Name" (i.e., His being and
               character) - Mt 6:9
            2) Prayer for the progress of God's Kingdom and His Will on
               the earth - Mt 6:10
            3) Asking for physical necessities - Mt 6:11
            4) Also, our spiritual needs
               a) Forgiveness of sins - Mt 6:12
               b) Protection and deliverance from evil - Mt 6:13
            5) Praising God - Mt 6:13

      1. As indicated in the pattern prayer itself - Mt 6:12,14-15
      2. Otherwise, we cannot expect mercy for ourselves - cf. Mt 18:
         21-23; Jm 2:13
      3. This must be very important to Jesus, for this is the only
         part of the pattern upon which He elaborates!


1. This is not the only occasion in which Jesus taught on prayer...
   a. Later, His disciples would ask Him to teach them to pray - Lk 11:
   b. He taught them about the importance of persistence, faith and
      humility in prayer - Lk 11:5-13; 18:1-14

2. But in this sermon Jesus sought to stress prayer that is designed...
   a. To be seen by God, not man
   b. To be heard by God, not man
   -- Who knows better what kind of prayer that is, than He who now
      sits at the right hand of God!

If we believe that God hears prayer (Ps 65:2) and that He is a
rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (He 11:6), then let's be sure
we offer the kind of "Prayer That Pleases God"!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Charity That Pleases God (6:1-4) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                    Charity That Pleases God (6:1-4)


1. Are you a charitable person?
   a. If so, are you sure that your charity is pleasing to God?
   b. Were you aware that some forms of charity actually displease God?

2. In Jesus' day, there were religious people who were extremely 
   a. The Pharisees, for example, would give ten percent to God - e.g.,
      Lk 18:11-12
   b. They tithed even the smallest of seeds - Lk 11:42
   -- But as indicated in these two cases, not all charity or giving
      pleased God

3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught His disciples to have a
   righteousness which exceeded that of the Pharisees - Mt 5:20
   a. Jesus first contrasted the "righteousness of the kingdom" with
      what the scribes and Pharisees were teaching
   b. He then contrasted what He expected of His disciples with what
      the scribes and Pharisees were practicing

[In Mt 6:1-4, we find the first of several examples concerning the
practice of righteousness.  In it, we learn about "Charity That Pleases
God."   Note first what Jesus taught about...]


      1. Some manuscripts, upon which the KJV and NKJV are based, have
         the Greek word eleemosunen
         a. Translated "alms", or "charitable deeds"
         b. Which would make this verse refer specifically to 
            almsgiving, or charitable deeds
      2. Older manuscripts, upon which the ASV and NASV are based, have
         the Greek word dikaiosunen
         a. Translated "righteousness"
         b. Which would make verse one speaking in general terms, 
            establishing the principle to be applied to ALL acts of 
      -- Textual support seems strongest for dikaiosunen, making verse
         one an introductory statement concerning all righteous acts

      1. Stated simply:  we are not to do acts of righteousness to be
         seen of men - Mt 6:1a
         a. Note:  It is NOT to completely avoid ANY practice of 
            righteousness before men - cf. Mt 5:16
         b. Rather, it is to avoid doing them JUST TO BE SEEN OF MEN
      2. Therefore, it is proper to do good works before men...
         a. When we are trying to secure praise for GOD
         b. But not when we are trying to secure praise for OURSELVES!

      1. If, in the innermost being of your heart, you do not mean to
         please and glorify God, He will not reward you!
      2. What reward you may have (cf. Mt 6:2,5,16) will be limited to
         the praise of men

[Let's now consider how Jesus applies this to the matter of charitable


   A. WHAT "NOT" TO DO...
      1. Don't be like the "hypocrites" (literally, "actors") - Mt 6:2a
         a. Who sound trumpets in the synagogues and streets
         b. Who are looking to be honored by men
      2. "They have their reward" - Mt 6:2b
         a. They receive exactly (and only) what they wanted:  the 
            praise of men
         b. But remember verse one...
            1) They have no reward from the Father in heaven
            2) Neither in the present or in the future!

      1. "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"
         - Mt 6:3
         a. This involves avoiding not only the praise of others, but
            self praise as well
         b. Some thoughts by others on what this metaphor means:
            1) "The right [hand], [represents] me with my good deed;
               the left, me with my good opinion about my deed." 
            2) "The expression probably refers to the fact that as much
               as possible a person must keep his voluntary 
               contribution a secret not only to others but even to
               himself; that is, he should forget about it, instead of
               saying in his heart, `What a good man, woman, boy, girl,
               am I!'" (Hendricksen)
         c. How can one develop the ability to give in this way?
            1) Perhaps by giving so often it becomes "second nature"
            2) So that you do it without much thought (just as with 
               anything you do often)
      2. Note: Jesus is not condemning public giving per se - cf. Ac 2:
         44-45; 4:34-37
         a. He is condemning the spirit which seeks publicity
         b. He is teaching "secret-giving" in the sense of "secret to
            one's self"
         c. "The true Christian cares not how much men hear of his
            public charities, nor how little they hear of his private
            ones." (Toplady)

      1. "Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you 
         openly." - Mt 6:4
      2. The reward may be experienced to some degree in this life- Psa41:1-3
      3. Without a doubt it will be experienced on the day of judgment
         a. For every secret thing will be made known - Ec 12:14
         b. We will experience the benefit of the good we have done 
            - 2Co 5:10

1. Christians who have been blessed materially have been given a charge
   to be "rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share" - 1 Ti

2. But if we desire that our charity will indeed store up "a good
   foundation for the time to come"...
   a. We must be sure to practice "Charity That Pleases God"
   b. We must learn to give, not to be seen of men, but to glorify God
   c. We must learn to give without self-praise for what we are doing

Do our charitable deeds exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees in
Jesus' day, not only in quantity, but in the quality of our giving? May
the Lord keep us free from the giving of hypocrites!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Acting Like Our Father (5:43-48) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                    Acting Like Our Father (5:43-48)


1. When Jesus spoke about "Responding To Evil", He laid down two 
   a. Do not resist an evil person - Mt 5:39a
   b. Respond to evil by doing good - Mt 5:39b-42

2. This is certainly a challenging task Jesus put before His 
   a. It is tempting to respond to evil in kind
   b. Especially when the mistreatment comes from an enemy!

3. But in the text for this lesson (Mt 5:43-48)...
   a. We find Jesus teaching concerning the treatment of our enemies
   b. We are told why we ought to act in the manner described in Mt 5:

[Keeping in mind the context of the sermon on the mount, let's first


      1. It did teach to "love your neighbor as yourself" - Lev 19:18
      2. But it also taught kindness was to be shown to your enemy
         - Exo 23:4-5; Pr 25:21-22

      1. Though it did enjoin the command to "love your neighbor"...
      2. It inferred from this command one had the right to "hate your 
         enemy" - Mt 5:43
         a. "This phrase is not in Leviticus 19:18, but is a rabbinical
            inference which Jesus repudiates bluntly. The Talmud says
            nothing of love to enemies." (Word Pictures In The New
            Testament, Vol. I, Robertson)
         b. "The rabbis corrupted Lev. 19:18, which sums up the Law of
            Israel, by adding `and hate your enemy.'  By thus tampering
            with Scripture, they  intended to define their neighbors to
            include only Jews and to exclude Samaritans and Gentiles."
            (Believers' Study Bible)
[Having noted the difference between what the Law actually taught and
the wrong interpretation given by the scribes and Pharisees, let's now
consider what Jesus taught on...]


      1. "Love" our enemies
         a. Not hate them
         b. Rather, show "active good will" towards them
      2. "Bless" those who curse us
         a. They may speak evil of us
         b. But in response we are to speak kindly of them
      3. "Do good" to those who hate us
         a. They may either ignore us or do evil things to us
         b. Yet we are to treat them kindly in either case
      4. "Pray" for those who spitefully use us and persecute us
         a. Notice, we are to pray FOR them, not just about them
         b. I.e., pray for their well-being, salvation, etc.

      1. Don't seek vengeance!
      2. Don't resist an evil person!
      3. Instead, react by manifesting aggressive love!

[Why should we respond to our enemies in this way?  Jesus goes on to


      1. That is, to demonstrate ourselves to be truly His children! 
         - Mt 5:45a
      2. What is our Father like?
         a. He gives material blessings to both the evil and the good,
            both the righteous and the unrighteous - Mt 5:45b
         b. He is kind to the unthankful and evil - Lk 6:35-36
         c. He offered His Son while we were yet sinners and enemies! 
            - Ro 5:8,10
         d. He loved us before we loved Him - 1Jn 4:10
      3. As taught elsewhere, we are to imitate our Heavenly Father 
         - 1Jn 4:11; Ep 4:31-5:2

      1. In Jesus' day, they were despised by the Jews, because they
         made themselves rich by collecting taxes from their fellow-men
         for the Roman government
      2. And yet, these tax-collectors would...
         a. Love those who loved them
         b. Greet cordially those who greeted them
      3. We are no different if our love is limited to our "brethren" 
         or "friends"! - Mt 5:46-47

      1. The word "perfect" means "brought to completion, full-grown,
         lacking nothing"
      2. In this context, it has reference to the matter of showing 
         love and mercy; note the parallel passage:
         a. "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is
            merciful." - Lk 6:36
         b. "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in
            heaven is perfect." - Mt 5:48
      3. When we display love and mercy to our enemies...
         a. We are "complete," "full-grown" in demonstrating love
         b. Just like our Father when He shows kindness to evil and
            unthankful men!


1. If we really want to be...
   a. "sons of your Father in heaven"
   b. "perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect"

2. It is imperative that we be influenced...
   a. More by the teachings and example of the Son of God
   b. Than by the attitudes and example of the "tax-collectors"!

Are you "Acting Like Our Father" who is in heaven?  Or do you emulate
the most carnal people around us?  May the "sayings" (cf. Mt 7:28) of
our Lord provoke us to consider the proper way to respond to our 
enemies and to any who might abuse us!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

How Could There Be Light Before the Sun? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


How Could There Be Light Before the Sun?

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Genesis 1:3-5 indicates that God created light on day one of the Creation week. It was not until day four, however, that He made the Sun, Moon, and stars. How could there have been light in the beginning, before the Sun was even created? What was that light?


The first thing to note is that whatever the light was, God divided it from darkness and then defined “Day” and “Night” based on the distinction (vss. 4-5). Moses highlights that “the evening and the morning” were in effect at the end of that first day, even though the Sun had not yet been created. Apparently, the light was directional and fixed, like the light from the Sun, allowing a light period for day and a dark period for night as the Earth turned on its axis as it does today, also allowing for an evening and a morning. Wayne Jackson noted that “[t]he ‘light’ of Genesis 1:3 obviously radiated from a ‘fixed’ source, in its relationship to the earth, inasmuch as it facilitated the dark-to-light arrangement, as the primitive orb rotated upon its axis” (2014). Henry M. Morris concurred, stating, “Such a cyclical light-dark arrangement clearly means that the earth was now rotating on its axis and that there was a source of light on one side of the earth corresponding to the sun, even though the sun was not yet made (Genesis 1:16)” (1977, p. 55). Biblical scholars Spence and Exell explain, “On the fourth day the light [that was—JM] developed on the first is concentrated and permanently fixed in the celestial luminaries” (2007, Genesis 1:3-5).
Can we surmise anything else about that light? Spence and Exell point out that Augustine argued that the light was spiritual in nature (2007). However, such a postulation does not harmonize well with the rest of the chapter. How could spiritual light be divided into the days and nights that are described throughout the rest of Genesis one to denote God’s activity on each of the days of the Creation week?
Though “light” was once thought to be inherently a substance or element, we now understand it to be merely a result of matter being in a certain condition. Spence and Exell point out that it would not conflict with the text to argue that the light of Genesis one referred to the “mode or condition of matter,” with luminosity, for example, being merely the result of incandescence (Genesis 1:3-5). This hints that some physical source could have been present to emit the light, unless, of course, the light was purely supernatural and temporary. Adam Clarke and Spence and Exell note that the Genesis one word for “light” is used elsewhere in the Bible to denote fire (Isaiah 31:9; Ezekiel 5:2), the Sun (Job 31:26), lightning (Job 37:3), and even heat (Isaiah 44:16). Clarke concluded “that it is caloric or latent heat which is principally intended by the original word” (2013, Genesis 1:3).
There is no doubt that when the Earth was created on day one, likely with its mantle intact, light (and heat) was immediately in existence due to the nature of the magma therein. Keep in mind also that “light” occurs in a wide spectrum—a range which far exceeds what humans can visibly detect. Henry Morris noted, “[I]t is obvious that visible light is primarily meant [in Genesis 1:3—JM], since it was set in contrast to darkness. At the same time, the presence of visible light waves necessarily involves the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Beyond the visible light waves are, on the one hand, ultraviolet light and all the other shortwavelength radiations and, on the other hand, infrared light and the other longwave phenomena” (p. 56). John D. Morris observed:
Actually there are many sources of light, not just the sun. There are also many types of light, not just visible light. Short-wave light includes ultraviolet light, X-rays, and others. Long-wave light includes infrared light, radio waves, etc. Light is produced by friction, by fire, by numerous chemical reactions, as well as the nuclear reactions of atomic fission and fusion, which is what we think is occurring in the sun. God had at His fingertips many options to accomplish His purposes. Light does not automatically require the sun (2008, p. 14).
Bottom line: while we know the light spectrum and heat (entropy) were created on day one, there is simply not enough information in the text to understand the nature of the fixed, directional light source that allowed for a division of night and day during the first three days of Creation. Whatever it was, no sustained contradiction can be levied against the Bible due to its commentary on the events of the Creation week. [NOTE: Consider that such charges, if sustainable, would have likely caused the Bible millennia ago to be patently rejected by all rational people, fading into obscurity along with the mythological stories of old. Humanity has simply understood that there is an explanation to the enigma, even if the details are not known, and that a legitimate absurdity cannot be levied against the biblical text.] Interestingly, Jackson points out that the ancient, mythological Babylonian account of creation, Enuma Elish, dating back as far as 1800 B.C., also claimed that light was in existence before the lightbearers themselves (2014). For thousands of years, humanity has had such texts, and while not understanding the full implications of such accounts, people have understood that such a concept is not inherently inaccurate. Interestingly, if the Bible were written by humans conning the masses, one might imagine a re-write of the events of day one would be the first edit to be made to give us some more insight.


Clarke, Adam (2013), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: WORDSearch).
Jackson, Wayne (2014), “What Was that ‘Light’ Before the Sun (Genesis 1:3)?” Christian Courier, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/882-what-was-that-light-before-the-sun-genesis-1-3.
Morris, Henry M. (1977), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Morris, John D. (2008), “Sunlight Before the Sun,” Acts & Facts, 37[1]:14, http://www.icr.org/article/sunlight-before-sun/.
Spence, H.D.M. and Joseph S. Exell (2007), The Pulpit Commentary (Electronic Database: WORDSearch).

Geography as the Most Important Predictor of Religion? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Geography as the Most Important Predictor of Religion?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Seven and a half minutes into his 10-minute rebuttal speech during our February 12, 2009 Darwin Day debate, Dan Barker noted that “there are other reasons besides reason and truth that people come to their faith.” He continued:
The most obvious one is geography. Geography is the greatest single predictor of what religion a person will have. If you were born in Baghdad, you can pretty much predict what religion that person will have. If you were born in Tennessee, you can pretty much predict what kind of person you are going to be with your religion, generally. It’s the highest predictor (Butt and Barker, 2009).
While it may be true that geography is the highest predictor of a person’s religion, it is important to understand what Barker is trying to say and why it has no bearing on the truth of the proposition that God exists. The implication is that if most people in an area hold a certain religious belief, then the mere fact that it is the “traditional” belief of that area should cast disparaging light on the belief, or at least should call into question the honesty and intellectual rigor of those who hold the belief.
When Barker’s statement is studied critically, however, it becomes apparent that his point is moot. So what if the biggest predictor of a person’s religion is geography? Does that mean that when geography is the biggest predictor of those who will hold a certain belief, then that belief is false? If that were the case, we could simply lump atheism in with all other “religions” and say that geography is the single biggest predictor of whether a person will claim atheism. Polls indicate that those born in China or the former Soviet Union, and certain other areas of Europe, are much more likely to be atheists than other areas of the globe (“Major Religions of the World...,” 2007). So what does that mean about atheism? We are forced by rationality to agree that it means nothing, other than the fact that most people, including atheists, adopt the beliefs of the people nearest to them. It says nothing whatever about the truth of the beliefs.
Suppose we were to suggest that geography is the single biggest predictor of whether a person will know his or her multiplication tables by age 12? Would that mean that all those who learned their “times tables” hold an incorrect view of the world? Of course not. Would it mean that the local knowledge of multiplication casts suspicion on the truth of the math being done? No. It has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of the multiplication tables. Again, suppose that we said that geography is the single most important indicator of whether a person understands how germs are passed. Does that mean that all those people who wash their hands because that is “what their mothers taught them about germs” have been taught wrong? Certainly not.
In truth, everyone knows that geography has nothing to do with truth claims. Is it the case that truth seekers often break away from their culturally held beliefs, forsake false ideas, and embrace the truth that God exists, the Bible is His Word, and Jesus is His Son? Yes. It is also true that many forsake the cultural truths that they were taught as children, reject the reality of God’s existence, and exchange that belief for false worldviews like atheism and agnosticism. Yes, that happens as well.
In logic, there is a common fallacy known as a “red herring.” The term comes from the idea of dragging a fish across an animal’s scent trail in an attempt to throw the hounds off the scent. In logic, a “red herring” is a device used to divert the attention of the audience from the real point that is being addressed. When we look at Barker’s use of the “geography” idea, something smells very fishy.


Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents” (2007), [On-line]: URL: http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html#Nonreligious.

Does Baptism Replace Circumcision? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Does Baptism Replace Circumcision?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

One reason some religious groups within Christendom baptize babies instead of believers is because they believe baptism is (in the New Testament) what circumcision was (in the Old Testament). Allegedly, since “those born into Jewish households could be circumcised in anticipation of the Jewish faith in which they would be raised.... [I]n the New Testament, those born in Christian households can be baptized in anticipation of the Christian faith in which they will be raised. The pattern is the same” (“Infant Baptism,” n.d.). One biblical text that certain advocates of infant baptism frequently cite to support this position is Colossians 2:11-12. In this passage, the apostle Paul wrote about spiritual circumcision, saying:
In Him [Jesus] you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead (Colossians 2:11-12).
Numerous proponents of infant baptism (sometimes called pedobaptists) believe that Paul’s reference to baptism and “the circumcision of Christ” implies that New Testament baptism and Old Testament circumcision are equivalent. Some time ago, I received a letter insisting that these verses prove “baptism replaced circumcision,” and since “circumcision was done to infants,” infant baptism is a biblical practice. Furthermore, “If Paul meant to exclude infants,” we are informed, “he would not have chosen circumcision as a parallel for baptism” (“Infant Baptism,” n.d).
First, to allege that Paul would not have chosen circumcision as a parallel for baptism if babies were meant to be excluded as candidates for baptism, is like saying that Jesus would not have compared His disciples to serpents (Matthew 10:16) if He did not want them to act like the devil, “the serpent of old” (Revelation 12:9; 20:2; cf. Genesis 3:1; 2 Corinthians 11:3). By reasoning in such a way, a person might assume Christians are supposed to be senseless, because several times Jesus compared His followers to sheep (Matthew 10:6,16; 18:10-14; etc.). Or, someone might attempt to justify the consumption of intoxicating wine on the basis that Jesus once spoke of “old wine skins” (Luke 5:37-39). To argue in support of infant baptism because Paul paralleled spiritual circumcision and water baptism in his letter to the church at Colosse is to err. One cannot assume that a Bible writer approves of other points of comparison when only one point of comparison is made. Jesus once compared the actions of God to those of an “unjust judge” (Luke 18:1-8), yet that does not make God unjust (Zechariah 9:9; Psalm 11:4-7), nor does it mean that Jesus approved of the unjust judges of His day. Jesus was using the unjust judge in this parable only to compare His vindication of the widow to the vindication God will give His people (Luke 18:7-8). Similarly, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul used the word circumcision to illustrate how a person “cuts off ” sin at baptism. The comparison between circumcision and baptism had nothing to do with the age of the ones who were baptized.
Second, nowhere in Colossians 2:11-12 (nor anywhere else in the Bible) do we learn that “baptism replaces circumcision” (“Questions Often Asked,” n.d.). In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he merely stated that when they became Christians they were “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh” (2:11). Paul mentioned circumcision, but only to make the point that when the Colossians obeyed the Gospel, they circumcised themselves spiritually. (Moses had used this same kind of language 1,500 years earlier when he commanded the Israelites, saying: “Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer”—Deuteronomy 10:16, emp. added.) Because of the work of Christ on the cross, sinful people (i.e., those old enough to transgress the law—1 John 3:4) have the opportunity to cut off their body of sin. Furthermore, those in Colossae were old enough to know and understand “the body of the sins of the flesh” that was “cut off ” of them by Christ at their baptism, and to have “faith in the working of God.” One must admit that babies who are baptized have knowledge of neither sin nor God. Thus, by implication, babies actually were excluded, not included, by Paul in this passage.
Finally, notice some other reasons why it is fallacious to teach that “baptism replaced circumcision”:
  • “The covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) was confined to descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and those converted to Judaism (Genesis 17:12-13; Exodus 12:48); baptism is for all nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).
  • Circumcision was confined to males; baptism is for both male and female (cf. Galatians 3:28).
  • If “baptism replaced circumcision” as some allege, people who already were circumcised according to the law could not be baptized. As J.W. Shepherd stated: “If the one came in the place of the other, the two could not exist at the same time in the same person. But all the Jews that had been circumcised on believing in Christ were baptized” (1929, p. 17). It was God’s will that the Jews, who heard John the Baptist, Jesus, and/or one of His disciples, be baptized regardless of their circumcision (Luke 7:30; John 3:22-24; 4:1-2). If baptism replaced circumcision, how could they both be in effect at the same time, among the same people, and under the same covenant (Brents, 1874, pp. 345-347)?
Truly, infant baptism cannot logically be defended using Colossians 2:11-12. Simply because Paul used the word circumcision in a spiritual sense to illustrate the time when non-Christians “put off ” sin and become Christians (at the point of baptism—Colossians 2:11-12; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27) does not make babies candidates for baptism. Moreover, Paul was clear that the Colossians “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands” were conscious of both sin and God; babies, however, are aware of neither.


Brents, T.W. (1874), The Gospel Plan of Salvation (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth Foundation, 1987 reprint).
“Infant Baptism,” (no date) Catholic Answers, [On-line], URL: http://www.catholic.com/library/infant_baptism.asp.
“Questions Often Asked and Answered” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.scborromeo.org/truth/q4.htm.
Shepherd, J.W. (1929), The Church, the Falling Away, and the Restoration (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate, 1973 reprint).

Did Jesus Christ Exist in the Form of God While on Earth? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Did Jesus Christ Exist in the Form of God While on Earth?

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.

Some conservative writers have attempted to defend the idea that the second Person of the Godhead, at the time of the “incarnation” (i.e., when “the Word became flesh”—John 1:14), laid aside “the form of God.” They contend that the concept of an infinite God being clothed within a human body is illogical. Though these authors undoubtedly mean well, their position is quite erroneous as to the nature of the incarnate Christ.
Several arguments have been employed in attempting to buttress this position. For example, it has been argued: (a) God cannot be tempted (James 1:13); but (b) Jesus was tempted (Hebrews 2:18). The conclusion is thus supposed to be: Jesus did not exist in the form of God.
The logical consequence of this position is that Jesus Christ was not deity in the flesh. Advocates of this view usually do not mean to affirm explicitly that conclusion, but that is where such reasoning leads. What these writers have failed to realize, with reference to James 1:13, is that God the Father—not Christ the Son—is in view in that context. James was not discussing the nature and/or role of Christ. Thus, it is improper to generalize regarding the nature of the Lord from this brief reference.
The text commonly appealed to as proof that Jesus did not exist on Earth in “the form of God” is Philippians 2:6. Here is the full context of what Paul wrote:
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8, ASV).
But the position advocated is incorrect for the following reasons.
In Philippians 2:6, Paul spoke of Christ as “existing in the form of God.” The term “existing” is not a past tense form. It translates the Greek term huparchon, a present tense participle. The present tense reveals that the Savior’s existence, in the “form of God,” is a sustained mode of being, not one that was interrupted by the incarnation. A.T. Robertson called attention to the difference between the present tense, huparchon (denoting “eternal existence in the morphe [form] of God”), and the Lord’s “becoming” (aorist tense) in the likeness of man (1931, 4:445). There was a time when the second Person of the Godhead did not exist as man; there never has been a time when He was not in “the form of God.”
W.E. Vine commented that this grammatical form denotes “an existence or condition both previous to the circumstances mentioned and continuing after it” (1991, p. 279). Another scholar noted that the word expresses “continuance of an antecedent state or condition” (Abbott-Smith, 1923, p. 457). Hendriksen was quite correct when he asked: “[O]f what did Christ empty himself? Surely not of his existence ‘in the form of God’ ” (1962, p. 106). Wuest amplified the present tense form of the participle by suggesting that Jesus “has always been and at present continues to subsist” in the form of God (1961, p. 462). It is unnecessary to multiply additional examples.
Contrary to the evidence, however, it has been alleged that whereas Christ existed in the form of God prior to the incarnation, He divested himself of that status while on Earth. Finally, according to the theory under review, Jesus resumed the form-of-God nature when He returned to heaven. There is no biblical support for this concept, which violates the explicit testimony of Scripture.
The Greek word for “form” is morphe. This term denotes that which is “indicative of the interior nature” of a thing (Green, 1907, p. 384), or as Kennedy observed, morphe “always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it” (1956, 3:436). Trench commented that “none could be en morphe theou [in form of God] who was not God” (1890, p. 263). All of this simply means that if Jesus gave up the “form of God” when He became incarnate, then He ceased being God at that time. This is equivalent to the doctrine advocated by Jehovah’s Witnesses, namely, that Christ was “nothing more than a perfect man.” I must say, in the kindest way possible, that the position under review is unrepresentative of the teaching of the New Testament.
But it is alleged that Jesus could not have existed in “the form of God” because the New Testament speaks of the Lord being led of the Spirit, protected by angels, etc. Obviously, therefore, Christ was not “infinite God.”
The thing that seems to be at the root of this misunderstanding is a failure to recognize that the Lord’s earthly limitations were not the consequence of a less-than-God nature; rather, they were the result of a self-imposed submission reflecting the exercise of His sovereign will. Of what did Christ “empty” Himself when He became flesh?
A.H. Strong expressed it well when he noted that, by means of the incarnation, Jesus “resigned not the possession, nor yet entirely the use, but rather the independent exercise, of the divine attributes” (1907, p. 703). To say the same thing in another way, the Lord’s incarnate status involved, not a divestiture of divine form/essence or attributes, but rather a subordination of those attributes to the Father in terms of role function. When Jesus affirmed, “[T]he father is greater than I” (John 14:28), He was not disclaiming divine nature; rather, He was asserting that He had subjected Himself voluntarily to the Father’s will.
Think about this for a moment: How could Christ be void of the divine attributes, and still be divine? A thing is the sum of its attributes. This is an insurmountable difficulty for those who argue that the incarnate Christ was not in the “form of God.”
If Christ was not fully God, i.e., existing in the “form of God,” exactly what was He? Quasi-God? Half-God? Merely appearing to be God (as certain Gnostics held)? Only perfect Man? What?
Moreover, if Jesus did not exist in the “form of God” while He lived on Earth, how could He claim to be “one” (neuter gender, suggesting unity of nature) with the Father (John 10:30)? Why did the Lord allow Thomas to call him “God” (John 20:30)? Why did Jesus accept worship (Matthew 8:2), when He plainly taught that only God is worthy of worship (Matthew 4:10)?
Finally, if it is to be argued that Christ laid aside His status of being in “the form of God” by virtue of His humanness and His subordination to the Father, then one must contend, to be consistent, that Jesus does not possess the “form of God” now, because as our Mediator He is “the man, Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), and He still is in subjection to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:27).
Some may feel that this is simply a matter of inconsequential semantics. However, sometimes semantics is quite important. Gospel truth is a message of words, and the Christian teacher needs to be accurate in the language he employs. May the Lord help us to be precise in the expression of biblical truth.


Abbott-Smith, G. (1923), A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
Green, Samuel (1907), Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament (London: Religious Tract Society).
Hendriksen, William (1962), Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Kennedy, H.A.A. (1956), “Philippians,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W.R. Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Robertson, A.T. (1931), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Strong, A.H. (1907), Systematic Theology (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell).
Trench, R.C. (1890), Synonyms of the New Testament (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co.).
Vine, W.E. (1991), Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers).
Wuest, Kenneth (1961), The New Testament—An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Biomimicry, Butterflies, and Bank Fraud by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Biomimicry, Butterflies, and Bank Fraud

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

From cocklebur-inspired Velcro® to robotic lobsters, scientists are increasingly looking to imitate the wonders of life. In the field of biomimicry (derived from the Greek words bios, meaning “life,” and mimesis, meaning “to imitate”) scientists, researchers, and engineers worldwide turn their attention to God’s creation to inspire new, intricately designed, man-made products to improve human life and solve various dilemmas.
Recently, professors Mathias Kolle and Ullrich Baumberg of the University of Cambridge studied the microscopic structures in the wing scales of the Swallowtail butterfly in hopes of mimicking its magnificent colors (see “Vivid...,” 2010). The colors of these tropical butterflies are strikingly bright because of the shape of the microscopic structures and because “they are made up of alternate layers of cuticle and air” (“Vivid...”). Amazingly, Kolle and Baumberg have been successful at making “structurally identical copies of the butterfly scales,” purportedly even with “the same vivid colours as the butterflies’ wings.” How exactly do Kolle and Baumberg believe these “color copies” could be used for the benefit of mankind? They believe the artificial structures “could be used to encrypt information in optical signatures on bank notes or other valuable items to protect them against forgery.... [W]e could see structures based on butterflies’ wings shining from a...note or even our passports.”
It is entirely appropriate for scientists to look to nature for the inspiration of their inventions. After all, “the whole Earth is full of His [God’s] glory” (Isaiah 6:3, emp. added). The infinite, omniscient Creator made marvelous, living creatures, including butterflies, for man to use, study, and learn from in this life (Genesis 1:28). Sadly, many scientists today refuse to consider the most important thing to be learned from all of the animals and plants they study and seek to imitate: they all declare the glory of God. Nature did not assemble itself (as Kolle proposed in his discussion of the Swallowtail butterfly). Mindless matter and the random, chance processes of evolution fail on every account to explain the intricate design of even the smallest of living creatures. The designs in nature that intelligent human beings seek to copy demand an adequate explanation; they demand a grand Designer.
For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God (Hebrews 3:4).
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).


“Vivid Colours of Butterflies Could Help Cut Bank Fraud” (2010), The Economic Times, May 31, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/Vivid-colours-of-butterflies-could-help-cut-bank-fraud/articleshow/5993979.cms.

Embryos are People by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Embryos are People

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The polarizing national debate over the use of embryonic stem cells for the purpose of seeking solutions to medical ailments continues to rage. The most recent development entailed the passage by the Senate of a bill to permit government funding for research using human embryonic stem cells (Babington, 2006a). President Bush vetoed the bill on the grounds that such research entails the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others (Babington, 2006b). At the formal signing of the veto, the President was surrounded by babies and young children who began life as frozen embryos that were created for in vitro fertilization, but who remained in suspension after the fertility treatments were complete.
What further proof is needed? Nothing was done after conception to change these children from embryos into humans. They became human at conception. From that point onward, they were merely allowed to grow—transferred to the womb to continue their development. No difference exists between a pre-birth infant and a post-birth infant—both are simply at different stages of human growth and development. As the children produced from “adopted” frozen embryos encircled the President with their parents, proof that embryos are people was staring the nation and the world in the face. How blind can we be? Are we of those who “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13)?
Apart from the fact that the scientific community’s insistence that embryonic stem cells will be the panacea to cure disease remains both unproven and highly suspect, and despite the fact that adult stem cells have, in fact, shown the most promise and have been used successfully (Harrub and Thompson, 2004; Harrub, 2006), the only concern in the discussion ought to be the moral, ethical, and spiritual implication. On this basis alone, the entire matter ought to be—and can be—settled.
If the God of the Bible exists, and if the Bible is His Word, then human life begins at conception. To deliberately terminate that life—for whatever purpose—is the taking of human life, identified in Scripture as murder. David insisted that his development as a human being, his personhood, was achieved by God, prior to his birth, while he was yet in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). Elizabeth’s pre-born baby is represented as a living human being (Luke 1:39-44). In fact, the term “baby” used in verses 41 and 44 to refer to the pre-born John is the exact same term that is used in chapter two to refer to Jesus after His birth as He laid in the manger (Luke 2:12,16). So, in God’s sight, whether a person is in his or her pre-birth developmental state, or in a post-birth developmental state, that person is still a baby! John the Baptizer is referred to as “a son” from the very moment of conception (Luke 1:36). All three phases of human life are listed in reverse order in Hosea 9:11—birth, pregnancy, and conception (see Miller, 2003).
The national discussion regarding the use of embryonic stem cells is “cut and dried” for those who believe in and respect the God of the Bible: “[D]o not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked” (Exodus 23:7). God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17). The fact that we even are debating this subject demonstrates the extent to which the nation has strayed from its commitment to and reliance on the God of the Universe—yet another unmistakable manifestation of America’s downward spiral into moral and spiritual depravity.


Babington, Charles (2006a), “Senate Passes Stem Cell Bill; Bush Vows Veto,” Washington Post, July 19, A01, [On-line], URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/18/ AR2006071800182.html.
Babington, Charles (2006b), “Stem Cell Bill Gets Bush’s First Veto,” Washington Post, July 20, A04, [On-line], URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/19/ AR2006071900524.html.
Harrub, Brad (2006), “False Marketing of Embryonic Stem Cells,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2976.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2004), “Presidential Elections, Superman, Embryonic Stem Cells, Bad Science, and False Hope,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2621.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Abortion and the Bible,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1964.

Did Jesus Begin His Ascension While in a Physical Body? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Did Jesus Begin His Ascension While in a Physical Body?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Some time ago a gentleman presented what he thought was an “insurmountable problem” for the Christian who claims that “Jesus physically rose from the grave in essentially the same body that was crucified on the cross” (see Lyons, 2004, emp. added). Allegedly, since God is spirit, Who lives in the spiritual heavens, it was necessary for Jesus to die a second time in order to shed His earthly body. And, since there is no mention of Jesus shedding this body before ascending into heaven, one supposedly cannot justifiably conclude that He physically rose from the grave.
A brief consultation of Scripture, however, reveals that such argumentation is extremely irrational. First, if Almighty God could create that which is visible from that which is invisible (Hebrews 11:3; cf. Genesis 1), then it is logical to conclude that the same omnipotent God can turn a physical body into a celestial, immortal body simply by willing it to happen. Recall that Jesus once turned water into wine simply by desiring it to happen (and not by adding grapes, sugar, food coloring, etc.—John 2:1-10). What’s more, He miraculously healed a centurion’s servant (who was not even in His presence), by merely willing it to “be done” (Matthew 8:13). Could this same Jesus not choose to change into His glorified, celestial body at some point before sitting down “at the right hand of God” in heaven (Mark 16:19)? Could the Father not simply will it to be done? To ask is to answer.
Second, the Bible never suggests that the angels who appeared on Earth in the past in human form had to “die” in order to get their former celestial bodies back. Before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jehovah and two of His angels appeared in human form and ate a meal prepared by Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18:8). The two angels later entered Sodom and ate another meal with Lot before warning him to flee the wicked city (Genesis 19:3). Would anyone advocate that these angels (and even Jehovah Himself) had to experience physical death before re-entering their heavenly home? If not, why would one conclude that Christ needed to die again physically (following His resurrection) before ascending up into heaven?
Finally, Jesus did not have to die a second time in order to transform into His celestial body anymore than Christians (who will be alive when Jesus returns) will have to die before receiving their celestial, immortal bodies. The apostle Paul addressed this very point in one of his epistles to the church at Corinth.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54, emp. added).
He also wrote to the church at Thessalonica about this subject.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emp. added).
According to Paul, there will be Christians living on Earth when Jesus returns. Before entering heaven, these individuals will not have to die first. Rather, God simply will “change” their bodies into “incorruptible” bodies “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” Exactly how this is going to happen and what these bodies will be like, we are not told. What we do know is that those living when Jesus returns will not have to go through a “death and burial” before getting these new bodies.
To argue that Jesus’ resurrection was not a physical, bodily resurrection based upon the assumption that He would have had to die again (in order to put off that old body) before ascending into heaven simply is not a biblical, rational argument. Based upon the above scriptures (and others—cf. 2 Kings 2), one can be assured that in the past God has chosen to change the spiritual into physical and physical into spiritual simply by willing it to happen. What’s more, He will do so again at the end of time when those “who are alive and remain” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) will “be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51) and “caught up...in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Lyons, Eric (2004), “Did Jesus Have the Same Physical Body After His Resurrection?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/585.

My Blood Of The New Testament by Beth Johnson


My Blood Of The New Testament
Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul all fastened their eyes on the Lord’s Supper as they witnessed Jesus speak. The setting was the Passover, and the mood was deeply solemn. Jesus understood the words He spoke, but the apostles did not. Jesus’ soul was sorrowful, even unto death, and in a few hours He would lose much blood by the whip that would scourge his back and lay His bones bare (Psalms 22:16-17). Soon His blood would flow from His hands and feet as the nails held him on that cruel cross. He would be able to see His life flowing onto the ground as He literally poured out his soul unto death (Isaiah 53:12).
Jesus’ will was to do His Father’s will, but His own will cried out for mercy (Luke 22:42). The Father’s answer to His pleading came in the form of an angel to give him more strength to endure the scourge and the cross (Luke 22:43). Jesus shed His blood in answer to His Father’s will, not His own. His blood was testimony to the great love He had for his Father (John 8:28).
But why such a death? His deep humility to allow men to raise Him on the cross caused His Father to love Him far more (John 10:17). His love for His Father and hope of the joy His Father promised caused Him to endure Roman soldiers mutilating His body so the blood of the New Testament could flow (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Probably our greatest hope is to commune with the blood of Christ (I Corinthians 10:16). As we drink of that blood of the New Testament our hearts return to the scourging and the nails that opened the way for His blood to flow down over His body. His blood and His broken heart solemnly announced a love to the world that has never been surpassed. That blood was testimony that we had a new covenant with God!
When we commune with that love, we do so by remembering the blood that was shed for us. We drink deeply as we consider His love for his Father and His willingness to suffer and obey. We draw that love into our own souls when we determine to walk in His steps (I Peter 2:21). The blood of the New Testament was shed so we, with awe and devotion, would long to follow the path of those beautiful feet (Hebrews 12:2-3). We draw a marvelous strength from our time of sharing that gives us power not to faint but to press on. As we commune with the blood of the New Testament, it purges our consciences from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14). As we remember our Lord’s offering for us during the Lord’s Supper, we determine to partake of the same suffering He endured (I Peter 4:13). We determine to endure grief even if it means suffering wrongfully because we have done right, just as He did (I Peter 2:20-21). Amen! The blood of the New Testament is full of the nourishment of heaven that will endure forever and ever.

Beth Johnson
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The King James Version.
Published in The Old Paths Archive

Bible Reading November 23 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading  November 23 (World English Bible)

Nov. 23
Jeremiah 42-45

Jer 42:1 Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, came near,
Jer 42:2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we pray you, our supplication be presented before you, and pray for us to Yahweh your God, even for all this remnant; for we are left but a few of many, as your eyes do see us:
Jer 42:3 that Yahweh your God may show us the way in which we should walk, and the thing that we should do.
Jer 42:4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray to Yahweh your God according to your words; and it shall happen that whatever thing Yahweh shall answer you, I will declare it to you; I will keep nothing back from you.
Jer 42:5 Then they said to Jeremiah, Yahweh be a true and faithful witness among us, if we don't do according to all the word with which Yahweh your God shall send you to us.
Jer 42:6 Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of Yahweh our God, to whom we send you; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of Yahweh our God.
Jer 42:7 It happened after ten days, that the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah.
Jer 42:8 Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest,
Jer 42:9 and said to them, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your supplication before him:
Jer 42:10 If you will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I grieve over the distress that I have brought on you.
Jer 42:11 Don't be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; don't be afraid of him, says Yahweh: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
Jer 42:12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you, and cause you to return to your own land.
Jer 42:13 But if you say, We will not dwell in this land; so that you don't obey the voice of Yahweh your God,
Jer 42:14 saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:
Jer 42:15 now therefore hear you the word of Yahweh, O remnant of Judah: Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, If you indeed set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;
Jer 42:16 then it shall happen, that the sword, which you fear, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine, about which you are afraid, shall follow hard after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die.
Jer 42:17 So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there: they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring on them.
Jer 42:18 For thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath has been poured forth on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so shall my wrath be poured forth on you, when you shall enter into Egypt; and you shall be an object of horror, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and you shall see this place no more.
Jer 42:19 Yahweh has spoken concerning you, remnant of Judah, Don't you go into Egypt: know certainly that I have testified to you this day.
Jer 42:20 For you have dealt deceitfully against your own souls; for you sent me to Yahweh your God, saying, Pray for us to Yahweh our God; and according to all that Yahweh our God shall say, so declare to us, and we will do it:
Jer 42:21 and I have this day declared it to you; but you have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh your God in anything for which he has sent me to you.
Jer 42:22 Now therefore know certainly that you shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place where you desire to go to sojourn there.

Jer 43:1 It happened that, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking to all the people all the words of Yahweh their God, with which Yahweh their God had sent him to them, even all these words,
Jer 43:2 then spoke Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying to Jeremiah, You speak falsely: Yahweh our God has not sent you to say, You shall not go into Egypt to sojourn there;
Jer 43:3 but Baruch the son of Neriah sets you on against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may put us to death, and carry us away captive to Babylon.
Jer 43:4 So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, didn't obey the voice of Yahweh, to dwell in the land of Judah.
Jer 43:5 But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, who were returned from all the nations where they had been driven, to sojourn in the land of Judah;
Jer 43:6 the men, and the women, and the children, and the king's daughters, and every person who Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan; and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah;
Jer 43:7 and they came into the land of Egypt; for they didn't obey the voice of Yahweh: and they came to Tahpanhes.
Jer 43:8 Then came the word of Yahweh to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying,
Jer 43:9 Take great stones in your hand, and hide them in mortar in the brick work, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah;
Jer 43:10 and tell them, Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne on these stones that I have hidden; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.
Jer 43:11 He shall come, and shall strike the land of Egypt; such as are for death shall be given to death, and such as are for captivity to captivity, and such as are for the sword to the sword.
Jer 43:12 I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captive: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd puts on his garment; and he shall go forth from there in peace.
Jer 43:13 He shall also break the pillars of Beth Shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of Egypt shall he burn with fire.

Jer 44:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews who lived in the land of Egypt, who lived at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Memphis, and in the country of Pathros, saying,
Jer 44:2 Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: You have seen all the evil that I have brought on Jerusalem, and on all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwells therein,
Jer 44:3 because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, that they didn't know, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers.
Jer 44:4 However I sent to you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Oh, don't do this abominable thing that I hate.
Jer 44:5 But they didn't listen, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense to other gods.
Jer 44:6 Therefore my wrath and my anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as it is this day.
Jer 44:7 Therefore now thus says Yahweh, the God of Armies, the God of Israel: Why commit you this great evil against your own souls, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and suckling, out of the midst of Judah, to leave you none remaining;
Jer 44:8 in that you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt, where you are gone to sojourn; that you may be cut off, and that you may be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?
Jer 44:9 Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives which they committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?
Jer 44:10 They are not humbled even to this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers.
Jer 44:11 Therefore thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, even to cut off all Judah.
Jer 44:12 I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed; in the land of Egypt shall they fall; they shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine; they shall die, from the least even to the greatest, by the sword and by the famine; and they shall be an object of horror, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach.
Jer 44:13 For I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence;
Jer 44:14 so that none of the remnant of Judah, who have gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or be left, to return into the land of Judah, to which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return save such as shall escape.
Jer 44:15 Then all the men who knew that their wives burned incense to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, even all the people who lived in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,
Jer 44:16 As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of Yahweh, we will not listen to you.
Jer 44:17 But we will certainly perform every word that is gone forth out of our mouth, to burn incense to the queen of the sky, and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then had we plenty of food, and were well, and saw no evil.
Jer 44:18 But since we left off burning incense to the queen of the sky, and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
Jer 44:19 When we burned incense to the queen of the sky, and poured out drink offerings to her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings to her, without our husbands?
Jer 44:20 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, to the men, and to the women, even to all the people who had given him an answer, saying,
Jer 44:21 The incense that you burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, didn't Yahweh remember them, and didn't it come into his mind?
Jer 44:22 so that Yahweh could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which you have committed; therefore is your land become a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day.
Jer 44:23 Because you have burned incense, and because you have sinned against Yahweh, and have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened to you, as it is this day.
Jer 44:24 Moreover Jeremiah said to all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of Yahweh, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt:
Jer 44:25 Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, saying, You and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and with your hands have fulfilled it, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of the sky, and to pour out drink offerings to her: establish then your vows, and perform your vows.
Jer 44:26 Therefore hear the word of Yahweh, all Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says Yahweh, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, As the Lord Yahweh lives.
Jer 44:27 Behold, I watch over them for evil, and not for good; and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.
Jer 44:28 Those who escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who have gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose word shall stand, mine, or theirs.
Jer 44:29 This shall be the sign to you, says Yahweh, that I will punish you in this place, that you may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil:
Jer 44:30 Thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of those who seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy, and sought his life.

Jer 45:1 The message that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying,
Jer 45:2 Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, to you, Baruch:
Jer 45:3 You did say, Woe is me now! for Yahweh has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.
Jer 45:4 You shall tell him, Thus says Yahweh: Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up; and this in the whole land.
Jer 45:5 Seek you great things for yourself? Don't seek them; for, behold, I will bring evil on all flesh, says Yahweh; but your life will I give to you for a prey in all places where you go.

Nov. 23
Hebrews 9

Heb 9:1 Now indeed even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service, and an earthly sanctuary.
Heb 9:2 For a tabernacle was prepared. In the first part were the lampstand, the table, and the show bread; which is called the Holy Place.
Heb 9:3 After the second veil was the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,
Heb 9:4 having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which was a golden pot holding the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;
Heb 9:5 and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, of which things we can't speak now in detail.
Heb 9:6 Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services,
Heb 9:7 but into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offers for himself, and for the errors of the people.
Heb 9:8 The Holy Spirit is indicating this, that the way into the Holy Place wasn't yet revealed while the first tabernacle was still standing;
Heb 9:9 which is a symbol of the present age, where gifts and sacrifices are offered that are incapable, concerning the conscience, of making the worshipper perfect;
Heb 9:10 being only (with meats and drinks and various washings) fleshly ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation.
Heb 9:11 But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation,
Heb 9:12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption.
Heb 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh:
Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Heb 9:15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Heb 9:16 For where a last will and testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him who made it.
Heb 9:17 For a will is in force where there has been death, for it is never in force while he who made it lives.
Heb 9:18 Therefore even the first covenant has not been dedicated without blood.
Heb 9:19 For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
Heb 9:20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."
Heb 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner with the blood.
Heb 9:22 According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.
Heb 9:23 It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Heb 9:24 For Christ hasn't entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Heb 9:25 nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place year by year with blood not his own,
Heb 9:26 or else he must have suffered often since the foundation of the world. But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27 Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this, judgment,
Heb 9:28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting for him for salvation.