"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Healing Of Blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

               The Healing Of Blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52)


1. As we continue our studies in the gospel of Mark...
   a. Jesus and His disciples are making their way toward Jerusalem
      - cf. Mk 10:32
   b. We now come to the last healing miracle described in the gospel of
      Mark - Mk 10:46-52

2. It involves the healing of a blind man near the city of Jericho...
   a. Identified by name as Bartimaeus
   b. Whose persistence, faith, and gratitude can serve as an example
      for us today

[Let's first take a closer look at...]


      1. The city
         a. Mark reports that the miracle occurred on the way out of
            Jericho - Mk 10:46
         b. Luke says it occurred on the way to Jericho - Lk 18:35
         c. There were two Jerichos at the time of Jesus, about 15 miles
            NE of Jerusalem
         d. The old Jericho from the days of Joshua was mostly abandoned
         e. The new Jericho built by Herod the Great was an attractive
         f. It may be the miracle occurred as Jesus was leaving one and
            heading to another - Expositor's Bible Commentary
      2. The crowd
         a. Included Jesus' disciples and a 'great multitude' - Mk 10:46
         b. The multitude was likely even greater because it was the
            time many Jews were on their way to Jerusalem observe the
      3. The blind man
         a. Matthew reveals that there were actually two blind men 
            - Mt 20:29-32
         b. Luke focuses his account on "a certain blind man" 
            - Lk 18:35-43
         c. Mark does also, identifying him by name, Bartimaeus - Mk 10:46
         d. Bartimaeus sat by the road, begging - Mk 10:46

      1. The desperate plea
         a. Learning that Jesus of Nazareth was walking by, Bartimaeus
            began to cry out
         b. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" - Mk 10:47
         c. Many sought to silence him, but he cried out all the more
         d. "Son of David, have mercy on me!" - Mk 10:48
      2. The gracious healing
         a. Jesus commanded for Bartimaeus to be called
         b. Some encourage him:  "Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling
            you." - Mk 10:49
         c. He throws aside his outer garment (which might hinder his
            steps) and comes to Jesus - Mk 10:50
         d. Jesus asks Bartimaeus what he wants Him to do - Mk 10:51
         e. "Rabboni (Master, Teacher, cf. Jn 20:16), that I may receive
            my sight."
         f. Jesus' response:  "Go your way; your faith has made you
            well." - Mk 10:52
      3. The new disciple
         a. Immediately Bartimaeus receives his sight - Mk 10:52
         b. He follows Jesus on the road, glorifying God - cf. Lk 18:43

[The people that saw this miracle also praised God (Lk 18:43).  How
might we best praise God for such a miracle?  Perhaps by learning from
the example of blind Bartimaeus.  In that regard, here are...)


      1. Bartimaeus displayed persistence despite the efforts of others
         to silence him
      2. He exemplifies the truth of what Jesus taught about persistence
         - Mt 7:7-8
      3. Are we willing to be persistent in our prayers? - cf. Lk 18:1-8

   B. FAITH...
      1. Bartimaeus was healed because of his faith
      2. Similar to the woman healed of a flow of blood - Mk 5:34
      3. Do we have the faith to receive what is God's will for us?
         - cf. 1Jn 5:14

      1. Bartimaeus followed Jesus and glorified God
      2. Like the Samaritan leper, he expressed gratitude - Lk 17:12-19
      3. Do we express gratitude for the many blessings God gives us?
         - cf. 1Th 5:14


1. Bartimaeus, who many sought to silence, has much to teach us about...
   a. Persistence
   b. Faith
   c. Gratitude

2. May the healing of blind Bartimaeus serve to always remind us to...
   a. Persist in our requests to God
   b. Develop the faith necessary to receive such requests
   c. Never fail to express gratitude when God answers our prayers

Finally, note that Bartimaeus followed Jesus.  Are you willing to show
your gratitude to Jesus by following Him as His disciple, responding to
the gospel of Christ...? - Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Served By Greatness, Serve To Be Great (10:41-45) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

           Served By Greatness, Serve To Be Great (10:41-45)


1. In our previous study, we saw where James and John made a request...
   a. For Jesus to do whatever they ask! - Mk 10:35
   b. In particular, the honor of sitting by Him in His glory (kingdom)
      - Mk 10:36-37; Mt 20:21

2. We saw where Jesus' response was two-fold...
   a. First, about drinking His cup and being baptized with His baptism
      - Mk 10:38-39
   b. Second, their request was not His to grant, but His Father's 
      - Mk 10:40; Mt 20:23

3. This request in behalf of James and John...
   a. Displeased the other apostles - Mk 10:41
   b. Provided Jesus an opportunity to teach an important lesson 
      - Mk 10:42-45
   c. I.e., to be great in the kingdom one must serve, even as the Son
      of Man came to serve

[This is a lesson every Christian needs to remember, yet it goes against
what the world would have us believe.  To encourage us in being willing
to serve, perhaps it would help to recall that we have been...]


      1. He came to serve, not to be served - Mk 10:45
      2. He served by giving His life a ransom, dying on the cross for
         our sins
      3. He serves even now, as our High Priest who intercedes for us
         - He 7:24-25

      1. The prophets spent their lives in service for our benefit 
         - 1Pe 1:10-12
      2. Thus we have been served by men like Moses, Samuel, David,
         Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and many other "heroes of faith"!

      1. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets - 1Pe 1:11
      2. He also inspired the apostles to reveal the gospel - 1Pe 1:12;
         Jn 16:13

      1. They are the ones who preached the gospel to us - 1Pe 1:12
      2. Through them, we have come to believe in Jesus - cf. Jn 17:20
      3. Thus we have been served by men like Peter, James, John, and
         Paul, who suffered greatly in their ministry to us! 
         - cf. 1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 11:24-29

      1. They had a keen interest in the things being revealed - 1Pe1:12
      2. For they had a part in the process of revelation - cf. Dan 8,
         9; Lk 1:11-19,26-38
      3. Thus they too have ministered to us - cf. He 1:13-14

      1. Someone taught us the gospel, others continue to teach us and
         our children
      2. Some made it possible for us to assemble, and each week clean
         up what we leave behind
      3. In times of sickness, many have prayed and rendered various
         forms of service

[With so many rendering so much service, it is easy to feel pampered.
Indeed, we have been "served by greatness"!  Do we take it for granted?
I hope not.  We can show our appreciation by emulating those who served


      1. Someone led you to Christ, can you not lead another to Him?
         - cf. Jn 1:35-46
      2. Begin by being hospitable, offering acts of kindness and
      3. At the very least, invite to services, offer a Bible
         correspondence course
      4. Hone your skills in personal evangelism, seek to improve your
         ability to share the gospel

      1. Many have contributed to your spiritual growth, can you help
         others? - cf. Ep 4:16
      2. Begin by being present at every service, greeting every one
      3. Take a special interest in those who are new, encourage them
      4. Offer to help teach our children, even if it only means to
         assist another teacher
      5. Volunteer whatever service you can render in the work and
         worship of the church

      1. Has anyone ever showed you kindness?  "Be kind to one another"
         - cf. Ep 4:32
      2. Visit the sick or elderly in hospitals, and at home
      3. Render service such as cleaning, transportation, errands, etc.
      4. Minister to the poor, hungry, or those otherwise in need


1. The important thing is that we be people of service...
   a. People who serve others, not just benefiting from the efforts of
   b. People who are producers, not just consumers

2. Serving is not just the path to greatness in the kingdom, but also to
   true happiness:

   "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have
   done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not
   greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he
   who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you
   do them." - Jn 13:15-17

   "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you
   must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus,
   that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
                                                        - Ac 20:35

Shall we not follow both the example and teaching of Jesus, and live to
serve others...?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Spit and Bible Inspiration by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Spit and Bible Inspiration

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The Old Testament contains over 300 specific prophecies pertaining to the coming of Christ to Earth. These prophecies constitute absolute proof for the inspiration of the New Testament, since the Old Testament is easily verified to have been completed centuries before Christ’s advent. Indeed, eight centuries before Jesus Christ arrived on the planet, the prophet Isaiah predicted and described His coming in detail. For example, in a strongly Messianic section of his oracles, Isaiah described the mistreatment of the Christ would endure at the hands of His enemies: “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).
Observe the specificity of this prophetic utterance. Among other things, the prophecy predicted that Jesus would endure a physical ordeal that included being spit upon. Such a bold, forthright allusion is certainly daring—if the predictor is merely guessing. Nevertheless, this prediction was minutely fulfilled some 700 years later, as recorded in the New Testament. Matthew records that at His trial before the Jewish high priest, unnamed individuals “spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’” (Matthew 26:67; cf. Mark 14:65). Some hours later, under the authority of the procurator Pontius Pilate, Roman soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium, where the entire garrison of soldiers subjected Him to numerous indignities, including being stripped of clothing, having a crown of thorns pressed down upon His head, and being mercilessly mocked. “Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head” (Matthew 27:30; cf. Mark 15:19). Incredibly, Jesus even predicted His mistreatment, including the spitting, before it happened (Mark 10:34; Luke 18:32).
How could a man writing 700 years earlier predict something as minute as one person spitting on another? And keep in mind that the two separate occurrences (one before the high priest and the other before the Romans) were committed by perpetrators who were not the least interested in fulfilling prophecy. To predict hundreds of years in advance that someone would spit on Jesus is proof of Bible inspiration. Isaiah and the rest of the writers of the Bible demonstrate that they functioned under the superhuman, overruling power and influence of the Holy Spirit. They were guided by the God of the Universe.

Motivation: Chimpanzees and Humans by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Motivation: Chimpanzees and Humans

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

In late April 1996, I had the privilege of hearing a speech by Dr. Jane Goodall, the famed animal behaviorist. As you may know, she was a protégée of Louis Leakey who blazed trails for women scientists in the 1960s and achieved considerable recognition for her work on chimpanzees in East Africa. For all that, she has an innocent, soft-spoken charm about her. Most of all, she has a passionate concern for all animals, and for chimpanzees in particular. Although her research continues, she devotes much of her time to the preservation of wild chimp populations. Hunting, diminishing habitat, and the largely illegal live-animal trade have earned these creatures an unenviable place on the Endangered Species list.
Throughout most of her fascinating presentation, Goodall portrayed chimpanzees as intelligent beings, having complex social relations, showing a range of deep emotional states, and making rudimentary tools. In other words, audience members were supposed to get the message that these creatures differed from us only by degree (see Major, 1995, “Do Humans and Apes Differ Only by Degree?”). And, indeed, the audience made the right noises at the sight of an adorable baby chimp playing with its older sibling, and at the less pleasant sight of a grief-stricken juvenile who had lost its aged mother.
Goodall’s plea was quite simple: our sympathy for these animals should motivate us to come to their aid. She barely mentioned the “e” word (evolution, that is), but her approach resembled the appeals of others who would have us respect all individuals within our own species, and other species (especially those closest to us on the putative evolutionary tree), for no other reason than our shared ancestry. Richard Leakey has suggested that our common heritage “is a powerful motivation for reconsidering the blatant inequities in the world” (1981, p. 245).
But is it? Can a belief in the preeminence of chance and natural selection sustain us in our altruism toward chimps? Where, in a naturalistic ethic, is the incentive to avoid apathy? Without the sort of personal involvement enjoyed by Jane Goodall, many people are driven to put their own needs first. Ideally, Christians are motivated by love for God and, yes, fear also of transgressing His commands (1 John 2:3-5). This may not impress the atheist, but it encourages believers to make Christ-centered, rather than purely self-centered, decisions regarding their stewardship of God’s creation (Colossians 3:23; Psalm 8:3-8).


Leakey, Richard (1981), The Making of Mankind (London: Michael Joseph).
Major, Trevor (1995), “Do Humans and Apes Differ Only by Degree?,” Reason & Revelation, 15:87-88, November.

In Defense of...Christ's Church by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


In Defense of...Christ's Church

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

“But when the fulness of the time came,” the apostle Paul wrote, “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). God-incarnate had come to Earth, bringing the “good news” about the last and final covenant that Heaven would make with man. The series of events that began with the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, and culminated in His death, burial, and resurrection outside Jerusalem approximately thirty-three years later, stirred a whirlwind of controversy in the first century. Twenty centuries later, it still does.
To the Christian, there is little of more importance than the proclamation and defense of the Old Jerusalem Gospel that is able to save men’s souls. Christianity did not come into the world with a whimper, but a bang. It was not in the first century, neither is it intended to be in the twentieth, something “done in a corner.” Instead, it arrived like a trumpet’s clarion call.
Christ spent three-and-a-half years teaching in order to make disciples. When finally He was ready to call them to action, it was not for a quiet retreat into the peaceful, nearby hills. He never intended that they be “holy men” who set themselves apart to spend each hour of every day in serene meditation. Rather, they were to be soldiers—fit for a spiritual battle against forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-17). Jesus called for action, self-denial, uncompromising love for truth, and zeal coupled with knowledge. His words to those who would follow Him were: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). And many did.
The teaching did not stop when Christ left to return to His home in heaven. He had trained others—apostles and disciples—to continue the task He had begun. They were sent to the uttermost parts of the world with the mandate to proclaim the gospel boldly through preaching and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). This they did daily (Acts 5:42). The result was additional, new disciples. They too, then, were instructed and grounded in the fundamentals of God’s Word (Acts 2:42), and sent on their way to teach still others.
The results were extraordinary indeed. In a single day, in a single city, over 3,000 constituted the original church as a result of the teaching they had heard from Christ’s apostles (see Acts 2:41). In fact, so effective was this kind of instruction that the enemies of Christianity attempted to prohibit any further public teaching (Acts 4:18; 5:28), yet to no avail. Two millennia later, the theme of the Cross still is alive, vibrant, and forceful. Christianity’s central message, the manner in which that message was taught, and the dedication of those into whose hands it had been placed, were too powerful for even its bitterest foes to abate or defeat. That Christianity continues to be taught, and to thrive, is evidence aplenty of this fact.
While it may be true to say that some religions flourish best in secrecy, such is not the case with Christianity. It is intended both to be presented, and to be defended, in the marketplace of ideas. In addition, while some religions eschew open investigation and critical evaluation, Christianity welcomes both. Of all the major religions based upon an individual rather than a mere ideology, it is the only one that claims, and can document, an empty tomb for its Founder.
Furthermore, Christians, unlike adherents to some other religions, do not have an option regarding the distribution and/or dissemination of their faith. The efficacy of God’s saving grace—as made possible through His Son, Jesus Christ—is a message that all accountable people need to hear, and one that Christians are commanded to proclaim (John 3:16; Matthew 28:18-20; cf. Ezekiel 33:7-9).


At Caesarea Philippi, situated at the base of Mount Hermon that rises over seven thousand feet above it, Jesus asked His disciples how the public viewed Him. “Who do men say that the Son of man is?,” He inquired (Matthew 16:13). The reply of the disciples was: “Some say, John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (16:14). But Jesus delved deeper when He asked the disciples: “But who say ye that I am?” (16:15). Ever the impulsive one, Simon Peter quickly answered: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16). Jesus’ response to Peter was this:
Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (16:17-18).
Jesus had come “in the fulness of time” to bring the one thing that all the Earth’s inhabitants needed. From Cain, the first murderer, to the lawless men who eventually would put Him to death on the cross, mankind desperately needed the salvation that the heavenly plan would provide. In writing to the young evangelist Timothy, Paul observed that it had been God’s plan to save men through Christ even before the foundation of the world. He wrote of God, “who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal” (2 Timothy 1:9). Through His foreknowledge, God knew that sinful man one day would need redemption from sin. In fact, throughout the history of Israel, God made both promises and prophecies concerning a coming kingdom, and its King. The promise was that from David’s seed, God would build a “house” and “kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:11-17—a promise, incidentally, that was reaffirmed in Psalm 132:11, and preached as reality by Peter in Acts 2:29-34 when the church began). Seven hundred years prior to Christ’s arrival, the great prophet Isaiah foretold:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Thus, Christ’s exclamation to Peter that the building of His church would be upon a “rock” was nothing more than what the Old Testament prophets had foretold hundreds of years before. Isaiah prophesied: “Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone of sure foundation: he that believeth shall not be in haste” (Isaiah 28:16). Later, Peter himself—through inspiration, and no doubt with the events of Caesarea Philippi still fresh on his mind—would make reference to this very rock foundation when he wrote about the “living stone, rejected indeed of men.... The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner” (1 Peter 2:4,7). In fact, even Jesus Himself mentioned the “rejected stone” of Old Testament allusion. In Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, and Luke 20:17, He made reference to the psalmist’s statement about “the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner” (Psalm 118:22), and applied the rejection of the stone by the builders to the Sanhedrin’s rejection and repudiation of Him.
Sadly, some today erroneously teach that Christ’s church was established out of desperation, as an “emergency measure” set in motion when the Jews rejected Him as Savior. The basis for such a view is the idea that Jesus presented Himself to the Jewish nation as its Messiah, but was rebuffed—a rejection that came as an unexpected surprise to Him and His Father. Christ’s failure to convince the Jews of His rightful place as their King forced Him to have to re-evaluate, and eventually delay, His plans—His intention being to re-establish His kingdom at some distant point in the future. In the meantime, the story goes, He established the church to allay temporarily the complete failure of His mission.
However, such a view ignores the inspired writers’ observations that “before times eternal” God had set in motion His plan for man’s salvation as His Son’s church. [The Greek word ekklesia, translated “church” in the English, denotes God’s “called out.”] It ignores the Old Testament prophecies that specifically predicted Christ’s rejection by the Jews. And, it ignores Christ’s own allusions to those prophecies during His earthly ministry. But worst of all, it impeaches the omniscience of both God and His Son by suggesting that they were “caught off guard” by the Jews’ rejection of Christ as the Messiah, thus causing Heaven’s emissary to have to rethink His plans. What an offensive, and unscriptural, view this is!
Jesus was a man with a mission—and He completed successfully what He had come to accomplish. Deity had come to Earth, taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) to communicate to man the truth (John 8:32) about the lost state in which man now found himself (Romans 3:23; 6:23), and to pay the ransom for man (Matthew 20:28), thereby extricating him from a situation from which he could not extricate himself (Jeremiah 10:23).
When Christ died upon the cross, it was not for any sin that He personally had committed. Though He was tempted in all points like as we are, He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). When Peter wrote that Jesus “did not sin,” he employed a verbal tense which suggests that the Lord never sinned—not even once (1 Peter 2:22). Isaiah repeatedly emphasized the substitutionary nature of the Lord’s death when he wrote: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.... Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). When the prophet declared that our “iniquity” was laid upon the Son of God, he employed a figure of speech known as metonymy (wherein one thing is used to designate another). In this case, the cause is being used for the effect. In other words, God did not actually put our sins upon Christ; He put the penalty of our wrongs upon His Son at Calvary. Yet, in spite of the fact that all sinners deserve to be lost, God provided a way to “escape the judgment of hell” (Matthew 23:33).
Jesus made it clear that He would provide this way of escape through a plan that would result in the establishment of His church—i.e., His body of “the called out.” The first messianic prophecy was to be fulfilled: Satan would bruise the Lord’s heel, but the Lord would overcome, and bruise Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). Against the building of Christ’s church, not even the Gates of Hades could prevail (Matthew 16:18).
Further, there would be one and only one church. Paul wrote that Christ “is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). In Ephesians 1:22, he stated concerning Christ that God “gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body.” Thus, Paul clearly identified the body as the church. Three chapters later, however, in Ephesians 4:4, Paul stated: “There is one body.” Expressed logically, one might reason as follows:
There is one body (Ephesians 4:4).
But Christ is the Savior of the body (Ephesians 5:22).
Thus, Christ is the Savior of one body.
Christ is the Savior of one body.
But the body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians1:18,24).
Thus, Christ is the Savior of one church.
The body, Christ’s church, would be known as “the church of the Lord” (Acts 20:28), “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13), “the house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), and “the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23, 31). The Lord’s people were to bear Christ’s name (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The church would be His bride (Revelation 21:2), His wife (Revelation 19:7-8), and His kingdom (Revelation 1:9). Those in it would be victorious over Satan and death forever (1 Corinthians 15:26,54-56; 2 Timothy 1:9-10).
Unfortunately, men sought to alter the divine plan, and to infuse it with their own personal belief systems. Thus, the concept of denominationalism was born. Denominationalism, however, is unknown to, and unauthorized by, the Word of God. A denomination is defined as: “a class or kind having a specific name or value.” We speak of various monetary denominations—a five dollar bill, a ten dollar bill, etc. They are all different. The same is true of religious denominations. They are all different.
Denominationalism ignores the singularity and uniqueness of the true church, and establishes various groups teaching conflicting doctrines that are antagonistic both to the Bible and to each other. It also ignores the church’s relationship to Christ, described so beautifully in Ephesians 5 where Paul reminded first-century Christians that “the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (5:23). The apostle’s point was this: In a physical context, the wife is the bride, and the husband is the bridegroom; in a spiritual context, the church is the bride, and Christ is the bridegroom. [John reiterated this in Revelation 21:9.] In Acts, Peter discussed Christ’s relationship to His church when he observed that “neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Denominations are man-made institutions that neither are recognized in, nor sanctioned by, the Word of God. The simple truth of the matter is that John the Baptist—while a marvelous harbinger of the Messiah—did not die to establish the church. Why, then, be a member of a denomination bearing his name? As great a reformer as Martin Luther was, the fact remains that he did not die to establish the church. Why, then, be a member of a denomination bearing his name? The early church’s presbyters (i.e., elders, bishops, overseers) did not give their lives on a cross to establish the church. Why, then, be a member of a denomination named after such men? The Bible—although it prophesies the coming of the church and documents its arrival—did not make possible the church. Why, then, be a member of a “Bible church”? Instead, should not Christians seek to be simply a member of the singular church that honors Christ’s authority, and that He purchased with His blood? It is His bride; He is its bridegroom. His congregations are called the “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16).
Those who are true New Testament Christians are those who have done exactly what God has commanded them to do to be saved, in exactly the way God has commanded that it be done. In so doing, they have not “joined” some man-made religious denomination that, like a five-dollar bill is one denomination among many others, is simply one religious group among many others. If the church is the body, and there is only one body, then there is only one church. Further, one does not “join” the church. The Scriptures teach that as a person is saved, God Himself “adds” that person to the one true church (Acts 2:41) that bears His Son’s name.


During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught: “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Having such authority from His Father, He alone possessed the right to be Head of the church, His singular body of believers (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). Recognizing Christ’s position as authoritative Head of the church, Paul was constrained to remind Christians: “And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of [by the authority of—BT] the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).
Christ announced while on Earth that He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). It would be divinely designed (John 10:25; Acts 2:23), blood-bought (Acts 20:28), and Spirit-filled (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 8:9-10). On Pentecost following the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection, Peter rebuked the Jews for their duplicity in killing God’s Son, and convicted them of their sin of murder (Acts 2:22-23). Luke recorded that they were “pricked in their heart” and sought to make restitution and be forgiven (Acts 2:27). On that fateful day, at least 3,000 people were added together by God to constitute Christ’s church (Acts 2:41). Later, Luke noted that great fear fell upon the whole church as a result of God’s having disciplined sinners within it (Acts 5:11). There is no doubt that the church was established in Christ’s generation.
The Bible speaks of the church as Christ’s kingdom. Jesus said the time for its coming had been “fulfilled” (Mark 1:15), and that the kingdom was as near as the generation of people to whom He spoke, since some of them would not taste of death before they saw the kingdom of heaven come (Mark 9:1). Paul taught that the church is constituted of saints (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). But when he wrote his epistle to the Colossians (c. A.D. 62), he specifically stated that by that time the saints in the church at Colossae were subjects in “the kingdom of the Son of his love” (Colossians 1:13). If the kingdom had not been established, then Paul erred in saying that the Colossians already were in it. [Those who teach that the church and the kingdom are separate, and that the kingdom has yet to arrive, must contend that there are living on the Earth today some of the very people to whom Jesus spoke nearly 2,000 years ago—since He stated that some who heard Him would not die until the kingdom had come (Mark 9:1).]
The New Testament teaches that the church is composed of individuals purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28), and that those so purchased were made to be a kingdom (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10). Since the church and the kingdom both are composed of blood-purchased individuals, the church and the kingdom must be the same. And since the Christians that constitute the church were themselves translated into the kingdom, it is conclusive that the church and the kingdom are the same. The establishment of the kingdom coincided with the establishment of the church. Not only did the Lord foretell both the establishment of the kingdom and the church in the His generation, but the New Testament writers spoke of both the church and the kingdom as being in existence during the very generation of His arrival (i.e., the first century).


From the first to the last of His earthly ministry, Jesus admonished those who would be His disciples that they would be both controversial, and persecuted. He warned them:
Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household (Matthew 10:34-36).
Jesus wanted no misunderstanding about the trials and tribulations His followers would endure. He constantly reminded them of such (Matthew 10:16, 39; 16:24; 24:9; John 15:2,18, 20; 16:1-2; 21:18-19). While He desired that men be at peace with men, His primary goal was to bring men to a peaceful, covenant relationship with God. In addressing the Christians at Rome, Paul wrote:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35,37-39).
Christ alerted His followers to the pressure yet to be brought upon them by other religions (Matthew 10:17), by civil governments (Matthew 10:18), and sadly, by some of their own (2 Thessalonians 3:1ff.). He said: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). History records that Christ’s words accurately depicted what was to befall those early saints. As James O. Baird has noted: “In actuality, Christianity was opposed more vigorously than any other religion in the long history of Rome” (1978, p. 29).
Persecution against the church was, and is, rooted in the nature and work of Christ: “But me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are evil” (John 7:7). The world hated Christ because of the judgment He brought against what the world is, does, and loves. It will hate those in the church who remind it—by word and deed—of this judgment. Jesus lamented: “If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Hatred often results in persecution. The church, if true to its mission, will be opposed. But Jesus also said:
Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).
One thing, however, was beyond doubt. Those saints who remained faithful—even unto death if necessary—would be triumphant (Revelation 2:10). As the great Restorationist, F.G. Allen, so beautifully wrote:
One by one will we lay our armor down at the feet of the Captain of our salvation. One by one will we be laid away by tender hands and aching hearts to rest on the bosom of Jesus. One by one will our ranks be thus thinned, till erelong we shall all pass over to the other side. But our cause will live. Eternal truth shall never perish. God will look down from His habitation on high, watch over it in His providence, and encircle it in the arms of His love. God will raise up others to take our places; and may we transmit the cause to them in its purity! Though dead, we shall thus speak for generations yet to come, and God grant that we shall give no uncertain sound! Then may we from our blissful home on high, watch the growth of the cause we love, till it shall cover the whole earth as the waters cover the face of the great deep (1949, pp. 176-177).
[EDITOR’S NOTE: In the March 1998 issue of Reason & Revelation (“In Defense Of...God’s Plan of Salvation”), I addressed the biblical requirements for entrance into Christ’s church. Space limitations precluded such a discussion in this article.]


Allen, F.G. (1949), “The Principles and Objects of the Current Reformation,” Foundation Facts and Primary Principles, ed. G.C. Brewer (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club).
Baird, James O. (1978), “The Trials and Tribulations of the Church from the Beginning,” The Future of the Church, ed. William Woodson (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).

Does Epigenetics Support Neo-Darwinian Evolution? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Does Epigenetics Support Neo-Darwinian Evolution?

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Neo-Darwinian evolution, the popular version of evolution today, asserts that mutations provide the mechanism for the change required to evolve a single-celled organism into a human over time. Upon examination of the evidence, however, it is clear that mutations cannot provide the genetic information required for such change.1 If mutations cannot provide the mechanism for the change required by neo-Darwinian evolution, what can? A recent area of study that some evolutionists are hopeful will provide an answer to that question is epigenetics.2 Epigenetics is the term used to describe the mechanism whereby genetic traits are inherited—passed on to offspring—not from the DNA itself, like we usually think of inheritance, but rather, from “over and above3 DNA (e.g., from our environment4).
A recent study on mice provides an example of epigenetic inheritance in action. In a study published by Nature Neuroscience, scientists trained mice to fear the odor of cherry blossoms by shocking their feet.5 They then studied the offspring of the mice and found that they were also afraid of the cherry blossom smell, without any shock training. In fact, they responded to even smaller amounts of odor than their parents, implying that the offspring were even more sensitive to the odor than their parents. Such examples of inheritance are epigenetic—the expression of genes is affected without an actual DNA change. Due to epigenetic inheritance, the evolutionist argues that evolution has occurred: positive change that is passed on to ancestors.6
In response, keep in mind first, that while the mice study is an example of evolution—change, in the general sense—it is not evidence of Darwin’s “molecules-to-man evolution” or macroevolution. Rather, it would better fit under the category we might call microevolutionary change—horizontal evolution, rather than vertical. The offspring are still mice, for example. To conclude from such a study, “Therefore, humans could evolve from a single-celled organism,” would be to blindly leap well beyond the actual evidence.
Second, the change that was found to occur appears to be temporary—only shown to last to the “grandmice” of the original mice. Thus, the change is not the permanent change required by the evolutionary model. Evolution requires changes that are fixed, not temporary. We are not temporarily humans, for example. We are humans “for the long run.” In other words, epigenetic changes appear to affect more than one generation, but they ultimately reset.
Also notice that this epigenetic example does not fit the evolutionary paradigm in a fundamental way. A fundamental plank of Darwinian evolution is that evolution is random: nothing or no one guides the process. It is random change, coupled with natural selection filtering out the random changes that do not result in the best options. But notice that the mouse epigenetic inheritance example is far from being random. It is directed change.
And finally, keep in mind that epigenetics involves the switching on or off of already existing genes in response to environmental factors. New genes are not being created in epigenetic inheritance—i.e., no new information is being added to the genome. Epigenetics only involves how existing genes are expressed. So they have to exist already. Blind cave fish, for example, still have their eye genes intact. Their eyesight is merely epigenetically “turned off.” They did not become blind because of genetic mutation.7
In his book Epigenetic Principles of Evolution, Nelson Cabej of the University of Tirana states,
[I]n 1973 Sadoglu came to the conclusion that the loss of eyes in cavefish was caused by mutations in genes responsible for eye development and that the number of degenerative mutations determines the degree of reduction or the loss of eyes. Now we know that no loss or mutations in genes involved in the loss of eyes has occurred in the blind hypogean form of A. fasciatus mexicanus [cave fish—JM]…. In cavefish, investigators found that all of oculogenic genes are functional, and all of them are expressed normally.8
William Jeffery of the University of Maryland, who conducted the study that discovered that cave fish still have their eye genes intact, noted that while some evolutionists believed that “neural mutation” was responsible for the loss of sight by cave fish, “little or no experimental evidence has been presented to support or reject” that theory.9  The eye genes of blind cavefish are still intact, but the expression of those genes appears to be affected by their environment.
Epigenetics does not provide the hoped for mechanism for molecules-to-man evolution, which requires the creation of libraries upon libraries of new genetic information. Notice that in epigenetics, like the mouse study example, creatures, through inheritance, are able to pre-adapt to their environments.
Parents are able to pass on information to offspring without a word, giving them important instruction (though not always necessarily good information). This is an example of forward thinking and pre-planning. Thinking and planning—pre-programming—without exception, is always evidence that a mind ultimately generated the program and information that is being conveyed. That is solid evidence of design, not random accidents and evolution.10


1 Jeff Miller (2014), “God and the Laws of Science: Genetics vs. Evolution [Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 34[1]:2-10.
2 Kat Arney (2015), “Epigenetics: Your Lifestyle Can Change Your Genes,” New Scientist, 228[3051]:39; Kevin Laland (2016), “Evolution Evolves,” New Scientist, 231[3092]:42-43, September 24; Peter Bowler (2016), “Evolution (Part Two): Darwin and DNA,” New Scientist, 231[3088]:43.
3 Ibid.
4 Helen Thomson (2016), “Health Depends On Dad’s Sperm,” New Scientist, 230[3069]:8-9.
5 Brian G. Dias and Kerry J. Ressler (2014), “Parental Olfactory Experience Influences Behavior and Neural Structure in Subsequent Generations,” Nature Neuroscience, 17:89-96; cf. Mariette Le Roux (2013), “Mice Can ‘Warn’ Sons, Grandsons of Dangers Via Sperm,” Medical Xpress, December 1, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-12-mice-sons-grandsons-dangers-sperm.html.
6 Arney, 2015.
7 Nelson R. Cabej (2012), Epigenetic Principles of Evolution (London: Elsevier), pp. 330-331; W.R. Jeffery (2005), “Adaptive Evolution of Eye Degeneration in the Mexican Blind Cavefish,” Journal of Heredity, 96[3]:185-196, May/June.
8 Cabej, pp. 330-331,598, emp. added.
9 p. 185.
10 Special thanks to biochemist Dr. Joe Deweese for reviewing this article and offering helpful suggestions.

Marriage Is Losing Its Honor In the Eyes of Many Americans by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Marriage Is Losing Its Honor In the Eyes of Many Americans

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Almost 2,000 years ago, the divinely inspired Hebrews writer boldly stated: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). For millennia, the family unit consisting of one man and one woman who give birth to their own biological children (or adopt needy children into their homes) has been the cornerstone of stable societies. This institution was established and sanctioned by God at the beginning of time (Genesis 2:21-25) and has been the hallmark of productive societies ever since. Those societies that have attempted to tamper with this foundational unit, allowing polygamous marriages, homosexual relationships, and other forms of sexual unions not in accord with the biblical plan, have suffered the shame and debilitation that inheres in disobeying God’s pattern.

Sadly, many in the United States are falling prey to the idea that marriage is no longer important to promote human well-being in society. Associated Press writer Hope Yen recently penned an article titled, “Four in 10 Say Marriage is Becoming Obsolete.” She reported on a Pew Research Center survey that indicated that 39% of those polled say that marriage is becoming obsolete, or unnecessary. Yen stated: “More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren’t needed to have a family” (2010). She further “reported that the opposite-sex unmarried couples living together jumped 13 percent this year to 7.5 million.” In addition, about 44 percent of those who responded said they have lived with a partner without being married.

Such troubling statistics show that many Americans no longer value God’s instructions for human sexuality and family structure. The problem with this situation is two-fold. Not only will those who disobey God’s laws for marriage and sexuality be lost eternally (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), but since God knows exactly how humans should behave in order to be happy (Proverbs 29:18), those who refuse to do His will are condemning themselves to lives of heartbreak and sadness. Over 3,000 years ago, Moses told the Israelites that God’s rules were designed for the welfare and benefit of the Israelites. He said that God’s instructions were instituted for “our good always” (Deuteronomy 6:24). That has not changed. God’s directives, rules, and laws are still designed to bring about the greatest possible human happiness. That is why Jesus said that He came so that all who obey Him might have “life more abundantly” (John 10:10). The farther Americans get from God’s design for the home (Hebrews 13:4), the farther they will be from happiness, prosperity, and the abundant life. God help us all to teach His truth concerning marriage to as many as possible in the hopes that they will want to obey Him and enjoy the abundant life He gives through Jesus Christ.


Yen, Hope (2010), “Four in 10 Say Marriage is Becoming Obsolete,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_declining_marriage.

"No One has Ascended to Heaven" by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


"No One has Ascended to Heaven"

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus regarding the need to be “born again” (John 3:1-8), He also sought to impress upon the mind of this ruler of the Jews that His words were from above. Jesus spoke of spiritual things that no man knew (Matthew 13:35; cf. 7:28-29; Luke 2:47). One of the reasons Jesus gave for being able to expound on such spiritual truths is found in John 3:13. Here, the apostle John recorded Jesus as having said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). According to the skeptic, this statement by Jesus is severely flawed. Since the Old Testament reveals that Elijah escaped physical death and “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11; cf. Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5), allegedly Jesus could not truthfully tell Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven.” Is the skeptic right?
For Jesus’ statement to contradict what the Bible says about Elijah, one first must presuppose that Jesus was referring to the exact same place to which Elijah ascended. For a contradiction to exist between two Bible passages, one must prove that the one doing the speaking (or writing) is referring to the same person, place, or thing (see Jevons, 1928, p. 118). Can the skeptic be certain that the “heaven” to which Jesus referred, is the same one into which the body of Elijah ascended? The words “heaven” or “heavens” appear in our English Bibles about 700 times. And yet, in many of the passages where “heaven(s)” is found, the inspired writers were not discussing the spiritual heaven with which we most often associate the word. For example, in Genesis 1 and 2, the Hebrew word for heaven appears 15 times in 14 verses. Yet in every instance, the word is referring to something besides the spiritual heaven where God dwells. The word “heaven” (Hebrew shamayim, Greek ouranos) is used by Bible writers in basically three different ways. It is used to refer to the atmospheric heavens in which the airplanes fly, the birds soar, and the clouds gather (Genesis 1:20; Jeremiah 4:25; Matthew 6:26, ASV). “Heaven(s)” also is used in the Bible when referring to the firmament where we find the Sun, Moon, and stars—the sidereal heavens, or outer space (Genesis 1:14-15; Psalm 19:4,6; Isaiah 13:10). The third “heaven” frequently mentioned in Scripture is the spiritual heaven in which Jehovah dwells (Psalm 2:4; Hebrews 9:24), and where, one day, the faithful will live forevermore (Revelation 21:18-23; John 14:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:2-3). [NOTE: The word “firmament” (meaning expanse) is used in the same three ways “heaven” is used. Thus, what is said about heaven also can be said of the firmament (cf. Genesis 1:20; Genesis 1:17; Psalm 150:1).] The context of John 3 clearly indicates that Jesus is referring to the spiritual heavens wherein God dwells (cf. John 3:27). 2 Kings 2:11, however, is not as clear. The writer of 2 Kings easily could have meant that the body of Elijah miraculously ascended up high into the air never to been seen by anyone on Earth again. Nowhere does the text indicate that he left Earth at that moment to dwell in God’s presence. He definitely went somewhere, but we have no evidence that he was transferred to the actual throne room of God Almighty.
The Bible indicates that when God’s faithful servants leave this Earth, their spirits are taken to dwell in a place referred to as paradise (or “the bosom of Abraham”—Luke 16:19-31). Recall when Jesus was fastened to the cross, and told the penitent thief, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The word paradise is of Persian derivation, and means a “garden” or “park.” Where was it that Jesus and the thief went? Neither of them went to heaven to be with God the Father on that very day, for in John 20:17 after His resurrection, Jesus reassured Mary that He had not yet ascended to the Father. So where did Jesus and the thief go after dying on the cross? Peter gave the answer to that question in his sermon in Acts 2 when he quoted Psalm 16. Acts 2:27 states that God would not abandon Christ’s soul in hades, nor allow Christ to undergo decay. So while Christ’s body was placed in a tomb for three days, Christ’s spirit went to hades. [NOTE: The word hades occurs ten times in the New Testament, and always refers to the unseen realm of the dead—the receptacle of disembodied spirits where all people who die await for the Lord’s return and judgment. One part of hades, where Jesus and the thief went, is known as paradise.] Peter argued that David, who penned Psalm 16, was not referring to himself, since David’s body was still in the tomb (Acts 2:29), and his spirit was still in the hadean realm (Acts 2:34). Acts 2 indicates that a faithful servant of God does not go directly to be with God the Father when he dies; rather, he goes to a holding place in hades known as paradise—the same place where Abraham went after he died (Luke 16), and the same place where the spirit of Elijah went after he was caught up from the Earth. In short, the Bible does not teach that Elijah left Earth to begin immediately dwelling in the presence of the Father (where Jesus was before His incarnation—John 1:1). Thus, technically he did not ascend to the “place” whence Jesus came.
For the sake of argument, consider for a moment that the skeptic is right, and that Elijah’s spirit did not go to paradise, but was taken to dwell in the very presence of God. Could Jesus still have made the statement He did, and yet not be inaccurate? I believe so. Notice again the response to Nicodemus’ question, “How can these things be?” Jesus said: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (John 3:12-13, emp. added). It may be that Jesus meant nothing more than that no one has ever gone up to heaven “by his own act” or “on his own terms” (see Bullinger, 1888, pp. 281-282). Elijah and Enoch had been taken by God, which is different than freely ascending up into heaven on one’s own terms. Furthermore, Jesus’ words, “No one has ascended to heaven,” also could have meant that no one has ever gone up into heaven to then return and speak firsthand about what he saw, and to spread the same saving message that Jesus preached. Jesus was emphasizing to Nicodemus how no one on Earth at that time was revealing such spiritual truths as Christ was, because no one ever had ascended to heaven to then return and talk about what he had seen and learned. Such seems to have been the main point Jesus was making in John 3:13. No one on Earth had seen what Jesus had seen, and thus could not teach what He taught.
Truly, the skeptic’s accusation that Jesus either lied or was mistaken regarding his comment to Nicodemus about no one having ascended to heaven, is unsubstantiated. Perhaps the word heaven used in 2 Kings 2:11 was not meant to convey the idea of the spiritual heavens in which God dwells. Or, considering the Bible’s teaching on departed spirits of the righteous being in a holding place known as paradise, and not in the actual presence of Almighty God, Jesus could have meant that no person has ever ascended to the throne room of God from which He came. Furthermore, it also is interesting to note that Nicodemus, being “a man of the Pharisees” (John 3:1), and thus one who would have been very well acquainted with the details of the Old Testament, did not respond to Jesus by saying, “Wait a minute Rabbi. What about Elijah and Enoch? Isn’t it written in the law and prophets that they ascended to heaven?” Surely, had Jesus contradicted something in the law and the prophets, it would have been brought to His attention, especially by a Pharisee. Yet, the apostle John never records such a statement.
Admittedly, at first glance, it might appear as if the statements, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11), and, “No man has ascended to heaven” (John 3:13), are contradictory. However, when a person considers all of the possible solutions to the alleged problem, he must admit that such an interpretation is unjustified.
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Jevons, W. Stanley (1928), Elementary Lessons in Logic (London: Macmillan).

What is the correct distinction between the Old and the New Covenants? by Roy Davison


 What is the correct distinction
between the Old and the New Covenants?
Many wrong practices and doctrines are based on a misunderstanding of the difference between the Old and the New Covenants.

The Old and the New Testaments together form the Holy Scriptures. All Scripture is necessary: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

This does not mean, however, that everything in the Scriptures applies to us as law. Noah was commanded to construct a boat to save his family. His example of faith and obedience is edifying for us, but we do not have to build a boat!

Through Moses, God gave a law to Israel. We can learn much from that law. But it was never given to the church of Christ as a law.

In the first century this point was clarified. Some Jews wanted to obligate non-Jews to keep the law of Moses. “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question” (Acts 15:1, 2).

The same idea was advanced by certain ones at Jerusalem: “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses’” (Acts 15:5).

Peter refuted this: “And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: ‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they” (Acts 15:7-11).

Notice that this applies to all disciples, not just to the Gentiles. Christians are not obligated to keep the law of Moses because it is a yoke that no one can bear.

What then is the value of the Old Testament for Christians? “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).

Although the Old and New Testaments together form the Scriptures, the New Covenant supersedes and replaces the Old Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught many things that are different from the law of Moses. At the same time He emphasized that He was not against the law. The Old Testament had its function in God’s plan. Jesus came to fulfill the old law and bring a new one. Although the law was replaced, that was not a ‘destruction’ because the Old Testament foretold its own replacement!

In Hebrews, Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted as proof that the Old Covenant has been replaced: “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them,’ says the LORD. ‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ says the LORD: ‘I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:6-13).

Jesus did not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill their predictions. Anyone with true respect for the law of Moses would also accept Jesus and become a Christian. But hypocrites who did not respect the law would also not accept Christ (See John 1:45; 5:45, 46).

In our time, many unchristian practices and doctrines are supported with passages from the Old Covenant: the establishment of central ecclesiastical organizations; the maintenance of a separate priest class; the use of candles, incense and musical instruments in worship; the observance of the Sabbath and the obligation to give a tenth, to mention a few. None of these practices have been given to the New Testament church. But people who want to do such things, or to bind them on others, refer to passages in the Old Testament in an arbitrary manner to support their ideas. I say ‘in an arbitrary manner’ because to be consistent they would have to do everything required under the Old Covenant, but they of course do not want to do that.

Some claim that the ten commandments in the Old Testament still apply as law for believers, even though the rest does not. Their argumentation is: “What? May we murder and steal and commit adultery?” Many are deceived by this superficial argument, but it is not valid.

The ten commandments no longer apply as law because in the doctrine of Christ they are completely superseded. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus demands much more of us than the ten commandments. He not only forbids murder and adultery, but also the causes, hate and lust (Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28).

Paul wrote that the ten commandments have been replaced by something much better: “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious” (2 Corinthians 3:7-11). The ten commandments, engraved on stones, were a ministry of death that had to disappear. Christ brought something better.

The gospel of Christ encompasses all fundamental, unchangeable values of the ten commandments. Christians certainly may not steal or murder. But they avoid this because of their love for God and fellowman, not just because there is a command: “You shall not kill”.

Certain externals in the ten commandments are not included in the New Covenant. A Christian has not been told, for example, that he may not make a statue; he has been told not to worship idols. According to the ten commandments, however, one may not even make a statue.

Nor is the Sabbath command applicable under the New Covenant: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16, 17).

Although we can learn much from the Old Testament (the Old Testament helps us understand the New), we now live under the New Testament, a covenant of grace.

We are not under the law of Moses, This is stated many times in the New Testament. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:14, 15). “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God” (Romans 7:4). “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6). “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24, 25). “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:14, 15).

It is important to know when the New Testament went into effect. “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Hebrews 9:16, 17). Thus, the New Testament took effect after the death of Christ.

Jesus Himself lived under the Old Covenant: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4, 5). This means that many things in the four Gospels still relate to the Old Covenant, although Jesus, in anticipation, also taught many things that are part of the New Covenant. If we use our discernment, we can distinguish between the two.

By overlooking the distinction between the old and the new covenants in the Gospels, certain false doctrines are advanced. Some teach, for example: “Jesus kept the Sabbath, we must do the same.” Jesus also kept the Passover and worshipped in the temple. Must we follow these examples? Of course not. The Sabbath, the Passover and the temple service were part of the Old Covenant. Some have claimed that Jesus’ teaching about divorce does not apply to us because He spoke before the New Covenant took effect. From the text it is clear, however, that Jesus was not teaching the law of Moses (his teaching was completely different). He was presenting His own teaching that is part of the new covenant.

All the Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testaments, are useful for our instruction. But we do not now live under the law of Moses or the ten commandments. The gospel of Jesus Christ applies to us; we serve God under the New Covenant.

What did God say from heaven when Peter’s words indicated that he placed Jesus on a par with Moses and Elijah? “Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’ - because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’” (Mark 9:5-7).

Let us make a correct distinction between the Old and the New Covenants. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1, 2). Amen.

Roy Davison

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

Bible Reading February 13 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading February 13 (World English Bible)

Feb. 13
Genesis 44

Gen 44:1 He commanded the steward of his house, saying, "Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth.
Gen 44:2 Put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, with his grain money." He did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
Gen 44:3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys.
Gen 44:4 When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, "Up, follow after the men. When you overtake them, ask them, 'Why have you rewarded evil for good?
Gen 44:5 Isn't this that from which my lord drinks, and by which he indeed divines? You have done evil in so doing.' "
Gen 44:6 He overtook them, and he spoke these words to them.
Gen 44:7 They said to him, "Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing!
Gen 44:8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again to you out of the land of Canaan. How then should we steal silver or gold out of your lord's house?
Gen 44:9 With whoever of your servants it be found, let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondservants."
Gen 44:10 He said, "Now also let it be according to your words: he with whom it is found will be my bondservant; and you will be blameless."
Gen 44:11 Then they hurried, and every man took his sack down to the ground, and every man opened his sack.
Gen 44:12 He searched, beginning with the eldest, and ending at the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
Gen 44:13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and returned to the city.
Gen 44:14 Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, and he was still there. They fell on the ground before him.
Gen 44:15 Joseph said to them, "What deed is this that you have done? Don't you know that such a man as I can indeed divine?"
Gen 44:16 Judah said, "What will we tell my lord? What will we speak? Or how will we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants. Behold, we are my lord's bondservants, both we, and he also in whose hand the cup is found."
Gen 44:17 He said, "Far be it from me that I should do so. The man in whose hand the cup is found, he will be my bondservant; but as for you, go up in peace to your father."
Gen 44:18 Then Judah came near to him, and said, "Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord's ears, and don't let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even as Pharaoh.
Gen 44:19 My lord asked his servants, saying, 'Have you a father, or a brother?'
Gen 44:20 We said to my lord, 'We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother; and his father loves him.'
Gen 44:21 You said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.'
Gen 44:22 We said to my lord, 'The boy can't leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.'
Gen 44:23 You said to your servants, 'Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will see my face no more.'
Gen 44:24 It happened when we came up to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
Gen 44:25 Our father said, 'Go again, buy us a little food.'
Gen 44:26 We said, 'We can't go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down: for we may not see the man's face, unless our youngest brother is with us.'
Gen 44:27 Your servant, my father, said to us, 'You know that my wife bore me two sons:
Gen 44:28 and the one went out from me, and I said, "Surely he is torn in pieces;" and I haven't seen him since.
Gen 44:29 If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.'
Gen 44:30 Now therefore when I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the boy's life;
Gen 44:31 it will happen, when he sees that the boy is no more, that he will die. Your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant, our father, with sorrow to Sheol.
Gen 44:32 For your servant became collateral for the boy to my father, saying, 'If I don't bring him to you, then I will bear the blame to my father forever.'
Gen 44:33 Now therefore, please let your servant stay instead of the boy, a bondservant to my lord; and let the boy go up with his brothers.
Gen 44:34 For how will I go up to my father, if the boy isn't with me?--lest I see the evil that will come on my father."


Feb. 12, 13
Matthew 22

Mat 22:1 Jesus answered and spoke again in parables to them, saying,
Mat 22:2 "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son,
Mat 22:3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come.
Mat 22:4 Again he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "Behold, I have made ready my dinner. My cattle and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast!" '
Mat 22:5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise,
Mat 22:6 and the rest grabbed his servants, and treated them shamefully, and killed them.
Mat 22:7 When the king heard that, he was angry, and sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Mat 22:8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren't worthy.
Mat 22:9 Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.'
Mat 22:10 Those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests.
Mat 22:11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn't have on wedding clothing,
Mat 22:12 and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?' He was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.'
Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few chosen."
Mat 22:15 Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entrap him in his talk.
Mat 22:16 They sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are honest, and teach the way of God in truth, no matter who you teach, for you aren't partial to anyone.
Mat 22:17 Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
Mat 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test me, you hypocrites?
Mat 22:19 Show me the tax money." They brought to him a denarius.
Mat 22:20 He asked them, "Whose is this image and inscription?"
Mat 22:21 They said to him, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Mat 22:22 When they heard it, they marveled, and left him, and went away.
Mat 22:23 On that day Sadducees (those who say that there is no resurrection) came to him. They asked him,
Mat 22:24 saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed for his brother.'
Mat 22:25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first married and died, and having no seed left his wife to his brother.
Mat 22:26 In like manner the second also, and the third, to the seventh.
Mat 22:27 After them all, the woman died.
Mat 22:28 In the resurrection therefore, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had her."
Mat 22:29 But Jesus answered them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.
Mat 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like God's angels in heaven.
Mat 22:31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven't you read that which was spoken to you by God, saying,
Mat 22:32 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
Mat 22:33 When the multitudes heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
Mat 22:34 But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, gathered themselves together.
Mat 22:35 One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him.
Mat 22:36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Mat 22:37 Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 A second likewise is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
Mat 22:40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Mat 22:41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question,
Mat 22:42 saying, "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "Of David."
Mat 22:43 He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying,
Mat 22:44 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?'
Mat 22:45 "If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?"
Mat 22:46 No one was able to answer him a word, neither did any man dare ask him any more questions from that day forth.