ABUSE Donald R. Fox


Donald R. Fox

I would like to address briefly the great problem of physical, mental abuse and domestic violence. There has always been such negative and brutal behavior. It constantly bothers me when I hear the excuse, “If you come from a background of domestic violence, growing up with this abuse, the cycle continues.” To a degree, that may be true. I reject the premise that abuse must be carried on from our upbringing. It is better if young children learn to reject and abhor this violence on a common sense basis. Don’t youthful folks see kinder and gentler civilized behaviors via a personal contact with neighbors, other family members and friends? Can they observe social and loving gestures? And don’t these civil devoted acts from those around the youth teach, “This is right?”

I will acknowledge, that if one is growing up in a godless and uncivilized environment that is empty of Christian values, chances are they will be violent in order to survive. Example: How can a man mistreat a weaker woman? However, in the Muslim world, a woman can be stoned to death at the whim of men. And this is acceptable in such a society because a godless law authorized this violence.

It would seem to me, that we all have the power to reject or accept negative and violent behaviorism. I maintain that we are not born sinful creatures. Unfortunately, one can learn and practice immoral behaviors.

ALL RATIONAL PEOPLE MUST MAKE CHOICES IN THIS LIFE: Do we want to be nasty or good? Do we want to be loving and charitable? Do we want to help weaker folks or stump them? Do we want to serve the true God or serve Satan? Will we accept the Word of God, the Bible, as the truthful standard or will we do my own thing?

BY OUR OWN GOD-GIVEN VOLITION, TO TURN AWAY FROM SIN IS NEEDED: “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) (KJV) “Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive, Because he considereth and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” (Ezekiel 18:27-28)(KJV)


A home that is worthy of children should be a place where affections and all family interests are centered. It should be the haven of domestic life, and a sanctuary of mutual ties in the bond of fellowship and love. It should be the training school for children loved by their parents, who teach and train them in the true meaningfulness of life, in honor of God, and respect for humanity. There is hardly any age the child cannot be trained. Even an infant accepts a degree of training very soon. Training children involves grave responsibilities for the home –responsibilities for life and destiny. One of the fundamental principles of communism is to indoctrinate the children as early in life as possible. How much more important it is to teach and train them in ways of righteousness and godliness!” (Reference: page 47, Broken Homes and Handicapped Children, by V. E. Howard)


“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) (KJV)

Five Lies Of The 20th Century By Dennis Gulledge


Five Lies Of The 20th Century

By Dennis Gulledge

We are now watching the 20th century come to a close.  As we approach this landmark it is proper that we assess the strength of our nation and world.  We are all products of the world we live in, at least to some extent.  As Christians we have to guard against acceptance of the ways of this world (Romans 12:1-2).  This is especially true with regard to the ideas that shape a nation. Every age has its lies and infamous liars.  Satan is the father of lies in every age (John 8:44).  We have to be careful that we do not believe his lies.  It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, “Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle, which fits them all.”
The last ten decades have produced subtle changes in the bedrock of American culture.  These changes have not all been good.  In our government, courts, media, schools and homes, dangerous lies have been planted that have proved ruinous to our country.  Unless these lies are recognized and uprooted, our society will continue its moral decline.  Let us observe five lies of the 20th century.*

Freedom Of Religion Means Freedom From Religion

The establishment clause of the First Amendment to our Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  It means that the federal government shall not establish any particular faith as the nation’s official religion.  But, it has been interpreted by the humanists of the American Civil Liberties Union as a restriction on religion period, or a strict separation of church and state. In 1947 the U.S. Supreme Court declared, “The wall of separation between church and state must be kept high and impregnable” (Everson v. Board of Education).  In later years came the Supreme Court rulings that we knew must follow in the wake of such a philosophy: no prayer in public schools (Engle v. Vitale, 1962); no Bible reading in public schools (Abington v. Schempp, 1963); and religious speech among students was pronounced unconstitutional (Stein v. Oshinsky, 1965).
Alexis de Tocqueville said, “America is great because America is good.  If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  America can be called good only insofar as she respects God’s will for humanity.  David said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Psalms 33:12).  Solomon added, “Righteousness exalteh a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).  Again, David wrote, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalms 11:3).

The Traditional Family Is Irrelevant

At the end of the 20th century the traditional family has suffered many battle scars.  Today the average marriage lasts for only seven years and nearly half of those dissolve within the first three years.  According to some, America ranks highest among nations in the word in divorces granted.  We are told that it matters not whether mom or somebody else nurtures the children. We are also told that dad is not even needed at home.  We are left asking, “Whatever happened to mom, dad and the kids?” In 1885 the U.S. Supreme Court defined the family “. . . as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony . . .” (Murphy v. Ramsey).  Such is, and always has been, consistent with God’s ideal for the family.  God approves of the institution of marriage (Hebrews 13:4).  God approves of the husband and wife team [provided it is a scriptural union] (Matthew 19:1-9).  God approves of children that may bless that union (Titus 2:4-5).  Some sociologists are saying, more and more, that two parent homes are important in the development of children.  Imagine that!

Evolution Is A Fact Of Science

Somewhere along the way, evolution went from being a theory to a so-called fact of science.  For one hundred and fifty years, evolution has been in the limelight.  In 1959 Julian Huxley said, “The first point to make about Darwin’s theory is that it is no longer a theory, but a fact.” Why do people believe this lie of science?  First, it may be because they have been taught it since the first grade.  Second, pride may enter into the picture.  We are told that evolution is unquestioned by “thinking” people.  Third, some simply reject God and discount the idea of creation (Romans 1:28).
Both evolution and creation require faith.  No one has ever observed either evolution or creation taking place.  Many, however, who believe in creation do so because the evidence points to a Creator.  When you hear a song you know that it had a composer.  When you read a book you know that it had a writer.  When you view a house you know that it had a builder.  The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalms 19:1).  “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

The Sexual Revolution Has Set Us Free

In 1970 our government entered the sex education business, and since then, has put billions of tax dollars into promoting “safe sex” in public schools.  Here are some of the myths widely propagated by the “safe sex” advocates: First, “Young people are going to be sexually active anyway, so we might as well teach them to be responsible.”  Second, “Sex education in our schools is value neutral.”  Third, “Abstinence is not realistic.” What are some of the fruits of this lie?  First, the aborting of America.  Destroy the egg of a bald eagle (or any other endangered species) and the government will fine you thousands of dollars.  Destroy an unborn child and the government will foot the bill.  Second, “alternative lifestyles” are gaining acceptance.  Homosexuality is “out” and proud and in your face!
What does the Bible say?  God made male and female, therefore, homosexuality is against nature (Matthew 19:4; Romans 1:26-27).  God blessed the marriage relationship, not cohabitation (Genesis 2:18; Matthew 19:5-6).  God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).  All life is precious (Genesis 1:26-27).  We are free to live within the bounds that God has set for the family.  Other courses God will judge (Hebrews 13:4).

Entertainment Is Harmless

Entertainment is that which is interesting, diverting and amusing.  Much of what is called entertainment these days delves into the forbidden realms of a contempt for God and all things sacred (Exodus 20:7), a saturation of sensuality and a predisposition for violence.  It all sounds somewhat like the situation in Genesis 6:5-6 when God was grieved with the moral depravity of the early races of man. The lies of the entertainment industry run like this: First, “The First Amendment guarantees our right to produce any kind of material we want to.”  Second, “We don’t create culture, we merely reflect it.”  Third, “Violence in entertainment doesn’t affect anybody.  It’s only a movie.”  The truth is that what we see and hear does affect us in ways both good and bad.  The Bible says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23); “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he . . .” (Proverbs 23:7); “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).
We live in a world of lies and the 20th century has seen some notable ones.  Lyndon B. Johnson said, “Men cannot live with a lie and not be stained by it.”  How much have we been stained by the lies of the 20th century?  Only the truth of God’s Word can repair the damage done by Satan’s lies and wash the stains away (John 8:32).
*Many of the thoughts expressed in this article are taken from the book, Five Lies of the Century (Tyndale House Publishers, 1995), by David T. Moore.  I have borrowed his main points, with the exception of the first one.  Mr. Moore gives an excellent and thorough analysis of the thoughts covered in this article.

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Communal Christianity (4:32-37) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                    Communal Christianity (4:32-37)


1. The first church in the local sense was the church at Jerusalem...
   a. Noted for its dedication to apostolic doctrine and brotherly love - cf. Ac 2:42-47
   b. Which continued to exist as described by Luke in our text - cf. Ac 4:32-37

2. The example of the Jerusalem church has often led some to ask...
   a. Did the church practice communism as we know it today?
   b. Is having "all things in common" to be the norm for all churches?

[In an effort to answer such questions, let's begin by reviewing what is revealed about...]


      1. Mentioned twice by Luke - Ac 2:44; 4:32
      2. Involving the selling of possessions, goods, homes, lands - Ac 2:45; 4:34
      3. Dividing the proceeds among all, as any had need - Ac 2:45;4:34-35

      1. Joses (Barnabas) - Ac 4:36-37
         a. Sold a piece of land
         b. Brought the proceeds to the apostles
      2. Ananias and Sapphira - Ac 5:1-4
         a. Sold a possession
         b. Kept back part of the proceeds, lied about it
      3. Needy widows - Ac 6:1
         a. Recipients of a daily distribution
         b. But Hellenist widows were being neglected
[Without question the early church in Jerusalem practiced what could be
called a form of "communal" Christianity.  But was it communism?  Is it
to be the norm for churches today?  Consider some...]


      1. Communism:  advocacy of a classless society in which private
         ownership has been abolished and the means of production and 
         subsistence belong to the community
      2. Communism requires that people of a society sell their
         property and give the proceeds to the community (or state)
      3. In the Jerusalem church the selling and giving was done freely, not out of compulsion
      4. As was giving by Gentile churches later on - cf. 2Co 8:12; 9:7

      1. Ananias and Sapphira did not have to sell their possession,
         nor did they have give the full amount; their sin was lying 
         about the actual amount - cf. Ac 5:1-4,7-8
      2. Some in Jerusalem kept their homes; e.g., Mary - Ac 12:12
      3. Christians elsewhere had their homes
         a. Aquila and Priscilla, in Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome - Ac 18:1-3; 1Co 16:19; Ro 16:3-5
         b. Nymphas, near Colosse - Col 4:15
         c. Philemon, near Colosse, with a guest room - Phm 1:2,22
      4. Rich Christians were commanded to do good, be rich in good
         works, ready to give, willing to share, but it had to be of 
         their own free will - 1Ti 6:17-19


1. The example of the church in Jerusalem is an inspiration to all...
   a. Of brotherly love
   b. Of free-will giving

2. It may have occurred due to unique circumstances...
   a. Many new converts had been visiting from other nations on Pentecost - Ac 2:1-11
   b. Staying after conversion to learn more, their resources would soon be exhausted
   c. Those who lived in Jerusalem were willing to sell possessions to help them

3. But the "communal Christianity" practiced there should not be viewed as...
   a. Communism or the approval of it
   b. Required (the norm) for all churches

Rather, "communal Christianity" as practiced in Jerusalem can be
considered a viable option, should the need for benevolence arise, and
where it can be practiced without any sort of compulsion...

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Persecution Begins (4:1-31) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                    The Persecution Begins (4:1-31)


1. Following Peter's healing of the lame man, and his second gospel sermon...
   a. Religious leaders in Jerusalem became greatly disturbed - Ac 4:1-2
   b. While many people believed, with believers numbering 5000 - Ac 4:4

2. This conflicting reaction led to the persecution of the church in Jerusalem...
   a. What was the nature of this persecution?
   b. What lessons might we learn from it?

[The fourth chapter in Acts will answer such questions.  So let's begin by reviewing...]


      1   Peter and John taken into custody - Ac 4:1-4
         a. By the priests, captain of the temple, and the Sadducees
         b. Who were upset by their preaching in Jesus the resurrection from the dead - cf. Ac 23:8
         c. Kept overnight until the next day
         d. The number of those who believed came to be about five thousand
      2. Their appearance before the Council (Sanhedrin) - Ac 4:5-7
         a. Before the rulers, elders and scribes
         b. Before Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and
            Alexander, along with other family members of the high priest
         c. Peter and John challenged to explain by what power or name they have acted
      3. Peter's response as led be the Spirit - Ac 4:8-12
         a. Were they being judged for doing a good deed to a helpless man in making him well?
         b. It was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth he was made whole
            1) Whom they crucified - cf. Ac 2:23,36; 3:14-15
            2) Whom God raised from the dead - cf. Ac 2:24,34; 3:15
            3) The stone rejected by the builders, now the chief cornerstone - cf. Ps 118:22
         c. There is salvation in no other name under heaven - cf. Mt 1:21; Jn 14:6

      1. The council's reaction - Ac 4:13-18
         a. What the council saw
            1) The boldness of Peter and John - contra Jn 20:19
               a) Perceived as uneducated and untrained men
               b) Realized as having been with Jesus
            2) The man who had been healed
               a) Standing with Peter and John - cf. Ac 3:11
               b) Against whose healing nothing could be said
         b. What the council reasoned
            1) A notable has occurred, evident to all, none could deny
            2) To prevent further spread, to threaten the apostles
         c. What the council did
            1) Commanded Peter and John
            2) Not to speak at all or teaching in the name of Jesus
      2. Peter and John's reply - Ac 4:19-20
         a. Shall they listen to the council or to God? - cf. Ac 5:29
         b. They cannot but speak what they have seen and heard - cf. Ac 1:8; 2:32; 3:15
      3. Peter and John released - Ac 4:21-22
         a. Upon further threatening, but finding no way of punishing them
         b. Because of the people, who glorified God for what had been done - cf. Ac 3:9-10
         c. For the man who was healed was over forty years old (lame from birth) - cf. Ac 3:2

[Thus the persecution against the Jerusalem church begins with threats
(Ac 4:18,21)  How did they respond?  What can we learn from their
response?  As we continue, we read of...]


      1. To their brethren - Ac 4:23
      2. To report all that had been said to them - cf. Ac 4:18

      1. Addressed to the Lord God, Creator of all things - Ac 4:24-28
         a. Who prophesied by the mouth of His servant David - cf. Ps 2:1
         b. Of the nations' rage and plotting against His Christ - cf. Ps 2:2-3
         c. As fulfilled by Herod and Pilate, by Gentiles and Israel
         d. Who did according to His predetermined purpose - cf. Ps 2:4-6; Ac 2:22
      2. Asking for all boldness in the face of such threats - Ac 4:29-30
         a. That His servants may speak His word
         b. That His hand might stretch out
            1) To heal, to do signs and wonders - cf. Ac 4:33; 5:12,15-16
            2) Through the name of His holy Servant Jesus - cf. Ac 3:16; 4:10

      1. The place in which they were assembled was shaken - Ac 4:31; cf. Ac 2:2
      2. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit - cf. Ac 2:4
      3. They spoke the word of God with boldness - cf. Ac 4:29


1. The persecution against the church began with threats...
   a. Warned not to speak nor teach in the name of Jesus - Ac 4:18
   b. Which Peter and John were determined not to heed - Ac 4:19-20

2. The response to this persecution was two-fold...
   a. Fellowship with one another - Ac 4:23,32; cf. Ac 12:5,12
   b. Prayer through which they received boldness - Ac 4:29,31; cf. Ep 6:18-20

Should we experience persecution, may we likewise respond with
fellowship, prayer, and boldness...!

Muhammad or Jesus? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Muhammad or Jesus?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Muhammad: “Those who say: Allah hath chosen a son…speak nothing but a lie” (Surah 18:4-5).
Jesus (through John): “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?... Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either” (1 John 2:22-23).
Muhammad: “Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him” (Surah 23:91).
God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
Muhammad: “[T]he Christians call Christ the Son of God.... Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” (Surah 9:30).
Jesus: “[H]e who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “Jesus…said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you’” (John 9:35-37).
Muhammad: “They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain, but Allah took him up unto Himself” (Surah 4:157-158).
Jesus: “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:32-33).
Muhammad: “[S]ay not ‘Three’—Cease! (it is) better for you!—Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son” (Surah 4:171-172).
Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Muhammad: “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary…. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire” (Surah 5:72-74).
Jesus: “[I]f you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Muhammad: Polygamous, having multiple wives, as many as 12 at a time.
Jesus: Remained single, devoting Himself to His divine mission.
The Jesus of the Quran: A mere human prophet, finite in his attributes, like sinful man, flawed.
The Jesus of the Bible: Perfect, infinite in all of His attributes, unlike sinful man.
Islam is focused on Muhammad, who was merely a man.
Christianity is focused on Jesus, Who was God in the flesh.
According to Islam and the Quran—
                 If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you will be lost eternally in hell.
According to Christianity and the Bible—
                 If you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you will be lost eternally in hell.

Jesus said: “Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

NOTE: The above verses from the Quran were taken from two celebrated Muslim translations:
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (1930), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

The Prophecy of Cyrus by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Prophecy of Cyrus

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Imagine taking a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and visiting the State House where the Constitutional Convention took place in 1787. During the tour, your guide points to a document dating back to just this side of the convention—about the year 1820. The piece of parchment tells of a man named George W. Bush from Austin, Texas, who would be President of the United States within the next 200 years. But how could someone know that a man named George W. Bush would be born in the United States? And how could someone know more than a century before Mr. Bush was born that he would be President of the United States? Furthermore, how could someone in 1820 know that a man from Texas (named George W. Bush) would be President of the United States when Texas wasn’t even part of the Union yet? Such a prophecy truly would be amazing, yet obviously no such prediction was ever made. In fact, despite all of the publicity that “psychic hotlines” recieve, only God can foretell the future.
One of the reasons we can know the Bible is from God is that it contains hundreds of prophecies about individuals, lands, and nations similar to the example above. One such prophecy was about a man named Cyrus and two nations: Babylon and the Medo-Persian Empire. Isaiah vividly described how God would destroy the powerful kingdom of Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms” (13:19). Writing as if it had already occurred (commonly known as the “prophetic perfect,” frequently employed in the Old Testament to stress the absolute certainty of fulfillment, i.e. Isaiah 53), Isaiah declared Babylon would fall (21:9). He then prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isa.13; 21:1-10). Later, he proclaimed that the “golden city” (Babylon) would be conquered by a man named Cyrus (44:28; 45:1-7). This is a remarkable prophecy, especially since Cyrus was not born until almost 150 years after Isaiah penned these words.
Not only did Isaiah predict that Cyrus would overthrow Babylon, but he also wrote that Cyrus, serving as Jehovah’s “anointed” and “shepherd,” would release the Jews from captivity and assist them in their return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the temple. All of this was written almost 200 years before Cyrus conquered Babylon (539 B.C.). Amazing!
In case you are wondering about the factuality of this story, secular history verifies that all of these events came true. There really was a man named Cyrus who ruled the Medo-Persian Empire. He did conquer Babylon. And just as Isaiah prophesied, he assisted the Jews in their return to Jerusalem and in the rebuilding of the temple.
Truly, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Fool by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Fool

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Perhaps many Americans are unaware of the extent to which atheism and agnosticism have blanketed the country. Virtually every department in our state universities has been infiltrated by godless, humanistic presuppositions. Study and research are conducted from an evolutionary, relativistic framework that either jettisons the notion of God altogether, or dilutes it sufficiently to effectively nullify the biblical representation of deity. The psalmist anticipated all such behavior centuries ago when he wrote: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).
Because of their inability to discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14), the Soviet cosmonauts looked out of their spacecraft in the 1960s and, in ridicule, asked, “Where is God?,” echoing again the words of the psalmist: “Why should the nations say, ‘Where now is their God?’ But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:2-3). Pride is a deadly pitfall that blinds one to the truth: “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 10:4).
But the Universe “declares” the plain work of the Creator (Psalm 19:1). Would we not consider a person a “fool” were he to pick up a watch and proclaim, “There is no watchmaker”? Though he had never empirically encountered the creator and designer of the watch, the mere existence of the watch proves the existence of a watchmaker. It takes very little investigation to see that a watch is a crude, simplistic instrument compared to the glorious, complex chronometers of the Universe. Those who see “the things that are made” and deny the very One Who made it all are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Recognition of the existence of the Creator should lead a person to pursue His will. One may express verbal belief in the existence of God while being a practical atheist. Such a person professes, “There is no God” by his or her actions. By failing to be devoted to God, even while considering oneself to be a Christian, he or she is denying the Lord (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16). One can deny His great act of love, mercy, and grace (Titus 2:11-12; Hebrews 2:3). One can forget and ignore the great dissolution to come (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Who desires to be a fool? Who really wants to live a foolish existence? The wise, insightful, noble person is the one who examines the evidence and draws the warranted conclusion (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). Only a fool would affirm: “There is no God.”

Jesus Said: "Do Not Believe Me" by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Jesus Said: "Do Not Believe Me"

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Most within Christendom see Jesus as One Who expects people to accept Him “by faith.” What they mean by “faith” is that people ought to accept Jesus as the Son of God without any proof, evidence, or rational justification—simply because He claimed to be divine. Most, in fact, see faith and proof as opposites. They think one must have faith in those areas where proof is unavailable. To them, “faith” is blindly accepting what you cannot prove, and deciding to believe what you cannot know.
Tragically, this widespread malady has fomented unbelief, skepticism, and atheism. After all, God created the human mind “in His image” (Genesis 1:26). Hence, the human mind was designed to function rationally. When humans conduct themselves illogically, they are going against their natural inclination. In the face of such irrationality, the atheist rightly dismisses “Christianity” as a false system of thinking. Ironically, the atheist is equally irrational in his blind commitment to atheism and evolution—both of which contradict the evidence. [see www.apologeticspress.org]
True, undenominational, New Testament Christianity, on the other hand, is the one and only consistent, rational perspective. According to the New Testament, God never expects nor requires anyone to accept His Word without adequate proof. God empowered His spokesmen on Earth to verify their verbal pronouncements by performing accompanying supernatural acts (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4). The book of John spotlights this feature repeatedly. When Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews, approached Jesus one night, he stated: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2, emp. added). Nicodemus was a rational man! He saw evidence that pointed to the obvious conclusion that Jesus was of divine origin, and was honest enough to admit it.
Responding to critical Jews, Jesus defended His divine identity by directing their attention to the works (i.e., “supernatural actions”) He performed: “[T]he very works that I do bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36). He made the same point to His apostles on another occasion:
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves (John 14:10-11, emp. added).
Later, Jesus noted that when people refused to believe in Him as the Son of God, they were without excuse, since the evidence of His divine identity had been amply demonstrated: “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father” (John 15:24, emp. added). So their lack of faith could not be attributed to their inability to know the truth regarding the person of Jesus (cf. John 8:32).
If it is the case that God does not expect a person to believe in Him unless adequate evidence has been made available to warrant that conclusion, then we ought to expect to see Jesus urging people not to believe Him unless He provided proof for His claims. Do we find Jesus doing so while He was on Earth? Absolutely! This fact is particularly evident in Jesus’ response to the tirade launched against Him by hard-hearted Jews who refused to face the reality of His divinity. He reiterated: “The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me” (John 10:25). His subsequent explicit declaration of His deity incited angry preparations to stone Him. He boldly challenged them: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added).
Since Jesus came to the planet to urge people to render obedient submission to Him (John 3:16; 8:24), it is difficult to envision Him telling people not to believe Him. But that is precisely what He did! He has provided the world with adequate evidence for people to distinguish truth from falsehood. We can know that God exists, that Jesus is His Son, and that the Bible is the Word of God. If the evidence did not exist to prove these matters, God would not expect anyone to believe; nor would He condemn anyone for failing to believe—since He is fair and just (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11; Peter 3:9). But the evidence does exist! We can know! All accountable human beings are under obligation to investigate and find the truth (John 8:32; 6:45; 7:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). All who desire to know the truth can find it (Matthew 5:6; 7:7-8). All who fail to do so are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20)!

If He Were a Prophet... by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


If He Were a Prophet...

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The gospel accounts paint a picture of the character of Jesus unrivaled by any other personality in human history. On one memorable occasion, Jesus was invited to eat with a Pharisee named Simon (Luke 7:36-50). During his stay, a woman who was known in the area for her sinful lifestyle approached Jesus. She proceeded to wash His feet with her tears, dry them with her hair, and anoint Jesus with fragrant oil.
Simon, seeing the sinful woman’s behavior, said to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). Notice two important aspects of Simon’s response. First, he spoke to himself. There is no indication that his thoughts were verbalized or in any way audible to those around him. Second, the criterion he set to determine whether Christ was a prophet was knowledge of the woman’s sinful lifestyle.
Jesus’ response to Simon proved that He was far more than a prophet. He answered the Pharisee by explaining that those who have sinned much and been forgiven of their sins will love God more than those who feel they have few sins to forgive. Jesus then forgave the woman’s sins. His response exhibited a knowledge, not only of the spiritual condition of the woman, but also of Simon’s inner conversation with himself. Not only did Jesus know the woman was a sinner, but He knew the conversation Simon had with himself about Jesus’ reaction to the woman. What did Jesus’ reaction prove? It should have proved to Simon that Jesus was far more than a prophet. When Jesus forgave the woman’s sins, He proved that He was God in the flesh.
The modern application of this story is profound. Jesus has exhibited far more evidence validating His deity than any reasonable person could demand. His life was prophesied in minute detail hundreds of years before He was born, He accomplished miracles that supported the prophesies, He foretold His own death and resurrection, He showed Himself alive to many witnesses after His resurrection, and ascended to Heaven in the sight of many witnesses as the culmination of His earthly ministry. The honest, reasonable response to Jesus’ personality and power is perfectly summarized in Nathanael’s reaction to Jesus’ miraculous knowledge. After Jesus explained to Nathanael that He had miraculously seen Nathanael under the fig tree, Nathanael exclaimed: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God” (John 1:49)!

Gravitational Waves Detected: What It Means to Us by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Gravitational Waves Detected: What It Means to Us

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

On February 11, 2016, physicists were excited to announce that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory directly detected, for the first time, gravitational waves from the cosmos. What is the significance of this discovery to creationists?
Though many of the predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity have been verified repeatedly over the years, making it one of the most evidence-supported theories in science, his prediction of the existence of gravitational waves was not observed for decades. According to the theory, the occurrence of certain cosmological events (e.g., “spiraling neutron stars”1) should result in “ripples in the fabric of space and time”—gravitational waves.2 Sure enough, what is thought by many to have been the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion light years away from us, “sent a shudder through the Universe” that reached Earth five months ago.3 This discovery is a great victory for science and cosmology, but what does it mean to the alleged Big Bang and the Creation model?
Essentially nothing. Some of those who have contacted us concerning the new discovery were under the impression that it overturned the verdict last year that Big Bang gravitational waves were not discovered, as had been supposed.4 Recall that Big Bang inflation (i.e., the violent, rapid expansion of the Universe immediately after the supposed Big Bang) was proposed by evolutionary cosmologists to try to fix the Horizon and Flatness problems in the cosmos, which effectively falsified the Big Bang. If Big Bang inflation was true, however, gravitational waves from the inflation event should have accompanied it, but no evidence for those waves has ever surfaced. In 2014 the claim was made that Big Bang gravitational waves were discovered,5 but within months, the claim was invalidated.6 The waves recently discovered are not said to be Big Bang gravitational waves as those from 2014 were, but rather, what we might call Black Hole Collision gravitational waves—waves from an event that is thought to have transpired, not 13.8 billion years ago at the alleged Big Bang, but rather, 12.5 billion years later. In other words, gravitational waves can come from various phenomena beyond merely a “Big Bang,” as the current discovery attests. [NOTE: We do not subscibe to the Big Bang Theory or the idea that the Universe is billions of years old. Neither are reconcilable with Scripture or science. We are just responding to the idea that the discovery of gravitational waves helps prove the Big Bang.]
While the discovery might help cosmologists more easily detect gravitational waves from the cosmos in the future, the discovery does nothing to help “Big Bangers” validate their theory. The Big Bang still stands under the dark shroud of blind faith—evidence-less conjecture. In the words of Paul Steinhardt, theoretical physicist and professor at Princeton, “the inflationary paradigm is so flexible that it is immune to experimental and observational tests…. [T]he paradigm of inflation is unfalsifiable…. [I]t is clear that the inflationary paradigm is fundamentally untestable, and hence scientifically meaningless.”7


Suggested Resource
1 Gibney, Elizabeth (2016), “What To Look Out For in 2016,” Nature, 529[7584]:14.
2 Cho, Adrian (2016), “Gravitational Waves, Einstein’s Ripples in Spacetime, Spotted for First Time,” Science On-line, February 11, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/02/gravitational-waves-einstein-s-ripples-spacetime-spotted-first-time.
3 Ibid.
4 Miller, Jeff (2015), “Big Bang Inflation Officially Bites the Dust,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=5164&topic=336.
5 Miller, Jeff (2014), “Was the Big Bang Just Proven by Astronomers?” Reason & Revelation, 34[6]:81-83, June, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4817.
6 Miller, 2015.
7Steinhardt, Paul (2014), “Big Bang Blunder Bursts the Multiverse Bubble,” Nature, 510[7503]:9, June 5.

Situationism by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Human beings throughout history have been susceptible to a desire to be freed from the dictates of higher authority. Most people wish to be free to do whatever they choose to do. This attitude runs rampant among the baby-boomers, whose formative years occurred during the 1960s. Expressions that were commonplace at the time included “Do your own thing” and “Let it all hang out.” These simple slogans give profound insight into what was really driving the counterculture forces at that time. Underneath the stated objectives of love, peace, and brotherhood were the actual motives of self-indulgence and freedom from restrictions. This ethical, moral, and spiritual perspective has proliferated, and now dominates the bulk of American civilization.
The Israelites at Mt. Sinai provide a good case study of this. Their unbridled lust manifested itself when they cast aside restraint. Awaiting the return of Moses, they “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6)—“play” being used euphemistically to refer to illicit sex play (cf. Genesis 26:8) [Harris, et al., 1980, 2:763; Clarke, 1:464]. The drinking and dancing (vs. 9) apparently included lewd, even nude, party-like revelry, with the people being “naked” (KJV), “broken loose” (ASV), “unrestrained” (NKJV), or “out of control” (NASV—vs. 25). The “prodigal son” was gripped by this same “party on” mentality. He went to the far country to party, to live it up, and to “let it all hang out.” There he indulged himself in riotous, loose living—totally free and unrestrained in whatever his fleshly appetites urged him to do (Luke 15:13).
Despite all of their high and holy insistence that their actions are divinely approved, and the result of a deep desire to do Christ’s will and save souls, could it possibly be that those within Christendom who seek to relax doctrinal rigidity are, in reality, implementing their agenda of change simply to relieve themselves of Bible restrictions? Is it purely coincidental that the liberal preachers have been eager and willing to accommodate the clamor for “no negative, all positive” preaching? Is it completely accidental and unrelated that many voices are minimizing strict obedience under the guise of “legalism,” “we’re under grace, not law,” “we’re in the grip of grace” (Lucado, 1996), and we are “free to change” (e.g., Hook, 1990)?
No, these circumstances are neither coincidental nor unrelated. They are calculated and conspiratorial. The religious change agents have breathed in the same spirit that has led secular society’s psychological profession to view guilt as destructive while unselfish, personal responsibility is labeled “co-dependency.” They have embraced the same subjective, self-centered rationale that secular society offers for rejecting the plain requirements of Scripture in order to do whatever they desire to do: “God wants me to be happy!”; “It meets my needs!” The spirit of liberalism has taken deep root in the country and in the church (see Chesser, 2001).


The Bible certainly speaks of the wonderful freedom that one may enjoy in Christ. But biblical freedom is a far cry from the release from restriction, restraint, and deserved guilt touted by the antinomian agents of change. With sweeping and precise terminology, Jesus articulated the sum and substance of what it means to be free in Christ. In a context in which He defended the validity of His own testimony (John 8:12-59), He declared the only basis upon which an individual may be His disciple. To be Christ’s disciple, one must “continue” in His word (vs. 31). That is, one must live a life of obedience to the will of Christ (Warren, 1986, pp. 33-37). Genuine discipleship is gauged by one’s persistence in complying with the words of Jesus.
Freedom in Christ is integrally and inseparably linked to this emphasis upon obeying God. While it is ultimately God and Christ who bestow freedom from condemnation upon people, they do so strictly through the medium of the written words of inspiration (vs. 32). The “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) is the law that gives liberty to those who are “doers of the word” (James 1:22). These same words will function as judge at the end of time (John 12:47-48).
It thus becomes extremely essential for people to “know the truth” in order for the truth to make them free (vs. 32). What did Jesus mean by “the truth?” “The truth” is synonymous with (1) the Gospel (Galatians 2:14; Colossians 1:5-6—genitive of apposition or identification), (2) the Word (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:2), (3) the Faith (Acts 14:21-22; Ephesians 4:5), and (4) sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10-11). In other words, “the truth” is the content of the Christian religion. It is the New Testament—the doctrines of the one true religion (cf. James 5:19). For a person to “know” the truth, he or she must both understand it and submit to it. Christ’s teachings must become the supreme law of daily life. The servant must both know his master’s will and act in accordance with that will (Luke 12:47).
The freedom that Jesus offers through obedience to His truth is noted in His interchange with the Jews over slavery. Those who sin (i.e., transgress God’s will—1 John 3:4) are slaves who may be set free only by permitting Christ’s words to have free course within them (vs. 34-37). This kind of freedom is the only true freedom. Genuine freedom is achieved by means of “obedience to righteousness” (Romans 6:16). Freedom from sin and spiritual death is possible only by obedience to God’s words (vs. 51).
Nevertheless, these Jews—though they were believers (vs. 30-31)—were unwilling to obey Christ’s will and function in a faithful manner as Abraham had (vs. 39). Consequently, Jesus labeled them children of the devil (vs. 44). They were not “of God” because they were unwilling to “hear” God’s words, i.e., comply with them (vs. 47). Though they believed, they would not obey the truth. “Indignation and wrath” awaits those who will not “obey the truth” (Romans 2:8). J.W. McGarvey summarized the interpenetration of freedom, obedience, and knowing the truth: “Freedom consists in conformity to that which, in the realm of intellect, is called truth, and in the realm of morality, law. The only way in which we know truth is to obey it, and God’s truth gives freedom from sin and death” (n.d., p. 457).


“But what about that time when the Pharisees reprimanded Jesus’ disciples for picking grain and eating on the Sabbath? Was not that incident a clear case of Jesus advocating freedom from the ‘letter of the law’ in order to keep the ‘spirit of the law’? Was not Jesus sanctioning occasional violations of law in order to serve the higher good of human need and spiritual freedom?”
A chorus of voices within the church is insisting that the report of Jesus’ disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8) does, indeed, advocate Christian “freedom” (i.e., freedom from law) and its priority over rule-keeping (e.g., Clayton, 1991, pp. 21-22; Collier, 1987, pp. 24-28; Lucado, 1989; Woodruff, 1978, pp. 198-200). Abilene Christian University professor David Wray wrote in reference to Jesus: “He healed and allowed his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath. Jesus then used ‘theological reflection’ to help his followers understand that people take priority over rule keeping and legalism” (1992, p. 1, emp. added). Richard Rogers claimed: “Jesus taught…that people took priority over the rules” (1989, p. 14, emp. added). Compare these statements to the one made by Randy Fenter: “It is not what we follow, but who we follow; not a set of values but a Person. ...Are you committed to a set of Christian values, or are you committed to Jesus Christ who died for you?” (1993, p. 1, emp. in orig.). Frank Cox claimed that Jesus had “the power to modify or change the rules of Sabbath observance. Sabbath observance must bend to human needs” (1959, p. 41, emp. added). Another writer insisted that “there are occasions when necessity outweighs precept, as Jesus himself indicated in Matthew 12:1-5” (Scott, 1995, p. 2, emp. added). Still another writer claimed that Jesus was suggesting that “the Sabbath commandment was optional if inconvenient” (Downen, 1988, emp. added).
Interestingly enough, these remarks are insidiously reminiscent of the very ideas promoted by the most theologically liberal sources imaginable. Joseph Fletcher, the “Father of Situation Ethics,” wrote that “Christians, in any case, are commanded to love people, not principles” (1967, p. 239, emp. added). He referred specifically to Matthew 12 when he said that Jesus was “ready to ignore the Sabbath observance” and that He “put his stamp of approval on the translegality of David’s action, in the paradigm of the altar bread” (pp. 15,17, emp. added). Fort Worth First United Methodist Church minister, Barry Bailey, stated: “Instead of putting the Scriptures first we should put God first” (as quoted in Jones, 1988, 1:8). This sort of humanistic inclination constitutes a great threat to the stability of the church and the Christian religion. It undermines the authority of Scripture, and further fosters the shift to emotion, feelings, and subjective perception as the standard for decision-making (see “The Shift to Emotion” in Miller, 1996, pp. 52-63).
It never seems to dawn on those who promulgate the “love Jesus vs. love law” antithesis that they are striking directly against the Bible’s own emphasis. Their contrast is not only unbiblical, but borders on blasphemy. Was the psalmist “legalistic” when he declared to God, “Oh, how I love Your law!” (Psalm 119:97)? Was he “idolatrous” or guilty of “bibliolatry” (book-worshipping) when he declared: “How sweet are Your words to my taste; sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)? Over and over again, he affirmed his love for God’s Word: “…Your commandments, which I love” (vss. 47-48); “I love Your law” (vs. 113); “I love Your testimonies” (vs. 119); “I love Your commandments more than gold” (vs. 127); “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it” (vs. 140); “I love Your precepts” (vs. 159); “I love Your law” (vs. 163); “Great peace have those who love Your law” (vs. 165); “I love them exceedingly” (vs. 167). He claimed that God’s words were his delight (vss. 24,35,70,77,92,143,174), his hope (vss. 43,49,74,81,114,147,166), and his life (vs. 50). He even stated: “I opened my mouth and panted for, I longed for Your commandments” (vs. 131; cf. vss. 20,40).
The fact of the matter is one cannot love God or Jesus without loving and being devoted to Their teachings. That is why Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21). “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23). “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (John 14:24). John echoed his Savior when he said: “[W]hoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5), and “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). How ludicrous and contrary to the essence of deity to place in contrast—to pit against each other—God and God’s laws. This is a bogus, unscriptural juxtaposition. It is not a matter of either/or; it is both/and. To minimize one is to minimize the other. Those who do so are surely in the same category as those of whom Paul spoke: “…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10, emp. added).
It likewise does not seem to dawn on those who espouse the “rules must bend to human necessity” philosophy that they are insulting the God of heaven—He Who authored the rules. Does it even remotely begin to make sense that God would author a law, tell humans they are obligated to obey that law, but then “take it back” and tell them they do not have to obey that law if it is “inconvenient,” or if it is in conflict with “human need,” or if necessity requires it? And who, precisely, is to make the determination as to whether God’s law in a particular instance is “inconvenient”? Surely not man—since “it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). And which people in all of human history ever found conformity to God’s laws “convenient”? “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2, emp. added; cf. 16:2).
Imagine parents telling their children that it is the will of those parents that the children obey the following instructions: “Do not steal, cheat, or lie.” Then imagine those same parents additionally stating: “But kids, if any of these requirements are inconvenient, or if your friends ask you to go help them steal a car, or if you feel you must cheat on a test to insure graduation, hey, ‘people take priority over rules,’ so if you must, feel free to ignore these requirements.” Those parents who take this approach to parenting inevitably produce lawless, undisciplined, unruly, irresponsible children. In fact, those parents eventually find that their children do not love them!


Many commentators automatically assume that the charge leveled against Jesus’ disciples by the Pharisees was a scripturally valid charge. However, when the disciples picked and consumed a few heads of grain from a neighbor’s field, they were doing that which was perfectly lawful (Deuteronomy 23:25). Working would have been a violation of the Sabbath law. If they had pulled out a sickle and begun harvesting the grain, they would have been violating the Sabbath law. However, they were picking strictly for the purpose of eating immediately—an action that was in complete harmony with Mosaic legislation (“but that which everyone must eat”—Exodus 12:16). The Pharisees’ charge that the disciples were doing something “not lawful” on the Sabbath was simply an erroneous charge (cf. Matthew 15:2).
Jesus commenced to counter their accusation with masterful, penetrating logic, advancing successive rebuttals. Before He presented specific scriptural refutation of their charge, He first employed a rational device designated by logicians as argumentum ad hominem (literally “argument to the man”). He used the “circumstantial” form of this argument which enabled Him to “point out a contrast between the opponent’s lifestyle and his expressed opinions, thereby suggesting that the opponent and his statements can be dismissed as hypocritical” (Baum, 1975, p. 470, emp. added). This variety of argumentation spotlights the opponent’s inconsistency, and “charges the adversary with being so prejudiced that his alleged reasons are mere rationalizations of conclusions dictated by self-interest” (Copi, 1972, p. 76).
Observe carefully the technical sophistication inherent in Jesus’ strategy. He called attention to the case of David (vss. 3-4). When David was in exile, literally running for his life to escape the jealous, irrational rage of Saul, he and his companions arrived in Nob, tired and hungry (1 Samuel 21). He lied to the priest and conned him into giving them the showbread, or “bread of the Presence” (twelve flat cakes arranged in two rows on the table within the Tabernacle [Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-6]), to his traveling companions—bread that legally was reserved only for the priests (Leviticus 24:8-9; cf. Exodus 29:31-34; Leviticus 8:31; 22:10ff.). David clearly violated the law. Did the Pharisees condemn him? Absolutely not! They revered David. They held him in high regard. In fact, nearly a thousand years after his passing, his tomb was still being tended (Acts 2:29; cf. 1 Kings 2:10; Nehemiah 3:16; Josephus, 1974a, 13.8.4; 16.7.1; Josephus, 1974b, 1.2.5). On the one hand, they condemned the disciples of Jesus, who were innocent, but on the other hand, they upheld and revered David, who was guilty. Their inconsistency betrayed both their insincerity as well as their ineligibility to bring a charge against the disciples.
After exposing their hypocrisy and inconsistency, Jesus next turned to answer the charge pertaining to violating the Sabbath. He called their attention to the priests who worked in the temple on the Sabbath (12:5; e.g., Numbers 28:9-10). The priests were “blameless”—not guilty—of violating the Sabbath law because their work was authorized to be performed on that day. After all, the Sabbath law did not imply that everyone was to sit down and do nothing. The Law gave the right, even the obligation, to engage in several activities that did not constitute violation of the Sabbath regulation. Examples of such authorization included eating, temple service, circumcision (John 7:22), tending to the care of animals (Exodus 23:4-5; Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Matthew 12:11; Luke 13:15), and extending kindness or assistance to the needy (Matthew 12:12; Luke 13:16; 14:1-6; John 5:5-9; 7:23). The divinely authorized Sabbath activity of the priests proved that the accusation of the Pharisees brought against Jesus’ disciples was false. [The term “profane” (vs. 5) is an example of the figure of speech known as metonymy of the adjunct in which “things are spoken of according to appearance, opinions formed respecting them, or the claims made for them” (Dungan, 1888, p. 295, emp. added). By this figure, Leah was said to be the “mother” of Joseph (Genesis 37:10), Joseph was said to be the “father” of Jesus (Luke 2:48; John 6:42), God’s preached message was said to be “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:21), and angels were said to be “men” (e.g., Genesis 18:16; 19:10). Priestly activity on the Sabbath gave the appearance of violation when, in fact, it was not. Coincidentally, Bullinger classified the allusion to “profane” in this verse as an instance of catachresis, or incongruity, stating that “it expresses what was true according to the mistaken notion of the Pharisees as to manual works performed on the Sabbath” (p. 676, emp. added)].
After pointing out the obvious legality of priestly effort expended on the Sabbath, Jesus stated: “But I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple” (12:6). The underlying Greek text actually has “something” instead of “One.” If priests could carry on tabernacle/temple service on the Sabbath, surely Jesus’ own disciples were authorized to engage in service in the presence of the Son of God! After all, service directed to the person of Jesus certainly is greater than the pre-Christianity temple service conducted by Old Testament priests.
For all practical purposes, the discussion was over. Jesus had disproved the claim of the Pharisees. But He did not stop there. He took His methodical confrontation to yet another level. He penetrated beneath the surface argument that the Pharisees had posited and focused on their hearts: “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (12:7). In this verse, Jesus quoted from an Old Testament context (Hosea 6:6) in which the prophet of old struck a blow against the mere external, superficial, ritualistic observance of some laws to the neglect of heartfelt, sincere, humble attention to other laws while treating people properly. The comparison is evident. The Pharisees who confronted Jesus’ disciples were not truly interested in obeying God’s law. They were masquerading under that pretense (cf. Matthew 15:1-9; 23:3). But their problem did not lie in an attitude of desiring careful compliance with God’s law. Rather, their zest for law keeping was hypocritical and unaccompanied by their own obedience and concern for others. They possessed critical hearts and were more concerned with scrutinizing and blasting people than with honest, genuine applications of God’s directives for the good of mankind.
They had neutralized the true intent of divine regulations, making void the word of God (Matthew 15:6). They had ignored and skipped over the significant laws that enjoined justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). Consequently, though their attention to legal detail was laudable, their misapplication of it, as well as their neglect and rejection of some aspects of it, made them inappropriate and unqualified promulgators of God’s laws. Indeed, they simply did not fathom the teaching of Hosea 6:6 (cf. Micah 6:6-8). “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” is a Hebraism (cf. Matthew 9:13) [McGarvey, 1875, pp. 82-83]. God was not saying that He did not want sacrifices offered under the Old Testament economy (notice the use of “more” in Hosea 6:6). Rather, He was saying that He did not want sacrifice alone. He wanted mercy with sacrifice. Internal motive and attitude are just as important to God as the external compliance with specifics.
Samuel addressed this same attitude shown by Saul: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). Samuel was not minimizing the essentiality of sacrifice as required by God. Rather, he was convicting Saul of the pretense of using one aspect of God’s requirements, i.e., alleged “sacrifice” of the best animals (1 Samuel 15:15), as a smoke screen for violating God’s instructions, i.e., failing to destroy all the animals (1 Samuel 15:3). If the Pharisees had understood these things, they would not have accused the disciples of breaking the law when the disciples, in fact, had not done so. They “would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7, emp. added).
While the disciples were guilty of violating an injunction that the Pharisees had made up (supposing the injunction to be a genuine implication of the Sabbath regulation), the disciples were not guilty of a technical violation of Sabbath law. The Pharisees’ propensity for enjoining their uninspired and erroneous interpretations of Sabbath law upon others was the direct result of cold, unmerciful hearts that found a kind of sadistic glee in binding burdens upon people for burdens’ sake rather than in encouraging people to obey God genuinely.
Jesus placed closure on His exchange with the Pharisees on this occasion by asserting the accuracy of His handling of this entire affair: “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (vs. 8). In other words, Jesus affirmed His deity and, therefore, His credentials and authoritative credibility for making accurate application of the Law of Moses to the issue at hand. One can trust Jesus’ exegesis and application of Sabbath law; after all, He wrote it!


Matthew 12 does not teach that Jesus sanctions occasional violation of His laws under extenuating circumstances. His laws are never optional, relative, or situational—even though people often find God’s will inconvenient and difficult (e.g., John 6:60; Matthew 11:6; 15:12; 19:22; Mark 6:3; 1 Corinthians 1:23). The truth of the matter is that if the heart is receptive to God’s will, His will is “easy” (Matthew 11:30), “not too hard” (Deuteronomy 30:11), nor “burdensome” (1 John 5:3). If, on the other hand, the heart resists His will and does not desire to conform to it, then God’s words are “offensive” (Matthew 15:12), “hard,” (John 6:60), “narrow” (Matthew 7:14), and like a hammer that breaks in pieces and grinds the resister into powder (Jeremiah 23:29; Matthew 21:44).
The mindset of today’s situationist is not new. We humans do not generally regard rules and regulations as positive phenomena. We usually perceive them as infringements on our freedom—deliberate attempts to restrict our behavior and interfere with our “happiness.” Like children, we may have a tendency to display resentment and a rebellious spirit when faced with spiritual requirements. We may feel that God is being arbitrary and merely burdening our lives with haphazard, insignificant strictures. But God would never do that. He has never placed upon anyone any requirement that was inappropriate, unnecessary, or unfair. As the Israelites were engaged in their final encampment on the plains of Moab prior to entrance into Canaan, Moses articulated a most important principle: “[T]he Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes…for our good always” (Deuteronomy 6:24, emp. added; cf. 10:13). God would never ask us to do anything that is harmful to us. He does not restrict us or exert His authority over us in order to make us unhappy. Quite the opposite! Only God knows what, in fact, will make us happy. Compliance with His wishes will make a person happy (John 13:17; James 1:25), exalted (James 4:10), righteous (Romans 6:16; 1 John 3:7), and wise (Matthew 24:45-46; 7:24).
Those who wish to relieve themselves of restriction will continue to invent ways to circumvent the intent of Scripture. They will continue to “twist” (2 Peter 3:16) and “handle the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2). They will exert pressure on everyone else to “lighten up,” loosen up, and embrace a more tolerant understanding of ethical conduct. But the “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) will “take heed how [he] hears” (vs.18). The good heart is the one who “reads...hears...and keeps those things which are written therein” (Revelation 1:3, emp. added). After all, no matter how negative they may appear to humans, no matter how difficult they may be to obey, they are given “for our good.”
The Bible simply does not countenance situation ethics. Jesus always admonished people to “keep the commandments” (e.g., Matthew 19:17). He did so Himself—perfectly (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26). And He is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9, emp. added).


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