"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" Eagerly Awaiting Our Hope (5:5) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

                    Eagerly Awaiting Our Hope (5:5)


1. A few questions to stimulate your thinking...
   a. What is your hope as a Christian?
   b. How strong is that hope?
   c. Can you say that you are eagerly awaiting your hope?

2. Much of the joy of being a Christian is related to our hope...
   a. How real that hope is to us
   b. How eager we are to one day realize that hope
   c. How it enables us to serve the Lord with joy and patience

3. In Ga 5:5, Paul writes concerning his hope...
   a. What he was waiting for
   b. How he was eagerly waiting for it (Grk., apekdechomai, to await

[From his words in this verse and elsewhere we can glean truths that can
make a great difference in our attitude and service as Christians.
Consider first...]


      1. The hope of justification
         a. Paul had been writing about justification - Ga 5:4
         b. Justification and righteousness come from the same Greek
            word (dikaiosune)
         c. Thus Paul is talking about the hope of being made right, not
            guilty of sin
      2. They had no other hope of justification than by faith in the
         Redeemer - Barnes
         a. This was Paul's hope expressed to the Philippians - Php 3:9
         b. A hope that sustained him in his last days, his darkest
            hours - 2Ti 4:8
      -- We are to have a strong desire plus expectation (the meaning of
         hope) regarding our standing before the Lord guiltless of sin

      1. The Corinthians were eagerly waiting for the revelation of
         Jesus - 1Co 1:7
      2. Paul also was eagerly waiting for Jesus from heaven - Php 3:20
      3. For those who so eagerly await Him, Jesus will bring salvation
         - He 9:28
      -- We are to eagerly await the coming of the Lord, for He will
         bring the righteousness (justification) we hope for!

      1. Paul also wrote of eagerly awaiting the redemption of our
         bodies - Ro 8:23
      2. This pertains to the hope of the resurrection - Ac 23:6; 24:15
      3. In which our mortal bodies will be raised and put on
         immortality - 1Co 15:42-44,48-54
      4. Made possible by the coming and power of our Lord Jesus Christ!
         - Php 3:20-21
      -- We are to eagerly await that glorious transformation in which
         our bodies as well as our souls will be redeemed by the Lord!

[Such are the things we are to hope for and await eagerly:  Our
justification from sin, our Savior from heaven, our resurrection from
the dead!  Now let's consider...]


   A. BY FAITH...
      1. This is our part
         a. We are to have faith - cf. ESV ("For through the Spirit, by
            faith, we ourselves eagerly wait...")
         b. Faith in Christ and His sacrifice, faith in His coming
      2. A faith that is Bible-based
         a. A strong conviction in things unseen; in particular, Jesus
            - He 11:1; Jn 3:36
         b. Which comes through the Word of God - Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
         c. Which gives us hope, like a light shining in darkness 
             - Ro 15:4; 2Pe 1:19
      -- The eagerness with which we wait is proportional to the degree
         of faith we have

      1. This is God's part
         a. "...strengthened by the Spirit we wait for the fulfillment
            of the hope which righteousness by faith instead of the law
            insures to us." - B.W. Johnson
         b. Paul wrote of God helping us to abound in hope via His
            Spirit - Ro 15:13
      2. We receive the Spirit's aid as we:
         a. Walk in the Spirit - Ga 5:16
         b. Set our minds on the things of the Spirit (i.e., the Word)
            - Ro 8:5-6; Ep 6:17
         c. Ask God for strength by His Spirit (via prayer) - Ep 3:16,21
      -- The eagerness with which we wait is proportional to the
         strength we receive from the Spirit


1. What is your hope (desire plus expectation) as a Christian?  It
   should include...
   a. The hope of righteousness (justification)
   b. The Savior's revelation from heaven
   c. The glorious resurrection from the dead

2. How strong is your hope?  It all depends...
   a. Are you growing in faith (through the Word)?
   b. Are you being strengthened by the Spirit (through prayer)?

If so, then we will eagerly await that for which we both desire and
expect to see...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Cyrus the Great: King of Persia by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Cyrus the Great: King of Persia

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, is mentioned twenty-two times in the Old Testament—an evidence of his prominence in the biblical scheme of things in those declining days of Judah’s history. When Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian regime in 539 B.C., he was disposed quite favorably toward the Jews. Ezra 1:1-2 reads as follows:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and he also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, Jehovah, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Exactly how the Lord “stirred up the spirit” of the Persian ruler no one is able to say precisely. That God is able to operate in international affairs—to effect His sovereign will—is certain (Daniel 2:21; 4:17), but how He accomplishes these things, using seemingly natural means, remains a mystery. But there is an interesting possibility. Josephus, the famous Hebrew historian who had access to historical records long since lost, stated that Cyrus was exposed to the prophecies of Isaiah (44:26-45:7), who, more than 150 years earlier, had called the Persian monarch by name, and had announced his noble role in releasing the Hebrews from captivity and assisting in the rebuilding of the Jewish temple (XI.I.2). It is a fact that Daniel was still living in the early years of Cyrus’ reign (see Daniel 10:1), and he might well have been the very one who introduced the Persian commander to Isaiah’s testimony. Interestingly, there is archaeological information that lends support to the biblical record.
During excavations at Babylon (1879-82), archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam discovered a small (ten inches), clay, barrel-shaped cylinder that contained an inscription from Cyrus. Now housed in the British Museum, the cylinder reported the king’s policy regarding captives: “I [Cyrus] gathered all their [former] inhabitants and returned [to them] their habitations” (Pritchard, 1958, 1:208). As noted scholar Jack Finegan observed: “The spirit of Cyrus’s decree of release which is quoted in the Old Testament (II Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2-4) is confirmed by the Cyrus cylinder...” (1946, p. 191).
The science of archaeology frequently has been a willing witness to the integrity of the sacred Scriptures.


Finegan, Jack (1946), Light from the Ancient Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Josephus, Flavius (1957), The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, transl. William Whitson (Philadelphia, PA: John C. Winston).
Pritchard, James B. (1958), The Ancient Near East (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

From Whence Came Morals? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


From Whence Came Morals?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

“[E]volutionary psychologists believe they are closing in on one of the remaining mysteries of life, the universal ‘moral law’ that underlies our intuitive notions of good and evil.” Such were the words of Newsweek senior editor Jerry Adler in his article, titled “The New Naysayers” (2006).
It has long been understood that morality exists (see Taylor, 1945, p. 83). Even the most renowned atheists have admitted such (see Simpson, 1967, p. 346): there is good and there is evil; there is right and there is wrong. Different people draw the moral line at different places, but “they all agree that there is such a line to be drawn” (Taylor, 1945, p. 83). Why?
Why are humans moral beings if, as evolutionists teach, we merely evolved from lifeless, mindless, unconscious matter over billions of years? Why do humans feel a sense of “ought” to help the poor, weak, and oppressed if we simply evolved by the natural law of “might makes right” (i.e., survival of the fittest)? Adler highlighted Richard Dawkins in his “New Naysayers” article as one of three scholars who “argue that atheism is smarter” (2006, p. 47). Apparently, one example of atheism’s superiority comes from evolutionists’ new explanation for morality, which they describe as “one of the remaining mysteries of life” (p. 48). According to Adler,
Dawkins attempts to show how the highest of human impulses, such as empathy, charity and pity, could have evolved by the same mechanism of natural selection that created the thumb. Biologists understand that the driving force in evolution is the survival and propagation of our genes. They may impel us to instinctive acts of goodness...even when it seems counterproductive to our own interests—say, by risking our life to save someone else. Evolutionary psychology can explain how selfless behavior might have evolved (pp. 48-49, emp. added).
And what exactly are these explanations? (1) “The recipient [of our acts of goodness—EL] may be a blood relation who carries some of our own genes.” (2) “Or our acts may earn us future gratitude, or reputation for bravery that makes us more desirable as mates.” (3) “The impulse for generosity must have evolved while humans lived in small bands in which almost everyone was related, so that goodness became the default human aspiration” (p. 49).
There you have it—atheism’s “smarter” explanations for morality. Although the “driving force” of evolution—natural selection—runs contrariwise to such moral, human impulses as empathy, charity, and pity, now we are told it “may impel us to instinctive acts of goodness...even when it seems counterproductive to our own interests” (p. 48). In summary, our sense of moral “oughtness” allegedly comes (1) from wanting to pass on our genes, (2) from a desire to be a hero and gain popularity, and/or (3) by default.
In actuality, “smarter” atheism is as foolish as ever (Psalm 14:1; 1 Corinthians 1:25). The desire to pass on one’s genes or to be a hero fails to explain the origins of human morality. When a person sees an unfamiliar child hanging from a six-story balcony and feels compelled to save that child from death (even though no one is watching), that sense of moral obligation must be explained in some way other than evolution. When a person is compelled to spend valuable time, money, and energy to help a poor stranger survive, even though such action may mean risking injury or death, naturalistic explanations simply will not do. To say, “goodness became the default human aspiration” is simply a copout for lacking an adequate naturalistic explanation.
Morality exists and makes sense only if there is a God, because only God could have created it. If all naturalistic explanations for the existence of morality have been shown to be inadequate, by default, the only logical explanation must be Supernatural (i.e., God).


Adler, Jerry (2006), “The New Naysayers,” Newsweek, September 11, pp. 47-49.
Simpson, George Gaylord (1967), The Meaning of Evolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), revised edition.
Taylor, A.E. (1945), Does God Exist? (London: Macmillan).

Was Peter the First Pope? by Moisés Pinedo


Was Peter the First Pope?

by Moisés Pinedo

Many advocates of petrine tradition will argue that Peter was appointed the “first pope.” Consider some of the arguments that are presented in favor of this assertion.

Argument #1: Peter received the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19).

With this statement Catholicism argues that Peter was granted supreme power or authority over the church. Although the context in Matthew supports no such interpretation, people of various religions agree that Peter was granted “something special” that was given to no other apostle. This “something” has often been misinterpreted.
We need to understand what “kingdom of heaven” means. Some people have suggested that it refers to heaven itself, and thus, they have represented Peter as the one who allows or prevents access into the eternal reward. But this interpretation is inconceivable since it finds itself in clear opposition to the context of this passage. Reading Matthew 16:18, we understand that the subject under discussion is not heaven itself, but the church. Therefore, Jesus spoke of the church as being the kingdom of heaven. This is shown not only in the context of Matthew 16:18, but it also is taught in many other passages throughout the New Testament (e.g., Mark 9:1; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 12:28).
Further, we need to understand the nature of the “keys” given to Peter. H. Leo Boles wrote, “To use the keys was to open the door or give the terms of entrance into the kingdom of God” (1952, p. 348). In other words, because of Peter’s confession about Jesus (Matthew 16:16), Jesus gave him the privilege of being the first man to tell lost souls how to become Christians and thus become part of the Lord’s church. Barnes put it this way:
When the Saviour says, therefore, he will give to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he means that he will make him the instrument of opening the door of faith to the world—the first to preach the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles (2005a, p. 171, italics in orig.).
There is no doubt that the “keys” represent the opportunities Peter would have to welcome the world, for the very first time, to the Christian age and to the kingdom of heaven—the church.
Also, we need to know when Peter used the “keys.” Jesus’ declaration was in a prophetic form. Peter would have the opportunity to open the doors of the church in the future. The Bible clearly shows us the fulfillment of this prophecy in Acts 2. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit like the other apostles (2:4), stood and gave the first recorded Gospel sermon after the resurrection of Jesus (2:14-38). It was at that moment when Jesus’ words were fulfilled. Because of the preaching of Peter and the other apostles, 3,000 Jews (cf. 2:5) were baptized into Christ and entered through the open doors of the church (2:41-47). However, the church would be composed not only of Jews, but also Gentiles. Acts 10 tells us that Peter opened the doors of the church to the Gentiles, in the same way he opened the doors of the church to the Jews. This was the “special something” given to Peter because of his confession—the privilege of being the first to preach the Gospel (after the resurrection of Christ) to both the Jews and the Gentiles.
Peter opened the doors of the church, and since then the doors of the church have remained open. Only Peter received this privilege. Jesus said, “I will give you [Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19, emp. added). There are no individuals, such as popes, opening and closing the doors of the church.

Argument #2: Peter received the power of binding and loosing (Matthew 16:19).

With this argument Catholicism affirms two things concerning Peter: (1) that he received the authority to forgive sins; and (2) that Jesus considered anything Peter would do with His church as approved, authoritative, and good. In other words, Jesus gave him the gift of “infallibility.”
In order to analyze what Jesus said about Peter, we must take into account that the context of Matthew 16:19 is linked to the subject of the church, and not to the forgiveness of sins or the concession of some kind of infallibility about doctrinal matters. A biblical text that can help us understand Matthew 16:19 is Matthew 18:18, where Jesus made the same promise to all His apostles. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Of this text, Boles has noted, “This is the same thought as in Matt. 16:19. This shows that it has a broader application than that of the discipline of an erring brother. The Holy Spirit would guide the apostles in their instruction to the erring brother and the church” (1952, p. 377, emp. added). In His declaration in Matthew 16:19, Jesus affirmed that the conditions of the Christian system that Peter and the other apostles would expound already had been required by Heaven.
The Greek grammar of these verses sheds more light on the meaning of Jesus’ statement. A.T. Robertson noted that “[t]he passive perfect future occurs in the N.T. only in the periphrastic form in such examples as Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18” (1934, p. 361). Therefore, the text should read, “whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.” By saying this, Jesus declared that resolutions made on Earth were subject to decisions made in heaven. The apostles would preach in accordance with what was already bound or loosed in heaven. This was based not on the infallibility of a man, but on the infallibility of the Holy Spirit promised to the apostles in the first century (John 16:13; cf. Matthew 10:19-20). Today we have the inspired, infallible teachings of the Holy Spirit recorded for us in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Jesus never established Peter as a pope. The titles “Pope,” “Universal Bishop,” “Earthly Head of the Church,” “Pontiff,” and others never came from the mouth of Jesus to describe Peter. Regardless of the privileges given to Peter, his authority and rights were the same authority and rights given to the other apostles of the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1-5; 12:28; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11; Galatians 2:8).


If Peter was not the first pope, then the question becomes, “Who was Peter?” Was he equal to the other apostles, or did he deserve a position of supremacy among the others? The arguments that establish Peter’s identity may be presented as follows.

Argument #1: Peter was only a man.

Although this declaration is obvious to many, sometimes its implications are overlooked. When Cornelius lay prostrate before Peter (cf. Acts 10:25), he told him, “Stand up; I too am just a man” (Acts 10:26, NASB). With this statement Peter implied three very important points: (a) that he was “too...a man”—that is to say, a man just like Cornelius; (b) that he was “a man”—that is to say, just like all men; and (c) that he was “just a man”—that is to say that he was not God, and ultimately was unworthy of worship. Peter, with all humility, understood that his human nature prevented him from accepting worship. On the other hand, the pope, being just a man like Peter, expects men to bow before him, kiss his feet, and revere him, thus receiving worship that does not belong to him. What a difference between Peter and his alleged successors! Not even God’s angels allow men to show adoration by kneeling before them (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). One can only be astonished at the tremendous audacity of one who usurps the place that belongs only to God!

Argument #2: Peter was an apostle with the same authority and rights as the other apostles.

On one occasion, the apostles of the Lord were arguing about who was the greatest among them (Luke 22:24), so Jesus told them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them.... But not so among you” (Luke 22:25-26, emp. added; cf. Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48). Jesus never would have made this comment if Peter had more authority and rights than the other apostles as Catholicism suggests. In fact, if Peter was to be considered more honorable than the other apostles, this would have been the opportune time to clarify this point to the rest of the apostles who were “hungry for another’s glory.” However, Jesus assured them that this would not be the case among His apostles.
On another occasion, the mother of John and James came before Jesus with them, asking Him to allow her two sons to sit by Him in His kingdom, one on the right and the other on the left (Matthew 20:20-21). Jesus pointed out that they did not know what they were asking (Matthew 20:22), and added, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them.... Yet it shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:25-26, emp. added). If Jesus considered Peter as greater than the other disciples, He could have clarified the issue immediately by telling Zebedee’s wife and sons that they were asking for an honor already given to Peter. But, He did not do that. Today it seems that many religious people want to make it so, and exalt Peter above the other apostles, in spite of what Jesus said.
Many Catholics try to justify their claim that Peter was the first pope by affirming that he was the greatest of the apostles. They declare that Peter was greater because: (1) he always is mentioned first in the lists of the apostles (e.g., Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13); (2) he was the apostle who recognized Jesus as Lord in Matthew 16:16; and (3) Jesus told him to care for His sheep (John 21:15-19). Are these arguments sufficient for establishing the papacy or supremacy for Peter? No. Consider the case for any other apostle. For example, it could be said that John was the “greatest” of the apostles because: (1) in the Bible he is referred to as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 21:20,24); (2) he rested on Jesus’ bosom just before His arrest (John 13:25; 21:20)—certainly a posture that suggests a close relationship; and (3) Jesus charged him with the responsibility of caring for His mother (John 19:26-27). Does this mean that we also should consider John as a pope? If not, should we consider Peter as a pope when all of the apostles had the same authority and their own privileges? Indeed, Jesus gave all of His disciples, not just Peter, authority (Matthew 28:19-20).
Finally, consider the words of Paul. He said: “[F]or in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing” (2 Corinthians 12:11). From this verse, we conclude that Paul was inferior to none of the apostles, and that Peter was neither lesser nor greater than Paul.

Argument #3: Peter was an apostle who had the same power as the other apostles.

Some religious people have spread the myth that Peter possessed more miraculous power than the other apostles, and that, therefore, he was greater than the rest. Yet, Matthew 17:14-21 presents the account of an epileptic boy who was brought to the disciples of Jesus (including Peter), but they could not heal him. If Peter had a power that was “more effective” than the other apostles’ power, he should have been able to perform this miracle. However, the boy was healed only after he was taken to Jesus. Jesus then reprimanded all the apostles for their lack of faith.
Near the end of His ministry, Jesus promised all of His disciples that “he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do” (John 14:12). In Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit came with power, He empowered not only Peter, but also the rest of the apostles (vss. 1-4). This is confirmed when we read that “fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43, emp. added). There is no doubt that the apostle Peter was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, but that power also was manifested in the rest of the apostles and was never grounds for considering one apostle as being superior to another.

Argument #4: Peter was a man who made mistakes.

Peter committed many mistakes just as any other person. The New Testament records that he: (a) doubted Jesus (Matthew 14:28-31); (b) acted impulsively against his fellow man (John 18:10-11); (c) denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18,25-27); (d) was overwhelmed by his failure (John 21:3); and (e) acted hypocritically before the church (Galatians 2:11-21; Paul “withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed”—a confrontation that would have been considered insolent if Peter was the “head of the church”). We should not belittle Peter, but we must understand that Peter, like all servants of God, had his faults and should never be considered greater than the other apostles, or any other Christian (cf. Matthew 11:11).


Neither Jesus, nor the apostles, nor the early Christians considered Peter as superior to the other apostles. He was simply a man privileged to be part of the apostolic ministry and a member of the body of Christ, which is the church. There is only one Head of the church, and that Head is Jesus Christ, not Peter (Ephesians 1:20-22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; et al.).


Barnes, Albert (2005), Notes on the New Testament: Matthew and Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Boles, H. Leo (1952), The Gospel According to Matthew (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Robertson, A.T. (1934), A Grammar of The Greek New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).

Was Jesus Ignorant? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Was Jesus Ignorant?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Some claim the Bible reveals that Jesus did not possess superior knowledge. As “proof,” these skeptics refer to such passages as Mark 5:25-34 and Matthew 26:39. In Mark 5, it is recorded that after Jesus’ garment had been touched, He asked the crowd, “Who touched my garments?” (5:30). In Matthew 26, Jesus, praying to the Father, said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (26:39). Do such statements reveal ignorance on the part of Jesus? Was His knowledge no greater than yours and mine? What is the truth of the matter?
First, for critics to make such a claim about Mark 5:30, they must assume that all questions are asked solely for the purpose of obtaining information. However, common sense should tell us that questions often are asked for other reasons. Jesus did not ask this question to acquire information. Rather, He asked it so that the woman with the issue of blood would “step forward” and confess to having been healed. In so doing, her deep faith and the greatness of the miracle would be manifested to glorify God. It is outlandish to take this question and claim that Jesus did not know who touched Him. Are we to assume that God was ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts when he asked him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). In the beginning of God’s first speech to Job, God asked the patriarch, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4). Are we to believe that God did not know where Job was when He created the world? Certainly not! What father, having seen his son break a windowpane, has not asked him, “Who did that?” Obviously, the father did not ask the question to obtain information, but to see if the son would admit to something the father knew all along. On occasion, Jesus used questions for the same purpose. In no way is this some indication of His being less than divine.
Critics also jump to conclusions when they claim that the “ignorance of Jesus is very important, because without ignorance He could not sincerely pray in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering pass from Him” (cf. Matthew 26:39). They fail to recognize that Jesus is not only 100% divine (John 1:1-5,14;10:30), but also was 100% human while upon the Earth (Philippians 2:7-8). Oftentimes we get the idea that the suffering Jesus endured was not all that painful because He was God—but Jesus also was a man. When praying in the garden, He knew that within a few short hours He would be mocked, spit upon, struck with the palms of hands, scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to a cross. However, this knowledge did not make his suffering any easier. Jesus could (and did) sincerely pray, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me.” This statement intimates no more than that Jesus was really and truly a man, and as a man He could not but be averse to pain and suffering. The law of self-preservation exists in the innocent nature of man, and no doubt existed in Christ. He did not desire a violent death at the hands of angry Jews, but He was willing to endure it to save mankind from the depths of hell. To lift such passages as Matthew 26:39 and Mark 5:30 from the Bible and claim that Jesus did not possess superior knowledge is a gross misuse of Scripture. Such allegations are false to the core, yet, sadly, they are typical of the kind of devices skeptics use to try and strip Jesus of His deity.

Atheism or Christianity: Whose Fruit is Sweeter? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Atheism or Christianity: Whose Fruit is Sweeter?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

“Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies.” Such is the arduous title of a recent article that appeared in Journal of Religion and Society. Although the content of the article is much more reader friendly and interesting than its title might suggest, the author’s proposal is disturbingly misleading. According to Gregory Paul, “a freelance scientist and scientific illustrator specializing in dinosaur evolution” who penned the article in question (“Author Information,” n.d.), “[a]greement with the hypothesis that belief in a creator is beneficial to societies is largely based on assumption, anecdotal accounts, and on studies of limited scope and quality restricted to one population” (Paul, 2005). Supposedly, America’s forefathers like Benjamin Franklin were wrong in their many remarks about how religion (and specifically the Christian religion) would be a blessing upon America. Gregory Paul indicates that actually the blight of theism is clearly visible, and apparently a source of much of America’s dysfunction.
In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies.... No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction... (Paul, 2005).
Thankfully, Mr. Paul admitted that his writing was “not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health.” Nevertheless, he leaves readers with the strong impression that the fruit of theism is much more bitter than that of atheism.
Although one could argue that on certain grounds the United States is not as “dysfunctional” as some might contend, statistics do indicate that in America 22% of the population suffers from one or more STDs (“Tracking...,” 2004), more than one million innocent, unborn babies are slaughtered every year (“Induced Abortion,” 2002), and on average one murder (not including abortions) occurs every 32 minutes (“Crime in...,” 2003). These are only a few of the ghastly statistics that indicate America certainly is not the “shining city on the hill” that many (including our Founding Fathers) would like for it to be. That said, is one justified in closely attaching such data to America’s predominant theistic viewpoint? After all, “[o]ver the past fifty years of research, the percentage of Americans who believe in God has never dropped below 90%” (Gallup, Jr. and Lindsay, 1999, p. 23). Does theism really breed poor societal health and dysfunction? Answer: It certainly could. But, pure, unadulterated Christianity and true, biblical theism does not.
Most Americans believe in a higher power, which they may call “God,” but for many this is not the God of the Bible. They simply believe in a “convenient” creator, who allows them to do whatever feels good. They reject the Bible as revelation from God, and choose to live according to their own rules (which can lead to a dysfunctional society if those “rules” are contrary to biblical mandates). A great percentage of the remaining theists in America who call themselves Christians have perverted Christianity to the extent that somehow (among other things) having sexual relations outside of a scriptural marriage and killing innocent, unborn babies is acceptable. This type of theism is no better than atheism, and its fruit will be just as bitter. Israel suffered much throughout their history, but this was not the result of their theism. Rather, it was because of their departure from true, faithful devotion to Jehovah God (e.g., Numbers 14:33-34; Judges 19-20). As far back as 1947, Lincoln Barnett, in an article titled “God and the American People,” observed how “[i]t is evident that a profound gulf lies between America’s avowed ethical standards and the observable realities of national life. What may be more alarming is the gap between what Americans think they do and what they do do” (emp. in orig.). This gap has only widened in the last fifty years. What many theistic Americans may say they do (obey the God of the Bible) and what they really do (contribute to the moral decline of society by breaking God’s laws) is, indeed, disconcerting and grounds for legitimate criticism.
Atheistic, pro-evolution democracies, however, cannot logically associate the immorality of America with pure Christianity, and thus assume that atheism is more beneficial for a society. A country comprised of true Christians would be mostly void of such things as sexually transmitted diseases, murder, thievery, drunken fathers who beat their wives and children, drunk drivers who turn automobiles into lethal weapons, and heartache caused by such things as divorce, adultery, and covetousness (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:21; Matthew 19:9; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5-9; Galatians 5:19-23; Ephesians 4:28; 5:25,28; 6:4). Only those who break God’s commandments intended for man’s benefit would cause undesirable fruit to be reaped. [NOTE: This is the kind of society that America’s Founding Fathers envisioned—one based upon the unchanging, moral principles of the Bible. In reality, America was founded to be a republic, not a democracy (see Miller, 2005).]
The God of the Bible cannot logically be blamed because “theists” or “Christians” forsake His commands and do that which is right in their own eyes (cf. Judges 17:6). Furthermore, simply because the more atheistic, pro-evolution democracies do not permit their godless philosophy of life to produce the true fruits of the “survival of the fittest” mentality, but rather choose to live according to moral guidelines similar to those found in the Bible (e.g., not murdering, stealing, lying, etc.), does not mean that alleged low rates of crime, murder, etc. is the fruit of true atheistic thought. In short, unrighteousness, whether it stems from atheism or a corrupted form of Christianity, produces bitter fruit that will eventually bring about the wrath of God.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man! Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom will ascend like dust; because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 5:20-24).


“Author Information” (no date), The John Hopkins University Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/title_pages/1442.html.
Barnett, Lincoln (1947), “God and the American People,” Ladies Home Journal, November.
“Crime in the United States, 2002” (2003), Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.
Gallup, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).
“Induced Abortion” (2002), Alan Guttmacher Institute, [On-line], URL: http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.pdf.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Christianity, Democracy, and Iraq,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/308.
Paul, Gregory S. (2005), “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies,” Journal of Religion and Society, vol. 7, [On-line], URL: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html.
“Tracking the Hidden Epidemics 2000” (2004), Center for Disease Control, [On-line], URL: http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/od/news/RevBrochure1pdfintro.htm.

America, the Ten Commandments, and the Culture War by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


America, the Ten Commandments, and the Culture War
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

No one can doubt that the United States of America is in the midst of a culture war. This war has been going on for over forty years. The war is between two opposing forces. On the one hand, there is the “politically correct” crowd—those who embrace pluralism, atheism, agnosticism, and humanism. They generally reject the God of the Bible and the principles of morality contained therein. They define “liberty” as the right to believe in and practice whatever they choose. “Freedom” to them means freedom from restraint. They wish to be left free to indulge their fleshly appetites fully. This indulgence has manifested itself most clearly in what was referred to in the 1960s as the “Sexual Revolution.” Many people have insisted on being unhampered in their engagement in illicit sexual activity, i.e., pre-marital, extra-marital, and homosexual sex. (The United States Supreme Court, in an unprecedented action—in direct contradiction to the stance that has completely dominated American civilization since its inception—has single-handedly struck down state sodomy laws—see Supreme Court, 2003). This sexual anarchy has naturally resulted in two critical cultural catastrophes: (1) widespread divorce and the breakdown of the home and family; and (2) the legalization of abortion. After all, illicit sexual activity inevitably destroys marriage, and it has, in turn, led to the destruction of children—either by killing them in the womb or neglecting to rear them properly. Most of the ills of society, and the core of the present culture war, is traceable to this lack of sexual restraint.
On the other hand, there are still those in America who understand that God exists, i.e., the God of the Bible, the Creator of humanity and the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. They recognize that the Bible is His communication to humanity to instruct people how to be successful and happy in this life and how to prepare for the life to come in eternity. They recognize that American civilization must maintain its Christian foundation if it expects to survive and flourish—as it has done for the 150 years preceding the current culture war.
One way to view these two opposing forces is in terms of the generational shifting that has occurred in America. The World War II generation represents the previous social atmosphere when Americans were encouraged to be “God-fearing citizens” who lived according to unchanging Christian values and the standard of the Bible. The “Babyboomer” generation is largely responsible for orchestrating change and igniting the culture war. The mottos of the 1960s illustrate this defiant rejection of the past: “do your own thing,” “make love, not war,” “if it feels good, do it,” and “the devil made me do it.” Such slogans exposed the underlying intent: “I want to be left free to do whatever I want to do with no restrictions and no one telling me what I can and cannot do.” The “generation gap” of the 1960s was simply a rebellion against authority. The present culture war is the result of the continuing attempt to be free from authority and restraint. It is the attempt to rewrite law to make lawlessness legal!
That is what the Ten Commandments monument in Alabama is all about. It’s not about that particular monument. It’s not really even about the Ten Commandments themselves. After all, the Bible teaches that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses to govern the Israelites(Exodus 20:1-17). Christians have never been under the Ten Commandments per se (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 9:15-17). They are under New Testament law brought by Christ and His apostles. Is there considerable overlap between the laws given by Moses (which included the Ten Commandments) and the laws given by Christ? Certainly. In fact, nine of the Ten Commandments (excluding the Sabbath) are repeated in one form or another in the New Testament as being a part of New Testament Christianity. What Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has said is that the Constitution endorses the acknowledgment of the God of the Bible in public life (see “Transcript,” 2003). Note carefully what Justice Moore explained:
Anytime you deny the acknowledgment of God you are undermining the entire basis for which our country exists. Rights come from God, not from government. If government can give you rights, government can take them away from you. If God gives you rights, no man and no government can take them away from you. That was the premise of the organic law of this country, which is the Declaration of Independence. Because, if there is no God, then man’s power is the controlling aspect, and therefore power will be centralized (quoted in Wright, 2003).
The Founding Fathers intended for the Bible to be recognized as the foundation of American civilization. They never envisioned the government being allowed to interfere with the free exercise of the Christian religion in public life (see Barton, 1996). They would surely view as insane the generation that would remove from government premises a monument that celebrates Bible law, only to install a monument celebrating homosexual war veterans (see Limbacher, 2003).
For over forty years now, the Christian foundations of American civilization have been undergoing gradual, incessant erosion. The non-Christian forces of society, assisted in large measure by an unrestrained, leftist judiciary, have been systematically dismantling the nation’s ties to the Bible, removing one by one the public symbols of America’s Christian roots. The recent brouhaha over the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is simply one more example among a long series wherein the liberal forces, under the guise of “civil liberties” and “separation of church and state” (a phrase not even found in the Constitution) are attempting to expunge all traces of America’s Christian heritage. Make no mistake: the nation has embarked upon a slippery slope that will guarantee its downward spiral into the abyss of godless hedonism. The attack upon external symbols of attachment to God—Bible monuments, the Pledge, “In God We Trust” on coinage, Leviticus 25:10 on the Liberty Bell, and a host of other ties—is simply part of the larger conspiracy to act out hostility toward the God Who places restraints upon human behavior.
Many who have embraced the myth of a “religionless” society and government (interpreting “freedom of religion” to mean “freedom from religion” rather than “freedom for religion” as the Founding Fathers intended) have naively presumed that humans will automatically choose to do “right” (whatever “right” is), and that humans can be their own authority without any outside interference from a higher power imposing an objective standard upon them. They dispute the historical evidence that unrestrained freedom results in moral chaos and social anarchy. Whereas Hinduism posits millions of gods (like all the pagan religions that have existed in human history—gods conjured up by their human creators and, hence, flawed like their creators), Buddhism removes humanity from the notion of higher powers “out there” to whom humans ought to look for guidance, and places divinity within each individual. Hence, every human has within himself/herself sufficient insight into “right” if he/she can just “get in touch” with the inner self. To fail to do so is to be subjected to a virtually endless cycle of reliving earthly existence through an infinite number of life forms (animal and plant) until one learns his/her lesson and “gets it right.” American civilization has been the victim of serious encroachment by this secular “New Age” philosophy.
Please excuse the bluntness, but such thinking is irrational, nonsensical, and, well, absurd. The only rational perspective is the biblical one, the one upon which this nation was founded—that one Supreme Being exists Who is nonphysical (i.e., spirit—John 4:24), transcendent of the physical realm, and infinite in all of His attributes. No other rational explanation exists for what we observe all round us. Evolution certainly does not account for it. No atheist, mystic, or existential philosopher has come up with an adequate explanation. The evidence points to the existence of God—the God described on the pages of the Bible. As the Creator, He has communicated to humans regarding their origin, their purpose in life, and their eternal destiny. Those who wish to be free from restraint in order to indulge their fleshly appetites may invent complex, convoluted alternate explanations for human existence, they may insist that moral behavior is subjective and susceptible to the whim of human inclination, but no such evasions will alter the facts. Those who remain rational, objective, and unbiased are forced to conclude that spiritual reality is within the grasp of every accountable human being. But the individual must decide to seek the truth.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:10-12).
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).


Barton, David (1996), Original Intent (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders Press).
Limbacher, Carl (2003), “Monument to Homosexuals Is OK; Monument to Ten Commandments Isn’t,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/8/27/142215.shtml.
Supreme Court of the United States Syllabus (2003), “Lawrence, et al. vs. Texas,” [On-line], URL: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/02pdf/02-102.pdf.
“Transcript: Justice Moore on His Monumental Battle,” Fox News, [On-line], URL: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,95342,00.html.
Wright, Wendy (2003), “Citizens Organize Events to Support Chief Justice Moore,” [On-line], URL: http://www.cwfa.org/articles/4428/CWA/freedom/index.htm.

Where Was Jesus Called a Nazarene? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Where Was Jesus Called a Nazarene?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In addition to the unfounded criticism surrounding Nazareth’s existence early in the first century, skeptics are also fond of denying the fulfilled prophecy of Jesus being called a Nazarene. At the close of Matthew chapter two, the inspired tax collector recorded that Jesus’ family “came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene’” (2:23, emp. added). The fact of the matter is, however, the words “He shall be called a Nazarene” are nowhere found in the Old Testament, nor is Jesus ever called “a Nazarene” in the New Testament apart from Matthew 2:23. For these reasons, Bible critics often include Matthew 2:23 in lists of Bible “contradictions” or “inconsistencies” that supposedly disprove the inspiration of the Bible (cf. McKinsey, 1995, pp. 167,293; Morgan, 2010).

So what are Christians to do with Matthew 2:23? Do we concede it as a contradiction, or is there a reasonable response? How could Matthew truthfully write that Jesus’ family moved to Nazareth “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’”?

First, Bible students must keep in mind that quotation marks were foreign to the Bible writers, as well as all authors of antiquity. As Wayne Jackson noted: “[A]ncient writers did not use the same literary devices employed today. Quotation marks, colons, ellipsis marks, brackets, etc., were unknown to them. In view of this, we may not always know just how they were utilizing the language of the former Scriptures” (1988). Could it be that Matthew did not intend for His readers to understand this statement as a direct quotation from the Old Testament, but rather a more generalized truth?

What underlying truth could Matthew possibly have been trying to convey by the statement, “He shall be called a Nazarene”? Before answering this question, consider how the names of cities have occasionally been used to represent a particular idea. From a negative standpoint, a homosexual may be referred to as a sodomite (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10, NKJV, RSV). In the first century, the inhabitants of Corinth were so sexually immoral that the verb korinthiazo (“to Corinthianize” or “act like Corinthians”) meant to commit sexual immorality (Foster, 1974, pp. 6-7). In regards to Nazareth, the city had a reputation of being rather insignificant. It was in a partially Gentile-settled region (Galilee) that the Pharisees looked down upon, as is evident by their erroneous assertion that “no prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (John 7:52). [NOTE: Jonah was from Gath Hepher in the southern part of Galilee (2 Kings 14:25).] What’s more, recall that when Philip informed Nathanael that he had found the Messiah, “Jesus of Nazareth” (John 1:45), Nathanael responded: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (vs. 46). “To come from Nazareth, therefore, or to be a Nazarene, was the same as to be despised, or to be esteemed of low birth” (Barnes, 1997). The fact is, the Old Testament prophets foretold that the Messiah would be a “despised...root out of dry ground” with “no form or comeliness” (Isaiah 53:2-3; cf. Psalm 22:6-7). Similar to how cities such as Sodom and Corinth have been used to describe a particular activity (albeit wicked), Matthew likely assigned the term Nazarene to Jesus to adequately express the prophets’ predictions of His lowly, despised origins (cf. Acts 24:5).

Still, some might wonder why Jesus was never actually “called” a Nazarene anywhere in the New Testament (outside of Matthew 2:23). The answer is quite simple (though perhaps foreign to many in the 21st century): in Scripture, to “be called” often meant the same as “shall be” (see Lyons, 2010). When God said that Eve would “be called woman,” He did not mean that “woman” would be her name, but that by nature she was a woman (Genesis 2:23; 3:20). When Matthew quoted the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 and testified that the people “shall call His name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23), he meant that by nature the son of Mary was Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (whereas the literal name He wore was “Jesus”—1:1:25; Luke 1:30-35; cf. Isaiah 9:6). Likewise, when Matthew used the word “Nazarene” one chapter later, he was most likely describing the lowliness of Jesus’ life (i.e., He “made Himself of no reputation”—Philippians 2:7).
Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

Foster, Henry (1974), The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Jackson, Wayne (1988), “Principles of Bible Prophecy,” Reason & Revelation, 8[7]:27-30, July, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2001.

Lyons, Eric (2010), “Why Did Mary and Joseph Not Call Jesus Immanuel?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/3591.

McKinsey, Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).

Morgan, Donald (2010), “Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions,” http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.html.

“Love your enemies” by Roy Davison


“Love your enemies”
These amazing words were spoken by Jesus on a mountainside in Galilee some 2000 years ago.

What is an enemy?

An enemy is hostile: he hates you, wants to harm you, and actively seeks ways of damaging you and your interests.
In open warfare an enemy tries to kill you, or failing that, to destroy your livelihood.
In mutual warfare, both sides are enemies of each other and try to kill each other and to destroy each other’s infrastructure. Both sides use the hostile acts of the other to justify their own hostilities.
Most of us can thank God that we have never lived in a war zone. We cannot even understand how thankful we should be that we were not in Nanking in December of 1937 when foreign solders murdered 200,000 civilians, or in London during the blitz of 1940 and 1941, or in Dresden in February of 1945, or in Hiroshima or Nagasaki in August of 1945.
Yet, everyone must deal with enemies.
It might be hostility at work or at school. It might be hostility from neighbors or from people of a different race, tribe, social group or religion. It might be hostility among relatives.

Enemies are not easy to love!

Yet Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

Did Jesus have enemies?

The Messiah would be “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him” (John 7:1). Jesus told His followers that enemies would “mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him” (Mark 10:34). “Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him” (Matthew 26:3, 4).
While dying on the cross, Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Yes, Jesus loved His enemies.

Actually, He loved us while we were His enemies: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:6-10).

Who was victorious at the cross, Jesus or His enemies?

Followers of Christ “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). 
Being a Christian is not for cowards. To follow Christ, we must be willing to fight to the death. But “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
In carnal warfare generals are appointed who know how to win battles. Soldiers must obey orders. They hope their general knows what he is doing. A worldly soldier tries to stay alive by killing.
We have a General who really does know what He is doing. His strategy is simple, but it requires tremendous bravery: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). A soldier of Christ loves his enemies and “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10).

There is one enemy we may not love!

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8, 9).
“Love your enemies” is a command to attack, to conquer evil with good!
When the devil throws hatred at us, it is a trick. He wants us to pick it up and throw it back.

Jesus issues His soldiers good weapons.

First, we protect ourselves with the shield of faith, which enables us “to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). Hatred bounces off the shield of faith.
Then we attack! We wield “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
We use the ‘stun gun’ of love. Jesus loved His enemies. And the words of the Roman centurion who crucified Him, reverberate through the centuries, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).

Our Commander knows how to be victorious!

“Love your enemies!” Overcome evil with good! “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5).
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16). 

Our King is victorious over evil.

How are we to treat enemies according to the Word of God?
Even the old covenant commands kindness to enemies.
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it” (Exodus 23:4, 5). It is acknowledged that you may not want to help him, but that you must anyway.
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21, 22).
Paul quotes this passage when he tells us how to treat enemies. After saying: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2), he lists ways to do this, including: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14). “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rathergive place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).

What does the King of kings say about treatment of enemies?

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:27-29).
Jesus says this to those ‘who hear’. Many refuse to listen.
A Jewish rabbi, who was quite familiar with the New Testament, said to a Christian: “Jesus taught many good things, but I can never accept that I must offer the other cheek when someone hits me. That’s not human!” The Christian replied: “I agree. That’s not human, that’s divine!”
“Love is of God” (1 John 4:7). Christians are empowered to love the humanly unlovable because “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Luke 6:32-34). 
Jesus wants our love to be altruistic. The genuineness of love is proven when it is undeserved. Its power is stunning when it is unexpected. Repeatedly showing God’s love to an enemy may undermine his hatred and draw him to the light. Even if it does not, good vanquishes evil in the end.
“Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35, 36).
Jesus wants us to be like the Father who sent His Son to rescue His enemies. Jesus loved us when we were His enemies. Following His example, we love our enemies, and with His help, triumph over evil by doing good. Amen.
Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive