"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Jesus Christ, Our Hope (1:1) by Mark Copeland


 Jesus Christ, Our Hope (1:1)
INTRODUCTION 1. In reference to Jesus Christ, Paul uses a title which is very unique in the NT... a. He calls Jesus "our hope" - 1Ti 1:1 b. Nowhere else is Jesus so described, other than in Col 1:27 2. Yet it came to be a precious title used by some in the early church... a. "Be of good cheer in God the Father and in Jesus Christ our common hope" - Ignatius, To The Ephesians 21:2 b. "Let us therefore persevere in our hope and the earnest of our righteousness, who is Jesus Christ." - Epistle of Polycarp 8 3. The word 'hope' (Gr., elpis)... a. Means "a confident desire and expectation" b. Is closely aligned with the word 'faith' - cf. He 11:1 [In what way is Jesus 'our hope', our basis for 'confident expectation'? Jesus is 'our hope'...] I. FOR FORGIVENESS OF SINS A. MAN HAS A PROBLEM WITH SIN... 1. All have sinned - Ro 3:23; cf. 1Jn 1:8,10 2. The consequences are grave - Ro 6:23 3. People deal with this guilt of sin differently a. Some try to ignore it b. Others seek to compensate for it by doing good works c. Many look to different 'saviors' or teachers (the Law, Buddha, Mohammed, Mary) B. JESUS IS OUR ONLY 'HOPE'... 1. He is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" - Jn 1:29 2. In Him we have "redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" - Ep 1:7 3. Christians place their hope in Jesus' blood as the atonement for their sins a. By believing and being baptized into Christ
             - Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:3-6
         b. By continuing to repent, confess, and pray - Ac 8:22; 1Jn 1:7,9

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for salvation from the guilt of sin?  Unless you
believe in Him, you will die in your sins (Jn 8:24).  Jesus is also our


      1. It is something put in man by His Creator - Ac 17:26-28
      2. Many seek to fulfill this longing with the wrong things
         a. Trying to satisfy it with material things
         b. But such things only leave an emptiness - Ec 5:10
      3. Many seek to fulfill this longing in the wrong way
         a. On their own
         b. Through some man or man-made religion

      1. He is the only 'way' to the Father - Jn 14:6
      2. Only in Him can we really come to know God - Jn 14:7-9; cf. Jn  1:18
      3. In Him we are reconciled to God - 2Co 5:18-20

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for fellowship with God?  Without Jesus, you
cannot have a close relationship with God (1Jn 2:23; 4:15).  Jesus is
also our 'hope'...]


      1. Yet the ancient world admitted their inability to do so
         a. "We hate our vices and love them at the same time." - Seneca
         b. "We have not stood bravely enough by our good resolutions;
            despite our will and resistance we have lost our innocence.
            Nor is it only that we have acted amiss; we shall do so to
            the end." - Seneca
      2. Even the apostles described the difficulty of living godly
         a. Paul described what it was like under the Law - Ro 7:21-24
         b. He reminded Christians of the conflict between the flesh and
            the Spirit - Ga 5:16-17
         c. Peter wrote of the warfare between fleshly lusts and the
            soul - 1Pe 2:11

      1. In Christ we are freed from the law of sin and death - Ro 8:2
      2. In Christ we have strength to do that which is good, and turn
         away from evil
         a. Because of the Spirit of God - cf. Ro 8:11-13
         b. The means by which God strengthens the inner man - Ep 3:16, 20

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for power in holiness?  In Jesus there is strength
to do God's will (Php 4:13). Jesus is also our 'hope...]


      1. They worry about their food and clothing
      2. They desire basic contentment, with true joy and peace
      3. Jesus acknowledged this concern was common among men - Mt 6:

      1. His Father knows our needs - Mt 6:32
      2. Jesus provides the secret to God's care - Mt 6:33; Mk 10:28-30
      3. He also is the source to true joy and peace - cf. Php 4:4,6-7
      4. In Him there is contentment, knowing that God will supply our
         needs - cf. Php 4:11-12,19

[Is Jesus your 'hope' for God's providential care in your life?  If you
trust in your own riches, you cannot please God (Lk 16:13).  Finally,
Jesus is our 'hope'...]


      1. People try to avoid it, delay it
      2. Some try to ignore, even refusing to speak of the dead

      1. He came to deliver us from the fear of death - He 2:14-15
      2. This He did by His own resurrection, and continues to do
         through the promise of His coming again - cf. 1Th 4:13-18


1. Jesus is many things to those who love Him; let's make sure that He
   is 'our hope'!

2. Have you made Jesus your 'hope'?  If not, then you are still...
   a. In your sins
   b. Alienated from God
   c. Unable to live a truly righteous life
   d. Going through life without God's providential care
   e. Unprepared for death, not ready for the Judgment to follow

Why not let Jesus become your 'hope' today...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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God and the Tsunami by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God and the Tsunami
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The death toll is staggering: 150,000 and counting. On December 26, 2004, an underwater earthquake—which registered at 9.0 on the Richter scale—resulted in massive tidal waves from the Indian Ocean, wreaking death and devastation across portions of a dozen nations (Djuhari, 2004). Tsunamis are a series of very long waves generated by any rapid, large-scale disturbance of the sea. Most are generated by sea floor displacements from large undersea earthquakes (“Tsunamis,” 2004).
As shocking as this event may seem, many other natural disasters have occurred in human history that exceed the recent tsunami in their toll of death and destruction. For example, throughout China’s history, extensive flooding has occurred countless times as a result of the mighty 3,000-mile-long Hwang Ho River. Several of the most terrible floods, with their ensuing famines, have been responsible for the deaths of more than a million people at a time. The southern levee of the river failed in Hunan Province in 1887, affecting a 50,000 square mile area (“Hwang Ho,” 2004). More than 2 million people died from drowning, starvation, or the epidemics that followed (“Huang He,” 2004).
In reality, such events have occurred repetitiously throughout the history of the world, and continue to do so—constantly: hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tornados, floods, tsunamis, droughts, and volcano eruptions. In fact, natural disasters kill one million people around the world each decade, and leave millions more homeless, according to the United Nation’s International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (“Disasters...,” 1997).
This circumstance inevitably elicits the pressing question: “Why would God allow such loss of life, inflicted on countless numbers of seemingly innocent people?” The number one argument marshaled by atheists to advocate their disbelief in God is the presence of widespread, seemingly purposeless suffering. They insist that if an infinite Being existed, He would exercise His perfect compassion and His omnipotence to prevent human suffering (e.g., Lowder, 2004; cf. Jackson, 2001). Even for many people who do not embrace formal atheism, the fact that God apparently seems willing to allow misery and suffering to run rampant in the world, elicits a gamut of reactions—from perplexity and puzzlement to anger and resentment.
But the Bible provides the perfect explanation for such occurrences. Its handling of the subject is logical, sufficient, and definitive. It sets forth the fact that God created the world to be the most appropriate, suitable environment in which humans are enabled to make their own decisions concerning their ultimate destiny (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). We humans have been provided with the ideal environment in which we may freely accept or reject God’s will for our lives. All instances of natural disasters and nature’s destructive forces are the result of specific conditions that are necessary to God’s providing humanity with this ideal environment.
God is not blameworthy for having created such a world, since He had a morally justifiable reason for having done so. Human existence on Earth was not intended to be permanent. Rather, the Creator intended life on Earth to serve as a temporary interval of time for the development of one’s soul. Life on Earth is a probationary period in which people are given the opportunity to attend to their spiritual condition as it relates to God’s will for living. Natural disasters provide people with conclusive evidence that life on Earth is brief and uncertain. [NOTE: For further study on this thorny issue, see Thompson, 1997, and Warren, 1972.]
Christians understand that no matter how catastrophic, tragic, or disastrous an event may be, it fits into the overall framework of soul-making—preparation for one’s departure from life into eternity. Likewise, the Christian knows that although the great pain and suffering caused by natural disasters may be unpleasant, and may test one’s mettle; nevertheless, such suffering is not intrinsically evil. Nor is it a reflection on the existence of an omnibenevolent God. The only intrinsic evil is violation of God’s will. What is required of all accountable persons is obedience to God’s revealed Word (given in the Bible)—even amidst pain, suffering, sickness, disease, death, and, yes, tsunamis.


“Disasters: A Deadly and Costly Toll Around the World” (1997), FEMA News, [On-line], URL: http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/stats.pdf.
Djuhari, Lely (2004), “Asia Rushes to Bury 67,000 Tsunami Victims,” Seattle-Post Intelligencer, December 29, [On-line], URL: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/apasia_story.asp?category=1104&slug=Quake Tsunami.
“Huang He, or Hwang Ho” (2004), Britannica Student Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article?tocId=9274966.
“Hwang Ho” (2004), LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://32.1911encyclopedia.org/H/HW/HWANG_HO.htm.
Jackson, Roy (2001), “The Problem of Evil,” The Philosopher’s Magazine Online, [On-line], URL: http://www.philosophers.co.uk/cafe/rel_six.htm.
Lowder, Jeffery (2004), “Logical Arguments From Evil,” Internet Infidels, [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/evil-logical.html.
Thompson, Bert (1997), “Divine Benevolence, Human Suffering, and Intrinsic Value,” Reason and Revelation, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/198.
“Tsunamis” (2004), National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), [On-line], URL: http://www.noaa.gov/tsunamis.html.
Warren, Thomas (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God? (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).

God and Human Sexuality by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God and Human Sexuality

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Does God exist? Sufficient evidence exists to warrant the conclusion: “Yes, I know that God exists.” Has He spoken to us? Again, sufficient evidence exists to prove that the book we call the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, authoritative Word of God. Since God exists, and since He has given to us His divine will in written form, moral choices and human behavior are to be governed by that revealed will.
What is God’s will concerning human sexuality? That will was demonstrated originally in the creation of the first human beings: “Male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). God’s decision to create a female counterpart to the male was not coincidental. The female uniquely met three essential criteria: (1) “It’s not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18); (2) a helper suitable to him was needed (Genesis 2:18,20); and (3) the human race was to be perpetuated through sexual union (Genesis 1:28). Both Jesus and Paul reiterated this same understanding (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:2). So the woman was: (a) the divine antidote to Adam’s loneliness; (b) a helper fit for him; and (c) the means of the propagation of the human race. Here we see the divine arrangement for the human species.
Not long after God set into motion the created order—which He had pronounced as “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—man began to tamper with the divine will, and altered God’s original intentions concerning human sexuality. Polygamy was introduced into the world by Lamech (Genesis 4:19). God could have created two women for Adam. But He did not. Rather, He made one man for one woman for life. That is the divine will.
The next recorded departure from the divine will regarding human sexuality was Abraham’s foolish scheme to allow his wife Sarah to be taken by Pharoah (Genesis 12:10-12). That incident was followed by the determination by Sarah to offer Hagar as the means by which an heir might be secured (Genesis 16:1-16). Both of these actions obviously were contrary to God’s ideal of healthy, normal sexual behavior.
Genesis 19 now comes into view:
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way,” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door (Genesis 19:1-11, NKJV).
Moses already had described the spiritual condition of Sodom’s inhabitants as being “wicked and sinners against Jehovah exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13). God Himself stated that their sin was “great” and “grievous” (Genesis 18:20). The specific activity described in Genesis 19 involved the desire on the part of the males of Sodom to “know” Lot’s two visitors. The Hebrew term yada is used euphemistically to denote sexual intercourse (cf. Genesis 4:1; 19:8; Numbers 31:17, 35; Judges 11:39; 21:11).
Notice that the crime that was condemned in this passage was not the fact that the Sodomites were being violent and forcing someone to do something against his will (see Miller, 2002). Jude made that clear when he identified their sin as “giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh” (vs. 7). Peter echoed the same thought:
[A]nd turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemning them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries (2 Peter 2:6-10, NKJV; cf. Jeremiah 23:14).
The term “sodomy” has come into the English language because of the sexual activity practiced in Sodom. A standard English dictionary defines “sodomy” as “[a]ny of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000, p. 1651). It surely is reminiscent of our day to observe that when Lot urged the sodomites not to do “so wickedly,” the men accused Lot of being judgmental (Genesis 19:9; cf. Deuteronomy 23:17-18).
In addition to the pre-Mosaic period of history, God made clear His will on this matter when He handed down the Law of Moses. In a chapter dealing almost exclusively with sexual regulations, His words are explicit and unmistakable.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any beast, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before a beast to mate with it. It is perversion. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who sojourns among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 18:22-30, NKJV)…. If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them (Leviticus 20:13, NKJV).
A person would need help to misunderstand these injunctions.
Another graphic account is given in Judges 19, during the period of the judges, which was a time of spiritual and moral depravity and decay—the “Dark Ages” of Jewish history. “Sons of Belial” (i.e., wicked scoundrels) surrounded a house where travelers had taken refuge for the night. As in Sodom, they desired to “know” the male guest (Judges 19:22). The host, like Lot, knew exactly what they meant, as is evident from the fact that, like Lot, he offered them a sexual alternative (which, of course, God did not approve). Their sexual desire was labeled as “wickedness,” “outrage,” “vileness,” “lewdness,” and “evil” (Judges 19:23,24; 20:3,6,10,12,13, NKJV).
During the period of the kings, Josiah instituted sweeping moral and religious reforms. These included tearing down the homes of the Sodomites (2 Kings 23:7).
The New Testament is equally definitive in its uncompromising and unquestioned condemnation of illicit sexual activity. Paul summarized the “unrighteous” and “ungodly” behavior of the Gentile nations and declared:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:26-32, NKJV).
This passage uses Greek terms that linguistic scholars define as “forbidden desire,” “impurity,” “unnatural vice,” “shameful passions,” “not in accordance with nature,” and “individuals of the same sex being inflamed with sensual, sexual desire for each other” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, pp. 28,118,119,240,583,877). Not only is God displeased with those who participate in such behavior, but verse 32 indicates that He is equally displeased with those who are merely supportive of such conduct—though they themselves do not engage in the activity. To the Corinthian church, Paul asked:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NKJV).
The Greek word translated “homosexual” is a metaphorical use of a term that literally means “soft” and, when referring to people, refers to males allowing themselves to be used sexually by other males. Again, lexicographers apply the term to the person who is a “catamite,” i.e., a male who submits his body to another male for unnatural lewdness, i.e., homosexually (Thayer, 1977, p. 387; Arndt and Gingrich, p. 489).
The term “sodomites,” (“abusers of themselves with mankind” in the KJV) is a translation of the term arsenokoitai. It comes from two words: arsein (a male) and koitei (a bed), and refers to one who engages in sex with a male as with a female (Thayer, p. 75). Paul used the same term when he wrote to Timothy, and identified some behaviors that are both “contrary to sound doctrine” and characteristic of the one who is not “a righteous man” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).
When Paul said, “such were some of you,” he proved not only that those involved may be forgiven, but that they can cease such activity. We are forced to conclude that sexual activity between persons of the same sex is not a matter of genetics; it is a behavioral phenomenon associated largely with environmental factors.
Illicit sex is just one more departure from God’s will that American civilization is facing. God identified all departures from His will pertaining to sexual intercourse as “fornication.” The underlying Greek term, porneia, is a broad term that covers every form of illicit sexual intercourse, including adultery, incest, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, bisexuality, necrophilia, and more. Our sex-crazed society is so promiscuous, and so estranged from God’s view of human sexuality, that our public schools consider it appropriate to teach children to simply “take precautions” when they engage in sexual escapades outside of marriage. But God never encouraged people to practice “safe sex.” Rather, He instructed people to exercise self-control, self-discipline, and moral responsibility. The Bible teaches that we are not to be self-indulgent. We are to put restraints on ourselves, and control our sexual urges and desires according to God’s will.
Encouraging young people simply to “take precautions” only encourages additional illicit behavior. It encourages more promiscuity. It contributes to an increase—not a decrease—in the number of pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. Despite several decades of inundating our schools with sex education, and the promotion of so-called “safe sex,” the statisticians inform us that in the next thirty days, 83,850 unwed girls will become pregnantin this country (“Teens in Crisis,” 2001, p. 1). The handling of the issue by the social liberal has not worked. In fact, the problem has greatly worsened.
The Bible definition of “safe sex” is sex that is confined to a divinely authorized, scriptural marriage. The depths to which our country has slumped morally is seen in the fact that it is legal for public school officials to distribute condoms to students, but it is illegal to distribute Bibles or to teach Bible principles. The time has come for our nation to wake up. The time has come to face the fact that freedom requires restraint. Rights require personal responsibility. People must take responsibility for their choices, and accept the consequences of their own actions. Paul declared, “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18). He did not say, “engage in ‘safe’ fornication!” There is no such thing as “safe” sin or “safe” immorality. God said a person must run away from it, resist it, and reject it. To a youth, Paul said, “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). The writer of Hebrews insisted that the marriage bed is to be kept “undefiled.” “[F]ornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Paul said there should not be so much as a hint of sexual immorality among Christians (Ephesians 5:3).
Please understand: God loves all sinners—regardless of the specific sins they have committed. The faithful Christian will do the same. But it is imperative that we be about the business of alerting those who are engaged in sexual sin regarding God’s will, in an effort to “snatch them out of the fire” (Jude 23), and to “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).


Sexual sin undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the major contributors to the moral and spiritual deterioration, decline, and downfall of American society. One wonders how much longer such widespread unchastity can go on in our land before God will “visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25). Every society in human history that has followed this course toward moral and spiritual depravity has eventually been destroyed by God. Indeed, in light of such moral confusion, our society cannot continue to survive indefinitely into the future—unless, of course, God is prepared to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Miller, Dave (2002), “Sodom—Inhospitality or Homosexuality?,” Reason & Revelation, 22:41-42, November.
Thayer, J.H. (1962 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
“Teens in Crisis” (2001), Teen Help (Las Vegas, NV: World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools).

God and Capital Punishment by Frank Chesser, M.S.


God and Capital Punishment

by Frank Chesser, M.S.

[NOTE: The author of the following articles is an A.P. board member.]
In 1984 leaders of 13 major denominational churches in Florida signed a joint document condemning capital punishment. They described the death penalty as being extremely harmful, immoral, an action that encourages violence and demonstrates disrespect for human life and is inconsistent with the love of God.1 The conduct of these religious leaders is a classic example of refusing to think right about God. Capital punishment is a principle that is divine in origin and permanent in nature. It embraces all of time. God intends for the death penalty to be employed as an act of justice by duly authorized authorities for as long as man should inhabit the earth.


It is incomprehensible that anyone with even a superficial knowledge of the Bible would object to the death penalty. The Bible is replete with examples of capital punishment with God as the executioner. Was God acting immorally, exhibiting disrespect for human life, and in defiance of His own nature when he destroyed the world of Noah’s day with a global flood? Can a man descend to a depth of sin and evil that he no longer deserves to live? The mind is the axis of life. The minds of the objects of God’s wrath were incessantly evil. They were barren of a single good thought (Genesis 6:5). They feasted on vileness like vultures on the rot of dead flesh and filled the earth “with violence” (Genesis 6:11). Had they forfeited the right to life? Is not God sovereign over all that is? Is He not the source of life? Does He not retain the right to decide when life should end? Is it possible for God to act in a manner inconsistent with His own nature? Is a man thinking right about God when, by implication, he accuses God of acting immorally? “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?” (Romans 9:20). The flood alone is proof of the moral justice of capital punishment and of its complete compatibility with the whole of God’s nature.
God executed capital punishment against Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim (Genesis 19). The inhabitants of these wicked cities had perverted the very core of man’s sexual being as designed by God. They were sick with sin. They coveted the unnatural and abnormal. They heaped dishonor upon “their own bodies” (Romans 1:24). They yearned after “strange flesh” (Jude 7). Their sexual passions were “vile” (Romans 1:26). They could not “cease from sin” (2 Peter 2:14). They had reached the point of no return. Did they deserve to live? God utterly destroyed these cities with burning sulphur and emblazoned the memory of them before the minds of men “for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).
Was God acting improperly when He slew Er, Judah’s firstborn, because he was wicked (Genesis 38:7), killed his brother Onan, because he refused to submit to the Levirate marriage law and perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel (Genesis 38:8-10), or when “it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock?” (Exodus 12:29). Does man have the right to call God into account for His actions? “Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘why have you made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20). Who is weak, frail, puny, sinful man to question the conduct of God? God destroyed the army of Egypt in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:26-28). He killed Nadab and Abihu because they “offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). He slew some in Israel who loathed the gift of manna, looked backward with longing eyes to the food provisions in Egypt, and demanded a change in diet (Numbers 11:4–34), and killed the ten spies who returned from Canaan with an evil report (Numbers 14:37). Is a man spiritually rational when he depicts such actions of God as immoral and dishonoring to human life?
God destroyed the families of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in the heart of the earth and 250 princes with fire because they rebelled against the authority of Moses and demanded access to the priesthood (Numbers 16:1-33). He then slew 14,700 in Israel who accused Moses and Aaron of killing “the people of the Lord” (Numbers 16:41). He executed capital punishment upon a large number of Israelites who expressed contempt for the leadership of Moses and God’s provisions of grace in the wilderness (Numbers 21:5-6). He slew 23,000 in Israel for fornication and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:8), commanded an additional thousand to be executed by the hands of judges (Numbers 25:1-9), and granted Joshua a victory over a coalition of five armies by killing more soldiers with hailstones than the army of Israel had slain in battle (Joshua 10:11).
God executed a host of men in Bethshemesh because of their lack of reverence for the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 6:19), killed Nabal for his wickedness (1 Samuel 25:38), and slew Uzzah for touching the ark (2 Samuel 6:7). He killed 70,000 men of Israel as an act of judgment upon David and Israel because of sin (2 Samuel 24:15), used a lion to slay a disobedient prophet from Judah (1 Kings 13:24), and slew Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom (2 Chronicles 13:20). He executed 102 soldiers in Israel who refused to honor His authority through Elijah (2 Kings 1:1-12), used an angel to kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19:35), and slew Jehoram, the fifth king of Judah, with a bodily disease (2 Chronicles 21:18-19). God killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10) and slew Herod for refusing to glorify God (Acts 12:23). Is a man thinking right about God when he arrays God’s love against God’s holiness, justice, and wrath and depicts capital punishment as harmful, immoral, and lacking in respect for human life?


God often used man to administer judgment upon men and nations whose sin and rebellion called for the cessation of life. He used the sons of Levi to slay some three thousand men who had sinned in worshiping the golden calf (Exodus 32:27-28). He used Israel to stone a man who blasphemed the name of God (Leviticus. 24:10-14) and a man who violated the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36) and to bring judgment on His enemies (Numbers 21), and He praised and blessed Phinehas for appeasing His wrath in slaying two adulterers (Numbers 25:6-14). God’s statement to Abraham, “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16), points to the inevitable judgment that would befall the inhabitants of Canaan when their sin reached the full mark. At the close of his life, Moses reminded Israel of the end of God’s grace, mercy, and forbearance with the seven nations in Canaan, and said, “And when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.” (Deuteronomy 7:2). God used the nation of Israel to execute judgment upon the people of Canaan for their longstanding idolatry and sin (Joshua 1-12).
God used Israel to administer capital punishment upon Achan and his family (Joshua 7). The period of the judges was a spiritually tumultuous period in Israel’s history as the people “did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way” (Judges 2:19). They adopted the idolatry and wicked ways of the pagan nations. God utilized the king of Mesopotamia; Eglon, king of Moab; Jabin, king of Canaan; the Midianites, Ammonites, and Philistines to bring judgment upon them. As they manifested repentance, God would raise up judges to lead Israel in freeing the nation from the oppression of these heathen rulers and punishing them for their own idolatry and sin. Rivers of blood flowed across the land during this chaotic period as God used men to inflict capital punishment upon other men because of their impenitent sin and rebellion.
The Ammonites were descendants of Lot. They were pagan, idolatrous, cruel, and exceedingly corrupt. They refused to aid Israel in a time of great need and joined Moab in hiring Balaam to curse them (Deuteronomy 23:4). In the early days of Saul’s reign, they threatened to gouge out the right eyes of all the men in the city of Jabesh (1 Samuel 11:2). And the “spirit of God came upon Saul” (1 Samuel 11:6), and God employed Saul and Israel to kill the Ammonites until “it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together” (1 Samuel 11:11). The Amalekites shared kinship with the Ammonites in idolatry, cruelty, and wickedness. When Israel ascended out of Egypt, the Amalekites attacked them from behind, killing the most vulnerable: the elderly, weak, and feeble (Deuteronomy 25:17-18). God reminded Saul of this act of inhumanness and said, “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.” (1 Samuel 15:3).
David was a “man of war” (1 Chronicles 28:3). He was a sword of judgment in the hand of God to execute the penalty of death upon the enemies of God, whose corruptness of life called for their destruction. He often inquired of the Lord, seeking His will concerning battle engagements. He said of God, “He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (2 Samuel 22:35). In a summary of some of his military victories, inspiration asserts, “And the Lord preserved David wherever he went.” (2 Samuel 8:14). God’s role for David’s life was for him to function as a hammer of God’s judgment upon heathen nations steeped in idolatry and iniquity and to secure and bring peace to Israel, thus creating a tranquil environment for Solomon to construct the Temple. It was this very point that David pressed upon the mind of Solomon in the closing days of his life (1 Chronicles 22:6-19).
God used Abijah, the second king of Judah, to render judgment upon Jeroboam and Israel because of their apostasy and idolatry. Five hundred thousand men of Israel perished in this conflict. Judah was victorious because “they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 13:18). Asa, the third king of Judah, faced an Ethiopian army of a million soldiers, the largest army mentioned in the Old Testament. He implored God for divine aid. “So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah” (2 Chronicles 14:12). During the reign of Jehoshaphat, the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Edom descended upon Judah. In Jehoshaphat’s prayer before the congregation of Judah in Jerusalem, he expressed the nation’s helpless state and their total dependence upon God. God executed judgment upon the wicked nations by turning their swords against one another until “and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” (2 Chronicles 20:24).
Idolaters and enemies of God, the Syrians affirmed that God was only a local Deity with limited power (1 Kings 20:28). God employed Israel to punish Syria and they “killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day.” (1 Kings 20:29). An additional 27 thousand were killed by the weight of a wall that fell upon them in the city of Aphek (1 Kings 20:30). God utilized Jehu to judge the wicked house of Ahab. “So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining.” (2 Kings 10:11). He then killed all the worshipers of Baal until he had “destroyed Baal out of Israel” (2 Kings 10:28).
Israel descended into such depths of sin that God raised the sword of Assyria against them and destroyed their national identity in Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17:5-23). Judah emulated Israel’s conduct and God utilized Babylon to execute judgment upon them. He later used the Medes and Persians to judge Babylon. Isaiah specifies ten pagan nations who suffered the judgment of God because of their grievous sin (cf. Isaiah 13-23). The New Testament closes with God’s answer to the martyrs of Christ who cried, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10). God administered judgment upon the enemies of His Son and the church and declared, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” (Revelation 18:20).
Is a man thinking right about God when he sees all of these biblical examples, yet still declares the death penalty to be harmful, immoral, disrespectful to human life, and inconsistent with the nature of God?


Following the global Flood, God reiterated the need for the increase of the human family (Genesis 9:1). Sin had changed everything, and the tranquil co-existence between man and animal had been supplanted with hostility (Genesis 9:2). The vegetarian status of both man and animals prior to sin had now been changed to allow man to consume meat (Genesis 1:29-30; 9:3).2 Divine permission to eat meat was accompanied with a prohibition regarding the consumption of blood. “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4), because the “life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). Since human life reflects the image of God, the most severe possible penalty is attached to the action of murder that brings it to an end. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:6).
This principle and penalty embraces all of time. Civil government is ordained of God (Romans 13:1). It is an expression of God’s concern for man’s well-being, and when functioning faithfully, it discourages lawlessness and promotes peace and serenity. Romans 13:4 describes authorized civil authorities as ministers of God, persons who do not bear “the sword in vain,” and avengers divinely bound to execute “wrath on him who practices evil.” The sword is a symbol of capital punishment and, when wielded by the state, is an action authorized by God. Any man who attempts to sheathe the state’s sword is in rebellion to God and His will. He is resisting “the ordinance of God” (Romans 13:2). God placed the sword in the hand of the state, and no man has a right to remove it.
“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:12). The willful taking of life demands the life of the perpetrator. In ancient times, God granted the right of vengeance to the victim’s nearest relative, designated as the “avenger of blood” who shall “put the murderer to death” (Numbers 35:19). Cities of refuge were provided for accidental slayings, allowing one to live in peace and safety whose act of killing was unintentional (Numbers 35:6-15). Moreover, the taking of life for self-defense purposes is not murder, and such action is not subject to the death penalty. The need and desire for self-preservation is divinely implanted. It is as natural and inherent to life as food and drink. It would be wholly inconsistent with the nature of God to design man with such a potent need and then refuse him the right to exercise it. Preserving one’s own life or the life of any innocent victim from the murderous intent of evil doers is perfectly compatible with both the nature of God and the nature of man as designed by God. Exodus 22:2 envisions just such a case as a man kills a thief caught breaking into his home at night in defense of himself and his family and is rendered guiltless.
“And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:15). “And he who curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:17). Mothers descend into the depths of pain and anguish in order to bring life into the world. God’s mothers and fathers are heaven’s gift to children. Parents functioning according to God’s pattern for the home are children’s first insight into the nature of God. Parents are god-like in a child’s eyes. Parents who love God set the feet of their children on the road to eternal bliss. To strike or curse such a parent is an assault upon the heart. It inflicts mental and emotional pain that far exceeds physical suffering. It undermines the peace and joy of the home, the bedrock of society, and afflicts the heart of God.
“He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16). Kidnapping was punishable by death. Stealing a man for slave traffic invited the death penalty even when the victim was yet in the thief’s possession. Robbing a man of his personal freedom was a capital offense. Exodus 21:22-23 contemplates an expectant mother’s losing her life or the life of her miscarried child as she endeavored to shield her husband from an aggressor. The aggressor was to be put to death. Exodus 21:29-30 envisions the death of a man or woman by an ox known to have a violent nature. Unless the relatives of the victim agreed upon financial compensation, the owner of the ox was to suffer the death penalty.
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18). Sorcery strikes at the very heart of the sovereignty of God. It is an attempt to circumvent God and take charge of one’s own life. As are all efforts to rid man’s mind and life of God and His restraining influences, it appeals to the lust of the flesh. It fosters defilement (Leviticus 19:31). The Canaanites were engrossed in every form of sorcery and it was one of the reasons God removed them from the land (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Saul’s consultation with the witch of Endor is cited as one of the reasons God “killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Sorcerers were to be put to death by stoning (Leviticus 20:27).
All forms of perverted sexual activity, such as incest (Leviticus 20:11-12,14), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), and bestiality (Leviticus 20:15) were subject to the death penalty. There are complexities associated with man’s sexual being as designed by God that transcend human comprehension. This truth is mightily reinforced by God’s law concerning even the touching of a man’s genitals. Foolish indeed is the man who refuses to perceive this truth and proceeds to tamper with this aspect of life. Perverted sexual conduct is an egregious assault upon the very core of a man’s being. There is no action of man that calls for more intense judgment. The homosexuality of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim incurred a judgment that God will not allow man to forget. It is a repetitive theme in both Testaments, a sign-post from God regarding His attitude toward this grievous sin (Jude 7), and the last book in the Bible holds it up as the epitome of sin (Revelation 11:8). A nation is doomed if it allows this sin to reach a level of national acceptance.
“The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10). Heterosexual relationships outside of marriage were punishable by death. Adultery injures the marital relationship like no other sin. There is something unique about the one-flesh relationship in marriage, and there is something unique about the sin that severs it. The stringent nature of Matthew 19:9 bears witness to this truth. Relaxing the rigidity of God’s marital law is to man’s own peril. It is senseless to tamper with the things of God. Those who think right about God would never consider such conduct. There is nothing that creates more excitement in the halls of hell than for man to attempt to modify God’s marital laws intended to protect the sanctity of the home, the foundational unit of society.
Idolatry was a capital punishment offense (Deuteronomy 17:2-7). This grievous evil, the source of so many sins, plagued Israel for almost the whole of their national life until their return from Babylonian captivity. False prophets aiming to lure Israel into idolatry were to be killed (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). Family members, such as one’s wife, son, daughter, brother, or friend who endeavored to entice their family “secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods” (Deuteronomy 13:6) were not to be pitied, spared, or concealed but were to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 13:8-10). Rumors concerning a city’s involvement in idolatry were to be thoroughly investigated, and if found to be true, the city in its entirety was to be destroyed, and even the spoil of the city was to be burned (Deuteronomy 13:12-17).
Acts of rebellion against decisions made by a tribunal of priests and judges in execution of God’s law were subject to the death penalty (Deuteronomy 17:8-13). Prophets who dared to speak where God had not spoken, or who prophesied in the name of an idol were to be slain (Deuteronomy 18:20). Harlotry by the daughter of a priest was punishable by death (Leviticus 21:9). Child sacrifice to an idol was subject to death by stoning (Leviticus. 20:2). Desecrating the Sabbath with work called for the death penalty (Exodus 35:2). Capital punishment was to be administered to any non-priest who attempted to usurp priestly functions (Numbers 3:10), to a non-Levite who encroached upon Levitical responsibility in performing the services of the tabernacle (Numbers 18:22-23), to any Levite who neglected or refused to give his own tenth of the tithe received from Israel (Numbers 18:25-32), and to any Kohathite charged with transporting the sacred furniture of the tabernacle, if he looked upon or touched any of it (Numbers 4:15,20).
A man proven to be a false witness was to be put to death if such was his intention regarding the accused (Deuteronomy 19:16-21). Capital punishment was to be inflicted upon an incorrigible son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), a new bride who was verified to be guilty of fornication prior to marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), a man who raped an engaged or married woman (Deuteronomy 22:25-27), and one who blasphemed or cursed God (Leviticus 24:10-16).


Capital punishment is ordained by God. God intends for the death penalty to occupy a permanent place in society for as long as the world stands. Opposing the death penalty is an act of defiance against God, the nature of God, and the will of God. Those who manifest aversion to capital punishment are refusing to think right about both God and sin.


1 Jon Nordheimer (1984), “Death Penalty Assailed By Florida Church Leaders,” New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/1984/11/27/us/death-penalty-assailed-by-florida-church-leaders.html, November 27.
2 Eric Lyons (2003), “Were All Men Vegetarians Before the Flood?”, Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1257.

God Always Thinks Ahead by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


God Always Thinks Ahead

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The report of the miraculous events that God used to deliver the Israelites from bondage had spread throughout the land of Canaan. The inhabitants of Canaan had lost all courage and trembled with fear at the prospect of fighting against a people with such a powerful God. In fact, when Joshua sent out the two spies to explore the city of Jericho, the harlot Rahab hid them from danger and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt” (Joshua 2:9-10). God’s work and reputation had so paralyzed the Canaanites that the Israelites planned to make easy work of them.
In the first major battle of the Canaanite conquest, the battle of Jericho, God continued to help the Israelites by miraculously destroying the walls of the city. God did, however, decree that none of the gold or silver in Jericho was to be taken by any individuals; it was all to be dedicated to Him. Sadly, an Israelite named Achan disobeyed God’s command and took a wedge of gold, unbeknownst to Joshua and the other Israelites.
In the confidence of their colossal victory over Jericho, the Israelites next plotted to take the small Canaanite city of Ai. Without consulting God, the Israelites only sent a few thousand men to Ai, thinking that victory was inevitable. Aspirations of victory were defeated, however, when the few men of Ai sallied forth and defeated the Israelites, killing some 36 men.
Joshua and the Israelites were devastated and confused. Why had God left them? And what would the other Canaanite nations do now that they saw that the Israelites could be beaten? Joshua mourned and cried to God, “O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great Name?” (Joshua 7:8-9).
Upon hearing Joshua’s prayer, God informed him of Achan’s sin and explained that the Israelites would not be victorious until the sinner was removed from the camp. Joshua speedily followed God’s instructions for the removal of Achan. Then God gave Joshua a plan for defeating Ai. He instructed Joshua to set an ambush behind the city. Then he was to set a band of soldiers in front of the city and retreat as in the previous battle (Joshua 8). When all the men of Ai saw the retreating Israelites, they thought that the Israelites were defeated as before, and they all rushed forward, leaving the city unguarded. Those in ambush then attacked the city, and signaled for the retreating Israelites to turn and fight. The result was the utter defeat of Ai.
What appeared to be a major defeat to Joshua and the other Israelites, God used to set the stage for a major victory, by making the defeat look intentional. God had added another element to the Canaanites’ reasons to fear Him, showing that not only were the Israelites powerful and strong with His aid, but that they also were capable of cunning military strategy through His guidance. God’s name and brilliance were once again glorified, even in spite of the temporary setback caused by sin in the Israelite camp. This episode provides one more piece of evidence that “[t]here is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30).

"Am I Really a Scribe?" (Part II) by Trevor Bowen


"Am I Really a Scribe?" (Part II)

What is a parable? Ask any young student, and he, or she will quickly respond, "A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." Generally, Jesus' parables are considered to be illustrations for the common man, meant to help him understand spiritual truths that were beyond him. Certainly, there is some truth to this idea, because we read:
All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 13:34-35)
Through the use of parables, Jesus was able to communicate eternal truths that transcended the experience of mortal man. However, is this the primary reason He chose parables to convey the gospel of the then impending kingdom? Did He make this choice because He was the Master Teacher, or because He was the Eternal Judge?

"Why do you speak in parables?"

After telling the parable of the sower to the multitudes, Jesus' disciples privately approached Him and asked about His use of parables.
But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them..'" (Mark 4:10-12)
From this passage we learn that Jesus deliberately used parables to prevent those "outside" from understanding the truth; however, when He was alone with His disciples, "He explained all things" (Mark 4:34). The purpose as foretold by Isaiah and explained by Jesus was to prevent the hearers from responding to the message, repenting, and thereby avoid destruction (Isaiah 6:9-10)!

The God Who Wants All to Be Saved

How do we reconcile this seemingly prejudicial decision with God's merciful and loving characterization by Peter (II Peter 3:9)? How can God want all men to be saved, but yet prevent some from understanding the very message that could save them?
Although God wants all to be saved, He does not want them to be saved and remain sinners. He does not want people to go through an outward checklist of motions and deeds for the purpose of avoiding destruction, while their heart remains darkened and steadfast in rebellion (Micah 6:6-8Amos 5:18-27Matthew 23:25-28). God instead desires man's whole heart, willing to give itself over to the transformation that ultimately yields a spirit conformed to the image of Jesus (Mark 12:28-33Psalm 51:16-17Romans 12:1-2Romans 8:29I John 3:2-3).
Unfortunately, not all are willing to submit themselves to God's transforming will. Instead, some close their eyes to the truth - the first truths being their accountability before their Creator, their own spiritual bankruptcy, and their desperate need for redemption (Matthew 5:3-6Romans 1:18-213:23). Consequently, as Paul said:
… they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (II Thessalonians 2:10-12)
Therefore, it is not God Who prejudges men by hiding truths in parables, but rather, it is man who refuses to dig into the parables, because he is uninterested or fearful of what he may find, thereby judging himself unworthy of salvation (Acts 13:46). Please recall that Jesus was gladly willing to explain all things to His disciples (Mark 4:34). They merely had to seek His presence when the multitudes left, just as some did (Mark 4:10). The multitudes departed and never understood the parable, but they were content in their ignorance and thereby fulfilled the wayside soil from parable of the sower:
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. (Matthew 13:19)
Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. (Luke 8:12)
The parables served as a dividing tool, manifesting those who truly desired to be saved. Even today, God's Word continues this function of piercing into the depths of our souls, revealing our innermost thoughts and intentions (Hebrews 4:12-13).
Jesus spoke in parables to mask the truth from those unwilling to truly obey it. However, for those who were willing to hear, the parables communicated divine, redeeming truths. To understand these truths, they had to come to Jesus. They had to open their eyes to their spiritual blindness and ask for help from the One Who walked in the light (Mark 4:10John 9:39-4111:8-10I John 1:5-10).

Who am I? (Part II)

In addition to being limited to quoting Scripture for authority, scribes were also characterized by their hard work and long hours spent seeking to understand God's Word. As Jesus closed His explanation of the early parables to His true disciples, He asked them if they finally understood.
Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old." (Matthew 13:51-52)
Like the scribes of old who became instructed in the Old Law, we must be scribes instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven. Like the scribe of this closing parable, if we give forth similar diligence (II Timothy 2:15), then we will be like the rich person, who is constantly finding treasure among his large storehouse of possessions. Some of it will be new to us, expanding our knowledge and wisdom. Other treasures found will be old to us, familiar truths bolstering our faith and hope, which grant us a deeper appreciation of God's love. So then brethren, are we really scribes? As we consider the purpose of parables, we must ask ourselves, "Are we scribes instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven?" Are we diligently bringing spiritual treasures out of God's Word on a regular basis? Or, are we like the multitude, who heard great truths and could not grasp them, but walked away unwilling to seek further instruction from the Master Teacher?

Please feel free to send the author of this article any questions, concerns, or feedback that you may have.
Trevor Bowen