"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" The Christian's Diet (4:3-5)


The Christian's Diet (4:3-5)


1. A feature common to many religions are their dietary restrictions...
   a. Some are known for their vegetarianism (e.g., Hinduism)
   b. Others for their restrictions against certain meats, such as pork
      (e.g., Islam, Judaism)

2. In warning against apostasy, the apostle Paul...
   a. Foretold the rise of doctrines restricting certain foods - 1Ti 4:
   b. Described the general principles related to the Christian's diet- 1Ti 4:3-5

3. The general principles of "The Christian's Diet" can be stated in
   this way...
   a. All creatures are good (for food) if received with thanksgiving
   b. All foods are "sanctified" by the Word of God and prayer

[The word "sanctified" means to be "set apart, holy".  In what way has
God sanctified all foods, and are there any exceptions to the rule?
First we note that all foods have been...]


      1. By God
         a. At the Creation, God gave His approval to seed-bearing herbs
            and trees - Gen 1:29
         b. After the flood, moving things were approved as food, with
            one restriction - Gen 9:3-4
         c. During the Mosaic period, dietary restrictions were placed
            on Israel - cf. Deut 14:4-21
      2. By Jesus
         a. Jesus kept the Law of Moses while it was still in effect
            - cf. Mt 5:17-19
         b. But His teachings often looked forward to when the Law would
            cease - Mk 7:18-19
      3. By Paul
         a. Paul's views came from the Lord Jesus Himself - Ro 14:14
         b. Thus Christians were free to eat whatever was sold in the
            meat market - 1Co 10:25
      -- The Word of God has thus declared all foods clean; this is the
         general rule

      1. Meat sacrificed to idols
         a. Christians were forbidden to eat meat when it was part of
            idol worship, for that would entail fellowship with demons
            - Re 2:14,20; cf. 1Co 10:18-22
         b. But not if sold in the market place and connection to the
            idol lost - cf. 1Co 10:25-28
      2. Blood and things strangled
         a. Gentile Christians were not to eat blood and things
            strangled - Ac 15:20,29; 21:25
         b. The context suggests this may have been out of consideration
            for the sensitivities of the Jewish Christians - Ac 15:21;
            yet cf. Gen 9:4
      3. When eaten with offense (e.g., doubt)
         a. To those who consider something unclean, it is unclean - Ro 14:14
         b. It would be evil to eat that which one thinks is unclean
            - Ro 14:20
         c. Unless one can eat without doubt, it is sinful - Ro 14:23
      4. When eaten to cause offense (i.e., stumbling)
         a. If our brother is grieved or destroyed by our food, it is
            wrong - Ro 14:15-16
         b. It is good to abstain rather than cause a weak brother to
            stumble - Ro 14:20-21; 1Co 8:12-13
         c. Our goal is to glorify God, and cause no offense to man
            - 1Co 10:31-32
      -- All things are lawful, but not all things edify and are
         helpful; we must remember this in regards to our diet - cf.
         1Co 10:23-24

[Thus every creature (i.e., all foods) has been sanctified by the Word
of God; i.e., declared clean.  But we should also stress that which is
emphasized by Paul in our text, that the food we eat is also...]


      1. Stressed twice in our text
         a. Foods were created by God to be received with thanksgiving
            - 1Ti 4:3
         b. Nothing is to be refused if received with thanksgiving
            - 1Ti 4:4
      2. We should be thankful for everything
         a. We should possess an attitude of gratitude - Ep 5:20; Co
            3:17; 1Th 5:18
         b. Certainly for our daily bread, for which we are to pray!
            - cf. Mt 6:11
      -- When received with thanksgiving offered in prayer, food is

      1. Jesus offering thanks
         a. When feeding the 4000 - Mt 15:36-38
         b. When observing the Last Passover - Lk 22:15-20
      2. Paul offering thanks
         a. On the ship to Rome - Ac 27:35
         b. A practice alluded to in his writings - Ro 14:6; 1Co 10:30
      -- Paul sought to imitate the Lord, certainly we should imitate
         them both! - 1Co 11:1


1. When it comes to "The Christian's Diet", all foods are sanctified
   a. The word of God
   b. The prayer of the Christian

2. The exception to the rule is when...
   a. Fellowship with idols and demons is indicated
   b. Fellowship with brethren is threatened

Have you given thought to how the food you eat affects your fellowship
with God and others...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Hermeneutical Principles in the Old Testament by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Hermeneutical Principles in the Old Testament

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One of the attributes of God is His rational nature. God is inherently logical, rational, and reasonable. He is a God of truth. He created humans in His own image, which includes this same rational nature. The human mind was created by God to function rationally. God’s communication to humanity presupposes this feature. The Bible was written in human language, and it was written in such a way that it assumes that its intended meanings may be understood correctly. In fact, within the Bible itself, beginning in the Old Testament, are found the hermeneutical principles by which the reader may understand the intended meanings.
This article summarizes six key principles apparent in the Old Testament that are indispensable to correct hermeneutical procedure. Many Bible passages demand that the reader of the Bible apply simple-but-necessary principles of interpretation in order to arrive at the meaning God intended.
Absolute, objective truth exists and can be known. The human mind can come to knowledge of that truth. Many theologians today are maintaining that truth is subjective and relative. The “new hermeneutic” people claim that a circle is set up between interpreter and text, each interpreting the other in an ongoing process, with the interpreter’s presuppositions determining the meanings the interpreter draws from the text. But, as usual, man’s complex theories are ridiculous in view of the simple, straightforward statements of Scripture. The Old Testament everywhere assumes that humans can and must come to the knowledge of absolute truth.
Solomon said to “buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23, NKJV). Both Isaiah and Jeremiah affirmed that people can, and must, be taught in order to come to knowledge of those things that must be known (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34; cf. John 6:45; 7:17). Moses already had stressed to the Israelites that it would be absolutely imperative for them to teach their children those things that would be necessary to please God (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). Were the children capable of comprehending and coming to knowledge? Moses also explained that the purpose of the desert hardships was to make the Israelites “know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). If all of life is to be governed by the words that proceed from God, humans are capable of assimilating those words and coming to a correct understanding of what is required of them.
Moses further pointed out that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Certainly, there are many things that humans cannot know—things far beyond our limited capability to understand (Romans 11:33). However, God has revealed certain truths that we are well capable of grasping, and that God expects us to comprehend. These truths “belong” to us, i.e., they are directed to us, and we will be held accountable for our reaction to them. Far too many people dwell on peripheral matters that cannot be fully known, while they neglect those things for which they will be held responsible in eternity. No wonder God frequently issued warnings against being ignorant, uninformed, or resistant to knowing (Isaiah 1:3; 5:13; Jeremiah 9:6; Hosea 4:6).
Solomon observed that the words of God’s wisdom “are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge” (Proverbs 8:9). His wisdom claims that “those who seek me diligently will find me” (Proverbs 8:17). Could Adam and Eve know whether it was permissible for them to consume the fruit (Genesis 3:1-3)? Could Cain know what sacrifice God expected (Genesis 4:5)? Could Moses know whether he should speak to or strike the rock (Numbers 20:8-11)? These instances demonstrate that the perennial problem with humanity is not the ability to come to knowledge of God’s Word; rather, the consistent problem is the will and the desire to conform. Many other passages leave no doubt that God has a body of truth that He has made available to mankind, and He expects every person to use mental faculties and cognitive powers to understand that truth.
The Old Testament also conveys the idea that in order to arrive at God’s truth, correct reasoning must be employed. Isaiah quoted God’s statement to the nation: “Come now, and let us reason together” (1:18). God later said: “Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted” (43:26). In his farewell address to the nation, Samuel declared: “Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7). Solomon insisted that “[t]he first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). He also said, “the simple believes every word, but the prudent man considers well his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). This investigative, cautious, perceptive spirit necessitates an analytical approach to life. We must use our God-given rationality to think clearly, accurately, and logically in our treatment of Scripture, as well as in sorting out the daily affairs of life. These passages teach that we both can, and must, ascertain the correct meaning of Scripture through the proper exercise of our reasoning powers.
The task of learning what God wants us to know requires considerable effort. We must be willing to expend the time and trouble to carefully, prayerfully, and diligently analyze and examine God’s words. Moses underscored this principle in his remarks to the Israelites on the plains of Moab just prior to their entrance into the Land of Canaan. He described the task as requiring constant, consistent attention:
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
Solomon referred to the attentiveness required to remain true to God: “My son, keep your father's command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you” (Proverbs 6:20-22). This attentiveness must include an intense desire to pursue, know, and acquire truth—like the psalmist who wanted God’s laws so badly that he could almost taste them (Psalm 19:10). It was to be sought after more than fine gold (Psalm 19:10; 119:127). Most are simply too busy, or unwilling, to expend effort to such an intensity. Life has too many distractions, and offers too many other interests. But the Bible makes clear that if we wish to understand God’s will for our lives, arduous, persistent, aggressive effort is essential to ascertain that will.
A fourth hermeneutical principle found in the Bible is that we must recognize that there are incorrect interpretations and that we are capable of distinguishing the correct from the incorrect. False teachers actually do exist who misrepresent God’s Word and deceive people with incorrect interpretations. God, through Jeremiah, warned the nation: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:16). Think of the many con men and shysters throughout Bible history who sought to lead God’s people astray—from Pharaoh’s magicians (Exodus 7:11; 2 Timothy 3:8) and Ahab and Jezebel’s prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:19), to Zedekiah (1 Kings 22:11,24) and Hananiah (Jeremiah 28). God expected people to see through their charades and their erroneous ideologies, and to recognize the pure Word of God.
So it is clear that the Old Testament warns of false interpretations and misrepresentations of God’s Word. In God’s sight, there is only the truth on the one hand, and various departures from that truth on the other hand. All people are required to distinguish between truth and error, and to cling to the truth. “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
The Bible also teaches that the interpreter must remain within the framework of Scripture, neither adding to nor subtracting from the written revelation. Moses declared in the long ago: “You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). Solomon said: “Every word of God is pure...add not to His words, least He reprove you, and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6). Jeremiah urged: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16). In other words, the individual is responsible for identifying the limits of God’s directives, and then confining himself to those directives. These passages make clear that God has defined the parameters of moral, spiritual, and religious truth for humanity. He expects us to confine ourselves to His instructions in our thinking and practice.
The Old Testament is riddled with instances of people failing to conform themselves precisely to the instructions given to them by God. Cain was neither an atheist nor a reprobate. He, in fact, was a religious individual who was willing to engage in religious worship. He was also to be commended for directing his worship behavior toward the right God. Nevertheless, his slight adjustment in the specifics of worship action evoked God’s displeasure (Genesis 4:5; 1 John 3:12). Nadab and Abihu were the right boys, at the right time, at the right place, with the right censers, and the right incense. Yet by using the wrong fire, they were summarily executed by God (Leviticus 10:1-2). King Saul was censured twice for his unauthorized actions (1 Samuel 13:11-13; 15:19-24). Uzzah was struck dead simply for touching the Ark of the Covenant, though his apparent motive was to protect the Ark (2 Samuel 6:7). David later identified the problem as “because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1 Chronicles 15:13). God’s previous instructions on the matter were not followed as they should have been.
Remaining within the framework of Scripture requires a proper recognition of the role of the “silence” of the Scriptures. A misunderstanding occurs in two ways: (1) some reason that if the Bible is silent concerning a particular practice (and therefore does not explicitly condemn it), they are free to engage in that practice; (2) others reason that if the Bible does not mention a practice, then they are not free to engage in that practice. But neither of these viewpoints accounts adequately for the biblical picture.
The Bible may not expressly mention a given item, and yet authorize its use. For example, Noah was told to construct a boat, without being given all of the details about how to do so (Genesis 6:14). He was authorized to achieve the task using a variety of carpentry tools. God’s silence on this particular point therefore was permissive. On the other hand, God did not explicitly forbid using poplar, cedar, or ash. Rather, He specified “gopherwood.” God’s silence was therefore restrictive in this case.
Two further examples illustrate this principle. God did not explicitly forbid Nadab and Abihu from using fire from some other source than the one divinely specified. He simply told them what fire they were to use. Use of fire from any other source was an unauthorized act, i.e., it had not received God’s prior approval. The text says that they “offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). It was not that God had told them not to do so; it was that He had not told them to do it.
In like manner, when Joshua received instructions from God regarding the proper tactics to be used in conquering the city of Jericho, God spoke in a positive fashion, specifying what they were to do. He did not tell them what they were not to do. The instructions included the act of shouting when the trumpet was sounded (Joshua 6:3-5). However, Joshua—who obviously understood the principle of remaining within the confines of God’s instructions, and grasped the hermeneutical concept of restrictive silence—relayed God’s instructions to the nation by offering further clarification: “Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout” (Joshua 6:10-11). Joshua understood that things could be forbidden by God—not because He explicitly forbade them—but because He simply gave no authority to do them. With diligent and honest study, we, too, can settle every question of interpretation and authority.
That brings us to a sixth principle for understanding the Bible. We must have the right mindset, the right attitude, a genuine desire to know the will of God, and an honest heart to accept the truth, no matter how difficult the demands of that truth might be. Solomon noted that “a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5). “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9). These passages make clear that we cannot go to Scripture with the ulterior motive of getting our way or proving our position. We must be eager to learn from Scripture what the Lord intended for us to learn. We must not be like Jeremiah’s contemporaries who defiantly asserted: “We will not walk therein” and “We will not listen” (6:16-17).
This extremely brief discussion of hermeneutical principles that are evident in the Old Testament is certainly not intended to be complete. But it shows how the Old Testament contains within itself principles by which its truth may be extracted. All accountable humans have it within their power to transcend their prejudices and presuppositions sufficiently to arrive at God’s truth—if they genuinely wish to do so. There is simply no such thing as “my interpretation” and “your interpretation.” There is only God’s interpretation and God’s meaning—and with diligent, rational study, we can arrive at the truth on any subject that is vital to our spiritual well-being.
Rather than shrug off the conflicting views and positions on various subjects (like baptism, music in worship, miracles, how many churches may exist with God’s approval, etc.), and rather than dismiss religious differences as hopeless, irresolvable, and irrelevant, we must be about the business of studying and searching God’s Book, cautiously refraining from misinterpreting and misusing Scripture. If we will give diligent and careful attention to the task with an honest heart that is receptive to the truth, we can be certain of our ability to come to the knowledge of God’s will. The Old Testament is an appropriate place to commence this quest.

Here I Raise My Ebenezer! by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Here I Raise My Ebenezer!

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Many of us have grown up going to worship services where we sang age-old songs that were brought down to us from many years ago. In those songs, we often sing words or phrases that might not retain a popularly understood sentiment. Yet, even though we might not understand what we are singing, that has not stopped many of us from following the song leader through misunderstood stanzas of our old favorites.
One of the phrases that is of particular interest comes from the song O, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. The lyrics of this song (which originally was titled Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing) were written by Robert Robinson in 1758. The second verse of the song begins with these words: “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” If you are like many who have sung this song, the word “Ebenezer” immediately brings to your mind visions of old Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ Christmas Carol, screaming at Bob Cratchet to conserve coal and get to work. Yet, we all know that is not the idea behind this song. Where, then, does the term Ebenezer originate, and what does it mean?
In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel and the Israelites found themselves under attack by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives, the Israelites begged Samuel to pray for them in their impending battle against the Philistines. Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God listened to Samuel, causing the Philistines to lose the battle and retreat back to their own territory. After the Israelite victory, the Bible records: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’ ” (1 Samuel 7:12).
The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer)which simply mean “stone of help” (see Enhanced…, 1995). When Robinson wrote his lyrics, he followed the word Ebenezer with the phrase, “Here by Thy great help I’ve come.” An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. In Robinson’s poem, it figuratively meant that the writer—and all who subsequently sing the song—acknowledge God’s bountiful blessings and help in their lives.
The next time you sing about raising your Ebenezer, you will be able to “sing with the understanding” that you are acknowledging God’s help in your life (1 Corinthians 14:15).


Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (1995), (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).

Hematidrosis: Did Jesus Sweat Blood? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Hematidrosis: Did Jesus Sweat Blood?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Luke, the author of the New Testament books of Luke and Acts, who himself, by profession, was a physician. His writings manifest an intimate acquaintance with the technical language of the Greek medical schools of Asia Minor.
Of the four gospel writers, only Dr. Luke referred to Jesus’ ordeal as “agony” (agonia). It is because of this agony over things to come that we learn during His prayer “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat (idros)—a much used term in medical language. And only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat as consisting of great drops of blood (thromboi haimatos)—a medical condition alluded to by both Aristotle and Theophrastus.1 The Greek term thromboi (from which we get thrombus, thrombin, et al.) refers to clots of blood.2Bible scholar Richard Lenski commented on the use of this term: “‘As clots,’ thromboi, means that the blood mingled with the sweat and thickened the globules so that they fell to the ground in little clots and did not merely stain the skin.”3
The Greek word hosei (“as it were”) refers to condition, not comparison, as Greek scholar Henry Alford observed:
The intention of the Evangelist seems clearly to be, to convey the idea that the sweat was (not fell like, but waslike drops of blood;—i.e., coloured with blood,—for so I understand the ώσεί, as just distinguishing the drops highly coloured with blood, from pure blood…. To suppose that it only fell like drops of blood (why not drops of any thing else? And drops of blood from what, and where?) is to nullify the force of the sentence, and make the insertion of ἁίματος not only superfluous but absurd.4
We can conclude quite justifiably that the terminology used by the gospel writer to refer to the severe mental distress experienced by Jesus was intended to be taken literally, i.e., that the sweat of Jesus became bloody.5
A thorough search of the medical literature demonstrates that such a condition, while admittedly rare, does occur in humans. Commonly referred to as hematidrosis or hemohidrosis,6 this condition results in the excretion of blood or blood pigment in the sweat. Under conditions of great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can rupture,7 thus mixing blood with perspiration. This condition has been reported in extreme instances of stress.8 During the waning years of the 20th century, 76 cases of hematidrosis were studied and classified into categories according to causative factors. The most frequent causes of the phenomenon were found to be “acute fear” and “intense mental contemplation.”9 While the extent of blood loss generally is minimal, hematidrosis also results in the skin becoming extremely tender and fragile,10 which would have made Christ’s pending physical insults even more painful.
From these factors, it is evident that even before Jesus endured the torture of the cross, He suffered far beyond what most of us will ever suffer. His penetrating awareness of the heinous nature of sin, its destructive and deadly effects, the sorrow and heartache that it inflicts, and the extreme measure necessary to deal with it, make the passion of Christ beyond comprehension.


1 William K. Hobart (1882), The Medical Language of St. Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1954 reprint), pp. 80-84.
2 W. Robertson Nicoll, ed. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:631; M.R. Vincent (1887), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint), 1:425.
3 R.C.H. Lenski (1961), The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg), p. 1077.
4 Henry Alford (1874), Alford’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint), 1:648, italics in orig.; cf. A.T. Robertson (1934), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press), p. 1140.
5 Cf. A.T. Robertson (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 2:272.
6 A.C. Allen (1967), The Skin: A Clinicopathological Treatise (New York: Grune and Stratton), second edition, pp. 745-747; “Hematidrosis” (2002), Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, p. 832, https://goo.gl/U192fY.
7 R. Lumpkin (1978), “The Physical Suffering of Christ,” Journal of Medical Association of Alabama, 47:8-10.
8 See R.L Sutton, Jr. (1956), Diseases of the Skin (St. Louis, MO: Mosby College Publishing), eleventh edition, pp. 1393-1394.
9 J.E. Holoubek and A.B. Holoubek (1996), “Blood, Sweat, and Fear. ‘A Classification of Hematidrosis,’” Journal of Medicine, 27[3-4]:115-33. See also J. Manonukul, W. Wisuthsarewong, et al. (2008), “Hematidrosis: A Pathologic Process orStigmata. A Case Report with Comprehensive Histopathologic and Immunoperoxidase Studies,” American Journal of Dermatopathology, 30[2]:135-139, April; E. Mora and J. Lucas (2013),Hematidrosis: Blood Sweat,” Blood, 121[9]:1493, February 28.
10 P. Barbet (1953), A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image Books), pp. 74-75; cf. Lumpkin, 1978.

Helping Souls Find the Truth by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Helping Souls Find the Truth

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Nothing will ever replace personal, face-to-face evangelism and Bible study. For thousands of years, God’s people have taught the lost and edified the saved while looking deeply into the eyes of precious souls, helping them see what God says is most important and pressing in life, and challenging them to become real and serious servants of the Savior. Simply put, the church of God’s dear Son should always invest a great amount of time, energy, and money in the teaching and preaching of the will of God in a fervent and personal way.
At the same time, the church of Christ must also realize the amazing opportunity that awaits her on the World Wide Web. According to InternetLive­Stats.com, more than 3.2 billion people around the world have access to the Internet. That number represents 40% of the world’s population, including 280 million users in the United States. Similar to how the Lord spoke to Paul saying, “I have many people” (potentially) in Corinth (Acts 18:10), He has even “many more people” who will potentially be open to the Truth that they find by the grace of God on the Internet.
Are you and the local congregation that you are a part of involved in an effective, active outreach and edifying ministry on the Internet? Have you considered helping those who have a long history of helping millions of souls that you or I will never personally be able to meet, much less teach? What would you think about helping a group of Christians who are involved in disseminating over 22 million electronic pages of biblically sound material a year? Would you like to be a part of a work that is freely “passing out” the equivalent of 62,671 Bible articles, books, and media selections every day? If so, then I humbly ask you to consider supporting the nonprofit work of Apologetics Press.
By the grace of God, in 2015 the Apologetics Press Web site received over 22,875,000 page views from individuals located in some 235 countries and territories worldwide. Only five years ago, the yearly page views at AP stood at just under five million. Though in that same time period (2010-2015), the number of Internet users worldwide increased by nearly 40%, the amount of Web traffic that ApologeticsPress.org received increased by 460%. Every minute 43.5 pages of electronic soul-enriching Bible material on the AP Web site is viewed. In other words, one electronic page on the AP site is seen somewhere around the world every 1.4 seconds. For this, we thank God and give Him all the glory.
We are humbled and overjoyed that God is providentially providing millions of people around the world opportunities to access the AP Web site and to receive logically and biblically sound answers to their questions. Consider the individual who has never heard of the AP site, but googles the Bible phrase “calling on the name of the Lord.” The very first item that appears (out of 68.6 million results) is an article on the AP Web site explaining the true, biblical meaning of the phrase (as of January 2016).


For many years, the staff of Apologetics Press has prayed that God would providentially put our materials into the hands of open, honest-hearted souls who are searching for serious answers to serious questions. Whether non-Christians investigating the Truth or Christians in search of faith-building materials, we pray that, if the Lord wills, He will use us and those who support us in this work to lead lost souls to Christ and to strengthen the Lord’s church.
So how can you help us in this cause? What could you do to assist us in this work? Below are a few ideas that we pray you will consider:
  • Bookmark our Web site and visit us when searching for answers to questions about God, Creation, the Bible, Jesus, Islam, evolution, the culture war, various doctrinal matters, etc.
  • Link to us on your personal Web site or blog.
  • Tell your friends about us.
  • Share relevant AP articles, audio, videos, etc. on your social media pages.
  • Ask the elders of your local congregation if they will link to us on your church Web site.
  • Pray that the Lord would use the AP site to His glory in helping others.
  • Last but not least, would you consider supporting us monthly or yearly in this work? With the financial help of faithful Christians, we believe we could do more and more work through apologeticspress.org. We would be honored and extremely grateful if you would consider assisting us in disseminating tens of thousands of Web pages of material everyday to individuals around the world. For more information, see http://www.apologeticspress.org/Donation.aspx or call 334-272-8558.

Which Church Should I Attend? God's Church! by Trevor Bowen


Which Church Should I Attend?

God's Church!


Converted and convinced to do God's will, the next important step is to consider which church to attend.  The Bible teaches that a local church should have certain essential characteristics.  First, however, we must recognize the difference between God's will for people in OldTestament times and for Christians today under the NewTestament.   Otherwise, we will accidentally enforce requirements that were intended only for the Old Testament saints.  One should also be convinced that there is indeed apattern that God expects us to follow.  Now, let's examine somebasic Bible concepts about churches in general.

What is a "Church"?

The original word for "church" was an everyday Greek word, ekklesia, which merely meant a common assembly (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).   The word is sometimes used to refer to common assemblies of government (Acts 19:39) or even to a riotous mob (Acts 19:32, 41).  Other times it refers to the religious assembly, or group of God's people (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22).  However, the same word is translated as "church" when it is used in a religious context and as "assembly" when used in a common sense.

The Local and Universal Church

The Bible speaks of the church in two different ways.  Although it never uses the above references, it does speak of two distinct assemblies that are well characterized by the labels, local church and universal church.  Understanding the distinctions between these two assemblies is essential to understanding and finding a local church that is patterned after God's Word.
The phrase, "universal church", refers to the entire church at large, all saints - past, present, and future.  It is the body of all the saved, and it is always used in a generic sense.  The identity of each person is lost in the use of this phrase.  It always refers to the group as whole.  Jesus Christ used it when He said, "I will build My church" (Matthew16:18).
Paul illustrated the universal church through the symbol of a body, where Christ was the head, and the entire church was the body:
"And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1:22,23
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling." Ephesians 4:4
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body." Ephesians 5:23
The Bible never speaks of the universal church being organized to do anything.  While it is given a work and mission, the work is not carried out by any other organization than the distributed and autonomous local churches.  It has no committees, no overseeing boards, no organization - except what is seen in the passages above.  Christ is the head of the entire church, and it answers solely to Him.  It is merely the group of all saints, of which one must be a member to be saved(Ephesians1:3 ; Galatians 3:26-27).  It is God who places people in this body as they are converted and enter a saved relationship with Him (Acts 2:37-38; 47).
The phrase, "local church", refers to members of the church that assemble together in a given location.  Unlike the universal church, man has some control over who is a member of a local church.  Churches are commanded to withdraw fellowship from those who do not follow God's Word (I Corinthians 5:1-13; IIJohn 9-11).  This occurs on the local level, not the universal.  Christians may erroneously withdraw fellowship from someone who is still approved by God and a member of the universal church (III John 9-10).  Moreover, members of a local church may erroneously extend fellowship to someone who is excluded by God from the universal church (I Corinthians 5:1-13).  Therefore, the local church is a collection of Christians, overseen by fallible men, who work together to worship God and be pleasing to Him.
Since the universal church is made up of individuals, it is therefore not made up of local churches.  Local churches and denominations are not subsets of the universal church, neither are they saved as whole.  The Bible nowhere speaks of such a structure or system.  But, the Bible does speak of individuals being saved as members of the universal church (please read again Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 3:26-27).  The local church is simply a collection of people who are working toward this final salvation, while the universal church consists of all Christians, whose membership is controlled by God.

Outline of the Essential Characteristics

It is within this study of the "local church" wherein lies the answer to our question.  We should be asking ourselves, "What are the Biblical characteristics of a local church which will be approved by God?"
Using examples and commandments found in the NewTestament, we can establish a list of characteristics that are essential to a local church following God's pattern.  Some characteristics would be:
Although many characteristics could be used to make up this pattern, we will use this brief list to help us identify and differentiate between many practices which are taught as God's will, but are in practice the doctrines and traditions of men .  Understanding the Bible teaching on these points will assist us in finding a local church that is in truth trying to follow God's pattern; however, it is by no means a complete or infallible list.  God's word in its entirety is the only standard for determining His Will and the pattern for a local church that is striving to obey it.


The difficult task is determining which characteristics are essential and which are not.  Obviously if we seek to please God, we must use the Bible as the standard to determine if a characteristic is essential.  This demands a diligent effort to study the Bible, an open mind, and constant attention to prayer.  Once we have established such a pattern, then we must compare the church that we now attend to the pattern.  If it does not coincide with God's pattern for a local church, then we must do one of two things, if we seek to be pleasing to God:  We must either seek a new local church that is following God's pattern, or we must try to reform the church with which we now attend.  How can we do otherwise if we love God and love our brethren?

Trevor Bowen

Electing A Savior Electing A Savior by Ben Fronczek


Electing A Savior

Electing A Savior
Isaiah 53:1-12
“Who has believed our message     and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces  he was despised,and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
OPEN: How many of you have noticed that there’s a Presidential election coming up? ☺
I know, you’d have to be a hermit living in a cave in the mountains with no phone or mail to escape the advertising.   America has a decision to make in a few weeks and it seems to be coming down to a choice between two men, each of which I think will lead the country in a different direction. These men have raised millions of dollars to be used so that they can try to out-campaign the other candidate.
Many today think it would be a disaster to invest all that money and effort into a candidate who is perceived as someone who is: Un-attractive, un-popular Un-presidential, and generally liked but then unliked by a majority.
Personally I don’t think the American people would even elect Jesus as their president; as our commander and chief.  Why?
Because in Isaiah 53:2b-3 he tells us:
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”
Now, there are those who believe that this passage is implying that Jesus was not physically attractive or as handsome as Obama or Romney. And that may have been the case. Or Isaiah may have been alluding to the fact that most of the people of Jesus’ time simply viewed Him as undesirable.
Jesus probably would never be elected President of the USA or leader of any other country. He just wouldn’t be popular enough. He wasn’t overly popular in the days of His ministry in Judea, and He wouldn’t be popular enough now.
But it wasn’t ALWAYS true. After Jesus fed the 5000 with 5 small barley loaves and 2 fish, He turned some heads… John 6:15 tell us: “Jesus, knowing that they intended tocome and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”
And when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time before His crucifixion… the crowds had the same idea: Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread palm branches they had cut in the fields.
Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:8-10
These people saw Jesus as a perfect earthly leader (at least for a while).      He was a man of power, authority and decisiveness. He could feed thousands with just a small amount of food. He could heal the sick with the touch of His hand, and raise the dead with the command of His voice.
From this perspective He could lead their nation and help Israel overthrow the hated Roman Empire and make Israel a nation to be reckoned with.
But just few days after that “Palm Sunday” event… probably some of these same people and just about everybody else in Jerusalem seem to turn on Jesus, and the crowds cried out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Why the change?   Why were those who were so excited about Him just days earlier now calling for His death?
Well, part it was because Jesus didn’t give people what they wanted.  He did not tickle their ears with false promises like some of our politicians today.  Instead, Jesus insisted on telling people things that they NEEDED to hear; even things that they DIDN’T want to hear.
And what was that message?  It was the same message then as it is today: We don’t need a politician to fix our most important problem, we need a savior! Why, because just like He let them know, we are all sinners. Our sin is the problem!
Isaiah 53 lets us know that’s why He came, he wrote:
· He was pierced for OUR TRANSGRESSIONS · Crushed for OUR INIQUITIES
· He came to bear OUR SINS   · He was punished to bring us peace.
Isaiah 53:6 sums it up by saying “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Like Sheep, he wrote… we’ve all gone astray.  We have chosen to go OUR own way    – not God’s way.  And because we chose to seek our own path rather than His, God says our hearts are filled with iniquity. The root word in Hebrew for iniquity here is “twisted, Warped, distorted, or perverted”.
Because we’ve chosen our own way so long, God says we’ve developed a “twisted, warped, distorted, or  perverted” character (that is compared to what it should be, and compared to His). And because we are warped, we don’t think and act the way we ought. Simply put, we are all sinners.
Solomon’s wrote “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
We all know that this is a unfortunate truth, we are all twisted, warped or perverted in some way,  and it’s not a very popular subject to talk about.
You know what presidential candidate I liked who ran for office years ago? Ross Perot. I liked him because he had the guts to tell it like it is. He pointed at the problems and said, ‘Here they are and they have to be fixed, but it’s going to cost everyone of us.’  People did not like to hear that. People don’t want to hear what it’s going to cost them to fix their problems, especially from a political candidate. And so Mr. Perot was not elected.
And likewise, Jesus did not gain a popular vote in His final days.
After that triumphal entry where people cried, “Hosanna,”  He entered the Temple area and started flipping tables over and accused the Jews of being a bunch of thieves, turning a place of worship into a den of robbers (Matthew 21:12-13)
Each day after that, the religious leaders got angrier and angrier at Jesus the more He spoke; especially when He accused them of being a bunch of show-off hypocrites. He goes on to call them snakes and a brood of vipers and condemns their evil practices. (Matthew. 23)
People who call the kettle black and speak the truth about things people don’t want to hear don’t go too far in the political realm. At this point rather than elect Jesus to be their Savior,  many wanted to kill Him.
He let all of us know that we all have a problem. We are ALL unholy sinners and we will not be welcomed into the presence of God in heaven after we die.
Now, some folks just don’t want to hear that. They have a problem accepting the idea that they’ve got a problem, that they are broken, and they need help from someone else.
Some people simply think that they’re ok, that they are “pretty nice people”.
That’s why, when people are asked if they think they are going to heaven, most will reply:  “Well sure, I’m not that bad. I never killed anyone.”
They don’t see themselves as ungodly because of the things that they have or haven’t done. They view themselves by their own standards not God’s.
They don’t want to hear that God is ready to throw them into Hell and lock the door.  Like the Pharisees and other religious leaders in Jerusalem when they hear the truth they get upset when Christians tell them that they are doomed and need a Savior.
In their anger many choose not to elect Jesus as the Lord of their lives.
What Jesus represents is not really attractive to them in that way.
He may interesting… but He is not their source of hope for salvation.
You see those religious leaders of old had a big problem. They were too proud to realize that they were in trouble and needed help; and only the kind of help that Jesus could provide. They were too proud to hear and act on that truth, and wanted to be patronized, not criticized.
And we likewise put our self in a dangerous position when we do the same; when we are too proud to hear the truth, when we refuse to act on those truths, and when all we want is to be patronized and not criticized.
That’s why Jesus’ preaching didn’t appeal to the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the self-righteous of His day. He exposed them for what they were. He revealed the sinful foundation of their thinking. And they hated Him for it.
But Jesus did appeal to some…to those who realized they had a problem.
The prostitutes and the tax collectors and the sinners… they KNEW THEY weren’t good enough, nor righteous enough to make it to heaven. They desperately needed the answers Jesus supplied. So, when Jesus came and offered them forgiveness of sins and a new life they chose to follow Him. They elected Him Savior.  Jesus told these self righteous ones, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Matthew 21:28-31
You see, they DIDN’T CARE if He was physically attractive or well dressed.
They didn’t care if anybody else liked Him. They had a problem… and Jesus could fix it.
If my car breaks down and I need to take it in to be fixed I don’t care how good looking my mechanic is. I don’t care how attractive his body shop is. I don’t care how clean his restroom is. All I care is: ‘Can he fix my car?’
If I am diagnosed with a disease and I have to go the hospital I don’t care how attractive my doctor is. I don’t care how fancy the room is decorated. All I care is: ‘Can they help me. Can they fix me?’
Things haven’t changed much from those days of old when the people then sneered at what Jesus had to say and what He represents.
Some people are still too proud. In all reality, none of us will ever be good enough to make to heaven on our own. We need a Savior. We need Jesus.
And until people realize they have a problem… they’re not going to look for His help, nor will they seek Him out.
People who elect Jesus as their Savior do so because they humble enough to ·KNOW that they’ve got a problem.
·They KNOW they can never be good enough to be good enough!
·They KNOW they can never be nice enough to work off their sins!
·They know that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
God knows it too. That’s why He sent his one and only son into the world to pay the price for our sin if we so choose to accept Him.
But the sad reality is, some will never accept God’s gift for whatever reason.
Jesus made a very chilling comment once and I have to admit the reality of what He said here both scares & sadden me. In Matthew 7:13-14  Jesus advised,   “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
I would like to encourage you today to make sure you are on the right road, on the right path. Don’t be too proud and turn a deaf ear on wholesome criticism; it may be for your own good. If you haven’t already, don’t let your pride get in the way of seeking Jesus’ help. Elect Jesus as you Savior. He loves us and has our best interest in mind. He is a leader like no others, He leads by example.
Based on a sermon by Jeff Strite
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