"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Physically Fit, Spiritually Alive (4:7-8) by Mark Copeland


Physically Fit, Spiritually Alive (4:7-8)


1. Many people place great emphasis upon physical well-being...
   a. Note the number of gyms, tennis courts, swimming pools, health
   b. Seeking to improve the quality of life, as well as the quantity of

2. For some, physical exercise comes close to being a religion in of
   a. I've personally known runners to admit as such
   b. Sunday for them is a day of sport, not worship

[Physical exercise and well-being has its place, but must be kept in
perspective.  One passage that helps us to do this is our text (1 Ti
4:7-8).  Note first what we can learn about...]


      1. Makes for a well-rounded development - Lk 2:52
      2. Enhances the use of our "instruments of righteousness" (bodies)
         - Ro 6:12-13
      3. Extends the time we can glorify God - 1Co 6:19-20
      -- There is some value for a healthy routine of physical exercise

      1. Beauty is deceitful - Pr 31:30
      2. Attraction can be incongruous - Pr 11:22
      3. Strength will eventually fail - 2Co 4:16
      -- Physical exercise alone cannot meet all our needs, and will
         eventually fail us

[There is another exercise of which our text speaks, which those
concerned with true fitness do well to consider...]


      1. Daily renewal for the inner man - 2Co 4:16
      2. True peace, joy, and hope - Ro 14:17; 15:13
      3. Winsome personality - Ga 5:22-23
      4. Extended family - Mk 10:28-30
      -- These are wonderful benefits that godly exercise offers in this

      1. Eternal life in the age to come - Mk 10:28-30
      2. Everlasting fellowship with God - Re 21:1-7
      -- Here is where godly exercise truly excels over bodily exercise!

[Both bodily exercise and godly exercise therefore have their value.
Understanding their respective values should help in...]


      1. In expenditure of time?
         a. Some health officials recommend exercising 30 minutes a day
         b. Do we spend an equivalent amount of time in prayer, Bible
            study, or service to God?
      2. In expenditure of energy?
         a. Physical fitness often requires a great expenditure of
         b. Are we willing to make similar efforts in our service to
      -- Do we spend as much time and energy exercising ourselves unto
         godliness as we do engaging in various forms of bodily
         exercise? - cf. 2Co 4:16-5:1

      1. When conflicts arise?
         a. Sport events or exercise routines often conflict with duties
            to God
         b. Do we have the same convictions as Eric Liddell? - cf.
            Chariots Of Fire
      2. When time is limited?
         a. We only have so much time
         b. If we must cut back on some activity, will be it a spiritual
            or physical one?
      -- Do we have our priorities straight, is our emphasis properly
         placed? - cf. Mt 6:33


1. Whether young or old, physical fitness has a place in our lives as
   a. Taking care of our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit
   b. Making good use of our bodily members as instruments of
   c. Improving the quality and length of service we can offer the Lord
      in this life

2. But physical fitness without godly exercise is vanity...
   a. The outer man will eventually fail us
   b. The inner man is the true measure of character and spirituality

Maintaining a proper balance will help us to be truly "Physically Fit,
Spiritually Alive."  Speaking of being spiritually alive, have you been
born again...? - cf. Jn 3:3-5; Mk 16:16; Ro 6:3-4

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. 

Copeland, 2016

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How Many Will be Saved? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


How Many Will be Saved?

by   Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In our present “politically correct” societal climate, the “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” sentiment that surfaced in the 1960s has since blanketed American culture. Consequently, even Christian peoples have been infected with the ideology that the only moral evil is the sin of “intolerance,” and that everyone ought to subscribe to complete “acceptance” of everyone else—regardless of belief or behavior. Of course, those who are so influenced have ceased studying the Bible and acquainting themselves with Deity. For those who still are convinced that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God, they would do well to subject themselves to the corrective provided by that Word. Doing so would alter their present tendency to embrace society’s pluralistic propensities.
The Bible provides the only inerrant history of the human race from its inception. What does the Bible teach with regard to the number of people who ultimately please God, are acceptable to Him, and thus will one day be with Him forever in Heaven? A perusal of the history of the world from its very beginning, will undoubtedly shock most people—even those who claim to be Christian. Why? Because the Bible portrays a consistent pattern of human behavior in which   most   people have rejected God’s will for their lives and thus were rejected by God. While the Bible does not claim to report everything that has happened to all peoples in human history, it nevertheless presents a proportional sampling of the ebb and flow of world history. And in doing so, it unmistakably conveys the fact that not only will most people in the world be lost eternally, but even most people who profess to be Christians will be lost as well. In his famous “Blue Back Speller,” a public school textbook used to teach millions of American school children during the 19th and 20th centuries, Noah Webster made the following insightful observation: “History is an account of past events. A great part of history is an account of men’s crimes and wickedness” (1857, p. 42, emp. added). Consider the following abbreviated sketch of human history.


The very first human beings on the planet, Adam and Eve, violated God’s will and were ejected from the beautiful garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24). Of course, they could be forgiven of their sin, but their behavior demonstrated a pattern that set the tone for the rest of human history. Of their children who are referred to specifically, one refused to worship God as He instructed and, out of a jealous rage, rose up and committed human history’s first murder by killing his brother (Genesis 4:8). Some 1,700 years later, “the wickedness of man” was so “great in the earth” (Genesis 6:5), that God had no other choice but to cleanse the Earth of its human population by means of a global Flood (Genesis 7-8). How many people were on the Earth at that point in time? No one knows, and any speculation would be mere conjecture. However, in his book The Flood, Alfred Rehwinkel attempted calculations of the antediluvian world’s population, taking into account factors relevant to population statistics (e.g., the amount of time from the Creation to the Flood, the extended lifespan of the antediluvian people) and came up with estimates ranging from 900 million to nearly 12 billion (1951, pp. 28-31). In any case, the Bible explicitly states that   only eight people  survived the Flood (1 Peter 3:20)—not even one-tenth of one percent.
After the Flood, the world’s population again multiplied, but the people clustered in one geographical location in direct defiance of God’s directive to multiply and fill the Earth (Genesis 9:1). This defiance apparently involved most or all of the human population (Genesis 11:1ff.). By 2100 B.C., attention is directed to a man who became the genetic predecessor to the nation of Israel. Little information is given regarding the spiritual and moral condition of the Earth’s population during this period. However, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plain are pinpointed for their wickedness (Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:1ff.). The cities were literally burned off the surface of the planet.


For the next few hundred years, again, the Bible reports world events largely insofar as they relate to the descendants of Abraham in order to set the stage for the commencement of the Israelites’ national existence. During this period, occasional references are made to the moral condition of the world. For example, referring to the Canaanite population of Palestine in Abraham’s day, God explained that “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). The polygamy of Egypt’s Pharaoh (Genesis 12:14ff.), the king of Gerar (Genesis 20:2ff.), and even Esau (Genesis 28:9) are mentioned, as well as the rape of Dinah (Genesis 34:2). Egypt in Joseph’s day had “magicians” (Genesis 41:8). Extra-biblical sources provided by archaeological investigation coincide with the Bible’s depiction of the various peoples of the Near East as being dominated by pagan practice—everything from sexual perversion to child sacrifice.
By 1500 B.C., the Israelite population that came out of Egypt numbered approximately 2 to 3 million men, women, and children, based on the census figures of the men fit for military service, i.e., at least twenty years old, but not too old to go to war (Numbers 1:46). Yet, out of the entire adult population of those who came out of Egypt,   only two men   (Joshua and Caleb) are specifically mentioned as being permitted eventually to enter the land of Canaan (Numbers 14:30). Even Moses, Aaron, and Miriam did not enter in.
During Joshua’s leadership, the people as a whole stayed fairly faithful (Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7). But with the onset of the period of the Judges, the “Dark Ages of Jewish history” commenced. During this roughly 350-year period, apparently most people were unfaithful (Judges 17:6; 21:25). At the close of that period, the majority of the people in Samuel’s day disobeyed God by clamoring for a king (1 Samuel 8). God went ahead and gave them one—Saul—but promised negative repercussions. Indeed, Saul’s entire reign was miserable (1 Samuel 10-31). The nation did better under the second king of Israel, David (2 Samuel 1-10), until he committed adultery (2 Samuel 11). The rest of his reign was unpleasant (2 Samuel 12-24). Under Solomon, social conditions improved (1 Kings 1-10), but in his old age, he, too, became unfaithful (1 Kings 11).
Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, took over the reins of the nation, but shortly thereafter, Jeroboam ruptured the monarchy by leading ten of the twelve tribes into apostasy (1 Kings 12). He immediately built an alternate worship site away from Jerusalem and introduced idol worship. The history of this northern kingdom (known as Samaria or Israel) is recorded in the rest of 1st and 2nd Kings through a string of 19 kings, every single one of whom is said to have been wicked, i.e., “he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” It appeared that as the king went, so went the nation. Though great prophets, like Elijah, Amos, and Hosea, were sent to turn them around, the nation persisted in its estrangement from the spiritual and moral precepts given to them by God. When God finally had His fill, He allowed them to be taken into captivity by Assyria (2 Kings 17). So much for five-sixths of the Israelites.
One sample of the spiritual anemia of the people during the years leading up to captivity is seen in 1 Kings 18. Having assembled the entire nation on Mt. Carmel, Elijah called upon the people to stand up for the Lord and truth, but they would not commit. Only after a dazzling demonstration of divine intervention did they come around and agree to execute the false prophets of Baal and Asherah. Despite such valiant attempts to recall people to their spiritual senses, every single one of the 19 northern kings were evil and fomented the general depravity of the nation. The northern kingdom only lasted just over 200 years.
Meanwhile, the southern kingdom, consisting of the remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin (known simply as Judah), lasted nearly 400 years as recorded in 1st and 2nd Kings and in 1st and 2nd Chronicles. They, too, had 19 kings. Perhaps six may be said to be somewhat good—with qualified commendation. Only two receive unqualified commendation from God. The prophetic books of the Old Testament are largely interspersed during the period of the divided kingdom, with most of the prophets addressing the southern kingdom (e.g., Jeremiah, Ezekiel). In those books one can see clearly that the majority of the people were unfaithful to God and refused to receive moral and spiritual admonitions. God eventually allowed the two southern tribes to go into Babylonian Captivity.
One is forced to conclude that   most  of the people, through whom God was working out His redemptive scheme to bring Jesus to the planet, were   apostate. In fact, the prophets used a term to describe the few faithful: “remnant.” Numerically, those among God’s people in the Old Testament that were faithful were   few. If most of God’s own people under Judaism were lost, what was the condition of most of the contemporaneous Gentiles who lived under Patriarchy? They, too, were alienated from God’s way, living in pagan wickedness.
Shifting to the New Testament, John arrived on the scene, followed by Jesus Himself, in an attempt to reform the Jews in and around Jerusalem and to get them to accept the Messiah. Most Jews were scattered throughout the world due to the previous captivities. Those who had returned to Judea after the Babylonian Captivity were a small minority (see Nehemiah and Ezra). John and Jesus attempted to get those in Judea to repent and to accept Christ and His new religion that He would launch beginning in Acts 2. Unfortunately, the Jews rejected Jesus in mass and participated in His death. Before His death, Jesus denounced Israel and declared that the Jews as a nation had rejected Him and consequently would be lost (Matthew 23-24). This widespread Jewish rejection of Christ and Christianity is confirmed in Acts and Romans. Paul forthrightly bemoaned this astonishing turn of events (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).
With the advent of Christianity in A.D. 30, about 3,000 Jews were converted on Pentecost (Acts 2). This occurrence was followed by a few thousand thereafter (Acts 3-5). But the estimates of how many Jews would have been in Jerusalem for the dual Old Testament feasts of Passover and Pentecost number in the millions. In fact, assembled in Jerusalem at the time Christianity commenced were Jews “out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Those who embraced Christianity were the minority—again, not even one-tenth of one percent. The Jewish rejection of Christ, as predicted by Jesus in Matthew 24, culminated in A.D. 70 when the Romans marched to Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and killed over one million Jews. This destruction of Jerusalem effectively dismantled the Jewish Commonwealth. The very people who should have embraced God’s religion in large numbers largely rejected it, evoking this stinging declaration: “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).
The Gospel was eventually introduced to the Gentile population in Acts 10. Paul was selected to be the “Apostle to the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15). The remainder of Acts records the spread of the Gospel throughout the rest of the world. After its presentation to the Jews (Acts 2-7) and the Samaritans (Acts 8), and the initial Gentiles (Acts 10), the missionary journeys of Paul and others took the Gospel to the uttermost part of the world (Acts 1:8; 28:28-31). Yet, again, the vast majority of the Roman world rejected the Gospel.


Observe what is readily apparent from this brief perusal of human history. Most of the Jews rejected Christianity—even to this day. And even though the Gospel then went to the whole Gentile world, the vast majority of the first century world rejected Christianity. So it continues to this very day. Over six billion people live on Earth, yet how many are New Testament Christians? Not even one-tenth of one percent! Throughout the history of mankind, only a small number of individuals will be saved. The unmistakable conclusion is that most people throughout human history will be in hell. Jesus confirmed this observation when He stated: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are   many    who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and   there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, emp. added).
Who is to be blamed for the vast majority of all human beings who ever live being lost eternally? Not God! He has done everything He can legitimately do to reconcile lost humanity to Himself (Romans 5:8-10; 2 Peter 3:9; Hebrews 2:14-15). But He coerces no one. All are free to choose their eternal destiny. Most choose momentary pleasure in exchange for their soul. We would do well to think carefully and soberly: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).


Rehwinkel, Alfred (1951), The Flood (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).
Webster, Noah (1857), The Elementary Spelling Book (New York, NY: American Book Company).

How Many Clean Animals Did Noah Take into the Ark—Seven or Fourteen? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D. Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


How Many Clean Animals Did Noah Take into the Ark—Seven or Fourteen?

by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Genesis 7:2 says that God told Noah to take clean animals into the Ark “seven by seven.” Does this mean Noah took fourteen of each clean animal into the boat?
In Genesis 7, God instructed Noah to take on board the ark certain animals in order to save them from the Flood. Concerning clean animals, He said:
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee seven and seven, the male and his female; and of the beasts that are not clean two, the male and his female (7:2).
Through the years, serious Bible students have wondered: How many clean animals did Noah take into the ark—seven, or fourteen? Generally, there are two opposing views on the precise number of each kind of animal involved. One view is expressed by the following statement from John T. Willis:
It is impossible to determine certainly whether the Hebrew phrase, shibb’ah shibbahmeans “by sevens” (KJV), that is, seven animals of all clean species, or “seven and seven” (ASV) or seven pairs (RSV, NEB), that is fourteen animals of all clean species.... There can be no certainty on this point (1979, p. 171).
However, others have been more decisive on the matter, suggesting real purpose and reason to the interpretation that there were only seven of every clean kind on the ark. Animal sacrifice to God was practiced during the Patriarchal Age, and it is apparent that the faithful could distinguish between the clean and unclean. Thus, it is suggested that when Noah left the ark and offered a sacrifice to God “of every clean animal” (Genesis 8:20), three pairs were left for domestication by man so that he would have food and clothing. The pattern, as Matthew Henry noted, then follows that of the working week and Sabbath day, in that “God gives us six for one in earthly things, as in the days of the week,” while the seventh is for devotion to God (n.d., p. 61).
On the actual exegesis of the passage, H.C. Leupold, in his    Exposition of Genesis, argued:
The Hebrew expression “take seven seven” means “seven each” [here he refers to Koenig’s syntax and Gesenius’ Grammatik—BT/TM]. Hebrew parallels support this explanation. In any case, it would be a most clumsy method of trying to say “fourteen” (1990, 1:290).
While it is difficult to speak dogmatically on this issue, it is clear that the opinion of many conservative scholars weighs heavily in favor of the interpretation that there were seven clean, and two unclean, of every animal kind on Noah’s ark.


Henry, Matthew (no date), Genesis to Deuteronomy (MacLean, VA: MacDonald).
Leupold, H.C. (1990 reprint), Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), reprint of 1942 Wartsburg Press edition.
Willis, John T. (1979), “Genesis,” The Living Word Commentary (Austin, TX: Sweet).

How Long Were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


How Long Were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?

by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


On occasion, those who defend the concept of an old Earth suggest that it is impossible to know how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden and that untold years may have elapsed during that time period. Is this a possibility? How long were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?


The suggestion that millions or billions of years may have passed during the time Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden is a common ploy of those who, like progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists, advocate an ancient Earth. However, it is nothing but another failed attempt to try to insert vast ages of geologic/evolutionary time into the biblical record. Consider, in this regard, two popular arguments that frequently are offered in support of such a concept.
First, one theistic evolutionist, John N. Clayton, has suggested that since a part of God’s curse on Eve was that He was going to   multiply  her pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16), she   must  have given birth to numerous children in the garden, or else God’s curse would have meant nothing to her. How could God “multiply” something if she never had experienced it in the first place? Furthermore, Clayton has lamented, rearing children is a process that requires considerable time, thereby allowing for the possibility that Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden for an extended period prior to being evicted after their sin. As Clayton has written: “Every evidence we have biblically indicates that mankind’s beginning in the Garden of Eden   was not a short period  which involved one man and one woman” (1980, 7[1]:5, emp. added).
The second argument (which is somewhat related to the first) suggests that Adam and Eve   must  have been in the garden for quite some time because after they left, it was said of Cain that “he builded a city” (Genesis 4:17). To quote Clayton, that would be something that “you cannot do with you and your wife” (7[1]:5). In other words, Cain had to have a large enough family to assist him in building “a city.” That, suggests Clayton, would have taken a lot of time.
Mr. Clayton is completely in error when he states that “every evidence we have biblically indicates that mankind’s beginning in the Garden of Eden was not a short period which involved one man and one woman.” The fact is,   every evidence we have biblically proves conclusively that man and woman could not have been in the garden for very long. Consider the following.
First, regardless of what defenders of an ancient Earth may wish were true, the simple fact of the matter is that the Bible sets an outer limit on the amount of time that man could have lived in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 5:5 states clearly that “all the days   that Adam lived were   930 years.” We know, of course, that “days” and “years” already were being counted by the time of Adam’s creation because in Genesis 1:14 (day four of the Creation week) God mentioned both in His discussion of their relationship to the heavenly bodies. Therefore, however long Adam and Eve may have been in the garden, one thing is certain: they were not there for any time period that exceeded Adam’s life span of 930 years. But there is additional information that must be considered as well. Genesis 4:25 explains that Seth was born after Cain slew Abel. Since the biblical account makes it clear that Seth was born outside the garden, and since Genesis 5:3 informs us that Adam was 130  years old when Seth was born, it is obvious that   Adam and Eve could not have been in the Garden of Eden any longer than 130 years!
Second, surely it is not inconsequential that all the children of Adam and Eve mentioned in the Bible were born outside the Garden of Eden.   Not one conception, or birth, is mentioned as having occurred while Adam and Eve lived in the garden  (see Genesis 4:1 for the first mention of any conception or birth—only    after    the couple’s expulsion from Eden). Follow closely the importance and logic of this argument, which may be stated as follows.
One of the commands given to Adam and Eve was that they “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Earth” (Genesis 1:28). [Interestingly, Isaiah would say many years later that God created the Earth “to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18).] In other words, Adam and Eve were commanded to   reproduce.
Now, what is sin? Sin is: (a) doing  what God said    not to do; or (b)     not doing  what God said   to do. Up until the time that Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6), had they sinned? No, they still were in a covenant relationship with God and everything was perfect. Since that is the case, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Adam and Eve were doing what God had commanded them to do—reproducing. Yet, I repeat, the only conceptions and births of which we have any record occurred   outside the garden! In other words, apparently Adam and Eve were not even in the garden long enough for Eve to conceive, much less give birth.
Third, while the Bible does not provide a    specific  time regarding how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden, it could not have been very long because Christ Himself, in referring to the curse of death upon the human family as a result of its sinful rebellion against God, specifically stated that the devil “was a murderer   from the beginning” (John 8:44). [Of interest is the fact that in Luke 11:45-52, the account is recorded of the Lord rebuking the Jews of His day. He charged them with following in the footsteps of their ancestors. He foretold the destruction that was yet to befall them. And, He announced that upon them would come “the blood of all the prophets, which was shed   from the foundation of the world.” Then, with emphatic linguistic parallelism typical of Hebrew expression, He added: “from the blood of Abel   unto the blood of Zachariah....” Jesus therefore placed the murder of Abel near the “foundation of the world.” Granted, Abel’s death occurred some years after the Creation, but it was close enough to that event for Jesus to state that it was associated with “the foundation of the world.” If vast spans of time—that is, enough to accommodate evolutionists and their sympathizers—occurred while Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, then how could the shedding of human blood be declared by the Son of God to extend back to the “foundation of the world”?]
Satan and his ignominious band of outlaws (“sons of the evil one”—Matthew 13:38) have worked their ruthless quackery on mankind from the very moment the serpent met mother Eve in the Garden of Eden. When he and his cohorts rebelled and “kept not their proper habitation,” they were cast from the heavenly portals to be “kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
The conditions of Satan‘s surrender were harsh. Although he had been completely vanquished, although his armies had been thoroughly routed, and although the Victor had imposed the worst kind of permanent exile, Satan was determined not to go gently into the night. While he admittedly had lost the war, he nevertheless was planning future skirmishes. Vindictive by nature (Revelation 12:12), in possession of cunning devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), and thoroughly determined to be “the deceiver of the world” (Revelation 12:9), he set his face against all that is righteous and holy—and never once looked back. His anger at having been defeated fueled his determination to strike back in revenge.
But strike back at whom? God’s power was too great, and His omnipotence was too all-consuming (Job 42:2; 1 John 4:4). Another target was needed; another repository of satanic revenge would have to be found. And who better to serve as the recipient of hell’s unrighteous indignation than mankind—the only creature in the Universe made “in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26-27)? As the late Rex A. Turner Sr. observed: “Satan cannot attack God directly, thus he employs various methods to attack man, God’s master creation” (1980, p. 89). What sweet revenge—despoiling the “apple of God’s eye” and the zenith of His creative genius! Thus, with the creation of man, the battle was on. Little wonder that in his first epistle the apostle Peter described Satan as an adversary that, “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (5:8).
Now—knowing what the Scriptures tell us about Satan’s origin, attitude, and mission—is it sensible to suggest that he would take his proverbial time, and twiddle his figurative thumbs, while allowing Adam and Eve to revel in the covenant relationship they enjoyed with their Maker (Genesis 3:8 relates how God walked with them in the garden “in the cool of the day”)? Would Satan simply “leave them alone for a long period of time” so that they could conceive, give birth to, and rear children in the luscious paradise known as the Garden of Eden? Is this how a hungry, stalking lion would view its prey—by watching admiringly from afar, allowing it hundreds or thousands of years of fulfilled joy, and affording it time to conceive, give birth to, and rear a family? Hardly—which is why Christ described Satan as a murderer “from the beginning.” Satan was in no mood to wait. He was angry, he was bitter, and he was filled with a thirst for revenge. What better way to slake that thirst than introducing sin into God’s perfect world?
What may be said, then, about John Clayton’s suggestion that Adam and Eve must have been in the garden for an extended period of time since God said that He was going to “multiply” Eve’s pain? How could He possibly “multiply” something she never had experienced? This quibble can be answered quite easily. Does a person have to “experience” something before that something can be “multiplied”? Suppose I said, “I’m going to give you $100.” You therefore stick out your hand to receive the $100 bill I am holding in mine. But I immediately pull back my hand and say, “No, I’ve changed my mind; I am going to give you   $1,000  instead!” Did you actually have to possess or “experience” the $100 before I could increase it to $1,000? Of course not.
The fact God said He was going to “multiply” Eve’s pain in childbirth does not mean necessarily that Eve had to have experienced   some   pain  prior to God’s decree that she would experience   more   pain. God’s point was merely this: “Eve, you were going to experience some pain in childbirth, but because of your sin, now you will experience even more pain.” The fact that Eve never had experienced   any  childbirth pain up to that point does not mean that she could not experience   even more  pain later as a part of her penalty for having sinned against God.
Last, what about John Clayton’s idea that Adam and Eve must have been in the Garden for an extended period of time because the text indicates that when they left Cain and his wife “builded a city” (Genesis 4:17). Clayton has lamented that this is “something which you   cannot do with you and your wife” (1980, 7[1]:5). Of course he would be correct—if the city under discussion were a modern metroplex. But that is not the case here.
The Hebrew word for city is quite broad in its meaning. It may refer to anything from a sprawling village to a mere encampment. Literally, the term means “place of look-out, especially as it was fortified.” In commenting on Genesis 4:17, Old Testament commentator John Willis observed: “However, a ‘city’ is not necessarily a large, impressive metropolis, but may be a small unimposing village of relatively few inhabitants” (1979, p. 155). Again, apply some common sense here. What would it be   more likely  for the Bible to suggest that Cain and his wife constructed (considering who they were and where they were living)—a thriving, bustling, metropolis, or a Bedouin tent city? To ask is to answer, is it not? To this very day, Bedouin tent cities are quite commonplace in that particular area of the world. And—as everyone will admit—two boy scouts can erect a tent, so it hardly strains credulity to suggest that Cain and his wife would have been able to accomplish such a task as well.


Clayton, John N. (1980), “Is the Age of the Earth Related to a ‘Literal Interpretation’ of Genesis?,”Does God Exist?, 7[1]:3-8, January.
Turner, Rex A. Sr. (1980), Systematic Theology (Montgomery, AL: Alabama Christian School of Religion).
Willis, John T. (1979), “Genesis,” The Living Word Commentary (Austin, TX: Sweet).

How Could Jesus be God if He was Seen by Man? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


How Could Jesus be God if He was Seen by Man?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, one of the reasons Jesus could not (and cannot) be God is because Jesus was seen by humankind. The official Web site of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.watchtower.org) indicates that “[a]s the Son of God, he [Jesus—EL] could not be God himself, for John 1:18 says: ‘No one has ever seen God’ ” (“What Does the Bible Say...,” 2000). The problem with such reasoning is two-fold.
First, it ignores the fact that man only saw Jesus (“the Word”—John 1:1) after “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He came in a veiled form. No human has ever seen Jesus in His true image (i.e., as a spirit Being—John 4:24—in all His glory and splendor). In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul mentioned that Christ—Who had existed in heaven “in the form of God”—“made Himself of no reputation,” and took on the “likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Men saw an   embodiment   of God as Jesus dwelt here in a fleshly form. Men saw “the Word” that “became flesh.” But no one has ever seen God’s true, complete image (as a spirit Being).
The second problem with Jehovah’s Witnesses’ denial of Jesus’ deity (based on the fact that “no one has ever seen God”) is that their argument crumbles when Jehovah God’s appearances to man are considered. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah is God and “is the name of the true God only” (“Identifying...,” 2002). According to their doctrine, Jehovah, not Christ, is God Almighty. Yet, man   has seen   Jehovah. Genesis chapter 18 records an occasion when “Jehovah appeared” to Abraham near Mamre (vs. 1). Jehovah spoke directly to Abraham (vs. 13), and the faithful servant of God “stood before the Lord” (vs. 22). The final verse of Genesis 18 states: “And Jehovah went his way, as soon as he had left off communing with Abraham. And Abraham returned unto his place” (vs. 33). If Jehovah’s Witnesses were consistent with their argument, Jehovah could not be Almighty God because man has seen Jehovah. If John 1:18 somehow disqualifies Jesus from being God, it must also prohibit “Jehovah” from being God, because they both were seen. What Bible students must understand is that man has only seen   manifestations   of God (i.e, in human flesh, or in the midst of a burning bush—Exodus 3:2, etc.); he has never seen God (the Father or the Son) in His true spirit image.
[NOTE: If you would like to read further on the subject “Has Man Seen God?” and examine the alleged contradiction between such passages as John 1:18 and Exodus 33:11, click on the following link: http://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=2682.] 


“Identifying the True God Only,” (2002), [On-line], URL:http://www.watchtower.org/library/g/1999/2/8/article_04.htm, originally appeared in Awake!, February 8, 1999.
“What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?” (2002), [On-line], URL:http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/index.htm.

The Work of the Church by Trevor Bowen


The Work of the Church 


Perhaps one of the most influential characteristics of the local church is the mission or the work that it undertakes.  Therefore, it is essential that we study the Bible teaching on this topic so that we may be able to determine if a local church is even trying to do its God-given task.  However, before we study such an issue, we must first recognize that there is indeed a pattern for the church that God expects us to follow, and we must also understand some basic concepts about the church.

The Three-Fold Mission of the Church

The work of the church can be divided into three separate missions or works.  These works are given to the universal church at large, but much of its execution is specified in the divine pattern for the local organization of the church.  Consequently, as we will see shortly, certain aspects of various works are reserved for the distributed, individual saints who make up the universal church, while the local church is restricted to other aspects.
Much of the teaching on this subject is spread throughout the New Testament; however, in Ephesians 4 we find a concise description of the spiritual work given to this spiritual organization as well as a listing of the spiritual offices, whose unique roles people fill in undertaking this work.
"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.  ... And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,"  Ephesians 4:611-12
Although this passage is primarily emphasizing the "gifts" that are given through fulfillment of various roles, we can still learn valuable lessons about the nature of the work that is aided by these roles.  First, we can recognize that one of the fundamental missions of the church is "the equipping of the saints".  This mission is the foundation for the church completing the other two missions, as is indicated by the language of other modern translations (ASV, NASB, NIV).  If the church is not properly equipped then it will be unable to complete its other works.  Therefore, this one work is essential.
With the church properly equipping its members, it will be enabled to see to perform "the work of ministry".  The Greek word here for ministry is diakonia, which is a generic word for service and ministering.  Therefore, the general work of service is one of the given missions of the church universal.  However, keep in mind that limitations as to how these instructions are executed, and who executes them, will be specified by the organization of the church, as we will later see.
Thirdly, the church should also work towards the "edifying of the body of Christ".  This is from the same Greek word that Paul used when he spoke of preaching Christ where He was unknown and edifying, or "building", where no man had before built (Romans 15:20-21).  It is also the same word used by Jesus when he promised to "build" His church (Matthew 16:18).  Apparently, it here has the same meaning, preaching the gospel so that it may increase the number and further buildup the body of Christ.
It is these three spiritual works that make up the mission of the church:  evangelism - spreading the gospel; benevolence - both to saints and others; and edification - teaching and strengthening the existing body of saints.  Now, let's examine in more detail the scope, nature, and division of labor for these three works.


The phrase "work of evangelism" refers to the primary mission of the church to spread and teach the gospel to those who are not Christians.  We see in the Scriptures that its scope is universal, just as the problem of sin is universal (Romans 3:9-1223).  Jesus commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to the entire world and to teach those that they converted to follow their pattern:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Matthew 28:19-20
As we read through the recorded history of the early church, we find that they did indeed spread out over the whole world, proclaiming the gospel, striving to preach where Jesus was unknown (Acts 1:8Titus 2:11Romans 16:26Romans 15:20-21).  But, how was this great work accomplished?  How was this huge work and responsibility divided among the universal church?
The apostles had a unique role in traveling and spreading the gospel.  But, the large part of the work then, and the whole part now, was divided between the local churches and individual Christians.  We find that local churches had an obligation to spread the gospel by supporting gospel preachers, or evangelists.  The following passage speaks of God's command that gospel preachers should be supported for their work:
For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? ... Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel."  I Corinthians9:9-14
Moreover, as we read through the Bible we find multiple examples of congregations supporting preachers to spread the gospel:
Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.  ...  Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God." Philippians 4:15-18
Beside the Philippian church supporting Paul, we have the example of the Thessalonian church who was an example also to New Testament churches of spreading the gospel (I Thessalonians 1:1-8).  But, in addition to the work done by local churches, we also find individual Christians who were zealous proclaimers of the gospel:
"... At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  ... Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word."  Acts 8:14
Acquilla and Priscilla are specific examples of a husband wife team who corrected and taught through personal evangelism (Acts 18:1-424-26).  Personal evangelism is one of the great responsibilities that are given to individual Christians, and one for which they will be held accountable (Matthew 5:13-1625:14-30).  In addition to personal evangelism, wealthier New Testament Christians were instructed to also support preachers, as one of many possible good works (Galatians 6:6ITimothy 6:17-19).
The responsibility of all Christians "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" is another important facet of evangelism (Jude 3).  It is in this sense, all Christians striving to maintain the purity of the gospel in belief and practice, that Paul referred to "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).  The church serves as the mainstay of truth through its continued proclamation of the gospel and its diligent resistance to corruption of the truth (Galatians 1:6-9).
The universal church, although never as a collective unit, undertakes this work of evangelism through the the above division of labor.  This is evidenced by the words of Paul:
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  ... to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,"  Ephesians 3:8-10
An individual Christian was able to speak of his individual efforts as partial fulfillment of the church's mission and work to make known the "manifold wisdom of God".  Therefore, each individual Christian or church becomes an independent, but vital part of undertaking this important work, and it is through the distributed action of individual churches and Christians that the gospel is proclaimed and the universal church's work of evangelism is accomplished.

Edification of the Saints

The first mission from Ephesians 4:12"for the equipping of the saints" is sometimes known as edifying, or building up the saints.  This refers to the many tasks that a church undertakes to foster the spiritual growth of its members.  Some of the many facets of this goal are:
Included in the many church activities to help us reach this goal, are worship and study services.  The writer of Hebrews instructed:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  Hebrews10:24-25
Assembling together is one of the many ways we help to promote love and good works in each other.  The Bible also teaches of singing as being another way that we edify each other:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."  Colossians 3:16
We discover the scope of this work by examining the role of elders in this work.  Peter instructs elders to "shepherd the flock of God which is among you" (I Peter 5:2), and the writer of Hebrews reminds that "they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account" (Hebrews 13:17).  In effort to perform this work, elders will use various means of teaching including classes, located preachers, home studies, etc.
Please note the scope of the original command.  From Ephesians 4:12 we learn that the entire universal church is to be edified.  But, when we look at the division of labor and the organization to accomplish this, we find that it occurs on the local church level.  Notice, how the elders were to oversee the "flock among them".  There is no record of a multi-inter-congregational effort to edify multiple churches using a central organization, whether that organization be a single church, or any other institution.  The actual responsibility of edifying the universal church is distributed among the local churches with the work of each church being overseen by its elders.  Of course Christians also have an individual responsibility to edify themselves from God's Word (II Timothy 2:153:14-17), as well as each other (I Timothy 4:11-16Galatians 6:1-2).
Also, please note the spiritual nature of these goals and activities.  No where do we read of churches providing recreational or social facilities in an effort to edify the "whole man".  This work of the church is clearly spiritual and neither social nor recreational.  Moreover, the Bible emphasizes the importance of the spiritual man over the carnal:
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."  I Timothy 4:8
"Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper.  For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you." ICorinthians 11:20-22
Although the Corinthians were surely in error for their inequitable selfishness, we also learn from the latter passage that the purpose of the assembly was to partake of the Lord's Supper, spiritual in focus, and not physical, as eating meals would be.  Please note that the correction was not a more equitable distribution, but it was to eat and drink in their own houses.  If the problem was their selfishness, why did he correct it by reminding them of the proper place for eating and drinking, the home?  The problem was, in truth, two fold:  They were eating in the wrong place - the assembly, and in the wrong way - proud, selfish, shaming those who were without.  Both needed to cease.
We must be careful that church does not use its resources for recreational or social purposes for which we have neither justification nor authority.  In fact, we find that such is minimized and even condemned by God's Word.  Let us not be guilty of "adding to" the work of the church in an effort to please ourselves, follow man's opinions, or maintain traditions.


The work of benevolence, ministering to the poor and needy, is a task that is been emphasized throughout the entire Bible.  When God condemned the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, one of the primary reasons was because they not only neglected the needy orphans and widows, but even took advantage of them (Isaiah 1:17,23Jeremiah 5:25-317:5-7Zechariah 7:8-14).  Therefore, it is no surprise that we find this work again emphasized in the New Testament church:
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."  James 1:26-27
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:9-10
These passages clearly teaches the importance of taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves.  This is the nature of the work that was given to the universal church in Ephesians 4:12.  However, what is the scope and division of responsibilities for this work?
At this point, it should be no surprise to once again find that both the local church and the Christian individual bear some responsibility.  Please note that each of the above passages is addressed to the individual:  The first passage, James 1:26-27, begins by examining an "one's" worthless religion. The passage concludes by exemplifying meaningful individual religion ("oneself"), contrasting it with vain religion.  The passage is aimed not at the church collective, but it is directed at its individual members.
The second passage, Galatians 6:9-10, is also addressed to the the individual.  As we examine the preceding verses in their context, we find mention of many individual responsibilities. This list concludes with the obligation of doing good to all men, especially Christians.
In the New Testament, we find examples of saints acting benevolently, both as individuals and as a church.  Regarding individual benevolence, we find that Dorcas was a Christian who was full of good works (Acts 9:36-43). Such compassionate work is not only becoming of the child of God, but it is mandatory. In fact, it is a requirement of any truly needy widow, who is financially supported by the local church (I Timothy 5:3-16).  Regarding collective action, the Scriptures record two separate occasions that involve multiple churches, independently offering financial aid to other churches that were overcome with famine (Acts 11:27-30; I Corinthians 16:1-4Romans 15:25-27II Corinthians 8-9)
Although both the local church and the individual saint are charged with the work of benevolence, When we examine responsibility of the local church, we find that it is restricted in scope to saints only.  First, we find no positive record of the church offering benevolent aid to non-Christians.  Neither can the action be necessarily deduced from any passage. Moreover, it is excluded by the directive for individuals to minister to those outside the church.  Since there is no Scriptural authority for the church supporting non-saints, we must realize that it is necessarily forbidden.
Secondly, we find that the scripture emphasizes the importance of individuals fulfilling this need, so the church can be left to take care of its own, those who are truly in need.
Honor widows who are really widows.  But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.  ... If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows."  I Timothy 5:3-4,16
The Bible emphasizes the individual's responsibility for two possible reasons:  One, it is good for the individual's spiritual character that they "first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents". And two, the church is primarily a spiritual organization.  The church could not begin to satisfy the universal need of the poor and destitute if it tried. If it tried to do so, all of its resources would be consumed on benevolence, leaving little to no remaining resources to use towards saving men's souls.  Which is more important?
God has established in the Bible that the church is to be "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth""to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church" (I Timothy 3:15Ephesians 3:10).  Let us not detract from this work for the sake of tradition or because something is a "good thing" in our opinion.  We do not want to "add to" the work of benevolence bymodifying its scope or division of labor.
However, individuals who forsake their responsibility to take care "of all""as we have opportunity", place themselves in jeopardy of eternal condemnation (Matthew 25:14-46).  Let us hold fast to both the way and the importance of the required benevolent work that the universal church is to accomplish.


The universal church has been given a threefold mission or work, as was most concisely taught in Ephesians 4:12.  For each of these works, we observed a unique nature, scope, and division of labor.  We found that both the local church and individual Christian have responsibilities, and sometimes they are different in scope or nature.  However, as each Christian and congregation does their individual part, then the entire universal church progresses towards completion of its tasks, although the work is distributed across both space and time.
Let us be cautious to avoid two pitfalls:  First, accomplishing the work of the universal church does not mandate organizing the collective body.  Therefore, let us not seek to "activate" the universal body in a way which the Head did not direct. Second, we must be careful to observe how this work is executed, and we must be careful not to confuse the responsibilities of the individual with those of the local church.  Either of these pitfalls could cause us to misinterpret God's work for the church and the manner in which He wants it to be accomplished.  Therefore, let us be diligent in performing the work of the church, both as members of a local church and as individual Christians.  Moreover, let us not pervert the work by "adding to" either the scope, nature, or division of labor.  We must be careful to do all things pleasing to God - not just the ones that also happen to be pleasing to us.  Although we may all confess Jesus' name, we may sometimes fail to profess in practice that is His body is indeed the Lord's church. We worship Him, and we need Him - not the other way around.

Trevor Bowen