"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Preach The Word! (4:1-4) by Mark Copeland


 Preach The Word! (4:1-4)


1. A solemn charge was given by Paul to Timothy...
   a. In view of the coming of the Lord and His judgment - 2Ti 4:1
   b. Pertaining to preaching the Word of God - 2Ti 4:2-4

2. It is a charge that should considered carefully by all...
   a. By those who preach the Word, in response to the Great Commission
      - Mk 16:15
   b. By those who send and support those who preach - cf. Ro 10:15

[Our text reveals that not all preaching is the same.  There is that
which pleases God, there is that which clearly displeases Him.  With the
words of Paul before us, let's first examine...]


      1. "Be ready in season and out of season" - 2Ti 4:2
      2. Preaching that reveals a degree of preparation; i.e., study
         that shows...
         a. One has given attention to reading, and to doctrine - cf.
            1Ti 4:13,16
         b. One has been diligent in their learning - cf. 2Ti 2:15; 3:14
      3. Preaching that is ready on all occasions
         a. in season - "seasonably, opportunely; when the opportunity
            occurs" - Thayer
         b. out of season - "a minister is to seek opportunities to
            preach the gospel even at such periods as might be
            inconvenient to himself, or when there might be hindrances
            and embarrassments, or when there was no stated appointment
            for preaching." - Barnes

      1. "convince" - 2Ti 4:2
         a. "reprove" (KJV, NASB)
         b. "correct" (NIV)
      2. "to use such arguments as would 'convince' men of the truth of
         religion, and of their own need of it." - Barnes
      3. As Paul did in the synagogues - cf. Ac 17:2-3; 19:8

      1. "rebuke" - 2Ti 4:2
      2. "to admonish or charge sharply" - Thayer
      3. "chide for sin; some privately, others more publicly, according
         to the nature and circumstances of the offense; some more
         gently, others more roughly, as is needful." - Gill
      4. So Paul likewise charged Titus - cf. Tit 2:15

      1. "exhort" - 2Ti 4:2
      2. "to encourage and strengthen by consolation" - Thayer
      3. "as the ministers of the Gospel are in some cases to be
         'Boanergeses', sons of thunder, so other cases they should be
         Barnabases, sons of consolation; and comfort distressed minds,
         by preaching the comfortable doctrines of peace, pardon,
         righteousness and salvation by Jesus Christ." - Gill

      1. "with all longsuffering" - 2Ti 4:2
      2. "patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging
         wrongs" - Thayer
      3. "with a patient and persevering spirit if you are opposed;"
         - Barnes
      4. Shown toward both the faint-hearted and hardhearted 
           - cf. 1 Th 5:14; 2Ti 2:24-25

      1. "and teaching" - 2Ti 4:2
         a. "doctrine" (KJV)
         b. "instruction" (NASB)
      2. "that which is taught, doctrine, teaching, concerning
         something; the act of teaching, instruction" - Thayer
      3. "in a way that is instructive and teaching, and in agreement
         with the doctrine of the Scriptures, which are profitable for
         that purpose." - Gill

[Preaching that pleases God is "well-rounded":  ready at all times,
seeking to persuade, rebuking when necessary, yet with all longsuffering
instructing others in the doctrine of the Lord.  Contrast that with...]


      1. The time will come when some will not endure 'sound doctrine'
         - 2Ti 4:3
         a. Lit., "healthful doctrine"
         b. "doctrine contributing to the health of the soul, or to
            salvation." - Barnes
      2. Times of which Paul had already warned Timothy
         a. When people will give heed to deceiving spirits - 1Ti 4:1-2
         b. When people will be lovers of self and pleasure - 2Ti 3:1-2
      3. They will want to hear things 'according to their own desires'
         - 2Ti 4:3
         a. That justifies their sinful behavior, rather than rebukes
            them for it
         b. When guilty of things "contrary to sound doctrine" (e.g.,
            sodomy) - cf. 1Ti 1:10
         c. Not being told such things are 'unhealthy' to their soul
            (e.g., homosexuality) - cf. 1Co 6:9-10

      1. People will have "itching ears" - 2Ti 4:3
         a. "loving to have their ears scratched and tickled with smooth
            things; that are pleasing and agreeable to natural men, and
            carnal minds;" - Gill
         b. "Endless curiosity, an insatiable desire of variety; and
            they get their ears tickled with the language and accent of
            the person, abandoning the good and faithful preacher for
            the fine speaker." - Clarke
         c. They will love to hear even true preachers, if they are
            eloquent - cf. Eze 33:30-33
      2. They will "heap for themselves teachers" - 2Ti 4:3
         a. There will be plenty of teachers willing to accommodate them
         b. People will find the teachers that please them
      3. The sad result of such preaching - 2Ti 4:4
         a. People "will turn their ears away from the truth"
            1) The truth of God will not interest them
            2) They will have no time to hear what the truth has to say
         b. They will "be turned aside to fables"
            1) "Believe any kind of stuff and nonsense;" - Clarke
            2) "as one has justly observed, 'Those who reject the truth
               are abandoned by the just judgment of God to credit the
               most degrading nonsense.'" - ibid.
            3) Or as attributed to G. K. Chesterton:  "He who does not
               believe in God will believe  in anything."


1. The truthfulness of the words by Clarke, Chesterton, and apostle Paul
   can easily be seen today...
   a. People will reject the Word of God, but believe in witchcraft,
      UFOs, channeling, etc.
   b. People will reject the Gospel of Christ, but accept religious
      traditions of men
   c. People reject "sound doctrine", but accept "unhealthy teaching"
      that endangers body and soul

2. The problem is the type of "preaching" people want to listen to...
   a. They listen to be entertained, to justify fulfilling the lusts of
      the flesh
   b. They do not listen to be saved, to learn the way of righteousness

Those who dare to preach, and those who desire to hear, should make sure
the preaching is that which pleases God!  Have you responded in
obedience to the preaching of God's Word...? Ro 6:17-18

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Satan, Job, and a False Implication by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Satan, Job, and a False Implication

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The Bible describes Satan as the accuser of the righteous, who has accused them before God day and night (Revelation 12:10). In one of the most vivid scenes portraying Satan’s accusatory nature, the patient patriarch Job bore the brunt of Satan’s slander. The sons of God had come to present themselves before God, and Satan came also. God asked Satan if he had considered Job, a righteous man who hated sin. In answer to God’s question, Satan retorted: “You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (Job 1:10-11).
Satan’s comments seem fairly easy to understand—God had blessed Job with physical and financial blessing and it was due to those blessings that Job served God. But, if one is not careful, he or she will miss one of Satan’s false implications embedded in the statement. Satan subtly implied that it is easier for a man to serve God if he is rich and his possessions are increased, than it is for him to serve God if he is poor. Unfortunately, this idea has been maintained by many in the past and the present. In truth, however, Satan’s implication is false. It has never been easier to follow God if a person is financially wealthy. On the contrary, wealth often has great potential to have a negative effective on a man’s relationship with God.
First century listeners to Jesus were quite shocked to hear that such was the case. After the sad refusal of the rich young ruler to sell his possessions, Christ made some startling comments. He said: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). When Christ made this statement, His hearers “were astonished beyond measure, saying among themselves, ‘Who then can be saved?’” (vs. 26). Jesus explained that it was possible for such to happen, but it was not easy.
In Job’s case, Satan had done everything he could to tempt him with riches and physical wealth. God allowed Job’s wealth to accumulate and Job proved he could do what few have done—serve God faithfully as a rich man. Satan’s attempt to lure Job into sin with riches had failed, and he realized that the man’s soul was not for sale.
The idea that riches and physical blessings make serving God easier is a false notion and Satan knew it. So did God. And so should we. Let us all “be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Satan is not the Ruler of Hell by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Satan is not the Ruler of Hell

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Cartoons have done much to influence the idea that many people have of Satan. The picture of a red, demon-like character with small horns protruding from his head, an arrow-head pointed tail, and a pitchfork in his hand comes to the minds of many when they hear the words devil, Satan, or hell. In fact, many of the cartoons that depict Satan with such images also show him sitting as a king in hell, determining where each person will go and the punishments meted out to those who are lost eternally. This picture could not be further from the truth. And it is because of this errant view that many—maybe even a majority—of those who read Matthew 10:28 misunderstand what Jesus meant.
In the context of Matthew 10, Jesus warned His followers that wicked men would persecute them unjustly. As He sent them out to preach, He admonished them to boldly speak the truth without fearing the repercussions. In the course of His forewarning, He said: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28; cf. Luke 12:4-5). Many Bible students who have read this verse have incorrectly assumed that Jesus was saying that Satan has the power to destroy the soul and body in hell. They have mistakenly attributed to Satan power that he never has had.
Satan is not the ruler of hell, and he does not have the power or ability to cast or drag anyone into hell. In fact, when we read about Satan’s ultimate end, we see that God is the Being who will cast Satan, also called the devil, into the “lake of fire and brimstone” (Revelation 20:2,10). Furthermore, the apostle Paul explained to the Christians in Rome that no “angels nor principalities nor powers” could separate them from the “love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39). Those in Rome could choose to reject God of their own free will, but no power in existence, including Satan, could pluck them from God’s hand and cast them into hell.
In truth, God will cast Satan into hell at the end of time in the same way that He will cast all those who have lived unrighteously and rejected Him (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15). There is no indication in the Bible that suggests that Satan will be “in charge” of hell anymore than any other unfaithful creature of God. He will find no delight in his eternal second death, and he will not enjoy any type of authority or special privileges there. Jesus’ admonition to fear the one who can cast both the soul and the body into hell was designed to encourage His followers to rely on God, be strong in the face of persecution, and trust that as long as they are right with God, no force in the spiritual world has the power to harm them.

Salvation Principles and Relevant Commands by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Salvation Principles and Relevant Commands

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

We can learn much in Scripture about how to please the Creator. God has not left man to wonder aimlessly through life, never knowing what he must do to be saved. Instead, Scripture repeatedly records how different people at different times in history were saved from their sins. From these accounts one can glean important principles of salvation. What’s more, the Bible includes specific commands so that sinners can know precisely what to do to be saved. It is the Bible student’s responsibility, however, to distinguish between the application of salvation principles and the necessary obedience to specific, relevant commands, which must be followed in order to receive salvation.
Essential to the salvation of all men is God’s grace. Without it, we would have “no hope” of being saved (Ephesians 2:12). Jesus taught this principle in parables (cf. Matthew 18:27; Luke 15:20-23), while Paul specifically reminded Christians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His [God’s] mercy” (Titus 3:5).
Another scriptural salvation principle is that God saves only those who understand they are lost. The Lord did not “put away” King David’s sin until he confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). In Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), the tax collector, rather than the self-righteous Pharisee, ultimately “went down to his house justified” (vs. 14), because he “would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (vs. 13). The tax collector recognized his lost state and humbly appealed to the only One Who could save Him—God. The penitent thief on the cross provides another noble example of one who owned up to his sinful ways and turned to God for help (Luke 23:40-43). The thief admitted that the brutal crucifixion was his just and “due reward,” while professing that “this Man [Jesus] has done nothing wrong” (vs. 41). He then appealed to Christ for salvation, saying, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (vs. 42).
Can Bible students learn principles of salvation from King David’s repentance, the tax collector’s humility, and the thief’s sincere appeal to Christ? Most certainly. However, one must be careful not to confuse learning principles of salvation with learning the specific things non-Christians must do today in order to receive the gift of salvation.
An immigrant who aspires to become a law-abiding, American citizen can learn a great deal by studying the lives of 19th century immigrants. Understanding the obstacles they went through to get to America and eventually become legal U.S. citizens can inspire 21st century immigrants to do the same. One can learn about the need for patience, persistence, and perseverance. Yet, for a 21st century immigrant to become a U.S. citizen, he must familiarize himself with the current laws of naturalization, and then obey those laws. Knowledge of 19th century citizenship laws may help in the naturalization process, but ultimately, a person living today must abide by 21st century rules and regulations.
Similarly, Bible students can learn a great deal from the humble, contrite, determined individuals who lived prior to Jesus’ death on the cross. Christians do themselves a disservice if they fail to consider David’s contrite heart (read Psalm 53), the rich young ruler’s proper question (“What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”—Mark 10:17), and the thief’s sincere plea to Christ for salvation (Luke 23:42; cf. Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). Throughout Scripture we can glean godly principles relating to man’s salvation. Bible students, however, must not confuse the application of biblical principles with the obedience to relevant commands. All people living this side of the cross of Christ are saved under a different law than that under which David, the thief on the cross, the rich young ruler, and even Jesus lived. God’s New Testament came into effect after Christ’s death, and this testament reveals the explicit instructions that non-Christians must obey in order to become Christians. “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Hebrews 9:16-17, emp. added).
After Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection, He and His apostles taught that non-Christians come into a right relationship with God only after they confess faith in Christ (Mark 16:16; Romans 10:9-10), repent of their sins (Acts 2:38; 3:18), and are immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16). These are specific prerequisites for receiving salvation. They must be followed by all of those who live on this side of the cross of Christ (cf. Colossians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Appealing to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43), the paralytic of Galilee (Matthew 9:1-7), or the sinful woman whom Jesus forgave (Luke 7:36-50) in order to learn specifically what God wants non-Christians today to do to be saved, is to wrongly divide the word of truth. A person is “rightly dividing” (NKJV) or “handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB) when he understands that the relevant commands for salvation are found after Jesus’ death. Making the distinction between learning from the righteous ways of those before the cross (cf. Romans 15:4) and obeying the specific commands given after the cross, is vital to a proper understanding of God’s will and a right relationship with Him.

Romans 14: Faith vs. Opinion by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Romans 14: Faith vs. Opinion

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

To sort out the difference between faith and opinion as it relates to the Bible, one must first define terms. By “faith” we mean those actions that are directed by God, arising from the Word of God (Romans 10:17). For example, partaking of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday is a matter of “faith,” in that it is stipulated by God (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). It is an action that God requires us to perform. When we speak of “opinion,” we are referring to a viewpoint or action that God has placed within the realm of personal preference. For example, whether we have two songs before the sermon vs. three; or whether we partake of the Lord’s Supper near the beginning of the worship period, or near the end. God has left as optional a great amount of viewpoints and actions—allowing people to exercise their own personal discretion.
God did this very thing at the beginning of human history. On the one hand, Adam and Eve were placed under very specific articles of “faith.” For one, they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That stipulation was a matter of “faith,” i.e., God had legislated the matter. But the original pair was also given considerable latitude in exercising their own opinions. They could eat the fruit of any other tree on Monday, select another tree from which to eat on Tuesday, and still another on Wednesday. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge was a matter of “faith,” while eating any other tree was a matter of “opinion.”


Having defined our terms, let us turn our attention to two chapters in the New Testament that provide us with valuable information in sorting out the application of these principles in everyday life. Romans 14 has been a passage that has been used frequently in recent years to foster fellowship with denominationalism. They have contended that those denominational beliefs and practices with which churches of Christ disagree are not to be allowed to affect fellowship. For example, they have insisted that instrumental music in worship is strictly a matter of personal preference and tradition, and should be decided individually based on conscience. An appeal is made to Romans 14 to equate the use of the instrument with the eating of meat. It is then argued that those who are more spiritually mature may use the instrument in their worship to God. Those whose consciences prevent them from using the instrument are free to refrain from doing so. But they are the “weaker brother” and must not withhold fellowship from those who do use the instrument.
The first observation that is critical in making sense of this chapter is the fact that this context applies only to matters of opinion and indifference—not to matters of faith or doctrine. In his commentary on Romans, Moses Lard recognized this point when he wrote, “In matters of indifference, each man is a law to himself” (p. 412). He further stated, “it shows what liberty we have in the absence of divine command” (p. 412). In his commentary on Romans, David Lipscomb understood Romans chapter fourteen in the same fashion (1943, pp. 242ff.).
But what are “matters of indifference”? Matters of indifference refer to those practices that are indifferent to God—not to the individual. Obviously, the individual who believes he should not eat meat views his position as a serious “doctrinal” matter and, therefore, hardly “indifferent.” But we must understand that Romans 14 is speaking of those matters that are, in actuality, indifferent in the sight of God. For example, God has commanded Christians to spread the Gospel. The how of this action, whether by Internet, television, or automobile, is a matter of indifference to God. He authorizes us to use various means based upon our own good sense—our own consciences.
It is a misuse of Romans 14 to apply its teaching to any matter that is not indifferent to God. For example, God has specified that in order for a person to become a Christian, he/she must be immersed in water. Suppose a man believes that baptism can be by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring. To him, the “mode” of baptism is a matter of opinion—not faith. So he thinks that the person who limits the “mode” of baptism to strictly immersion is “narrow” and “weak in faith.” He would maintain that it is fine for his critic to be immersed if he so chooses, but this “weaker brother” should not bind his opinion on those who are “stronger” by insisting that only those who are immersed may be fellowshipped. This “stronger” fellow might even appeal to Romans 14 as support for his stance.
Yet, what this fellow would be failing to realize is that Romans 14 applies to matters of option that are indifferent to God. Where God has given His guidelines, all must conform to those specifications. Baptism, in God’s sight, is strictly immersion. Those who insist upon obeying God in this regard are not “weaker brethren.” Rather, they are faithful brethren; and those who differ are unfaithful to God.
Just as God has specified the action and design of baptism, He has been very specific with regard to the action of music in worship. If the use of the mechanical instrument in worship to God was optional, that is, if God left people free to offer musical worship in any form they so chose, then Romans 14 would be one passage that would be germane to such a discussion. But God has not left music in worship unaddressed. Neither has He left the question of the legitimacy of the denominations unaddressed. Denominationalism represents a departure from God’s simple will for His church. Romans 14 is of no help in assessing the legitimacy of either instrumental music or denominationalism.
Observe, then, that the one who is “weak in faith” in this chapter refers to the Christian whose knowledge, and therefore faith, has been insufficient in sorting out a particular issue that, in God’s sight, is a matter of opinion. Where the brother is “weak” is in the fact that he thinks that the issue under consideration is not a matter of opinion, but is, in fact, a matter of faith. The specific issues that Paul discusses pertain to the eating of certain foods and the observing of certain days. Regarding the former, one brother thinks that all foods may be eaten by Christians, while another brother thinks that Christians should be vegetarians. Regarding the latter, one brother thinks that certain days must be set aside and observed in special ways, while another brother recognizes no such requirements.
What is God’s view on this matter? Clearly, God’s view is that Christians are free to eat all foods. Jews had not been free in this regard. The Law of Moses contained numerous dietary regulations. But with the coming of Christianity, no such dietary regulations have been enjoined. Imposing such regulations on others constitutes “doctrines of demons,” as Paul explained in referring to those who were “commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:3-5). You remember the vision that Peter had in which he was commanded to kill and eat certain animals, to which he responded that he had never eaten anything that was “common or unclean.” The voice responded: “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). Paul states this point very emphatically in Romans 14:14—“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself.”
So the Christian who understands that no restrictions apply to food under Christianity is the one who has grasped God’s view correctly. The Christian who thinks he should not eat certain foods is “weak in faith,” that is, his faith/belief on that particular point remains immature and uninformed by the Word of God (from whence faith arises). Due to previous beliefs and/or actions, likely learned while a non-Christian, his conscience was trained by his belief that he should not eat that particular food. A specific example would be a Jew who lived his whole life abstaining from pork which was deemed “unclean.” When he became a Christian, he might not immediately sort out the change. And even when he became aware of the correct viewpoint, it would be very difficult for him to start eating pork without his conscience bothering him. That is precisely why Paul insists that neither the stronger nor the weaker should “dispute” (vs. 1), “despise” (vs. 3), “judge” (vs. 4), or “show contempt” (vs. 10) for each other. Instead, both should want to show proper regard for each other’s consciences and spiritual well-being, and strive to encourage each other to be right with God and prepared for judgment (vss. 11-12).
The same may be said for the observance of a particular day. The context shows that the days under consideration are those that have no religious significance, i.e., they are days that are indifferent to God—like a birthday. The only day that has been legislated by God under Christianity is Sunday, the first day of the week. Christians are to assemble for worship on that day and approach God through the five avenues of worship that He, Himself, has stipulated (e.g., Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Sunday worship, therefore, is a matter of faith—not opinion. But other days, like birthdays, or national holidays like July 4, are matters of option that the Christian is free to observe. For the Jew who had lived his life observing the Sabbath, to suddenly not be required to abstain from labor on that day, he likely would have felt both a sense of release, but also a sense of fright and uncertainty. He would have to go through a period of struggling with and re-educating his conscience to bring his “head knowledge” into harmony with his feelings and long-term, deeply ingrained habit, before his conscience would not condemn him for Sabbath activity.
Notice, then, that the context refers to the observance of days that are religiously neutral and indifferent to God. They do not involve the observer in any unscriptural religious practice. Placing in juxtaposition this admonition in Romans 14 with a similar one in Galatians 4 will help us to see the distinction:
Again, Paul is not endorsing those who create their own “holy days” which they practice religiously. Christendom has generated an entire “Christian calendar” with numerous observances linked to events that occurred in the life of Christ (e.g., Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Lent, etc.). All such observances are unscriptural since they presume to impose human thinking onto biblical precept, and dictate to God how to practice Christianity. Has God clearly indicated what event, if any, in the life of Christ He wants observed or commemorated? Absolutely—even stipulating the precise procedures to be enacted. He authorizes Christians to observe the death of Christ, every first day of the week, using bread and grape juice to symbolize the body and blood, and to think about His sacrifice while also taking an introspective look at one’s self (1 Corinthians 11:20-34). Beyond that, if God had wanted other events in Christ’s life to be commemorated, He would have said so.
But could a Jewish Christian continue to observe the Sabbath? Yes, if he did so without linking its observance to religious obligation. Since he could no longer be justified by the Old Law (Galatians 5:4), he must not observe it as if it is binding upon himself to be pleasing to God, and he must not bind it on others.
Paul issued another directive to be followed by the more mature Christians toward those Christians who had not yet assimilated proper teaching on the subject of food and days. The brother who recognizes that God permits the eating of a particular food must refrain from eating that food item under the following condition: if his eating would tempt or encourage or incite the brother who thinks it is wrong to eat it, to go ahead and eat it. The brother who thinks eating a particular food is wrong (even if, in God’s sight, it is not wrong) sins if he eats it. He has committed the sin of damaging or defiling his conscience.


This sin is clarified more vividly in the similar discussion that Paul directed to the Corinthian Christians regarding the eating of food that had been previously used in a pagan offering to an idol: 1 Corinthians 8. Paul insisted that no pagan gods exist (vs. 4) and, as long as a person does not intend to honor or worship a fake god, eating food that had been offered to them was optional. However, “there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled” (vs. 7). The term “conscience” in verses 7, 10, and 12 of 1 Corinthians 8 is suneidasis and refers to that inward faculty of moral/spiritual awareness that was created by God. We must not act in ways that damage (or “sear”—1 Timothy 4:2) our consciences. To do so is sin. The Christian who thinks a particular practice is wrong, when it is not wrong in God’s sight, should be about the business of re-educating his conscience, getting his thinking straight as informed by the Word of God. By that process, in time he will be able to rise above his immature assessment and feel fully “at home” with God’s view of the matter.
Furthermore, returning to Romans 14, the more mature Christian sins if his eating an authorized food prods the immature Christian to go against his conscience and consume a food that he thinks is wrong (“evil”—vs. 20) for the Christian to consume. The mature Christian is guilty of “grieving” (vs. 15), “destroying” (vss. 15,20), “offending” (vs. 21), “making weak” (vs. 21), and causing the weaker brother to “stumble” (vs. 21). In Paul’s treatment of this matter in 1 Corinthians 8, the stronger brother that so conducts himself is guilty of causing the weak brother to “perish” (vs. 11) by “wounding his weak conscience” (vs. 12).


Many churches have undergone internal disruption over an infinite variety of disagreements. These disagreements might be over what color of drapes ought to hang in front of the baptistery or what carpet should be on the floor. Dissension might occur over whether to build a new auditorium or multipurpose room, how to equip the kitchen, which songbooks or Bibles to buy for the pews, or whether a preacher ought to be hired or fired. Some attempt to derail the majority’s decision and get their own way by appealing to Romans 14. They insist that implementing the decision of the elders or the majority of the men would “offend” them. This tactic has been used far and wide to stymie the work of the church and prevent many positive actions from going forward.
In such instances, Romans 14 is misapplied in at least two ways: (1) Paul did not use the term “offend” merely to mean that a brother disagrees with or feels hurt by the decision. “Offend” is not defined as “ruffled feathers.” He used the term to refer to the weaker brother being led into sin. Specifically, Paul said the mature Christian ought to forego committing an action (like eating a particular food), if doing so would cause the immature Christian to engage in the same behavior in direct violation of his conscience. Placing red rather than beige curtains in front of the baptistery would hardly cause the dissenting brother to sin! (2) Those who use this tact would never cast themselves in the role of the weaker brother. They consider themselves the stronger brothers.
The fact is that if such individuals have scriptural grounds for objecting to a particular decision, rather than objecting solely out of personal opinion or preference, they should stake their case on scriptural grounds. Unfortunately, the church has always been plagued by some brethren whose ego, pride, and perhaps lust for power (like Diotrephes—3 John 9), drives them to attempt to control the church. In stark contrast, mature Christians will be extremely flexible, open-minded, and accommodative when it comes to matters of opinion in the church.
Another consideration regarding Romans 14 that helps us to distinguish between faith and opinion is seen in verses 22-23—
Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
To “have faith” in a viewpoint/doctrine means that we are familiar with God’s view of the matter, knowing it to be optional and a matter of opinion. To “doubt” is to lack complete awareness or knowledge of a divine doctrine and/or to have hesitation to accept and enact it in one’s life. Specifically in the context, if a brother was uncertain about (doubted) whether he should eat a particular food, he would be guilty of sin if he went ahead and ate the food, because he would not be doing so “from faith,” i.e., he would be engaging in the action without being fully informed (by God’s Word) or fully convinced that such an action was acceptable to God. Since “faith comes by…hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17), any action that a person engages in that does not have the authority/permission of God’s Word behind it, is a sinful action.
But how may the average Christian distinguish between matters of faith and matters of opinion? When a question or issue arises in the church, how do we know whether it is optional or obligatory? The answer is that we must study God’s Word carefully in order to apply its principles to the matter at hand. Excellent books have been written by Christians over the years detailing proper exegetical procedure for ascertaining God’s will on matters that are not specifically alluded to in Scripture. These include Thomas Warren’s When Is An “Example” Binding? and Logic and the Bible, Roy Deaver’s Ascertaining Bible Authority, D.R. Dungan’s Hermeneutics, et al. Such books help the student of the Bible to think through the principles involved in understanding God’s Word and applying that Word to the multitude of circumstances that arise in our lives. God’s Word was obviously written with a view toward the average human being capable of understanding God’s will for his or her life. Of course, diligence and effort must be brought to bear on the task (2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11). But with adequate effort and interest in knowing God’s will, the goal can be achieved. No one can stand before God at the end of time and legitimately maintain that he was unable to recognize matters of faith and opinion.


May God help us to “pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). May we never “do anything by which our brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (vs. 21). May God help us to grow spiritually every day, that we might be people who are “strong in faith” (Romans 4:20), well able to distinguish between matters of opinion vs. matters of faith.


Lard, Moses (1875), Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing).
Lipscomb, David (1943), Romans (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

"He Who Has an Ear" by Trevor Bowen


"He Who Has an Ear"

We depend on God resisting us in our sin. If we stubbornly refuse His will, we expect Him to resist us, maybe even thwart our efforts. We expect Him to struggle with us, so that we might find it difficult, which might cause us to pause and consider (Acts 26:14). It can be surprising, even frightening to learn that God sometimes steps out of our way and lets us hear whatever we want to hear. Please consider the prophet Micaiah's initial response to King Ahab's inquiry:
Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?" And he answered him, "Go and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the hand of the king!" (I Kings 22:15)
Now, it is not unusual for a prophet of the Lord to pronounce the Lord’s blessing upon a king's efforts; however, it is unusual that a prophet would encourage a king into the very effort that would destroy him! When King Ahab heard this, on the day before his death in battle, he knew that Micaiah was not speaking truth.
So the king said to him, "How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" Then he said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, 'These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.' "And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?" (I Kings 22:16-18)
Why did Micaiah initially conceal the truth? The king immediately knew it was not true (I Kings 22:16). Why did Micaiah lie? Sometimes, more is communicated than which words alone convey.
Prior to this declaration, King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat had met to discuss battle against Syria. Although Ahab was inclined to rush to war, Jehoshaphat requested, "Please inquire for the word of the LORD today"(I Kings 22:5). Ahab gathered all of his 400 false prophets together, who unanimously, but falsely foretold the victory of Ahab. Although the sayings pleased Ahab, Jehoshaphat was not convinced:
And Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?" So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say such things!" (I Kings 22:7-8)
Surely Micaiah knew these events, being a prophet and knowledgeable of Ahab's customs (I Kings 22:16). However, the king's messenger still ensured that Micaiah was adequately "prepped" to speak appropriate words:
Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, "Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement." And Micaiah said, "As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak." (I Kings 22:13-14)
It is hard to imagine that scene, which occurred long ago: All day the kings heard false prophecies, encouraging them to war. Everybody knew they were phony. The kings knew. The prophets knew. Finally, the true and faithful prophet, who had been avoided, was brought before the kings, but not without first being warned. Ahab, who so eagerly desired news of prosperity, but expected words of judgment, must have felt the thunder-clap of doom in Micaiah's voice, rife with empty hope. Ahab's reaction only confirmed what everybody knew to be true: Except Jehoshaphat, no one really cared what the Lord had to say.
Do we have any "Ahab's" among us today? Has that spirit found a place in our hearts? During the days of Ezekiel, God warned the prophet that people only listened to him because they liked the sound of his voice (Ezekiel 33:30-32). They had no interest in obeying God’s will. Paul warned Timothy that men would heap up teachers, who would be willing to scratch their itching ears (II Timothy 4:3-4). Paul also warned about God sending forth a strong delusion for those who did not have a love of truth (II Thessalonians 2:9-12). People see what they want to see. They hear what the want to hear. When was the last time you prayed for a deeper love of truth? "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear" (Mark 4:23Revelation 2-3).

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

 Trevor Bowen

Freedom has a Price by Ben Fronczek


Memorial Day 2013 Freedom Comes at a Price

Freedom has a Price
On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln made his way to a battlefield in Pennsylvania. He feared that he might be the last president of the United States. The country teetered on the brink of self-destruction. The ceremony that afternoon would dedicate the site of the cemetery for the over forty thousand soldiers who died at Gettysburg in the three-day battle the previous July. Lincoln’s remarks provided the seedbed for what would become Memorial Day.
He began his speech by saying, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”   Less than two minutes later, he concluded his speech by saying, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here (referring to the sacrifice of the soldiers).
Memorial Day grew out of the human need to remember where we have been. It has been said that only then can we figure out where we are going. The cherished memories of a nation, a town, a church, people, or a family provide the values and dream that one generation passes on to the next. Forgetting means dropping the torch.
These memorials are not for those who have died, but rather for us, the living, less we forget those that gave their lives for and what they died for.  Most of those who gave their lives were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice because they wanted to ensure that their children and their children’s children would have the freedoms that they were willing to die for. They were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we would be free to uphold the freedoms a value that they themselves hoped for.
I would like to read a portion of a letter, written by a soldier to his wife during WW2 so that you can see what was going on in the mind of some of those who gave their lives for the freedoms that we now have. He writes;
New Guinea
July 21, 1943
My dearest sweet Cleo,
When you read this letter I will either be missing in action, killed or captured, and the last possibility is very remote because if I have any fight left in me, I will give my life to defend not only my country but the principles on which it was founded.

I want you and our child to be able to live in freedom, as you want, wherever you want, and to do what you want. I want the opportunity for our child to be able to grow up and be kind, gentle and Christian, not barbarian like those we are fighting.
I want our child to be able to go to school and to college to learn whatever profession he or she wants to learn. If a boy, I want him to grow up and be a better man than his Dad. I want him to marry if he chooses, a wife as kind and sweet as his mother. If a girl, I know she will be as fine a wife to some man as you have been to me.
You will wonder why I have written this. I wonder myself, but last night I lay thinking, what if I should be killed? Would Cleo know what my mind was thinking as to our future? I have no premonition of being killed and am trusting in the Lord to watch over me and keep me safe, but when He calls, I will be ready.
It is a nice feeling, darling, to know that whatever happens to me, I will meet you again someday, but in a home that will be far nicer than any we could ever have had here on earth. So don’t grieve, just think that I have gone away for a little while and I’ll see you again…..
…One other thing comes to mind. You are young and beautiful and no doubt will meet several nice fellows that will want to marry you. The way I look at it, we said we were married until death do us part. Well, when you get this, we will have temporarily parted, but that won’t prevent you from marrying again. In Heaven there is no marriage and no death, so we’ll all be together anyway. Therefore, if you meet a nice young man who is willing to take you and provide a home for you and our child and probably some of his own, then you have my blessing and God be with you. All I ask that you make sure he is a Christian, because if he is, he will be kind and gentle and loving to you.
I have tried to be a Christian. I have sinned, but praise God, I know that He will forgive me my sins because I believe in Christ Jesus as my own personal Savoir and He watches over me always, until He is ready to take me home to Glory.
Farewell, my darling, until we meet again,
Tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands have willing made the ultimate sacrifice as this soldier did through the ages.
We should not forget about the sacrifices that were made for you and me, and why those men and women were willing to make such as sacrifice; and that was to give us a chance have a good life and be free form opression.
What I particularity like about this letter is the fact that this soldier was not a man without a future hope. Because of his faith in Christ he clearly recognized that we have a far better home awaiting us in Heaven because of the sacrifice Jesus made on that cross,
Each week we come here to honor and worship God, and remember the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jesus instituted what we now call the ‘Lords Supper’ as a memorial. I believe Christians were not only told by Jesus to partake of the emblems on the first day of the week to remember His personal sacrifice and what it cost for our freedom from sin,  in 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul also wrote, “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are representing and signifying and proclaiming the fact of the Lord’s death until He comes again.” (Amplified Bible)
Partaking of the Lord’s Supper memorial each week is not only for us to remember what He did for us, but also based on this verse partaking of these emblems in communion is a proclamation to the world that we believe that Jesus died for sin and that He is coming back!  Even though He died on that cross for us and was buried we know that He rose again giving us hope for a new life after we die.
Like the letter from soldier, Jesus also left us with a letter to let us know how much He loves us, and how He was willing to pay the ultimate price for our freedom from sin so that we experience life to the full, not only in the here and now, but also the eternal kingdom of God.
Someday He will return. That’s what the verse in 1 Cor. 11 and well as other verses in scripture say. But until that time He now reigns on high in the Kingdom of heaven, as the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. HE IS WORTHY of worship and praise as seen Revelations 5.  I would like to read to you what the Apostle John wrote concerning what he saw in Heaven concerning the awesome glory Jesus now receives.  READ
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[a] of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll     and to open its seals, because you were slain,     and with your blood you purchased for God     persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,     and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,     to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength     and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb     be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
The Lord’s Supper which we are about to celebrate is a memorial, it is meant to Honor Jesus, to proclaim our loyalty and faith, and it is meant to give us hope because He is coming back what is to come, to bring us to a home in glory.
So my encouragement this day is simply this: Remember those who have died for us, and remember why they died. And honor them by living and enjoying the life and principles they died for. And put your hope in what is to come.