"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS" The Power Of God's Kindness And Love (3:3-7)


 The Power Of God's Kindness And Love (3:3-7)


1. In our previous study we examined several "Graces Of The Heirs Of Grace"...
   a. Graceful conduct toward those in authority - Tit 3:1
   b. Gracious treatment of all men - Tit 3:2

2. In our text for this lesson (Tit 3:3-7) we are told why we should act
   with such grace...
   a. Because of our own condition before we experienced God's grace
   b. Because of what has happened since we became recipients of God's

[To appreciate why we should conduct ourselves in the manner prescribed
in verses 1-2, let's look in verse 3 at Paul's description of...]


      1. Foolish (anoetos) - not understanding, unwise, foolish - Thayer
      2. Disobedient (apeithes) - Unwilling to be persuaded,
         unbelieving, disobedient - TCWD
      3. Deceived (planao) - those seduced, gone astray - TCWD
      -- A spiritual condition described elsewhere - cf. Ep 4:17-18

      1. "slaves to various passions and pleasures" (ESV)
      2. "enslaved to various lusts and pleasures" (NASB)
      3. Not served or gratified by our lusts and pleasures, but living,
         as their slaves, a life of misery and wretchedness - Clarke
      -- Given over to lewdness - cf. Ep 4:19

      1. Malice (kakia) -  ill-will, desire to injure - Thayer
      2. Envy (phthonos) - envy, jealousy, pain felt and malignity
         conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness (of others)- TCWD
      -- Jealous of the success of others, seeking to do them harm

      1. Hateful (stugetos) - hated, detestable - Thayer
      2. Our conduct was such as to be worthy of the hatred of others - Barnes
      3. Hating one another (miseo allenon) - implying active ill will
         in words and conduct, a persecuting spirit - TCWD
      -- The natural condition of those left to their own moral
         degradation - cf. Ro 1:28-32

[Living without God's kindness and love we were truly ungodly, sinners,
and enemies.  Yet His love was manifested even while we were in such a
condition (cf. Ro 5:6-11).  In our text we are told of...]


      1. "not by works of righteousness which we have done" - Tit 3:4-5
      2. It wasn't through works of merit, by which we earned salvation
      -- As Paul writes elsewhere, we were saved by grace! - Ep 2:8-9

      1. Saved "through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the
         Holy Spirit" - Tit 3:5-6
      2. "...distinctly refers to baptism, in connection with which and
         through which as a medium regeneration is conceived as taking
         place. Comp. Ro 6:3-5. It is true that nothing is said of
         faith; but baptism implies faith on the part of its recipient.
         It has no regenerating effect apart from faith; and the
         renewing of the Holy Spirit is not bestowed if faith be
         wanting." - Vincent's Word Studies
      3. "All commentators of reputation refer this to baptism, such as
         Meyer, Olshausen, Lange, Plumptree, Schaff, Canon Cook, Wesley,
         etc. Regeneration is due to the Holy Spirit, but baptism is an
         outward act that God requires to complete the fact." - B. W.
      -- By God's grace, in baptism we are born again of water and the
         Spirit! - cf. Jn 3:3-5

      1. Justified (dikaioo) - to render just or innocent - Strong
      2. Such justification comes through the blood of Christ - cf. Ro 5:9
      3. For we have forgiveness of sins through His blood - cf. Ep 1:7
      -- Such justification comes when we are baptized for the remission
         of sins, and have our sins washed away by blood of Jesus! - cf.
         Ac 2:38; 22:16

      1. We have the hope of receiving eternal life at the end - cf. Ro 6:22-23
      2. As promised by God before time began - cf. Tit 1:2
      3. As such we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ - cf. Ro 8:17
      -- This is contingent on our remaining faithful to the end - cf.
         Re 2:10; Mt 24:13


1. How powerful is the kindness and love of God...!
   a. Taking those who are ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God
   b. Turning them into people who are saved, regenerated, justified,
      and heirs according to the hope of eternal life!

2. This kindness and love of God is not available for only a select few...
   a. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men
      - cf. Tit 2:11
   b. Indeed, God desires that all men be saved - cf. 1Ti 2:3-6
   c. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come
      to repentance - cf. 2Pe 3:9
   d. The invitation of salvation is given to "whoever desires" - cf. Re 22:17

Whether we experience the power of the kindness and love of God depends
on us, whether we are willing to obey the gospel of Christ (cf. He 5:9).
If not, then all we have to look forward to is the vengeance of fire and
everlasting destruction when the Lord returns...! - cf. 2Th 1:7-9

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Patriarchal Law by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Patriarchal Law

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Have you ever found yourself listening to a teacher or preacher repeatedly using a word or phrase that you do not understand? Have you ever heard someone speak about “hermeneutics” or “premillenialism,” and then come to find out in your personal study of the Scriptures that these terms are nowhere to be found in the Bible? Teachers and preachers (like myself) often assume more than we should. We assume that people recognize the phrase “sacred hermeneutics” as “the science of interpreting the Scriptures.” We use fancy words like “eschatology” (the study of final things), but then never define it. Such often is the case when we speak of “the Patriarchal Law.” We mention it, but rarely do we help the audience understand what it is.
The English term “patriarch” derives from the Greek patriarches, which actually is made of two words—pater, meaning “father;” and arches, meaning “head” or “founder.” A patriarch is “the head of a father’s house—the founder or ruler of a tribe, family, or clan” (Nelson’s, 1986). Surprisingly, the term patriarch(s) is found in the Bible only four times. It is applied in the New Testament to David (Acts 2:29), to the sons of Jacob (twice in Acts 7:8-9), and to Abraham (Hebrews 7:4). The title of patriarch often is assigned to those whose lives are recorded in Scripture previous to the time of Moses. In Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, he expanded the term to include King David (Acts 2:29). Today, however, when teachers and preachers use the phrase “patriarchal age,” they most often are referring to the time before the Law of Moses was given at Sinai. [NOTE: For the Gentiles, this “age” lasted until the coming of the Christian dispensation.]
But what about the “Patriarchal Law?” What is this law that we hear mentioned so often, yet seldom see explained? The fact is, the phrase “Patriarchal Law” is never found in the Bible. It is simply a name given to the law that governed all men from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, and for Gentiles from Adam until the Christian dispensation began. Other than Christianity and Judaism, there has been but one other law, through the ages, under which God accepted worship: This was a system that had continued since commands were first given in Eden. Although the Bible does not give this law a “proper name,” it has become known as “the Patriarchal Law.”
The Law of Moses was given only to the Israelites—and to those Gentiles who suffered themselves to be proselyted (by circumcision) to it (Deuteronomy 4:1-8; 5:1-21; Acts 2:10; 13:43; 2 Corinthians 3:1-11). But the Gentiles also were under some kind of law, for the apostle Paul stated, “where there is no law, neither is there transgression” (Romans 4:15). For the Gentiles to have been guilty of sin (which we know they were—Romans 3:10,23), they must have transgressed some law. What law was it? It was not the Law of Moses, because they were not amenable to that law. It was not the Law of Christ, because it did not come into effect until the first century A.D. Then under what law (prior to the events recorded in Acts 10—the conversion of the first Gentiles to Christianity) did the Gentiles live? They lived under the only law to which they were amenable—commonly known as “the Patriarchal Law.”
We know from both sacred and profane history that non-proselytized Gentiles were unable to participate in the Jewish covenant. We also know that God would not (and did not!) abandon millions of people to a life without hope of salvation just because they were outside the Law of Moses, since that would make Him a respecter of persons—something Peter stated very plainly He is not (cf. Acts 10:34). When Paul spoke in Ephesians 2:12 of certain Gentiles who in the past had no hope and were “without God in the world,” he did not imply that they were in that position simply because they were Gentiles, but because they were Gentiles who had not been obedient to the particular law they had been given. We know that Gentiles were, in fact, amenable to a law system that was not the Law of Moses, as Paul made clear in Romans 2:12-16 when he wrote:

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified: (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them).
Though Gentiles were not under the Law of Moses (as were all Jews prior to the Christian dispensation), they were under a law, which they could either obey or disobey. At least part of this law included their conscience. In his commentary on Romans, Robertson Whiteside observed:

The Gentiles never had the law of Moses, but there are certain fundamental principles that inhere in the nature of our existence and in our relations to one another. Some things are right, and some things are wrong, within themselves. If a man never had revelation from God, he would know that it was wrong to murder his fellow man, or to rob him of his possessions, or in any way to infringe on his rights. Cain sinned in killing his brother and felt his guilt, though we have no record that God had told him not to kill. God’s moral law is the same to all nations…. [T]hey [the Gentiles—EL] did have an idea of right and wrong (1988, p. 57).
The Gentiles’ Patriarchal Law involved all “the law written in their hearts,” plus whatever direct revelation they received from God. Adam, Cain, Noah, and Abraham all received direct revelation from God. These, and all others who were never under the Law of Moses (e.g., Cornelius, Acts 10), were to obey the commands given to them, as well as “law written in their hearts.” Together, these laws and eternal principles written in the hearts of man made up what is known commonly as “the Patriarchal Law.”
Although there still is much we do not understand about the Patriarchal Law, (e.g., what direct revelations they received; what “laws” were passed down from generation to generation; etc.), we can know that the Gentiles were under law (that was not the Law of Moses or the Law of Christ), because they were guilty of “transgression” (Romans 4:15; 5:13). And if there is transgression, then there must be some law. Man has given this law a name—patriarchy.
The most important thing you must realize about the Patriarchal Law is that it is no longer in effect today. The reason it continued for Gentiles beyond the giving of the Law of Moses was because the Law of Moses was not a universal law—it was given only to the Israelites and to those Gentiles who suffered themselves to be proselyted to it (Deuteronomy 4:1-8; 5:1-21; Acts 2:10). Today, however, all Jews and Gentiles are under one law—the Law of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22). Why is this the case? Because this new law is universal in scope. It is addressed to “all nations” and is to be obeyed by both Jews and Gentiles (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; cf. Acts 1:8; Acts 17:30).


“Patriarch” (1986), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).
Whiteside, Robertson L. (1988), A New Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Saints at Rome (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth Foundation).

The Passing Pleasures of Sin by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Passing Pleasures of Sin

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

“But, honestly now, how can we possibly expect married people who are living in adultery to break up their marriage?” This is a question over which every sincere student of God’s Word has agonized. When we consider the tears, the heartache, the children, the finances, the physical and emotional trauma—we cannot help but wish it could be otherwise! Surely,God does not expect adulterous marriages to be dissolved!
But then we reconsider the biblical perspective. We find that, more often than not, living righteously before God entails tremendous hardship and deprivation. We find that the peace, joy, and genuine happiness that characterizes the Christian life is achieved through (i.e., in the midst of) suffering—not through an absence of hardship. Remember Moses (Hebrews 11:23­-27)? Moses literally grew up in Pharaoh’s own household. Imagine the tender affection which he received at the hands of Pharaoh’s daughter. She literally “nurtured him as her own son” (Acts 7:21, NASB). Imagine the deep emotional and psychological bonds that were formed between Moses and his adopted family! Imagine the intellectual influence exerted on Moses’ mind, since his educational basis was derived via the Egyptian world view (Acts 7:22). Visualize the irresistible attraction and allurement of the riches and power that were his. For 40 long years, Moses sank the roots of his very being deeper and deeper into a maze of human relationships and strong emotional ties.
But in God’s sight, this relationship could not last. When Moses realized this, he was forced to amputate the ties of a strong physical, psychological, and emotional relationship in deference to an obedient relationship with God. His choice to forego momentary pleasures meant hardship, suffering and ill-treatment (Hebrews 11:25). Listen to the inspired writer: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:24-25, emp. added).
We, too, must come face to face with the same dilemma. It may be the decision to subdue an insatiable desire for alcohol; it may involve the severance of a financially productive business relationship; and yes, it may entail foregoing a marital relationship. In short, living the Christian life may mean the radical and total disruption of social and family existence (study carefully Matthew 10:34-36; Luke 12:51-53).
The real tragedy is, most are unwilling to make such essential decisions. The sacrifices are simply too great. In Moses’ case, he considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:26). Each of us must decide. Are we willing to launch out and take the necessary steps to please God?

The Origin of the Papacy by Moisés Pinedo


The Origin of the Papacy

by Moisés Pinedo

The Bible clearly teaches that Peter was not the first pope and that he was simply one of the apostles of Jesus (see Pinedo, 2008a2008b). The question remains: “When did the papacy begin?” Since the Bible authorizes no hierarchy like the papacy, we will focus our attention on history to learn how it came into existence.
When Christ established His church in the first century (A.D. 30; cf. Acts 2), “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors [i.e., bishops or elders] and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Jesus never elevated one bishop over others, but rather established an equable office for service. Sadly, man deviated from the original biblical pattern in search of power, honor, and deification. The first indication of this deviation was the distinction among the terms “bishops,” “elders,” and “pastors”—titles which the New Testament writers used interchangeably (e.g., Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The title “Bishop” was given more significance and applied to only one man who was given sole authority over a local congregation, unlike bishops during apostolic times (cf. Acts 14:23; 15:4; 20:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14). Soon, the “Bishop” ruled over not only one congregation, but over a “diocese,” several congregations in a city or an entire district (see Miller and Stevens, 1969, 44).
With the influence of Constantine (A.D. 280-337), who made Christianity a “religion of power,” the bishops strengthened and increased their privileges. During this time there were five metropolises: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Rome in the West and Constantinople in the East gained greater prominence because of their locations (Mattox, 1961, p. 137). While the power of the episcopacy grew in these cities, so did the controversy over which of these two cities, and their representative churches and bishops, should have supremacy.
On October 10, 366, a man named Damasus was elected Bishop of Rome. He was an energetic man who fought for the pontificate against his opponent Ursinus, another bishop elected by a small number of followers (see “Damasus I,” 1997, 3:865-866). During his pontificate, Damasus fought to confirm his position in the Church of Rome. He also fought to compel the other cities to recognize the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome over all other bishops. Damasus even went as far as to assert that the “Church of Rome was supreme over all others, not because of what the council [of Rome in 369 and of Antioch in 378—MP] decided, but rather because Jesus placed Peter above the rest, elevating him as the cornerstone of the church itself” (“Saint Damasus,” 2005).
In spite of Damasus’ efforts to establish the preeminence of Rome and his pontificate, he did not finish his work. After his death in December 384, Siricius was elected as the Pontiff of Rome. He was less educated than Damasus, but empowered himself with a higher level of authority than other bishops had demanded. Siricius claimed inherent authority without consideration of the Scriptures. He demanded, and threatened others, in order to gain more and more power. He was the first to refer to himself as Peter’s heir (see Merdinger, 1997, p. 26). Siricius died on November 26, 399. Without a doubt, he and Damasus were principal forces behind the development of a universal ecclesiastical hierarchy.
In 440, Leo I became the pontiff. He was an ardent defender of the supremacy of the Roman bishop over the bishops in the East. In a declaration to the Bishop of Constantinople, he stated:
Constantinople has its own glory and by the mercy of God has become the seat of the empire. But secular matters are based on one thing, and ecclesiastical matters on another. Nothing will stand which is not built on the Rock which the Lord laid in the foundation.... Your city is royal but you cannot make it Apostolic (quoted in Mattox, 1961, pp. 139-140).
The supremacy referred to by Leo I was based on the assumption that the Lord exalted Rome, including its church and pontiff, over other major cities because of traditions about Peter. By that time it was accepted as “fact” that Peter had been the first Bishop of Rome and that he had been martyred there. Those traditions, along with Rome’s legacy as an evangelistic influence in the first century, gave the city a “divine aura” that supposedly connected it to the apostolic age and distinguished it from other cities. These beliefs greatly influenced the development of a hierarchy in the church.
On September 13, 590, Gregory the Great was named Bishop of Rome. He was another advocate of Petrine tradition, and named himself “Pope” and the “Head of the Universal Church.” By the end of his pontificate, the theory of Peter’s primacy and that of the Bishop of Rome was firmly established. Finally, with the appearance of Boniface III on the papal throne on February 19, 607, Roman papacy became universally accepted. Boniface III lived only a few months after his election. Many other bishops followed his legacy of “runners for supremacy.”
The apostle Paul told the Ephesians, “For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the church, being Himself the savior of the body” (5:23, emp. added). Just as there should be only one husband with authority over one wife, there is only one Person with authority over the one church. That Person is Jesus Christ!


“Damasus I” (1997), The New Encyclopædia Britannica (London: Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Mattox, F.W. (1961), The Eternal Kingdom (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Merdinger, J.E. (1997), Rome & the African Church in the Time of Augustine (London: Yale University Press).
Miller, Jule and Texas Stevens (1969), Visualized Bible Study Series: History of the Lord’s Church(Houston, TX: Gospel Services).
Pinedo, Moisés (2008a), “Is the Papacy a Divine Institution?” [On-line], URL:http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3780.
Pinedo, Moisés (2008b), “Was Peter the First Pope?,” [On-line], URL:http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3811.
“Saint Damasus” [“San Dámaso”] (2005), [On-line], URL: http://66.​34.225.177/documento.php?f_doc=2477&f_tipo_doc=9.

The Order of the Lord’s Supper by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Order of the Lord’s Supper

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In Matthew (26:26-27) and Mark’s (14:22-23) record of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus blessed the bread first and then the cup. However, Luke seems to give the opposite order with the cup mentioned first (22:17-19). Is this difference a discrepancy in which the inspired writers contradict each other?
It is certainly the case that Jesus only instituted the Lord’s Supper one time. He either blessed the bread first or He blessed the cup first. He did not do it both ways. So can we make sense of the text in such a way that the Bible is not discredited, recognizing that Jesus did not do it both ways? On that lone night so long ago, when He instituted the Lord’s Supper, which way did He do it? Bread then cup, or cup then bread?
It is clearly the case that Bible writers do not always claim to be representing a particular event in chronological sequence. Luke could have easily been treating the Passover and Lord’s Supper incident topically. In such a case, no contradiction would exist. However, in this particular instance, a different explanation presents itself.
Read carefully Luke’s reporting of the event:
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” …When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (22:7-21, emp. added).
Observe carefully that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on the tail end of the observance of the Jewish Passover. One must be careful to distinguish between the two, particularly since the same emblems were used for both, and since the former typifies the latter. The killing of the Passover lamb under Judaism anticipated the death of Jesus Who, in turn, became “our Passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Luke, more than Matthew and Mark, demonstrates this close parallelism.1
Luke actually has two allusions to “cup”—one in verse 17 and the other in verse 20. The first “cup” was taken during the Passover and the second “cup” was part of the institution of the Lord’s Supper.2Hence, Luke does not differ from Matthew and Mark in specifying the same order for partaking of the Lord’s Supper, i.e., first the bread and then the cup. Luke’s use in verse 21 of “likewise” refers back to “He took bread,” and “after supper” refers both to the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper.
This fact is further supported by Paul in his recounting of the occasion in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. Observe the indications of sequence he portrays—
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (emp. added).
Observe that Paul goes out of his way to emphasize the order that Jesus instigated—bread/cup and eat/drink. He even clarified that the cup that is part of the Lord’s Supper was done “after supper,” i.e., after the Passover meal. So the “cup” of Luke 22:17-18 was the cup that was associated with the Passover meal—not the Lord’s Supper cup which is noted in verse 20 after the Passover meal and after the bread of the Lord’s Supper.
Another consideration pertains to the fact that Luke 22:17-20 constitutes a textual variant. However, the Committee for the UBS Greek text concluded that the cup-bread-cup sequence is authentic based on “the overwhelming preponderance of external evidence.”3 Further, Sir Frederick Kenyon and S.C.E. Legg offer the only plausible explanation for the existence of variants by noting:
The first cup given to the disciples to divide among themselves should be taken in connection with the previous verse (ver. 16) as referring to the eating of the Passover with them at the reunion in Heaven. This is followed by the institution of the Sacrament, to be repeated continually on earth in memory of Him. This gives an intelligible meaning to the whole, while at the same time it is easy to see that it would occasion difficulties of interpretation, which would give rise to the attempts at revision that appear in various forms of the shorter version.4
Hence, the first allusion to “cup” in verse 17 links back with the eating and drinking of the Passover meal in verses 15-16, while the second allusion to “cup” refers to the Lord’s Supper. Luke agrees with Matthew and Mark that, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He first took the bread and then took the cup. There is no contradiction.


1 See J.W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton (no date), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Foundation), p. 646.
2 Ibid, p. 658. See also J.W. McGarvey (1910),Short Essays in Biblical Criticism (Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Company), pp. 342-343.
3 Bruce Metzger (1971), A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies), p. 176.
4 Sir Frederick G. Kenyon and S.C.E. Legg (1937), “The Textual Data” in The Ministry and the Sacraments, ed. Roderic Dunkerley (London: SCM), pp. 285-286.

Erin Go Bragh! by EE Healy


The Thief on the Cross by Trevor Bowen


The Thief on the Cross


The example of the thief's conversion on the cross is often used as a basis for discrediting the necessity of baptism.  However, the Bible teaches that his example is irrelevant for two reasons:  First, the thief lived under a different covenant than us, and second, the thief was the fortunate recipient of unpromised grace and mercy.  Now, let us first examine who this thief was and the Bible account of his conversion.  Then, we will be prepared to consider its relevancy.

Who was the "Thief on the Cross" ?

The thief was one of two robbers crucified on either side of Jesus.  The Scripture gives the following account of his conversion:
Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.  And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads.  ...  Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.  Matthew 27:38-39,44
However, we learn later that one of the thieves must have had a change of heart...
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:39-43
The penitent thief was obviously saved by Jesus - and without baptism!  His salvation cannot be questioned, because it Jesus asserted that the thief would enjoy Paradise with Jesus.  But, a logical question would be, "If baptism was not necessary for the thief, then is it necessary for me?"  The Biblical answer is "yes".  There are two fundamental problems with assuming that baptism is not necessary for us, just because the thief was saved without it.

Different Covenant and Testament

The first point that should be observed is that the thief lived and was converted under a different covenant than us.  Please recall the following passage from our study of the differences between the Old and New Testaments:
Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. ... So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.  Colossians 2:12-17
So, the Old Testament was done away when Christ died upon the cross - "having nailed it to the cross."  A result of it being removed was the removal of the Old Testament's authority.  Therefore, the old law's commandments about "food""drink", and "regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths" are no longer bound upon people.  However, today we live under the New Covenant which commands us to be baptized.  That being demonstrated, we may wonder, "Under which covenant did the thief live?
Please recall this second passage from our study on the two covenants.  In it Paul uses the analogy of a woman bound to her husband through marriage to illustrate the transition between the two covenants.
For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another -- to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God."  Romans 7:2-4
First, this passage teaches that the old covenant ended when Jesus died, which was after the thief's repentance and forgiveness by Jesus.  Second, recall that baptism symbolizes our selfish desires having "died with Christ" (please read Romans 6:1-10).  So, how could the thief have possibly been baptized into Christ’s death when Christ had not even died yet?  Baptism by Jesus’ name was not commanded until after His death. It was first commanded in Jesus’ great commission, which occurred after the resurrection (Matthew 28:18-20Mark 16:15-16).   Therefore, the thief's example is irrelevant to us because he was saved under a different law, the old law, when baptism had not even been commanded yet.  But, there is a little more to this story.

Unpromised Mercy

The observant student may recognize that this sinful robber (Matthew 27:44) had not met the requirements for atonement of sins under the old law either.  Under the Old Law, the thief would have died condemned because he had not offered the appropriate sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7).  In fact, he should have been stoned for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:11-16).  We might ask, "So, how was the thief saved?"  He was saved through the unpromised mercy of Jesus.
We know that Jesus had the power to forgive sins while He was on the earth.  He forgave the sins of both the paralyzed man and the adulterous woman (Luke 5:18-267:36-50), and He even miraculously healed the paralytic just to prove His deity and power to forgive sins.  Jesus was able, and justified in doing this because He is the one who will actually judge us on Judgment Day (John 5:22-30James 4:10-12).
We may continue to ask, "But, what does this all mean?  What is the application?  Can a person live a sinful life, call out to God at the last minute in repentance, and be saved?"
It is clear that the thief was mercifully forgiven of his sins by Jesus, just as all of God’s people are mercifully forgiven.  But, there is a key difference between him and us, even besides the old covenant.  God does not promise mercy for such people!  He has promised that all who are baptized will be saved (Mark 16:15-16I Peter 3:21).  However, no where in the Bible does God say that one can pray for forgiveness and receive it.  It's just not there.  But, what is there is the commandment for baptism and a fearful promise of wrath for those who do not obey God.  Please recall the example of King Saul and the following statement by Jesus, which teach us that God expects us to follow His pattern in all things:

Example of King Saul:

"So Samuel said: 'Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.'" I Samuel 15:22-23

Statement by Jesus:

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work iniquity.' " Matthew 7:21-23
The simple truth is that no where in the Bible does God promise that the "sinner's prayer" will bring forgiveness of sins.  Moreover, the only promise we have on the matter is the one above where Jesus promises that calling out to God without obedience is not enough. The sinner's prayer alone will only result in condemnation.


The example of thief is irrelevant for two fundamental reasons.  First, under the old covenant, he was not subject to the commandment of baptism to which we are subject.  Second, he was an exceptional case that involved unpromised mercy from the Judge of all men, Jesus.  Since Jesus Christ is the Judge, it is His prerogative and right to grant mercy where He has not promised to do so.  But, just because He made a exception, that does not mandate that He will do so for us on Judgment Day.  Moreover, both the Old and New Testament examples of people who did not follow God’s pattern teach us of God’s wrath that fell upon those who willfully disobeyed God, even with the best of motives.
Therefore, the concluding questions for us are these, "Will you and I presume not to be baptized, ignoring all the Scripture's teaching on the essential role of baptism?"  "What does the Bible say that God has promised for those who are guilty of willful disobedience?"  Or, "Will we follow the simple instructions for salvation?" There is only one clear answer for which God has promised, "he shall be saved" (Mark 16:15-16). Have you met the conditions of this promise?
 Trevor Bowen

Fireproof Faith Daniel (part 3) (by Ben Fronczek)


Fireproof Faith – Daniel (part 3)

Fireproof Faith Daniel (part 3)    (by Ben Fronczek)
One Sunday the minister of a particular congregation walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave his sermon he introduced a guest minister who was in the service that evening. In the introduction, he told the congregation that the minister, an old man now, was one of his dearest friends who he knew since he was a boy. He wanted the old preacher to take a few moments to greet the church and say a few words. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak.
“A father, His son, and a the boy’s friend  were sailing off of the Pacific Coast,” He began, “When a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized. The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story.
The aged minister continued with his story, “Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy he would throw the other end of the lifeline. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son’s friend was not. He had to make a decision. “As the father yelled out, ‘I love you son!’ He threw out the lifeline to his son’s friend.
By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of the night. His body was never recovered.” By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth. “The father,” he continued knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus but he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into eternity without Jesus.
Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save his son’s friend… With that the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. Their minister again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon…  I will finish the rest of this story at the end of my sermon.
This story, and the sermon today where we will see what Daniel’s friends did in Daniel 3, prompt me ask the question, ‘How much do I believe and trust in God? And how much do I believe in and trust in what the Bible says?’ Would I compromise my faith and what I believe about God, salvation and heaven in such a situation?
As Christians we are under constant pressure to compromise our beliefs in our culture. Often we are tempted to compromise our beliefs because of subtle pressures that come our way as we interact with others, or while watching TV or while in front of your computer. Or even when we are behind the steering wheel. How well do you stand up under pressure to do what everyone else is doing and ignore God’s will for us? It seems as though God’s people have always had this kind of pressure to compromise their faith. Today I would like to look at how Daniel’s Jewish companions in Babylon named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood their ground and trusted God no matter what the consequence were.
Read Daniel 3  (Click on verse and read)
In Exodus 20:4-5 God commanded, “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”
I think this story was more about how much Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed in God and His word than how they were saved. Here we see where their convictions lay; they would not bow down to that statue even if it meant death, because they believed it would displease our Lord God.
They probably recognized the fact that bowing down and worshipping idols was the very reason why God allowed the Jewish nation to fall to Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon in the first place.
I have been reading Jeremiah which was written when Nebuchadnezzar  was outside the gates of Jerusalem and about to destroy it. In desperation the Jewish people asked, ‘How come Lord?’ God answered them through the prophet Jeremiah. He told them it was because they turned away from Him the living God of Heaven. In Jer. 11 He says, 11 Therefore, this is what the Lordsays: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries. 12 Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! 13 Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem.”
These three young men may have even heard Jeremiah preach these words and here they were with this king telling them to bow down before another graven image. They couldn’t do it. They would have rather died in obedience to God in that fire than do something that they knew would displease Him.
Later on Jesus would say, Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Mt. 10:28
What I see here is what I like to call ‘Fireproof faith’.  Fireproof faith is being completely submissive to God’s will no matter what the consequences.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith was not so much in their deliverance, but rather in their God. It was of the same kind as Job’s, who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” They knew that if God deliver them, His name would be vindicated and honored. But they probably also believed that if they died, at least they did not compromise their faith.
Having faith like this involves trusting in God and His word, no matter what the situation and what the outcome.
Having Faith does not mean that we will know or understand what God is doing or the specific purpose of the trials we encounter. It involves being ready and willing to follow Him and His decrees, all the time, especially so when we don’t know why we are being tested.
In this miracle, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were delivered from the flames, or more accurately in the flames. They were set free in the flames.
 There is no suggestion here or anywhere else in Scripture that believers will not experience trouble and suffering. But the believer has an advantage; it is in times of suffering and trouble when the Lord is so much more present to help us or at least comfort us. So we just need to trust Him!
A fellow by the name of Rich Mullins wrote: “You meet the Lord in the furnace a long time before you’ll meet Him in the sky.”  Doesn’t it seem like we draw closer to God in times of trail more than any other time?
One of the early church fathers, John Chrysostom, lived in the late 4th and early 5th century. One day he was brought before the emperor and commanded to renounce Christ. The emperor threaten him saying if he would not renounce Christ he would be banished from the country forever—he would be separated from his father’s land for the rest of his life. John responded, “You cannot. The whole world is my Father’s land. You cannot banish me.”
The emperor then said, “Then I will take away all of your property and treasures.” John replied, “You cannot, for all my true treasures are in heaven.”
The emperor then said, “I will send you to a place of absolute solitude where there is not one friend for you to talk to.” John said, “You cannot, for I have a friend that is closer than a brother to me. He is my elder brother, Jesus Christ, who has promised to be with me always—to the very end of the age.”            
In anger the emperor then said, “I will then take your life.” John said, “You cannot. For my life is forever hidden in Christ with God.”
Chrysostom was of the same spirit as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
I am not sure if we will ever be called upon to die in a fiery furnace or if we’ll be martyred if we follow Christ. My guess would be, we will not. But we are called out to act and live like a Christian on all occasions no matter what the consequences. .
Otherwise we compromise our faith. Are there pressures and situations that make living life for Christ difficult and sometimes costly? Yes, but hopefully it is during those times that we are identified as disciples of Jesus.In times of testing, God’s people must fight fire with faith.
APPLICATION: How fireproof is your faith? Is your belief and faith in Christ strong enough to meet the challenge of a personal tragedy? Of unanswered prayer? Of criticism? Of personal threats? Of a loss of health? Of loss of possessions? Of persecution? Or loss of a family member? Let these three young men be an example an example for us and an encouragement to fight fire with faith.
‘After the worship service was over and the preacher finished up his sermon the two teenagers went up and sat at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story,” the boys politely said., “But we don’t think it was realistic for a father to give up his son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.”                 
“Well, you’ve got a point there,” the old man replied glancing down at the worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, he once again looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t realistic, is it? But I’m standing today to tell you that the story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His only son for me.                       You see…    I was the father in my story and your Preacher here was my son’s friend.’
You see that old minister believed God and His word. He had no doubt that his son was in heaven He trusted God’s word. He had what all of us as Christians should have and that is an unshakeable faith.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566