"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS" Christ's Qualifications As High Priest (5:1-10)


Christ's Qualifications As High Priest (5:1-10)


1. A recurring theme in this epistle is that of Jesus as our High 
   Priest; He has been described as:
   a. A "merciful and faithful High Priest" - He 2:17
   b. The "High Priest of our confession" - He 3:1
   c. A "great High Priest who has passed through the heavens" - He 4:14
   d. A High Priest who can "sympathize with our weaknesses" - He 4:15

2. This is in keeping with the overall purpose of the epistle...
   a. Which is to show the superiority of Jesus and His new covenant
   b. We have considered Jesus' superiority to...
      1) Prophets - He 1:1-3
      2) Angels - He 1:4-2:18
      3) Moses - He 3:1-6
      ...it is only natural that a comparison to Aaron and his 
         priesthood be made

3. The actual comparison with Aaron will follow later, but first there
   is a need to...
   a. Review the qualities required in high priests
   b. Establish that Jesus does indeed qualify as a High Priest
   -- Which is what we find in the text for our study today - He 5:1-10

[For non-Jewish readers who may be unfamiliar with the role of high 
priests, this section of Scripture can be enlightening and increase our
appreciation of Jesus as our High Priest.

We begin by noticing...]   


      1. The work of the high priest involves "things pertaining to 
         God" - cf. He 2:17
      2. He must "offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins" - cf. He 8:3
      -- Thus only God can rightfully select a high priest, even as God
         called Aaron - e.g., Exo 28,29; Lev 8,9; Num 16-18

      1. A high priest is selected "from among men"
      2. This helps to ensure a spirit of "compassion"...
         a. Toward "those who are ignorant and going astray"
            1) Note that the high priest was to make a distinction 
               between sins of ignorance and sins of presumption 
               (rebellion) - Num 15:22-31
            2) Sacrifices were to be offered in behalf of the former, 
               but not the latter
         b. For "he himself is often beset by weakness"
            1) A high priest who knew his own weakness would be more 
               likely to be understanding of his brethren
            2) It also explains why the high priest in the OT offered 
               sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of
               the people - cf. Lev 16:11
      -- Thus a high priest would need to be well acquainted with the 
         "human condition" (i.e., the struggle against temptation)

[The parallel between high priests in the OT and Jesus as our High 
Priest does not hold true in every minute detail (e.g., He 7:26-27).  

But certainly in the most fundamental ways Jesus has the qualities to 
be our High Priest, as we now consider...]


      1. Christ was Divinely called to serve as High Priest, just as 
         Aaron was
      2. As evidence of His calling, two Messianic prophecies are 
         a. His position as God's Son - cf. Ps 2:7
         b. His appointment as a priest after the order of Melchizedek 
            - cf. Ps 110:4
         -- As God's Son, sitting and ruling at the right hand of God
            (cf. Ps 110:1-3), His calling as a priest is only natural

      1. While "in the days of His flesh", Christ...
         a. "offered prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears"
         b. He prayed "to Him who was able to save Him from death"
         c. He was heard "because of His godly fear"
      2. That Jesus would have "godly fear" and offer such prayers 
         provides insight into the extent of His temptations and 
         sufferings in the flesh - cf. also He 2:18; 4:15
      3. Even though He was God's Son, by the things which He suffered
         "He learned obedience" - what does this mean?
         a. Certainly He knew obedience as the Son of God
         b. Perhaps it means He came to know what obedience involved as
            one "in the flesh" (i.e., the challenge of obedience in the
            midst of suffering, temptations, etc.)
      -- Through His suffering, Jesus certainly understands the "human 
         condition" which qualifies Him to serve as High Priest

[Qualified by virtue of His calling and His compassion to be a High 
Priest, what kind of High Priest is Jesus? The next two verses 
introduce two themes that will be developed much further later on...]


      1. "Perfected" by virtue of His sufferings "in the flesh", He has
         become the "author" of eternal salvation
         a. The word "author" comes from aitio, meaning literally, "cause"
         b. Later, we will see how Christ is the "cause" of our 
            salvation - cf. He 7:24-27
      2. But for now, note that He is the cause of salvation for "all 
         those who obey Him"
         a. Is obedience necessary for salvation?  Consider these verses:
            1) Jesus will bring vengeance on those who have not obeyed
               the gospel - 2Th 1:7-9; cf. 1Pe 4:17-18
            2) Paul sought to bring about the "obedience to the faith"
               among all the nations - Ro 1:5; 16:25-26
               a) But not all had obeyed the gospel - Ro 10:16
               b) Yet he was grateful for those who had - Ro 6:17,18
            3) Those who have obeyed the truth have purified their 
               souls - 1Pe 1:22
         b. If obedience is necessary for salvation, are we then saved by works?
            1) Not if by "works" you mean "meritorious works" (works by
               which we EARN salvation)
            2) But if you mean by "works" the "works of God" (works by
               which we RECEIVE God's unmerited gift of salvation) 
               which God has ordained, then yes!
               a) E.g., believing in Christ is a "work of God" - Jn 6:28-29
               b) Since repentance and baptism are likewise enjoined by
                  God, they too would be "works of God" that we must 
                  obey in order to receive salvation - e.g., Ac 2:38; 10:48
         -- Thus salvation "by grace through faith" does not preclude 
            the necessity of obedience to Christ and His gospel!

      1. Here we begin to learn the distinct nature of Christ's priesthood
      2. As prophesied in Ps 110:4, the Messiah would be "a priest
         forever according to the order of Melchizedek"
      3. Thus His priesthood would be different from the Aaronic or 
         Levitical priesthood
         a. Different, but would it be superior?
         b. Would the difference be enough to persuade them not to 
            forsake Christ?
         -- The difference between the two priesthoods and the 
            superiority of Christ's over Aaron's is taken up later in
            this epistle (cf. He 7:1-28)


1. The spiritual immaturity of the Hebrew readers will necessitate a 
   temporary digression (cf. He 5:11-6:20)

2. But for the moment, the author has established "Christ's 
   Qualifications As High Priest"...
   a. He was Divinely appointed
   b. He is sympathetic because of His own sufferings

3. This makes Jesus suitable as the "author of eternal salvation"
   a. But don't forget that He is the author of salvation "to all who
      obey Him"
   b. Have you rendered obedience to the gospel of Christ? 
       - cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:36-39

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Who Are These People? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Who Are These People?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

From time to time, we are asked for clarification concerning the identity of the church of Christ. “What do churches of Christ stand for?” “What do they believe?” “Who are these people—the churches of Christ?”
One must take Bible in hand to answer these questions. In Matthew 3:2, John the baptizer declared that the kingdom of heaven was near. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus Himself announced to His disciples that He would build His church and give to them the keys of the kingdom. In Mark 9:1, Jesus further stated that some were standing in His presence who would not taste of death before they would see the kingdom of God come with power. In John 3:5, Jesus explained to Nicodemus that in order for him to enter into the kingdom of God, he would have to be “born again”—which consisted of being “born of water and the Spirit.” After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, He instructed the apostles to go into all of the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who would believe and be baptized would be saved (Mark 16:16).
These passages set the stage for the momentous events of Acts chapter 2. In that key passage, Jesus followed through with His promises. The Gospel was preached, some 3,000 hearers believed and were baptized, and the church of Christ was brought into existence. The year was A.D. 30. The place was the city of Jerusalem. In direct fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies—including Isaiah 2, Daniel 2, Joel 2, and Micah 4—Jesus established His church.
Churches of Christ today are reproductions of the church of Christ that is described in the New Testament, beginning in Acts 2. Several characteristics are discernible from the Bible that aid in seeing what it takes to be a church of Christ.

In the first place, consider what people in the first century did to become a member of the church of Christ. In Acts 2, after listening to the preaching of the Gospel, the people asked the apostles what they needed to do. Peter responded: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). This was in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”

The same procedure is depicted over and over again in Acts. Acts 8:12-13 records that “when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized.” In the same chapter, Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch. When the eunuch saw water, he insisted upon being baptized. Philip said he could if he believed.

In Acts 10, Cornelius heard the message, believed, and was baptized. In Acts 16, Lydia listened to the message, believed, and was baptized. In the same chapter, the Philippian jailer heard the word of the Lord and was immediately baptized the same hour of the night. In Acts 18:8, many of the Corinthians heard the word, believed, and were baptized. In Acts 19:4-5, some of the citizens of Ephesus listened to Paul’s preaching, believed, and were baptized. Paul, himself, in Acts chapters 9 and 22, heard the word and was baptized to have his sins washed away.

The rest of the New Testament confirms this procedure for becoming a Christian. Paul reminded Roman Christians that on the day they were baptized, they were baptized into Christ, into His death, and were made free from sin to live a new life (Romans 6:1-7). He told the Corinthians that on the day they were baptized, they were baptized into the one body, which is the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). He told the Galatians that when they were baptized, they were baptized into Christ, and thus put on Christ, i.e., were clothed with Him (Galatians 3:27). Peter added his support to this same understanding by declaring that one is saved at the moment of baptism, for it is at that point that the benefits of the resurrection of Christ are applied to the believer (1 Peter 3:21).

Notice from these Scriptures that in the first century, a person became a Christian in the same way and at the same moment that he became a member of the church of Christ. First-century people heard the message of salvation and God’s will for their life. They then believed (had faith in) God and Christ (and the teaching about Them), repented of their sins, confessed the name of Christ with their mouths, and then were baptized (or immersed) in water for the remission of sins (cf. Romans 10:9-10; Colossians 2:12; Hebrews 10:22). Who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that practice that same New Testament plan of salvation.

Second, consider how churches of Christ were organized or structured in the New Testament. Each local congregation was independent and autonomous. There was no hierarchy or denominational headquarters. Each local church was directly under the headship of Christ (Colossians 1:18). Churches of Christ had no synods, councils, or conventions that established policy or provided governing guidelines. Every single local congregation was self-governing and completely autonomous.
Within each of these churches, the New Testament teaches that men who meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are to be appointed by the church members to be elders. Other names for this function in the New Testament are bishops, pastors, shepherds, and overseers (Titus 1:5,7; Acts 20:17,28; 1 Peter 5:1-2). The New Testament teaches that when a church has qualified men, two or more are to be appointed to serve. Churches in the New Testament always had a plurality of elders over a single congregation (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5). These men are to function as the overseeing authorities in the local church. They shepherd and watch over the members under their charge (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The name “pastor” did not refer to a preacher in the New Testament, but to an elder.

New Testament churches also had deacons appointed who were to meet specific God-given qualifications (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Deacons were assigned responsibilities and tasks that involved serving the needs of the congregation (Acts 6:1-6; Philippians 1:1).

In addition to elders and deacons, churches of Christ in the first century had teachers, preachers, and evangelists (Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5; James 3:1). These men taught and preached Christian doctrine to non-Christian and Christian alike. Female Bible teachers taught women and children (Titus 2:4). All of the members participated together in the work and worship of the church in an effort to glorify God in their lives.
Many improvisations have evolved since the first century as regards church government and organization. But, in summary, the simple structure of Christ’s church according to the New Testament consisted of elders who shepherded the flock, deacons who ministered to the congregation, preachers and evangelists who proclaimed the Gospel, and all other members of the local congregation who worked and worshipped under the oversight of the elders. Who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that follow this simple New Testament format.

Third, how is the church of Christ to be designated? What are the scriptural names by which God’s people are to be known? The New Testament clearly states that the group of saved people was called the “church of Christ” (Romans 16:16). Remember, Jesus Himself stated that He would build Hischurch (Matthew 16:18). The church, therefore, belongs to Christ, Who is the Head of the body (Ephesians 1:22-23). Sometimes His church was referred to merely as “the church” (e.g., Acts 8:1). “Church” simply means “called out,” and refers to the fact that Christians have been called out of the world and into Christ’s kingdom.
Sometimes, Christ’s church was referred to as “the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19), “the kingdom of God” (Mark 9:1; John 3:5), “the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3), or “the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). We also find the “church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2) and the “church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15)—no doubt references to Jesus’ deity as owner. We also find the “body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Several other names are found in the New Testament for Christ’s church. But observe that most of the names that men have given to their denominational organization are not found in the New Testament. Churches of Christ are those who seek to be scriptural in name.
The same applies to the designations for individual members. The number one name by which church members are to be known is the name “Christian” (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16; Isaiah 62:1-2). This is the name which indicates that one belongs to Christ. Other names included “disciples” [which means “learners”] (Acts 20:7), “saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “brothers” (1 Corinthians 15:1), “sons of God” (Romans 8:14), “children of God” (1 John 3:1), “priests” (1 Peter 2:9)—and several other names. These are scriptural names.
But what about the many religious titles and designations used today? The denominational concept of a clergy is foreign to the New Testament. Preachers in the New Testament were merely Christians who prepared themselves to teach others. They were not set apart as a special class of religious people. They did not receive special titles like “reverend” or “pastor” or “father” (Matthew 23:9). Such designations are manmade and serve only to cultivate the praise of men, when, in fact, all praise belongs to God (Luke 4:8).

So who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that wear the name of Christ—individually and collectively. As the apostle Peter stated, “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “If any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16).
A fourth identifying mark of the church of Christ in the New Testament is seen in the absence of denominational trappings. For example, churches of Christ had no official creeds, church manuals, or confessions of faith to which members had to subscribe. The only authoritative document for governing belief and practice was the Bible. The Bible presents itself as the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God—the only reliable guide to get humans from this life to heaven. Who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that rely solely on the Bible for direction.

A fifth and final facet of the church of Christ in the New Testament is her worship practice. Churches of Christ have reproduced simple New Testament worship in their services—nothing more and nothing less. When one examines the New Testament, one finds that first-century churches engaged in five worship activities on Sunday. First, they met together for the important purpose of partaking of the Lord’s Supper, which consisted of bread and grape juice as symbols of the body and blood of Christ offered on the cross (Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16-21; 11:20-34). Christians observed the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and only on Sunday. Second, the early church engaged in prayer together (Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 2:1-8). Third, Christians sang religious songs together (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Their congregational singing was unaccompanied by musical instruments. Fourth, they participated in Bible study, either by public reading of the Scriptures or as taught by a preacher or teacher (1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; Titus 2:15). 

Finally, Christians contributed their money on the first day of the week as a treasury from which the Lord’s work could be carried out (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

New Testament worship is extremely simple and unpretentious—free from the hype and glitter that bored humans frequently fabricate. Who are the churches of Christ? They are those churches that have restored simple New Testament worship in their congregations. They meet together every first day of the week and commune together around the Lord’s Table; they sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together; they contribute a percentage of their income to carry on the work of the church; they pray together; and they study the Word of God together.

Members of churches of Christ are certainly not perfect. Just as in the first century, churches of Christ are composed of imperfect people. But the superstructure of the New Testament church has been set in place. It therefore is possible for anyone to be simply a Christian—a member of the church we find described in the New Testament—the church of Christ.

That’s not to say that all groups who bear the name “church of Christ” are following the New Testament portrait of the church. A church may have a scriptural name without engaging in scriptural worship. Some churches of Christ are in the process of going off into apostasy as they restructure the church and make unscriptural changes. We cannot endorse such churches, merely because they continue to wear the name “church of Christ.”

You can be a member of the New Testament church. You do not have to settle for a man-made denomination. We urge you to study what the New Testament says about the church of Christ.

Which Spirits are from God? (1 John 4:1-3)? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Which Spirits are from God? (1 John 4:1-3)?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The first three verses of 1 John 4 contain certain elements that, at first glance, can be somewhat confusing. Yet, when taken in their proper context and compared with the rest of the letter, their meaning becomes much clearer. The verses state:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world (NRSV).

As a brief background to these verses, it should be noted that the book of 1 John deals in an in-depth fashion with the Gnostic apostasy that divided the Lord’s Church during the later part of the first century and on into the second century. One of the main tenets of the Gnostic heresy was the idea that anything physical was, by its very nature, evil. Therefore, according to the Gnostics, if Jesus Christ actually came in the flesh, then He must have been tainted by sinful, evil flesh. This group suggested, then, that Jesus Christ never literally came “in the flesh,” but only seemed to come in the flesh.

John’s argument at the beginning of 1 John 4 is an encouragement to Christians to test the teachings and beliefs of everyone who would pretend to be speaking on behalf of God. [John used the word “spirit” to refer to the teachings, beliefs, and actions of people (in this case, true and false teachers). Lenski stated: “ ‘Spirit’ is the person as such with his inner, spiritual character. There is no need to put more into this word” (1966, p. 485).] John then suggested the criterion whereby his readers could know if the teacher was speaking from God or not. John wrote: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” This particular phrase has caused some confusion in the religious world. Looking at the phrase by itself, it seems that every person who claims that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is “from God,” regardless of any other beliefs or teachings that may conflict with the Bible. Using this verse, it has been argued that God accepts any religious group that acknowledges that Jesus has come in the flesh.

Upon further investigation, however, it can be shown that this phrase was not intended to offer blanket acceptance of all religious people or groups who simply state a belief that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In fact, to state that one believes that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is to do no more than the demons did during the earthly ministry of Christ. In Mark 1:21-28, the gospel writer related a story about Jesus casting an unclean spirit out of a man who lived in Capernaum. Upon meeting Jesus, the unclean spirit cried out, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (1:24). Obviously, the unclean spirit recognized Jesus as coming in the flesh; yet few, if any, would argue that the unclean spirit’s verbal confession would classify this demon as being pleasing or acceptable to God. Therefore, it is clear that John’s statement does not mean that every person who merely says that Jesus came in the flesh is pleasing to God.

What does John’s statement about confessing Christ mean? When looking at other parts of 1 John, several criteria for a faithful follower of God are enumerated. James Burton Coffman offered a list of at least seven things that John used in the epistle to gauge whether or not a person was faithful and acceptable to God (1979, p. 415). Among other things, John wrote that a person must: (1) confess his or her sins (1:8-10); (2) keep God’s commandments (2:3-4; 5:2); (3) practice righteousness (2:29); (4) love others (3:10); (5) provide for the physical needs of others (4:17); and (6) believe and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:1-3). As Coffman noted of these criteria:

They are not separate tests, actually, but a composite, each of the above scriptures being, in a sense, commentary on each one of the others…. [T]he unity of the tests is seen in the fact that “keeping his commandments,” “loving one another,” “doing righteousness,” “possessing the Holy Spirit,” etc., all amount to one and the same thing” (1979, pp. 415-416).

It is evident, therefore, that John’s statement about confessing Christ was not meant to be a single test of authenticity, but rather a summary statement that entailed all of the other necessary conditions found throughout the book. Charles Ryrie wrote in regard to 1 John 4:2: “From this verse, we are not to suppose that this was the only test of orthodoxy; but it is a major one, and it was the most necessary one for the errors of John’s day” (1971, p. 1022). R.C.H. Lenski likewise stated: “It would be a serious mistake to think that John speaks of confessing only the one fact or doctrine of the Incarnation…” (1966, p. 488). Thus, mental acceptance and verbal acknowledgment of the fact that Jesus Christ came in flesh will never put a person in a right relationship with God without the proper actions and obedience to God’s commands.
Additional comments are in order concerning John’s reference to the “spirit of the antichrist.” Countless people and groups have attempted to identify the antichrist. Simply type in the word “antichrist” on the Internet, and you will be inundated with suggested personalities such as the Roman Emperor Nero, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and the Pope—which are but a few of the candidates put forth. In most cases, “the antichrist” is supposed to be connected with the end of the world, the number 666, and various other “signs of the times.” However, John is the only biblical writer to use the word antichrist(s). He uses it five times in the following verses: 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7. In these five brief references, John made several things clear concerning the antichrist. He wrote in 1 John 2:18,22: “Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour…. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

First, let it be noted that John specifically mentioned that many antichrists had already come into the world. If his readers were looking for a single, solitary figure distinguished as the sole antichrist, John disabused them of this notion by mentioning that many antichrists had come. Any attempt to identify the antichrist as a solitary political or religious personality misses the pointed statement by John that many antichrists had already come into the world. No doubt, John was specifically referring to those of the Gnostic persuasion.
Second, John unambiguously informed his readers that during their own lifetime (i.e., the first century), these antichrists had already come into the world. All efforts to connect the antichrist with some future, end-time predictions fail to account for the fact that John specifically stated that the many antichrists were already in the world at the time of his writing.

If, according to John, there were many antichrists in the first century, what was John’s definition of an antichrist? John defined an antichrist as any person (or group) who denies the Father and the Son. In 1 John 4:3, he explained, “every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.” When analyzed critically, one can see that any person or group, which does not recognize that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come in the flesh, is a person or group that has been seized by the spirit of antichrist. As abrasive as it may seem, groups such as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even orthodox Jews would all fall under John’s condemnation of denying the Son and the Father.

As John urged his readers almost two thousand years ago, so we must today: “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).


Coffman, Burton (1979), Commentary on James, 1&2 Peter, 1,2&3 John, and Jude (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1966), The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude(Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Ryrie, Charles C. (1971), Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press).

Which Law Was Abolished? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Which Law Was Abolished?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

A great deal of confusion exists in the religious world concerning what spiritual law man is under today. Some say the old law still is binding—all of it. Others say that most of it has been abolished, but that some of it still is in effect. Many simply pick and choose laws out of both testaments and abide only by those that are appealing to them. Much of the confusion today about the old law and the new law is a result of the false teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. This intensely evangelistic group teaches that the Ten Commandments still are binding in the present age. Although most Christians readily agree that nine of the Ten Commandments either are stated explicitly or are implied in the New Testament (and thus binding today because they are part of the new law), Seventh-Day Adventists actively teach that the Ten Commandments (including and especially the command to observe the Sabbath day—Exodus 20:8) are part of “God’s unchangeable law” (from the Seventh-Day Adventist’s official Web site—www.adventist.org/beliefs). Whereas certain parts of the Old Testament have been abolished, they insist that God intended for the Ten Commandments to be an eternal covenant that all of His children must follow.

In response to such teachings, some Christians (like myself) quickly cite passages of Scripture that indicate the old law has been taken away. For example, the writer of Hebrews plainly stated that “if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second” (8:7). Then, quoting the prophet Jeremiah, he wrote: “Because finding fault with them, He says: ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt’ ” (8:8-9; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). Elsewhere, the apostle Paul stated that Christ has “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” (Colossians 2:14, emp. added). The old law has become “obsolete” (Hebrews 8:13; cf. 7:12; Ephesians 2:14-16). Although we still can learn numerous valuable lessons and principles about how to live godly lives from the old law (cf. Romans 15:4), we are bound by it no longer.
What some like the Seventh-Day Adventists teach, however, is that that God gave two laws on Mt. Sinai. They differentiate between the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial laws, saying that one (the Ten Commandments) is the Law of God and the other (the ceremonial laws) is the Law of Moses. Moreover, they assert that all of the passages in the Bible that refer to the old law being abolished are speaking of the ceremonial laws and not the Ten Commandments, which (they stress) were written with the very finger of God (Exodus 31:18).

Those who separate the “the Law of God” and “the Law of Moses” (in an attempt to find approval for continuing to follow portions of the old law) fail to realize that the Bible does not make such distinctions. Ezra read from “the Book of the Law of Moses,” which also was called “the Book of the Law of God” (Nehemiah 8:1,18). Luke recorded that after Mary gave birth to Jesus “when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons’ ” (Luke 2:22-24, emp. added). The Law of Moses and the Law of the Lord were the same thing and still are. When writing to the brethren in Rome, the apostle Paul quoted from the Ten Commandments and taught that it was part of the old law to which they had “become dead…through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4,7). In his second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul wrote:

[C]learly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart…. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious…. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious (3:3-11, emp. added).

What was “passing away”? The law written on the “tablets of stone.” What was the law “engraved on stones” that was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai? The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). In this passage, Paul teaches the very opposite of what Seventh-Day Adventists teach—the Ten Commandments are not an eternal covenant.

The New Testament explicitly teaches that the old law has been abolished. Whether one is talking about the Ten Commandments or the ceremonial laws, the Law of Moses or the Law of God, all are considered the old law that no longer is in effect. Jesus Christ fulfilled that law and nailed it to the cross forever (Matthew 5:17-18; Colossians 2:13-17).

Where Are You From? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Where Are You From?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Although it sounds like an easy question, for a growing number of people it is becoming more and more difficult to answer: Where are you from? Ask the eighteen-year-old college freshmen who grew up in a military family where she is from, and you likely will hear her rattle off five or six different states (and perhaps even a few countries!). Ask the son of a Major League baseball player (who has played for eight different teams in his twenty-year career) where he is from, and you might hear him respond by saying, “I was reared in a lot of places.” Ask a preacher’s kid where he was reared, and you likely will hear the same response.
It seems like the longer I live, the more problems I have telling people “where I’m from.” I was born in Macon, Georgia, then lived in Tennessee for five years, back to Georgia for two, in Oklahoma for the next twelve, and then back to Tennessee (in three different cities) for the next six years. I now live in Alabama. Today, when someone asks me, “Where are you from?,” I must confess that I sometimes do not know what to say. “The last move I made was from Tennessee. I spent most of my “growing-up years” in Oklahoma. I was born in Georgia….” Where am I from? Take your pick.

Some critics actually think they have a legitimate Bible contradiction on their hands by pointing out that different passages sometimes speak of the same person being from two (or more) different places. For example, in Mark 1:21-29 Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew are said to have lived in (or very near) Capernaum. The apostle John, on the other hand, recorded that “the city of Andrew and Peter” was Bethsaida (1:44). Are these two accounts contradictory? No. Peter and Andrew were living in Capernaum at the beginning of Jesus ministry, however, they were known as being “of” Bethsaida, which is probably where they first learned a trade, got married, and made a name for themselves. The writers are simply referring to two different times in the lives of Peter and Andrew.
A similar “controversy” surrounds whence Jesus came. Well-known skeptic Dennis McKinsey had the audacity to ask, “Why would Jesus be called ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ when He was born in Bethlehem of Judea” (2000, p. 133). Obviously, Mr. McKinsey is not willing to give the Bible writers the same freedom we have today when we talk about our “ hometown” and our “birthplace.” The fact is, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), but grew up in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23; cf. Acts 22:8).

Remember, for something to be a legitimate contradiction, the same person, place, or thing must be under consideration at the same time in the same sense. If not, then it is impossible to know that two things are contradictory.


McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).

My Journey With a Friend by EE Healy


My Journey With a Friend

Each day is part of a journey I travel.
I know where I have been, 
I wonder what is around the bend.

In the midst of my journey I look for the journey's end.

As I journey, I wonder when will my journey end?

There is a friend who has joined me on my journey.

A friend who will see me to the journey's end.

He gives me strength and helps me on my journey.
That I might enjoy my journey and the journey's end.

Rom 5:1-5
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Eph 1:13-14
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory.

2 Tim 1:13-14
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The God Who Hopes by Trevor Bowen


The God Who Hopes


Most people expect Christians to have hope in God and His promises. The hope that follows faith and commitment to Jesus Christ is indeed a powerful blessing beyond exchange (Hebrews 6:15-20). But, did you know that God has hope in you? He is an optimistic God, who believes in you! This is a profoundly encouraging thought, but this same thought also implies a responsibility to live up to that hope. In this article, we will first examine the case for God’s optimism, and then we will consider the applications that can be drawn from this great truth.

The Optimistic God

Both human experience and Bible examples teach us that one of the most powerful lies, which the Devil feeds, is that we are born failures whom God long abandoned (II Corinthians 2:6-11John 8:44). You can almost hear the words, "You are loser. You can't do it. It is too hard. You are so hopeless that God forgot about you a long time ago." Have you ever felt that way? Sin breeds this despair; however, no lie could be further from the truth. Notice the motivation ascribed to God in the following passage:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)
Who is the subject hoping in the above verse? To answer this question, please consider, "Who is the only being capable of subjecting the entire creation beside the Creator Himself?". Moreover, please consider that this being is also benevolent, because this hope looks forward to the revealing, deliverance, and adoption of God’s children (Romans 8:21-25). Again, who else has such power and love beside God Himself?
Who or what was the object of God’s hope? Did He hope in Himself? No, this cannot be. Beside being absurdly circular, hope does not exist where desire is realized and known (Romans 8:24-25), and "known to God from eternity are all His works." (Acts 15:18). Could this hope have been vested in angels or some other heavenly race? It seems unlikely, because they are not part of the context. Furthermore, in the above context, "the creation" is the object of subjection and deliverance, and elsewhere we have learned that angels do not enjoy the mercy of redemption (Hebrews 2:14-16). Therefore, this verse must be referring to our race, which was indeed subjected to the "futility" of "thorns and briers" and the "bondage" of the "fear of death" (Genesis 3:16-24Hebrews 2:14-15).
While you are meditating on the implications of that thought, please consider this description of love:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. ... (I Corinthians 13:4-8)
Love by its very definition is optimistic. It looks for the best in people. It wants them to succeed. Love looks for people succeed - even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). Considering that "God is love" (I John 4:8-17), would it not be fair to assume that God also "believes all things, hopes all things"? Is He not identified with the virtue, which is identified as being optimistic?

The Accused But Confident God

God’s optimism and belief in us has not gone unnoticed. In fact, it has drawn Him criticism, even accusations. As one brief glimpse into the dynamics of that spiritual world, please consider the following introduction to the story of Job:
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. ... Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? 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!" And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:1-12)
Please notice how the Lord lifted up Job as an example to Satan. Even after the Accuser indited the Lord of unfairness and partiality, God continued to assert His confidence in Job. How did God manifest this belief in Job? He released the Enemy to persecute and tempt Job! Even though the Devil destroyed most of Job's life, He could not destroy Job.
Later, God again exalted Job before Satan, which ultimately resulted in an even broader authority for Satan to afflict Job. But still, Job did not yield. He patiently clung to God, even though He could not reconcile his sufferings with God’s character (Job 1:20-2:10).
What lessons can we derive from this story? Among many applications we can learn that God may maintain profound confidence in us! Furthermore, He may volunteer and assert that confidence before the most aggressive and hateful of accusers. Can you imagine God holding you up as a worthy representative of His efforts? If it was true of Job, then it can be true of us, if we are willing to live like Job (Job 1:1).
Another application that we can make from Job's suffering is that God permitted Job's trial because He believed Job could triumph. Although we are not privileged to the heavenly discussions that pertain to the example of our faithfulness, we have been given this promise:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Because we will never be pushed beyond our capacity to overcome, we know that every temptation and every trial that we suffer is a vote of divine confidence on our behalf.

God’s Investment

Please recall that God is not only a God who forgives, but He is a God who wants to forgive (II Peter 3:9Romans 2:4Ezekiel 18:32). Now God is not man (Hosea 11:9), but it seems unreasonable that any being would seek to redeem that which is unredeemable. Would you try to salvage something that was truly hopelessly lost? The very fact that God has invested so much in an effort to save us is a testament to the fact that He believes we can be saved!
Furthermore, if my old truck should break down while driving it to work, do you think I would give up, abandon it, and go buy another truck? Would you? Well, you might, if you saw my truck, but that's not the point. People generally do not "throw more money after bad". People only invest or continue to invest in something that is of value to them. In my case, I would invest more money to fix my truck, because I value the transportation it offers. Greater investment signifies greater esteemed value. Given this truism, let us consider the investment God made in us:
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
What more can God invest in us than He has already invested? Although Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross certainly constitutes the most extravagant gift bestowed upon us, His redeeming death is far from being the onlyblessing God has bequeathed to His children. Many of the derivative blessings that flow from the cross are well known to Christians, such as prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16), the church (Ephesians 1:22-234:11-16), acceptable worship (Ephesians 5:18-20), revelation and the Bible (John 16:713-16Ephesians 3:3-5), and many more! However, please consider the following blessing, which highlights God’s hope and desire for us:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Please notice the patience exhibited by the heavenly Father. Admittedly, His chastening arises out of His own love for us, but the chastening is also performed in expectation of our transformation. Every time that God patiently administers discipline, He is manifesting a hope that we will be purified by His refining efforts. He is continually investing in us! And, that patient, persistent investment necessitates the existence of His hope in us!

God’s Hope for Return

God’s investment in us was performed not without some hope of return (Romans 8:20). He wants us to do more than respond to the message of repentance. He wants us to persevere through temptations and persecutions, while bearing much fruit (Matthew 13:1-918-23). Jesus warns us that those who do not bear fruit will be cut down. Immediately following Jesus’ instruction to repent (Luke 13:1-5), He illustrates our urgent need to not only repent, but to also bear spiritual fruit, using this figure:
He also spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.' " (Luke 13:6-9)
This passage indicates God’s patient desire for us to repent and bear fruit. However, it also warns us that He will not wait forever. At some point, He will "cut us down", if we do not bear "the peaceable fruit of righteousness"! Jesus corroborates our responsibility to bear fruit in a similar parable:
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. ..."
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. ..."
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:1-8)
Given this warning of danger that awaits those who do not bear fruit, we should all be properly motivated to produce much fruit. However, this is not the most noble motivation, nor is it the ultimate driving force that sustains the mature Christian. This is reserved for the desire to glorify God and help others, which flows from our love for God and our fellow man (John 15:8-14Matthew 5:13-16I Peter 2:11-12).

To What Profit?

Does this mean that God expects us to perform enough works to justify our salvation? Can we hope to produce fruit enough to return a profit on God’s investment? Jesus clearly indicates the futility of such a thought:
"So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' " (Luke 17:10)
Clearly this verse shows that we cannot claim or even hope to produce a profit for the Lord. We cannot even claim to be a "break-even investment", because we have not even "done what was our duty to do".
Does Jesus’ advice contradict all that we have just studied? Is Jesus foretelling that we can never achieve God’s goal for us? Well, yes and no. As far as servants go, we have done a fairly poor job. Some have certainly done better than others, but none of us will be profitable servants. However, this begs the questions, "Was profitable servants the ultimate purpose of our creation?". Certainly, Jesus "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." (Titus 2:14). But, was God focused on creating a special people, primarily for the purpose of serving Him?
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friendsYou are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15)
Although the Scriptures abound with references to Christians being "servants""bond-servants", and "disciples", the Scriptures also contain a multitude of references to our being "children of God" and "the family of God". As seen in the above passages, some were even called "the friend of God" and "greatly beloved" of God (James 2:23Daniel 10:1119). Furthermore, Jesus extended to each of us the invitation of "brother"and even "friend" by being made like us, so He could give His life for us on the cross (Hebrews 2:10-17John 15:12-14). Each of these tender designations indicate a desire for a relationship that transcends bond servitude (Romans 8:15-17).


Although God does not hope like men, in that His hope will never be mixed with uncertainty, He does exhibit hope in that He desires for that which is yet to come, which is our ultimate salvation with Him in heaven (Romans 8:19-25). We can derive great comfort and confidence by knowing that God holds such hope for us. We can derive further assurance by observing the confidence He is willing to assert on our behalf, whether by subjecting us to testing, or whether by offering His Son so that we might be redeemed. However, this blessing does not come without responsibility:
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, That I may answer him who reproaches me. (Proverbs 27:11)
There is one who would accuse us, but his ultimate aim is to accuse our Father (Revelation 12:10). Our God has exhibited great confidence in us. Let us not fail Him. Rather, let us "walk worthily" of His investment and of Him, since He has given us all things, even His own Son, so that we may be reconciled to Him. By sacrificing Jesus on our behalf, He as already demonstrated His belief in us. Will you reciprocate His optimism, confidence, and love by believing in Him?
 Trevor Bowen