"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER" A Plea To Pilgrims (2:11-12) by Mark Copeland


A Plea To Pilgrims (2:11-12)


1. Having said that as Christians we are...
   a. "a chosen generation"
   b. "a royal priesthood"
   c. "a holy nation"
   d. God's "own special people"
   ...Peter makes a heart-felt plea concerning our conduct before those
      in the world - 1Pe 2:11-12

2. As we consider this "plea to pilgrims", remember that Peter is 
   speaking by inspiration; i.e., it is actually GOD who is making this plea!

[Before we examine the plea itself, let's notice some things mentioned
in the passage that serve as...]


      1. Beloved by whom?
         a. By Peter, of course - 1Pe 2:12; cf. also 1Pe 4:12
         b. By Paul, James, John, & Jude, all of whom used this same 
            term of endearment
         c. But most of all, we are beloved of God and Jesus! 
            - cf. Ro 1:7; Col 3:12
      2. It is out such human and divine love that this plea is made

      1. You have not yet reached your heavenly home
      2. As we will see later, failure to heed the plea will mean you 
         will never reach it!
      3. In view of that real possibility, we find this plea made even
         in form of "begging"!

      1. A war in which "fleshly lusts" wage war against the "soul"
      2. The outcome of this "war" will determine whether or not we 
         will reach our heavenly home

      1. Some of which who often speak evil of you (even as they did of Christ)
      2. But by heeding this plea, it is possible to cause those very 
         ones who speak evil of you to glorify God in "the day of visitation"
         a. This "day of visitation" might refer to the Day of Judgment
         b. In my opinion, it refers to the "day" when God's grace is 
            shown through a presentation of the gospel to them - cf. Lk 19:44
         c. In either case, we have an opportunity to bring glory to 
            God by the way we heed this plea

[In view of these four reasons, then, God through Peter is making a 
heart-felt plea.  What is this plea?

It contains two parts, which we shall now look at closely...]


      1. The word "abstain" means "to hold one's self constantly back"
      2. From what are we to abstain?
         a. "Fleshly lusts", some of which are defined by Paul in 
            Ga 5:19-21
         b. Notice that they involve more than just "sexual" sins (such
            as fornication)
         c. They also include sins of the "emotions" (hatred, outbursts
            of wrath, jealousies, envy, etc.)
      3. Why must we "hold ourselves constantly back" from these things?
         a. According to Peter, they "wage war against the soul"
         b. According to Paul, they can keep us out of the kingdom of 
            God! - cf. Ga 5:21
         c. So if we want to succeed in our spiritual "pilgrimage" and
            reach our heavenly destination, we must heed this "plea to 
      4. How can one abstain from fleshly lusts?  In his epistles, Paul
         explains how...
         a. Keep your mind on the things of the Spirit, and not on the 
            things of the flesh - Ro 8:5-6
         b. Grow in Christ, and don't provide opportunities for the 
            fulfillment of fleshly lusts - Ro 13:13-14
         c. Should such opportunities arise, flee them (remember Joseph
            and Potiphar's wife?), and pursue after that which is good 
            - cf. 2Ti 2:22

   [By following Paul's advice, we can win the "war" between the flesh
   and soul, and successfully complete our pilgrimage!

   But abstaining from fleshly lusts is not the only thing expected of
   God's pilgrims...]

      1. The word "honorable" ("honest", KJV) in the Greek is "kalos"
         a. It means that which is good, beautiful, harmonious, and lovely
         b. I.e., our conduct is to be something beautiful and 
            refreshing to behold
      2. We can have conduct that is "honorable"...
         a. If on the one hand, we abstain from "fleshly lusts"
         b. And on the other hand, we do "good works" ("good" is the 
            same word in the Greek as "honorable")
      3. We have seen what are "fleshly lusts", what "good works" can 
         we do that are beautiful to behold?
         a. We can see to the needs of those who are poor, fatherless, 
            widowed, sick, and otherwise afflicted - cf. Jm 1:27
         b. We can demonstrate love and hospitality to brethren, 
            friends, neighbors, even strangers - He 13:1-3
         c. We can react kindly to those who despise us, speak evil of
            us, and mistreat us - Lk 6:27-31
      4. The effect of such conduct is that it will likely prompt 
         others to glorify God!
         a. As Jesus taught us in Mt 5:16
         b. Even those who at the present may speak against us as 
            evildoers! - 1Pe 2:12


1. By heeding this "plea to pilgrims" as found in 1Pe 2:11-12, it is 
   possible to accomplish several things at the same time...
   a. We can save ourselves
   b. We can glorify God
   c. We might even help save those who presently speak evil of us!

2. As the "people of God" who have "obtained mercy" (1Pe 2:10), can 
   we do any less?
   a. Abstain, then, from those fleshly lusts which wage war against 
      the soul!
   b. Conduct yourselves, then, in ways that are honorable and a thing
      of beauty for others to behold!
   -- In so doing, you will ensure the successful completion of your 
      spiritual pilgrimage!

Speaking of the mercy of God, have you received the mercy that comes 
through the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit"? 
- cf. Tit 3:4-7

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Non-Religion, America, and Apologetics by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Non-Religion, America, and Apologetics

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

My dad was born in 1935 on a farm in southwest Missouri. My mother was born in 1940 in southern Alabama. Neither has any recollection of ever having conversations with atheists or agnostics. Practically all their acquaintances were theists who considered themselves Christians.
Religious researcher and statistician Flavil Yeakley mentioned in his most recent book, Why They Left, that in 1950 “we could assume that most of the people around us already believed in God, in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and in the Bible as the Word of God. They already understood that people are lost in sin and in need of salvation” (2012, p. 29). According to George Gallup, Jr. and Michael Lindsey, in 1947, 89% of Americans identified themselves as Christian Protestants or Catholics (1999, p. 7). Considering this is in addition to the millions of other “religious” Americans (e.g., Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.), it is safe to say that the percentage of non-religious Americans (including atheists, agnostics, and skeptics) was minuscule.
Although, thankfully, the majority of Americans still believe in God (see Miller, 2012), the upward trend of non-religion in America is quite disturbing. In 1990, 8.2% of Americans claimed to be non-religious, most notably agnostics, skeptics, and atheists (Kosmin, 1991). In 2001, that number had jumped to 14.1% (Kosmin, et al., 2001). By 2008 it reached 15% (Kosmin and Keysar, 2009). According to USA Today’s religion reporter, Cathy Lynn Grossman, aggregated surveys by the Pew Research Center indicated that the percentage of non-religious Americans has now reached 19% of the American population (2012). [NOTE: The percentage of non-religious individuals would be even higher were it not for the many millions of Catholic Hispanics who have migrated to the United States over the past two decades.]
The percentage of non-religious Americans only 60 years ago was hardly noticeable. By 1990, nearly one in every 12 Americans claimed no religion. Today, it appears that nearly one in five Americans claims no affiliation with Christianity or any other religion, while one in every three Americans claims that religion is not an important part of their daily lives (Newport, 2009). Sadly, the number of skeptics, agnostics, atheists, etc. has risen drastically in only the last few decades, while the number of Americans claiming Jesus Christ as Lord of their daily lives has continued to decrease gradually.
The likelihood of you crossing paths with an atheist, agnostic, or skeptic at some point in the next few months is pretty high. The odds of your children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces running into atheistic professors or skeptical students in high school or college are very high (considering many public schools and universities are breeding grounds for non-religious Americans). More than ever, Christians need to equip themselves with the tools to help them “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Those of us at Apologetics Press hope that you will consider equipping your friends and family members with soul-saving, life-enriching materials. Why not order for your younger children or grandchildren a subscription to Discovery, A.P.’s monthly children’s magazine on Scripture and science? Why not consider arming your teens with Truth Be Told: Exposing the Myth of Evolution? Why not purchase multiple copies of A Christian’s Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism and give them away to college students who may very well be struggling for the first time in their lives with knowing how to defend their belief in the one true God of the Bible? At the very least, why not send your friends or family members a link to the A.P. site, where they can obtain thousands of pages of free electronic Christian evidence material.
Never in the history of the United States has there been a greater need for Christians to study Christian evidences. It is imperative that we teach our young people, not merely proof texts about God’s plan of salvation, but the evidence for God Himself, as well as proofs for the inspiration of the Bible and the deity of Christ.
Are you armed and ready for spiritual warfare? Are you prepared to answer the accusations levied against New Testament Christianity (cf. 1 Peter 3:15)? Are you preparing yourself and others to assist some of the millions of non-religious Americans whom, by the grace of God, you will have an opportunity to talk to about the Creator and Savior of the world (Colossians 1:16; John 4:42; 1 John 4:14)?


Gallup, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).
Grossman, Cathy Lynn (2012), “Survey Finds 19% Without Religious Affiliation,” USA Today, July 20, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-07-19/no-religion-affiliation/56344976/1.
Kosmin, Barry (1991), The National Survey of Religious Identification.
Kosmin, Barry, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar (2001), American Religious Identification Survey.
Kosmin, Barry and Ariela Keysar (2009), American Religious Identification Survey.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “Literal Creationists Holding Their Ground in the Polls,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1093&article=2040.
Newport, Frank (2009), “State of the States: Importance of Religion,” Galluphttp://www.gallup.com/poll/114022/state-states-importance-religion.aspx.
Yeakley, Flavil (2012), Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ(Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Non-Religion on the Rise in America by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Non-Religion on the Rise in America

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Three extensive surveys over the past 20 years have revealed that a growing number of Americans are becoming less and less religious. In 1990, 8.2% of Americans claimed to be non-religious, most notably agnostics and atheists (Kosmin, 1991). In 2001, that number had jumped to 14.1% (Kosmin, et al., 2001), and by 2008 it had reached 15% (Kosmin and Keysar, 2009). Based upon a combined total of 217,742 residential households surveyed (an average of 72,580 per effort) in the contiguous United States, the percentage of non-religious Americans has almost doubled in two decades. Whereas in 1990, one out of every 12 Americans claimed to be non-religious, today nearly one out of every six Americans claims no religious affiliation. [NOTE: The percentage of non-religious individuals would be even higher were it not for the many millions of Catholic Hispanics who have migrated to the United States over the past two decades.]

Sadly, the America that we inhabit today is a very different country (religiously speaking) than it was when I grew up in the 1980s, and drastically dissimilar to the country in which my father was reared in the 1940s. In 1947, for example, 89% of Americans identified themselves as Christian Protestants or Catholics, in addition to the millions of other “religious” Americans (e.g., Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.; Gallup and Lindsay, 1999, p. 7), which would have left comparatively very few skeptics, agnostics, and atheists.

The odds of you crossing paths with an atheist, agnostic, or skeptic at some point in the next few months are pretty high. The likelihood of your children, grandchildren, nephews, or nieces running into atheistic professors or skeptical students in high school or college is very high (considering many public schools and universities are breeding grounds for non-religious Americans). More than ever, Christians need to equip themselves with the tools and weapons to help them “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Being the time of the year when many are purchasing items for others, we hope that you will consider equipping your friends and family members with soul-saving, life-enriching materials. Why not order your younger children or grandchildren a subscription to Discovery, A.P.’s monthly children’s magazine on Scripture and science? Why not consider arming your teens with Truth Be Told: Exposing the Myth of Evolution? Why not purchase multiple copies of our newest book A Christian’s Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism and give them away to college students who may very well be struggling for the first time in their lives with knowing how to defend their belief in the one true God of the Bible? At the very least, why not send your friends or family members a link to this site, where they can join the millions of others who have obtained thousands of pages of free electronic Christian evidence material?

The Lord has blessed Apologetics Press with a 30+ year history. During that time, supporters of this work have enabled us to produce a plethora of material on Christian evidences. We believe that making available solid materials on the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, etc. is more important today than ever before in America’s history. Are you armed and ready for the fight? Have you helped to prepare your family and friends for this eternally important spiritual warfare? Why not take action today and make a difference? Please feel free to call upon us if we can be of any assistance (1-800-234-8558).


Gall, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S.Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).

Kosmin, Barry (1991), The National Survey of Religious Identification, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CCwQFjAD&url= http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jewishdatabank.org%2FArchive%2FNSRI1990- Research_Report_with_Selected_Tabulations.pdf&ei= nH_1TIvqG8WBlAfd5Jz4BQ&usg=AFQjCNHASEXKYZTsxzKlRe24U8-4foBJQA.

Kosmin, Barry A., Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar (2001), American Religious Identification Survey, www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_briefs/aris.pdf.

Kosmin, Barry A. and Ariela Keysar (2009), American Religious Identification Survey, www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/reports/ARIS_Report_2008.pdf.

Nature Sticks to Design by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Nature Sticks to Design

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Kimm Groshong, a science writer in California, penned an article titled “Unbreakable” for the June 15, 2007 edition of New Scientist. She filled much of the article examining and extolling the amazing capabilities of certain well-designed structural components. The components she analyzed possess an intriguing adhesive, referred to in the article as “self-healing glue.” This amazing glue has the ability to allow less important bonds to be broken, so that crucial structures can flex without breaking, and then re-bond the broken bonds when stress and pressure are relaxed. Groshong noted that knowledge of the technology involved in the self-healing adhesive “could lead to new high-performance equipment, vehicles and even radical space hardware ranging from inflatable moon habitats to space-elevator cables” (194[2607]:43-45).
What company is responsible for this astounding material? What brilliant minds converged to produce such advanced technology? What genius devised the intricate workings of self-healing adhesives that have capabilities which surpass the designs and inventions of thousands of brilliant scientists for the last several years? No human company and no human scientists made this technology a reality. The self-healing adhesive is a property and capability of human bones, as well as other natural structures such as shells, spider silk, and micro-algae.
Even with brilliant men and women applying thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in research costs to study nature’s self-healing glues, researchers such as Paul Hansma recognize that there is still a long way to go. He said: “It will require a lot of further research for people to be able to translate our discovery, together with a lot of other discoveries, into the materials of the future” (as quoted in Groshong, 194[2607]:45).
To summarize the situation, then, nature maintains engineered properties that are so advanced that our current knowledge of them must be supplemented by many more finds and discoveries in order for humans to properly use them to construct synthetic, useful structures. Nature, however, currently employs these engineering marvels to construct things like bones, shells, and spider silk. How are we told that nature has this phenomenal ability? Somehow, we are supposed to believe that nature “miraculously” evolved these engineering marvels over multiplied millions of years by random processes. Interestingly, this explanation remains extremely difficult to maintain when presented by scientists who imply intelligence when describing nature’s non-intelligent origin. Grosshong explains that “lessons are emerging” from nature. One wonders what intelligent teacher is responsible for teaching these lessons. In truth, the rational, logical explanation of such natural marvels is that they were designed by an Engineer with capabilities and knowledge far superior to those possessed by humans. The God who created and designed the natural world is using nature to teach humans that they can observe the material Universe and know for a fact that He exists (Romans 1:20).


Groshong, Kimm (2007), “Unbreakable,” New Scientist, 194[2607]:43-45, June 15.

Attributes of God (Part 6) He is Just by Ben Fronczek


Attributes of God (Part 6) He is Just

Could you imagine being put in jail for a heinous crime that you did not commit? That’s what happened to a FL man by the name of James Richardson. He was accuse of killing all seven of his children by feeding them poison, supposedly to collect their life insurance money. But after spending 21 years in prison he was finally declared innocent of that crime and released. Twenty one years earlier his wife had prepared some food for the children the night before and put it in the refrigerator so that their neighbor, Betsy Reese, who was to babysit the kids would have something to feed them while both parents were at work. All those 21 years Richardson was in prison he swore he did not do such a terrible thing. He claimed to be innocent, and he was. It was the baby sitter that killed his 7 kids. She poisoned them all. The following is an article I found relating to the case.
‘James Richardson was sentenced to die by the court and was on death row for five years. He was saved by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1972 that Florida’s death penalty at the time was unconstitutional Richardson was then placed in jail and was eligible for parole in 1993.                                                      
There were many clues that were overlooked that would have pointed to Richardson not being involved. The first is the presence of a likelier suspect, Bessie Reece who, as of 1988 had confessed to the murders more than 100 times to her caretakers. These confessions haven’t been taken seriously because she is now mentally incompetent with Alzheimer’s disease and resides in an Arcadia nursing home. Bessie was also on parole at the time of the murders for killing her ex-husband with a poison. The facts regarding Bessie Reece’s murdered husband were never brought up in court and the prosecution tried very hard to keep that fact from coming up in the court proceedings. In fact, little was done to pursue Bessie’s involvement with the murders at all, including the fact that she was the last to see the children alive, fed them the food, and lied when she initially stated that she had not gone into the apartment.’ (Wikipedia)
That poor man was not only falsely accused of killing his own children, he also had to suffer with their loss and spend time 21 years in prison with every one believing he was guilty of killing his children. His life was ruined. Even after he got out of jail his was in poor health because of prison life and prison food, and wife even divorced him after he got out.
Talk about injustice. The system failed him. Justice was not served.
Even tho the justice of man is flawed, God’s justice is ABSOLUTELY perfect and without any flaws. This is another one of His attributes, God is just.
Since God is infinitely and eternally perfect, He must be impartial in His judgments. He is, and will always be absolutely fair, and He will always treat His creatures equally fair.  He will always keep His word, and He will render to all His creatures their due.
Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality,     “I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to JUSTICE & not according to law.”
In my last lesson I mentioned the fact that:
Grace is getting what we do not deserve.
Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.
But today I say that Justice is getting what we do deserve.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about this, first thought that comes to my mind is “ought oh!” Because I am far from being perfect. Like everyone else, I sin. I think about verses like Romans 2:5-11 which says;  But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like all this talk about God’s anger and wrath, and our trouble and distress. But I thank God for His mercy and grace and sending us Jesus. Paul goes on to write in the next chapter;  But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 (NLT)
Thank God for His mercy and Grace, and thank God for Jesus!
Someone wrote, “Now, when the sinner is brought to the bar, Jesus appears there Himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to His side, His hands, His feet, and challenges JUSTICE to bring anything against the sinners whom He represents; He pleads His blood, and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go their way; deliver them from going down into the pit, for He has found a ransom.”
This person was saying that when we stand before our Lord on Judgement day, Jesus will be there at our side, and declare, He’s one of mine, He believed in and accepted the sacrifice I made for him. I’ve have prepared a place for him here in heaven. And the Judge will say, “Enter in.”
As I prepared this lesson, I also realized that there is also another whole side of God being a just and fair. It’s in regards how fair or unfairly we are treated now.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote in his commentary, “No blood of martyrs shall be shed in vain; no groans of confessors in prison shall be left without inquisition being made concerning them. All wrongs shall be righted, all the oppressed shall be avenged. Justice may at times leave the courts of man, but it abides upon the tribunal of God. For this, every right-minded person will bless God.”
I believe that God will bring justice into our life even now. We all go thru situations that are unfair in the here and now; things you have no control over. It doesn’t seem fair that someone can lie about you and damage your reputation. It doesn’t seem fair that some cannot find a good spouse yet other get married sometimes to 3 or 4 times. It doesn’t seem fair that some cannot have a baby, yet there are others who aren’t married have one kid after another, some don’t even want kid yet they have three or four.
It may not seem fair that you have a special needs child, or that you lost a loved one, or that you have a sickness or a physical problem. Maybe it seems like life has thrown you a curve. It hasn’t worked out the way you’ve hope it would.
But here’s what I’ve learned, Even though life is not always fair, God is fair. And if you will keep trusting Him, and try not get bitter, and do your best to keep moving forward. God has promised you as His child, that He will pay you back for every unfair thing that has happened.
Now don’t let one or even a few bad breaks ruin the rest of your life. Don’t let a foiled interview, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a financial crisis, a bad childhood or anything else keep you from the amazing future that God has in store for you. What happened to you may have been wrong, and felt unfair. What someone else did to you may have put you at a disadvantage, but what they did cannot stop the destiny that our God has planned for you. No one else has the final say, only God does. And God can restore that which was taken from you.
Concerning Israel’s mistreatment by others, God spoke thru Isaiah saying, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing.   In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
Remember Job, after the devil tormented and took everything away from him? In the end he received back double for his trouble. Nothing that has happened to you is a surprise to God. God already has the restoration, the vindication, the new beginning prepared for you. That setback may simply be a setup for God to take you to higher level. You just have to shake off the self pity, shake off the defeat and get ready for God to do something new. He can pay you back for every injustice.
This is what happened in the Bible over and over again. The Israelites’ spent 400 years in Egypt, much of that as Egyptian slaves. They were terribly mistreated. God heard their cries. God said in Exodus 3:7f “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
God has seen every wrong that has been done to you. He has seen every person that has hurt you, every tear you have shed, every lonely night you spent, every injustice, and every wrong done to you. And so God told those people, “I have come down to deliver you.”
There comes a point where He says, ‘Enough is enough; I’ve seen it, now I’m going to do something about it. I’m not going to give you just what you deserve, I’m going to make the enemy pay and bring you out better off than you were before.’
God delivered the Israelites out of slavery. Pharaoh finally agreed to let them go. That was worth celebrating in itself, but they did not leave Egypt empty handed. God is a god of justice. He always makes the enemy pay for bringing trouble into His children’s life. On their way out, God told the Israelites to ask their captors for their gold and silver and jewels. God cause their captors to look favorably upon them before they left and they therefore plundered Egypt of much of it wealth as they left. What was God doing? He was paying them back for 400 years of mistreatment.
It may not happen overnight or according to your timetable, but God is a God of justice. He is going to make sure His children are treated fairly. He is keeping the records, He knows exactly what you are owed. God sees every time you do the right things, but the wrong thing happens. He knows every time you make the better choice and forgive, and every time you work hard but don’t get the credit. God is closely watching. You have an account with Him, and He will not only make sure that you get what you deserve, but in His justice He will pay you back with more that you expect. It may not always happen here and now; some even loose their lives unjustly. Some are even martyred for doing the right thing. Jesus told His disciple they would receive back a hundred-fold in heaven.
Maybe you are beginning to lose hope. God is saying to you what He was saying to the Israelites, ‘I am coming down to do something about it.’ You need to get ready… there will be a time for payback. Everything the enemy has taken from you, God is going to restore, maybe in ways you never expected. God will pay you back for the childhood that you may not have had. God is going to pay you back for the person who falsely accused you. He is going to pay you back for years spent in an abusive relationship.
So don’t go around with a defeated mentality; you may have had more than your share of bad breaks, you could easily get discouraged and settle where you are, but I am asking you to shake that off and trust that God will come down and act on your behalf.’   (Parts based on a sermon by Joel Olsteen)
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566
All comments can be emailed to: bfronzek@gmail.com

“We have the prophetic word confirmed” (2 Peter 1:19) by Roy Davison


“We have the prophetic word confirmed” (2 Peter 1:19)
How the gospel was verified in the first century by signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Peter emphasizes in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that God’s word is absolutely reliable. The “prophetic word” comes to us as Holy Scripture. Peter continues: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy1 never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20, 21).2
In what sense do we have this prophetic word “confirmed”? The Greek word translated “confirmed” [βεβαιότερον] is a comparative [of βέβαιος] meaning “more firm” or “more sure”. How can something that is already “sure” be “more sure”? If it is authenticated or confirmed.

How has God confirmed His word?
God has authenticated the prophetic word (1) by His own testimony, (2) by the testimony of His Spirit, (3) by the testimony of His Son, (4) by the testimony of inspired witnesses, and (5) by His verification of their testimony through signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:3, 4).

The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of God the Father.
Peter had just written: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18). “We” refers to Peter, James and John: “Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’” (Matthew 17:5).
The Father also testified when Jesus was baptized: “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:17).3
God’s testimony is trustworthy: “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:9, 10). There is no excuse for rejecting the testimony of God!4 
God testified through the prophets:5 “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). John the Baptist, the last Old Covenant prophet, testified: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29, 34).
God testifies through the Scriptures. In Revelation He tells John, “Write, for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:5). To unbelieving Jews, Jesus said: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39, 40).

The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told His apostles: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26). “It is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). The sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of Jesus.
Jesus is the Logos, the Word of God (Revelation 19:13),6 “the faithful witness” (Revelation 1:5), “the Faithful and True witness” (Revelation 3:14). 
Pharisees disputed His testimony: “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” Jesus replied: “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true” (John 8:13, 14). “It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me” (John 8:17, 18).
The works of Jesus confirmed that God had sent Him: “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish - the very works that I do - bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me” (John 5:36, 37).
The testimony of Jesus was confirmed by signs. “Many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did” (John 2:23). Nicodemus said: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). On Pentecost, Peter said that Jesus was “a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22).

The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of inspired witnesses.
We did not hear Jesus teach, but we know what He taught through the writings of inspired witnesses. Jesus appointed His apostles as witnesses.7 Their testimony is reliable because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.8
Speaking to His apostles, Jesus said: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:27).9
Peter stated: “We are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32).10

God confirmed the testimony through signs.
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:3, 4).
The phrase “also bearing witness,” is one word in Greek [συνεπιμαρτυρέω] that means “co-witnessing,” “testifying together with someone else.” Thus signs were not independent testimony but supporting testimony. Signs supported the testimony of those who heard Jesus.
Other passages tell us that signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit were done through the apostles.11 “Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people” (Acts 5:12).
The first non-apostle who “did great wonders and signs among the people” was Stephan (Acts 6:8)* who was one of the seven upon whom the apostles had laid their hands (Acts 6:5, 6).
The second non-apostle who performed signs was Philip (Acts 8:6) who also was one of the seven. Although Philip performed signs to confirm his message at Samaria, he could not give the Holy Spirit to others. Apostles had to come from Jerusalem for this (Acts 8:14-17). 
“Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given” (Acts 8:18). Thus, through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, the Holy Spirit was given in some way that was not possible otherwise and is not available now, since the apostles are no longer with us.
What was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands? 
Not the “gift of the Holy Spirit” received at baptism (Acts 2:38, 39) because it was promised to all, also subsequent generations, who are baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.
Remember that it was through the hands of the apostles that wonders and signs were done (Acts 5:12).12
That miraculous gifts, such as speaking in languages and prophesying, were given by the laying on of the apostles’ hands is also shown by an example of Paul. He taught twelve men at Ephesus that the baptism of John the Baptist was not sufficient: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:5, 6).13 
Mark also states that signs were a co-testimony to confirm the prophetic word: “‘And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’” “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:17, 18, 20). 
This prediction pertained to a specific purpose, namely, the confirmation of the prophetic word. Except for drinking poison, these signs are all recorded in Acts.14 Once the signs confirming the word were recorded in Scripture, that written testimony is sufficient to accomplish their purpose.
The rich man suffering pain in Hades wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers because he thought, “If one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” But Abraham replied: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:30, 31).
John, who wrote the final books of the New Testament, said: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30, 31).

The testimony has been preserved as sacred Scripture.
The faith “was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
The eyewitnesses are no longer with us, but we have their testimony in written form, which has the same validity as oral testimony.15 God commanded that the gospel be made known to all nations by prophetic Scriptures (Romans 16:25, 26).
The Scriptures equip us thoroughly. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

An evil generation seeks a sign.
When Jewish leaders said, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You,” Jesus replied, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39, 40).
It is wrong to seek signs when sufficient signs have already been given and recorded! The resurrection is the sign for all times, proving that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). We have this assurance through reliable testimony in Holy Scripture.16 “The Lord is risen indeed” (Luke 24:34).

In latter times signs are performed by false prophets.
The New Testament describes none other than false prophets performing signs in latter times.17 The second beast in Revelation (also called the false prophet) performs great signs (Revelation 13:13-15; 19:20). Spirits of demons perform signs (Revelation 16:14). Jesus said: “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).18 Paul wrote: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). 
One man asked me why God did not just state that signs would cease after the time of the apostles. Actually He did. We can know this truth from what the New Testament says about the purpose of signs.
Why was it not stated more clearly? Since God allows false teachers to perform great signs in latter times (Revelation 13:14), maybe it was to test our love for the truth. The lawless one comes with “lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10)

What have we learned?
God has confirmed the prophetic word (2 Peter 1:19). He has authenticated the word (1) by His own testimony, (2) by the testimony of His Spirit, (3) by the testimony of His Son, (4) by the testimony of inspired witnesses, and (5) by His verification of their testimony by signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:3, 4). These signs were done through the hands of the apostles, either directly or by laying their hands on others. The signs recorded in Scripture are sufficient for us to believe and be saved.
Suppose you had a document authenticated by a notary public. What if you took it back the next day to have it notarized again? He would tell you that it can be confirmed only once. If you said, “But some have doubted the first notarization!” he would reply, “Well, that’s their problem, not mine.”
In latter times only false prophets perform signs. Seeking signs now is evil because sufficient signs have already been given to ratify the prophetic word and produce faith leading to salvation in those who love the truth.
Let us be thankful for God’s confirmation of the prophetic word. The inspired Scriptures are absolutely reliable and furnish us completely for every good work.19 Amen.

Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

1 The word “prophecy” in the Bible refers to an inspired message from God. Since God knows the future, prophecy sometimes contains predictions, but that is not the meaning of the word. A prophet is someone who speaks by direct inspiration of God.

2 The prophetic word is the inspired word of God.

3 Another confirmation is found in John 12:28 - “‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’” 

4 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). 

5 See also Luke 1:68-70; 24:25-27, 44; John 1:45; Acts 3:18-24; 24:14; 26:22; Romans 1:1, 2; 3:21.

6 See also John 1:1, 14.

7 See Acts 1:8, 21, 22; 4:33; 10:36-43; 13:30, 31.

8 See John 14:25, 26; 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 13.

9 John wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life - the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:1, 2).

10 When Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts, he had (through inspiration) “perfect understanding of all things from the very first” (Luke 1:3) as they had been delivered by “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:1, 2).

11 A correct distinction must be made between the gift (singular) of the Holy Spirit that all Christians receive (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 1 John 3:24; 4:13) and gifts that were not given to all Christians (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:1, 3, 28-30; 13:1; 14:1, 12; Hebrews 2:4) and are not essential for salvation. Among the latter, a distinction must also be made between miraculous gifts given through the apostles and natural abilities that are also gifts of God. The gifts given by the laying on of the apostles’ hands served as signs. Thus they had to be miraculous gifts. It must also be understood that although the miraculous gifts given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands are no longer available, God still acts providentially in answer to prayer. We must always follow Christ’s example, however, and pray: “Not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). 

12 Paul told the Corinthians: “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12). The distinctive sign of an apostle was the ability to give these gifts to others through the laying on of their hands. Philip had received the gift of signs, but he was not an apostle and could not give this gift to others (Acts 8:5-21).

13 Timothy received a gift through the laying on of Paul’s hands: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). Some have misapplied a passage in Paul’s first letter to claim that gifts could also be given by elders: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (1 Timothy 4:14). Notice that Timothy received the gift “through” the laying on of Paul’s hands and “by prophecy” and only “with” the laying on of the elders hands. Combining the two passages indicates that the eldership also laid their hands on Timothy when he was given a prophetic gift through the laying on of Paul’s hands.

14 Acts 2:6-12; 19:11, 12; 28:2-6.

15 See 2 Peter 1:12-21; 1 John 1:1-4.

16 The resurrection of Jesus was predicted in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:9-11, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53:5-11) and eye-witness accounts of the resurrection are recorded in the New Testament.

17 Some refer to John 14:12 to claim the contrary: ““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” Since this prediction applies to all believers, it does not refer to signs and wonders because even in apostolic times not all believers performed signs (1 Corinthians 12:30). Jesus predicts that His followers will continue His work after He returns to the Father. And just as the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28) because he is in the church of Christ, believers do greater works than Jesus because they, with His help and by the power of His Spirit, proclaim the gospel in all the world by which millions receive eternal life.

18 Jesus said to the church at Ephesus: “I know ... that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Revelation 2:2).

19 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

* This of course refers to the New Testament period that began on the Day of Pentecost. Many signs and wonders were done in the Old Testament period that ended when Christ was crucified. This included signs and wonders by prophets and also by the 70 whom Jesus sent out during His earthly ministry.

Published in The Old Paths Archive