"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER" The Antitype In Which God Saves Us (3:21-22)


The Antitype In Which God Saves Us (3:21-22)


1. In the midst of a section in which he is discussing Christ's 
   suffering and why we need to prepare for suffering, Peter has some 
   revealing comments on the subject of baptism - 1Pe 3:21-22
   a. First, he refers to baptism as an "antitype" ("the like figure",KJV)
   b. Then he makes the striking comment that baptism "saves us"
   c. He describes baptism as "the answer of a good conscience"
   d. But he also says that baptism saves us "through the resurrection 
      of Jesus Christ"

2. Any one of these four points is likely to perplex those who read 
   this passage...
   a. Some may wonder what an "antitype" is
   b. Others may take issue with the idea that baptism has anything to 
      do with salvation
   c. Many question what is meant by the phrase, "the answer of a good 
   d. And how does the resurrection of Christ have anything to do with 
      salvation, when it was His death that provided the forgiveness of sins?

[In this lesson, I hope to share some thoughts which may help us 
appreciate more fully how baptism is indeed "The Antitype In Which God 
Saves Us".

Beginning with...]


      1. The Greek word is antitupon {an-teet'-oo-pon}, which means "a 
         thing formed after some pattern; that which corresponds to a type"
      2. So you have two things that some how relate or correspond to 
         each other; one is a type, the other is the antitype
      1. In our text, the waters of the flood are the "type", and the 
         waters of baptism are the "antitype" - 1Pe 3:20-21
      2. In his commentary, Barnes says...
         a. "The meaning here is, that baptism corresponded to, or had 
            a resemblance to, the  water by which Noah was saved; or 
            that there was a use of water in the one case which
            corresponded in some respects to the water that was used in
            the other; to wit, in effecting salvation." (Commentary on
            1st Peter)
         b. "The apostle does not say that it corresponded in all 
            respects; in respect, e.g., to quantity, or to the manner 
            of the application, or to the efficacy; but there is a 
            sense in which water performs an important part in our 
            salvation, as it did in his." (ibid.)

[An important part in our salvation?  Baptism?  This may sound foreign 
to many people today, but the Bible and many Bible scholars over the 
history of the church have stressed this very point...]


      1. There are several statements of Jesus that emphasize the 
         necessity of baptism for salvation 
         - Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16; Jn 3:3-5
      2. The record of apostolic preaching as found in the Book of Acts
         continue this thought - Ac 2:38; 22:16
      3. In his epistles, Paul often wrote of the purpose of baptism, 
         and the role it played in salvation - Ro 6:3-6; Ga 3:26-27; 
         Col 2:11-13; Tit 3:4-5
      4. And in our text, we have Peter's own words, which coincide 
         with what he preached on that first Pentecost following the 
         resurrection of Christ - 1Pe 3:21; cf. Ac 2:38

      1. Augustine (A.D. 354-430)
         a. Referring to the efficacy of baptism, he wrote that "the 
            salvation of man is effected in baptism"; also, that a 
            person "is baptized for the express purpose of being with 
            Christ."  (as quoted by Jack W. Cottrell in Baptism And The
            Remission of Sins, College Press, 1990, p. 30)
         b. In regards to the necessity of baptism, he refers to the 
            "apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ 
            maintain it to be an inherent principle, that without 
            baptism...it is impossible for any man to attain to 
            salvation and everlasting life." (ibid., p. 30)
      2. Thomas Aquinas (A.D. 1225-1274)
         a. "...Men are bound to that without which they cannot obtain 
            salvation.  Now it is manifest that no one can obtain 
            salvation but through Christ..."
         b. "But for this end is baptism conferred on a man, that being
            regenerated thereby, he may be incorporated in Christ."
         c. "Consequently it is manifest that all are bound to be 
            baptized: and that without Baptism there is no salvation 
            for men." (ibid., p. 31)
      3. Martin Luther
         a. In answer to the question, "What gifts or benefits does 
            Baptism bestow?", Luther replied in his Small Catechism, 
            "It effects forgiveness of sins."
         b. He also wrote concerning the sinner:  "Through Baptism he 
            is bathed in the blood of Christ and is cleansed from sins."
         c. Again, he wrote:  "To put it most simply, the power, 
            effect, benefit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is to save."
         d. In response to those who would call this a kind of 
            works-salvation, he said "Yes, it is true that our works 
            are of no use for salvation.  Baptism, however, is not our
            work but God's." (ibid., p. 32-34)

[Indeed, until the "reformed theology" of Ulrich Zwingli and John 
Calvin came along, the general consensus of religious scholars was in 
harmony with the Bible:  that baptism does indeed save us!

But how can that be?  The answer can be seen when we consider...


      1. As Peter makes clear when he says "not the removal of the 
         filth of the flesh"
      2. For indeed it is only through the blood of Jesus Christ we can
         be saved - Ro 5:8
      1. If He had not been raised, we would still be in our sins - cf.
         1Co 15:17
      2. But because Jesus was raised from the dead, we who are united
         together in the likeness of His death (i.e., baptism) can 
         share in the power of His resurrection as we also rise to walk
         in newness of life - cf. Ro 6:3-5; Col 2:12-13
      3. In other words, it is the same power of God that raised Jesus 
         from the dead which saves us in baptism so we can be "made
         alive" - cf. Ep 1:19-20; 2:4-6

[By God's saving grace and resurrecting power, then, baptism can indeed
save us!  Not because of any cleansing power in the water, but because 
of what God is doing at that moment.

But notice finally, what is said about...]


      1. This is a difficult phrase, but I believe it most likely means
         "an appeal to God for a clear conscience"
      2. This understanding is supported by the following translations:
         a. "...the craving for a conscience right with God" (Goodspeed)
         b. "...the prayer for a clean conscience before God" (Moffat)
         c. "...the request unto God for a good conscience" (Rotherham)
         d. "...an appeal to God for a clear conscience" (RSV)
         e. "...an appeal to God for a good conscience" (NASV)

      1. Baptism was "for the remission of sins", to have one's sins 
         "washed away" (by the blood of Christ, of course) 
         - cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16
      2. Therefore, people in N.T. times who realized they were sinners
         were anxious to be baptized as soon as possible - cf. Ac 8:
      3. To have a good conscience before God (indeed, to a have our 
         conscience "purged" by the blood of Christ - cf. He 9:14),
         one is baptized so their sins can be washed away and they can 
         rise to a new life through the same power of God that raised 
         Jesus from the dead!


1. It is a tragedy that so many people today downplay the importance of

2. But if we will only allow the Bible to say what it does about
   baptism, we will see that it is indeed 
   "The Antitype In Which God Saves Us"!

3. And like Martin Luther, we will view baptism as "excellent,
   glorious, and exalted," as "a most precious thing," as "an infinite,
   divine treasure." (ibid., p. 34)

Verse 21 of our text describes that Christ has now gone into heaven
and that all things have been made subject to Him.  Have you subjected
to His authority by obeying His command to be baptized? - cf. Mt 28:18-20

Have you made that appeal for a good conscience before God?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Stephen Hawking Is Wrong, God Created the Universe by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Stephen Hawking Is Wrong, God Created the Universe

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Stephen Hawking is a brilliant scientist. He has battled a crippling disease since he was 20, made a name for himself on a global scale through his scientific prowess, and been an inspiration to many. But in his latest book, The Grand Design, he is just plain wrong. Michael Holden wrote an article he titled: “‘God Did Not Create the Universe,’ Says Hawking,” in which he stated that Hawking’s new book, co-authored with Leonard Mlodinow, proposes the idea that the laws which hold the Universe together do not need an intelligent Designer.

In fact, Holden quoted Hawking as saying: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist” (as quoted in Holden, 2010, emp. added). While the book is not yet on the shelves, there are already glaring flaws with Hawking’s reasoning.

First, Hawking cannot explain why the law of gravity exists in the first place. He says “because there is a law of gravity,” but he can give no reason why such a law is present, and is constant. Without an adequate explanation for the origin of laws, such as gravity, any explanation of the origin of a Universe dependent on those laws is incomplete. Furthermore, regardless of what theoretical, mathematical calculations Hawking has concocted, the simple fact of the matter is, if there ever was a time when nothing existed, there would be nothing now. The mere fact that Hawking suggests that anything can “spontaneously create itself out of nothing,” is, with all due respect, ridiculously absurd and completely unscientific! It is impossible to get something from nothing—any way you slice it. Using Hawking’s way of thinking, we could suggest that this article you are reading “spontaneously created itself out of nothing.” Yet such a conclusion defies all known scientific laws.

In Acts 26:24, the Roman governor Festus said to the apostle Paul: “You are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” While that accusation did not accurately apply to Paul, it does, unfortunately, apply to Hawking’s concept of “spontaneous creation out of nothing.” The Psalmist wrote: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Sadly, Hawking’s brilliant mind has been turned to false, unscientific foolishness. Would to God that Hawking and all his fellow scientists would turn to the God of the Bible who speaks “the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).


Holden, Michael (2010), “‘God Did Not Create the Universe’, Says Hawking,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100902/lf_nm_life/us_britain_hawking.

Sniffing Out Design by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Sniffing Out Design

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Thoughts about sinus drainage and mucus are not pleasant. Who has not been frustrated by the feeling of a raw nose caused by excessive nose-blowing during a cold? Have you ever wondered why mucus in your nose (more commonly called snot) is there? It just so happens that snot provides a vital tool that enhances your body’s ability to smell.
For many years, researchers have attempted to design electronic “noses” that can differentiate between smells. Such noses have a host of potential uses, including being used in airports to identify chemicals used in explosives. Researchers, however, have failed to master the art of smell. The “e-nose” simply cannot perform to the level of a human nose. Recent research, however, is sniffing out new ways to make the e-nose more useful.
Researchers from the University of Warwick and Leicester University came up with a novel idea. They composed a substance that mimics the properties of naturally occurring nose mucus. This synthetic snot “substantially improved the performance of their electronic nose allowing it to tell apart smells such as milk and banana which had previously been challenging smells for the device” (“Artificial ‘Snot’...,” 2007). Furthermore, the artificial snot helped the electronic nose process the information quicker. The teams involved in the research reported their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in April of 2007.
When asked about the new research, Anthony Turner of Cranfield University said that the study shows the importance of looking to biology to find useful innovations. He said: “It’s important to keep learning from it [biology—KB]” (Simonite, 2007). Notice that Turner attributes the innovations discovered by the researchers to biology. What does that imply? If intelligent men and women from campuses across the globe log thousands of man-hours to design an electronic nose, and base much of their research on naturally occurring substances and functions in a biologic nose, but the electronic nose fails to perform as well as a real nose, then we are forced to conclude that the naturally occurring nose was designed by a superior intellect to the ones now working on the electronic nose. Yet, when asked the origin of the biologic nose, many highly educated university professors would claim it evolved over millions of years by random, purposeless evolutionary processes. Ironically, they are forced to concede that the electronic nose has a design. Such disconnected thinking would be ridiculed in other disciplines, but somehow it finds a welcomed haven in the halls of evolutionary sciences. In truth, it is simple to sniff out the divine design of the nose.


“Artificial ‘Snot’ Enhances Electronic Nose” (2007), Science Daily, April 30, [On-line], URL:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430093948.htm.
Simonite, Tom (2007), “Mucus Substitute Helps Artificial Nose Scent Success,” New Scientist, April 25, [On-line], URL: http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/dn11715-mucus-substitute-helps -artificial-nose-scent-success.html.

Simultaneous Causation by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Simultaneous Causation

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

In 2011, the renowned atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, the late Stephen Hawking, was given a platform to spread his atheistic perspective (“Curiosity…,” 2011). Discovery Channel aired a show titled, “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” Hawking adamantly claimed, “No.” He claimed that there is no need for God in the picture, since he believes everything in the Universe can be explained without Him (see Miller, 2011a for an in depth response to Hawking’s claims in the show).
Towards the end of the episode, Hawking asserted that “[t]he role played by time at the beginning of the Universe is, I believe, the final key to removing the need for a Grand Designer and revealing how the Universe created itself” (“Curiosity…”). According to Hawking and other atheists, the initial moments of the Big Bang were supposedly similar to the nature of a black hole (see Miller, 2011a for a response to this idea). Hawking believes that due to the nature of a black hole, time would not have existed before the Big Bang. He asserts:
You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang, because there was no before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me, this means that there is no possibility for a Creator, because there is no time for a Creator to have existed…. Time didn’t exist before the Big Bang. So, there is no time for God to make the Universe in (“Curiosity…,” emp. added).
So, according to Hawking, there could not have been a cause for the Big Bang since that cause had to temporally precede the effect of the Big Bang, and yet time supposedly did not exist prior to the Big Bang. Setting aside the fact that this theoretical black hole, which is speculated to have been in existence at the time of the alleged Big Bang, had to itself have a cause (according to the Law of Causality even if time did not exist before the bang), Hawking still made a blunder in supposing that a Creator could not exist if time did not exist.
It is a common mistake to oversimplify the Law of Causality, assuming that it states: “Every effect must have an adequate cause which preceded it.” In actuality, the law more correctly states: “Every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause” (see Miller, 2011b for an in depth discussion of the Law of Causality). The Law of Causality as a law of natural science only applies to that which can be empirically observed—namely, the natural Universe (i.e., that which is “material”), not supernatural entities. So, it does not even apply to God. But even if it did apply to the Creator, Hawking’s belief that there’s no room for the Creator since the Law of Causality requires a previous cause—which could not be the case if time did not exist before the Big Bang—is erroneous. Philosopher William Lane Craig explains that this argument rests on a pseudo-dilemma, since the argument does not “consider the obvious alternative that the cause of the [alleged—JM] Big Bang operated at to, that is, simultaneously (or coincidentally) with the Big Bang” (Craig, 1994). Simply put: the Law of Causality allows for simultaneous causes.
When one sits in a seat, his legs form a lap. The effect of creating a lap occurs simultaneously with its cause—the act of sitting—though sitting is obviously the cause of making a lap. So clearly, causes can take place simultaneously with their effects. Renowned German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, in his book, The Critique of Pure Reason, under the heading, “Principle of the Succession of Time According to the Law of Causality: All changes take place according to the law of the connection of Cause and Effect,” explains that, “The principle of the connection of causality among phenomena…applies also when the phenomena exist together in the same time, and that cause and effect may be simultaneous” (Kant, 1787, I., emp. added). He then proceeds to provide two examples of simultaneous causation, the first being the scenario in which the effect of a heated room occurs simultaneous with its cause—a fire in the fireplace. He explains that, “In this case, then, there is no succession as regards time, between cause and effect, but they are simultaneous; and still the law holds good” (I. He then provides the example in which a lead ball lies on a cushion and simultaneously causes the effect of an indention or “hollow” in the cushion. Again, the effect occurs simultaneously with its cause. Kant explains:
The greater part of operating causes in nature are simultaneous with their effects, and the succession in time of the latter is produced only because the cause cannot achieve the total of its effect in one moment. But at the moment when the effect first arises, it is always simultaneous with the causality of its cause, because, if the cause had but a moment before ceased to be, the effect could not have arisen…. The time between the causality of the cause and its immediate effect may entirely vanish, and the cause and effect be thus simultaneous, but the relation of the one to the other remains always determinable according to time (Kant, 1787, I., emp. added).
Logically, a cause can occur simultaneous with its effect. So, for Hawking to argue that a cause for the Big Bang is unnecessary and even impossible since it must precede the Big Bang, is simply incorrect. It seems to imply a shallow understanding of the Law of Causality on the part of Hawking. A proper understanding of the Law of Causality reveals that the Law does not rule out the existence of a Creator even if the Big Bang were true, since the effect of the Universe could occur simultaneous with its causal activity. That said, ultimately, even though Hawking is inaccurate in his use of the Law of Causality, it is irrelevant since the Big Bang Theory is not in keeping with the scientific evidence anyway (see Miller, 2007; Thompson, Harrub, and May, 2003 for a presentation of some of this evidence).


Craig, William Lane (1994), “Creation and Big Bang Cosmology,” Philosophia Naturalis, 31[1994]:217-224.
“Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Kant, Immanuel (1787), The Critique of Pure Reason (South Australia: The University of Adelaide Library), 2nd edition, trans. J.M.D. Meiklejohn, http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/k/kant/immanuel/k16p/.
Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Reason & Revelation, 27[4]:25-31, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=588&article=643.
Miller, Jeff  (2011a), “A Review of Discovery Channel’s ‘Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?’” Reason & Revelation, 31[10]:98-107, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1004&article=1687.
Miller, Jeff (2011b), “God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/3716.
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique” Reason & Revelation, 23[5]:33-47, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=541&article=28.

Teachings of Jesus from Luke (Part 4) Father’s Day and the Prodigal son)


Teachings of Jesus from Luke (Part 4) Father’s Day and the Prodigal son)

Being Father’s Day I wanted to jump forward in the Gospel of Luke to chapter 15 to what I thought would be an appropriate lesson for the this day.
In chapter 15 Luke records for us 3 parable that Jesus delivered to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who were criticizing Him for spending time with those that they did not approve of, those tax collectors and what they thought were no good sinners.
I talked a little bit about why Jesus did this in our last lesson when He called Levi the tax collector to follow Him. Jesus then went to his house for feast which Levi hosted inviting other tax collector friends and so call ‘sinners’ which the Pharisees grumbled about.
And so here in Chapter 15 we again see that Jesus tries to help those critics understand what He is doing and why it was so important.
So let us now look at these three parables.   Read 15:1-7  “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
So do you get the picture here? A man has 100 sheep but looses one. When he realizes that the one is missing he leaves the 99 behind to desperately search for the one that is lost and is overjoyed when He finds it. As a matter of fact he is so happy he calls his friends and neighbor and asks them to come over and rejoice with him, and who knows maybe even have a party.
They probably could understand and appreciate that story as well as many of those in our church because they were familiar with how livestock sometimes wander off.
But verse 7 is were Jesus tries to bring the lesson home. He says, “ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Then He tells them another similar parable. Read 15:8-10  “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
This woman loses a silver coin and then scours her house searching for it. And when she finds it, like the shepherd who found his lost sheep she is so very happy. Like the shepherd she is so happy she calls her friends and neighbors and asks them to rejoice with her that she found her lost coin.
And again Jesus tries to bring the lesson home again by telling them, 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Really hoping to get these critical Pharisees and teachers wake up to what He is doing Jesus tells them another similar parable, not about something that was lost, rather about ‘someone’ who was in many ways lost and how overjoyed his dad was when he came home.
Read 15:11-32  11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
I can’t help but wonder if these Pharisees and teachers finally got the message when Jesus told them this parable. Yes the story is about a son who leaves home with his inheritance and then squanders it away on a vile life style, which the text calls ‘wild living.’ The story also portrays the father as a loving father who misses his son and is just waiting and watching for his return.
Well the boy’s money runs out and he has to get a job and he end up with one of the most vile jobs a good Jewish boy could have, slopping hogs. For a Jew pigs were considered totally unclean and off limits. Despite the fact that he’s working, it’s not enough. He’s practically starving. That humbles him enough to wake up to the fact that he has a loving father back home who he can return to and possibly work for, so he heads back home.
But as we read the story, when he sees his son, the father is elated, just like the guy who found his lost sheep and the woman who found her lost coin. Dad showers his son with hugs and kisses, gets him new clothes, and holds a feast to celebrate his son’s repentance and return.
I believe the point Jesus again is making is that Father God is so happy when someone comes to their senses, repents and turns back to Him. All heaven even rejoices over someone turning back to our heavenly Father.
But as the story goes on, I believe that Jesus is applying it to the Jews who were criticizing what He is doing. Just like the older son in the story was upset about the feast for his younger brother who squandered his father’s money, these Jews had no compassion for the tax collectors and sinners who were possibly on the road back to our God.
I believe that Jesus was trying to tell them what the father in the story was trying to tell his older son who was also upset, I was like He was saying ‘We have to celebrate and be glad, because *these brothers (and sisters) of yours were dead and are now alive again. They were lost, but now they are found.’
So what are some things Jesus wants to teach those people and well as us today?
#1. In all three of these stories we see Jesus teaching how important an individual is to Father God and those in Heaven, and how happy He is when they humbly repent and turn back to Him (notice one lamb, one coin and one lost son.)
Why the joy? Because we are His children.
In the ERV Ephesians 1:3-5 says, “In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in heaven. In Christ, he chose us before the world was made. He chose us in love to be his holy people—people who could stand before him without any fault. And before the world was made, God decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. This was what God wanted, and it pleased him to do it.
And as Jesus’ parable illustrates, the joy that one has when He or she finds a lost coin, or sheep and wants to celebrate, Father God and all heaven is so very happy and celebrates when we who are lost in sin humbly repent and turn back to Him.
#2. That’s why Jesus was working with and spending time with these tax collectors and sinners, to give them hope and help them turn back to His Father in repentance. He wanted to give them a chance to go to Heaven.   Not that He wanted to become part their ranks, rather I believe He wanted them to leave the rank of sinners to become part of the family of God.
#3. I believe Jesus wanted to show these critical Jews, as well as those who are caught up in a sinful life style that no one is beyond redemption. God has enough grace and mercy for all who desire to turn back to Him not matter what we have done.
#4. I also believe that Jesus wanted those restored to realize that they are not some kind of 2nd class citizen, someone who needed to go around always feeling filled with sorrow and guilt. The prodigal son in the story was willing to become a mere servant of his father but his dad lets him know, ‘No way, you are my son, and my son you will always be. Now let’s celebrate your return.’
Sad to say that there are many Christian who feel unworthy to be considered sons and daughters of Father God, and go around filled with sorrowful, guilt ridden, almost pathetic, which can hinder their service to God and others. And it also sad to say that some of the supposedly ‘mature Christians’ are the one’s to blame because of how they treat these newer members with shady pasts. In my Bible I read that when we repent and return to our Lord it’s like we are a new creation or even born again.
Maybe in some ways we are unworthy, but our Father and Our God thinks we are something special, and worthy of being a His son or daughter, so I say who are we to say He is wrong. Instead we should feel honored by how He views and loves us.
#5. Another thing that I believe that Jesus brings to light is seen when He talks about the prodigal’s brother grumbling about how dad was fussing over his younger brother’s return. Even though the young man was lost and now found, and even though in many ways he was dead, the father lets the older brother know, it’s like he’s come back to life. It wasn’t a time to be critical, rather it was a time to celebrate. And that was a message to those critical Jews who were upset about those who Jesus was hanging out with and teaching. If anything those critics as well and us today need to encourage and make friends to support new believers. Otherwise this world may pull them back into it’s shadowy evil depths. Sad to say that this is happening more than we would like to admit in churches today.
#6. And finally in these stories I believe we not only see how important we are, like the lost coin and the lost lamb, and the son, we also see how caring diligent the woman was about finding the coin. She turn the lights on, carefully sweeps the floor. And the guy that lost the lamb in desperation leaves behind his 99 other sheep just to find the lost one. And when Jesus tells the story of the lost son, we read in 15:20 that   “ while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.    
I believe that we are that special and important to our father God and to those in the heavenly realms, more than we probably realize.
My dad may have made some contribution in me being here by having part in my birth and then caring for me and teaching me. But he’s gone.
But my Father in heaven will never leave me. And He’s the one that actually gave this body life. He’s the one that ultimately provides sustenance to nourish this body (the air, the food, the water and so much more) He’s the one that is the source of all true wisdom, knowledge and learning.
And He is the one calling us home in eternity. He is just waiting for us to come home like the father of that lost son.
Yes it’s nice to honor our dads on Father’s Day (and we should), but let us not forget to honor our Father in Heaven who loves us all.
Maybe your dad was not a very good dad. Many do not even have a dad. But we are told that our God is a father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5)
So enjoy your dad if he is still around. But praise God your Father for he loves you more than any human can and is just wait for you to come home.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566
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Let us be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God by Roy Davison


Let us be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God

Paul wrote: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2).
What is a steward?
A steward is someone who has been entrusted with the possessions or affairs of someone else with the understanding that he is to care for them and manage them responsibly.
A steward must be trustworthy.
Every position of responsibility involves stewardship.
How would you feel if someone gave you a briefcase containing diamonds worth thousands of dollars, and asked you to walk through the streets of a large city and deliver them to another address?
Brother Gus Amssoms went to be with the Lord many years ago. When he retired, after working for 45 years as a laborer in Antwerp, he had not missed a single day of work because of illness. He was a trustworthy man.
Antwerp, Belgium is the diamond-cutting capital of the world. About 2000 gem-related offices are located in a one-square-mile area near the central train station.
After Gus retired, he was given a part-time job as a diamond courier. If you had been a tourist in Antwerp, you might have seen an elderly workman with a gentle smile walking through the narrow streets of Antwerp carrying an old, worn-out briefcase. You would have never dreamed that his briefcase contained diamonds worth thousands of dollars. He did not have a gun or a bulletproof vest or an armored vehicle. He had something that the diamond merchants considered much safer and more secure. He had a gentle, innocent appearance and he was a completely dependable man. 
As Christians, we must be faithful stewards of something much more valuable than a briefcase full of diamonds: the mysteries of God. 
What are the mysteries of God?
The mysteries of God are truths known only by revelation: “According to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:25, 26).
The wonders and intricacies of life, prove the existence of a Creator. But only through the Bible can we know who this Creator is and what our relationship with Him can be through His Son Jesus Christ.
A steward is answerable to his master.
Preachers and elders must remember that they, as stewards, are answerable to God not to man. Paul wrote: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness - God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others” (1 Thessalonians 2:4-6).
Unfaithful stewards will be punished by God.
The Lord was angry with the unfaithful prophets under the old covenant: “‘I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal. The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the Lord. ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the Lord, ‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the Lord, ‘who steal My words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the Lord, ‘who use their tongues and say, “He says.” Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,’ says the Lord, ‘and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:25-32).
In our time as well, many falsely claim to be prophets, leading people astray by the lies they speak in the name of the Lord.
As stewards, we must speak God’s word faithfully.
All Christians must be good stewards of the grace of God. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do so as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10, 11).
This great responsibility rests doubly on elders, teachers and preachers because of their leadership position.
“A bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God” (Titus 1:7). An elder must hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).
Peter wrote: “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-3). Elders are stewards of God, His flock has been entrusted to their care.
Paul was entrusted with the gospel because God considered him faithful: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting meinto the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12).
Paul mentions the faithfulness of several men with whom he worked. He calls Epaphras “our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf” (Colossians 1:7). He refers to Tychicus as “a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord” and to Onesimus as “a faithful and beloved brother” (Colossians 4:7-9). Peter refers to Silvanus as “our faithful brother” (1 Peter 5:12). Let us follow their example, and be faithful servants of Christ.
This solemn command, given by Paul to Timothy, echoes through the ages: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
The message must be faithfully passed on to following generations of teachers.
As faithful stewards of the mysteries of God we must pass the message on. Paul told Timothy: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1, 2).
What have we learned?
1. As stewards, we have been entrusted with the mysteries of God, the good news of salvation by grace through the sacrifice of Christ.
2. We are answerable to God and must speak His word faithfully, striving to please God rather than men.
3. God will punish unfaithful stewards.
4. We must faithfully pass on the mysteries of God to the next generation of faithful stewards.
“Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:42, 43). 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.

Published in The Old Paths Archive