"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER" Living In The End Times (4:7-11) by Mark Copeland


Living In The End Times (4:7-11)


1. In 1Pe 4:2, Peter wrote concerning the Christian that...

   "...he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh for
   the lusts of men, but for the will of God."

2. As an impetus to live out one's time in the flesh for the will of 
   God, one should remember that we are living in the "end times" - 
   cf. 1Pe 4:7a ("But the end of all things is at hand;")

3. It might be that Peter actually had reference in this text to the 
   destruction of Jerusalem
   a. Which was the end of the temple, the Levitical priesthood, and of
      the Jewish economy
   b. As MacKnight points out in his commentary:  "This epistle being 
      written A.D.67, about a year after the war with the Romans began,
      which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish 
      state, Peter, who had heard his Master's prophecy concerning 
      these events, and concerning the signs of their approach, had 
      good reason to say, that they had approached."

4. But whether Peter has in mind the destruction of Jerusalem, or the 
   Lord's second coming, we can still say "the end of all things is at hand"...
   a. For even if the Lord Himself does not return for another two 
      thousand years, the time is not long when we who are alive today 
      will be "in the flesh" no more
   b. With every passing day, "our salvation is nearer than when we 
      first believed", and the "end" draws ever closer

5. How then should we live out the rest of our time, living as we do in
   the "end times"?

[Verses 7-11 provide guidance to "Living In The End Times" and we
notice right away that it should involve...]


      1. The word here is sophroneo {so-fron-eh'-o}, which means...
         a. To be in one's right mind
         b. To exercise self control
            1) to put a moderate estimate upon one's self, think of 
               one's self soberly
            2) to curb one's passions
      2. Words closely related to this are found in 1Pe 1:13; 5:8
         (the word "sober")

      1. Otherwise we cannot pray as we ought - cf. Ep 6:18
      2. That is, with praying that is "watchful" - cf. Lk 21:34-36

[Serious, watchful praying is necessary, therefore, or we might not be
ready for that which will come.  As we continue in our text, we see 
that "Living In The End Times" also calls for a...]


      1. The first time was in 1Pe 1:22
      2. Where we defined "fervent" as "constant" or "earnest"
      3. Here Peter tells us to make such "fervent love" the number one
         priority ("above all things have fervent love...")
         a. This is reminiscent of Paul's words in Col 3:14
         b. And perhaps a reflection of Jesus' words in Mt 22:36-40

      1. "for love will cover a multitude of sins"
      2. This appears to be a reference to Pr 10:12 ("love covers 
         all sins")
      3. To "cover sin" does not mean to ignore it, but as used by 
         James it suggests "fervent love" does what is necessary to 
         restore and forgive the sinner - cf. Jm 5:19-20

[As the "time of the end" draws near, and the Day of Judgment looms 
closer, how important it is that we have the kind of love for one 
another which will encourage us all to get rid of sin in our lives!

As a further expression of "fervent love for one another", "Living In 
The End Times" will also involve...]


      1. For the word is philoxenos {fil-ox'-en-os}
         a. It literally means "love of strangers" and is normally used
            in reference to kindness to those we don't know
         b. But here Peter applies it to our love towards brethren
      2. But if we are to show kindness to those we don't know, how 
         much more towards those who are "of the household of faith", 
         our own brethren! - cf. Ga 6:10

      1. There is always a need, as our love for one another is a sign 
         of true discipleship - cf. Jn 13:34-35
      2. But there may be a special need as "the end draws near"
         a. Several passages suggest that persecution of the saints 
            will increase before Christ returns (so I understand Re 20:
         b. In any period of persecution, when some Christians lose all
            they have, other Christians need to be ready to provide for
            their needs - cf. Mt 25:35-40

      1. If one shows kindness with a begrudging spirit, can it be said
         they truly have a love of strangers (or brethren)?
      2. Only by placing a higher premium on our brethren than we do on
         our possessions can we show hospitality without grumbling

[Finally, in keeping with our Lord's charge to "Do business till I 
come" (Lk 19:13), "Living In The End Times" requires that we 


      1. By the grace of God, which is "manifold"  (multi-faceted), 
         there are various ways one can serve God
      2. And each of us are to be "good stewards" (accountable 
         servants) of whatever gifts or abilities we may have
      3. Even as Paul wrote to the brethren at Rome in Ro 12:3-8

      1. Those that speak
         a. They should speak "as the oracles of God"
         b. Understanding that they are speaking for God:
            1) They should speak only that which God Himself has 
            2) With "sound speech that cannot be condemned" - cf. Tit 2:7-8
      2. Those that minister (serve)
         a. With the ability or strength supplied by God Himself!
         b. Certainly not with slothfulness - cf. Ro 12:11


1. "Living In The End Times", then, is living with the recognition
   that to God (and Jesus Christ) "belong the glory and dominion 
   forever and ever"

2. With that recognition, we will be careful to develop:
   a. Prayer that is serious and alert
   b. Love that is fervent and forgiving
   c. Hospitality that is gracious
   d. Service that glorifies God

How are you living now that "the end of all things is at hand"?  Are
you glorifying God through Jesus Christ?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

eXTReMe Tracker 

The Aesthetic Argument for the Existence of God by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


The Aesthetic Argument for the Existence of God

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

The Aesthetic Argument for God’s existence is sometimes considered to fall under the design argument for God’s existence (the Teleological Argument). The argument highlights the fact that beauty exists, and more specifically, the ability to appreciate beauty exists. Atheism cannot adequately explain this appreciation in the diverse forms it is found, because that appreciation, by-in-large, has no evolutionary advantage. So, the argument says that the existence of beauty proves that a God must exist Who cares for His Creation and wishes to give us joy and pleasure.
Charles Darwin recognized the Aesthetic Argument as a threat to evolutionary theory. In the Origin of Species, he said, “Some authors believe that many structures have been created for the sake of beauty, to delight man or the Creator…or for the sake of mere variety….  Such doctrines, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.”1 Why? Because naturalistic evolution cannot explain why something would become beautiful for the sole benefit of others. According to Darwin, “Natural selection cannot possibly produce any modification in any one species exclusively for the good of another species…. But natural selection can and does often produce structures for the direct injury of other species.”2Evolution is “survival of the fittest” and “the strong survive.” It is the selfish, bloody battle of the strong for survival. It is not about benefitting others. So if naturalistic evolution (i.e., atheism) is true, evolving a trait must have a selfish benefit—not for the benefit of others.
So Darwin conceded, “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.”3 In the same breath, however, he made a critical admission: “I fully admit that many structures are of no direct use to their possessors.”4 In other words, contrary to evolutionary predictions, “many structures” are possessed by creatures which are not useful at all to them! His response to the “problem” of beauty was to blindly conjecture that beautiful features must have just accidentally happened or perhaps were useful to a creature in some way at some point in the past, though not today.
Atheists today seem to acknowledge that Darwin’s response to the Aesthetic Argument was not satisfactory. They often respond to the beauty “problem” by claiming that beauty evolved accidentally in various creatures and then remained in those creatures because it helped them personally in getting mates—sexual selection. Those beautiful creatures would tend to reproduce more often, keeping the “beautiful” genes “alive.” Darwin, however, disagreed with this reasoning. He said, “The effects of sexual selection, when displayed in beauty to charm the females, can be called useful only in rather a forced sense…. [M]any structures now have no direct relation to the habits of life of each species.”5 In other words, Darwin recognized that, while sexual selection might help explain some cases of beauty, it does not even nearly explain all of the examples of beauty we see in the animal kingdom. And that admission highlights the fact that atheists still have not adequately answered the Aesthetic Argument.
Besides that fact, consider: sexual selection attempts to explain why beautiful animals would tend to “stick around,” but should not the opposite also be true? Should not the “ugly” animals have died out since they were less “pleasing to the eyes”? Why isn’t the animal kingdom more beautiful all around, after “millions of years” of tweaking? According to the fossil record, many “ugly” creatures have existed since they originally came onto the scene and have not changed—in many cases, over “millions of years,” according to the evolutionary time line. They have not changed, and yet they have not died out, as evolution would predict they should. Bible believers can explain why “ugly” things would exist (e.g., the effects of sin, Genesis 3:18; on-going genetic entropy as a consequence of being banished from the Tree of Life, Genesis 3:22-24). But would not evolution predict much more beauty in the animal kingdom if sexual selection is the powerful, beauty-generating mechanism it is espoused to be?
Further, keep in mind that sexual selection cannot work until beauty exists in the first place. Darwin was not able to provide a mechanism through which an animal would “grow” a new trait that would make it beautiful. Random mutations, for example, cannot generate new genetic information—and new genetic information is necessary to explain beauty where there once was no beauty. In other words, even if his response to the Aesthetic Argument could explain why beauty exists in the animal kingdom, he did not explain how evolution could create beauty in the first place. He attempted to explain how beauty would be in harmony with “survival of the fittest,” but he did not explain the arrival of the fittest in the first place. Although we are now some 150 years removed from Darwin, evolutionists still have no answer to that pivotal question.6
Also notice that modern atheists only attempt to respond to one “finger” of the Aesthetic Argument—namely why some of the beautiful animals exist. Sexual selection does not adequately explain why an orchestra playing Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major is so beautiful that it can create an emotional response; why certain things that are not inherently good for you (and are sometimes even bad for you) taste good or smell good; why some things feel good—again, even when they are not always beneficial to you; why looking at a sunrise, waterfall, or ocean can give us such pleasure. Such examples of beauty highlight a more fundamental component of the Aesthetic Argument. Atheists scramble to try to explain why various creatures are beautiful, but the underlying question is, why do we perceive something as beautiful in the first place? Even if a beautiful trait could accidentally evolve in one creature, another creature, simultaneously, must also evolve an appreciation of that beauty. Even if natural selection could adequately explain why something beautiful tends to survive, it does not explain why we would see that thing as beautiful in the first place. Though “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and therefore everyone differs somewhat on what constitutes “beauty,” nevertheless, everyone possesses the inbuilt faculty that causes them to conceptualize the characteristic of beauty.
Why does beauty exist? Because an omnibenevolent God exists Who wants to give His children good things, as any decent parent would; Who wants humans to experience joy and pleasure. So, He has “made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)—things “pleasant for the eyes” (Ecclesiastes 11:7); people that have a “pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument” (Ezekiel 33:32); things which are “sweet to your taste” (Proverbs 24:13) and “give a good smell” (Song of Solomon 2:13); things that make a “joyful sound” (Psalm 89:15). “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8).


1 Charles Darwin (1998), The Origin of Species (New York: Grammercy), p. 146.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid., emp. added.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid., emp. added.
6 Jeff Miller (2013), Science vs. Evolution (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), revised edition.

Telling People What to Think by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Telling People What to Think

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Dan Barker, the ex-preacher who deconverted to atheism, is most famous for his book Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. In this treatise against God and religion, Barker discussed a book that he wrote for children that contained these words: “No one can tell you what to think. Not your teachers. Not your parents. Not your minister, priest, or rabbi. Not your friends or relatives. Not this book. You are the boss of your own mind. If you have used your own mind to find out what is true, then you should be proud! Your thoughts are free!” (1992, p. 47). Noble sentiments indeed!
But, as one digs deeper into Barker’s book, it quickly becomes clear that those sentiments do not find a willing practitioner in the person of Dan Barker. In his chapter on prayer, Barker wrote:
Don’t ask Christians if they think prayer is effective. They will think up some kind of answer that makes sense to them only. Don’t ask them, tell them: “You know that prayer doesn’t work. You know you are fooling yourself with magical conceit.” No matter how they reply, they will know in their heart of hearts that you are right (1992, p. 109, emp. in orig.).
From Barker’s statement about what should be “told” to those who believe in prayer, it is easy to see that he does not necessarily believe his previous statement that “no one can tell you what to think,” or that a person should use his own mind “to find out what is true.” In fact, what Barker is really trying to say is that a person should only think for himself if such thinking will lead him to believe that there is no God, or that prayer does not work, or that all religion is nonsense. If thinking for himself leads a person to believe in the efficacy of prayer or the existence of God, then that person should be “told” what to believe.
In truth, the Bible demands that each person weigh the evidence for himself or herself. First Thessalonians 5:21 states: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” Among those things that should be tested are the writings of skeptics like Barker. When blatant inconsistencies pepper their pages like so many spots on a Dalmatian, then those writings should not be “held fast.”


Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).

Tampering with the Chief Engineer's Design by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


Tampering with the Chief Engineer's Design

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

The Great Designer designed designers. An exploding mass cannot design anything, much less design a designer. Genesis 1:28 confirms concerning mankind: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the Earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.’” Thus began the field of engineering. Using our ingenuity, humans have since engineered many ways to fulfill the commands to “subdue” and have “dominion over” the Earth, from harnesses for oxen to automobiles to space shuttles and beyond. God created the Universe with potential for infinite growth in human knowledge that can lead to many improvements in living conditions when we learn to harness and utilize the phenomena God designed and implemented on Earth for us to discover. Consider the effect that harnessing the power of electricity, magnetic fields, nuclear reactions, and chemical reactions has had on life as we know it. Unfortunately, as the poison of atheism becomes more prevalent in society, encroaching into the field of engineering, we can be guaranteed that progress will be slowed, and eventually, stopped or even reversed.
An image of an artificial heart exhibited at the London science museum.
A few years ago, I attended a Bio-engineering seminar concerning design improvements on artificial hearts for use in transplants. After the presentation, during the question and answer period, a professor stood up and asked the presenter a question that went something like this: “Has nature optimized the heart yet after all of these millions of years of its evolution, or is it still necessary for us to help it along with our designs?” At that moment, it struck me how dangerous the Theory of Evolution can be if allowed to run rampant in the field of engineering. Those who follow out the implications of the Theory of Evolution could cause not only a hindrance to scientific and technological progress, but could actually place us in mortal danger. How so?
If engineering design is approached from an evolutionary perspective, the above question is appropriate. Has nature optimized the ______, or do we need to fix it? If the Theory of Evolution is true, there should be a multitude of examples in the physical world of creatures and plants, and the components that comprise them, that are sub-optimal—since they are all in the process of evolving to better states. [NOTE: Such is not the case, which is further proof that the Theory of Evolution cannot effectively account for the state of the world.] After all, an explosion, plus a series of random accidents, no matter how many, do not produce optimized systems. Vast improvements would be necessary. Thus, the intelligence, experience, and wisdom of mankind could improve the condition of the system that “Mother Nature” dealt us. [Also note: the fact that we have the ability even to consider improving nature, implies that we as humans are too advanced to be the result of a series of random accidents. Nature could not create and then improve us to the point that we can take over and improve it. Mother Nature could not produce an entity greater than herself. The effect cannot be greater than the cause.]
However, if the Theory of Evolution is false, and the God of the Bible is the Chief Engineer of the Universe, an evolutionary approach could be very dangerous. To tamper with the design of the Almighty Engineer of the Universe would be tantamount to placing oneself above Him in knowledge and declaring oneself to be omniscient. Consider also that science is constantly evolving as research is conducted. Views once held as fact have been radically revised or even abandoned. Though some people for centuries held that the Earth was flat, modern science has proven that the Earth is spherical. The medical practice of “bleeding” a sick patient to eliminate ailments in the blood was common only 200 years ago. However, through further research and scientific investigation, and following many deaths, such a practice now seems barbaric.
Now consider an example that could be directly relevant today. If humans become arrogant enough to think that we have the knowledge necessary to improve the design of the heart, act on those feelings, and then find out through further research that the design of the heart was actually already optimal, what damage could have been done in the process? Those whose hearts had been “improved” by the wisdom of mankind, could have shorter life spans or suffer major physical complications due to the arrogance of atheistic engineers. Thus, humans could potentially be harmed due to atheist engineers making design decisions without adequate understanding of the intricacies of God’s design! No wonder Almighty God, by the hand of Paul, warned: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-21).
Many other examples illustrate the dangers of atheistic engineering. Since sin entered the world in Genesis three and mankind was evicted from the Garden of Eden, the pristine conditions of life on Earth have severely deteriorated. The Earth, as well as the general condition of the human body, is running down as the Second Law of Thermodynamics implies. Disease and genetic mutation, for example, attest to this. Isaiah declared: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the Earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke. The Earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner....” (51:6). We have used God-given engineering abilities to combat some of this decline through designs of our own, including, for example, medicine to combat disease, and sophisticated structures to withstand the forces of natural calamity. However, with a warped perspective about Who the Author and Designer of the Universe is, mankind could attempt to fix things that do not need fixing, and thereby bring calamity, suffering, and unhappiness.
Now consider: If engineers would respect the Chief Engineer Who has surrounded us with amazing prototypes—an engineering school into which we have all been admitted—they could make quicker and better advancements in technology. Engineers of the past understood this. The Wright brothers, for example, analyzed birds to determine how to get an airplane to stay in the air (Fausz, 2008; Root, 1905), thereby achieving their objective. However, evolutionists will tend not to use God’s optimized designs since, to them, there is no ultimate Engineer to mimic. Rather, they are the results of a multitude of random accidents. Evolutionists would, therefore, have to recognize that optimized designs could not possibly come from an explosion. [NOTE: Ironically, many evolutionists openly gape at the amazing complexity and seeming design of the world, and yet fail to recognize the implications of their awe (Block, 1980, p. 52; Jastrow, 1981, pp. 96-97; Lipson, 1980, 31:138; Wylie, 1962, p. 25).] Thus, technological advancement is slowed and designs often will fail to reach their potential.
If scientists fail to ask the right question, we will begin to see notable deleterious effects in the field of engineering. If engineers ask the right question, they, and indirectly we, will continue to have major advancements in technology as blessings from the Chief Engineer. What is the right question? The correct question to ask is, “Why did the Chief Engineer do it that way?” Studying that question will help us to have better “dominion” over the Earth. He designed the Earth, and we can be assured that His design, and the rationale behind His design, will be very useful. After all, who could possibly out-design the Chief Engineer of the Universe?


Block, Irvin (1980), “The Worlds Within You,” Science Digest, special edition:49-53,118, September/October.
Fausz, Jerry (2008), “Designed to Fly,” Reason & Revelation, 28[2]:9-15, February, [On-line], URL:http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3599.
Jastrow, Robert (1981), The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Lipson, H. S. (1980), “A Physicist Looks at Evolution,” Physics Bulletin, 31:138, May.
Root, Amos Ives (1905), “First Published Account of the Wright Brothers Flight,” Gleanings in Bee Culture (Medina, OH: A.I. Root Company), [On-line], URL:http://www.rootcandles.com/about/wrightbrothers.cfm.
Wylie, Evan M. (1962), Today’s Health, July.

Teachings of Jesus (Part 6) Blessed or Not


Teachings of Jesus (Part 6) Blessed or Not

Reading: Luke 6: 17-26  “

17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, or you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
What on earth was Jesus talking about in today’s text? Blessed are the poor? Happy are the hungry? Fortunate are the tearful? I have yet to meet those happy, contented poor people. I never heard anybody say, “Isn’t this great, I’m starving!” I have never seen a person sobbing their heart out with a smile of joy on their face. Have you?
And I have to admit, it makes me a bit uneasy the way Jesus speaks about rich, easy going folk who enjoy a good time and are well respected in the eyes of almost everybody. “Woe to you!” says Jesus and implies that whatever you have now, you better enjoy it while you can, because when tomorrow comes you’re going to have to pay for it. Big Time. Woe to you rich.
On a worldwide scale the U.S. is a rich place. This nation is way, way, way up there in terms of Gross National product, income, life expectancy, health care, educational opportunity, and military might. In terms of what this world calls rich, if you live in the United States, you are the number one spot. All of us are rich compared to others in the world.
Did you know that nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion of them live in extreme poverty making less than $1.25 a day. So 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
Blessed are the Poor??? Happy are the hungry??? Fortunate are the tearful? Everything about this seems a bit mixed up.
But it does fit in rather well with how Jesus described His mission at the beginning of His ministry. Remember His first sermon back in Nazareth? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because He anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind.”
Do you remember what happened shortly afterwards? Some people tried to throw Him off a cliff! Understandable when you think He’s been predicting the downfall of the rich and that powerful. He wasn’t “Mr. Popular” with them! Especially when He indicated that the Gentiles treated the prophets better than the Jews.
There are nonbelievers who would say after reading the gospels, that Jesus only got what was coming to Him when they crucified Him. I mean what did He expect? Insulting the religious authorities, trampling on their traditions, speaking words they would interpret as blasphemous and suggesting even that most sacred of all institutions, the Temple would come tumbling down? Proclaiming Himself a King in the process of building a Kingdom?
In the eyes of the rich and powerful then, how could He not appear as a threat? As they saw the growing devotion and power He had amongst the outcasts and the dispossessed and the poor, how could they not be fearful for their positions in society? To them Jesus was not Good News, but Bad News. If they didn’t take action, their whole world could be turned upside down.
But to the poor, He was a hero. Think of the situation of the poor in the crowd to whom Jesus was talking. They did not live in a democracy. They did not choose the Romans to come and conquer their land. They had no vote. They were in this little troublesome corner of a vast empire, governed by incompetent puppet rulers desperate to impress the powerful people back in Rome.
They were poor, not only materially but also in terms of rights and expectations and in almost every other area of life. They were the downtrodden. They were the imprisoned ones. Life was not pouring down good fortune on them. Those who had once been described as God’s children probably felt like God’s orphans
Consider also the corrupt state of religion. Jesus calls the Pharisees “Whitewashed tombs”. He describes the temple as “A den of thieves”. He accuses the teachers of the Law and the intellectual Sadducees of not knowing the Scriptures.
Put yourself in the position of the poor that day. You go to hear Jesus speaking. He heals someone you know of something he’d been suffering with for years. You see in the crowd that crazy man possibly someone possessed by a demon which everyone had written off, now looking calm and in his right mind.
You hear all these stories about God looking for the lost, rejoicing over those who would come to Him in childlike faith. You hear about a God who was not far off and remote but rather one whom you can call “Abba, Father”.
You hear about a God who is interest in the misfortunes and struggles of people; those who felt they are at the bottom of the pile. Jesus lets you know that you are blessed. Such a message would surely lift your heart. Hearing this from Him It seems like God has a bias towards the poor!
But then He says woe to you who are rich and well off!
By contrast God can do little for the self-satisfied, the self-seeking and the self-centered arrogant rich people in this world.
In the “The Message” a modern paraphrase translation captures the flavor of the pronouncements of woe made by Jesus, 6:24-25 put it this way,
It’s trouble ahead for those who think they have it made, What you have is all you’ll ever get. It’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself, Your ‘self’ will not satisfy you for long. It’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games, There’s suffering to be met and you’re going to meet it.” Now just as there is nothing intrinsically wonderful about poverty or tears, there is nothing intrinsically evil in riches or laughter.
The blessing the poor receive comes because they are more incline to turn to God for help. In seeking God the poor are more incline to find God.
The woe of riches is that those riches blind people to their need of God.Wealth can create a false sense of security and create such a comfort zone around us that we forget we need God also and we also forget that there hurting people out there and that they are the ones God calls us to serve.  We forget that privilege carries with it a corresponding responsibility. We forget that to those who much is given, much is expected.
Over and over Jesus sets Himself up against those who take no time to care and show mercy for those less fortunate. Consider the stories Jesus told, like the the parable of Good Samaritan, That was about someone who needed help but was pass by, by so called religious people. Or the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Who was in heaven and who was in the torment of hell?
In many cases God is not on the side of those who are wealthy, uppity and arrogant, because they are not necessarily on God’s side in helping the fallen or healing the broken hearted. It wasn’t their wealth that was evil because we read that God blessed many individuals in the Bible with material blessing, rather it’s their attitude that was selfish and wrong.
Woe to you rich! This teaching went out as a rebuke and sought to stir up some hearts that had become complacent. It calls us to stop building our own little empires and turn back to God and get with His program of building the Kingdom and serving others where we can. By doing so we honor Him and not ourselves with what we have been provided and blessed with.
Later when Jesus says that it was easier for camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, He wasn’t telling a funny little story. When He told the rich young man to go and sell everything he had and give it to the poor, He meant for that man to go and do it because that man had the wrong attitude towards his possessions.
Jesus knew the destructive power of having too much. People with too much have a tendency to think that they don’t need God as much and are they wrong.
But when a person is in a desperate situation, maybe like when they are very sick, or in a lot of pain, or in a financial crisis, or hurt emotionally, that’s when cry out to God, that’s when they need and want Him more than any other time. And many times that’s when they really find Him. But not so much when all is going well and we have all that we need and more.
Jesus came to wake people up. Too often we’re so use to doing things our way that we don’t see what God wants. Do you take Him for granted?
This passage and teaching we’ve been looking at is not meant to be easy listening; that is unless you are the poor, or the hungry, or those in mourning and are seeking God’s help. It’s meant to make us feel a bit uneasy. It is Jesus’ calling everyone to get they’re priorities in line with God’s.
It’s called love and seeks to obey God’s will and maybe even fear Him a bit no matter how well off financially you may think you are. And I believe it is also a call to show love to those who can use your help.
One of the richest and smarted men who ever lived, Solomon spent a better part of his life trying to figure out what was really important. After accumulating huge sums of wealth and vast amount of material possession, and taking on all kinds of building projects and he came to the conclusion that all that those things are meaningless, like chasing after the wind.
He learned and said that some of the best things we can do is to eat and drink and find satisfaction in all our work, that this is a gift from God. Ecc. 2:24.
He also said that one should learn to be happy and do good 3:12-13 and enjoy our life with our spouse Ecc.9:9. And more importantly to fear God and keep His commandments, which he calls the whole duty of man. Ecc. 12:13 It’s not all about making more money and getting more stuff.
Are your priorities right? Do you forget how much you need God each day? Do you overlook the needs of others?
May God help us not to compromise our commitment to serving others, because our comforts shield us from another’s cry.
May we heed this warning of Jesus regarding the seductive power of materialism that can sap our spiritual energy and thirst for God
Based on a sermon by Adrian Pratt
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566
All comments can be emailed to: bfronzek@gmail.com