"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Micah - Judgment Now, Blessings Later (6:1-7:20) by Mark Copeland

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

            Micah - Judgment Now, Blessings Later (6:1-7:20)


1. This is the third of three lessons in our survey of the book of Micah...
   a. Micah was a prophet of God, a contemporary of Isaiah (ca. 735-700 B.C.)
   b. His prophecies were directed to both Israel and Judah, though 
      mostly to the latter
   c. His general theme:  "Present Judgment, Future Blessings"

2. In his first message...
   a. He proclaimed "The Coming Judgment And Promised Restoration"
   b. In which he described:
      1) The judgment pronounced upon Israel and Judah - Mic 1:2-16
      2) The reasons for the coming judgment - Mic 2:1-11
      3) The promise of the restoration of a remnant - Mic 2:12-13

3. In his second message...
   a. He proclaimed "God's Condemnation of Israel, And The Future Hope"
   b. In which he described:
      1) God's condemnation of Israel's civil and religious leaders - Mic 3:1-12
      2) The future exaltation of Zion and Messianic hope - Mic 4:1-5:15

4. In his third and final message, Micah's message is "God's Indictment
   of Israel, With A Promise Of Forgiveness And Restoration" - Mic 6:1-7:20

[Similar to what we saw in Hosea, the prophet Micah presents the Lord's
complaint as though He were taking Israel to court...]


      1. The people called to present their case against God, as He has
         a complaint against them - Mic 6:1-2
      2. How has the Lord wearied them?  Testify against Him! - Mic 6:3
      3. Did He not redeem them from Egyptian bondage with the aid of
         His servants Moses, Aaron, and Miriam? - Mic 6:4
      4. Remember how He even had Balaam counter the counsel of Balak - Mic 6:5

      1. What must they offer for their sins? - Mic 6:6-7
      2. What God wanted was for them to do justly, love mercy, and 
         walk humbly before Him - Mic 6:8

      1. Justified, for they were full of dishonesty and violence - Mic 6:9-12
      2. Judgment is coming in the form of desolation, for they hold on
         to the idolatry of Omri and works of Ahab - Mic 6:13-16

[Once again, for the third time, Micah has foretold of the judgment to
come.  As before, he does not close without offering a hope for 
blessings in the future...]


      1. His sorrow because the faithful man had perished - Mic 7:1-4
      2. Things are so bad, only the Lord can be trusted - Mic 7:5-7

      1. His enemy is not to rejoice over him - Mic 7:8-10a
         a. For though he may fall, he will arise; the Lord will be a light to him
         b. He is willing to bear the indignation of the Lord, for he
            has sinned; he knows also that the Lord will eventually
            plead his case and execute justice for him
      2. He takes comfort in the future restoration of Zion - Mic 7:10b-13
         a. Though first to be trampled down like mire in the streets
         b. When restored, all will come to her (a messianic reference akin to Mic 4:1-2?)
         c. But first there will be desolation (cf. the destruction of the city by Babylon)

      1. A prayer for God's protection, to shepherd them as in days gone by - Mic 7:14
      2. God answer:  "I will show them marvelous things" - Mic 7:15
      3. Micah's song of praise - Mic 7:16-20
         a. The nations shall be made afraid when they see what the Lord has done
         b. Who is a God like Jehovah?
            1) Who pardons iniquity
            2) Who passes over the transgressions of the remnant of His heritage
            3) Who does not retain anger forever, for He delights in mercy
            4) Who will again have compassion, subdue their sins, and 
               cast their sins away
            5) Who will give truth and mercy to Jacob and Abraham 
               (i.e., their descendants) as He has sworn from days of old (cf. Gen 12:2-3)


1. Thus Micah ends his book like he ended each of his three messages:
   offering hope concerning the future for the people of Israel

2. In our previous lesson we noted how these promises concerning a 
   glorious future to a great extent were fulfilled "in the latter 
   days", beginning with the coming of our Lord
   a. Certainly the restoration and rebuilding of temple following
      Babylonian captivity was a partial fulfillment
   b. But even that was just a glimpse of what Jesus Christ would offer
      in His spiritual kingdom, which we now enjoy by being in Him

3. From Micah, we can learn a lot about...
   a. The nature of God - cf. Mic 7:18-20
   b. How God would have us live - cf. Mic 6:6-8

4. We also can have our faith strengthened by observing those 
   prophecies which have been fulfilled...
   a. Such as the birthplace of the Messiah - Mic 5:2
   b. Such as the establishment of the Lord's house - Mic 4:1-2

So while Micah may have been sent first to the nation of Israel, let's
not forget what Peter said concerning the Old Testament prophets...

   "To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they
   were ministering the things which now have been reported to you
   through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy 
   Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into."

                                        (1Pe 1:12)

Yes, when the prophets like Micah foretold of the "the glories that
would follow", they were serving us who would be later be in the 
kingdom of God. Do we appreciate how blessed we are?  If so, then let's
also do what God requires of us, as expressed in Micah's own words:

   "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Mic 6:8)


Controversy About Hell Continues by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Controversy About Hell Continues

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

A 1999 Gallup poll showed that only 56% of Americans held a firm conviction in the existence of hell (1999, p. 30). When Pope Benedict XVI stressed that impenitent sinners risk “eternal damnation,” his remarks received coverage from many major media outlets (see Lyons, 2007). Perhaps modernity is so inundated by political correctness that it no longer concerns itself with the eternal consequence of sin, even though the Bible emphasizes it (Matthew 5:22; 8:12; 25:41-46; Mark 9:43; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
Now the biblical doctrine of eternal punishment is back in the news. On July 8, 2007, ABC’s Good Morning America reported that a well-known evangelical preacher, Carlton Pearson, lost his ministerial position at a large Tulsa, Oklahoma church because of his unconventional stance on hell. Pearson became convinced that hell is temporary and, in fact, not external to earthly existence. “I couldn’t reconcile a God whose mercy endures forever and this torture chamber that’s customized for unbelievers,” Pearson told ABC (quoted in “A Question...,” 2007). “You can’t be happy. And how can you really love a God who’s torturing your grandmother?” (“A Question...”).
After reaching the conclusion that the Bible is merely the work of uninspired, primitive men prone to “mistranslations” and “political agendas,” Mr. Pearson watched a news report about human suffering in the Third World and thought he heard God telling him that hell is earthly, human existence (“A Question...”; cf. Weir, 2007). Pearson summarized his newfound position: “We may go through hell, but nobody goes to hell” (quoted in Weir, 2007). “The bitter torment of the idea of an angry, visceral, distant, stoic, harsh, unrelenting, unforgiving, intolerant God is Hell,” Mr. Pearson concluded (“A Question....”). He proceeded to describe this notion to an ABC interviewer: “It’s pagan. It’s superstitious. And if you trace its history, it goes way back to where men feared the gods because something happened in life that caused frustration,” adding that people who believe in hell create it for themselves and others (“A Question...”).
Mr. Pearson’s story prompted ABC to develop a 20/20 report on various ideas about punishment in the afterlife. Bill Weir reported that when Mr. Pearson began teaching that hell is on Earth, “[i]t wasn't long before Christian magazines demonized him. The denomination that made him a bishop officially labeled him a heretic. His assistant pastors quit, and his congregation dropped from 6,000 to fewer than 300” (2007). Pearson enjoyed association with such prominent denominational ministers as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Oral Roberts, and a popular appeal that earned him the opportunity to counsel Presidents Clinton and Bush on faith-based initiatives (2007). However, Pearson so dedicated himself to an odd doctrinal position as to warrant his removal from an “evangelical empire built over a lifetime” (Weir, 2007).
The denial of eternal punishment certainly is unoriginal with Pearson. There always have been those who rejected the doctrine of hell by insisting that it in unreasonable. The idea that the souls of the faithful are immortal, while those of the unfaithful perish at their physical death is known as annihilationism. Gnostic groups have taken this position for hundreds of years. “There is no literal hell in the Gnostic tradition. It is a state that exists for people here” (Pierce, 2007; cf. Hoeller, n.d.). Certain Gnostics and other religionists may, like Mr. Pearson, have alleged that the traditional doctrine of hell is founded solely in the imagination of men, but their sentiments are antithetical to the plain teaching of Scripture.
In the July 1852 issue of Christian Magazine, a popular preacher from Nashville, Tennessee, Jesse B. Ferguson, asked: “Is Hell a dungeon dug by Almighty hands before man was born, into which the wicked are to be plunged? And is the salvation upon the preacher’s lips a salvation from such a Hell? For ourself [sic], we rejoice to say it, we never believed, and upon the evidence so far offered, never can believe it” (1852, p. 202). In a Christianity Today article titled “Fire, Then Nothing,” 135 years later, denominational scholar Clark Pinnock suggested that the souls of the wicked are annihilated at physical death (1987). In his book, The Fire That Consumes, Edward Fudge taught the same concept when he wrote: “The wicked, following whatever degree and duration of pain that God may justly inflict, will finally and truly die, perish and become extinct for ever and ever”(1982, p. 425). John Clayton, known for his numerous compromises of the Genesis Creation account, reviewing Fudge’s work, commented:
One of the most frequent challenges of atheists during our lectures is the question of the reasonableness of the concept of hell. Why would a loving, caring, merciful God create man as he is, knowing that man would sin, reject God, and be condemned to an eternal punishment? I have had to plead ignorance in this area because I had no logical answer that was consistent with the Bible.... I have never been able to be comfortable with the position that a person who rejected God should suffer forever and ever and ever (1990, p. 20, emp. in orig.).
Fudge’s influence was felt far and wide, and continues today. Writers such as F. LaGard Smith and Homer Hailey have propagated annihilationism, and Apologetics Press has dealt directly and decisively with the false idea that the Bible teaches a temporary punishment or instantaneous annihilation of the soul (see Lyons and Butt, 2005a; Lyons and Butt 2005b). Dave Miller discussed the numerous Bible passages that clearly teach the reality of “the vengeance of eternal fire” (2003a; Jude 7).
In the process of denying the eternality of hell, however, the disenfranchised Oklahoma preacher made additional, significant allegations against Christianity. Do Pearson’s emotionally-charged, philosophic complaints against divine punishment merit our endorsement?

Is the Bible merely a product of misguided mortals?

The Bible militates against Pearson’s doctrine about hell, so Pearson saw the need to discredit the Bible by stating that it is not from God at all, but rather from the pens of troubled men who were prone to make outlandish claims. For Pearson, a man claiming to be a minister of the Gospel, to deny the authority of the Scriptures out-of-hand is astounding, and contradictory to the mountain of evidence for the Bible’s inspiration. Among the facts about the Bible are the following.
It is a matter of historical record that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (see Lyons and Staff, 2003). Would Mr. Pearson challenge the character or ability of Moses, the historical giant of faith who led an entire nation for 40 years? Moses is far from being the only author of the Bible. It was written over the course of approximately 1,600 years by over 40 men from different places and backgrounds, and yet it flawlessly tells one epic story without once contradicting itself. Against which of these inspired men would Mr. Pearson hurl the accusation that his writings are the product of gross incompetence, frivolous emotionality, or political mindedness? Kyle Butt noted:
To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the 66 books that compose the Bible fit together perfectly. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible. In fact, it would be impossible from a human standpoint to gather the writings of 40 men from the same culture, with the same educational background, during the same time period, and get anything close to the unity that is evident in the Bible. The Bible’s unity is a piece of remarkable evidence that proves its divine origin (2007b, emp. in orig.).
For generations, men have attempted to find places in the sacred text where an inspired writer contradicted himself or another of the Bible’s writer, but they have come away empty (see Jackson, 1983; Lyons, 2003; Lyons, 2005). Unless Mr. Pearson can explain the unity of the Bible apart from divine inspiration, his allegations against the Bible crumble. Considering that no one in history has accomplished this, it seems infinitely unlikely that Mr. Pearson is up to the task.
The Bible contains scientific foreknowledge that would be absent if the men who wrote the Bible lacked divine guidance (see Butt, 2007a). One such instance of profound scientific foreknowledge centers around the administration of circumcision.
In Genesis 17:12, God specifically directed Abraham to circumcise newborn males on the eighth day. Why the eighth day?... On the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin present actually is elevated above one-hundred percent of normal—and is the only day in the male’s life in which this will be the case under normal conditions. If surgery is to be performed, day eight is the perfect day to do it. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak (Thompson, 1993, emp. in orig.).
If the Genesis author (Moses) lacked divine revelation to inform him of the correct day on which to perform circumcision, how else could he have known it? Equally powerful examples of scientific foreknowledge abound throughout the pages of Scripture (see Thompson, 2003, pp. 48-62). Before Mr. Pearson dismisses the Bible’s inspiration, he will have to explain the scientific foreknowledge that leaps off its pages and convinces its readers. Mr. Pearson cannot. Furthermore, the Bible contains hundreds of predictive prophecies, all of which were fulfilled in every minute detail (see Butt, 2006; Thompson, 2003, pp. 42-48). Does this, or the fact that the Bible is completely accurate in its report of facts, jibe with Mr. Pearson’s contemptuous characterization of the Bible writers (see Jackson, 1991; Thompson, 2003, pp. 33-42)?

Is the traditional conception of hell only a product of medieval superstition?

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), considered by many the finest poet of the middle ages, created a vivid, poetic portrait of eternal torment in The Divine Comedy. While a literary analysis of Dante’s work is beyond the scope of this article, the multitudes of Dante’s readers, from medieval times until now, have understood that Dante’s use of poetic license means that the details of his comedy are figurative approximations of what hell may be like; not definitive explanations of the nature of hell. Dante clearly advocated the reality of eternal punishment. John Ciardi, in his essay titled “How to Read Dante,” which introduces his translation of The Divine Comedy, stated: “Dante writes of Hell as a literal place of sin and punishment. The damned are there because they offended a theological system that enforces certain consequences of suffering” (Alighieri, 2003, p. xiv). Those professing Christianity in the middle ages had a general understanding that hell represented separation from God (see Russell, 1968, p. 57).
Noting that Augustine (A.D. 354-430), Dante (1265-1321), and Milton (1608-1674) all wrote in the same general theological tradition, John Hick commented:
The doctrines which lie behind these great works of art were normative within the church until recent times and broadly represent what the rest of the world, looking at Christianity as a whole over its two thousand years of existence, sees as its teaching concerning the life to come (1976, p. 198).
So, while Christian writers throughout history have commented about hell with greater or lesser degrees of adherence to the biblical description of that place, their basic notion of eternal torment was derived ultimately from the Bible. The traditional conception of hell certainly was not a novel one. No medieval writer ever sat down and thought, “Today, I’ll invent a place where God punishes people,” because the existence and characteristics of that place already had been divulged in holy writ. Medieval thinkers thought about hell largely for the same reason we write about hell today: God has revealed certain details about it. It would be interesting to learn whether Mr. Pearson did serious research concerning medieval tradition prior to making his allegation that those in the middle ages concocted a new, terrifying notion of hell. Mr. Pearson is the one who seems extremely and irresponsibly creative with his theology.

Could an all-loving God punish people?

The Bible teaches that God is both loving and just. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face” (Psalm 89:14). A primary argument against the existence of the God of the Bible is that the biblical portrait of God is contradictory; an all-loving God could not punish people by condemning them to an eternal hell. Is it possible to reconcile the notion of eternal punishment with the God described in the Bible? Certainly. Consider, among others, these reasons:
Love does not require the absence of discipline. For example, a mother of a small child may punish a small child for mischievous and dangerous acts. Such correction may be painful, yet necessary. The problem of the magnitude of eternal punishment persists, however. Here, we must consider the justice of God, which Mr. Pearson has maligned and/or ignored.
While love defines God (1 John 4:8), he also is characterized by justice. Psalm 89:14 states that “righteousness and justice” are the foundation of His throne. Justice demands that each person gets what he or she deserves. Those of us who live in civilized society realize that order and peace are impossible without justice. If God had no way of carrying out spiritual consequences of disobedience, He would lack the quality of justice. Because God is a “righteous judge” (2 Timothy 4:8), and knows everyone’s heart (see Colley, 2004b), He makes no judicial errors (see Butt, 2002, pp. 129-130). Furthermore, God has given every guilty human the opportunity to avoid eternal punishment. God hopes that all humans will take advantage of the salvation He offers (2 Peter 3:9). God is infinite in love, mercy, and justice, so we may depend on His infinite capability to make righteous judgments and mete perfect punishments (see Colley, 2004a).

Does hell exist on Earth?

Mr. Pearson admits that his notion of hell existing on Earth came through what he believed to be a special, personal communication with God. It is outside the scope of this article to address whether God communicates directly and personally with people today, but we have proved elsewhere that He does not (see Miller, 2003b). Observe that Pearson offered no scriptural basis for his doctrine of a present hell. This is necessarily the case for, if Mr. Pearson studied the biblical data on this topic of hell at all, he should have realized that there is no scriptural basis for his doctrine. Furthermore, in order to tell Mr. Pearson that hell is not a real place, but rather a state of earthly frustration or disappointment, God would be forced to contradict what He already revealed (see Lyons and Butt, 2005a, Lyons and Butt 2005b).
There is, however, historical precedent for Mr. Pearson’s imaginative notion that hell exists on Earth. Unification Church members (popularly called “Moonies” due to their allegiance to Sun Myung Moon and his Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity) taught that hell exists on Earth and eventually will be transformed into the kingdom of heaven on Earth (“Building...,” n.d., Gruss, 1994, p. 196; cf. McDowell and Stewart, 1983, pp. 99-104). Hell becomes very inconsequential if it merely is mixed with the vast collections of experiences, thoughts, and emotions of which life consists, and eventually will transform into heaven. By partnering with the cult leader Moon in subscribing to this false doctrine, Mr. Pearson has opened the door even further to all manner of unscriptural approaches to fundamental theological principles.

Can saints be happy while sinners are lost?

Geisler observed: “The presupposition of this question is that we are more merciful than is God” (1999, p. 314). Christians wish damnation upon no one, but they also understand that God is perfectly merciful, desiring that everyone should be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Mr. Pearson has implied a distorted conception of Christian happiness. Christians are joyful not because souls are lost—or because of any negative circumstances such as sickness and death—but rather because Jesus has provided eternal salvation. Among other spiritual blessings, Christ offers providential care whereby even painful circumstances can be worked out for the ultimate good of His followers (Romans 8:28).
Christians certainly are not pleased by tragedies such as the eternal loss of souls. They mourn over sinful choices and consequences (Matthew 5:4). At the same time, however, their relationship to Christ brings the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Paul expressed this overriding, perpetual happiness: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Paul suffered his share of disappointment, as he watched some of his companions forsake the Lord, and prophesied of a great apostasy (1 Timothy 1:19-20; 4:1-5). Yet, Paul maintained a joyful spirit: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). In the end, Christians will be happy in heaven, despite the fact that others, even loved ones, will be lost (see Revelation 21:4; cf. Jackson, 2003).


As Carlton Pearson’s arguments crumble before a consideration of biblical principle and historical analysis, we do not judge his motives, but rather pray that he will repent and obey the Lord (Matthew 7:21). If people such as Mr. Pearson are lost eternally it will be because they, having been warned about the danger of damnation, have chosen to live out of harmony with God’s will. Jonathan Edwards’ comment on this topic is pertinent:
It is a most unreasonable thing to suppose that there should be no future punishment, to suppose that God, who had made man a rational creature, able to know his duty, and sensible that he is deserving punishment when he does it not; should let man alone, and let him live as he will, and never punish him for his sins, and never make any difference between the good and the bad. . . . How unreasonable it is to suppose, that he who made the world, should leave things in such confusion, and never take care of the governing of his creatures, and that he should never judge his reasonable creatures (quoted in Geisler, 1999, p. 315).
Hell is devoid of grace, the saving power God extends while we live on Earth (Romans 1:16). We must encourage all to appropriate God’s grace to their souls by obeying the Gospel—the only way to avoid the vengeance of God (2 Thessalonians 1:8).


Alighieri, Dante (2003 reprint), The Divine Comedy, trans. John Ciardi (New York: New American Library).
“Building a World of True Love: An Introduction to The Divine Principle” (no date), The Unification Church, [On-line], URL: http://unification.org/overview_DP2.html.
Butt, Kyle (2002), A Matter of Fact (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle (2006), “The Predicted Messiah,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2812.
Butt, Kyle (2007a), “Scientific Foreknowledge and Medical Acumen of the Bible,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3159.
Butt, Kyle (2007b), “The Unity of the Bible,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3356.
Clayton, John (1990), “Book Reviews,” Does God Exist?, 17[5]:20-21, September/October.
Colley, Caleb (2004a), “The Mercy and Justice of God,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.
Colley, Caleb (2004b), “The Omniscience of God,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2562.
Ferguson, Jesse B. (1852), Christian Magazine, July.
Fudge, Edward (1982), The Fire That Consumes (Houston, TX: Providential Press).
Gallup, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).
Geisler, Norman L. (1999), The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Gruss, Edmond C. (1994), Cults and the Occult (Phillipsburg, NJ: P.&R.), third edition.
Hick, John (1976), Death and Eternal Life (New York: Harper & Row).
Hoeller, Stephen (no date), “The Gnostic World View: A Brief Summary of Gnosticism,” The Gnosis Archive, [On-line], URL: http://www.gnosis.org/gnintro.htm.
Jackson, Wayne (1983), “Bible Contradictions—Are They Real?,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=5249.
Jackson, Wayne (1991), “The Bible Always Passes the Test,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2218.
Jackson, Wayne (2003), “Can One Be Happy in Heaven, with Loved Ones in Hell?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/read/can_one_be_happy_in_heaven_ with_loved_ones_in_hell.
Lyons, Eric (2003), The Anvil Rings: Volume 1 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2005), The Anvil Rings: Volume 2 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2007), “‘Hell’ is Back In the News,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3364.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2005a), “The Eternality of Hell [Part I],” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2669.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2005b), “The Eternality of Hell [Part II],” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2688.
Lyons, Eric and A.P. Staff (2003), “Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch—Tried and True,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/13.
McDowell, Josh and Don Stewart (1983), Handbook of Today’s Religions (San Bernadino, CA: Here’s Life).
Miller Dave (2003a), “Who Believes in Hell Anymore?,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2258.
Miller, Dave (2003b), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—EXTENDED VERSION,” On-line, URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Pierce, Troy (2007), “Questions: Gnostic Hell,” [On-Line], URL: http://gnoscast.blogspot.com/2007/06/blog-post.html.
Pinnock, Clark (1987), “Fire, Then Nothing,” Christianity Today, March 20.
“A Question of Hell” (2007), Good Morning America, [On-line], URL: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3356360&page=1&GMA=true& amp;GMA=true&GMA=true.
Russell, Jeffrey (1968), A History of Medieval Christianity: Prophecy and Order (Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson).
Thompson, Bert (1993), “Biblical Accuracy and Circumcision on the 8th Day,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1118.
Thompson, Bert (2003), In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
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Context Matters—Really Matters! by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Context Matters—Really Matters!

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Understanding the Bible is the most important facet of any person’s life. For the honest truth seeker, a proper understanding of the Bible is imperative for him or her to secure an eternal home in Heaven. For the skeptic, a true understanding of the Bible can lead him or her out of the darkness into the marvelous light. One of the most important tools for accomplishing such an understanding is a correct grasp of the idea of biblical context and figures of speech.


In your younger years of school, one of the first language skills you learned was to use context clues to help you solve problems or understand the meaning of words. For instance, what does the word “bear” mean? It could be a noun referring to a big, furry mammal with large teeth. Or maybe it is being used in its verbal form meaning “to endure.” Only the context can give you the meaning of the word. Read the two sentences below and decide which meaning goes with each sentence.
The bear jumped into the water after a salmon.
God will provide a way of escape so that you can bear temptation.
Obviously, the first sentence is talking about an animal, while the second sentence is discussing being able to endure. That was easy to figure out, but it could be done only via the context.
In the same way, the Bible puts things in context, and that context must be used in order to understand what is being said. For instance, in the book of Job the Bible says to “curse God” (2:9). That is a very disturbing thought. We know that in other places, the Bible says that we should love, honor, and serve God as our Creator. So which is it? Should we honor and serve Him, or curse Him? The answer is easy to find if we look at the context of the verse in Job. Job had just lost his most precious worldly possessions—children, health, and riches. As he sat in the middle of an ash heap scraping his boils with a broken piece of pottery, his wife looked on him with sorrow and desirous of ending Job’s pain. This is what she said to Job: “Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!” When Job heard this advice, he was troubled and said to his her: “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Obviously, once the context is taken into account, the Bible does not tell anyone that cursing God is a good thing to do. Job’s wife mistakenly commented that Job should curse God, and Job set her error straight. Context matters—really matters.
Again, Mark 3:22 talks about Jesus saying, “By the ruler of demons He casts out demons.” But at other times we read that Jesus cast out demons by the power of God. Once again, we must inquire as to which was the case. Did the ruler of demons possess Jesus, or did Jesus use the power of God? Context saves the day again. In Mark, the scribes were accusing Jesus (falsely) of using the devil’s power. Just a few verses later in Mark 3:23-27, Jesus set the record straight and explained that His power did not come from Satan, but from God. Once again, context matters—really matters.


Suppose a younger brother volunteers to bring his older brother a soda from the refrigerator. On his return, he slips on a rug and accidentally throws the beverage across the room. Witnessing the sight, the older brother comments, “Smooth move, little brother.” Did he really mean that his little brother had just made a smooth move? Of course not. He meant the exact opposite, and used a figure of speech known as sarcasm to get his point across. It may come as a surprise to you, but the Bible does the same thing.
In the book of 2 Corinthians, some of the Christians were accusing Paul of treating them badly. Many times throughout the book he explained that never once had he treated them unjustly. In 2 Corinthians 12:13 he wrote: “For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!” Was the apostle really asking for forgiveness for not being burdensome to the Corinthian church? No, he was using sarcasm to make the point that he never had mistreated the church at Corinth.
Throughout the Bible, many different figures of speech are used, sarcasm being just one of them. Let’s look at another one known as hyperbole. Hyperbole might look like a confusing word, but you probably are very familiar with it, even though you might not know that you are. Hyperbole is simply the exaggeration of facts to make a point. If you were invited to a party and someone said that “everybody” was going to be there, that person would be employing hyperbole. It is impossible for “everybody” in the world to be at the party. We would not call our friend a liar because he or she said such a thing because we understand the figure of speech that was used. The Bible does the same thing. Consider John 4:39 as an example. In this passage, a Samaritan woman spoke of Jesus and said: “He told me all that I ever did.” Had Jesus really told that woman everything that she had ever done in her life? No, she was using hyperbole to make her point. Hyperbole is one of the more common figures of speech in the Bible.


When a person speaks literally, he means exactly what he says. If I say that I own a car, then I mean that I own a car. But sometimes a person speaks figuratively rather than literally. When a person uses figurative language, then that person uses words to symbolize something else. For instance, when a person says, “That politician is a snake,” he or she does not literally mean that the politician is a reptile that crawls around on its belly. The individual simply means that the politician is sneaky or sly.
Many of the biblical writers use figurative language. In Luke 13:32, Jesus had been warned that King Herod was trying to kill Him. Jesus replied by saying “Go, tell that fox….” Did Jesus really mean that Herod was a furry animal about the size of a small dog with a bushy tale? Certainly not. He did mean, however, that Herod was a sly, sneaky fellow.
Again, in John 10:1-9 Jesus spoke about a place where shepherds kept their sheep, and then referred to Himself as “the door” of the sheep fold. Did he mean that He was a tall piece of wood with a knob and hinges? No, He simply meant that everyone must go through Him to get to the Father. Jesus often used figurative language.


If skeptics, as well as sincere truth seekers, would get a firm handle on the concepts of context and figures of speech in the Bible, then there would be far fewer accusations of biblical discrepancy hurled by the skeptic, and far less doubt and consternation on the part of the sincere truth seeker.




Psalm 139:7 ”Where could I go from thy Spirit, where could I flee from thy face?”
Most of this is obvious. I’m just collecting all the texts, wishing to leave an impression. The Holy Spirit is in the Bible from start to finish and He now indwells the Body of Christ as the Spirit of God’s Son and by this He constitutes the Church as indeed the extension of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. And “as the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2) so it is with Church which is His Body. I FAILED TO INCLUDE A PARAGRAPH ABOUT THE MAKING OF THE TABERNACLE. I’ll include it in total when I get a chance. SEE NOTE AT THE END OF THIS PIECE.*
I purpose later to offer a very brief survey of texts specifically related to the Spirit’s work with and in the person of the Lord Jesus and His earthly ministry.

Some of what follows I’m still wrestling with and would be happy for response at holywoodjk@aol.com. I mean to return to it. God enabling.

1. The Holy Spirit has always been around, working to create, bless and redeem. His presence and work is not unique to the New Covenant Church or Scriptures. He indwelt, guided and blessed the Old Covenant church also.
2. Who brooded over the formless earth like a hen over her chickens, bringing order and harmony out of the chaotic and uninhabitable and continues to make the earth fruitful? The Holy Spirit! (1) Who strove with rebellious humans for years to turn them back to God and life? (2) The Holy Spirit did!
3. When Abraham trusted God to make his own over-the-hill body and his wife’s dead womb fruitful and bear a child they couldn’t have hoped for, who was involved in the whole process right from the start? (3) The Holy Spirit!
4. Biblical writers sometimes think of “the Exodus” as the actual departure of Israel from Egypt but often they see it as the whole movement of God bringing Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness and settling them in the land of promise.
5. Who was there delivering Israel from Egyptian captivity and bringing them through the Red sea? The Holy Spirit! Who was there in the midst of them, providing, as they wandered through the wilderness in need of food and rest? And who put up with their rebellion and murmuring, continuing to guide them though they grieved him with their wickedness? The Holy Spirit! (4)
6. Having freed them from the external conditions of slavery, who was it that dwelled in and worked with them, shaping them with life-transforming truths that redeemed them from internal slavery to all forms of corruption, enabling them to walk with their heads held high? The Holy Spirit! (5) Who built the Tabernacle through those people He chose and gifted? The Holy Spirit. (6) And when God’s supreme prophet needed help to spiritually guide the nation of Israel, it was the Spirit of God–the same Spirit that worked with Moses–that began to work in a more marked way with the seventy men chosen as colleagues to Moses, providing national guidance. (7)
7. When Joshua and his peers died, Israel forgot what God had done for them the result was anarchy, civil war, renewed slavery and abuse from other nations. It was the Holy Spirit who came upon certain deliverers, galvanizing the tribes into unity that resulted in freedom and rest. (8)
8. The Holy Spirit was there when the monarchy arrived, working through Saul until he showed himself an enemy of God’s purposes. So the Spirit of God departed from him and came mightily upon David who called the nation to be one people under one God. When he sinned grievously against God, he pleaded that God not take His Holy Spirit from him. (9)
9. It was during the period of the monarchy that the prophets made their appearance in earnest. Prophets who, like Micah were filled “with the Spirit of the Lord” (10) and Azariah who proclaimed assurance to Judah and her king. (11)  Both Nehemiah and Zechariah speak of the entire period before the exile as a time when God dealt with Israel through the Holy Spirit (12) and Peter speaks of “the Spirit of Christ” being “in” them when they foretold of the coming suffering and glorification of the Master and it was the Holy Spirit who moved men to write the Holy Scripture. (13)
10. Prophets saw a coming day of calamity because of Israel’s covenant-breaking behavior but they assured Israel that a time was coming when God would signal the renewal of covenant relationship with Israel by lavishly pouring out the Spirit on men, women, girls and boys, male and female servants, virgins and old men. It would be a day of new beginnings, a day marked out by renewed Spirit activity.(14)
11. It’s important that we remember that the work of the Spirit of God wasn’t confined to acts of dramatic redemption or merely “religious” activities. Psalm 104 combines the extraordinary with the steady, everyday blessing of the entire creation. This includes his providing the gift of “wisdom” which means “thinking like God” and learning to live in and enjoy the world under him. The whole of life is permeated with the activity of the Holy Spirit.(15)
12. Then came the deportation the prophets had foretold and Israel marched into the dark, but even in captivity the Holy Spirit was dwelling, speaking, enabling and promising. Ezekiel was among the captives when the heavens opened and the Spirit of God entered him. (16)  Again and again he speaks conviction and consolation which comes to its peak in 37:1-14 where a nation dead in sin and exile is assured that the Spirit of God would raise them from their graves and give them life. (17) Compare that with Genesis 2 when God breathed the “breath” of life into the lifeless “Adam”. 
13. When many returned to the land, chastened but not completely cured, they found life hard, their enemies eager, their situation precarious and unimpressive. But Haggai (18)  gave them the assurance that the covenant promise God gave to Abraham was still intact so they were not to fear, for not only was God faithful to his past promises, the Spirit of the Lord was “standing” in their midst. Zechariah encouraged Zerubbabel, the governor, to believe that the daunting task of establishing Israel again would be accomplished by the Spirit of the Lord. (19)
14. The literature of the Intertestamental period is littered with references to the Holy Spirit and his work in the lives of believers and elsewhere.(20)  Before the birth of John the Baptist and the Lord Christ himself, an angel assured the aged Zechariah that he would have a son who would be filled with the Spirit of God even from the womb. (21)  Luke 2 says the angel told Mary that in conceiving the Lord the Holy Spirit would come on her, “and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (an allusion to the Old Covenant Shekinah–the “glory” that stood over and in the Tabernacle). And there was the aged Simeon who was told by the Spirit that he would live to see the Lord’s Messiah and being “in the Spirit” he came into the temple, saw the Christ child and praised God for His faithfulness. (
15. If all this is true–that the Holy Spirit was always and everywhere present, what are we to make of John’s statement that even in the closing days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, “the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified”? (24)
16. The “giving” (25)  and “receiving” of the Spirit in this passage hinges on the glorification of Christ and it has specific reference to believers in the Christ. It isn’t necessary to set it against all we’ve just surveyed. John knew very well that the Spirit had always been at work in the people of God and beyond, and that he had been with them throughout the public ministry of Christ, because he expressly said this. (26)  He had never been absent so the “giving” of the Spirit speaks of some specialized sense of His presence.
17. The glorification of Christ involved His glorious life, His atoning death, His resurrection and His glorious ascension to God’s right hand. (27)  Peter said “Exalted to the right hand of God he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (28)  This is precisely what Jesus was talking about when He said: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever”– (29)
18. The significance of the giving and receiving of the Spirit in the John 7 passage is generated because it relates to the return of the exalted Christ who had ended the earthly phase of His ministry and had become life-giving Spirit. (30)
19. In Acts 2, what Peter told his listeners was this: they were witnessing a new beginning, a new and special presence of the Holy Spirit who was now—what He could never have been before—the presence of and the representative of the glorified Christ who with His Father had taken up residence in the Messianic believers who constituted the new temple.
(30a). The Spirit could not function in this role earlier, precisely because the Christ in his earthly ministry was operating in the realm of the flesh (that is, under ordinary human limitations and within creaturely limits) and was not a glorified, ascended and universal Christ. For the Spirit to operate in this new way it was necessary for Christ to return to the Father. (31)
21. In the unfolding purpose of God, the Christ could not stay with them unless He first went away from them (through the process of dying, rising, ascension and glorification) and returned to them in the person of the abiding Spirit. (32)  So one of the differences between what went before God’s glorifying Christ and what happened after it, is more about the “new identity” of the Spirit than about degrees of intimacy or the kinds of things the Spirit did. The Spirit had become the presence of the glorified Christ who was no longer to be seen in “fleshly” terms (within mere human or even merely Jewish categories). (33)
22. In the Messianic age the Spirit “of God” while he continues to be the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, he is now identified as the Spirit “of Jesus” or the Spirit “of Christ” or the Spirit “of his Son”. (34)  Once more, this he could not be prior to the exaltation of the Christ, but now the Spirit comes in his name. (35)  So the John 7 passage really says more about Christology than about the Spirit.
23. Additionally, with the arrival of the Christ a new world order has appeared. (36)  The Christ is no longer a merely earthly figure but a “life giving Spirit” (37)  and his people are citizens of heaven, in the world but not of it. (38)  This means not only do they not view Christ in merely human terms, they don’t view themselves or anyone else after the flesh. (39) Their perspective is now “spiritual,” “heavenly,” that is, arising from the Spirit. (40)
24. In Acts 2, the wind and fire, the gift of languages not known to the speakers, the prophetic proclamation and the profusion of miracles connected with Pentecost, is a moment of crisis and new beginning, tangible proofs that these were the days of the Spirit of which the prophets had spoken. (41)
25. So it was not the presence and work of the Spirit that was new that was known throughout Israel’s history and mankind’s experience as part of the created order. But this was profoundly more than “business as usual.” Some of what was new was the setting in which the Spirit was now at work, the relationship He now sustained to the glorified Christ as the new and renewed manifestation of the Living Lord Jesus and His presence now in the newly created People of God. The Spirit is forever doing this kind of work, God breathes into Adam [humanity] the “breath” of life and man becomes a living being, God sends the wind [breath, spirit] into dead Israel in the valley of dry bones and a nation is resurrected. What happens in and through Jesus Christ echoes and brings to fullness all that has gone before and is reflected in the texts alluded to.
26. Close to the end of his earthly ministry, Christ told his people that he would send them another Counselor —one they know—who was already “with” them but would be “in” them. (42)  While it’s true that he later speaks of their whole new experience in terms of being “with” them (43)  it’s still true that he makes a distinction between “with” and “in”. (44)
27.  Jesus was speaking here of the time when the believers would become the new covenanted People and so would become the new temple in which the Christ and his Father would dwell through the Spirit. (45) The Spirit was with and in Israel prior to the covenant at Sinai, but with the Sinai events, Israel became something they had not been before. They became a covenant People or nation unto God who now dwelled in and among them as their (senior) covenant partner.
28. This work of Christ, in sending the Spirit [and coming in and as the Spirit] to anoint and indwell the Church, his Body, is what is meant by the phrase “baptized in the Spirit”. The phrase is from the Baptist (46) who wants the baptized penitents to know that their Christ is greater than he is. At the appropriate time, the Christ would give them the Spirit or, in the words of John, “he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”
29. Israel of old and many individuals within it had been anointed before the Christ arrived, but with his coming the purposes and results of the anointings were new, that is, peculiarly focused. They would all come under the heading of glorifying Christ and making him Lord of all and Lord in peoples’ lives. The reign of God would rise to its final manifestation in relation to humankind.
30. The anointing of Israel of old with the Spirit, is replaced by the new anointing of a new Israel, who, with Gentiles become the new temple in which God dwells through the Spirit. (47) Those who share the faith of Abraham (rather than a place within the Sinaitic covenant), having been baptized into Christ become Abraham’s heirs. (48)
31. This move replaces the Mosaic covenant (which created two families–Jew and Gentile) with a “new” covenant which, in the Christ, makes of the two, “one new man, so making peace”.49 Israel is not “dumped” but her covenantal relationship with God is restructured and all people of faith become one with them.
32. By sending the Spirit in Jesus’ name and making him available to all who in trusting repentance take on them the name of Christ in baptism, 50  God shows the restructuring work is his. This he does in fulfillment of the words of the prophets, the Baptist and Jesus himself.
33. The Spirit’s anointing of Christ’s people was all they needed for a complete life with God in the Christ. He provided all things necessary for life and godliness and they needed nothing more! This anointing included gifted men and women who functioned within the Body in various ways.51
34. This is what John had in mind when he spoke of the anointing of the Church with the Holy Spirit who guides the church into all truth. 52 No pretended knowledge (via Gnostics or other radicals) is needed to complete them, there are no essentials missing that only the elite have access to. John is not suggesting that each individual has an anointing from the Spirit that makes him/her both infallible and exhaustively taught.
35. It is the New Community that’s baptized in the Spirit rather than each independent individual. By virtue of being part of the Community we are indwelled by the Spirit. Salvation and the reception of the Spirit is always personal but they’re not available in isolation–only within the covenanted community.
36. Suppose each human has what survives biological death, something we call “spirit” and which is said to dwell in us–we wouldn’t dream of saying, “Our spirit dwells only in our brain, our liver or heart” as distinct from, say, our foot or hand. No, our spirit dwells in “us,” no particular part of us. Nor would we dream of saying, “Our spirit doesn’t dwell in our toes or ears.” In saying the spirit dwells in “us” we mean “us” as a corporate whole and not independently in each organ as though we were a collections of independent pieces.
37. There is no “individual” indwelling of the Spirit. There are no “individual” Christians, independent units. It’s all right to speak of individual Christians as long as we know they only exist as various parts of a Body. A finger is not the whole body, it is an “individual” part of the body 53 but is an individual “part of the body”. We can only speak of a finger or foot or eye in the context of a corporate body.
38. And the indwelling is not any literal tabernacling of the Holy Spirit in us. The “indwelling” is another way of expressing his willingness to identify with and have holy communion with the covenanted Community, the Church. The indwelling is his gracious willingness to be and move among the people as their God in a peculiar covenantal way. “Indwelling” is not to be construed in a spatial sense but in a relatonal sense. We are said to dwell in God as surely as God is said to dwell in us. (54)
39. Whether the indwelling is “literal” or “figurative” the scriptures teach he indwells us. The good news is he continues to dwell in us and bless us despite our ignorance about the details.
40. Let me summarize:
The Holy Spirit has always been at work, creating, blessing, redeeming, nurturing, guiding, supplying and enlightening.
41. The prophets told of a day when the reign of God would become manifest in the Messiah and that that day would be made clear by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. That time would be the period of covenant renewal.
42. God’s wondrous purposes became fully into view and imminent with the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth in whose life, death, resurrection and glorification the reign of God took on a greater glory than before.
43. The presence and work of the Spirit continued in some ways to be what it had always been, but it now took on a new significance. He became a witness to the glorification of Christ and to the identity of his covenanted people (the Church–made up of all nations). This meant he was working with a new phase of God’s purpose and it’s that new role that explains much of what is new in the New.
44. The Spirit, who is always the Spirit “of God” is made known as the Spirit “of Christ,” “of Jesus” and “of his Son”. This was not possible before the glorification of Jesus Christ.
45. The Spirit who had dwelt in the Old Covenant people—and visibly signaled that by the presence of the tabernacle and temple—now dwells in the New Covenant people which is made up of Jews and Gentiles who have received the Messiah. But the Son of God is not “one third” of God for GOD in one, indivisible GOD who is “tri-personal”. In the incarnation of the Word the fullness of GOD becomes incarnate. The differentiation is between “persons” in the One GOD. The Holy Spirit and Jesus are one (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) since they are “persons” with the Father and together constitute the ONE indivisible GOD. There is no confusions of “person” but the Father, Son & Spirit are one. (More later on this, perhaps. God enabling).
46. The Christ is said to “baptize in the Holy Spirit” when he sent the Spirit to the new covenanted people in whom he and his Father dwell through the Holy Spirit.
47. This new role of the Spirit might help explain the “sin against the Holy Spirit” of which Christ spoke.(55) For the Jews to reject the earthly Christ was sin but it could later be rectified. To reject the exalted Christ, who is now only and finally experienced through the Holy Spirit, is to sin a sin against Jesus as the Holy Spirit for which there can be no cure. There was/is no other Christ and there is no other way in which Christ as Lord is brought to the world. To despise the Spirit’s witness is to close the door to possible salvation because it is to despise the final manifestation of Jesus the Savior.
48. I know of no reason to say, with the majority of writers, that the difference between the Old Covenant and the New is that Old Covenant saints couldn’t keep the covenant because they didn’t have the Spirit to enable them. The Spirit, then, is supposed to have been sent to enable new covenant saints to keep the new covenant. I think this is a misunderstanding of the nature of both covenants.
49. The notion that the Old Covenant was “Spiritless” is a blunder and the view that ancient saints lagged behind New Covenant saints in faithfulness, that their love for and devotion to God was inferior and shallow is another blunder. Just by itself, the Hebrew writer’s “hall of fame” should put that claim permanently to rest.
50. It’s true that new truths were revealed and a new phase of God’s purposes arrived with the arrival of the New Covenant manifestation of the kingdom (reign) of God. The work and presence of the Spirit took on a special significance but all his enabling of people in Old Covenant times was just as real as any New Covenant enabling. With the arrival of the “fullness of time” that enabling work had a new thrust and development. It was “eschatological” and related to God’s new “end time” people and purposes which were centered in “the last Adam,” Jesus Christ.(56) All that is true, I think, but it has nothing to do with the depth and genuineness of the faith and devotion of ancient saints created and nurtured by the Spirit. At the ethical level, the glory of their lives was as rich as any in the present. Choose out examples from the New and they can be matched, at least, in the Old.
51. It’s not difficult to show formalism, apostasy and immorality in the ancients, but no one in the New Covenant writings condemns these as savagely as prophets in the old. Mere externalism was trashed by the prophets who called on people to have hearts that were circumcised and to give God themselves. Christ himself told us that the whole Old covenant canon could be summed up in the love commands. Paul followed his lead in that. (57)
52. I’m saying that much of the ignorance we attribute to Israelites under the Mosaic covenant is not theirs–it’s ours. I’m saying the Spirit made their lives lovely and sacrificial and God-fearing. I’m saying what is “new” about the work of the Spirit in the new covenantal arrangement has nothing to do with these matters and everything to do with God’s self-revelation in it’s most profound, full and unending climax in Jesus of Nazareth, now exalted and seen in and as the Holy Spirit..
 1. Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:29-30
2. Genesis 6:3-5
3. Genesis 17:17; 18:11; Romans 4:19 & Galatians 4:29
4. Isaiah 63:10-14
5. See Nehemiah 9:20; Leviticus 26:12-13; Exodus 29:43-46
6. See Exodus 35:10-11, 30-31
7. Numbers 11:10-30
8. See Judges 3:10; 6:34 and other places
9. 1 Samuel 16:13-14; Psalm 51:11
10. Micah 3:8
11. 2 Chronicles 15:1-8
12. Nehemiah 9:30; Zechariah 7:12
13. 1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1.21
14. See Joel 2:28-29; Jeremiah 31:31-34; 33:19-26; Ezekiel 36:26-28; 37:1-14,24,26-27
15. See Psalm 104, especially verse 30
16. Ezekiel 2:2; 3:4
17. See the piece, Wind of the Spirit
18. Haggai 2:5
19. Zechariah 4:6-10
20. See the works of Max Turner, Millar Burrows and others.
21. Luke 1:13-15
22. Luke 2:25-27
23. Luke 1:35
24. John 7:38-39
25. There is no “given” in the Greek text though the translations are no doubt correct in supplying it. See Acts 19:2 for something similar.
26. John 14:17
27. The cross is seen as an aspect of Christ’s glorification. See, for example, John 12:27-28 but Philippians 2:5-11 and 1 Timothy 3:16 would show more can be involved than the atoning death.
28. Acts 2:33
29. John 14:16,26
30. John 14:18,23; 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:45. Christ retains his humanity, of course–1Timothy 2:5–but it’s a glorified humanity. See 1 Corinthians 15:42-50.
30a. John 14:23; Ephesians 2:19-22
31. John 16:5-7; 17:4-5, and see 1 Cor 15:45; 2 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Peter 3:18 (?)
32. John 14:16, 18,23,26; 16:5-7,16
33. 2 Corinthians 5:16
34. 1 Peter 1:11; Romans 8:9; Acts 16:7; Galatians 4:6
35. John 14:26
36. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15
37. 1 Corinthians 15:45
38. John 17:14, 16; Philippians 3:30 and Revelation 12:12; 13:6 contrasting “earth dwellers” and “heaven dwellers”
39. 2 Corinthians 5:16
40. This is not to suggest that there was no “spirituality” before the Messianic age, far from it. I’m only saying that within the stages of development of God’s purposes, the Mosaic age, was categorised as the time “of the flesh” where the Messianic age is “of the Spirit”. Prior to the Christian era both Isaac and Ishmael were born in the usual way but it’s said that, “the son born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit”. See Galatians 4:28-29. The terms “flesh” and “spirit” are used in numerous different ways depending on the writer’s intention. And sometimes they are contrasting “realms”. Jesus says God “is spirit” (John 4). He isn’t saying God is “made of” “spirit” (as we are made of “flesh”. He appears to be saying God exists in a “mode of being” that is not earthly, physical but rather (perhaps) “heavenly”. He isn’t “locating” God or defining His essence (what He’s “made of”). 
41. Acts 2:16-18; Joel 2:28-29; Isaiah 44:3; 1 Peter 1:11
42. John 14:17
43. John 14:23
44. While I believe the distinction is intentional here, the point isn’t made just by comparing the prepositions. The Spirit was already “in” them as he was “in” Old Covenant prophets–see 1 Peter 1:11 but I think the passage here speaks of them as the new and indwelt temple soon to be constructed. We don’t learn all this simply by comparing the prepositions.
45. Ephesians 2:21-22
46. Mark 1:7-8
47. Ephesians 2:11-20
48. Galatians 3:26-29
49. Ephesians 2:15-16
50. Acts 2:16-39; John 14:26; Galatians 3:9,14
51. 2 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 4:8,11-16; 1 Corinthians 12
52. 1 John 2:20,27; John 16:13
53. See 1 Corinthians 12:17; Romans 12:4
54. John 14:20
55. Matthew 12:31-32 and parallels
56. This simply means that the Messianic age is the “final” age, the “end time,” the period to which all earlier dispensations led. When scholars speak of the “eschatological” Spirit they don’t mean, of course, it’s a different Spirit, only that the renewed and special sense of his presence now relates to the dispensation known as “the end time”.
57. Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14
* The Holy Spirit chose and gifted various leaders in the building of the Tabernacle. See Exodus 35:30-31 with 36:2. Then read the entire section beginning with 25:1-9 and skipping down to 35:4 to the end and then 36 where Moses has to tell the people to offer no more offerings. See the Spirit of God working in the men and women and stirring their hearts to the work.




If you were to look at the Biblical accounts and teaching about salvation what would be your conclusion? If you were to look at teaching about salvation, of the hundreds, of denominations would it be different from the Scriptures?


After Jesus was resurrected from the dead He said this. Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

What does that mean to you? I am not asking what you have been taught to believe.

The church of Christ began on the Day of Pentecost and was recorded in the book of Acts along with the conversions of the early church.

The firsts conversions.
Acts 2:37-41 Now when they heard this they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit......41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

How would you interpret these Scriptures? I am not asking how Bible commentators have explained these Scriptures.

Acts 8:5-12.....12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.

What do you believe this means? I am not asking what your church catechism teaches.

Acts 8: 26-40 .....35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" 37[And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said , "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.......

What do you think just happened with Philip and the eunuch? I am not asking you what your church leaders have taught you.

Acts 10:34-47.....43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness from sins.".........48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ......

What is your understanding of theses verses of Scripture? I am not asking you how your church creed book explains them.

Acts 16:14-15 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized......

What do you believed happened? I am not asking you what your church statement of faith said just occurred.

Acts 16:22-33.....29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

What is your view of what happened here? I am not asking about views that are found in books written about the Bible.

Acts 8:8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.

What is your understanding of theses events. I am not asking how these events are explained in extra-Biblical writings.

Acts 19:3-5 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said "Into John's baptism." 4 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

What do you believed happened here? I am not asking what your Bible study group decided occurred.

Acts 22:12-16.....16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name!

What do you think took place with Saul? I am not asking what T.V. preachers think.

Can you see any correlation between what Jesus said in Matthew 28:29, Mark 16:15,16 and the Christian conversions in the book of Acts? 

Are the conversions in the book of Acts a true representation of what is found in church catechisms, books about the Bible, church statements of faith, T.V. preacher's sermons, church creed books, what your church leaders teach, what you always thought to be true, or what the early church fathers believed.

What do you think the book of Acts teaches about Biblical salvation? No man can be saved by what others believe.

Be honest with yourself. Is what you believe about salvation, Biblical or extra-Biblical?    

What does God want me to do? by Roy Davison


What does God want me to do?

 People who heard the gospel on Pentecost cried out: “What should we do?” (Acts 2:37).

This is a good question -- also for Christians. Instead of doing what we want to do, we should continually ask ourselves: “What does God want me to do?”

How can we know what God wants us to do? Only through the holy Scriptures. “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).

As we study the Scriptures we should ask ourselves, “What does God want me to do?”

The Scriptures are full of instructions for daily living. Jesus tells us to follow Him, to repent, to bear fruit, to be meek, to hunger for righteousness, to be merciful, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers, to do good, not to call anyone a fool, not to commit adultery, not to look at a woman lustfully, not to divorce our spouses without a valid reason, not to swear, not to resist one who is evil, to go the second mile, to love our enemies, to be perfect like our Father, not to be religious for show, to forgive, not to lay up treasures on earth but in heaven, not to serve money, not to be anxious about physical needs, to seek God's kingdom and righteousness first, not to judge, to do to others as we want them to do to us, to do what He says and not just listen, to be wise as serpents and harmless of doves, to endure to the end, to be like Him, to preach the gospel, to mention just a few items from the first ten chapters of Matthew.

Let us examine just three of these points.

God wants me to follow Christ.

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men'” (Matthew 4:18, 19).

“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' Then another of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead'” (Matthew 8:19- 22).

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'” (Matthew 16:24). “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).
“Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me'” (Matthew 19:21).

God wants me to be meek.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

To be meek is to be mild tempered, soft, gentle, humble, lowly, unpretentious, yielding, not easily provoked or irritated, enduring injury with patience and without resentment.

Is this the way we tend to be? Is this the way the world thinks people should be? The world tells us that we should be self-assertive, stand up for our rights, not allow others to get the best of us. But God wants me to be meek.

This is part of following Christ, for He said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Meek is the best way to be. If we are self-assertive and aggressive, others will resist us and try to beat us down.

Meekness must be genuine. Some people appear meek as a lamb when all is going their way, but if something irritates them they begin to snarl and snap and growl like a vicious wolf.

Meekness can be learned. It is not how we tend to be. To have peace for our souls we must follow Christ and learn to be gentle and lowly in heart. Our glorious King came to us lowly, riding on a donkey (Matthew 21:5).

God wants me to be merciful.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

To be merciful is to have a kind, compassionate and forgiving attitude that overlooks injuries and does not give deserved punishment.

“But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13).

Jesus refers to Hosea 6:4-6.
“O Ephraim, what shall I do to you?
O Judah, what shall I do to you?
For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud,
And like the early dew it goes away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

A similar thought is found in Micah 6:6-8.
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?”

Jesus also referred to this principle when His disciples were condemned by the Pharisees for plucking grain on the Sabbath: “But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23,24).

God wants me to be merciful. “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

What does God want me to do? I must continually study the Scriptures to find out. We have examined three things from the book of Matthew. Although sermons and group Bible studies are helpful, we must all spend time studying the Scriptures ourselves to learn all that God wants us to do.

God wants me to follow Christ, to be meek and to be merciful.

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