"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Righteousness Of The Scribes And Pharisees (5:20) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

           Righteousness Of The Scribes And Pharisees (5:20)


1. As Jesus prepares to contrast the righteousness of the kingdom with
   the traditional interpretation and application of the Law, He does
   so with a strong warning to those who would enter the kingdom of heaven

2. Found in Mt 5:20, Jesus warned that...

   "unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes
   and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven"!

[To appreciate and apply what Jesus said, it might help if we first examined...]


      1. Though they often taught the truth, they did not often
         practice what they preached!
      2. From them many parents got the saying "Do as I say, not as I

      1. They enjoyed wearing religious garments that separated them
         from others, and delighted in places and titles of honor
      2. Does this sound like any religious leaders today?

      1. In their case, they would emphasize the "lighter" matters of
         the law, while neglecting the "weightier" commands
      2. Or as we would say today, they "majored in minors and minored
         in majors"

      1. "Mammon" was their god, though they would be quick to deny it
         and try to justify themselves before men
      2. Does this sound like any "prosperity preachers" we see and  hear today?

[Such was the level of "righteousness" the scribes and Pharisees as a
group.  Not all scribes and Pharisees were guilty of such things (e.g.,
Nicodemus, Jn 3:1; 7:45-52; 19:38-42).

Why must our righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? 
The righteousness of the kingdom demands more!]


      1. We cannot "say and do not" - Mt 7:21
      2. We cannot "do things to be seen of men" - Mt 6:1
      3. We cannot "neglect" ANY commandments of God's law - Mt 5:19
      4. We cannot be "lovers of money" - Mt 6:24

      1. Combine their profession of faith with suitable deeds - cf.
         Jm 2:14-17; 1Jn 2:4-6; 1Jn 3:18
      2. Keep their personal, private lives consistent with their
         public appearance and profession - cf. Mk 4:22
      3. Make diligent effort to observe ALL that Jesus commanded - cf.
         Mt 28:20; Jn 8:31-32; 2Jn 9
      4. Remain free from the enticement of materialism 
- cf. 1Ti 6:9-10; 1Jn 2:15-17 CONCLUSION 1. Without question, our righteousness as citizens of the kingdom must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees 2. But how can our righteousness be consistent with that demanded by our King? It is possible only by the grace of God... a. Whereby His mercy provides forgiveness to those in Christ - 1Jn 1:9 b. Whereby His strength makes it possible to live according to the "righteousness of the kingdom of heaven"! - Php 4:13 In our next study, we will begin to notice the various examples Jesus gave as to how our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Hermeneutical Principles in the Old Testament by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Hermeneutical Principles in the Old Testament

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One of the attributes of God is His rational nature. God is inherently logical, rational, and reasonable. He is a God of truth. He created humans in His own image, which includes this same rational nature. The human mind was created by God to function rationally. God’s communication to humanity presupposes this feature. The Bible was written in human language, and it was written in such a way that it assumes that its intended meanings may be understood correctly. In fact, within the Bible itself, beginning in the Old Testament, are found the hermeneutical principles by which the reader may understand the intended meanings.

This article summarizes six key principles apparent in the Old Testament that are indispensable to correct hermeneutical procedure. Many Bible passages demand that the reader of the Bible apply simple-but-necessary principles of interpretation in order to arrive at the meaning God intended.


Absolute, objective truth exists and can be known. The human mind can come to knowledge of that truth. Many theologians today are maintaining that truth is subjective and relative. The “new hermeneutic” people claim that a circle is set up between interpreter and text, each interpreting the other in an ongoing process, with the interpreter’s presuppositions determining the meanings the interpreter draws from the text. But, as usual, man’s complex theories are ridiculous in view of the simple, straightforward statements of Scripture. The Old Testament everywhere assumes that humans can and must come to the knowledge of absolute truth.

Solomon said to “buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23, NKJV). Both Isaiah and Jeremiah affirmed that people can, and must, be taught in order to come to knowledge of those things that must be known (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34; cf. John 6:45; 7:17). Moses already had stressed to the Israelites that it would be absolutely imperative for them to teach their children those things that would be necessary to please God (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). Were the children capable of comprehending and coming to knowledge? Moses also explained that the purpose of the desert hardships was to make the Israelites “know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). If all of life is to be governed by the words that proceed from God, humans are capable of assimilating those words and coming to a correct understanding of what is required of them.

Moses further pointed out that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Certainly, there are many things that humans cannot know—things far beyond our limited capability to understand (Romans 11:33). However, God has revealed certain truths that we are well capable of grasping, and that God expects us to comprehend. These truths “belong” to us, i.e., they are directed to us, and we will be held accountable for our reaction to them. Far too many people dwell on peripheral matters that cannot be fully known, while they neglect those things for which they will be held responsible in eternity. No wonder God frequently issued warnings against being ignorant, uninformed, or resistant to knowing (Isaiah 1:3; 5:13; Jeremiah 9:6; Hosea 4:6).

Solomon observed that the words of God’s wisdom “are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge” (Proverbs 8:9). His wisdom claims that “those who seek me diligently will find me” (Proverbs 8:17). Could Adam and Eve know whether it was permissible for them to consume the fruit (Genesis 3:1-3)? Could Cain know what sacrifice God expected (Genesis 4:5)? Could Moses know whether he should speak to or strike the rock (Numbers 20:8-11)? These instances demonstrate that the perennial problem with humanity is not the ability to come to knowledge of God’s Word; rather, the consistent problem is the will and the desire to conform. Many other passages leave no doubt that God has a body of truth that He has made available to mankind, and He expects every person to use mental faculties and cognitive powers to understand that truth.


The Old Testament also conveys the idea that in order to arrive at God’s truth, correct reasoning must be employed. Isaiah quoted God’s statement to the nation: “Come now, and let us reason together” (1:18). God later said: “Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted” (43:26). In his farewell address to the nation, Samuel declared: “Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7). Solomon insisted that “[t]he first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). He also said, “the simple believes every word, but the prudent man considers well his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). This investigative, cautious, perceptive spirit necessitates an analytical approach to life. We must use our God-given rationality to think clearly, accurately, and logically in our treatment of Scripture, as well as in sorting out the daily affairs of life. These passages teach that we both can, and must, ascertain the correct meaning of Scripture through the proper exercise of our reasoning powers.


The task of learning what God wants us to know requires considerable effort. We must be willing to expend the time and trouble to carefully, prayerfully, and diligently analyze and examine God’s words. Moses underscored this principle in his remarks to the Israelites on the plains of Moab just prior to their entrance into the Land of Canaan. He described the task as requiring constant, consistent attention:

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Solomon referred to the attentiveness required to remain true to God: “My son, keep your father's command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you” (Proverbs 6:20-22). This attentiveness must include an intense desire to pursue, know, and acquire truth—like the psalmist who wanted God’s laws so badly that he could almost taste them (Psalm 19:10). It was to be sought after more than fine gold (Psalm 19:10; 119:127). Most are simply too busy, or unwilling, to expend effort to such an intensity. Life has too many distractions, and offers too many other interests. But the Bible makes clear that if we wish to understand God’s will for our lives, arduous, persistent, aggressive effort is essential to ascertain that will.


A fourth hermeneutical principle found in the Bible is that we must recognize that there are incorrect interpretations and that we are capable of distinguishing the correct from the incorrect. False teachers actually do exist who misrepresent God’s Word and deceive people with incorrect interpretations. God, through Jeremiah, warned the nation: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:16). Think of the many con men and shysters throughout Bible history who sought to lead God’s people astray—from Pharaoh’s magicians (Exodus 7:11; 2 Timothy 3:8) and Ahab and Jezebel’s prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:19), to Zedekiah (1 Kings 22:11,24) and Hananiah (Jeremiah 28). God expected people to see through their charades and their erroneous ideologies, and to recognize the pure Word of God.

So it is clear that the Old Testament warns of false interpretations and misrepresentations of God’s Word. In God’s sight, there is only the truth on the one hand, and various departures from that truth on the other hand. All people are required to distinguish between truth and error, and to cling to the truth. “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).


The Bible also teaches that the interpreter must remain within the framework of Scripture, neither adding to nor subtracting from the written revelation. Moses declared in the long ago: “You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). Solomon said: “Every word of God is pure...add not to His words, least He reprove you, and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6). Jeremiah urged: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16). In other words, the individual is responsible for identifying the limits of God’s directives, and then confining himself to those directives. These passages make clear that God has defined the parameters of moral, spiritual, and religious truth for humanity. He expects us to confine ourselves to His instructions in our thinking and practice.

The Old Testament is riddled with instances of people failing to conform themselves precisely to the instructions given to them by God. Cain was neither an atheist nor a reprobate. He, in fact, was a religious individual who was willing to engage in religious worship. He was also to be commended for directing his worship behavior toward the right God. Nevertheless, his slight adjustment in the specifics of worship action evoked God’s displeasure (Genesis 4:5; 1 John 3:12). Nadab and Abihu were the right boys, at the right time, at the right place, with the right censers, and the right incense. Yet by using the wrong fire, they were summarily executed by God (Leviticus 10:1-2). King Saul was censured twice for his unauthorized actions (1 Samuel 13:11-13; 15:19-24). Uzzah was struck dead simply for touching the Ark of the Covenant, though his apparent motive was to protect the Ark (2 Samuel 6:7). David later identified the problem as “because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1 Chronicles 15:13). God’s previous instructions on the matter were not followed as they should have been.

Remaining within the framework of Scripture requires a proper recognition of the role of the “silence” of the Scriptures. A misunderstanding occurs in two ways: (1) some reason that if the Bible is silent concerning a particular practice (and therefore does not explicitly condemn it), they are free to engage in that practice; (2) others reason that if the Bible does not mention a practice, then they are not free to engage in that practice. But neither of these viewpoints accounts adequately for the biblical picture.

The Bible may not expressly mention a given item, and yet authorize its use. For example, Noah was told to construct a boat, without being given all of the details about how to do so (Genesis 6:14). He was authorized to achieve the task using a variety of carpentry tools. God’s silence on this particular point therefore was permissive. On the other hand, God did not explicitly forbid using poplar, cedar, or ash. Rather, He specified “gopherwood.” God’s silence was therefore restrictive in this case.

Two further examples illustrate this principle. God did not explicitly forbid Nadab and Abihu from using fire from some other source than the one divinely specified. He simply told them what fire they were to use. Use of fire from any other source was an unauthorized act, i.e., it had not received God’s prior approval. The text says that they “offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). It was not that God had told them not to do so; it was that He had not told them to do it.

In like manner, when Joshua received instructions from God regarding the proper tactics to be used in conquering the city of Jericho, God spoke in a positive fashion, specifying what they were to do. He did not tell them what they were not to do. The instructions included the act of shouting when the trumpet was sounded (Joshua 6:3-5). However, Joshua—who obviously understood the principle of remaining within the confines of God’s instructions, and grasped the hermeneutical concept of restrictive silence—relayed God’s instructions to the nation by offering further clarification: “Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout” (Joshua 6:10-11). Joshua understood that things could be forbidden by God—not because He explicitly forbade them—but because He simply gave no authority to do them. With diligent and honest study, we, too, can settle every question of interpretation and authority.


That brings us to a sixth principle for understanding the Bible. We must have the right mindset, the right attitude, a genuine desire to know the will of God, and an honest heart to accept the truth, no matter how difficult the demands of that truth might be. Solomon noted that “a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5). “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9). These passages make clear that we cannot go to Scripture with the ulterior motive of getting our way or proving our position. We must be eager to learn from Scripture what the Lord intended for us to learn. We must not be like Jeremiah’s contemporaries who defiantly asserted: “We will not walk therein” and “We will not listen” (6:16-17).

This extremely brief discussion of hermeneutical principles that are evident in the Old Testament is certainly not intended to be complete. But it shows how the Old Testament contains within itself principles by which its truth may be extracted. All accountable humans have it within their power to transcend their prejudices and presuppositions sufficiently to arrive at God’s truth—if they genuinely wish to do so. There is simply no such thing as “my interpretation” and “your interpretation.” There is only God’s interpretation and God’s meaning—and with diligent, rational study, we can arrive at the truth on any subject that is vital to our spiritual well-being.

Rather than shrug off the conflicting views and positions on various subjects (like baptism, music in worship, miracles, how many churches may exist with God’s approval, etc.), and rather than dismiss religious differences as hopeless, irresolvable, and irrelevant, we must be about the business of studying and searching God’s Book, cautiously refraining from misinterpreting and misusing Scripture. If we will give diligent and careful attention to the task with an honest heart that is receptive to the truth, we can be certain of our ability to come to the knowledge of God’s will. The Old Testament is an appropriate place to commence this quest.

Here I Raise My Ebenezer! by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Here I Raise My Ebenezer!

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Many of us have grown up going to worship services where we sang age-old songs that were brought down to us from many years ago. In those songs, we often sing words or phrases that might not retain a popularly understood sentiment. Yet, even though we might not understand what we are singing, that has not stopped many of us from following the song leader through misunderstood stanzas of our old favorites.

One of the phrases that is of particular interest comes from the song O, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. The lyrics of this song (which originally was titled Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing) were written by Robert Robinson in 1758. The second verse of the song begins with these words: “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” If you are like many who have sung this song, the word “Ebenezer” immediately brings to your mind visions of old Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ Christmas Carol, screaming at Bob Cratchet to conserve coal and get to work. Yet, we all know that is not the idea behind this song. Where, then, does the term Ebenezer originate, and what does it mean?

In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel and the Israelites found themselves under attack by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives, the Israelites begged Samuel to pray for them in their impending battle against the Philistines. Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God listened to Samuel, causing the Philistines to lose the battle and retreat back to their own territory. After the Israelite victory, the Bible records: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’ ” (1 Samuel 7:12).

The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer), which simply mean “stone of help” (see Enhanced…, 1995). When Robinson wrote his lyrics, he followed the word Ebenezer with the phrase, “Here by Thy great help I’ve come.” An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. In Robinson’s poem, it figuratively meant that the writer—and all who subsequently sing the song—acknowledge God’s bountiful blessings and help in their lives.

The next time you sing about raising your Ebenezer, you will be able to “sing with the understanding” that you are acknowledging God’s help in your life (1 Corinthians 14:15).


Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (1995), (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).

Hematidrosis: Did Jesus Sweat Blood? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Hematidrosis: Did Jesus Sweat Blood?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Luke, the author of the New Testament books of Luke and Acts, who himself, by profession, was a physician. His writings manifest an intimate acquaintance with the technical language of the Greek medical schools of Asia Minor.

Of the four gospel writers, only Dr. Luke referred to Jesus’ ordeal as “agony” (agonia). It is because of this agony over things to come that we learn during His prayer “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat (idros)—a much used term in medical language. And only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat as consisting of great drops of blood (thromboi haimatos)—a medical condition alluded to by both Aristotle and Theophrastus.1 The Greek term thromboi (from which we get thrombus, thrombin, et al.) refers to clots of blood.2Bible scholar Richard Lenski commented on the use of this term: “‘As clots,’ thromboi, means that the blood mingled with the sweat and thickened the globules so that they fell to the ground in little clots and did not merely stain the skin.”3

The Greek word hosei (“as it were”) refers to condition, not comparison, as Greek scholar Henry Alford observed:

The intention of the Evangelist seems clearly to be, to convey the idea that the sweat was (not fell like, but waslike drops of blood;—i.e., coloured with blood,—for so I understand the ώσεί, as just distinguishing the drops highly coloured with blood, from pure blood…. To suppose that it only fell like drops of blood (why not drops of any thing else? And drops of blood from what, and where?) is to nullify the force of the sentence, and make the insertion of ἁίματος not only superfluous but absurd.4

We can conclude quite justifiably that the terminology used by the gospel writer to refer to the severe mental distress experienced by Jesus was intended to be taken literally, i.e., that the sweat of Jesus became bloody.5

A thorough search of the medical literature demonstrates that such a condition, while admittedly rare, does occur in humans. Commonly referred to as hematidrosis or hemohidrosis,6 this condition results in the excretion of blood or blood pigment in the sweat. Under conditions of great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can rupture,7 thus mixing blood with perspiration. This condition has been reported in extreme instances of stress.8 During the waning years of the 20th century, 76 cases of hematidrosis were studied and classified into categories according to causative factors. The most frequent causes of the phenomenon were found to be “acute fear” and “intense mental contemplation.”9 While the extent of blood loss generally is minimal, hematidrosis also results in the skin becoming extremely tender and fragile,10 which would have made Christ’s pending physical insults even more painful.

From these factors, it is evident that even before Jesus endured the torture of the cross, He suffered far beyond what most of us will ever suffer. His penetrating awareness of the heinous nature of sin, its destructive and deadly effects, the sorrow and heartache that it inflicts, and the extreme measure necessary to deal with it, make the passion of Christ beyond comprehension.


1 William K. Hobart (1882), The Medical Language of St. Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1954 reprint), pp. 80-84.

2 W. Robertson Nicoll, ed. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:631; M.R. Vincent (1887), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint), 1:425.

3 R.C.H. Lenski (1961), The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg), p. 1077.

4 Henry Alford (1874), Alford’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint), 1:648, italics in orig.; cf. A.T. Robertson (1934), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press), p. 1140.

5 Cf. A.T. Robertson (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 2:272.

6 A.C. Allen (1967), The Skin: A Clinicopathological Treatise (New York: Grune and Stratton), second edition, pp. 745-747; “Hematidrosis” (2002), Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, p. 832, https://goo.gl/U192fY.

7 R. Lumpkin (1978), “The Physical Suffering of Christ,” Journal of Medical Association of Alabama, 47:8-10.

8 See R.L Sutton, Jr. (1956), Diseases of the Skin (St. Louis, MO: Mosby College Publishing), eleventh edition, pp. 1393-1394.

9 J.E. Holoubek and A.B. Holoubek (1996), “Blood, Sweat, and Fear. ‘A Classification of Hematidrosis,’” Journal of Medicine, 27[3-4]:115-33. See also J. Manonukul, W. Wisuthsarewong, et al. (2008), “Hematidrosis: A Pathologic Process orStigmata. A Case Report with Comprehensive Histopathologic and Immunoperoxidase Studies,” American Journal of Dermatopathology, 30[2]:135-139, April; E. Mora and J. Lucas (2013),Hematidrosis: Blood Sweat,” Blood, 121[9]:1493, February 28.

10 P. Barbet (1953), A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image Books), pp. 74-75; cf. Lumpkin, 1978.

“Loving People In Slices?” by Jim McGuiggan


“Loving People In Slices?”

Somebody said that prominent people, like politicians and preachers, when they fall, always fall in the same areas: power, money or sex. There’s a lot of evidence around to establish that viewpoint. I don’t know if sexual infidelity in the 21st century is any more widespread and recurring than in centuries before; I only know I hear more about it and I tend to think it is.
I know that many of us have reason to be ashamed that we’ve broken the promise we gave to our beloved and we’re bitterly disappointed at our moral weakness and the sin we have committed in this area. The prevalence of such infidelity tempts us to believe that humans simply can’t keep such promises but thankfully there are tens of thousands among us who live and have lived splendidly in the limelight and who remind us that defeat is no foregone conclusion and that while there might be occasions when there was serious hand-to-hand fighting going on faithfulness is not beyond us. Job was a man like that!
In 31:1 he said this: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a maiden.” Versions differ on how the text should be rendered. The NRSV and the ESV say, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look on a virgin?” In either case this man had made up his mind to behave and having made that commitment, he wants to know (NRSV), how else could I have treated a girl?
He goes on to say (31:9-12), under oath, that he never went after other women and he didn’t lurk around his neighbor’s house to make moves on his wife. He says before the God who knows all things that he never did such things and he never did them because he had made an inner covenant that he had lived by. Job’s brave response to life on the ash-heap is inspiring but his princely response to life in the midst of unequalled success was stunning and glorious. To be true to the basic relationships and commitments in life is the kind of thing that turns God’s head and gets his admiration and makes so many of us groan in remorse and repentance and makes us vow to pursue honor.
That kind of faithfulness has its spin-off rewards. For one thing, when we do what’s right we don’t have to lament and grieve as Lancelot did. In Tennyson’s Arthurian legends no one was greater than Lancelot. Knight of knights, bravest of the brave, defender of the defenseless, fearless righter of wrongs, unbeatable warrior, sunny in disposition, known and acclaimed from one end of the kingdom to the other, daydream of countless young women’s hearts and sinner with another man’s wife!
At one point in his royal career Lancelot is terribly wounded and young Elaine nursed him from the point of death until he fully recovered, falling in love with him in the course of it all. Because her love for him was so deep and tender and because he was so enthralled with the king’s wife, Guinevere, and because he wants Elaine to think less of him and forget him—because all this was the case Lancelot rides off in pretended indifference, without a word to the girl who had saved his life and adored him.
In her despair and loneliness she kills herself. Lancelot is in agony when he hears of it and his guilty heart links this great wrong with his own great sin with Guinevere. King Arthur, apparently the only man in the kingdom who doesn’t know something is wrong, is telling Lancelot how wonderful he is and how revealing it was (despite its tragic nature) that a girl should love him so deeply as to take her life; again, this was proof of Lancelot’s greatness in the eyes of the king. But the sinner can bear no more praise and leaves to walk alone down by the river where he expresses his deep self-hatred and laments over the pain he brings to all around him.

For what am I? What profits my name
Of greatest knight?
I fought for it, and have it:
Pleasure to have it, none; to lose it, pain;
Now grown a part of me: but what use is it?
To make men worse by making my sin known?
Or sin seem less, the sinner seeming great?

He tells himself he has become used to having his wondrous reputation but finds no pleasure in it even though it would give him pain to lose it. Under God he has become a household word, people swear by his name and young men take him as the model for their lives but because of his sin his fame will weaken men’s hearts. Precisely because he has such fame the story of his shame will spread farther and discourage more, disappoint more, make more all the more cynical.
Or worse! When some men see someone as valiant as Lancelot involved in such sin will they not think it isn’t so bad? Might they dismiss the evil of the evil because they’re blinded by this man’s greatness? [“Well, when you’re as great as Lancelot, people have to make allowances.” Or, “Don’t make such a big deal of my corrupt behavior, even people as great as Lancelot have fallen.”]
Where Lancelot fell many a great man or woman has fallen. Now in the position to really help others they hurt them the more deeply. God having given them the eyes and the ears of the public they “make men worse by making their sin known or sin seem less the sinner seeming great.”
It wasn’t that way with the man from Uz. He lived in the open; he wasn’t tortured by hidden evil; he had made no sly deals in business, he corrupted no judges and he hadn’t behaved himself unjustly when he sat as judge. This was no lecherous old man who eyed the girls or made moves on another man’s wife. Not only did he not do what was wicked he didn’t think the evil thoughts because he had made a covenant with his heart and eyes in such matters.
He who couldn’t stand to see widows in need or orphans destitute and alone, who couldn’t bear to see the poor go hungry or cold, who wouldn’t dream of using his powerful position against anyone in court—he kept himself for one woman with whom he made a covenant of marriage. Was there ever such a glorious life as this man’s? Is it any wonder God’s eyes shone with admiration when he thought of him?

God and Job both knew he was a sinner. He says this in his own defense, “If I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my sin in my heart because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside…” (31:33-34). He takes it for granted that they know he’s a sinner but his sin didn’t characterize his life, it was the goodness of God in it that best described him. His life was an open book, he didn’t hide indoors if an accusation was made against him, refusing to face it publicly in case it made matters worse, hoping it would all blow over—no, he went out to face it and dealt with it in public as a public man should do. He rejoiced in what was noble and compassionate and that’s how he had been since boyhood (31:18). All that and he was also true to his wife!
For all the talk of sexual revolution and freedom and despite the fact that this generation is obsessed with sex, marital faithfulness is alive and well and even the silly soap operas continue to make a fuss in the plot over people who are unfaithful  to each other. To look at a husband or wife whose joy includes the rich satisfaction of knowing (without thinking too much about it) that they have kept faith with God and with someone else at a profound level—to look at them is to see one of life’s truly lovely sights. Let those sneer who want to but it isn’t loyalty and decency that’s on trial here; it’s the shabby behavior of the poor fool who hasn’t it in him/her to keep the covenant they’ve made.
Let me say it again, those of us who haven’t maintained that honor and integrity have plenty to regret but there are millions who not only don’t have “affairs” or “make moves” , they don’t even think about them. They’re too pleased with married life as it is, too pleased with life out in the sunlight that they don’t dream of sneaking around in the dark.
To live with guilty secrets; to be afraid that others will discover; to feel awkward in the company of someone who can’t keep from praising you, who trusts you—to look at your unsuspecting children, at his or hers; to be so ashamed that you can’t engage in noble ventures that need your help lest you bring them into disrepute should the truth come out—to live like that is to live in the shadows. Those of us who know what it is to have behaved shamefully know beyond debate that no amount of money, power or praise can make a sordid life sunny or a vile act excusable.
To love with no wish to love another in the same way; to keep your covenant cheerfully in the face of other influences; to lie beside that one and that one only in the gentle darkness is to live in the sunlight. No degree of poverty, no business failure, no being aware that we didn’t “make our mark in this life” can take that away or obliterate the luster of a life like that or fill it with unbroken gloom. To avoid not only the deed but also the sinister longing, the wishing, now that’s integrity. Job and millions of others had and have that and without feeling smug they rejoiced to know it. F.W. Robertson spoke about that kind of thing when he said:
“Beware of those fancies, those day dreams, which represent things as possible that should be forever impossible. Beware of that affection which cares for your happiness more than for your honor.”
Beware of anything that robs you of life in the sunshine!
And yet, try not to forget John 8:1-11 and Luke 15. Run on back home.

Nicholson has king Arthur saying to Lancelot:
“God uses people like you Lancelot because your heart is open You hold nothing back You give all of yourself.”
Lancelot: “If you knew me better you would not say such things”
Arthur: “I take the good with the bad together; I can’t love people in slices.”

(Holy One we take your holiness seriously and long to as does our Father but it is LIFE to us that your Holy Son was called “a friend of sinners” and that His every day among us convicting us, assuring us, healing us and helping us was you revealing yourself in Him.  Empower us to wisely love one another not in slices. It’s so hard for us even when we know that you don’t love us in slices.)

I’ve taken the heart of this from my Life On The Ash Heap book.

The Preacher And Charlie GEORGE L. FAULL

The Preacher And Charlie



The preacher was calling on the home of a family that had left the Church of the Lord to attend a denominational Church.  This conversation followed the preliminary talk:

                Well, Charlie, I just wanted to call and see why you left the Church.

                 Well, we just kind of was disgusted with things at “your” church.

                 Can you give me some examples?

             Yes, the family had several dislikes.  You know kids.  My son likes the contemporary music at their 
                                      first service and my wife likes the choir at the traditional service.  Me, I like the decorum and strict 
                          rules they have there.

               What church is it, Charlie that you are attending?

                  The Baptist Church at Honkedoffville.

                Well, I’m sorry to hear that Charlie.  Don’t mind you leaving the congregation where I preach, but 
                               you could have found all that at one of the other Churches in the area that hold to Biblical teaching.

                   You mean another Church of Christ?

                Yes, I do.  Why would you leave a Church after the New Testament order?

                   I know what you’re getting at, Preacher.  You mean baptism.

                That would be only one of many things, yes.

                   I think maybe that you put too much emphasis on baptism.

                What kind of Church did you say you attended, Charlie?

                   A Baptist Church.

                Your Church is named after the ordinance and you think WE put too much emphasis on the 
                               ordinance?  Seems kind of funny logic, to me

                   Well, we do baptize the right way over there.

                And for what reason, Charlie?

                   Well they think that when you believe, you’re saved and then you should be baptized.

                Yes, I know.  Jesus said it in a different order.  He said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be 
                               saved.”  The Baptist Church says, “He that believeth and is saved should be baptized.  There is a 
                               difference, isn’t there, Charlie?

                   Well, I guess so, but I still think you put too much emphasis on baptism.

                Charlie, do you believe you have to be baptized to be saved?

                   They say you’re baptized because you’re already saved.  You are baptized to get into their Church.

                Oh, so you do have to be baptized to get into the Baptist Church?

                   Oh yeah.  You can’t be a Baptist without being baptized.

                 I see.  So in your book, it’s all right to tell people they can get into Heaven without being baptized 
                               but not into the Church without being baptized?  Sounds like it’s easier to get into Heaven than it is to get into the Baptist Church.

                  Well, technically, I suppose so Preacher.

                Don’t you remember what you were taught by Peter, “Then they that gladly received the Word were 
                              baptized and there was added unto them about 3,000 souls.”  And again, “the Lord added to the 
                              church daily those that were being saved.”  Acts 2:41, 47.  So the saved automatically were added 
                              to the Church.

                  Well, I still think there’s too much emphasis on water.

                Now lets see here, your new Church names itself after the ordinance.  Baptism is a condition in 
                              order to join it.  In the Bible, those who were baptized and those who were saved are said to be 
                              added to the Church.  Isn’t it pretty obvious those who received the word and were baptized are the 
                              saved who were added to the Church and not those who received the word and were saved, were 
                              baptized so they could get into the Church?

                   I think that’s perhaps an unimportant distinction.  As long as they have been under the water that’s 
                               all that’s important.  Pastor Tightship says you are hung up on water.

                I’m surprised to hear you say that, Charlie in light of the fact that the Baptists insist on immersion 
                              and not sprinkling.

                   What do you mean?

                You want to de-emphasize baptism.  You think we’re putting too much emphasis on water.  Your 
                               preacher won’t let anyone into his Church who has not been immersed in water.  It seems to me 
                               though the Baptist Church thinks it’s important because they’ve put a lot of emphasis on water.  
           Water is necessary to get into the Baptist Church and being put under water can make you a 
            Baptist, but not a Christian.  Being put under water can make you a Church member, but not 
            saved.  Being put under water is necessary to be a Deacon or a Pastor.  I think water is very 
            important to a Baptist.

                   Well, if you teach that baptism is essential to being a Christian, you’re saying you can work your 
                               way to Heaven.

                So, you think baptism is a work?

                   Pastor Tightship says if you have to do anything to get to Heaven, you’re saying, you’re working 
                               your way or earning your way to Heaven.

                So Pastor Tightship says you have to work your way or earn your way into the Baptist Church?

                   What do you mean?

                Well, he says if you have to be immersed to get into Heaven it is working for or earning your 
                               salvation.  If that’s true, it follows if you have to be immersed to get into the Baptist Church you 
                               have to work you way or earn your way into the Baptist Church.  Doesn’t that follow, Charlie?

                   Well I don’t know.  I’d have to think about that but we’ve become Baptists, Preacher.

                Oh?  You became a Baptist?  Have you baptized anyone, Charlie?

                   Oh no.  I never baptized no one.

                Charlie, a Baptist is someone who baptizes people.  You know, like John the Baptist.  You’re not a 
                               Baptist unless you baptize someone.

                   Well that’s just what we’re called.  It’s just kind of a way to identify ourselves.  Our son is going to 
                               be baptized.

                Are you going to baptize him, Charlie?

                  Oh, no.  You have to be an ordained, licensed Preacher to baptize in the Baptist Church.  It’s not 
                               like “your Church” where I’ve seen fathers baptize their children.

                Well, the fathers are baptizing by the authority of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

                   Well, so does our Pastor.

                No, he doesn’t, Charlie.  He baptizes by the authority of the Baptist denomination, not the Father, 
                              the Son and the Holy Spirit.

                   No, we say it’s by the authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

                Well if that’s true, why don’t you baptize your son?

                   Well, I can’t.

                Why not?

                   Well, I don’t have a license and I’m not ordained so I can’t baptize him into the Baptist Church.

                Now think about what you admitted, Charlie.  Who gave Pastor Tightship the authority to baptize?

                   Well, the Baptist denomination.

                Right.  So your boy is being baptized by its authority not the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  Your 
                              boy will not be baptized into Christ and His Church.  Only those they gave authority to baptize 
                              will baptize him into the Baptist denomination.

                   Well, that’s not what the Pastor says when he baptizes him.

                Well it doesn’t matter what he says.  The fact is, if he lost his license and ordination he could not 
                               baptize anymore into the Baptist Church.

                   You’re confusing me.

               Yes, I suppose I am but I’m trying to get you to think what you are doing.  You’re encouraging 
                               your son to be baptized into a denomionation instead of into Christ.  You’ve taken your boy to a 
                               Church that has told your son that he’s already saved and now will be baptized by a licensed 
                               preacher.  His license comes from a group of men instead of from the simple fact that he is 
                               following the Great Commission that every believer is commanded to obey.  You say we put an 
                               emphasis on water but attend a Church that says that only licensed persons can immerse people in 
                               water.  Your Church makes baptism an ordinance of the Church instead of an ordinance of Christ.  
                               One should not be baptized to fulfill the demand of the Church.   One should be baptized to fulfill 
                               the command of Christ.  It’s Christ’s ordinance, not a denominational initiation rite.  Baptism is 
                               into Christ’s death for the remission of sins.

                   Well I really don’t see any reason to continue this conversation.  If I know you, it would be about 
                               weekly communion next.  Those are the two differences that I can see between the two Churches.

                Well, you don’t want forget the choirs, the contemporary music and your decorum and strict rules 
                               of Pastor Tightship.  I mean those were the real reasons you left, right?

                   Yes, we’re happier here at the Baptist Church.

                Well, I just want you to put it all in perspective.  You’ve traded Biblical doctrine and practices, 
                               which Jesus did command for things Jesus did not command.  You’ve chosen a Church with a 
                               name that does not give Preeminence to Christ for one that did.  You’ve given the Bible plan of 
                               salvation for a denominational one.  You’ve chosen to let your son be baptized by a man licensed 
                               by men instead of the authority of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  You’ve chosen to not 
                               surround His table each week as His Holy Apostles instituted as proven by the Bible and  History 
                               for a hit-and-miss observance of it.  You have chosen a one man Pastor system, over the Eldership 
                               of the Church.  You’ve chosen to be a part of a denomination with an earthly headquarters instead  
                               of a locally autonomous Church as the Bible teaches.  You’ve forsaken the responsibility and 
                               privilege of baptizing those you’ve discipled to Christ and given it over to hirelings.
                               I think, Charlie that it is very sad that you’ve given up what God wants, for what you want.
                   Well I just don’t see it that way.

                 I know you don’t, Charlie and I am very sorry I’ve failed you.

                   Well you haven’t failed, me preacher.  I just have different “wants” than your Church offers.

                What was that you said, Charlie?  Different wants?

Charlie: Well, I mean….uh…

                See, you said it, Charlie.  I don’t think you can fault the name of our Church because it gives Jesus 
                               preeminence.  Our polity is Biblical so is our message of salvation, for we preach Christ’s exact demands.
                              Charlie, you’ve traded those scriptural things for what you want.  I really encourage you to think 
                               out the ramifications of what you’ve done and what you’ve traded for what you want.  Goodnight 
                               and we will come back another night.  We love you and your family and we’re interested in your 
                               eternal salvation.

                   Goodnight Preacher.  You are always welcome here inour home.

                Let me pray before I go.