"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" The Kingdom Of Great Value (13:44-46) by Mark Copeland


The Kingdom Of Great Value (13:44-46)

 INTRODUCTION 1. During His earthly ministry, the key theme of His preaching and teaching was "the kingdom of heaven"... a. He began His ministry proclaiming it was at hand - Mt 4:17,23 b. He sent His apostles on the limited commission to proclaim the same message - Mt 10:7 2. He taught many parables to illustrate great truths about this kingdom... a. Through which He revealed many things that had previously been secret - Mt 13:34-35 b. Like the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price - Mt 13:44-46 3. In these two parables, Jesus illustrated the kingdom to be one of great value... a. So great that one who stumbles upon it sells all to obtain it b. So great that one searching for it sells all to buy it 4. In this lesson, I wish to address several questions that come to mind... a. What is this "kingdom"? b. Why is it considered to be of such great value? c. Is it really worth it? d. What will it cost us? [Let's begin, then, with the first question...] I. WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN? A. IT INVOLVES FOUR INTER-RELATED IDEAS... 1. God's kingship, rule, or recognized sovereignty a. The term "kingdom" as used by the Jews often stressed the abstract idea of rule or dominion, not a geographical area surrounded by physical boundaries b. It is used this way by Jesus in Mt 6:10 - "Your KINGDOM come; Your WILL be done..." (note the connection between kingdom and will) -- Thus, the "kingdom of heaven" would involve the rule of heaven in the hearts of men 2. This rule of heaven is spiritual in nature a. It is not a physical kingdom - cf. Jn 18:36 b. But one that is spiritual - cf. Ro 14:17 3. Its visible manifestation today is in the form of the Lord's church a. For the church is that community of souls in whose hearts God is recognized as Sovereign b. That the church constitutes the kingdom of God on earth, consider: 1) How the term "church" and "kingdom" were used interchangeably - Mt 16:18 2) Comments made to those who were in the church - Col 1:13;1Th 2:12 3) The description of those in the churches of Asia - Re 1:4,6,9 4 It has a future element as well as a present one a. Its future aspect is spoken of by Jesus, Paul, Peter - Mt 25:34; 1Co 15:50; 2Ti 4:18; 2Pe 1:10-11 b. Peter described the coming of its future state in 2Pe 3:10-13 B. THE KINGDOM IS THEREFORE BOTH PRESENT AND FUTURE... 1. In the present sense... a. It is found wherever the sovereignty of God is accepted in the hearts of men b. It is a spiritual kingdom, for God rules in the hearts of men c. Its outward manifestation today is the Lord's church d. This rule or kingdom of God was "inaugurated" on the Day of Pentecost (Ac 2) 2. In the future sense... a. The rule or kingdom of God will be "culminated" with the coming of the Lord b. It will involve that "news heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells", described by Peter and John - 2 Pe 3; Re 21-22 c. It will be experienced only by those in the church who are submitting to God's will today! - cf. Mt 7:21-23; 2Pe 3:13-14 [Submitting to the rule of God so that we become part of His church is how one enters the kingdom of heaven, both present and future. This leads to our second question...] II. WHAT IS THE GREAT VALUE OF THIS KINGDOM? A. IT IS A REFUGE FROM THE POWERS OF DARKNESS - Col 1:13 1. Outside the kingdom, one is in the kingdom of Satan! - Ep 2:1-3 a. Under his influence b. Trapped in various sins 2. In the kingdom of Christ, we find deliverance and refuge a. Set free from sin to serve God - Ro 6:17-18 b. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear - 1Co 10:12-13 B. IT IS A DOMAIN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE AND JOY - Ro 14:17 1. Righteousness which comes through faith in Christ - Php 3:8-9 2. Peace from God through prayer which surpasses understanding - Php 4:6-7 3. Abiding joy in the Lord, no matter the circumstances - Php 4:4;2:17-19 C. IT IS AN UNSHAKABLE KINGDOM - He 12:25-29 1. It will never be destroyed - Dan 2:44 2. Of this kingdom there will be no end - Lk 1:33 3. It is truly an everlasting kingdom - 2Pe 1:10-11 D. IT WILL BE PRESENTED TO GOD WHEN CHRIST RETURNS - 1Co 15:21-26 1. At that time, those who are now "sons of the kingdom" will "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" - Mt 13:41-43 2. From then on, those in this kingdom will dwell in the presence of God - Re 21:1-7 [The value of this kingdom can be seen further as we consider our third question...] III. IS IT REALLY WORTH IT? A. IF I COULD HAVE SOME "SPECIAL GUESTS"... 1. I would ask Stephen to say if he thought it was worth it - cf. Ac 7:54-60 2. I would ask the early Christians who joyfully accepted the plundering of their goods and eventually received the promise - Ac 8:1-4; He 10:32-36 3. I would ask the apostle Paul - 2Ti 3:10-13; 4:6-8,18 4. I would ask one of your loved ones, a friend or relative, who died in Christ -- I am confident that they would all say forcefully, "Yes! It is worth giving up all!" B. IF I COULD, I WOULD HAVE JESUS... 1. Who gave up all to die on the cross - Php 2:5-8 2. Who became "poor" that we might become "rich" - 2Co 8:9 -- I am persuaded that as He showed you His pierced hands and feet, He would say with love and great urgency, "Yes! My kingdom is worth giving up all!" [But what exactly must we give up? To put it another way...] IV. WHAT WILL THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN COST US? A. WE MUST PAY THE PRICE... 1. Of repentance - cf. Mk 1:15 2. Of being born again - cf. Jn 3:3-5 a. Involving both outward and inward submission to the will of Christ b. A submission that will affect our whole life 3. Of putting the kingdom first - Mt 6:33 a. Before our riches - Mk 10:23-25 b. Before our families - Mk 10:28-31 c. Before ourselves - Lk 9:23-26 B. ARE WE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE... 1. Consider the parable of the dinner - Lk 14:15-24 2. Are we guilty of the same? a. Putting financial concerns first? b. Putting family first? 3. Our actions demonstrate whether we are willing to pay the price; for example: a. Our devotion to the Word of God and prayer b. Our devotion to others in the church (kingdom) - He 10:24-25; Ro 15:1-3 c. Our devotion to the lost - Col 1:28-29 CONCLUSION 1. The kingdom is truly one of great value... a. It was established through its purchase by the blood of Christ - Ac 20:28 b. Can we expect the Lord to accept anything less than our utmost devotion for the privilege of being in His eternal kingdom? 1) We are admonished to walk in a manner worthy of the kingdom- 1Th 2:10-12 2) But it may cost us greatly to be considered worthy - cf. 2 Th 1:4-5 2. Our actions will demonstrate whether we value the greatness of this kingdom... a. By whether or not we obey the gospel! b. By whether or not we remain zealous and faithful in our service to the God! 3. I hope that in some way I have persuaded you that any price we pay is worthy of "The Kingdom Of Great Value" If you are convinced that it is, and desire assistance in becoming or remaining a faithful "citizen" of the kingdom, then let us know...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Ruth, David, and a Moabite Mandate by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Ruth, David, and a Moabite Mandate

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Ruth 4:17 marks the first time in the English Bible that David, son of Jesse and future King of Israel, is mentioned. The events in the book of Ruth took place several decades prior to David’s birth (Ruth 1:1), but the great-grandson of Ruth is mentioned twice at the end of the book (4:17,22) in order to highlight the lineage of the Messiah—from Judah’s son, Perez (Ruth 4:18; Genesis 38:29; cf. 49:10), to Obed (Ruth's son), to David (to whom God promised an heir, Who would establish an eternal kingdom—2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalm 89:3-4; Luke 31-33).

Many skeptics question how David could be a descendant of Ruth, a Moabite, and yet also become the divinely chosen King of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13). After all, Moses wrote: “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever” (Deuteronomy 23:3). So how could King David, the great-grandson of a Moabite woman, be allowed into the assembly of God?

First, one must consider the meaning of the phrase “shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.” Did Moses mean that Ammonites or Moabites (1) could not live within the borders of Israel, (2) could not become part of the Israelite community in general, (3) could not gather together and become part of an actual assembly of the Israelites (cf. Deuteronomy 5:22; 9:10; 10:4; 18:16), (4) could not become one of the elders or officials who often assembled together (cf. Deuteronomy 31:28,30), and/or (5) could not become part of the religious community (cf. Leviticus 21:17-21)—that is, were they forbidden “from participation in religious rites in the homes and at the tabernacle and later at the temple”1? While Moses and the original recipients of this command doubtlessly understood the precise meaning of Deuteronomy 23:3, those living 3,500 years this side of the giving of the Law of Moses (and who have never been accountable to that law), may never know for sure exactly what the Lord meant. And, if neither the Christian nor the skeptic can know for sure what the precise meaning of the “assembly of the Lord” is in Deuteronomy 23:3, then obviously no proven contradiction exists.

Second, different kinds of “outsiders” lived in and around the Israelites. With two-and-one-half tribes of Israel inhabiting the east side of the Jordan (Numbers 32), where the Moabites and Ammonites lived and where the Israelites were currently camping (Deuteronomy 1:5; 29:1) when Moses gave the Moabite/Ammonite restriction of Deuteronomy 23:3, he was referring to the non-converted, uncircumcised “alien” or “foreign” Moabite/Ammonite who was never to be allowed into the general Israelite community. Ruth may have been a Moabite ethnically, but religiously she was a dedicated follower of the LORD (Ruth 1:16-18), who participated in and abided by Mosaic law (Ruth 3:1-18; 4:1-12; Deuteronomy 25:5-10).2 Thus, she and her faithful descendants (including David) were rightly accepted in Israel.

Another reason Deuteronomy 23:3 would not have applied to Ruth and her offspring is simply because a non-Israelite mother in Israel (especially one who was a proselyte!) did not determine the nationality of her offspring. Joseph’s Egyptian wife did not make their sons Ephraim and Manasseh Egyptians (Genesis 41:50-52). Moses’ marriage to Zipporah, a Midianite (Exodus 2:11-25), did not disqualify their sons Gershom and Eliezer from being Israelites (Exodus 2:22; 18:1-4), nor did it make them Midianites. Salmon’s marriage to Rahab (the Jerichoan harlot) did not mean their son Boaz was a recognized Gentile of Jericho (Matthew 1:5). And the Moabitess Ruth, wife of Boaz, did not make their son Obed, their grandson Jesse, their great-grandson David, or their descendants Joseph and Mary (the earthly parents of Jesus) anything other than legitimate descendants of Abraham (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38)—according to the standard reckoning of Israelite heritage. In the eyes of all of Israel, David was an Israelite of the tribe of Judah—and was no more a Moabite than he was a Jerichoan.3

Although Boaz, Ruth, and David were imperfect people (Romans 3:23), who broke various Old Testament commandments (cf. Samuel 11-12), neither these three nor God (in appointing David as king over Israel) ignored or broke the law of Deuteronomy 23:3.


1 Earl Kalland (1992), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 3:140.

2 Some think that Nehemiah 13:1,25,27 contradicts this explanation of Ruth and Deuteronomy 23:3. The social situation in Ezra and Nehemiah’s day (approximately 600 years after the time of Ruth), however, was quite different than what is found in the book of Ruth. Many of the Jews who had returned from 70 years of Babylonian captivity had taken for themselves “pagan” wives from among the Moabites, Ammonites, etc. (Ezra 9:1-2,14; 10:2,10-18,44; Nehemiah 13:23-30), rather than enter into lawful marriages with Jews or faithful converts to Judaism. The Old Testament prohibitions of marrying foreigners (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4) applied to pagan non-converts, not faithful proselytes.

3 He was the great-great-grandson of Rahab of Jericho, but David was not Jerichoan.

Romans 14: Faith vs. Opinion by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Romans 14: Faith vs. Opinion

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

To sort out the difference between faith and opinion as it relates to the Bible, one must first define terms. By “faith” we mean those actions that are directed by God, arising from the Word of God (Romans 10:17). For example, partaking of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday is a matter of “faith,” in that it is stipulated by God (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). It is an action that God requires us to perform. When we speak of “opinion,” we are referring to a viewpoint or action that God has placed within the realm of personal preference. For example, whether we have two songs before the sermon vs. three; or whether we partake of the Lord’s Supper near the beginning of the worship period, or near the end. God has left as optional a great amount of viewpoints and actions—allowing people to exercise their own personal discretion.

God did this very thing at the beginning of human history. On the one hand, Adam and Eve were placed under very specific articles of “faith.” For one, they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That stipulation was a matter of “faith,” i.e., God had legislated the matter. But the original pair was also given considerable latitude in exercising their own opinions. They could eat the fruit of any other tree on Monday, select another tree from which to eat on Tuesday, and still another on Wednesday. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge was a matter of “faith,” while eating any other tree was a matter of “opinion.”

Romans 14

Having defined our terms, let us turn our attention to two chapters in the New Testament that provide us with valuable information in sorting out the application of these principles in everyday life. Romans 14 has been a passage that has been used frequently in recent years to foster fellowship with denominationalism. They have contended that those denominational beliefs and practices with which churches of Christ disagree are not to be allowed to affect fellowship. For example, they have insisted that instrumental music in worship is strictly a matter of personal preference and tradition, and should be decided individually based on conscience. An appeal is made to Romans 14 to equate the use of the instrument with the eating of meat. It is then argued that those who are more spiritually mature may use the instrument in their worship to God. Those whose consciences prevent them from using the instrument are free to refrain from doing so. But they are the “weaker brother” and must not withhold fellowship from those who do use the instrument.

The first observation that is critical in making sense of this chapter is the fact that this context applies only to matters of opinion and indifference—not to matters of faith or doctrine. In his commentary on Romans, Moses Lard recognized this point when he wrote, “In matters of indifference, each man is a law to himself” (p. 412). He further stated, “it shows what liberty we have in the absence of divine command” (p. 412). In his commentary on Romans, David Lipscomb understood Romans chapter fourteen in the same fashion (1943, pp. 242ff.).

But what are “matters of indifference”? Matters of indifference refer to those practices that are indifferent to God—not to the individual. Obviously, the individual who believes he should not eat meat views his position as a serious “doctrinal” matter and, therefore, hardly “indifferent.” But we must understand that Romans 14 is speaking of those matters that are, in actuality, indifferent in the sight of God. For example, God has commanded Christians to spread the Gospel. The how of this action, whether by Internet, television, or automobile, is a matter of indifference to God. He authorizes us to use various means based upon our own good sense—our own consciences.

It is a misuse of Romans 14 to apply its teaching to any matter that is not indifferent to God. For example, God has specified that in order for a person to become a Christian, he/she must be immersed in water. Suppose a man believes that baptism can be by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring. To him, the “mode” of baptism is a matter of opinion—not faith. So he thinks that the person who limits the “mode” of baptism to strictly immersion is “narrow” and “weak in faith.” He would maintain that it is fine for his critic to be immersed if he so chooses, but this “weaker brother” should not bind his opinion on those who are “stronger” by insisting that only those who are immersed may be fellowshipped. This “stronger” fellow might even appeal to Romans 14 as support for his stance.

Yet, what this fellow would be failing to realize is that Romans 14 applies to matters of option that are indifferent to God. Where God has given His guidelines, all must conform to those specifications. Baptism, in God’s sight, is strictly immersion. Those who insist upon obeying God in this regard are not “weaker brethren.” Rather, they are faithful brethren; and those who differ are unfaithful to God.

Just as God has specified the action and design of baptism, He has been very specific with regard to the action of music in worship. If the use of the mechanical instrument in worship to God was optional, that is, if God left people free to offer musical worship in any form they so chose, then Romans 14 would be one passage that would be germane to such a discussion. But God has not left music in worship unaddressed. Neither has He left the question of the legitimacy of the denominations unaddressed. Denominationalism represents a departure from God’s simple will for His church. Romans 14 is of no help in assessing the legitimacy of either instrumental music or denominationalism.

Observe, then, that the one who is “weak in faith” in this chapter refers to the Christian whose knowledge, and therefore faith, has been insufficient in sorting out a particular issue that, in God’s sight, is a matter of opinion. Where the brother is “weak” is in the fact that he thinks that the issue under consideration is not a matter of opinion, but is, in fact, a matter of faith. The specific issues that Paul discusses pertain to the eating of certain foods and the observing of certain days. Regarding the former, one brother thinks that all foods may be eaten by Christians, while another brother thinks that Christians should be vegetarians. Regarding the latter, one brother thinks that certain days must be set aside and observed in special ways, while another brother recognizes no such requirements.

What is God’s view on this matter? Clearly, God’s view is that Christians are free to eat all foods. Jews had not been free in this regard. The Law of Moses contained numerous dietary regulations. But with the coming of Christianity, no such dietary regulations have been enjoined. Imposing such regulations on others constitutes “doctrines of demons,” as Paul explained in referring to those who were “commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:3-5). You remember the vision that Peter had in which he was commanded to kill and eat certain animals, to which he responded that he had never eaten anything that was “common or unclean.” The voice responded: “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). Paul states this point very emphatically in Romans 14:14—“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself.”

So the Christian who understands that no restrictions apply to food under Christianity is the one who has grasped God’s view correctly. The Christian who thinks he should not eat certain foods is “weak in faith,” that is, his faith/belief on that particular point remains immature and uninformed by the Word of God (from whence faith arises). Due to previous beliefs and/or actions, likely learned while a non-Christian, his conscience was trained by his belief that he should not eat that particular food. A specific example would be a Jew who lived his whole life abstaining from pork which was deemed “unclean.” When he became a Christian, he might not immediately sort out the change. And even when he became aware of the correct viewpoint, it would be very difficult for him to start eating pork without his conscience bothering him. That is precisely why Paul insists that neither the stronger nor the weaker should “dispute” (vs. 1), “despise” (vs. 3), “judge” (vs. 4), or “show contempt” (vs. 10) for each other. Instead, both should want to show proper regard for each other’s consciences and spiritual well-being, and strive to encourage each other to be right with God and prepared for judgment (vss. 11-12).

The same may be said for the observance of a particular day. The context shows that the days under consideration are those that have no religious significance, i.e., they are days that are indifferent to God—like a birthday. The only day that has been legislated by God under Christianity is Sunday, the first day of the week. Christians are to assemble for worship on that day and approach God through the five avenues of worship that He, Himself, has stipulated (e.g., Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Sunday worship, therefore, is a matter of faith—not opinion. But other days, like birthdays, or national holidays like July 4, are matters of option that the Christian is free to observe. For the Jew who had lived his life observing the Sabbath, to suddenly not be required to abstain from labor on that day, he likely would have felt both a sense of release, but also a sense of fright and uncertainty. He would have to go through a period of struggling with and re-educating his conscience to bring his “head knowledge” into harmony with his feelings and long-term, deeply ingrained habit, before his conscience would not condemn him for Sabbath activity.

Notice, then, that the context refers to the observance of days that are religiously neutral and indifferent to God. They do not involve the observer in any unscriptural religious practice. Placing in juxtaposition this admonition in Romans 14 with a similar one in Galatians 4 will help us to see the distinction:

Again, Paul is not endorsing those who create their own “holy days” which they practice religiously. Christendom has generated an entire “Christian calendar” with numerous observances linked to events that occurred in the life of Christ (e.g., Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Lent, etc.). All such observances are unscriptural since they presume to impose human thinking onto biblical precept, and dictate to God how to practice Christianity. Has God clearly indicated what event, if any, in the life of Christ He wants observed or commemorated? Absolutely—even stipulating the precise procedures to be enacted. He authorizes Christians to observe the death of Christ, every first day of the week, using bread and grape juice to symbolize the body and blood, and to think about His sacrifice while also taking an introspective look at one’s self (1 Corinthians 11:20-34). Beyond that, if God had wanted other events in Christ’s life to be commemorated, He would have said so.

But could a Jewish Christian continue to observe the Sabbath? Yes, if he did so without linking its observance to religious obligation. Since he could no longer be justified by the Old Law (Galatians 5:4), he must not observe it as if it is binding upon himself to be pleasing to God, and he must not bind it on others.

Paul issued another directive to be followed by the more mature Christians toward those Christians who had not yet assimilated proper teaching on the subject of food and days. The brother who recognizes that God permits the eating of a particular food must refrain from eating that food item under the following condition: if his eating would tempt or encourage or incite the brother who thinks it is wrong to eat it, to go ahead and eat it. The brother who thinks eating a particular food is wrong (even if, in God’s sight, it is not wrong) sins if he eats it. He has committed the sin of damaging or defiling his conscience.

1 Corinthians 8

This sin is clarified more vividly in the similar discussion that Paul directed to the Corinthian Christians regarding the eating of food that had been previously used in a pagan offering to an idol: 1 Corinthians 8. Paul insisted that no pagan gods exist (vs. 4) and, as long as a person does not intend to honor or worship a fake god, eating food that had been offered to them was optional. However, “there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled” (vs. 7). The term “conscience” in verses 7, 10, and 12 of 1 Corinthians 8 is suneidasis and refers to that inward faculty of moral/spiritual awareness that was created by God. We must not act in ways that damage (or “sear”—1 Timothy 4:2) our consciences. To do so is sin. The Christian who thinks a particular practice is wrong, when it is not wrong in God’s sight, should be about the business of re-educating his conscience, getting his thinking straight as informed by the Word of God. By that process, in time he will be able to rise above his immature assessment and feel fully “at home” with God’s view of the matter.

Furthermore, returning to Romans 14, the more mature Christian sins if his eating an authorized food prods the immature Christian to go against his conscience and consume a food that he thinks is wrong (“evil”—vs. 20) for the Christian to consume. The mature Christian is guilty of “grieving” (vs. 15), “destroying” (vss. 15,20), “offending” (vs. 21), “making weak” (vs. 21), and causing the weaker brother to “stumble” (vs. 21). In Paul’s treatment of this matter in 1 Corinthians 8, the stronger brother that so conducts himself is guilty of causing the weak brother to “perish” (vs. 11) by “wounding his weak conscience” (vs. 12).

Some Applications

Many churches have undergone internal disruption over an infinite variety of disagreements. These disagreements might be over what color of drapes ought to hang in front of the baptistery or what carpet should be on the floor. Dissension might occur over whether to build a new auditorium or multipurpose room, how to equip the kitchen, which songbooks or Bibles to buy for the pews, or whether a preacher ought to be hired or fired. Some attempt to derail the majority’s decision and get their own way by appealing to Romans 14. They insist that implementing the decision of the elders or the majority of the men would “offend” them. This tactic has been used far and wide to stymie the work of the church and prevent many positive actions from going forward.

In such instances, Romans 14 is misapplied in at least two ways: (1) Paul did not use the term “offend” merely to mean that a brother disagrees with or feels hurt by the decision. “Offend” is not defined as “ruffled feathers.” He used the term to refer to the weaker brother being led into sin. Specifically, Paul said the mature Christian ought to forego committing an action (like eating a particular food), if doing so would cause the immature Christian to engage in the same behavior in direct violation of his conscience. Placing red rather than beige curtains in front of the baptistery would hardly cause the dissenting brother to sin! (2) Those who use this tact would never cast themselves in the role of the weaker brother. They consider themselves the stronger brothers.

The fact is that if such individuals have scriptural grounds for objecting to a particular decision, rather than objecting solely out of personal opinion or preference, they should stake their case on scriptural grounds. Unfortunately, the church has always been plagued by some brethren whose ego, pride, and perhaps lust for power (like Diotrephes—3 John 9), drives them to attempt to control the church. In stark contrast, mature Christians will be extremely flexible, open-minded, and accommodative when it comes to matters of opinion in the church.

Another consideration regarding Romans 14 that helps us to distinguish between faith and opinion is seen in verses 22-23—

Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

To “have faith” in a viewpoint/doctrine means that we are familiar with God’s view of the matter, knowing it to be optional and a matter of opinion. To “doubt” is to lack complete awareness or knowledge of a divine doctrine and/or to have hesitation to accept and enact it in one’s life. Specifically in the context, if a brother was uncertain about (doubted) whether he should eat a particular food, he would be guilty of sin if he went ahead and ate the food, because he would not be doing so “from faith,” i.e., he would be engaging in the action without being fully informed (by God’s Word) or fully convinced that such an action was acceptable to God. Since “faith comes by…hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17), any action that a person engages in that does not have the authority/permission of God’s Word behind it, is a sinful action.

But how may the average Christian distinguish between matters of faith and matters of opinion? When a question or issue arises in the church, how do we know whether it is optional or obligatory? The answer is that we must study God’s Word carefully in order to apply its principles to the matter at hand. Excellent books have been written by Christians over the years detailing proper exegetical procedure for ascertaining God’s will on matters that are not specifically alluded to in Scripture. These include Thomas Warren’s When Is An “Example” Binding? and Logic and the Bible, Roy Deaver’s Ascertaining Bible Authority, D.R. Dungan’s Hermeneutics, et al. Such books help the student of the Bible to think through the principles involved in understanding God’s Word and applying that Word to the multitude of circumstances that arise in our lives. God’s Word was obviously written with a view toward the average human being capable of understanding God’s will for his or her life. Of course, diligence and effort must be brought to bear on the task (2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11). But with adequate effort and interest in knowing God’s will, the goal can be achieved. No one can stand before God at the end of time and legitimately maintain that he was unable to recognize matters of faith and opinion.


May God help us to “pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). May we never “do anything by which our brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (vs. 21). May God help us to grow spiritually every day, that we might be people who are “strong in faith” (Romans 4:20), well able to distinguish between matters of opinion vs. matters of faith.


Lard, Moses (1875), Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing).

Lipscomb, David (1943), Romans (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Rob Bell and Eternal Hell by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Rob Bell and Eternal Hell

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

For several years, Rob Bell, the minister of the Mars Hill Bible Church has been mulling over the idea of hell. In his latest book, Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell contends that the “traditional” view of hell, in which those who do not believe in Christ are lost, is ill-conceived and needs re-working. Jon Meacham, column writer for TIME magazine, noted that Rob Bell “suggests that the redemptive work of Jesus may be universal—meaning that, as his book’s subtitle puts it, ‘every person who ever lived’ could have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be” (2011). In essence, Rob Bell is little more than a recent advocate of a modified version of universalism.

The trend to minimize hell in our emotionally-driven, sentimental society is nothing new. Behind this teaching is the idea that love and eternal punishment are incompatible and mutually exclusive. The atheistic community has repeatedly challenged belief in the God of the Bible, due to the alleged moral dilemma presented by a God of love and eternal punishment (Butt, 2010, pp. 217-227).

A critical analysis of the situation brings to light a number of truths. First, it is clear that the Bible teaches that hell is a reality and will be eternal (Matthew 25:46, see Lyons and Butt, 2005a). Second, the concept of hell has been shown to be in perfect harmony with the concepts of morality and justice (Lyons and Butt, 2005b). Third, the erroneous teachings of universalism and the limited duration of hell are nothing new, and advocates of these beliefs will most likely continue to present themselves (see Colley, 2007; Butt, 2004; Miller, 2003).

The apostle Peter explained that one responsibility given to Christians is that they ought always to be ready to give a defense of their beliefs (1 Peter 3:15). One of those beliefs that is continually challenged is the idea of an eternal hell to which those who have not obeyed God will be consigned forever. Let us all be aware of these challenges to the Bible’s teachings and prepare ourselves to respond to them, holding fast to the faithful Word of God.


Butt, Kyle (2004), “The Reality of Eternal Hell,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&art2004icle=819.

Butt, Kyle (2010), A Christians Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Colley, Caleb (2007), “Controversy About Hell Continues,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2262.

Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2005a), “The Eternality of Hell, Part 1,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1474.

Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2005b), “The Eternality of Hell, Part 2,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1475.

Meacham, Jon (2011), “Is Hell Dead?” TIME, April 14, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2065080,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-full-mostpopular.

Miller, Dave (2003), “Who Believes in Hell Anymore?” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1204.

IS WOOD MAGIC? by Jim McGuiggan



In letter to the Ephesians ‘size’ matters. Paul isn’t content with talking about mercy or grace or love or power. He adds superlatives. He talks about the exceeding greatness or riches of or the unimaginable nature of God’s love or mercy or power or grace. The will of God, he tells us, stretches from one eternity to another and the stage on which He shows himself (limited though it is) is the entire universe. The God we’re face to face with in Ephesians bankrupts description and His wisdom is something the principalities and powers in the invisible realm must be instructed in and are privileged to catch a glimpse of (3:10).

And why would such a GOD bother with the likes of us? Yes, we’ve been told why but while that means we’re not left utterly in the dark, how much light does it really give us? He’s infinitely above and beyond us. It isn’t just His power and wisdom—it’s His character, His love and mercy and grace, they drive us to pile up words on top of words and phrases on top of phrases in a vain attempt to grasp and express something of the mystery of it all. It doesn’t surprise us to hear David ask in Psalm 8, “What are humans that you bother with them?” But incredible as it seems and however often we look around to see if anyone else can believe it or if we’re the only ones who find it difficult to take in—incredible as it seems, it’s true! He cares about us.

All right then, so it’s true, but can we gain access to Him or must we always speak of Him and deal with Him at a great ‘distance’? If we do gain access to His presence, what is it that gives us this privilege? What hoops do we have to jump through? What great feats do we have to accomplish? What Herculean tasks do we have to undertake to be assured of entering into the company of the Great God? (See Romans 10:6-9.) What assures us, even now, of His favor and that in a coming day that communion we now enjoy by faith will have an added dimension—His nearer presence? What gets us from the gutter, through the door and into the palace?

A wooden stake, a public gallows, on a little hill just outside ancient Jerusalem!

Why is that? Is there some magic in wood? Is there a mysterious power in a public gallows? Does the cruel and brutal death of some young man make God cry and go all weak and sentimental? There have been millions of deaths like that down the centuries! How does that one, that particular one, enable us to enter God’s presence in peace (2:17-18)? What is it about that death that opens the gates to breathless wonder?

It’s that one because in that one as in no other, in that death as in no other event in all of creation’s history that God makes Himself known.

It isn’t God’s love of shed blood that opens His home to us! It’s God Himself—His nature and character. His shed blood didn’t make him a loving or welcoming God—it proclaimed that He has eternally been like that! The hanging tree didn’t turn God into a gracious God—it revealed the truth that He already was and remains this!

Nowhere else in time or limitless space can we find the proof that God wants us to be home with Him. Nowhere else, only at the hanging tree! There’s no crime in exploring the vastness of God’s creation (though motives matter) but no matter how far we go it’s only here on this planet that we’ll find the truth that explains why we exist at all and how we will find new life, new life beyond this life, new life now as well as new life in the future.

If galaxies, constellations or black holes or quasar clusters don’t speak to us now it’s not because they don’t speak of Him. For they do speak of Him and though we don’t realize it they speak of us also. God not only created this incredible universe He created humans capable of oohing and aahing over it, humans capable of rejoicing in it and humans capable of coming to admire the God who made it all.

But such magnitude can frighten us and make us feel we’re too tiny to matter. The good news is that this planet “too tiny to matter” is the “visited planet”. It was here God’s young Prince dwelled with us, loved with us, rejoiced and suffered with us from us and for us and it’s here that He would return to and indwell us (See John 14:1-3, 15-20, 25-29; Ephesians 2:14-22.)

It’s only because of that, that sinners like us dare to imagine this as our home and that we are welcome here. We’re not (as some fool spoke of us) “fungus clinging to the surface of a nowhere planet.” Denigrate and despise God’s human creation, keep on telling them they are the mindless product of countless mindless and pointless events and then try telling them to act reasonably and compassionately; try telling them that and then tell them that vulnerable humans are worth protecting, worth listening to, worth working for, worth teaching. Tell them “even their highest thoughts are nothing more than chemical reactions” and that we must stamp “UNYIELDING DESPAIR” on them as their inescapable future. Try sowing that seed and expect something other than thorns and thistles and stinking swamps.

And here is the Christian’s “lunacy”: Every Lord’s Day they gather and defy everything that preaches ultimate death and despair and they do it as they proclaim the death of their Lord Jesus until He returns. They proclaim the meaning of that death and they do it with full confidence for the Holy One Himself vindicated the young man hanging on a tree by raising him from the dead to immortality and making him Lord of all principalities and powers and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this world but in the full unveiling of “the world to come.” Those who are even now being transformed into the image of their Lord (2 Cor. 3:18—4:4) and who by faith have “passed from death to life” (John 5.24) experience something of the glory of that final disclosure in a post-resurrection inheritance with Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:3-7; Heb, 6:4-5 with context; Romans 8:16-17;
1 Cor 15:20-57 and see 2 Cor. 1:20-22). The blessing of Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:3-6; Hebrews 2:5-9.

In God’s Christ alone our hope is found!




Does God approve of the dead communicating with the living?Does God approve of the living communicating with the dead? Does God sanction conversations with the dead through mediums? Does God give men the option of talking and petitioning the dead through prayer? Are dead saints aware of those who are alive? Can dead saints hear and answer prayers? The answer is no, no, no, no, no and no.

1. Does God approve of the dead communicating with the living? No

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, or as some believe is a fact, instead of a parable, the rich man was denied that Lazarus could return to testify to his living brothers. God does not approve of the dead communicating with the living. (Luke 16:19-31)

2. Does God approve of the living communicating with the dead? No.

1 Samuel 28:7-20......15 Now Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" And Saul answered, "I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me  and does not  answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do."  .......(NKJV)

A. Saul used a medium at Endor to bring Samuel up. That was a sin.
B. Saul could not pray to Samuel to ask for advice. The dead cannot hear the living nor do they know what the living are doing. Saul could not pray and ask Samuel to intercede for him with God.

3.Does God sanction conversations with the dead through mediums? No.

Deuteronomy 18:9-12.......11"or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.12 "For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from from before you.(NKJV)

Conversations with the dead through mediums is sinful.

4. Does God give men the option of talking and petitioning the dead through prayer? Can dead saints hear and answer prayers? Are dead saints aware of the living? No, No, and No.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know they are alive; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. (NKJV)

Job 14:21 10-21 But a man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last and where is he?....21 His sons come to honor and he does not know it;They are brought low, and he does not perceive it.(NKJV)

The dead are not aware of the living. The dead are not Omniscient. The dead cannot answer prayer. The dead are not Omnipotent.

Samuel could not hear Saul from the grave, he had to be brought up my a medium. Saul also had no power to answer prayers.

Dead popes, the Virgin Mary, nor dead family members are aware of the living and even if they were, they have no power nor ability to grant or answer prayers. The only way to communicate with the dead is through mediums and that is a sin.

Only the living can offer prayers for the living. Even then, the living have no power to answer prayers.

Pentecost (Acts 2) The Day the Church Began by J.C. Bailey


Pentecost (Acts 2) The Day the Church Began

The church was conceived in the mind of God. We read, “To the intent that now unto principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

God said that the seed of Abraham was to bless all nations (Genesis 22:18). Paul said that the promise was not to seeds but to SEED. That seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16). Isaiah said, “And it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2). This would be a change from the Old Testament, for God, in giving the law to Moses, said, “Write thou these words for after the tenor of these words have I made a covenant with Israel” (Exodus 34:27-28). Isaiah said that all nations would flow into God's house (Isaiah 2:2). John the Baptist had one message. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 3:2).

John was cast into prison and beheaded, and Jesus began His earthly ministry. His message was: “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus used the terms kingdom and church together (Matthew 16:18,19). In Mark 9:1 Jesus said that the kingdom would come in the lifetime of those to whom He spoke, and He said that it would come with power.

After Jesus arose from the dead, the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost with power. Jesus said that His chosen men would carry the message of the gospel into the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). Paul says that Christ, “was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). Paul further declares that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to the believer (Romans 1:16). He further tells us that the gospel is the facts of the death, burial and resurrection (I Corinthians 15:3-5).

Jesus summarized all this by saying, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned”: (Mark 16:15, 16). The apostles were to wait in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49). The Holy Spirit was to come to them there. Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, declared that God had made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified (Acts 2:36). This Jesus was at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32.33). The effect of this sermon was immediate. “Now when they heard this they were pricked to the hearts and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?'” There can be no mistake in the answer. Those who gave the answer were guided by the Holy Spirit.

“And Peter said unto them, 'Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).

This was not a limited command, for the next verse says, “For to you is the promise and to your children and to all that are afar off even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).

One of the most popular doctrines in the world today is the doctrine of justification by faith alone. If that doctrine is true, then Acts 2:38 is not true. To say it is not true is to charge God with folly. Jesus saves those who obey (Hebrews 5:9). Yes, we are saved by faith but we are saved by an obedient faith (James 2:14, 24). Peter, by the Holy Spirit, said they were to save themselves (Acts 2:40). Now note that they that received his word were baptized (Acts 2:41). Now, what did they do? “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:41). Our duty is revealed in that verse. If we would restore New Testament Christianity, we must return to the pattern as revealed in this chapter. Jude tells us that the faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

We pass under judgment when we reject the words of Jesus (John 12:48). Here are the words of Jesus, “Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine and doeth them shall be likened unto a wise man who built his house upon the rock and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon the house; it fell not for it was founded on the rock. And every one that heareth these words of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man who built his house on the sand and the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew, and smote upon that house and it fell and great was the fall thereof” (Matthew 7:24-27).

All life comes from a seed. Each seed produces after its kind. Wheat produces wheat; it does not produce oats. Jesus said that the seed of the kingdom is the word of God. He was talking about the church. That seed never produced anything but a church of Christ in the New Testament.

Let us see what happened the day the church was born. “And Peter said to them, 'Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him.' And with many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' They then that received his word were baptized; and there were added unto them in that day, about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:38-42).

“Wherefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Then he adds this warning, “But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only deluding your own selves” (James 1:22).

J. C. Bailey, 1992, Weyburn, Saskatchewan

Published in The Old Paths Archive

Bible Reading for August 5 and 6 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading for August 5 and 6

World  English  Bible

Aug. 5

Ezra 4-6

Ezr 4:1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building a temple to Yahweh, the God of Israel;

Ezr 4:2 then they drew near to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of fathers' houses, and said to them, Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as you do; and we sacrifice to him since the days of Esar Haddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.

Ezr 4:3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers' houses of Israel, said to them, You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves together will build to Yahweh, the God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.

Ezr 4:4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,

Ezr 4:5 and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Ezr 4:6 In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

Ezr 4:7 In the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian character, and set forth in the Syrian language.

Ezr 4:8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:

Ezr 4:9 then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, and the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites,

Ezr 4:10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over, and set in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River, and so forth.

Ezr 4:11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent to Artaxerxes the king: Your servants the men beyond the River, and so forth.

Ezr 4:12 Be it known to the king, that the Jews who came up from you are come to us to Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad city, and have finished the walls, and repaired the foundations.

Ezr 4:13 Be it known now to the king that if this city is built, and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and in the end it will be hurtful to the kings.

Ezr 4:14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not appropriate for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore have we sent and informed the king;

Ezr 4:15 that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers: so you shall find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time; for which cause was this city laid waste.

Ezr 4:16 We inform the king that, if this city be built, and the walls finished, by this means you shall have no portion beyond the River.

Ezr 4:17 Then sent the king an answer to Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River: Peace, and so forth.

Ezr 4:18 The letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me.

Ezr 4:19 I decreed, and search has been made, and it is found that this city of old time has made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.

Ezr 4:20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all the country beyond the River; and tribute, custom, and toll, was paid to them.

Ezr 4:21 Make a decree now to cause these men to cease, and that this city not be built, until a decree shall be made by me.

Ezr 4:22 Take heed that you not be slack herein: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?

Ezr 4:23 Then when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.

Ezr 4:24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Ezr 5:1 Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem; in the name of the God of Israel prophesied they to them.

Ezr 5:2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them.

Ezr 5:3 At the same time came to them Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and their companions, and said thus to them, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall?

Ezr 5:4 Then we told them after this manner, what the names of the men were who were making this building.

Ezr 5:5 But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not make them cease, until the matter should come to Darius, and then answer should be returned by letter concerning it.

Ezr 5:6 The copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and his companions the Apharsachites, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king;

Ezr 5:7 they sent a letter to him, in which was written thus: To Darius the king, all peace.

Ezr 5:8 Be it known to the king, that we went into the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is built with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls; and this work goes on with diligence and prospers in their hands.

Ezr 5:9 Then asked we those elders, and said to them thus, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall?

Ezr 5:10 We asked them their names also, to inform you that we might write the names of the men who were at the head of them.

Ezr 5:11 Thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and are building the house that was built these many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.

Ezr 5:12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.

Ezr 5:13 But in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree to build this house of God.

Ezr 5:14 The gold and silver vessels also of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor;

Ezr 5:15 and he said to him, Take these vessels, go, put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be built in its place.

Ezr 5:16 Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundations of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now has it been in building, and yet it is not completed.

Ezr 5:17 Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.

Ezr 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the archives, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.

Ezr 6:2 There was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of Media, a scroll, and therein was thus written for a record:

Ezr 6:3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be built, the place where they offer sacrifices, and let its foundations be strongly laid; its height sixty cubits, and its breadth sixty cubits;

Ezr 6:4 with three courses of great stones, and a course of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house.

Ezr 6:5 Also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought to Babylon, be restored, and brought again to the temple which is at Jerusalem, everyone to its place; and you shall put them in the house of God.

Ezr 6:6 Now therefore, Tattenai, governor beyond the River, Shetharbozenai, and your companions the Apharsachites, who are beyond the River, you must stay far from there.

Ezr 6:7 Leave the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in its place.

Ezr 6:8 Moreover I make a decree what you shall do to these elders of the Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the River, expenses be given with all diligence to these men, that they be not hindered.

Ezr 6:9 That which they have need of, both young bulls, and rams, and lambs, for burnt offerings to the God of heaven; also wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the word of the priests who are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail;

Ezr 6:10 that they may offer sacrifices of pleasant aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.

Ezr 6:11 Also I have made a decree, that whoever shall alter this word, let a beam be pulled out from his house, and let him be lifted up and fastened thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this:

Ezr 6:12 and the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow all kings and peoples who shall put forth their hand to alter the same, to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with all diligence.

Ezr 6:13 Then Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, Shetharbozenai, and their companions, because that Darius the king had sent, did accordingly with all diligence.

Ezr 6:14 The elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

Ezr 6:15 This house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

Ezr 6:16 The children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.

Ezr 6:17 They offered at the dedication of this house of God one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.

Ezr 6:18 They set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.

Ezr 6:19 The children of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.

Ezr 6:20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure: and they killed the Passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brothers the priests, and for themselves.

Ezr 6:21 The children of Israel who had come again out of the captivity, and all such as had separated themselves to them from the filthiness of the nations of the land, to seek Yahweh, the God of Israel, ate,

Ezr 6:22 and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for Yahweh had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Aug. 6

Ezra 7-8

Ezr 7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

Ezr 7:2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,

Ezr 7:3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,

Ezr 7:4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,

Ezr 7:5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest;

Ezr 7:6 this Ezra went up from Babylon: and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given; and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of Yahweh his God on him.

Ezr 7:7 There went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

Ezr 7:8 He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.

Ezr 7:9 For on the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon; and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God on him.

Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances.

Ezr 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, even the scribe of the words of the commandments of Yahweh, and of his statutes to Israel:

Ezr 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect and so forth.

Ezr 7:13 I make a decree, that all those of the people of Israel, and their priests and the Levites, in my realm, who are minded of their own free will to go to Jerusalem, go with you.

Ezr 7:14 Because you are sent of the king and his seven counselors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your hand,

Ezr 7:15 and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,

Ezr 7:16 and all the silver and gold that you shall find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem;

Ezr 7:17 therefore you shall with all diligence buy with this money bulls, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.

Ezr 7:18 Whatever shall seem good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do that after the will of your God.

Ezr 7:19 The vessels that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver before the God of Jerusalem.

Ezr 7:20 Whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God, which you shall have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.

Ezr 7:21 I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers who are beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done with all diligence,

Ezr 7:22 to one hundred talents of silver, and to one hundred measures of wheat, and to one hundred baths of wine, and to one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

Ezr 7:23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done exactly for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

Ezr 7:24 Also we inform you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, the singers, porters, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll, on them.

Ezr 7:25 You, Ezra, after the wisdom of your God who is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people who are beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach him who doesn't know them.

Ezr 7:26 Whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed on him with all diligence, whether it be to death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.

Ezr 7:27 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of Yahweh which is in Jerusalem;

Ezr 7:28 and has extended loving kindness to me before the king, and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. I was strengthened according to the hand of Yahweh my God on me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

Ezr 8:1 Now these are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king:

Ezr 8:2 Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush.

Ezr 8:3 Of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah; and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males one hundred fifty.

Ezr 8:4 Of the sons of Pahathmoab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah; and with him two hundred males.

Ezr 8:5 Of the sons of Shecaniah, the son of Jahaziel; and with him three hundred males.

Ezr 8:6 Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan; and with him fifty males.

Ezr 8:7 Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah; and with him seventy males.

Ezr 8:8 Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael; and with him eighty males.

Ezr 8:9 Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel; and with him two hundred and eighteen males.

Ezr 8:10 Of the sons of Shelomith, the son of Josiphiah; and with him one hundred sixty males.

Ezr 8:11 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai; and with him twenty-eight males.

Ezr 8:12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan; and with him one hundred ten males.

Ezr 8:13 Of the sons of Adonikam, who were the last; and these are their names: Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah; and with them sixty males.

Ezr 8:14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud; and with them seventy males.

Ezr 8:15 I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava; and there we encamped three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.

Ezr 8:16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, who were teachers.

Ezr 8:17 I sent them forth to Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia; and I told them what they should tell Iddo, and his brothers the Nethinim, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring to us ministers for the house of our God.

Ezr 8:18 According to the good hand of our God on us they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brothers, eighteen;

Ezr 8:19 and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brothers and their sons, twenty;

Ezr 8:20 and of the Nethinim, whom David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim: all of them were mentioned by name.

Ezr 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of him a straight way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

Ezr 8:22 For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken to the king, saying, The hand of our God is on all those who seek him, for good; but his power and his wrath is against all those who forsake him.

Ezr 8:23 So we fasted and begged our God for this: and he was entreated of us.

Ezr 8:24 Then I set apart twelve of the chiefs of the priests, even Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brothers with them,

Ezr 8:25 and weighed to them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering for the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered:

Ezr 8:26 I weighed into their hand six hundred fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels one hundred talents; of gold one hundred talents;

Ezr 8:27 and twenty bowls of gold, of one thousand darics; and two vessels of fine bright brass, precious as gold.

Ezr 8:28 I said to them, You are holy to Yahweh, and the vessels are holy; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to Yahweh, the God of your fathers.

Ezr 8:29 Watch, and keep them, until you weigh them before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites, and the princes of the fathers' houses of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of Yahweh.

Ezr 8:30 So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem to the house of our God.

Ezr 8:31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the bandit by the way.

Ezr 8:32 We came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days.

Ezr 8:33 On the fourth day the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, the Levite;

Ezr 8:34 the whole by number and by weight: and all the weight was written at that time.

Ezr 8:35 The children of the captivity, who had come out of exile, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve male goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering to Yahweh.

Ezr 8:36 They delivered the king's commissions to the king's satraps, and to the governors beyond the River: and they furthered the people and the house of God.

Aug. 5, 6

Acts 21

Act 21:1 When it happened that we had parted from them and had set sail, we came with a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.

Act 21:2 Having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard, and set sail.

Act 21:3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left hand, we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload her cargo.

Act 21:4 Having found disciples, we stayed there seven days. These said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

Act 21:5 When it happened that we had accomplished the days, we departed and went on our journey. They all, with wives and children, brought us on our way until we were out of the city. Kneeling down on the beach, we prayed.

Act 21:6 After saying goodbye to each other, we went on board the ship, and they returned home again.

Act 21:7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais. We greeted the brothers, and stayed with them one day.

Act 21:8 On the next day, we, who were Paul's companions, departed, and came to Caesarea. We entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.

Act 21:9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

Act 21:10 As we stayed there some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

Act 21:11 Coming to us, and taking Paul's belt, he bound his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit: 'So will the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.' "

Act 21:12 When we heard these things, both we and they of that place begged him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Act 21:13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."

Act 21:14 When he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The Lord's will be done."

Act 21:15 After these days we took up our baggage and went up to Jerusalem.

Act 21:16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also went with us, bringing one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we would stay.

Act 21:17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly.

Act 21:18 The day following, Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present.

Act 21:19 When he had greeted them, he reported one by one the things which God had worked among the Gentiles through his ministry.

Act 21:20 They, when they heard it, glorified God. They said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law.

Act 21:21 They have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs.

Act 21:22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.

Act 21:23 Therefore do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow.

Act 21:24 Take them, and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses for them, that they may shave their heads. Then all will know that there is no truth in the things that they have been informed about you, but that you yourself also walk keeping the law.

Act 21:25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written our decision that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from food offered to idols, from blood, from strangled things, and from sexual immorality."

Act 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purified himself and went with them into the temple, declaring the fulfillment of the days of purification, until the offering was offered for every one of them.

Act 21:27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him,

Act 21:28 crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place. Moreover, he also brought Greeks into the temple, and has defiled this holy place!"

Act 21:29 For they had seen Trophimus, the Ephesian, with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.

Act 21:30 All the city was moved, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple. Immediately the doors were shut.

Act 21:31 As they were trying to kill him, news came up to the commanding officer of the regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

Act 21:32 Immediately he took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. They, when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, stopped beating Paul.

Act 21:33 Then the commanding officer came near, arrested him, commanded him to be bound with two chains, and inquired who he was and what he had done.

Act 21:34 Some shouted one thing, and some another, among the crowd. When he couldn't find out the truth because of the noise, he commanded him to be brought into the barracks.

Act 21:35 When he came to the stairs, it happened that he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd;

Act 21:36 for the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, "Away with him!"

Act 21:37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he asked the commanding officer, "May I speak to you?" He said, "Do you know Greek?

Act 21:38 Aren't you then the Egyptian, who before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins?"

Act 21:39 But Paul said, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city. I beg you, allow me to speak to the people."

Act 21:40 When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, beckoned with his hand to the people. When there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,