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Bible Study 10:00 am
Worship 11:00 am
Bible Study: 7:00pm
TO HEAR SERMONS, or VIEW SERMON VIDEOS, CLICK ON “FROM THE PULPIT” ABOVE
October 4, 2015
A.M. “Draw Near to God”—James 4:7-8
P.M. “The Mind of Christ”—Philippians 2:5
BARRIERS TO EVANGELISM
The church of Christ operates under a mission given by our Master, Jesus Christ. Mark clearly stated it in his gospel, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Our arch enemy and His is the devil (1 Peter 5:8). And, his deception takes the form of many “tricks” (Ephesians 6:11-12). In part, these become “barriers to evangelism.” One of these barriers will receive attention in the lines which follow.
“Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace”
This slogan accepted by all evangelicals and Baptists is unbiblical, but since the proponents start with it their hearers almost never evaluate it or question it in light of what the Bible actually says about the subject of baptism. The origin of the statement may be traced back to Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430). He discussed it as one of 5 “sacraments” at the time (the Catholics added two more later). A “sacrament” was to him an essential for salvation, which baptism truly is, but Augustine referenced baptism as “an outward sign of an inward grace” (See his “Homily on Common Prayer and Sacraments,” pp. 296-297). The 39 Articles, the creed of the Church of England, referred to baptism and the Lord’s supper as “sacraments” and also referred to baptism as “an outward sign of an inward grace.” Many are surprised to learn that the word “sacrament” is found nowhere in the Bible.
Today the evangelicals and Baptists have reversed the original meaning of the phrase “Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace” to mean that baptism is not essential to salvation. The statement we hear so much is “you are saved by faith only; baptism is just ‘an outward sign of an inward grace.’” Their position on baptism is that “baptism does not save you.”
Breaking Through this Barrier with the Bible
Motivated by a desire to fulfill the great commission of Christ, we offer four passages for consideration on the subject of baptism that help break through this barrier. Mark 16:15-16 already has been given. To it we add Acts 2:38 and 22:16. These verses have baptism “for the remission of sins” and “washing away your sins.” 1 Peter 3:21 is a crucial passage because it shows that just the opposite of the evangelical and Baptist position is taught in the Bible. It reads, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (emphasis added). Now the question becomes, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Yes, baptism saves and it is far more than “an outward sign of an inward grace.”
I’ve been asked to place into the bulletin verses of Scripture that serve as “ready references” when talking with people in public situations that will bring substance to our answers covering a variety of topics. When these Scriptures are given from memory the effect is amplified.
The church of the Bible “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).
The church belongs to Christ “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Church membership essential “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).
One church “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4).
Baptism essential to salvation “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
Baptism saves “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).
Baptism commanded “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:48).
Obedience essential “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Imagine if every one of us in the congregation has these “ready references” memorized to share with those with whom we are privileged to talk about the Bible. What a positive impact we can make with just these few verses on the tip of our tongues!
“ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED”
The fact of God’s willingness to reach out to a lost and dying world reached its zenith when His Son Jesus Christ came into the world, lived, and died on the “old rugged cross” to provide the means of salvation to all people for all time.1 It is now the privilege and responsibility of the church of Christ to inform by teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ exactly where a person must be located in order to find acceptance “in the beloved.”2 That unique place is “in Christ.”
By digging down into the grammar of the Koine Greek in which our New Testament was written, we find there are eight cases into which the nouns may be categorized. They are the nominative (the case of the subject of the sentence), vocative, genitive, ablative, dative, locative, instrumental, and accusative. Presently, we will focus on the nature of the locative case. The scholars H.E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey wrote of the locative case, “A noun may be used to indicate the position of an object or action, for which the Locative case is used.”3 Further, they pointed out, “So in simplest terms we may define the locative as the case of position. …It is most frequently in the New Testament with prepositions, but sometimes occurs without.”4
The following reading comes from Ephesians 1:1-10, where the locative case demonstrates the position or location of certain things such as: the faithful, all spiritual blessings, the chosen, acceptance, redemption, the mystery of His will, and the gathering together in one place or the one body, which is the church. The preposition “in” preceding the noun (or pronoun) indicates where these things may be found. In the reading below, the operative phrase has been set off from the rest of the sentence for ease of understanding the point.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful
in Christ Jesus:
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places
According as he hath chosen us
before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted
in the Beloved.
we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things
both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even
From this reading and equipped with the knowledge of the strength and purpose of the locative case of the nouns (and pronouns) in these few sentences we are assured of the position or location where the items enumerated earlier may be received.
In conclusion, in order for us to be “accepted in the Beloved” we must be located or positioned “in Christ.” Three, and only three, passages in the New Testament specifically tell us how to get “into Christ.”5 All share a common element, which is, baptism “into Christ.” Now we not only know where we must be to be “accepted in the Beloved” but how to get there. Let’s share this knowledge with others and fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord.
1Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2. 2Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Timothy 3:15. 3A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, The Macmillian Company (1957), p. 66. 4Ibid., p. 87. 5Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27.
“THE WISDOM THAT IS FROM ABOVE”
Have you noticed lately that there are some sections of the New Testament that really express our aspirations for genuine Christian character? Examples include the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), the Christian’s Armor (Ephesians 6:13-17), and the Christian Graces (2 Peter 1:5-7). While these verses may not show us what we presently are as a Christian, they definitively project what we can be as a Christian. The optimism of verses like Philippians 4:13 motivates us to make the effort to mirror these wonderful traits in our lives. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV).
May we add to the list of helpful Scriptures in this connection James 3:17 which unveils “the wisdom that is from above.” It says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
Perhaps a brief word study from the Greek text will allow us to focus on this impressive list of desirable character traits.
a`gnh, pure (from a`gio,j which means “holy” and “morally upright”)
euvpeiqh,j easy to be entreated; open to reason, willing to give in (to someone else)
mesth. evle,ouj full of merc
karpw/n avgaqw/n full of good fruits
avdia,kritoj without partiality; without prejudice or favoritism
avnupo,kritoj without hypocrisy; sincere, genuine
(James made use of alliteration—four “a” words; four “e” words—to convey these concepts. One possible reason why he did may be for ease of memorization for his original readers. While it doesn’t help us much who are reading in English, it is at least interesting.)
A comparison of James 3:17 from just two other translations may deepen the study and appreciation of the teaching it contains without extending the study much further. The New King James Version reads, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (italicized emphasis added). And, the American Standard Version, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy” (again, the italicized emphasis has been added).
The infusion of the concepts communicated in these words into our character will yield “the wisdom that is from above” in our lives. Note: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
We all love and admittedly need encouragement. The beautiful 23rd Psalm contains the encouraging assurance, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” Psalm 23:5-6. The “cup” “running over” idea is the focus of our attention right now. And, let’s carry it a bit further to a passage in Luke’s gospel where our Lord said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38). As a certainty, there are spiritual principles that when applied to our lives yield blessings from above that are beyond our ability to foresee and contain. If there was a receptacle into which these blessings could be placed it would without doubt be “running over.”
Let’s direct our attention to a two of these blessings that are “running over” so we may take advantage of them before they go to waste. Bible study: many members of the church are letting go to waste the Bible study opportunities, especially in Sunday school, on Sunday night, and Wednesday night. But, these opportunities are “running over” with potential to look into and understand better the greatest treasure on earth, God’s revealed Will. Surely, just the thought of that demonstrates the riches of knowledge and wisdom to be gleaned by studying God’s Will. A disciple of Christ is required to be disciplined enough to routinely read and study the Bible (Isaiah 34:16; Ephesians 3:4; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:15; Revelation 1:3). These gatherings provide significant support for doing that. While life is busy and routines are overcrowded with activities and personal obligations, the organized Bible study periods at the church building provide the discipline necessary to know God’s revealed Will better and better.
Another source of these overflowing blessings is the worship services and devotionals from Sunday to Wednesday night at the church building. Micah asked, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?” (Micah 6:6a). Paul weighed in “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).
The Hebrews writer cautioned, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1). The lexicographers tell us that word “slip” means to leak out as of vessels. For many Christians these blessings are slipping away for others they are “running over.”
WHICH DO YOU LIKE BETTER?
All agree there really are only two choices: either Almighty God or atheism. Have you ever thought about why atheists hate God? Not only is it illogical to hate someone you claim doesn’t even exist, but it is foolish to say it even in your heart (Psalms 14:1; 53:1). The atheist may realize that if indeed God does exist, then he just may have to give an account of how he has acted over the course of his life. Of course, he’d be right as Acts 17:30 proves.
Atheists only assert or suggest that God does not exist. No atheist has ever proven that God does not exist. Their assertions are pitiful attempts from many standpoints. For example, on ORIGINS: there is no agreement among atheists as to how the universe began. They can’t even agree on how their “big bang” idea could have happened. On MORALS: punishment from the powerful to the perpetrator is all they ever talk about when pinned down on the basis of right thinking and actions. This view seems to rise out of their “survival of the fittest” position. On DESTINY: nothing…nothing is where the universe is head according to the atheists. From nothing to nothing is their broad view of the existence of the universe. If the atheist used his methodologies for denying the existence of God, he couldn’t even prove his own existence!
In a sense beliefs emerge from choices. A person chooses whether or not to believe in God. Of the options presented, “Which do you like better?”
CAN WE BE TOO BUSY?
Abigail had words of wisdom and encouragement for David as he fled from Saul. She said, “I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days. Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling” (1 Samuel 25:28-29). She spoke of David’s life being “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God.” We’d like to make that phrase our own and prioritize our life within that unique perspective.
Many are simply too busy to let that happen. Although the Savior said Christians are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), the trite answer is “we’d like to, but we’re just too busy.” If you’ve got a minute, consider the following and possibly find the motivation to re-prioritize your schedule to let the Lord into your life again.
When God called Moses he was busy tending his flock in Mt. Horeb. When God called King Saul he was busy searching for his father’s mules. When God called David he was busy shepherding his sheep. When God called Gideon he was busy threshing wheat. When God called Elijah he was busy in the field plowing. When God called Amos he was busy following his flock and gathering sycamore fruit. When God called Nehemiah he was busy serving the king. When God called Matthew he was busy collecting taxes. When God called James and John they were busy mending their nets. When God called Peter and Andrew they were busy fishing. When God called Saul he was busy persecuting the church. Do you think there is anybody in heaven or on earth that thinks the excuse for not attending Bible study and worship because we are too busy holds any credibility? That is just the point: God is looking for people who know how to be busy because He wants them to be busy for Him in His kingdom. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
Today we are called by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Can we be too busy to answer this divine call? Are we too busy making more money than we know what to do with it? Are we too busy in recreational activities that it is impossible for us to leave the lake, the ball field, or the race track? Are we too busy spending time with our family that we can’t walk out to the car and drive to the church building for an hour or two? Are we too busy at work to attend an assembly of the church even once a week? Unlike those in the previous paragraph when God called us did we answer Him, “Sorry, I’m too busy”? If we cannot make any amount of time available in our joyous and profitable lives to answer the call of the gospel, then, dear friend, we are too busy. We urge in the strongest way possible for those that say they are “too busy” to make the necessary changes and be “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God.”
“COMPACTED,” A WORD STUDY
A love of word studies from the Bible yields a greater appreciation and deeper understanding of the verse or verses in which the word appears and the context in which the verse appears. The word “compacted” in Ephesians 4:16 serves to illustrate this point and will be the word study in this article.
“Compacted” appears in Ephesians 4:15-16 which reads, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
This passage comes from the book of Ephesians which is a message from God about the church of Christ. In this specific selection from Ephesians, Paul is directing the reader’s attention to the foundational quality of the truth, the Word of God (John 17:17). The Word of God must be spoken, and it is to be spoken from the disposition and motivation of love. There are two things here to keep in mind: (1) the truth must be spoken and (2) it must be spoken in love. It is unloving not to speak the truth, and it is untruthful to speak without love as the underlying motivation. The result of speaking the truth in love is spiritual growth following Jesus Christ as our spiritual leader or head.
The unity of the body, the church, with which Paul began the fourth chapter receives focus in the sentence in which the word “compacted” appears here. Before defining the word “compacted” perhaps it will be beneficial to look at the results of the effort where Paul spoke of the “the increase of the body unto the edifying [or ‘building up,’ ASV] of itself in love.” He is speaking of church growth, a subject maturing Christians highly value.
Look first at the phrase in which “compacted” appears: “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.” Every joint or every member of the church supplies meaningful energy and example that promotes the growth of the Lord’s church. What that specifically is depends upon the abilities or “talents” of the members, but every member has something to contribute involving words of truth spoken in love.
“Compacted” is translated from the Greek original sumbiba,dw (transliterated symbibazo). It appears 6 times in the New Testament where it is translated twice as “knit together” (Colossians 2:2, 19), once as “proving” (Acts 9:22), once as “assuredly gathering” (Acts 16:10), once as “instruct” (1 Corinthians 2:16), and once as “compacted” (Ephesians 4:16). It yields three definitions: (1) to cause to coalesce or unite into a whole, to join together, put together. The subordinate meaning is to unite or knit together: in affection. (2) to put together in one’s mind. The subordinate meaning being to compare or to gather, conclude, to consider. (3) to cause a person to unite with one in a conclusion or come to the same opinion, to prove, demonstrate. The subordinate meaning here is to teach, instruct, and simply: one. (from: The Blue Letter Bible). It pays to understand the word “compacted” because its meaning is at the very heart of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
AN ENCOURAGING EVANGELISTIC OPPORTUNITY
The mission of the church of Christ is to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). One effective way the church here at Tiftonia is trying to fulfill this divine duty is by participating in the House To House and Heart To Heart publication outreach. This is a beautifully designed and Scripturally loaded six-page high-quality magazine we are privileged to send routinely to approximately 3,000 homes in Lookout Valley every other month.
House To House holds several powerful advantages as an evangelistic means.
Great News! The September/October edition of House To House will go not only to the regular 3,000 homes but will be doubled to 6,000 for this issue only, at no charge to the church here. So, this presents “an encouraging evangelistic opportunity,” but there is more. The September/October edition will contain a special section allowing readers to request 3 things: (1) a Bible Correspondence Course, (2) the Searching For Truth DVD which contains the plan of salvation, the design of the church of Christ, and New Testament worship, and (3) a place to check if the recipient wants an in home Bible study. Think of it: 6,000 households given the opportunity for a detailed study of the Bible, 6,000 households given the opportunity for an in home Bible study. Our hope and prayer is that we will be so overwhelmed with requests that we will need help from area churches of Christ to fill them all.
Our Lord gave us a job we can do. We can go with the message of the gospel into all the homes in our community. The response to our efforts depends on those privileged to hear the gospel of Christ, but that is not our responsibility. It is theirs. We are ready to meet their requests to study the Bible with us. Paul wrote, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).—Gary McDade
WHAT IS “THE QUEEN JAMES VERSION”?
The closing words of inspiration should be taken seriously by everyone and has a special application to those cramming same sex marriage down our throats today. The apostle John wrote, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
It is not uncommon for people to reject the Bible outright or even to reject passages that do not support their lifestyle or man-made doctrines. That’s what the publishers of the so-called “Queen James Version” of the Bible have done. It sports a rainbow colored cross on its cover which has become the symbol of the movement. It was published in December of 2012 by an entity that calls itself only “QueenJamesBible.com.” Those responsible for the publication have not yet come out of the closet.
What the anonymous publishers tell their readers is that those who oppose homosexuality “commonly cite only eight verses in the Bible that they interpret to mean homosexuality is a sin; Eight verses in a book of thousands!” (p. 1). How many times does God have to say He abhors a thing before it should be avoided? Wouldn’t you think just one time would suffice? The verses to which the publishers object are substantial enough for them to rebel against God to the point of altering what they know to be His Will and launch the publication of an entire Bible of 31,102 verses! Why not just print a pamphlet containing the eight verses that condemn them?
The publishers say, “We made changes to eight verses. Our edits are as follows:” and then they list only 7 verses (p. 3). Why say you’ve changed 8 verses then list 7? Now you understand more about why the publishers wanted to do this anonymously. Not only are they void of any biblical knowledge or linguistic skills, they can’t even count to 8! Even with their changes, the verses they change still condemn homosexuality even with their mutilation. Note the seven verses they list in the preface and the way they changed them:
KJV: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
QJV: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may rape and humiliate them (p. 21).
KJV: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.
QJV: Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination (p. 75).
KJV: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
QJV: If a man also lie with mankind in the temple of Molech, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (p. 76).
KJV: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against their nature.
QJV: Their women did change their natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, left of the natural use of the woman, burned in ritual lust, one toward another.
KJV: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
QJV: Men with men working that which is pagan and unseemly. For this cause God gave the idolators up unto vile affections, receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet (p. 545).
1 Corinthians 6:9
KJV: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.
QJV: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor morally weak, nor promiscuous (p. 554).
1 Corinthians 6:10
KJV: Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
QJV: Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God (p. 554).
The Bible, the unique source of spirituality and eternal hope, reveals the love of God toward lost humanity and is given to be read, studied, and obeyed. Our Lord affirmed, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). And, finally, He said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
THE TIMELINESS OF THE BIBLE
In view of the seeming infatuation of American society with homosexuality, even to the highest level of jurisprudence—the Supreme Court1, a careful reading of Psalm 2 will tell how timelessly relevant the Word of God always is. According to Leslie S. M’Caw and J.A. Motyer in The New Bible Commentary: Revised, Psalm 2 addresses the problem of “secular opposition to the kingdom of God” (p. 503).
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
History shows the rarity of earthly rulers humbling themselves before God. For example, even in Hebrew history a reform like that of the boy King Josiah in 612 B.C. was very unusual and forms a high point in their national spirituality (2 Chronicles 34). Psalm 2 shows that God is and will always be in control of the destiny of nations.
The response of Christians to our society takes three forms: (1) continual reverent and fervent prayer for political leaders, 1 Timothy 2:1-5; (2) seeking first the kingdom of heaven, putting the church in the most primary position in life, Matthew 6:33; (3) determination not to fall in love with the world becoming part of the problem instead of being part of the solution, 1 John 2:15-17; Philippians 2:15-16.
1On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized homosexual marriages in flagrant disregard for the Word of God in Romans 1:21-32.
SAME SEX MARRIAGE
CAPTIVATES THE SUPREME COURT
Our nine Supreme Court Justices have been captivated by the homosexual agenda in America to the extreme extent that June 26, 2015, they legalized same sex marriages in the United States. Their ruling showed flagrant disrespect for States’ rights because no State has approved same sex marriages by a vote of the people. Just as their ruling in 1973 legalizing abortion on demand has not been reversed, this ruling is now set in concrete too.
What’s next? The Supreme Court in Canada ruled biblical speech opposing homosexuality as a hate crime (see online Christian News, Wednesday, July 1, 2015). The defendant, William Whatcott, was fined $7,500 and obligated to pay court costs which is an unspecified amount ranging into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Initially, that may likely be how those who teach what the Bible says against homosexuality are attacked here in the States. Also, those churches that do teach against homosexuality will be putting their tax exempt status in jeopardy. Further, once the news stories on the ruling subside and the apathy of everyday life settles back in with this issue like it has with abortion, those who continue to teach on the sin and shame of homosexuality may be viewed as a radical element in American society.
The prophet Daniel reminded the people of his day that “God rules in the kingdoms of men” (Daniel 4:35). In Old and New Testaments God has let humanity know that He will “bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10). He has shown His displeasure with homosexuality in the both the Old Testament (Genesis 18-19; Leviticus 18:22) and the New Testament (Romans 1:21-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Something for everyone to be reminded of that has the hope of heaven is “and there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
In the early church, the political and religious rulers ordered the apostles never again to preach or teach in the name of the Lord Jesus. And, shortly before their arrest and subsequent beating for continuing to preach and teach what those political and religious rulers called “your doctrine,” “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). May their attitude and actions be ours in striving to edify the saved and teach the lost. Luke tells us following their beating, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:41-42).
WHAT GOD EXPECTS FROM ME
An interesting observation in the New Testament is a contrast between Jewish audiences and Gentile audiences as they listen to the presentation of the gospel of Christ. Specifically, those Jews gathered on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, 22, and 26 as contrasted with those Gentiles Paul encountered at Mars’ Hill in Acts 17. The interesting observation is the disposition with which they listened to the gospel message. Upon hearing of their sin of crucifying Christ, according to Luke the Jews were so moved they interrupted the sermon to ask, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Saul upon meeting Christ on the road to Damascus asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). Perhaps the fact that “unto them were committed the oracles [word] of God” (Romans 3:2) ingrained in them an understanding of God’s expectation of man’s obedience to His revealed will. On the other hand, the Gentiles were disadvantaged without that understanding.
The Gentile, Cornelius, had a very good appreciation for obeying the commands of God and wanted to hear the gospel message from that standpoint (Acts 10:33). But, those at Mars’ Hill were in ignorance (Acts 17:30).
It seems people of our day and in our culture are more like those Gentiles at Mars’ Hill to whom Paul preached that had little or no inclination toward the concept of yielding their lives in obedience to God Almighty.
Paul’s lesson to them provides us with a good way to approach people around us today with the soul saving gospel as we look at “what God expects from me.” Here’s the summary of his sermon:
THE SHARPEST SWORD
Surely a surgeon’s scalpel is one of the sharpest blades known to man. The laser is even sharper. But, the sharpest sword isn’t made by man but by God. “The sharpest sword” is the Bible, the word of God. The writer of Hebrews affirmed, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). This spiritual sword, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), is super sharp in ways many haven’t considered.
It is sharp enough to cut out sin without killing the sinner. An example of this is present in Acts 2 when the Jewish multitude was hearing the first gospel sermon. Peter’s lesson was convincing them of their heinous sin of crucifying the Christ. Luke tells us, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37a, NKJV). Yet, they were not past feeling nor speechless because they “said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The message they heard appealed to their rational minds. They could understand and obey the solution to their sin problem. Those who “gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about 3,000 souls” who were then able to continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.” Their old man of sin was crucified with Christ, and they were raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4, 6). It takes a sharp sword to cut out the sin without killing the sinner.
Also, it is sharp enough to cut out religious error without slicing the truth. The church at Ephesus was challenged, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15). “Wholesome speech that is above criticism” enables the refutation of error and exaltation of God’s truth. Paul wrote, “Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:8).
Finally, it is sharp enough to cut out indifference without damaging confidence. It is remarkable that a Christian who has grown indifferent to Christianity, of which he is a part, can be strengthened by the Bible so he can return to serve God enthusiastically without any loss of confidence from his former apathy. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:11-12). Jesus said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). The word of God is “the sharpest sword.”
DOES 1 JOHN 2:19 TEACH “ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED”?
A lady from the community who receives the “House To House” paper we send out called to thank us for it and commented on how much she enjoys and benefits from reading it. She was raised in the Church of God but is attending a Baptist Church in Cleveland with her children to encourage them to get into church. She visited here 20 years ago and hopes to be able to visit with us regularly soon. She commented in the Bible class at the Baptist Church recently that the “once saved, always saved” doctrine does not harmonize with the Bible because 2 Peter 2:20 says, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” She was impressed with this verse from reading “House To House”.
However, the Baptist preacher gave 1 John 2:19 as his proof text for the “once saved, always saved” doctrine and said no other passage of Scripture disproves it. Although the Baptist preacher would not accept it, the lady who called me and I agree that 2 Peter 2:20 clearly disproves the erroneous doctrine.
“Does 1 John 2:19 teach ‘once saved, always saved’”? No. And, here’s why. The verse says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” Look at the center of the verse where John said, “If they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us.” Had their belief and behavior remained consistent with the truth “they would no doubt have continued with us.” The Baptist position is that they never were saved, but as you see here, they were in a right relationship with God at one time or they never would have been able to “continue with us” if they had retained their faith in Christ. This passage to the contrary of what the Baptist preacher said teaches that people can indeed apostatize or fall from grace.
The lady who called told me that in her youth her father came to believe the “once saved, always saved” doctrine and subsequently became absorbed with “wine, women, and song” to the point their family disintegrated. The pain and suffering the family experienced from their father believing one could never so sin as to be finally lost caused irreparable harm. False doctrines like this carry with them destructive consequences here and now and in eternity and not only should be avoided but challenged and refuted.
“WHEN FOR THE TIME…”
Years ago on television there was a game show called “Name That Tune.” Contestants would give the name of a song in only 3 or 4 notes! Their familiarity with music was amazing. Perhaps when you read the title of this article—“When for the time…”—you identified the words as coming from Hebrews 5:12-14:
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (emphasis added).
May I share 2 quick observations with you about this Scripture? One, regression is possible. Since these early Christian had gone backward, not forward, in their knowledge and understanding of the Bible it stands to reason that Christians in subsequent ages might fall prey to the same weakness. Their need for the milk of the word instead of the meat of the word graphically illustrates their spiritual regression.
Two, progression is needful. Even when it means going back to the “milk of the word” or the first principals of the oracles of God, the Christian who has been inattentive to spiritual development simply must get back on the strait and narrow way. Applying the teaching of Scripture will yield a deeper understanding of God’s revealed will.
In closing, may I urge you not to let pride, practice, or procrastination keep you from spiritual maturity? Pride: it may be hard for some people to admit to themselves they are babes in Christ although they have been Christians for a long time. Practice: something has crowded out time for spiritual development and it may even be something very essential for the family, like earning a living. The Bible says, “I am crucified with Christ” not “I am lounging around at home on my day off.” Altering comfortable practices is admittedly challenging but genuinely worth it. Procrastination: Without reservation, this could very well be the most important article you’ll ever read but only if in ignites within your heart a burning desire to cease spiritual regression and start spiritual progressing in your life and by starting today.
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". . and upon this rock I will build my church . ." -- Matthew 16:18.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.