Remembering My Creator: Vol. 3, No 1, February 2013

Theme: Thoughts From the New Testament Epistles

 

In This Issue:

  • “All Have Sinned” (Romans 1 -3) by Jordan Shouse
  • “The Redemption in Christ: An Examination of Romans 3:19-5:21″ by Sean Cavender
  • “Development of the New Life in Christ” (Ch. 6 – 8) by Shannon Harden
  • “The Gospel, as It Relates to Israel” (Ch. 9 – 11) by David Deuster
  • “Practical Application of the Law of Christ” (12:1 – 15:7) by Hannah & Sarah Crawford

 

 

“All Have Sinned” (Romans 1-3)

By

Jordan Shouse

The book of Romans is one of the most fascinating and deep writings in, not only the New Testament, but also the Bible. Luther once wrote that Romans, “is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

 

The main theme of this book can be summarized in Romans 1:16-17 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”

 

Paul states that the gospel is the power for salvation. The word salvation implies that man is lost and in need of saving. Thus, one of the first themes addressed in this letter is the problem of sin. The church in Rome was comprised of Jews and Gentiles. These are two different backgrounds, which had a major influence in their thinking. Jews, for instance, considered themselves more special and privileged to God from their ancestry. What Paul seeks to show the brethren of this church, is how all people of all backgrounds are justly condemned because of our sins. God made it clear that price or punishment for sin is death (Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:4). Paul stated in this book that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Apostle stresses to the brethren how all of them, despite their background, have sinned.

 

  • Romans 1:18-32 – God gave them over to their sins. This includes those who do not believe in God, as well as those who know the law of God but live against it (v.32).
  • Romans 2:9-11 – God will judge both Jews and Gentiles for their deeds done in the flesh
  • Romans 2:12-16 – Even though the Gentiles were “without the Law”, they too have sinned, done things detestable to God
  • Romans 2:17-24 – Jews who had the Law of God sinned, disobeyed God
  • Romans 3:9-18 – both Jews and Gentiles are under sin, they have lived in iniquity, and are thus deserving of death.

 

Paul summarizes this is Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” All have sinned. The Jew and the Gentile, man and woman, all people of all races; we are all guilty before God in sin, and thus we are justly condemned for our sins. There is no special privilege for certain individuals – all who have sinned are justly condemned, and in need of saving, in need of a Savior. It showed the Jews that they were no better than the Gentiles though they came from a special ancestry. It ought to remind us that we are no better than another, for we have sinned through our decisions, in in such have been apart from God and deserving death.

 

This is an excellent place to begin a study, or in Paul’s case, a letter. People will not be willing to change if they do not accept that they are in need of change, that there is a true problem. At times we, who are Christians and saved by the blood of Jesus, forget that we were once apart from God through our own doing, deserving a most horrible fate. Yet, the love and grace of God appeared through the form of His Son who died for us unworthy people. May we not become calloused to sin. May we not forget that we have sinned, and through such sin were apart from God. And may we never forget the love of God and His Son who gave His life for us. Such love ought to change the way we live our life. It ought to change our perspective of sin, and create a true, genuine devotion to Jesus. “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, being justified by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” Rom. 3:23-24

 

 

The Redemption In Christ

An Examination of Romans 3:19-5:21

By Sean P. Cavender

 

Paul indicted all people, both Jew and Gentile, as guilty of sin before God (Romans 3:19). It is due to man’s ungodliness that the wrath of God is revealed, and He will judge all sin as worthy of death (Romans 1:18,32). The reality of sin is frightening, and condemning. What is even more frightening is the reality of God’s judgment of sin. Those who commit such iniquity, and unrighteousness must come to accept the reality of their guilt for transgressing God’s commandments. Those who are guilty are condemned because of their sin. Sin is a universal, and widespread problem; it has touched all people. Therefore, that guilt belongs to everyone who has ever committed sin.

 

What happens to a person that has committed sin, realizes that guilt, and acknowledges that God will bring condemnation upon them for their wickedness? Is there any system of forgiveness, and mercy that someone may appeal to in order to obtain good standing in the sight of God? Paul answers the latter question with an affirmative response. The Roman letter is all about the system of righteousness (right-standing before God), justification (the pronouncement of being freed from guilt), and forgiveness (the removal of guilt). Please become familiar with these terms, and using them in this way because it is the way in which we will use them in this article.

 

Justification By Grace Through Faith

The system of justification, and righteousness is not by the works of the law of Moses (Romans 3:20,21). To be justified by any system of law would require keeping the law perfectly (Galatians 3:10,12). The law of Moses was actually given as a system which would point to the need of God’s grace; it produced a knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Timothy 1:8,9). God gave the Israelites a law which should have allowed them to see their transgression, and to make apparent unto them the burden of sin. The law of Moses also provided an understanding of punishment for sin (Hebrews 2:2). But most importantly, the Law established a system of sacrifices, and the anticipation of atonement through the shedding of blood. The Law’s purpose was to point the Israelites unto Christ. The law of Moses was not intended to be a permanent framework, and it certainly was not God’s method to justify a nation of people that were already guilty of sin (1 Timothy 1:9). For anyone to argue that one will be justified by perfect law-keeping, especially in the debate concerning circumcision, Paul carefully refutes such a thought.

 

Instead of justification coming through works of the Law, the righteousness of God is by faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22). God’s righteousness is made available unto all that believe because all believers are guilty of sin, and are in need of God’s forgiveness. No matter if they were members of the nation of Israel, and had received the law of Moses, or whether they were uncircumcised Gentiles, they were all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23). They each had the same opportunity to be justified by God through faith in Christ Jesus. Jew and Gentile would be justified in the same way. The Jew was not going to be justified through works of the Law; neither was the Gentile.

 

For those who wish to obtain salvation, it is found in the system of grace by faith. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forebearance of God;” (Romans 3:24,25). This justification that is available is offered freely by God’s grace. Salvation is unearned. Those who are guilty of sin are deserving of punishment, and condemnation. It is by God’s grace that we are saved. If it were not for the grace of God, then we would have no hope. We would be left to wallow in mire of sin. The conditional aspect of God’s grace is faith on the part of the sinner.

 

Thankfully God provided a propitiation for us. He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, who offered Himself freely upon the cross, shedding His blood for the remission of sins. The term propitiation means to appease, or to satisfy. Who was appeased, and satisfied? What were the implications of this satisfaction? Christ appeased the requirement that blood be shed. In Leviticus chapters 16 and 17 we learn of the day of atonement, and the propitiatory sacrifice. A lamb was slaughtered, and its blood was taken into the Most Holy Place, and sprinkled upon the mercy seat. Blood was necessary for atonement to be made (Leviticus 17:11). This was a foreshadowing of the Christ and His death. The principle is stated in Hebrews 9:22, “and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” It was necessary that the blood of the perfect Lamb of God be shed. God required the shedding of blood for the remission of sins. Blood is necessary to give life. We have no spiritual life apart from Christ Jesus and His death. It is in this sense that Christ is our propitiation – He satisfied the requirement of atonement, blood from the perfect and spotless Lamb of God. Through Christ’s sacrifice, God was appeased and atonement was made, and through Him the remission of sins is accessible.

 

The righteousness of God is demonstrated, and made available for those who avail themselves to the grace of God by faith. That is how God is just, and the justifier (Romans 3:26). God is perfectly just in the exercise of His forgiveness upon the system of justification by grace through the condition of faith in His Son. He is the One that is satisfied with the blood of Christ. Therefore, He is the justifier of all those who exercise faith in Christ.

 

Boasting in works of the Law were excluded because that was not going to justify the sinner (Romans 3:27,28). God is over all, and He has determined He will save all men in the same fashion – by grace through faith (Romans 3:30).

 

“Blessed Is The Man To Whom The Lord Will Not Impute Sin”

The apostle Paul then appeals to the example of faithful Abraham. This is key to Paul’s defense of justification by faith. Paul’s argumentation in Romans 4 is the death blow to the Jews who prided themselves in being descendants of Abraham, and argued that their justification was in circumcision (Romans 4:1).

 

Abraham was not justified by works, Paul argues (Romans 4:2). What kind of works is the apostle speaking of? He is speaking of the works, and deeds of the law of Moses. Throughout the context he uses the term ‘works’ and ‘deeds’ in the connection with how a man is not justified (Romans 3:20, 27-28). Now in chapter four, Paul argues neither was Abraham justified by the works of the law of Moses because Abraham was justified by faith! It is evident that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law of Moses simply because when Abraham lived there was no law of Moses. Much of what Paul was trying to prove was in answer to the Judaizing teachers who were demanding the Gentiles keep the works of the Law in respect to the matter of circumcision. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6), which occurred before the covenant of circumcision was ever instituted (Romans 4:10-16; Genesis 17:1-14). The conclusion is: Abraham was justified by faith.

 

It is important to note the false teaching surrounding this passage by those who believe in the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. They correctly point out that if we were saved by works it would not be by grace, but simply what we have earned (Romans 4:4). However, the incorrectly define the term works. They argue the term works refers to obedience to God. According to their doctrine, since a man is not saved by works, but is saved by grace, then any act of obedience would somehow be earning one’s salvation. Thus, a man is not saved by any act of obedience, namely, water baptism. If that understanding of the passage were true, then just consider how strange Paul’s statement in verse 5 would appear.

 

“But to him that worketh not [obeys not], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

 

Is this what Paul was affirming in this passage? God is going to save a man by faith alone without any act of obedience towards God? Certainly not! Surely our denominational friends do not believe that concept. They recognize the need for good works in the life of the Christian (Ephesians 2:10). To argue that obedience is not essential, and has no role in the faith of the child of God is outrageous.

 

Abraham’s faith was an active, and obedient faith. He believed God and he acted upon that trust in the promises God made unto him. Abraham “staggered not at the promise” through unbelief. He was obedient to the Lord by not considering the deadness of Sarah’s womb. It was by faith that Abraham, a man who was one hundred years old, and Sarah who was ninety years old, received strength and conceived a child (Romans 4:19,20; Hebrews 11:11). The kind of faith that Abraham had, and the kind of faith that justifies a man, is the faith that is fully persuaded in the promise of God, and acts upon that faith. “By faith Abraham obeyed,” (Hebrews 11:8). Obedience does not nullify the grace of God. Grace and obedience are not opposed to one another. In fact, they are perfectly joined in harmony with one another. If obedience is not necessary then how does a man access the grace of God? By sinning more? God forbid! (Romans 6:1,2). Obedience is that which ultimately proves one’s faith in God (James 2:14-26).

 

Abraham is the example which Paul uses to illustrate the principle of justification by grace through faith. If Abraham was justified by the grace of God, then how do you suppose we might be saved? “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” (Romans 4:23-25).

 

Another Old Testament example that Paul uses to prove the principle of justification by grace through faith, apart from works is David (Romans 4:6-8). God imputes righteousness to the believer. This is not an imputation of the personal righteousness of Christ. To use Romans 4:6-8 as a passage which teaches the believer receives Christ’s righteousness is to read something that is not in the context. God imputes, or places upon someone’s account, righteousness. It is through faith in Christ Jesus, that righteousness is imputed. It is by God’s grace, certainly not by works. Furthermore, those who do argue that we are somehow imputed with the personal righteousness of Jesus Christ, destroy the concept of grace. Through the goodness and grace of God He has pronounced a man righteous. Can God do that if He so chooses out of His love and grace? Certainly. To argue that somehow the righteousness of Christ must be transferred to my account makes a mockery of grace. Nothing is actually forgiven. At best, the righteousness of Christ just overbalances my sin. There is no true justification and forgiveness.

 

The imputation of righteousness is the forgiveness of sins that we receive when we respond in the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7; Psalm 32:1). It is out of God’s goodness that He forgives our sins, and removes the guilt and condemnation associated with that sin, making us righteous in His sight.

 

“We Shall Be Saved From Wrath”

Drawing this section of the Roman epistle to a close, Paul returns to the main theme of the book: salvation in Christ Jesus. The system of justification by grace through faith has been established, exampled, and proven. Thus, we have access to God, and peace with the Lord (Romans 5:1,2). We were at one time enemies found in sin (Romans 5:10). However, there is salvation from the judgment and death that sinners are deserving of (Romans 1:32; 5:9)

 

When sin entered the world through Adam, death was introduced, and death passed upon all men, “for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). What kind of death was introduced through Adam because of sin? Adam did not physically die the day that sin was introduced to the world, but he did die that day. Adam died spiritually the day that he sinned in the Garden of Eden. The death which is passed upon all men is due to the reality of the sins that all have committed (Romans 3:23). It is the death which Ezekiel wrote of, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). The death of Romans 5:12 is caused because “all have sinned.” Sin is not inherited, neither is it necessary that a person sin. All sin will result in spiritual separation, or death, from God.

 

 

Death reigned in the world through the transgression of Adam. Until Christ came, there was no sacrifice that could atone for sins. For all of those who have followed the footsteps of Adam, and have transgressed God’s commands, all were made sinners (Romans 5:19). However, those who come to faith in Christ may become righteous (Romans 5:19). Death has reigned, but it will be rendered powerless through Christ. Guilt was impossible to be removed, but now grace has been shown. We have sinned, but now we shall be saved from wrath.

 

“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 5:21).

 

Praise be to God for His mercy, and His grace. We who have sinned and were worthy of punishment, have been made righteous through the system of justification by grace through faith in the Son of God. The epistle to Romans is a wonderful study, and should cause everyone to realize the wonderful grace of God.

 

 

“The Gospel, as It Relates to Israel” (Romans 9 – 11)

 

By

David Deuster

 

The ninth chapter of Romans is one of the most difficult and controversial passages in the entire Bible. Within its writings Paul argues concerning the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, Israel and the Church, God’s plan of salvation, human will and the sovereignty of the Almighty. This being the case it is not surprising that the text before us has led to many erroneous conclusions and doctrines concerning the aforementioned topics. In particular Romans 9-11 is the most contested territory over Calvinistic theology and its consequences concerning the character of God and man’s salvation. The inspired words of the apostle are often used to uphold the Calvinistic view of God’s absolute sovereignty in particular to the irrevocable election of certain individuals to salvation or reprobation. Therefore it is good that we not seek to understand this passage isolated from the rest of the epistle and the whole of Scripture.

 

Understanding that Paul addressed the letter to a church which he could characterize as Gentile (1:5-6), but contained Jews (ch 16) helps us to understand the broader context of these verses and their importance to the brethren at Rome. The fact that there were tensions between the Jew and Gentile in the church brought Paul great concern. Though originally preached among the Jews the gospel concerning Jesus Christ would eventually be rejected by Paul’s kinsmen in the flesh leading he and Barnabas to turn unto the Gentiles. As time passed those coming into the church were almost all Gentiles. Therefore the theme that Paul addresses in epistle, particularly in this text, is “How the gospel can be the fulfillment of Judaism/the Old Testament and its promises to Israel when the vast majority of Jews had rejected Christ and were therefore excluded from God’s salvation and promises to them.”

 

After having demonstrated that both Jew and Gentile were guilty before God (Romans 3:9, 19, 20) and were, thus, in need of grace through a submissive faith in the Lord, it was important that the chief Jewish objections to the faith of Christ be answered definitively. In this text Paul addresses three of the most prominent Jewish objections to the gospel, which all centered on the singular truth of God’s expression of mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. In doing so, Paul offers an inspired response to those who would attempt to restrict God’s mercy to physical Israel (Romans 11:32).

 

The apostle Paul was saddened at the present condition of his kinsmen in the flesh in light of the Lord’s divine purpose in the election of physical Israel. Sadly, those whom God had chosen to bring Messiah into the world to bless all men were the same people who were rejecting the promised Christ. Paul’s desire was in harmony with God’s love for all of mankind (Romans 10:1-3; 11:15).

1. THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL IS FAITHFUL

Paul begins by answering the Jewish objection that the gospel had caused God to be unfaithful in his promises (Romans 9:6-9). The Jews had missed the promise itself because their confidence and security was in the fact they were Jews. Their understanding was that the promises of God were to be enjoyed as a result of a national, fleshly association. Paul answers the objection by showing that not all of those who were members of physical Israel were a part of spiritual Israel (9:6). He distinguishes between the “children of God,” as the class of believers and the “children of the flesh,” as the class of unbelievers. What the unbelieving Jew needed to hear was that it is not physical descent, but spiritual descent that comprises the faithful of God (Romans 2:28-29).

In order to further emphasize this point, Paul spoke of God choosing Jacob over Esau in order to demonstrate that God did not choose Israel as a nation for salvation, but that He chose Israel as a nation to provide the Savior. Isaac wasn’t saved because he was a Jew but was saved by faith (Hebrews 11:20). The “word of promise” throughout this section identifies Messiah as God’s provision of salvation for mankind. Messiah would be brought into the world through the Jewish people, i.e, “Sarah shall have a son.” Thus, Paul’s conclusion is that God’s promise and his word has not failed because physical Israel had fulfilled the purpose for which God had chosen them as a nation. The choice of God in accordance with His divine purpose, to bless all nations through the seed of Abraham, would stand through the lineage of Jacob, not Esau. God’s choice to use ethnic Israel to fulfill His purpose was not dependent upon their goodness, evil, or works, but God’s faithfulness (9:16; 11:28).

2. THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL IS RIGHTEOUS

The Jews were insulted by the truth that believing Gentiles would be included in spiritual Israel whereas unbelieving Jews would be excluded. Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not” (Romans 9:14). Paul affirms that God is righteous in offering mercy to the Gentiles through faith in Christ, as well as to believing Jews (Romans 9:30-33).

 

God has always been willing to extend his mercy to those who seek him by faith, without respect of persons. In Romans 10, Paul again expresses his concern for Israel that they might seek the righteousness of God according to knowledge and submit themselves unto the righteousness of God, i.e, the gospel. He again sets forth the terms of gospel as being justification by grace through faith and not based on national lineage. “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:11-13).

 

Paul writes, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16). The Jews’ disdain for the gospel being inclusive of the Gentiles would never dispense with God’s plan to “show mercy.” God’s choice that physical Israel would bring the Messiah into the world and, thus, be a blessing to Jewish and Gentile believers could not be revoked even by those who rejected Christ (Romans 11:28; Ephesians 3:1-5). It is in this sense that God’s Messianic promise was not based on the Jews’ will, but His choice.

 

It is as this point that Paul speaks of Pharaoh’s interaction with Jehovah in order to demonstrate that God sets the terms of mercy and not Israel. This well known event from Israel’s history would serve as an affirmation of the futility of resisting God’s purpose to extend mercy to “whosoever wills.” God has allowed Pharaoh the opportunity to do what he desired by maintaining circumstances that would allow the choice (Exodus 9:15-16). God hardened Pharaoh the same way in which he hardens all men, by his truth. When faced with a choice in obeying or disobeying the truth of God our response, i.e, obedience or disobedience, is what results in us being hardened or softened.

 

Just as Pharaoh had rejected God’s word to his own demise, likewise, Israel was rejecting God’s word to their own condemnation (Romans 9:27-29). God’s mercy and deliverance for his true people hardened those who remained in unbelief. This is a point that cannot be missed: God’s purpose was not thwarted by their rebellion. If anyone should have remembered the end of Pharaoh it should have been the Jews. Yet, they were following in his footsteps by their attempt to interfere with his expression of mercy to those who would serve Him.

3. THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL IS FAIR

The unbelieving Jews understanding that since God established Israel as His people through Abraham and through the Law, God is unfair if He rejects circumcised Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 2:17-24; 9:14). Their accusation against the gospel according to Paul was in reality slander against God Himself. To argue that God’s use of unbelievers to accomplish His purposes renders Him responsible for their wickedness is slanderous. Israel should have known that it was in accordance with God’s righteousness to include the Gentiles for even their own history and prophets had taught them so. “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:18-20).

 

Paul rebukes the perverse rebelliousness of the unbelieving Jew, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9:20-21). The unbelieving Jews had no right to demand God to be answerable to them – God sets the criteria for justification, not the Jew and not any man (Romans 10:1-3). The Jews were attempting to obligate God to fulfill their false concepts of His purpose, which were contrary to Old Testament scripture.

 

The apostle employs a final illustration, the Potter-Clay metaphor, in order to demonstrate from Old Testament scripture man’s need and ability to repent and God’s sovereign right to demand that he do so. God has chosen what He will do regarding the clay, (sinner), in that he has chosen to respond to the clay, (sinner), according to his/her repentance or lack of repentance. By quoting the potter-clay metaphor Paul essentially tells the Jews that God will deal with men based on their repentance—as he has always said he would deal with them. The image is that of the vessel of dishonor blaming its position on the Potter, rather than humbly submitting to God. The Potter determines the standard or criteria of acceptance, i.e., vessel of honor or vessel of dishonor. God’s patience and grace was an overt expression of God’s love and mercy and an indication that the greater glory redounds to God by the salvation of sinners than by their destruction. This instruction is carried out further in chapter 11 with Paul’s explanation regarding the “natural branches,” i.e. unbelieving Jews, being cut off and his warning to “wild branches,” i.e. Gentile believers. Israel’s salvation was dependent upon faith in Christ as Messiah (10:1-3). The notion that Gentiles were to be a part of the body of Christ had been prophesied by Hosea. Additionally, the fact that there would be a remnant of physical Israel saved had been prophesied by Isaiah. All of Israel that would be saved, would be saved in the same manner as the Gentiles, i.e. through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 11:26).

 

Conclusion

Paul’s illustrations demonstrated irrefutably that the Jewish objections to the gospel were without merit and an expression of disrespect toward God Himself.

He spoke of God choosing Jacob over Esau in order to demonstrate that God did not choose Israel as a nation for salvation, but that He chose Israel as a nation to provide the Savior. He spoke of Pharaoh’s interaction with Jehovah in order to demonstrate that God sets the terms of mercy and not Israel. Finally, he used the Potter-Clay metaphor in order to demonstrate from Old Testament scripture man’s need and ability to repent and God’s sovereign right to demand that he do so.

 

 

“Practical Application of the Law of Christ” (Romans 12:1 – 15:7)

By

Hannah & Sarah Crawford

 

When reading Romans 12:1-2, we are instructed to present ourselves as a sacrifice presentable to God. So it is safe to say that if something is not considered “presentable” to God, it isn’t to other people either. This applies to what we wear and how we conduct ourselves in public or in private. We may not be able to do everything we want to, but that is why our lives are a “sacrifice” and ones that are according to God’s word. We can do this by “renewing our minds”, which means to constantly dwell on God’s word and incorporate it into our lives to “prove what the will of God is”. This should be our goal as the younger generation influencing both the young and old. What we do has a great impact on others as well as ourselves. Verses 3-8 give us instruction on how to live our lives to the fullest in the sense of giving our best to God. Not everyone has the same talent and even with different talents we can edify each other by helping one another to grow in all areas of praise and worship to God. As the passage goes on in verses 9-17, we are told to love one another even our enemies and pay back good for evil. However, we are to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”. This means that we shouldn’t “act” nice to others because we have to, but we should be sincere in our actions towards others. Otherwise, we are lying to them and ourselves thinking we actually benefitted from being insincere. The rest of the chapter discusses how we are to leave vengeance to God knowing that He will deal out perfect justice. With this being said, we are still to treat our enemies with kindness, “not being overcome with evil, but overcoming evil with good”. Verse 20 can be taken incorrectly in the part where it states, “in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head”. We are not to be considerate towards others with the intent of God punishing them because of their evil, but to be an example to them as they ought to act and treat others. Our goal is to help save as many people as we can and leading our lives based on Christ’s example so that others will see Him working in us and believe.

 

Romans 13:1-5 explains our subjection to the authorities and why we are to obey the laws. Whether good or bad, the rulers (presidents, kings, etc.) are placed into power by God’s will. We do not know the future and what God’s plans are, but we do know that God will be with us through the easy and hard times. We are not to question God’s will but believe and trust in Him. Rulers were set in power to bring fear to those who practice evil, not good. So as long as we are following God’s word and do no evil acts then we are not to be afraid. However, there will be times when authority goes against God’s word and when this happens we are to stay true to God. God is our main focus and purpose for life which is why we obey His word. Verse 4 states that, “it is a minister of God to you for good”. The whole reason authority was set up by God’s word was to benefit us by protecting us and maintaining order and justice. Verses 6-7 tells us the reason for paying taxes and who to submit to for certain things. It tells us that, “rulers are servants of God”. As servants of God, whether or not they know it, we are to give them what is theirs and give God what is His. Later, love is discussed in verses 8-10. It states that we are to owe no one anything, but love. God sent His Son for everyone, not just us. Obviously, we are not “greater than God” so we have no excuse for refusing another person love. By loving others as ourselves we fulfill the law. Loving your neighbor as yourself sums up all other commandments and gives us the relationship we need with God. Now many people will use this commandment as an excuse to accept those who practice sin. When we are told to love one another that does not mean that anything goes. If we see someone living in sin we are to reveal God’s word, rebuke, and exhort them. By allowing someone to continue living in sin we are showing a lack of love. Do our parents correct us when they see us committing evil? Of course they do because they love us and they don’t want us to continue doing something that will eventually lead us into trouble. Just as God is our Father, He does not want to see us living in sin and has given us the knowledge of His word so that we might know what is right and wrong. It’s our job to continue teaching others what they ought and ought not to do. The rest of the chapter tells us how to behave and to put on Christ. This means that when people see us they should see Christ living in us because we act and behave just as He would. It also states, “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts”. By this we are told not to put ourselves in situations where we know we’ll be tempted and have lusts. We are to be edifying to others and not allow worldly influences to be in our way. The places and people we hang out with influence us and our beliefs so it’s important to put ourselves in an environment where outside power, especially peer pressure, won’t cause us to stumble.

 

Romans 14 is sometimes a confusing passage and can lead people to false assumptions about its content as well as the context to which it is applied. The main message in this passage is that we should lead our lives in a way that will not cause a fellow brother/sister to stumble. For example, alcohol is a big problem today. If there is a brother/sister who has struggled with drinking in the past and has put it behind them and they see or hear that we were hanging out with people who were drinking, whether it’s at a party, dance, or even a restaurant, they may assume that we were drinking and view us as hypocrites. They will then either turn back to alcohol or turn away from the church believing that we are not sincere about God’s word. Even if we are not drinking or participating in any sinful actions, our presence shows our approval and can give false assumptions to others. By being selfish and only caring about what and who we wanted to hang around, we could easily cause a brother/sister to fall away from Christ. Ask yourself this question, “Is what I’m doing worth causing a fellow Christian to lose salvation in Christ?” We are not to judge or fellow brother/sister if they are doing something for God. However, some people have taken this passage to mean that as long as God is their reason for their actions then they can do whatever they want. This is not true because we are to follow God’s word and laws and by correcting a brother/sister when they disobey God’s word we are helping to save them.

 

In Romans 15:1-7 mentions that the strong should bear the weaknesses of others to please our neighbors and edify them. By bearing others struggles and being there for them when they need comforting, we show the love and kindness Christ has made to dwell in us. This, in turn, will cause others to look towards Christ for the same comfort and love. Also, it discusses how we are not to please ourselves, but just as Jesus sought to please God, we should live our lives seeking to please God according to His will. God’s word, the scriptures, were written for our instruction so that we might have hope knowing what is expected of us and that with perseverance through struggles and encouragement from one another we can fulfill God’s word. We are also to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, which means that we should all be seeking to glorify and praise God by following His word and His Son, Jesus, who is the perfect example. Verse 7 is similar to Romans 13:9 in that both are misinterpreted to mean that we should accept everyone for who they are. We are to accept one another as fellow sinners of the world who are seeking to put their life of sin behind them and follow God’s word. If one is not willing to repent of their sins then they are not truly concerned with drawing closer to God and living their lives for Him.

 

Remembering My Creator: Vol. 2, No 6, December/January

Theme: How to Study the Bible

 

In This Issue:

  • “How to Answer a False Doctrine” by Sean Cavender
  • “Studying Passages That Help With Our Own Spiritual Growth” by Hannah & Sarah Crawford
  • “How to Determine the Message of a Bible Book” by David Deuster

 

 

 

 

“How to Answer a False Doctrine”

By

Sean Cavender

 

Quite possibly one of the most difficult things you will ever have to deal with is your approach to false teaching. There are many factors that one must give thought towards in this important discussion. False teachers have been a plague to the Lord’s church since the days of the apostles. Paul identified false brethren who had snuck into the churches of Galatia (Galatians 2:4). Peter warned of how false brethren would distort the teachings of Scripture to suit their own purposes (2 Peter 3:16). John warned of many deceivers that were in the world, and identified their deception as anti-Christ doctrine (2 John 1:7). Jude dealt very plainly with false teachers, identifying their false teachings, and warned of how God deals with such false teachers (Jude 1:4)

 

The Intent of False Doctrine

Knowledge of false teaching is necessary because we must be prepared to answer false doctrines so that others will not be swept away by these deceivers. It is important to know how to answer false doctrines. It should come as no surprise that there will be those who are maliciously striving to lead people away from the truths contained in God’s word. The object of false doctrine is not to benefit you. False teachers proclaim their doctrine in order to gain followers, have respect, and want to cause harm to the Lord’s body. Paul warned of how he would not give a platform for these false teachers to proclaim their deceptions because of their intent to lead people astray (2 Corinthians 11:12-15; Galatians 2:5). We must be extremely cautious towards false doctrines and those who espouse such things.

 

Jude exhorted brethren to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). We need to be ready to embattle those who would might deliver some false teaching to the churches. There seems to be a growing number of people who do not want to hear sermons on false teachings. Some might object because they feel it is mean-spirited to identify such false teachers and their doctrines, but how else might we warn brethren to remain faithful, and be guarded against such falsehoods? If we do not contend, or fight, for the truthfulness of the gospel then we are laying the perfect groundwork for false teachers to come in as the guardians of truth, and deceive us. It is for this reason that Paul encouraged Titus to rebuke false teachers sharply (Titus 1:13). We must not be mean, but we must not give them an inch. False teachers will be argumentative, and strong in their teaching. We must be equally strong with our presentation of truth.

 

How NOT To Answer A False Doctrine

When we are answering a false doctrine, and false teachers, there are some things that we must NOT do.

 

  • Don’t get personal. We are to remain in control of ourselves, and especially our temper, when we are dealing with false teachers. When answering their doctrine, do not attack the person. We should not give others a way in which they find fault in us, and will not hear us. Attack the false teaching, not the person.

 

  • Don’t answer an argument that wasn’t made. We need to be prepared to listen to those who are espousing the false doctrine, and be ready to answer what they are teaching. If we waste our time dealing with arguments they never made then how does that benefit anyone? It is also not dealing with the doctrine that they are actually teaching. If we are to stamp out the false doctrines that may enter the Lord’s church, then answer the arguments that are being made in attempts to deceive.

 

  • Don’t accuse a person of believing the consequences of their doctrine. There may be several consequences of believing any number of false teachings, but that does not necessarily mean they accept the logical consequences of their position. Point out, and teach them the logical consequences of accepting such a false position, but do not accuse them of something that they do not believe.

 

How To Answer A False Doctrine

First, you must identify the false doctrine. When identifying false teaching, you must identify the source of that teaching. The Holy Spirit was quite plain in revealing the desire of these false teachers – they desire to lead people astray (Galatians 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 John 1:7). It will only benefit you to have knowledge of those who are teaching falsely, and what they are teaching. The Scriptures teach that faithful brethren need to mark and identify false teachers (Romans 16:17).

 

Secondly, you must be fair towards false teachers. You cannot misrepresent their doctrine. You do not want others to sympathize towards them because of your unfairness. Acknowledge what they say, and answer the false teaching. If they say they do not believe in something, do not force it upon them. If they are attacking you, be courteous towards them. Do not sink to their level. Conduct yourself as a Christian at all times, especially when dealing with false teaching.

 

Thirdly, study to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:14, 15). Paul warned Timothy of false teachings, the need to be aware of those false teachings, and how he must study the truth to be prepared to encounter those false doctrines. If we are not continually studying the word of God then we are prime candidates to be deceived by some who might be well studied, and dynamic speakers (2 Peter 2:2). False teachers will not claim to be a false teacher. We must be ready, and guarded.

 

Fourthly, deal with objections. When you encounter a false teacher they will certainly have objections to the truth of the gospel. You need to be ready for their objections. Sometimes it will require additional study, but it is essential in trying to stamp out their false notions. Patience and longsuffering are essential qualities that will help you in dealing with these teachers. Do not ignore their teachings, and squabbles. Deal with their arguments and objections to the truth.

 

Conclusion

We must be prepared and constantly ready to deal with false teaching. The main purpose when answering false teachers is the salvation of their souls. Never forget that. They must acknowledge the falsehood of their doctrines, and the truthfulness of the gospel. They must recognize they are fighting against the Lord. Will you help lead them out of their error?

Cross references:

1.Romans : Rom 4:23

2.Romans 15:4 : 2 Tim. 3:16

3.Romans 15:4 : Ps. 119:50

 

 

 

 

Studying Passages That Help With My Own Spiritual Growth

By

Hannah and Sarah Crawford

 

Spiritual growth is something that all Christians can work on throughout our entire lives, but sometimes it’s hard to know what passages to read or where to start. Everyone is different and, although something may work for one person, that does not guarantee that it will also work for others. There are many passages in the Bible that discuss and instruct us on how to grow and what we can do to help others grow. However, before we can make any changes, it’s important that we know what our purpose in life is and what God wants of His people.

 

Rom. 12: 1-14 tells us how our bodies are for praising and glorifying God and that each one of us has a talent or gift that can help the church grow. Some people may feel that others in the church are more important than them, but that is not what the Bible teaches. Each person has a talent that can aid the church, but also motivate others to grow in that area. Later in verses 19 and 21 it instructs us on how we should handle problems we have with others. We must trust that God will repay others since He is the judge over all and we are to overcome the evil we face with good. Although the world may mock us and insult our beliefs, we must still trust and follow God and not be discouraged by what others say or do since each will be held accountable for their own actions (2 Cor. 5:10).

 

Rom. 10:1-4 can only be satisfied through following Christ. In order to submit oneself to God, there has to be a zeal for God and knowledge of the truth. We live in a society where following God is not always encouraged because it means people are wrong and no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. As Christians, we are to follow God and not man (Matt. 6:24). Although the trends and values of man may change, and no matter how people may try to blur the lines between right and wrong, God never changes (Mal. 3:6). In Genesis chapters 6-9, we learn that Noah did right and obeyed the Lord and did so in spite of the world being against him. It is also told in the New Testament “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb. 11:6-7). In an effort to spare feelings, people confuse an attempt of correction with judgment. Although we are not to judge people (Matt. 7:1-5; James 4:12), we are commanded to “…reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). There will be difficult times when our faith is tried and when we may falter but we should use those times to make us stronger and here are some verses we can turn to in such times: Rom. 5:3-5, Rom. 8:28, Rom. 8:37-39, and Phil. 4:13.When we choose to follow God, we are with the few (Matt. 7:13-14). God never promised it would be easy but He is always with us.

 

I Peter 3:15 says “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” To do this, we must study the Bible (Romans 10:14-17; I Pet. 2:1-5). “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). We have to yield to God and study His word because it contains His will for us (John 14:1-11; 2 Tim. 1:8-12).

 

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season…” (2 Tim. 4:2). Studying with family, friends from church, or classmates from school can allow you to see things from a different perspective. It may cause you to look at things in a way you haven’t noticed before. It may even bring to your attention areas of uncertainty that require further study. Spiritual growth is an everyday part of our lives but if you are looking to grow more, start small and then do more (don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much at once or making unrealistic goals). If you come across scripture that you really like or that encourages you no matter what the situation, write it down and put it somewhere you will always see it (wallet, purse, bathroom mirror, etc.). You can also make a list of your favorite verses to where you can read through them every day, memorize them one by one, and keep adding to the list as you come across more scripture in your studies.

 

Here are just a few that we have:

 

2 Tim. 1:13; 3:16-17

Rom. 12:1-2, 8:28, 8:37-39

Heb. 12:1-2

Eccl. 12:13

Matt. 6:34

Phil. 4:13

“How to Determine the Message of a Bible Book”

By

David Deuster

Much work is required to determine the central idea and outline of a book. Simply consulting a commentary, doing word studies or utilizing other study methods do not yield the necessary information needed to achieve this task. It is a lofty goal, but it is not one that is outside of our reach. Any time that we create goals for ourselves, we must do so with a considerable amount of planning and forethought. The same is true for bible study, especially when it comes to identifying the message of a book. Because God chose to reveal His mind in “books” we should first study them as a whole, then examine their contents carefully and then “assemble the parts.”

The central message is often times found at a single point in the text. However, it is important to remember that in normal writings the main thought of a paragraph is not always found in the first sentence. Likewise the main message of the book is not always found in the first verse or in some cases the first chapter. For example, the book of Galatians sets forth a contrast in law and gospel in much the same fashion as the book of Romans. Most bible students agree that Romans 1:16-17 sets forth the message of the book as “justification by grace through faith.” However as one studies the book of Galatians, it is not until chapter 2 that Paul sets forth his message in the book. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16).

The central message can sometimes be found by noting recurring ideas in a passage. As one reads and repeatedly reads certain passages, an outstanding idea comes to the fore. By observing this we can obtain the emphasis of the author. For example, the book of Hebrews mentions several times the idea of “better things” or “things higher” and “everlasting.” Noticing that the writer uses these same phrases time and time again helps us to see the message of the book emphasizes the superiority of the priesthood of Christ and the gospel to the Levitical priesthood and Law of Moses. Likewise the author makes mention of five exhortations that all point to the preeminence and superiority of Christ.

Listed below are three “practices” that I have found helpful in identifying the central message of a book.

  1. Read the book intentionally. This means to read the book in a single sitting. It is almost impossible to ascertain the whole message of a book if one chooses to read it in parts. As you read, do your best to ignore the chapter and verse divisions. Many of these unfortunate chapter and paragraph divisions occur and cause a casual reader to miss the point of a passage or obscure the full significance of a writer’s meaning. For instance, in times past I had used Matthew 18:20 where Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” as meaning that where two are three disciples are assembled the Lord is in their presence. However, looking at the fuller context of the passage it becomes clear that the “two” refers back to verse 16, where at least that number of witnesses is required to settle a matter where a brother is unwilling to repent. “In my name” then means that those two or three are acting in accordance with the Lord’s teaching on discipline. Knowing that the book as a whole sets forth Jesus as king it harmonizes with the fact that the binding and loosing on earth is in accordance with what the Lord has legislated in heaven. Likewise, most modern translations mark a new paragraph at James 1:12. This could lead to a misunderstanding of the relationship between James 1:9-11 and the broader context of verses 2-12 and the function of verse 12 as a conclusion to the preceding discussion (James 1:2-11). Even when you encounter a difficult passage in a book it is often easily understood as you harmonize the verse within its context. The place of a verse in a book is often the key to understanding it and what God teaches through it.
  2. Read the book independently. This means without a commentary or other study aids. Commentaries can be useful helps, but should be placed secondary in use to the bible. We must remember that the writers of these works are not inspired men and can make mistakes. It is easy to find a certain commentator who agrees with an idea we may already have. Simply relying on commentaries can be dangerous and without doubt is a lazy practice. If our goal is to gain insight to the original message the Spirit revealed then we need to allow the Spirit to speak the mind of God in absence of the thoughts of man. Likewise, it is good to read in a bible where you have not made any notes yourself. Otherwise, when you see the notes you have written your thoughts will naturally rely on previous bias and may hinder you from seeing new things. As you begin reading the book through again and again, begin taking notes and making observations on what you are reading. Remember there is more to bible study than just reading. It is important to take time to meditate on the words that you are reading and to go over your notes and review at the conclusion of each study session. Someone once said that meditation is like stirring the ingredients in the bowl. If we have made the effort in our study to read, think and take notes, then we need to combine those “ingredients” thorough meditation as the Psalmist said, “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works” (Psalm 119:27).
  3. Read the book indefinitely. As you read a book for the second time, you begin to build on what you observed in your first reading. This also provides opportunity to begin taking notes on the book. Start to look for connective phrases and words the author uses repeatedly. This is important for a few reasons. First, you begin to familiarize yourself with the flow of the book, which allows you to easily identify the transitions and links the author uses in developing the message. For example, Paul makes a clear transition from Romans 11 to Romans 12 as he starts to make practical application of justification by grace through faith. Secondly, as you continue reading you begin to notice reoccurring thoughts, words and phrases. By itself, 1 Corinthians 15 seems to be a bit out of place as to the theme of the book. However, as you study it as a whole you will see that Paul has been anticipating the resurrection throughout the letter. His aim in offering reprove to the brethren is to prepare them for that day and to assure them that their labor is not vain.

 

Remembering My Creator: Vol. 2, No. 5, October/November, 2012

Theme: How to Study the Bible

 

In This Issue:

  • “Tools That Help Us Study” by Randy Sexton
  • “Bible Study Habits – Are You Satisfied?” by Shannon Harden
  • “Developing a Daily Routine” by David Bushnaq
  • “Defining Bible Words” by Sean Cavender

 

 

 

“Tools that Help Us Study”

By

Randy Sexton

 

This quarter’s theme in this series of articles is How to Study the Bible. Most people that I talk to are not really happy with the quantitative or qualitative nature of their personal Bible study time. Shannon Harden will address this subject and David Bushnaq will tell us about his own personal experience in establishing a regular routine in his own life. Sean Cavender dives a little deeper in describing how to understand difficult Bible words that we may encounter in our reading.

 

Next month we will look at additional topics related to studying the Bible: How to Answer a False Doctrine, Studying Passages That Help With My Own Spiritual Growth, How to Determine the Message of a Bible Book and How to Outline a New Testament Epistle.

 

In this article I would like to share with you some more common tools used in Bible study, how each tool can help you, and finally how you can use these different tools.

 

The most important tool is the Bible itself.

 

There are three basic ways that you should use the Bible. First, you need to read it – read the same passage over and over again, read from several different versions and develop a daily routine of reading (See David’s article).

 

Secondly, you need to learn to study the context of a passage – that is, the parts that precede or follow the specific word or passage that you are studying. An example is Acts 16:30-31. What does the context cause you to conclude, that not considering it would not? (Answer: Salvation requires more than faith. It requires HEARing and obeying the word of the Lord, submitting one’s will to His in baptism.)

 

Third, you will need to learn to work with cross-references. Compare a passage with other passages that talk about the same subject and look at how a word is used in more than one passage. Consider another example, compare Acts 2:38 with Acts 8:35-38 to learn about baptism. What do you learn? You learn that baptism involves two people going down into the water and coming up out of the water after the action is completed. Consider also Ephesians 6:4 – What additional information do you learn about the words “fathers” and raising children by reading the cross-references? You learn that they are to be careful not to “exasperate” (NASB) or “aggravate” (NLT) or “nag” (NCV) them. They are to “command them to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice.” They are to teach them “diligently,” keeping the Word of God always before them. They are to teach them to praise God. They are to discipline them with the rod of correction (Pr. 23:13 and 13:24).

 

A Concordance

 

A concordance is a book which lists Bible words and where they are found. A concordance helps you find passages that you can’t remember, when you CAN remember a “key word.” A concordance is particularly helpful when you are looking for information on a specific topic. For example, perhaps you would like to learn more about how the word “gentle” is used in the Bible. From the use of a concordance, you would learn that:

 

  • Paul compared the gentleness with which he worked among the Thessalonians to “a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 st Thessalonians 2:7)
  • the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2nd Timothy 2:24)
  • Titus was charged by the Apostle Paul to “speak things which are fitting for sound doctrine” and to “speak and exhort and reprove with all authority,” and to remind them to be gentle , showing every consideration for all men.” (Titus 2: 1, 15; 3:2)

 

Dictionaries

 

There are two types of dictionaries. One type gives definitions of Bible WORDS, the other gives background of Bible people, places and things. These can be useful in our studies because words may have been used differently in Bible times than they are today. Understanding the “context” in which people, places and things existed will add meaning to why things happened the way they did.)

 

Commentaries

 

A commentary is a book where a writer gives his OPINION about the meaning of a passage in the Bible. They are useful as another piece of input from very knowledgeable people but a WORD of CAUTION is in order here. “they are only common tater” (Ron Roberts).

 

 

Bible Notes

 

There are Bibles that come with their own mini-commentaries. Examples of these are the ESV Study Bible and The Word in Life Study Bible. The same word of caution as above applies.

 

 

Computer Software

 

Some software programs combine several of the tools into one package. They often display several translations at the same time. There are also websites like biblegateway.com and olivetree.com where you can access some of these tools online. See the screen shots below from biblegateway.com

 

Conclusion

 

There different tools available to you to help you study the Bible. Remember the primary tool (our most important resource) is the Bible itself.

 

 

 

“Bible Study Habits – Are You Happy?”

By

Shannon Harden

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12). I think most of us know it’s important to study the bible, not only because we as human beings often think we know the best things to do (when we really don’t), but also because it will help us in our own walk with Christ and with helping others. Timothy, although a preacher, was told to study to show himself approved (2 Tim 2:15) and we are supposed to be transformed by the word (Romans 12:2). How else will we know what is good and profitable if we don’t read the bible?

 

But the big question today is, are you happy with your study habits?

  1. How often do you study? I don’t know about you, but it seems that Americans put as much into our days as possible. Work, fun, activities – we just pile it on. Sometimes I have to correct myself when I say, “I just don’t have time to study.” My grandpa used to say that we all make time for what we want. Think of it this way, I will do anything for my boyfriend. I want to spend as much time with him as possible. He is a priority. Sometimes we forget that we are supposed to have a relationship with Christ. One of the most important aspects of a relationship is communication. Prayer is one facet of communication, but God speaks to us through his word. So if you aren’t reading the word, how great is your relationship going to be? Instead of being like the Sadducees like Jesus talked about in Matthew 22:29, who didn’t even know the scriptures, rather we want to be like the Jews in Acts 17:11, who searched the scriptures daily. Is studying a priority for you?

 

  1. What does your study space look like? Some people love to study at a desk, some like to study outside amongst God’s creation. I feel like where you study is up to you. But, as a teacher, I have to ask – is it conducive to studying? I constantly tell parents that kids doing their homework in front of the T.V. or with a bunch of chaos around them probably doesn’t help them focus, comprehend, or do their best. The same would go for studying the bible.

 

  1. When do you study the bible? Just like the space issue, when you study the bible is up to you. I used to think studying the bible at night before I went to bed was a great idea. The only problem, I was super tired and not doing my best studying work. I know of a lot of people who start their day studying the bible. That is what I have started doing and it seems to work well for me. I do a little devotion and it really helps to start my day. To do this, you must refer back to step #1. You must plan ahead and decide to make this your routine. I have a friend that decided that his day was so busy in college, that he would set his alarm and wake up at 3 or 4 am so he could have his own quit time with The Lord. I’m not suggesting this is the best option for you, but the point is that we must be purposeful. If I know that I’m going to wake up and study before my day gets started, I probably shouldn’t stay up very late and/or over sleep the next day.

 

  1. Be purposeful. I personally think everything should have a purpose, it’s kind of part of my personality. I can’t just randomly do anything; much less study the bible randomly. Some pick a topic; some pick certain books they want to read, and some just read the bible on a yearlong plan. There are some great resources in Christian book stores for thematic studies, even with ideas specifically for women or men. I personally like to focus on a topic, and of course I am selfish, so I want a topic that will directly help me personally. Some people love history so they focus on the Old Testament or specific historical things. Some people are struggling with something and read for encouragement. I think the most important thing is to have a purpose so you are able to have a deep study and not a superficial reading of the bible.

 

  1. Have someone help you with accountability. Ok, I admit it – I don’t always follow through – with a lot of things in life. So having someone to keep me accountable is almost a necessity. This is true in many aspects of our lives. If I’m exercising, I do a MUCH better job if I have an exercise buddy. The fact is, I study the bible better if I can meet with some and study with them, or if I have someone to discuss what I studied on my own. If we can have someone help keep us accountable with our temptations and struggles, then why not with our bible study habits?

So are you happy with your bible study habits? If you aren’t, think about what you need to change.

 

**I personally love techie things, including Facebook verses sent to me daily, or a good devotional sent to my email (which is also sent to my phone). Here are some extra online resources on the Internet, just remember to study the bible to see if what a man (or woman) is stating is according to the word of God – http://www.biblestudytools.com/, http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/, http://www.crosswalk.com/, and http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/tools/.

Developing A Daily Routine

By

David Bushnaq

How does one set up a bible study routine?

 

This is a question many may have, and its importance is one easily recognized. Many today do not study the bible as they should [or at all, outside of services] and as such, many people are ignorant of the bible, or worse- believing lies or the ignorance of others who taught them. This is one of the primary reasons it’s good to find a routine that works best for you and to keep at it.

Please turn to 2 Kings 22. Josiah, king of Israel rebuilds the temple of the Lord. As it’s being rebuilt, the book of the law is found, and when given to Shaphan, he reads it to Josiah, and in his hearing, rents his clothes. After all the evil the Israelites have done, he has a sorrowful heart and shows the proper reverence- even respect, that is due to the bible.

Please consider the words found in verse 13 “for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” That’s a major issue we have today as well. We have parents who aren’t reading scripture to their kids and helping them to become stronger in the faith and wiser in scripture. The bible class isn’t enough, neither is the sermon! We must take what we learned in the sermon and speak with our kids about it so they too can gain much from it.

Furthermore, please consider Deuteronomy 6 starting with verse 6. This is how we are to use the scripture. We need to always be speaking of the bible with our children! They are the future and who is going to keep strong in the faith and in wisdom when we pass from this life? We are to not only speak it with our children, we are to “wear” the scripture. That is, we should not only speak the part, but also look it. People should know we are godly by our reputation. And the same on our house as well. Having wisdom in the bible is very important, but SHOWING our faith and our godly wisdom is just as important.

Studying something that means little to us does us no good. If we do not have the reverence due and the wisdom and life we need to, we can not be God’s disciples.

So, how does one set up a routine?

First off, consistency is key. If you want to succeed, it’s best to set your biological clock to the same time every day in order for you to be fully prepared for the study you are about to begin. If you study at different times each day, chances are greater that you will be tired one day or may miss due to events interrupting the time you could have been studying. Also it’s harder for one to set a routine without consistency.

Also it helps to study very similar material all week. Start with something, and follow a logical sequence [chapters, maybe. Similar events in one person’s life. Maybe even parables] and on the final day, devote it to reviewing what you have studied up to that point. Repetition tends to help you pick up on things you may have missed previously.

However, before study begins, I feel it’s best to meditate and to get my mind prepared. Meditation differs from person to person. Some prefer doing it quietly, sitting alone in a dark room focusing entirely on keeping your mind empty of distractions while also preparing to begin study. Others prefer a more verbal approach, repeating scripture that helps them get their mind on the task at hand. Psalms 19: 14 for instance. And before I begin to study, I say a prayer that I can gain much from what it is that I am reading for the day.

This is my sequence. It works for me, and the more I do it, the more I gain from it. I also prepare the atmosphere for the meditation as well. A dark room with slow, but relaxing music [classical works well for this] in the background and no interruptions [animals especially] in the room before I begin. I feel the darker the room the better because distracted eyes lead to a distracted mind.

We must remember that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. That is, 21 consecutive days. The more we skip, the less likely we’ll ever make this a routine. Most stop very early on when things become mundane for them. We must show real commitment and the respect due the scriptures so our hearts never look at the bible in a mundane way. If it does, the issue isn’t in the bible. It’s in us! While my approach will not work for everyone, it works well for me.

Finally, never neglect even basic scripture. If we take what we’ve learned in our studies previously and apply the approach to scripture that may be seen as “basic” we may gain more out of it than we even realized! I’m constantly surprised about the hidden depth of the bible!

 

“Defining Bible Words”

By

Sean Cavender

 

One of the most important aspects of Bible study is properly defining words that we may have difficulty understanding. Sometimes words may take on new meanings when we consider them in the context of Scripture. Understanding how to define Bible words will prove to be beneficial for us as we consider “How To Study The Bible.”

 

Rules About Words

First, we need to recognize that as we read our Bibles, we are reading them in our native language, e.g., English. However, the Bible was not originally written in English. Therefore, we may have words that exist in English, but did not exist when the Bible was being written. Also, while the Bible was written there might have been more words available in their language, and our language may have only one term that would sum up what might have been three or four words in another language. We need to realize that languages affect the usage, and meaning of words. Since the Bible was not written in English originally, our English dictionaries will not be nearly as helpful as a Greek or a Hebrew dictionary might be.

 

Secondly, words have meanings. As simple of a concept as that sounds, it is an important concept to understand. Words have meanings and I cannot change the meaning of those words just because I may or may not like the definitions, or implications that it may hold for me. However, sometimes words change meanings over time. Language is always in a state of flux, and is always changing. If you read from the King James Version of the Bible you will quickly notice that we don’t speak the same way today. However, the KJV is still considered to be English despite some of the changes in our modern day English.

 

Thirdly, context will ultimately determine the meaning of particular words. Have you ever read two or three definitions for one word in the dictionary? Words can have various meanings, and the only way to truly come to the true meaning is by setting the word in its appropriate context. Context of Scripture is vital to understanding words.

 

Tools At Your Disposal

It will be helpful as you study your Bible to have a good Bible dictionary. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words is a work of high regard. Also, Strong’s Concordance is helpful too. There are many more dictionaries, and lexicons that are helpful. However, one thing to keep in mind: no dictionary is perfect. Often, you will read a definition and then an opinion of one of the writers. Their opinions might be right, but it might be wrong. Another difficult aspect of some Bible dictionaries, is that these scholars will show how words might have been used in common, everyday language, but fail to show how it is actually used in Scripture. So be cautious. These dictionaries are beneficial, but they do not ultimately determine the truthfulness of God’s word.

 

Hard-To-Define Words

There are many words in the Bible that we could narrow down, but I want to briefly examine three words that are hard to define. If we understand what these words mean then we can avoid error, and gain a better understanding of what God expects of us.

 

Eis. The Greek word eis (“ace”) is a misunderstood word. It is used in passages such as Acts 2:38 where it is translated as “for,” or “unto.” Many want to define the word eis as “because of.” Now if you will look at Acts 2:38, notice that if you replace “for” with “because of” it completely alters the meaning of the passage. Do you see why it is important to properly define this word? If you define eis as “for/unto” then repentance and baptism are essential for forgiveness of sins, but if you define eis as “because of” then you have someone’s sins forgiven, and then they repent and are baptized after they are forgiven. We see the same phrase in the Greek and English used in Matthew 26:28. At this time, Jesus was alive and instituting the Lord’s Supper, He had not yet died on the cross, or shed His blood. His blood first had to be shed for the remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22), so the word “for [eis]” cannot mean “because of” in Matthew 26:28, or in Acts 2:38.

 

Propitiation. Another word that is difficult to define and understand is the term propitiation. In the Greek language the term was used as a person appeasing the Greek gods because of their anger, and they would sacrifice in order to make their gods favorable towards them. While that is the common, everyday usage of the word propitiation, how is it used in the Bible? The apostle John said, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). John used the term propitiation in connection with a loving God, not trying to appease an angry God. This shows how the Bible might take a common word, and give it a new meaning by the context which it is used.

 

Love. The Greeks had various words that described other aspects of the word love. For emotional and sexual love, the term eros was used. Philos was used in association with brotherly love. The strongest word for love was the term agape. Agape was characterized by the strongest bond and affection one might have. It was an intellectual love, or choice, that the lover makes. Now, in our English Bibles we may only see the term “love,” but how do we know which one? We may often be able to tell by context, but we may also want to consult a Bible dictionary to help us.

 

Conclusion

Defining words is essential in a study of God’s word. Let us be diligent in our study, and careful as we define words. We must be sure to be honest, and fair as we examine what God’s word reveals to us.

 

Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 4, September 2012

Theme: Evidences for My Faith –The Bible’s

Ethics and Relevancy and the Resurrection of

Jesus

In This Issue:

  • “Biblical Ethics vs. Situation Ethics” by Shannon Harden
  • “The Resurrection of Christ” by Sean Cavender
  • Reprint from the Past: “My Most Valued Possession: My Bible” by William C. Sexton

 

 

“Biblical Ethics vs. Situation Ethics”

By

Shannon Harden

 

Who hasn’t thought, “I know that I shouldn’t do this, but this is a special situation.” The definition of situation ethics from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is that it’s “a system of ethics by which acts are judged within their contexts instead of by categorical principles.” In essence, we decide that in this situation we can go around the law of God and do what we deem necessary.

 

Many try to justify sin, by using situational ethics. They may point to the story of Rahab in Joshua stating that she lied to save the spies and then is praised in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25. Maybe they’ll point to when David and his men ate the showbread that was reserved for the only the priests in Samuel 21 and who he was also praised as a man after God’s own heart. You can parallel that with Matthew 21 and how Jesus debated with the Pharisees over the apostles eating on the Sabbath.

 

The fact is that the bible never condones these acts of sin. All lying is condemned in Revelation 21:8 and the law required that only priests were to eat the showbread. In essence, we all sin and fall short (Rom 3:23) and these stories just show that people aren’t perfect without Jesus. This doesn’t justify the situation or the choice that these people chose. In Psalm 15:4 it reminds us that we have to recognize evil no matter what the context. There is no compromise regardless of the relationship you have with the person or the situation. As it states at the end of verse 4, we don’t change to resist hurt. A situation or choice is clearly good or bad. We must always choose doing good over bad (Ps 34:14; 1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 2:20) even if it costs you a best friend, a family member, or a job.

 

“The Resurrection of Christ”

By

Sean Cavender

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

The apostle Paul explains that importance of the resurrection of Christ as of primary, or first, importance. It is as essential and fundamental to Christianity as the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified upon the cross. It is no wonder that it has become such a controversial topic – a man who had been crucified and put to death and was securely placed in a grave has supposedly been raised from the dead sounds like nonsense to many people. Yet, it is exactly what Christians believe concerning Jesus the Christ, and is the confession we must make for salvation (Romans 10:9).

Many skeptics try to deny the resurrection, ridiculing the notion of faith and rely solely on logic and reason. They claim the body must have been stolen, but they fail to produce the missing body. Or they ask people to think the Roman soldiers did not actually kill Jesus, but He merely went into a coma. Or they want people to accept that everyone hallucinated seeing a resurrected Jesus. However, the resurrection of Christ is a reasonable explanation, most especially in light of the alternative explanations that skeptics attempt to offer. We can place our confidence in the resurrection because it offers proof to us of several things:

The Resurrection Confirms The Word of God

Paul states that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ were not accidental, but according to the Scriptures. King David prophesied of Jesus’ resurrection (Psalm 16:8-10; Acts 2:25-31). Knowing that one of the most important events in the life of Christ was foretold about some 1,000 years before Christ lived is reassuring. The resurrection provides validation for the prophecies and instructions of God.

The Resurrection Validates The Forgiveness of Sins

By the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been born again for a living hope (1 Peter 1:3), and our baptism is effective because of Christ’s victory over the grave (1 Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4, 5). Paul said “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

The Resurrection Reveals The Power of God

“Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised” (1 Corinthians 15:15).

To deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ is to deny the very power of God (Acts 13:34). We have a God who has demonstrated His love and power over Satan and the grave (Hebrews 2:14). Through Christ’s resurrection we can have the confidence that victory is through Christ, sin and Satan are rendered powerless, and the Lord God is sovereign.

Some have always doubted the explanation of the resurrection. Even among the apostles, Thomas did not believe, until he touched the resurrected Lord (John 20:25-27). However, Thomas came to the reasonable explanation that the resurrection attests to – the Deity of Jesus Christ (John 20:28).

We have not seen the empty grave. We have not witnessed the resurrected Lord with our eyes, nor touched Him with our hands. However, those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus are among those who are blessed (John 20:29). Will you accept the resurrection of Christ and the things that it attests? We can place our confidence in God’s word, the forgiveness He graciously offers, and His eternal power and sovereignty, and all of those things are witnessed in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A Reprint from the Past

“My Most Valued Possession: My Bible”

By

William C. Sexton

Recently in a writing assignment I was told to write a two paragraph article on my most valued possession. One paragraph was to state what it was and how it was so valuable to me, and the second paragraph was to state how it was disliked by me. Alter a little reflection, I decided on my Bible. Thus, in the next two paragraphs you have my evaluation of the book, my most valued possession.

The most valued possession I have is my Bible. My Bible tells me from whence I came; what my duties are; and where I am going. It tells me that I came from God, and that I shall return unto Him. Also, I am told that I will be required to give an account unto Him of my actions here on earth. (Rom. 14:11-12). I believe that the evidence is adequate to sustain its claims; therefore, I am concerned about doing what I am taught therein. From its teachings I find courage to sustain me in dangerous situations, comfort against difficulties, hope to inspire me in troubled times. Furthermore, my Bible teaches me to be humble when I am victorious and tempted to be lifted up in pride. I find from my Bible the promise of forgiveness and the terms on which I can obtain such (Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 1:7). Christ Jesus, the Son of God, died that I might receive forgiveness; thus, my sins need not destroy me. I, having received forgiveness, can go to Him in a time of need; I can grow and develop spiritually and find peace of mind (Rom. 5:1; Heb. 4:14-16).

There is something about my book though, that gives me some trouble—sometimes its teachings are hard for me to keep, and I am tempted to disobey! My Bible tells me to do unto others as I would have them do unto me; this requires that I take the initiative, but I am inclined to follow–to treat them as they do me. Likewise, I am told to “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). Yet, I am tempted to put “these things,” the things of this world, first. Also, I find people who speak against my book, the Bible. Very often I believe that it is because they don’t really understand its contents. However, I am not always able to point out wherein they are missing the point, according to my concept. Often I don’t have the opportunity to study with them, perhaps the time element will not permit, or we just aren’t in a situation where conversation on the subject is possible. Thus, the book is my most valued possession, yet it does cause me a lot Of trouble. Nevertheless I am very glad that I found it, that I did study and learn some of its contents, and that I am influenced by it. I hope that I shall always find the strength to hold on to it and hold its principles high.

Dear reader, I wonder what your most valued possession is? Are you aware of it? Why do you value it so highly? Is it because of what it does for you, or is it because of the money it would bring on the market? When the day’s work is done, how valuable will it be? I ask you to investigate the Bible. It may have more lasting value than you have realized.

— TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: January 29, 1970, 12, pp. 13-14,

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 2 – July & August 2012

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 2 – July & August 2012

“Heart of a Champion: Leadership”

 

Pat Williams is one of my favorite authors. In his inspiring and motivational book, The Heart of A Champion, Williams says,

 

“I believe God has put within each of us the capacity to accomplish far greater things than most of us can imagine. He has given each of us the ability to achieve greatness in some special area of life. I’ve learned that champions are not necessarily those who were born with special talents, intelligence, or beauty. They are ordinary men and women who achieved success in life because they worked hard to develop the gifts God gave them.

 

Last month, in this column, I introduced the theme for the next several issues – character traits that typify the heart of a champion. The first trait I would like to examine is leadership. What is Leadership? What does the word mean? John C. Maxwell describes it this way, “What makes people want to follow a leader? Why do people reluctantly comply with one leader while passionately following another to the ends of the earth? What separates leadership theorists from successful leaders who lead effectively in the real world? The answer lies in the character qualities of the individual person.” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, p. ix) One of the quotes that Maxwell includes on the chapter introduction pages is from Bernard Montgomery, British Field Marshal who said, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”

 

I had the opportunity while living in the Kansas City area to do volunteer work at the Belton Freshman Center. At the time, the school was using a structured program produced by The Heart of A Champion Foundation. I am very impressed with the material produced by this non-profit youth leadership organization and have used some of their material as a basis for this series. Their stated mission is to seek “to transform culture by providing the necessary resources to educate motivate and empower students, teachers, families and groups in core principles essential to lifetime personal development and maximized performance.” As men who are charged by God to be the spiritual leaders of our families I think that this is a wonderful resource for developing the heart of a champion in our sons and daughters. I invite you to visit their website www.heartofachampion.org and check them out.

 

What is leadership? What does the word mean? With a little time spent in various dictionaries you will find that it includes, “to guide, to direct, to act as an authority, to exercise influence.” In the Heart of a Champion program workbook on leadership, they tell young people, “It’s time for your own personal commitment evaluation. Look over the items in the checklist and assess yourself and see what kind of leader you are. Most of the time, I …

  • … place the needs of others above my own
  • … know people are watching me to see how I respond in all situations
  • … am a positive example to younger people
  • … look for ways to serve my community.
  • … look to give positive direction to my friends and in groups

 

“Look over your answers what do they tell you about your level of leadership?

 

“What makes a true leader? Is it power? Money? Title? Achievement? A great resume? A loud, commanding voice? Actually, none of these things makes a great leader. True leaders are leaders because people follow them. Why do others follow them? One reason: character. People do not commit to talent, they commit to character. Leaders are followed because they can be trusted to make wise decisions, and because they are looking out for the good of the group rather than themselves. True leaders are servants who lift up others to make them great, even at their own expense. They are men and women of influence who have chosen to use whatever position they have in society to affect others for good. These are leaders with the Heart Of A Champion.

 

“Showing the way is what it is about in a life of leadership, and every one of us is a leader to at least one other person, whether we realize it or not. So, SHOW THE WAY!”

 

Several true-life examples are used in the Heart of a Campion Character Development Program to teach leadership in various life circumstances. Then after a short video describing these champions, young people are asked a series of questions to draw out discussion and ensure reinforcement of the principles being taught. Consider …

 

Leadership In Crisis*

Dr. Sally Knox, a surgical oncologist at Baylor University Medical Center, is an example of leadership in Crisis. Dr. Knox has chosen to step into the gap for women suffering with breast cancer. She is one of the most successful breast cancer surgeons in the world. She founded The Bridge, a non-profit organization, in 1992 to help get treatment to financially disadvantaged women. This work has become her passion.

 

We live in a world today in which leaders of quality and character seem to be in short supply. We live in an age in which our world is full of crises: world hunger, AIDS, teen pregnancy, and teenage drinking to name a few. It is estimated that 30 million Americans do not know were there next meal is coming from. AIDS is a pandemic problem around the world. Recent studies have shown that the number 1 reason teenage girls in the U. S. visit a hospital is due to pregnancy. The leading killer of teenagers is automobile accidents, the majority of which involve alcohol. It has been said that each of us is either part of the problem or a part of the solution. What are we doing to help our sons and daughters to understand how they can you take action in their own schools or communities in one of these areas? Make a plan to make a difference and then show the way!

 

Leadership Among Those Younger*

Sylvester Croom is an example of leadership among those younger. He made history in 2004, when he was hired as the head football coach at Mississippi State University. He became the first African-American head football coach in the Southeastern Conference. But Croom made it clear that, as proud as he was of his heritage, he wanted to be seen not as a barrier-breaker, but a leader of young men. Croom’s players have great respect for him and know that his number one concern is for them and their welfare, above all else.

 

Everyone is a leader of some sort to those who are younger. There is always at least one pair of eyes watching you to see how you respond to your circumstances and to other people. What kind of deposit are you leaving in those who are watching you? SHOW THE WAY for those younger! We all have at least one person watching us, to learn what decisions should be made and to gain direction. Think of one person who either is now, or at one time was an example for you as to how you should live. Think of one person who was a model or mentor for you. Think about the characteristics that made this person a model leader for you. Now list the things you want to model for those younger to whom you are an example and a leader. Remember, little eyes are always watching you. Someone is looking to you to show them how they should live. What will you demonstrate to them? Will you be the same kind of leader for them as someone once was for you? You can be a mentor. You can show the way.

 

Leadership Among Groups & Peers*

Derrick Brooks is an example of leadership among groups & peers. He has been one of the best linebackers in football since he entered the NFL in 1995. His passionate play and leadership ability have earned him the respect of teammates and opponents alike. His leadership, both on and off the field, was instrumental in turning around a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and leading them to a Super Bowl championship.

 

How do your peers see you? Do you influence the people around you or do they influence you? Real leaders understand that every person is a valuable part of the group or team they lead. They don’t take advantage of their position or power. How will you make those in your group sense their unique value? How will you demonstrate the character that will be required for each member? How will you motivate them to give their best? How will you SHOW THE WAY?

 

Leadership In Civic Life*

Sam Johnson is an example of leadership in Civic Life. Sam Johnson Johnson served in Vietnam and became a prisoner of war. He now serves as a United States congressman from Texas. Like many POWs, Sam Johnson came home grateful for the opportunity to serve his country and continued to do so in many ways.

 

What qualities do you think enabled Sam to survive as a POW and also have made him an effective leader? What are the most important leadership traits Sam demonstrates? What do you think are the most important aspects of leading when you are in a highly visible position? Think About It! It’s easy to be a follower. But when we follow others, we had better be sure they know where they are going… and many leaders today do not…. In your community or in a part of your world, make a commitment to SHOW THE WAY!

 

“Great leaders become such because they have a heart to serve… The essence of leading is serving… Imagine for a moment you are a candidate for president of the United States….What would qualify you to lead the nation? What would be your platform for the next four years and beyond for the country? Think about the speech you would give on national television in which you will tell the American people why you are the ideal leader for the nation at this time in history.

 

Remember, great leaders are those who are committed to serving others. What can you do to make an impact on the civic life of your community or the nation? The only thing that can stop you from leading out in these areas is you. So step out and show the way!

 

Conclusion: Bringing It Home

Think about what it takes to be a leader in crisis, among those younger, among groups, and in civic life. From what you know about leadership from the examples we have studied above,how you can show others the way? What action will you take to demonstrate the heart of a champion by being a strong leader in your family, among your friends and family, in your relationship with your boss, and in your relationships in the local congregation?

 

Thanks for reading with me men. My prayer for each of you is a strong spiritual influence in your family. The strength of our families and of our nation depends upon your strong spiritual leadership! As Steve Farrar says in the conclusion of his excellent book, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster, and carry them along in His limitless strength. ‘The eyes of the Lord moves to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His (2 Chronicle 16:9, NASB). May we be those men! And may He give us strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing.”

 

–Randy Sexton

 

(*Note: The material above is adapted from and used by permission of Heart A Champion Foundation)

Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 3, August 11, 2012

Remembering My Creator

Volume 2, Number 3

Theme: Evidences for My Faith – Science, Archaeology, Evolution

and

Alleged Contradictions

In This Issue:

  • “Scientific Accuracy of the Bible” by Jordan Shouse
  • “Alleged Contradictions of the Bible” by Sean Cavender
  • “Coincidence or Truth” by Dillon Jarrett
  • “Evolution and the Bible” by Randy Sexton

 

“The Scientific Accuracy of the Bible”

By

Jordan Shouse

There is a myth about science and the Bible. Some believe that they oppose each other. In fact, there are many who claim that science has disproven the validity of the Bible. Richard Dawkins has written that one cannot be an intelligent scientific thinker and hold religious beliefs. What is a Christian to think? The truth is that though the Bible isn’t a science book, it is scientifically accurate. Consider a few scientific truths we found in the Bible:

The Bible is Consistent in GeologyProverbs 8:27; Isaiah 40:22 – “It is He who sitteth about the circle of the earth.” For years man believed that the earth was flat. The concept of a “round” earth wouldn’t be accepted by men for centuries.

The Bible is Consistent in Biology – Genesis 3:15 teaches that woman has “seed.” This was written by Moses several thousand years ago, though it was commonly thought that only man had seed. Leviticus 17:11 teaches how blood is the fuel of life. We need blood to live, it is necessary to life. Leviticus 6:27-28; 13:45-46; Numbers 19:14-16 all teach about sterilization, sanitation, and quarantines. The ideas of germs, diseases caused by infections, both show the wisdom of God to understand the medical necessities of life.

The Bible is Consistent in Astronomy – Jeremiah 33:22 and Genesis 22:17 show how innumerable the stars are. It is impossible to count them. They are countless! 1 Corinthians 15:41 shows how each star is unique. No two stars are like.

These are just a few examples of how the Bible has proven scientifically true. One writer draws this conclusion – “Therefore, how did Bible writers (who lived and wrote in an age of scientific ignorance and various superstitions) consistently and accurately record information not proven true until hundreds, or thousands, of years later? (Wilcox 104). He’s right on! The only logical conclusion that one can draw from the consistency of the Bible’s accuracy on scientific, historical, geographical, and prophetic accuracy is that these words are inspired by God. The Bible has been tested and tried, but every word proves true (Prov. 30:5). God’s words never change, and they never fail (Isaiah 40:8). The Bible and science do not contradict one another, but rather science helps support the validity and truth to God’s words. When we begin with man’s opinions on science and use such findings to interpret the Scripture is when we get into problems. That’s when we can start to interject theories and thoughts God never intended to belong in His word, such as macroevolution. Our aim ought to look through the world through a Biblical perspective, letting the Bible guide my understanding in truth. Our role as Christians is to place our confidence and trust in God’s Words, the lamp to our feet and light to our path (Ps. 119:105). “Secure is life from mortal mind, God holds the germ within His hand. Though men may search they cannot find, for God alone does understand.”

 

“Alleged Contradictions of the Bible”

By

Sean Cavender

It is not uncommon to hear those who do not believe in God to object to the Bible as the authorized word of God on the basis that the Bible has many contradictions. Is it possible there are contradictions within the word of God? Let’s consider some of these objections, and search God’s word, and within ourselves for the answer.

Answers Can Be Found

First, it is important to realize that answers may be found concerning these alleged contradictions of the Bible. Most often when discussing these “contradictions” with an Atheist, it is their attempt to distort the Scriptures. They are trying to create fear and doubt in the minds of others, hoping they will not take the time to seek thoughtful answers. Peter warned of people who would manipulate the Scriptures for their own cause (2 Peter 3:16). In our discussions with those who may not believe the Bible, we ought to gladly study these apparent contradictions with them. If they are honest and sincere then they will respect you for your study of the matter. However, if they have their own agenda and are not seeking truth, it will quickly become apparent because they will not allow you time to study and answer these “contradictions” with a reasonable explanation. When objections to the Bible are made do not become fearful, but seek the truth. That is what people of faith will do.

Learn How To Harmonize The Scriptures

The Bible agrees, or harmonizes with itself. If it does not then there are contradictions that are found within. However, careful Bible students must realize that there several things that are important in a study of God’s word, which are vital to understanding the harmony of Scripture.

First, we must understand the appropriate context of passages. Who is doing the writing? What is the author writing about? When is the author writing? Who is the author writing to? These are all vital questions in understanding (and clearing up) any passage contained in the word of God. Secondly, we must define our terms and phrases that are used in the passage. Words are defined within the context that they are used. If we do not define our terms then a study of the Bible becomes ambiguous and impossible to understand.

Does Paul contradict James when Paul states that man is not justified by works (Romans 4:1-6) when James clearly affirms that man is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24)? There is no contradiction! A reasonable explanation is that they are speaking of different type of works. James is speaking of works of faith (James 2:18), while Paul is speaking of works of the Law of Moses (Romans 3:20). James and Paul both affirm the works, or obedience, of faithful Abraham and how it resulted in his justification (James 2:21-23; Romans 4:3,19-25).

Don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that there is a contradiction. See if there is a reasonable explanation. This is a point of failure by many who make boastful claims that there are contradictions in the Bible.

Does The Bible Contradict Itself?

The way many Atheists and agnostics speak of the Bible, you might expect some blatant and obvious contradiction that the Bible has. However, many of their objections are based on the differences of numerical values such as might be found in Ezra 2:8 and Nehemiah 7:13, or Ezra 2:12 and Nehemiah 7:17, and other passages like these. Time and space will not allow us to study all of these apparent “contradictions.” However, there are reasonable explanations to these differences, and you will have to judge whether you are going to dismiss the word of God as authoritative, binding, and truthful after you study these numerical differences on your own. These differences can easily be understood when we know that these do not refer to the same counting. Ezra led the first group of people back into Judea and his numbers reflect those that came with him. Nehemiah came into the land later and records a different number after the construction of the wall, after others had come back into the land. These difficulties are easily reconciled, and to choose doubt and unbelief shows ignorance.

Some offer up an apparent contradiction found between 2 Samuel 24:9 and 1 Chronicles 21:5 concerning the numbering of Israel. Samuel records there were 800,000 valiant swordsmen, while in the record of the Chronicles there are 1,100,000. In the Chronicles the number concerning Israel is “all of Israel” while in Samuel’s record it merely recognizes “Israel.” The 800,000 men of 2 Samuel 24:9 are those who were valiant, experienced, and veteran swordsmen. Plus, David had an army of approximately 300,000 that were in ready service unto the king (1 Chronicles 12:20-38). Concerning the differences between the numbers of Judah, Samuel records 500,000 of Judah while the Chronicles record 470,000. The difference of 30,000 men can easily be accounted for. Samuel records of 30,000 men that were stationed on Philistine front after war (2 Samuel 6:1). This is a reasonable explanation in the differences found between the two records of David’s census. They, in fact, support one another and harmonize completely.

Another alleged contradiction is between Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. Some claim that the word translated virgin in Isaiah 7:14 only means young woman, not an actual virgin. The Greek word Matthew used certainly does mean virgin. Mary affirms her own purity (Luke 1:27-34).It is not at all unreasonable to picture Mary as a young woman who had kept herself pure – these two passages do not conflict with each other. The prophecy made by Isaiah was unto the house of David, not unto Ahaz who refused a sign (Isaiah 7:13). Matthew records the lineage of Jesus by His legal father, Joseph, who was of the house of David (Matthew 1:20). Those who deny Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy concerning Jesus the Christ deny the power of God, the inspiration of Scripture, and the Deity of Christ.

Conclusion

There will always be attempts to dismiss the power of God’s word. However, we must not be those who would easily be swayed. When “contradictions” are brought forth, then study those matters. That is what the honest hearer will do (Acts 17:11). While discussing these important issues with friends and neighbors, when you seek the truth behind some of these “contradictions,” then you will know whether your friends and neighbors are genuine, or whether they are seeking to twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. If they refuse to allow you to study, then they are twisting the Scriptures and will meet destruction if they refuse to believe. When an honest person will study these matters then they will see how God’s word is true, and trustworthy. There are no contradictions within the Bible! Let us be diligent in our study of God’s word so we may be prepared to always give an answer for the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15).

“Coincidence or Truth”

By

Dillon Jarrett

When we are young, our imaginations are at their peak. Dragons, space ships, and/or distant worlds with unimaginable possibilities are literally just a thought away. Those people, places and things in our minds seem so real. It is all almost believable. Yet, as we grow older and mature, we put those childish things away. The world tells us it is not real and they are correct. It was in our imagination. Even if we did believe it, people would think we are crazy. After all, you would have no evidence to prove any of it existed, right? Has anyone ever tried to tell you the same regarding the Bible? The world teaches our children that evolution has led creation to where we are today. Many teach that life began simply through chance, not at the hands of the living God. They would tell you that nothing in the Bible happened. It is just a collection of genealogies, childhood stories, proverbs, fables, songs, and thoughtful life lessons. Nothing more. They would say eight souls were never saved on an Ark during the flood or that an entire Egyptian army was consumed by the Red Sea. Many in the archeological community would say the dinosaurs lived millions of years prior to the creation of man. That it is completely implausible that man and the dinosaurs did “walk side by side.” Finally, they teach just as the Pharisees did in the days of old regarding the Christ. They say nothing can prove He was the Messiah, He was never raised from the dead, the facts revolving around His crucifixion were fictional and his teachings were merely nice prophetic knowledge. Maybe they are correct. Maybe nothing did happen. Let us decipher whether some of these things are true. We will do this by answering three questions. Do YOU believe that God created the world and his creation proclaims his deity? Would you tell others with confidence that archeology does in fact support that the Christ indeed came to earth, was crucified, and now reigns at the right hand of God? Is the Bible God’s inspired message to man, or just compiled information? Remember those questions as you progress.

If you recall in Exodus 14, the Israelites have fled Egypt and are just crossing the bottom of the Red Sea. As the Egyptian army approaches, the Lord refuses to allow them passage and swallows them up with the waters of the Red Sea. When you read that story, it seems rather farfetched does it not? An entire nation could cross the Red Sea. With the right time and resources that is certainly imaginable. However, how could they complete such a task so quickly? It takes hours to evacuate a population of that magnitude even in our day and age. Yet, the entire nation of Israel completed that task on foot and via a “land bridge” at the bottom of the Red Sea? Seems unlikely and unimaginable, does it not? We believe it though, because we can read those words in the Bible. What if there was actual proof? Evidence that these were not just claims. Rather, this was history? Archeologist Ron Wyatt discovered something intriguing during the 1970’s and 1980’s. He found chariot wheels and other remains at the bottom of the Red Sea. Skeptics would say, “So what. Finding a chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea proves nothing. Traders likely had shipwrecks over that sea.” They would have a fair argument. However, these were not just any chariot wheels. They met very specific criteria dating back to the same time period the nation of Israel would have crossed. Along with that, the remains found on the Eastern and Western shores of the sea, were found to also be in the very location described by locals, historians, and the Bible as the location where the Israelites would have crossed. Don’t believe my words though. See it for yourself before you progress. Follow this link and watch the video. Red Sea Crossing

What would you say it looks like? Some of the footage is difficult to sift through. However, when you examine the facts presented, doesn’t it seem odd that those “things” are at the bottom of the Red Sea? Coincidence? Would you like more evidence? Very well. Let us continue. Archeologist Dr. Don Patton has discovered some disturbing evidence if you believe in evolution. Many highly respected scientists have agreed that if, “one could provide evidence that dinosaurs and man walked beside one another, everything we know of evolution would be dismissed.” Follow this link below. See for yourself. “Side by Side” Walk of Man and Beast. What does that look like to you? Maybe you are thinking, “there is no way those footprints were made at the same time.” You could be correct, but not in this case. Tested with the tried and true carbon dating method of science, each fossilized sample is yes, the same. Coincidence? Isn’t it interesting that the Bible speaks of large beasts like the Behemoth and Leviathan in Job 40-41? The same types of beasts that we refer to as “dinosaurs.” In Psalms 19:1, the writer states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” He doesn’t have to miraculously reveal his deity, but he has. Archeology, the proponent to some of man’s greatest discoveries, is the very thing that can and does proclaim his majesty. The validity of his teachings has been verified by not the imagination, but rather, reality.

The reality is He did create the Earth. His is Lord, Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim, and Adonai. What He says we believe. Some would claim we are, “crazy.” Skeptics would say we believe in something that the idea of space ships and distant worlds is far more believable. Many would say Christ wasn’t the Messiah. That He was merely a prophet such as Muhammad or a great teacher such as Aristotle. What do you believe though? Many would not disregard the potential that Jesus existed. However, they would declare that many of the events involving His ministry as well as his crucifixion never happened. Look with me at the following website and review the information presented. Here is the link, Case for the Christ. We could discuss many other websites, books, and information. Yet, that is not why you are researching currently, is it? That is, you care what the Bible says, not necessarily what other men say. I would have to agree with you as well.

Finding the information that God provides is far more rewarding. After all, as Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “ All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” When we examine the scriptures, we see the beauty of His majesty. It is amazing. That is, not only is the Lord proclaimed through his word, but also as we read in Psalms 19, the heavens and the Earth portray His handiwork. We could continue to study, but the fact of the matter is do YOU still believe it is all coincidence? Or would you say that these archeological finding (earlier along with others) never contradict the Bible. Rather, those findings solidify it more. Are the stories we read in the Bible just figments of our imagination or reality? You be the judge.

 

 

Evolution and the Bible

By

Randy Sexton

A wise man once said, “The Bible and theories of science may conflict. Facts of science and theories of the Bible may conflict. But the Truth of the Bible and facts of science do NOT conflict. Young people, some will attempt to deceive you by presenting evolution as a fact of science when it is really not even a theory. No my friends, evolution is really no more than a “hypothesis.” In reality, no matter whether you argue evolution as the explanation of the beginning of all things or you argue creation as the explanation, faith is the basis. But where they differ is that the Bible is factual, whereas evolution is unproved and unprovable.

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, contained in an unsigned set of class materials that I picked up from someone over the years, “Evolution is not a Bible subject. It is not taught anywhere in Scripture, nor is it argued against directly by any of the inspired writers. Why then should we devote an entire Bible class series to a study of Evolution? The reason lies in the frequently harmful effect that evolutionary teaching has on the faith of a Christian and the impediment it presents to the spread of the gospel.”

The reason for including this article in this series, “Evidences For My Faith” within the Remembering My Creator blog, is to combat the frequently fatal effect of this teaching on the faith of young people. You have no doubt been in classes where the teacher presents evolution as a proven fact. In some unfortunate situations you may have even seen one with such influence ridicule those who would dare disagree with him or attempt to refute his claims.

Berkeley-educated doctor of biology, Jonathan Wells, says that the best-known “icons” of evolution – from pictures of apes evolving into humans , to comparisons of fish and human embryos, to moths on tree trunks – are false or misleading. He says that for decades, biology students have been taught things about evolution that are simply untrue. Even the most recent textbooks contain these false misleading inferences says Wells in his book published in 2000, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong.

Wells examines ten of these icons and draws the following conclusion in a chapter titled, “Science or Myth?

”This is not science. This is not truth-seeking. This is dogmatism, and it should not be allowed to dominate scientific research and teaching. Instead of using the icons of evolution to indoctrinate students in Darwinian theory, we should be using them to teach students how theories can be corrected in light of the evidence. Instead of teaching science at its worst, we should be teaching science at its best. And science at its best pursues the truth.” (Ibid, p. 248).

One of the icons, called by Wells, “The Ultimate Icon,” is the depiction of human origins in which man is shown to have evolved from the ape. Wells gives a fairly extensive review of hoaxes and frauds that have been carried out in recent years regarding so called “Neanderthal Man” and Piltdown Man. In this chapter, Wells states:

“Despite the lack of evidence, the Darwinian view of human origins was soon enshrined in drawings that showed a knuckle-walking ape evolving through a series of intermediate forms into an upright human being. Such drawings have subsequently appeared in countless textbooks, museum exhibits, magazine articles, and even cartoons. They constitute the ultimate icon of evolution, because they symbolize the implications of Darwin’s theory for the ultimate meaning of human existence.” (Ibid, p. 210)

Contrast this with what the bible says about human origins. The Bible says that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters Genesis 1:1-2.” The Genesis record proceeds to tell the events of seven days of creation. The power and glory of God are evident throughout the message recorded in Genesis chapter 1. And the masterpiece of His creative power is demonstrated on day seven and is described at Genesis 1:27-28 as follows:

Then God said, Let us make manin our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Other Bible passages speak of the magnificence of the creation process. As Paul and Barnabus preached at Lystra, they reminded the people who wanted to worship them as gods,

“ … we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them” (Acts 14:15-18).

As they moved on to Athens, in the midst of the Aereopagus or Mars Hill, Paul declared:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:24-27).

We can easily picture Paul, standing in the midst of philosophers, professors of the Athens Universities, high ranking politicians, and great orators of his day, and defending boldly the truth of God’s word against the latest fanciful new ideas of the day!

You too, young friend, can be armed to combat the false and misleading pronouncements of evolutionists. Go prepared to combat the notion that only an uneducated person would dare disagree with the conclusions of biological evolution. Do your homework and understand the arguments made by Darwinists, the fallacies of those arguments, and how to boldly proclaim the truth to the world! Read other passages like:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4).

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord;let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalm 33:6-9).

Thanks for reading with us about the tremendous body of evidence that supports your faith in the one and living God in whom we live and move and exist.

Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 2, July 14, 2012

Remembering My Creator

Volume 2, Number 2

Theme: Evidences for My Faith – Unity and Historical Accuracy of the Bible, Fulfilled Prophecy, and Testimony of Jesus

 

In This Issue:

  • “The Bible’s Historical Accuracy as Evidence for My Faith” by Randy Sexton
  • “The Unity of the Bible as Evidence for My Faith” by David Deuster
  • “Fulfilled Prophecy as Evidence for My Faith” by Jordan Shouse
  • “The Testimony of Jesus as Evidence for My Faith” by Sean Cavender

 

 

“The Bible’s Historical Accuracy as Evidence for My Faith”

By

Randy Sexton

As I have worked with young people over the years, one of my goals has been to help them to understand the tremendous evidence that exists to support a faith in God. If you are a young person and reading these words, I want you to know that God has provided evidence of His existence and of His concern for you! Be convinced of this beyond any shadow of a doubt. God, who created the universe and who holds the power to bring everything into existence and to destroy it at the twinkling of an eye, has deposited evidence everywhere you look!

Just as certain is the fact that the Bible is under attack today! David Banning says, “I suppose there was a time in the past when most folks believed in the Bible. Even if they were not careful to follow what it said, most everyone believed that there was something special about it. They believed it was the word of God. Those strong convictions do not seem to be as common today.” (The Bible 101: Getting the Facts About The Most Important Book You Will Ever Read, p. 11). I highly recommend Brother Banning’s book for its examination of the attacks of the critics and how to answer those attacks.

Consider that God’s book has survived all attempts to destroy it. God’s providence as it relates to the Bible is on display for those who will examine it. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Mk. 13:31 NKJV). Josh McDowell in The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (p. 10) quotes Bernard Ramm , when he says, “The Bible has withstood vicious attacks by its enemies. Many have tried to burn it, ban it and ‘outlaw it from the days of Roman emperors to present-day Communist-dominated countries.” (Protestant Christian Evidences, Moody Press, 1953, p. 232).

Now let us focus, during the rest of this article, on addressing one of the questions that critics of the Bible today ask, “Is the Bible historically reliable? It has been said that the Bible is neither a history book nor a science book, but it is both historically and scientifically accurate and reliable. Consider the first case below as an example of how Bible believers are put on the defensive by critics. Note the negative approach taken by critics to what the Bible says. The seeming difficulties have not yet been resolved from archaeological evidence. But in the remaining examples, archaeology has confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible accounts.

Alliance Between Elam and Shinar (Genesis 14)

This narrative tells of an alliance between the Kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Golim to make war against a coalition lead by the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zebolim and Bela (also known as Zoar).

This list of names and nations presents some difficulties to the Bible student. The note in the ESV Study Bible says, “The kings mentioned here have not yet been identified in sources outside the Bible, but their names correspond with known names or name types appropriate to the regions from which they may have come. Shinar is Babylonia (see 10:10). The location of Ellasar is uncertain, although the king’s name, Arioch, is found in texts from the ancient cities of Mari and Nuzi; this might suggest that Ellasar is in northern Mesopotamia. Elam was an ancient state lying to the east of southern Babylonia. Tidal is possibly a Hittite name. Goim in Hebrew means “nations.” Zoar probably lay at the southern edge of the Valley of Jericho (see 19:22-23).” Roland Kenneth Harrison deals extensively with this in his Introduction to the Old Testament (pp.560 – 563), if you would like to do further study.

The Exodus Narrative

Pithom was discovered by Professor Naville in 1883 and the ruins were examined by Professor Kyle in 1908. Kyle describes the brick in the buildings as found in Exodus: brick with straw, brick with stubble, and brick with neither. It was the city built by the Israelites (Archaelogy and Bible History by Joseph P. Free, pp. 85-86)

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

The Bible account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has been rejected by critics as fanciful creations and not a historical event. In fact, the History Channel recently aired a video in the “Histories Mysteries” series titled “Sodom and Gomorrah.” During the airing of the video, the narrator said, “Contributing to the belief that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah may be more fable than fact is the predominance of similar tales from folklore…. After close study of the Sodom and Gomorrah story, in Genesis, many scholars have come to doubt its true intent was to condemn sexual deviance.”

Archaeological evidence, however, has revealed that “all five of the cities mentioned in the in the Bible were in fact cities of commerce in the area and were geographically situated as the Scriptures describe…. Evidence points to earthquake activity and that the various layers of the earth were disrupted and hurled high into the air. Bitumen is plentiful there, and an accurate description would be that brimstone (bituminous pitch) was hurled down on those cities that had rejected God. There is evidence that the layers of sedimentary rock have been molded together by intense heat.” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman L Geisler, pp. 50-51).

Conclusion

These are but three of the many examples that could be cited. My hope is that perhaps you have been motivated to do more reading and thinking about this feature of the Scriptures. It is but one way that you can remember your creator in the days of your youth “before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Now consider the unity of the Bible that Brother David tells us about below.

 

“The Unity of the Bible as Evidence for My Faith”

By

David Deuster

The Bible is the most widely printed and published book in the world. It is the source of the Christian religion and contains what Christians need to know about God, Jesus, salvation and the Christian life. One of the most important questions asked by non-Christians as they look into Christianity is whether or not the Bible is trustworthy. Can the Bible be trusted? If it has been corrupted then we cannot trust what is attributed to Jesus’ words and deeds. So, is the Bible reliable or not?

The Bible is a unity of sixty-six books: 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT. The Bible took about 1600 years to write. It was written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek) by about 40 authors utilizing different genres, symbols, themes, diction and even syntax, yet is internally consistent throughout. To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the cannon of Scripture is unified. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible. In fact, it would be impossible from a human standpoint to gather the writings of 40 men from the same culture, with the same educational background, during the same time period, and get anything close to the unity that is evident in the Bible. The Bible’s unity proves its own divine origin.

The Bible attests to its Divine origin inter-textually. In other words, the Bible internally attests to its Divine origin. One text not only declares that it is God’s Word, it affirms another which in turn attests to its Divine origin, and these two affirm yet another, and so on. The book of Acts attests to the status of the four Gospels. The apostle Paul attests to the status of Luke through Acts. The apostle Peter attests to the status of the writings of Paul. The book of Acts attests to the status of Peter’s writing, and so on.

In its original documents the Bible is God-breathed, that it is a divine product, and, because it is divine, the original documents are inerrant. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Paul who wrote this epistle was obviously referring to the entirety of the Old Testament as being inspired. The word “inspired” is literally “God-breathed.” This is an interesting phrase since it implies that the Scriptures are from the mouth of God. Likewise, Peter says in 2 Peter 1:21, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Notice that Peter is stating that prophecy is not the product of human will. Instead, prophecy occurs by those moved by the Holy Spirit.

Consider for example the narrative surrounding the events of the global flood as recorded in Genesis 6-9. Moses records this event, yet the flood had destroyed every creature save those who were in the Ark. Moses wrote centuries later around 1,450 B.C. As strange as it may appear to some, when you consider those circumstances, Moses is not alone in affirming the events that took place in the Days of Noah. In 1 Chronicles, the text suggests that Noah’s three sons were Shem, Ham, and Japheth, exactly as Genesis 7:13 records (1:1). The prophet Isaiah also referred to Noah (chapter 54). In that text, the prophet recorded the words God spoke to the Israelites of Isaiah’s day: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you” (54:9). The oath to which Isaiah referred is found in Genesis 9:11, where God said to Noah: “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Remarkably, Isaiah’s comment exhibits a perfect understanding and awareness of God’s statement to Noah, yet the prophet’s writings were separated from Moses’ writing of the Pentateuch by more than 600 years. In addition, the prophet Ezekiel acknowledged the story of Noah when he recorded God’s Word to the Israelites of his day: “‘Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness’” (14:19-20).

The consistent unity of the account of the flood finds itself in the New Testament as well. The words of Jesus in Matthew 24 find agreement with Moses in Genesis 6-9. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (24:36-39). Luke’s account of this statement by the Lord exhibits additional unity with Genesis in that he recorded Noah’s son as Shem (Luke 17:26-27; 3:36). The same consistent unity is found in the writings of Hebrews 11 as well in the words of Peter as he stated, “…when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). He also said: “[I]f God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5).

The Bible’s message attests to its unity. The major themes and stories from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, flow through the remaining books and their meanings and implications are developed throughout Scripture. It describes the origin of man in the Garden of Eden along with his fall into sin and out of fellowship with God. Beginning here, God promised Adam and Eve that one would come from the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). It then describes how God called out a special people to Himself, the Israelites. He promised the Israelites a future Messiah who would restore mankind’s relationship with God. The Bible is the account of the work of God in history bringing to fruition His prophetic declarations concerning Jesus. The Old Testament sacrificial system pictured the atonement to be made by Jesus for the sins of the world. The prophets foretold His birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus was born of the Virgin, died on the cross and paid for sins, just as the Bible prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New as it reveals and explains the mysteries of this great salvation. It concludes with the fulfillment of the promise made in Genesis 3:15 ending in the book of Revelation where Jesus, the King of Kings, is pictured defeating the serpent of old who is the Devil and sending him to his everlasting punishment (Revelation 19-20).

In short, the Bible points to Jesus, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me,” (John 5:39). The unity of the Bible teaches us that forgiveness of sins is found in Jesus alone, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).

Can the Bible be trusted? I believe the evidence of Scripture supports the fact that we can trust in the unified message of the Bible. It alone contains the inspired word of God that is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

“Fulfilled Prophecy as Evidence for My Faith”

By

Jordan Shouse

One of the great evidences towards the inspiration of the Scriptures is the fulfilled prophecy. A prophet was a spokesman for God. He simply delivered God’s words to the people. The message often held instruction concerning the need for repentance, the exposure and condemnation of sins, and hope for the future. That is the focus of this article, to focus on the messages God gave to His people concerning things which were to occur in the future, and then did. Prophecy is a great study. It is impressive to see the wisdom and foresight of God, and also gives the Bible student a grander picture of the Bible message. There are numerous examples of fulfilled prophecies, especially concerning Jesus. God fulfills His prophecies with precision and perfection. In this article I will point out a few, with the hopes that you’ll be inspired to pick up a Bible and find some on your own. Here are some prophecies about Jesus:

  • Jesus would be born of a virgin, and that His name would be Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14); fulfilled (Matthew 1:21-23)
  • Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); fulfilled (Matthew 2:1)
  • Jesus would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:4-6); fulfilled (Matthew 9:35)
  • Jesus would die a cruel death, he would be scourged (Isaiah 53:5) – fulfilled (Matthew 27:26); and pierced (Isaiah 53:5) – fulfilled (Matthew 27:35; John 20:27)

These are just a few of many prophecies concerning Jesus. We also see a different type of prophecy, where something is directly foretold like the examples above, but we see similarities between two people or two events. Here are some examples:

  • Abraham was told to kill his son Isaac
    • It was his only begotten son (Genesis 22:2) Jesus is God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16)
    • Was to sacrifice in the land of Moriah (v.2) The area of Moriah becomes Jerusalem in the future, Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem (Mark 15:22)
    • Abraham had Isaac carry the wood he would be sacrifice on (v.6); Jesus bore His cross to Calvary (Luke 23:26)
    • Abraham received his son back (v.12); Jesus rose from the dead
  • Jacob’s dream of a ladder
    • Jacob sees a ladder reaching to heaven, and angels were descending up and down on it (Genesis 28:13-15)
    • Jesus is the ladder – He is the access for man to God – John 1:51

There are more and more examples. If there were more time and space we could go into Jesus and the Passover lamb, the bronze serpent, the similarities between Jesus and Joseph, Elisha, and Jonah. We could point out numerous prophecies concerning events in His life. We could go back to the very beginning and look at the promises God made to Abraham about the great nation, promised land, and all the nations of the earth being blessed through his descendants (Genesis 12:1-3) and how all those promises came true in the future. The Bible is filled with these examples of prophecies. What ought to impress us is the foresight of God who planned such events to transpire in sync, and the faithfulness of our God who keeps His promises. He has never failed on His word which brings us great hope for the promises He has given to His children who trust and obey Him.

The Testimony of Jesus as Evidence for My Faith”

By Sean Cavender

A familiar passage to Bible students is: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In discussing the nature of faith it is vital to recognize that faith is founded upon the words recorded in Scripture. The Bible records many things that are pertinent to our spiritual lives by many different examples and various teachers. The greatest example and the Master Teacher is Jesus Christ. The words and testimony of Jesus Christ leaves for us ample evidence that is sufficient to build up our faith.

A testimony is a declaration of some fact that may be tested to be true or false. Courts will take the testimony of eyewitnesses in order to establish the facts of a case. If the facts corroborate then the testimony of witnesses is upheld and proven to be true. If there is inconsistency within the testimony, and the facts do not corroborate then the testimony is questioned at best and proven false at worst. Christ’s public teachings, or testimonies, have been preserved through the Scriptures. If the testimony of Jesus is inconsistent with other teachings in Scripture then there is doubt that is cast upon His character and teachings. However, if they are upheld and proven time and time again, will you believe it and obey His word?

Christ was the embodiment of truth. The apostle John said “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth…for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:14,17). Jesus claimed to be a teacher sent by God and a presenter of the truth. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32). Jesus of Nazareth claimed to teach truth. If He did not teach the truth then He was a liar and not a good man. However, if His testimony is proven time and time again then His words are not only trustworthy, but authoritative and must be obeyed.

What Jesus Testified About God

Many stumble at the teaching of the Godhead. They do not understand how there is one God, as the Bible claims (Deuteronomy 6:4), and yet three distinct, divine persons. Several have claimed that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Godhead. Some scoff, asking how there can be three and one at the same time. Jesus most certainly recognized a distinction of persons within the Godhead, or the divine nature. Jesus taught, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Jesus says that He would pray unto the Father. He makes a distinction between Himself and the Father. It would be ridiculous for Christ to pray unto Himself. Obviously, there is a distinction between the Father and the Son. Also, Jesus said that He would pray for another Comforter, referring to the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not asking that God send Himself in another form, but that He would send another Comforter, or another person. The Comforter would teach the things which Jesus authorized Him to speak (John 16:13,14).

The Godhead is a truth that is upheld and affirmed by Jesus Himself. It does not mean that there are three gods acting on their own accord and by their own authority. Jesus came, not by His own authority, but by what the Father commanded Him (John 5:19). The Holy Spirit was sent by Christ from the Father; He did not come to exert His own teaching or His own authority. Rather He was sent as one under authority (John 15:26; 16:13,14). The Godhead may be difficult to understand and often a great mystery to us, but Jesus’ words provide an insight into who God is.

What Jesus Testified About God’s Word

Christ had a high esteem for the Scriptures. He viewed the Scriptures as the word of God (John 10:35). He also recognized the Scriptures as all that was necessary for man in order to have spiritual nourishment (Matthew 4:4). Also, Jesus taught that God’s word was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36). In affirming the inspiration of the Scriptures, Christ affirmed the nature of Scripture, as the “God-breathed” message (2 Timothy 3:16). Also, recognizing the inspiration of Scripture is the recognition that the prophets were not writing their opinion and offering their own interpretations; rather, they were writing about things they often times did not understand (2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Peter 1:10-12). Jesus testified that the word of God was authoritative in determining doctrine, and morality. Christ turned to the Scriptures when He was questioned about marriage (Matthew 19:3-6). If only all people would view the Scriptures as God’s word, self-sufficient, inspired, and authoritative then there would be fewer problems today. People try to undermine the Scriptures, searching for loopholes, or outright deny what the Scriptures plainly teach. Let us strive to view the Scriptures as Christ taught us too.

What Jesus Testified About Eternity

It is natural that questions concerning the “afterlife” are brought up from time to time. Jesus addressed and answered many of the difficult questions concerning eternity. He affirmed that the soul continues to exist (it is not annihilated) in the spiritual realm (Matthew 22:32). Jesus also taught that there will be a bodily resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous (John 5:28,29). Furthermore, He taught that there will be eternal conscious punishment (Luke 16:24,25). Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did preach about the existence of hell (Matthew 10:28).

Why did Jesus preach these truths? He taught these things so that we may be prepared for the day of judgment! That day will be when Christ’s authority will be displayed for all to submit to, and all people might recognize Him as King, Judge, and Savior. Those who rejected Jesus as the Christ and disobeyed might be thrown into everlasting punishment, but those who believed and obeyed may receive the reward of eternal life (Matthew 25:46). Are you ready for eternity?

Conclusion

The testimony of Jesus has been preserved and handed down for us through the inspired apostles and New Testament writers. What a wonderful blessing that we are able to read and understand what Jesus taught. When we study the testimony of Christ we ought to be humbled, impressed, and strengthened in faith. The words of Peter are still true today. When asked by the Lord whether he would leave the Lord’s presence, Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 1 – June 2012

“The Heart of a Champion”

It has been my pleasure to publish this website since March 2009. I have dedicated the site to the memory of my late father, William C. Sexton, as a teaching tool targeted to youth and men’s ministry. I have focused teaching, targeted to young people, in a page I have titled Remembering My Creator. I generally focus the articles in this section, which I now call A Christian’s Voice from Fort Smith, to topics of interest to men who are striving to be spiritual leaders of their families. This month I address those men who are interested in being spiritual champions. I want to speak to those of you who are interested in developing the heart of a champion in your sons and daughters.

 

There is a book in my library which I purchased while still in high school. I have read it several times, used it as the basis for a Toastmasters speech, and drawn upon it for illustrations in sermons. I would like to share some thoughts from it with you here. In it, Bob Richards, former Olympic pole-vaulter writes, “What it takes to make a champion in the game of athletics is what it takes to make a champion in the game called life…every man needs the heart of a champion. It’s a quality of mind, a mental resolve, an attitude that turns a man beyond the normal and the mediocre to accomplishing great things in all walks of life.” (The Heart of a Champion by Bob Richards, published by Fleming H. Revell Company, May, 1959, pp. 27-28)

 

Richards opens the book with a chapter he titles “A Philosophy for Winning.” Summarizing the thoughts of this chapter, Mr Richards says there are three secrets to this winning philosophy:

  • Dream great dreams and have the will to translate them into reality
  • Be inspired by a great goal, cause, or challenge to see yourself for who you can become
  • Take God with you

 

Don’t we all want to win – to be “champions” in life? His association with great athletes lead Mr. Richards to the conclusion that ALL champions display 4 QUALITIES. Please consider those qualities and then allow them to motivate you to accomplish great things in your spiritual life. First, consider that the heart of a champion …

 

Refuses to Give Up!

Abraham Lincoln, though not an athlete, is an example of one who refused to give up. Born in obscurity and poverty, Old Abe tried unsuccessfully for the senate 4 or 5 times before he finally made it. In business, he failed 3 times and was in debt $1800 when he went to Springfield. But Abraham Lincoln had the heart of a champion and he never gave up. He was elected the 16th President of the United States in 1860 and won re-election in 1864 and has been recognized as one of the greatest of U.S. presidents. His law partner said of him, “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”

 

This is a principle that I personally struggle with. I am tempted to give up when I encounter an obstacle. If I do not master the new skill or learn the new material after a few attempts I must fight that inner voice that tells me to quit. My wife, a music major, has tried on several occasions to teach me the finer points of tempo, cadence, beat and rhythm. I usually throw up my hands in frustration before I have fully comprehended the concepts.

 

But Champions NEVER give up. If you and I want to succeed, we must refuse to give up. Also secondly, consider that the heart of a champion …

Dares to Believe the Impossible!

The 14-foot pole vault, the 50-foot shot put, the 4-minte mile; all were thought impossible before they were achieved. In 1951, a year before the Olympic Games in Helsinki Finland, a Russian by the name of Kazantev astounded the world by breaking, by 10 seconds, the world record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He solidified his grip on this event by repeating his record-breaking performance. As the ’52 Olympics approached, everyone conceded that no one had a chance of beating the Russian. Everyone, that is, but a young American named Horace Ashenfelter. Horace just determined that he was going to give everything he had and that he was going to WIN that race. Horace stunned even his teammates when he ran a faster time than Kazantev in his preliminary heat. Then in the finals, in a race that changed leads several times, Horace finished ahead of the Russian slashing his record by 3 seconds. Horace had orchestrated the biggest upset of the Olympic Games.

 

Richards in his book says, “I believe the thing that has made America is the dream in the hearts of scientists like Edison and Franklin, the dream in the hearts of politicians who have been statesmen. It’s the dream in the heart of practically every person who dares to believe the impossible, who believes that no matter what has been done, men will come along to do yet greater things.”

 

We might not be great scientists or statesmen but we too must see ourselves as what we can become. We must see our POTENTIAL! We limit our success when we live only in the present.

 

Having refused to give up and dared to believe the impossible, thirdly the heart of a champion …

 

Keeps Going Even When It Hurts!

Emil Zatopek, in the1952 Olympics, won 3 championships, setting 3 records. In talking with Mr. Richards, Emil talked of the secrets to his winning. He trained 6.5 hrs a day, every day of the year. He told Mr. Richards, “I run until I hurt; that’s when I begin my training program. I’ve learned that if I can just get beyond fatigue, there is a reserve power that I never dreamed I had, and then I go on to run my best races.”

 

I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to complain and throw a “pity party” when things turn sour for me. How much MORE could I accomplish with the mindset of an Emil Zatopek?

 

Finally, the heart of a champion …

 

Gives Everything It Has!

In speaking of this quality Richards observes, “…I’ve seen boys, when they’ve given everything they’ve got physically and mentally, call on something spiritual that carries them to their greatest performance.”

 

Mr Richards interviewed Parry O’Brien on the night that he went out and shot the put a world’s record 59 feet, ¾ of an inch. Parry told Bob, “You can train your body to a peak of physical perfection… But when you get into that ring you need something just a little extra, something down deep within you that can give you that extra boost you need for world’s-record-breaking performances. I always pray to God, because I’ve found in Him that power that helps me do just that little extra.”

 

Yes, we must learn how to “bring home the gold,” “to call on everything We’ve got, down to the deepest spiritual reserve in our hearts and souls (adapted from Richards, p44).” I Don’t believe that we should pray to win but I DO believe we should pray for help to give our BEST!

 

Conclusion

As you go about your day, think on these things. Remember that a champion refuses to give up. He dares to believe the impossible. He keeps on going even when it hurts and he gives everything he has.

 

Do you exhibit these qualities in your professional and personal life? I challenge you to apply these principles in all areas of your life! Remember, “The way we react to our challenges determines the destiny of our lives, our country and our world.” (Richards, p 121).

 

There are definite character traits that typify the heart of a champion. In the coming months I would like to consider several of these character traits with you. Click on the link below to see the Topic Schedule for what I have planned for this page over the next few months. Next month we will consider the trait of LEADERSHIP.

 

Thanks for reading with me dear friends. If there is anything that I can do to assist in your daily walk, please e-mail me at achristiansvoice@sbcglobal.net

 

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith – Topic Schedule

 

Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 1, June 4, 2012

Remembering My Creator

Volume 2, Number 1

Theme: Evidences for my Faith –

Bible Claims & Christian Evidences

 

In This Issue:

  • “Letter From The Editor” by Randy Sexton
  • “What the Bible Claims to Be” by David Deuster
  • “What is Christian Evidences?” by Randy Sexton

 

 

“Letter From The Editor”

 

By Randy Sexton

 

 

Dear Readers,

 

After an extended absence from writing, I am planning to breathe life back into my website. During the absence, I relocated my family from Raymore, MO to Fort Smith, AR. My sons completed their first year of school in Fort Smith. Tyler played fall soccer and Ryan continued his advancement as a percussionist in the Ramsey Junior High band and is playing in the Boys & Girls Club Prep baseball league. We are slowly getting our new residence in shape thanks to Linda’s hard work. We placed membership with Park Hill church of Christ, where we had previously been a member and where Linda grew up. I was asked by the elders to serve as a deacon and treasurer at Park Hill and am happy to do so.

.

I plan to continue publishing the Remembering My Creator (RMC) page and to begin a monthly page, refocusing a previous page, calling it A Christian’s Voice From Fort Smith.

 

I did publish a short issue of RMC in November using an article that Jordan had submitted quite some time ago. (Sorry for the delay, Jordan). I also published a December issue focused on the theme of “How I Look.”

 

I have chosen themes during 2012 related to Internal Evidences of Christianity and How To Study The Bible. I have been teaching the High School Class at Park Hill the past two quarters from David Banning’s Bible 101 and Bible 102 workbooks and will choose topics covered there. If you would like to write an article for this series, please contact me at achristiansvoice@sbcglobal.net. The Schedule of Topics with scheduled publication dates are listed below.

 

2nd & 3rd Quarter 2012 Theme: Evidences For My Faith

Publication Date

Topic

June 4, 2012 Bible Claims & Christian Evidences
July 1, 2012 Unity of the Bible
July 1, 2012 Fulfilled Prophecy
July 1, 2012 The Testimony of Jesus
July 1, 2012 Historical Accuracy of the Bible
August 1, 2012 Scientific Accuracy of the Bible
August 1, 2012 Alleged Contradictions of the Bible
August 1, 2012 Archaeology and the Bible
August 1, 2012 Evolution and the Bible
September 1, 2012 Biblical Ethics vs Situation Ethics
September 1, 2012 The Resurrection of Christ
September 1, 2012 Relevance of the Bible to the Needs of Man

4th Quarter 2012 Theme: How To Study The Bible

Publication Date

Topic

October 1, 2012 Bible Study Habits: Are You Satisfied?
October 1, 2012 Tools That Help Us Study
October 1, 2012 Developing a Daily Routine
October 1, 2012 Defining Bible Words
November 1, 2012 Answering a False Doctrine
November 1, 2012 Studying Passages That Help With My Own Spiritual Growth
November 1, 2012 Determining the Message of a Book
November 1, 2012 Brainstorming
December 1, 2012 Researching the Background
December 1, 2012 Identifying the Main Sections of the Book
December 1, 2012 Figuring Out the Confusing Passages
December 1, 2012 Putting It All Together

 

 

What the Bible Claims to Be

By David Deuster

The validity of the Bible as the inspired word of God is one of the most important questions we could answer. If the bible is not from God, then it is not authoritative and man does not need to use it as his guide. However, if you believe that the Bible is from God, are you willing to accept it in its entirety as the complete, infallible, and inspired word of God? Either the Bible is a complete and perfect guide in religion or it is lacking in the ability to guide man in his efforts to please God.

 

Let’s first begin by looking at the claims that the bible makes for itself. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is “breathed out” of the mouth of God and is profitable to mankind.

 

Over 51 times in the New Testament, the word “scripture” is used in reference to the written statements of God. Because these statements are inspired, we can have confidence in knowing that they are ultimately God’s own words and convey His thoughts. Paul says the Scriptures make it possible for man to be spiritually complete (cf 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, if the Bible makes us “complete,” then the Bible, in itself, must also be complete.

 

Second, we notice that the writers of Scripture spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 1:20-21 states, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The writers of the Bible were inspired men who were enabled to speak and record the mind of God through revelation of the Holy Spirit. The words written were not just the prophets own personal product or thought.

 

These inspired men wrote under direction and will of the Holy Spirit, so that what they wrote is not what the prophets willed but the revealed mind of God unchanged in interpretation.

 

Paul taught the Corinthians that the very words by which he and the other apostles spoke were given by God. In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 Paul says, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

 

God exposed His thinking to man by sending His Holy Spirit to communicate with the apostles and prophets. If the prophets and apostles had not been under the direction of the Holy Spirit, there would have been the possibility of failing to understand the thoughts that were given or they may have failed in expressing those thoughts in a way that could be understood.

 

For this reason, Paul makes sure to tell the Corinthians that the words they spoke were given by God and not by man’s wisdom. Therefore, the words they taught with were the teachings of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.

 

Furthermore, the Scriptures are infallible and are reliable in every way. Consider the fact that the Bible was written by about 40 writers over several different periods of history. Yet all of the writers harmonize and proclaim the same central theme of the Bible. Throughout the pages of the compiled writings, there are no contradictions or false statements. Prophecies that were to take place hundreds of years in the future, even when very specific in time and names, were all fulfilled and can be confirmed by history.

 

The Bible makes the claim for itself that it is the infallible, complete, and inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, we must accept it and submit to its authority in our lives.

 

What is Christian Evidences?

By Randy Sexton

The field of study known as “Christian Evidences” is devoted to presenting evidence, both internal and external, to support the claims of Christ to be the Son of God, the reasonableness that God created the world and that the Bible is His inspired message to man. This field of study is also known as Apologetics and is a legitimate field of study in schools of religion.

The study of Christian Evidences may be approached in a number of different ways, but in general, can be broken down into several key components. The key components are listed in my letter above.

The plan is to present articles, written be different authors, covering each of these components in the monthly issues of Remembering My Creator. Thanks for reading with us, dear friends….

Remembering My Creator: Volume 1, Number 11, December 2011

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 11

Theme: How I Look

In This Issue:

  • “Using the World’s Standard to Evaluate Beauty (Proverbs 31:30; 1st Samuel 16:7)” by Randy Sexton
  • “The Hidden Beauty of the Heart (1st Peter 3:1-6)” by David Deuster
  • “Spiritual Adornment (1st Timothy 2:8-10)” by David Bushnaq
  • “Bodybuilding and Other Attempts to Draw Attention to the Physical Body” by Randy Sexton

Using the World’s Standard to Evaluate Beauty

By Randy Sexton

 

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the lord, she shall be praised,” says Solomon as he concludes his description of the worthy woman (Proverbs 31:30). Jess MacCullum in his book, I Married Wonder Woman … Now What, subtitled A Superhero’s guide for Leading and Loving the Proverbs 31 Wife, adds a little humor to the analysis. He says in the introduction, “What on earth would that kind of woman see in a man like me? And what kind of a superman would I have to become to keep ahead of a wife like this? … I scramble to lead and encourage the ‘little (wonder) woman.’ Far from being intimidated by her, I am eager to give my wonder woman a man she can call a hero.”

Mr. MacCallum proceeds to describe 12 principles “for loving and leading the Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman for a lifetime.” These principles include:

  1. Value you wife above everything (v. 10)
  2. Trust your wife and reap the benefits (vv. 11-12)
  3. Provide for the family with more than money (vv. 13-15)
  4. Don’t be afraid of her independence or intimidated by her success (vv. 16, 24)
  5. Appreciate her intelligence, ambition and drive (vv. 17-19)
  6. Be unselfish like her and with her (v. 20)
  7. Respect your wife’s household management without meddling (vv. 21-22, 27)
  8. Take pride in being known by her reputation (v. 23)
  9. Actually listen when she speaks (vv. 25-26)
  10. Praise her and teach your children to praise her (v. 30)
  11. Focus on what God finds attractive and praiseworthy (v. 30)
  12. Brag about her in public

In his comments on the 10th principle he says, “Feminine beauty is a particularly wobbly concept when you think about it. It changes from year to year, culture to culture, and magazine cover to magazine cover… the list of absurd things that people will do to get, or keep, beauty is truly endless. From ancient Japenese women grinding iron filings into their teeth to create a gorgeous black smile, to Victorian ladies in corsets that literally squeezed their internal organs into an hourglass figure, to Hollywood has-beens with more face-lifts than ex-husbands – beauty has ruled the senseless. And men have prized it above reason and valued it entirely out of proportion” (pp. 102 – 103).

Mr. MacCallum’s book is directed to husbands and many of his comments hit the male part of the species hard because of our propensity to be distracted by attractive women. As he says, “beautiful girls make us stupid, frequently robbing us of the power of speech, eye control and financial judgement …” (p. 101)

Though Proverbs 31:10ff is labeled by its author as characteristics of an “excellent wife” (NASB), the attributes are worthy of us all. They “set the bar,” according to the divine standard, far above what the world sets! The world says charm and beauty is what is important. God says this is not the true standard. God, through His servant Peter says, “let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1st Peter 3:4). God reminded his servant Samuel, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

As you progress through your teenage years and into your twenties, you my be faced with challenging situations, as you evaluate your dating options. You may be tempted to lose your perspective on the value of inner versus outer beauty. You may have to guard yourself against the approach described in Proverbs 7:21, “So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery” (NLT). When you face those times, may you remember “the fear of the Lord” is the true basis for praise.

 

The Hidden Beauty of the Heart

By David Deuster

Peter writes to Christians living in a hostile society. His words are directed toward encouraging them on how to live in the midst of a hostile society and how to conduct themselves in a world set against them. The main directive he offers throughout the letter is to focus on those things that are spiritual and to keep their minds focused on things eternal, not getting caught up in the pleasures that the world has to offer. In chapter 1, he calls upon his readers to remember their great salvation. Secondly, he admonishes them to remember their example before men. Finally, he encourages them by a call to look to the coming of Christ. It is within the second of these points that the apostle addresses how to maintain our example in society, in our place of employment and also within our family relationships. His reasoning for this is stated in 1 Peter 2:12 where he writes, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” His desire is that these brethren would display the gospel through their lives so that others might be led to salvation.

It is within this context that we approach 1 Peter 3, where the apostle addresses the marriage relationship of a believer and non-believer. The encouragement is that through godly conduct on the part of the believer that the non-believer could be won to Christ and themselves “glorify God in the day of visitation.” While not everyone will be able to make specific application to this situation, there are several principles that are present that are to govern the lives of Christians of all ages.

CONDUCT MUST BE ANSWERABLE TO OUR PROFESSION OF FAITH

If we are to have an impact in our culture, we must submit to the social order, structure and the social patterns that God has designed. This requires having an attitude of submission that follows the example of our high priest, Jesus Christ (cf 2:21-25). This type of submissiveness involves at least four things: First, it begins with an attitude of entrusting oneself to God (cf. 2:23-25). The focus of our life must be on Jesus Christ. Second, submission requires respectful behavior (3:1-2). Nagging is not respectful behavior. Third, submission involves the development of a godly character (3:3-5). Fourth, submission includes doing what is right (3:6).

What is the result of this type of humble disposition? The unbeliever may be won to Christ. Note that he is not saying they will be saved without the word (1:23; Rom 1:16). The term “observe” was used of eyewitnesses (also in 1 Pt 2:12). Peter says that the unbeliever will be won by chaste behavior coupled with fear. One’s walk of life, in accordance with the teaching of Christ, becomes and example and will be the persuasive argument. In essence, it is more important what you are than what you say. The apostle further admonishes them to regard outward ornamentation as worthless in comparison with the adornment of the Christian’s character, which alone determine one’s worth in God’s sight. In comparison, we are called upon to clothe ourselves in “chaste conversation.” Kittle comments that this “originally purely externally religious concept now acquires a more ethical and inward significance; It signifies “moral purity and sincerity,” as in relation to Christ; According to 1 Pt. 1:17; 3:2, the “walk” of Christians is shaped by fear of God; according to 3:1, this can have an effect without words simply through good deeds, cf. 2:12; Jm. 3:13.”[1] This is the effect of being salt and light. Our lives are to be a reflection of God’s glory.

THE PART: “THE HIDDEN MAN OF THE HEART”

The contrast Peter makes in the text is between the inward person of the heart and the external ornamentation. Our adorning is focused inward. The term “adorning” is kosmos in the Greek, English words “cosmos” (the ordered universe) and “cosmetic.” It is the opposite of chaos. There is an implied contrast between the changing styles of the world (cf. v. 3) and the settled character of a redeemed life that adorns the spirit of a Christian. In Romans 12:2 Paul exhorts the saints, “Stop assuming an outward expression which is patterned after this world, an expression which does not come from, nor is it representative of what you are in your inner being as a regenerated child of God”.[2] We are to present ourselves a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, no longer fashioned according to the world, its mannerisms, speech expressions, styles or habits. Being “conformed to this world” is the action of an individual assuming an outward expression that does not come from within him, and it is not representative of his inner heart life.[3] Instead of using the guidelines of the world, we must learn to use the guidelines of the Word.

Your inner person is reflected on the outside (cf 1 Tim 2:8-10). Often times when we consider the subject of modesty, the focus usually centers on the visible characteristics of clothing. However, modesty is not first an issue of clothing. Just as Peter and Paul agree, submissiveness and modest living is first and issue of the heart. Anyone can wear modest clothing, however until the heart is transformed, one cannot truly be classified as a modest person.

Prior to Paul’s discussion of submission and modesty in 1 Timothy 2:8-10, the apostle reminds his readers of the sacrifice of life they offer unto God. Here we learn an important connection with our adornment of the heart to the death of Christ. Modesty is a reflection of our own death and resurrection. We died to the world and its values, and as a result, pride and arrogance are replaced with humility and joy. When Christians cultivate their spiritual lives and properly restrain their thoughts, passions, affections, etc., they portray an inner modesty and shame fastness that is reflective of their relationship to God. There will not be the vanity of life shown purely in outward adornment.

THE ORNAMENT: “NOT CORRUPTIBLE… A MEEK AND QUIET SPIRIT”

Our spirit is imperishable whereas the hair, jewelry and clothing that adorn the body are perishable. Glamour is artificial and external; true beauty is real and internal. Glamour is something a person can put on and take off, but true beauty is always present. Glamour is corruptible; it decays and fades. True beauty from the heart grows more wonderful as the years pass.

The hidden beauty of the heart is described as an “imperishable quality.” It is the same description Peter uses to speak of God’s imperishable inheritance, which He guards for believers in Heaven (i.e. 1:4) and of believers being born again of imperishable seed (i.e. 1:23). Paul uses this same term of our new resurrection bodies in 1 Corinthians 15 and of believers’ incorruptible crown in 1 Corinthians 9:25.

The hidden beauty of the heart is a “Meek and Quiet spirit.” Vine defines that spirit as “the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.” It is a life that has fully denied self, taken up the cross and chosen to follow after Christ in humility and submission to the will of the Father.

THE VALUE: “IN THE SIGHT OF GOD OF GREAT PRICE”

The chief adornment of the Christian should be the Lord Jesus, manifested in and through the life of the believer. There is no greater gift that we can offer unto God than our life. The value of servitude in the Lord’s kingdom far exceeds the value of any clothing or jewelry the world can provide. In the sight of God such a life is of great price, “being of great value or worth, ordinarily of relatively high degree on a monetary scale, (very) expensive, costly.”[4] The Lord Jesus will be seen in our life, and our physical adornment will reflect Him. This is the ideal God-glorifying procedure upon the basis of which a Christian should act in the manner of personal adornment.

Through the gospel we become attractive in the right way. First, through being adorned with “proper clothing.” Second, through the “hidden person of the heart.” Have you clothed yourself in such fashion? If you have, then you are being transformed from the inside out. You are no longer of this world, its values, fashions, etc. Your citizenship is in Heaven, and it will be manifest in your appearance.


[1] Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.)

[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 12:2). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[3] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 12:2). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[4] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (850). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Spiritual Adornment

By David Bushnaq

As requested, this is an article on 1 Timothy 2: 8-10. In these verses the Apostle Paul is telling the young preacher, Timothy how one should behave in the assembly. The verses in this case refer to adorning oneself in modesty and in self control, not with costly attire, but with what is proper for good works. Of course, what’s true for women is also true for men.

Now we know what Paul means when he’s bringing this to Timothy, but while we consider this physical adornment, what about our spiritual adornment?

Clothes are one of the first things people notice about us. Our clothes tell a lot about who we are as a person. We know that we, as Christians, are to dress with modesty and with self control, but what about our spiritual clothing?

While we are at church, we are naturally dressed in our best. We know we’re doing this to encourage ourselves, our brethren, but more than that, we are doing this to please God. But how are we dressed at work? At home? Our spirituality could slack in those more relaxed environments.

Our clothes show who we are. Many times we look at ourselves in the mirror to make sure what we’re wearing is appropriate for where we are about to go. We wear different outfits devoted to work, play, or relaxing at home. Our aim is to look our best to others, but how do we look spiritually?

Our example is one of the tools we can use as Christians to lead others to Christ. It could also be one of the biggest pitfalls we could have against us if we aren’t careful. As such we are to always make sure we take our spiritual outfits into consideration just as much as our physical.

Paul mentions not to wear “costly array,” which of course is referring to expensive jewelry or accessories to make us look more luxurious [or just more appealing] than we really are. Many people today wear t-shirts, crosses, wrist bands, and other accessories to show how “godly” they are, but are they really? Our example can tell people a lot more about us, and our Christianity, than some trinkets that bear religious themes on them.

So then, how is one to dress spiritually? Verse 10 gives us the answer. We are to do good works, which are proper for those who profess God. Actions speak louder than words and as such, we are to always make sure our Christianity is one of the first things people notice about us. It’s just as flattering as a well-chosen outfit.

While we may not realize it, people do notice how we dress, so much more so with our spiritual adornment as well. You never know who could come up to you and ask you a question about Jesus because they know you are a devout Christian and that could be the doorway you needed to teach them of His love!

Imagine yourself looking into a spiritual mirror now. How would you look? Would you be wearing Godly clothes, or spiritual? How much skin would you be showing? [By skin, I mean traces of worldliness]. How is your spiritual adornment at work? Hanging out with friends?

Please continue to keep this in mind [as I do] and remember that, while clothes don’t make the man, they often do make people’s first impression of you. If someone you’ve never met before came up to you and saw your spiritual adornment manifested as your physical clothing, what would they think? Would you be ashamed to be seen outside wearing it, or would you proudly display your Christianity for others to see?

Bodybuilding and Other Attempts to Draw Attention to the Physical Body

By Randy Sexton

Have you ever thought about whether a Christian should be a bodybuilder? Is there a conflict between wanting to get in shape – to have “ripped abs” and “bulging biceps” – and in having a proper perspective of inner versus outer beauty?

I must admit that I have no personal experience from which to speak about being a “body builder.” I have over the years tried to maintain some type of fitness routine but the focus of those attempts was to stay healthy, rather than to “create a body I could be proud of.”

In preparing to write this article, I did try to research the subject by searching the Internet for “body building.” My search returned links to a number of sites. www.bodybuilding.com claimed the largest selection of bodybuilding articles, exercises, workouts, supplements and community links. When I searched for “bodybuilding and the Christian” I found that there is an organization called the International Christian Bodybuilding Association (www.christianbodybuilder.com). Their website says, “The ICBBA was founded as a place for Christian athletes to meet up for support and encouragement in the sport of bodybuilding, fitness and figure. As members we strive to use our success in sports to inspire and motivate others, instilling hope which can change lives.”

What do the Scriptures teach about health and fitness? Using a good concordance, you can look up “body,” “exercise,” “food,” “drink,” etc. As you look up the references, the following may have application to the topic under discussion: 1 Tim. 4:8; 2Cor. 10:10; Rom. 12:1; Rom. 1:24; Mt. 6:25; Mt. 10:28; Rom. 6:12; 1Cor. 6:18-19; 1Cor 9:27; Phil. 1:20 and Js. 3:6. Read those and then send me your comments and let me know what you think.

A resource that I have recommended before in this column is David Banning’s workbook, Tough Choices: How to Make Wise Decisions. This is one study in a great series of studies in his Get Them Talking High School Workbook series! In a lesson titled, “Tough Choices About How I Look,” he recommends an exercise in which the student works through a series of statements marking them either as true or as false. One of those statements is, “It’s okay to wear clothes that cause people to notice your body and that make you look sexy.” Perhaps this is the issue that would be more pertinent to the young women in our reading audience and the bodybuilding issue is more pertinent to the young men.

I am interested in hearing your comments, not only about this article but also about this column and this website. Do you regularly visit the website? Do you find the articles informative and uplifting? Are there topics that you would like to see discussed? Would you like to write articles for publication here or do you know of others who would like to do so. We are looking particularly for young teenage and “twenty-something” Christians

Thanks for reading with me young friends. I hope that you had a blessed 2011! We wish you a spiritually rewarding 2012 and hope that we can play a small part of that.