April 22, 2018

Gamaliel’s Folly – Philip C. Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:04 am by sranderson0103

The New Testament portrays Gamaliel as perhaps a prudent and pragmatic man, if not a wise one. He was the grandson of Hillel “the elder” (one of the most revered legal scholars in Judaism of the first century B.C.), and in the eyes of the Jewish people, followed in his grandfather’s hallowed footsteps. The Talmud somewhat famously records of him, “When Rabban Gamaliel the Elder died,” said the Jews, “the glory of the Law ceased and purity and abstinence died,” (W.W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary; Vol.1, p.426). Gamaliel was one of only seven to whom the title “Rabban” (supreme teacher) was given. This lauded praise notwithstanding, Gamaliel wasn’t as wise as some might assume. Consider, first, some background from Acts 5:17-42 leading to our introduction to this esteemed leader of Israel:

  • The apostles had been jailed (due to jealousy over their successes with and favorable regard of the people) by the High Priest and the Sadducees, vv.17-18;
  • The angel of the Lord had subsequently released them from prison, and commanded, “Go your way, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this life,” vv.19-20;
  • They fully complied, v.21a;

But when the Jewish leaders sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail, and it was reported that they were not there but had been seen in the temple “teaching the people,” they were rearrested and brought before the Council, vv.21b-27a;

After hearing the apostles’ defense of their actions and the primary tenets of the gospel (vv.29-32), the Council was “cut to the quick” and “were intending to slay them,” v.33.

This is the point at which Gamaliel, “a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people,” stood up and calmed the situation. He had the apostles removed, v.34b, and then addressed the Council…

  • He first urged caution regarding the Council’s intention to kill the apostles, v.35;
  • Next, he provided two examples from Israel’s past in which what were surely viewed as insurrectionists had arisen and aroused a following among the people. In both cases, he reasoned, the leaders were slain and the movements subsequently “dispersed and came to nothing,” vv.36-37;
  • He then advised “in the present case”- meaning Jesus whom they had already slain/crucified, cf. vv.28,30, and His apostles whom they similarly proposed to slay, cf. v33, that the Council should “stay away from these men and let them alone,” v.38a;
  • His reasoning seems sound- that if this work (the proclamation of Christ and resultant Christianity) was the mere product of men, it would soon likewise perish, v.38; but that if it was “of God,” they would not be able to overthrow it, and even worse, would find themselves in the unenviable position of “fighting against God,” v.39.

On the surface, this sounds like wise counsel, and the Council “took his advice,” v.40a…. sort of, v.40b. But consider some fatal flies in the ointment of Gamaliel’s reasoning:

  1. While the largely Sadducean Council that he addressed did not believe in resurrection, cf. Acts 23:8a- and thus their past efforts to slay insurrectionist leaders made some sense, Gamaliel, as Pharisee, did believe in resurrection, cf. Acts 23:8b. Thus, killing the leader of a movement that was “of God” and who’s adherents proclaimed that “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you put to death by hanging Him on a cross” (v.30) is at best disingenuous and at worst hypocritical. As a Pharisee who believed in resurrection, Gamaliel’s advice shouldn’t have been “let them alone,” but instead “let’s investigate further” or “join them!”
  2. Gamaliel also, and very unwisely, equated the “movements” of false Christ’s with that of the true Messiah. As a man looked to as a “teacher of the Law,” he surely should have recognized and pointed out the decided lack of fulfilled prophecy regarding Theudas and Judas of Galilee, and thus identified them as imposters for it. But with his credentials, he, of all people, should have also recognized how “Jesus of Nazareth” fulfilled each and every one of the prophecies regarding the Messiah and, along with John the Baptist, should have been declaring, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” to everyone (cf. John 1:36; cp. Matthew 11:4-6 and Isaiah 35:5ff; 61:1).3.And finally, Gamaliel took the very unwise tact of equating “success” as defined by men with “success” as defined by God. He apparently viewed the death of the leader and scattering of followers as an indication of falsehood and failure. But Jesus was crucified, v.30, and His followers were scattered, cf. Matthew 26:56 and Acts 8:1; 11:19. However, Jehovah God used these very events to bring about salvation and spread its “good news” to “the remotest part of the earth,” cf. vv.31-32 and 1:8!

    Who knows what might have happened in Jerusalem and for the Jewish people of that time to the present if Gamaliel had only been wise enough discern the signs of fulfilled prophecy regarding the Messiah (cf. Matthew 16:1-4; 11:5-6), and bold enough to stand on his own Pharisaic convictions regarding Jesus the Christ’s resurrection of the dead? Gamaliel and his advice to the Council may have prudently pragmatic in some senses, but neither he nor it surely was truly wise!

     

 

 

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April 15, 2018

Right Now by Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

By Don R. Patton

“for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” (I Peter 2:10)

There are many things awaiting faithful Christians in heaven that are unimaginably wonderful.

“in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (II Tim 4:8)

Paul prays that we will gain enough insight now, to begin to appreciate those things.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18)

But –

there are also many wonderful gifts and privileges we have right now.

In the first place, we have the assurance of eternal salvation. Paul quoted a passage, originally given to Israel, that reminds us that children of God are forgiven, saved by the power of the blood of Christ, which reaches backward and forward.

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation–” (II Corinthians 6:2)

This is quoted from Isaiah 49:8 where at verse 13 we find…

“Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted.”

Faithful Christians, as well as faithful Israel, were assured that they were free from condemnation, and that is true now.

In fact, He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Ephesians 1:4)

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Romans 5:9)

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; (Romans 3:21-22

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:2-3)

Consider also the fact that, as Christians, we have the assurance that, right now, the Son of God, the creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16) is praying for us. He has entered into heaven

For Christ has entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;” (Hebrews 9:24).

This amazing blessing exists now and will forevermore.

“…Jesus…continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:24-25)

Hallelujah!

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

 

April 1, 2018

Critical Errors – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)

The Sadducees were the theological, philosophical, and scientific elite of Jesus’ day. They could not answer Jesus with reasonable arguments so they determined to embarrass and discredit Him with a trick question. Instead of the respectful response expected by the “Reverends” of that day, Jesus responded with the stinging rebuke quoted above.

The Sadducees’ denial of the resurrection was the “sore spot,” the issue that was generating the heat. Scriptural evidence and reason was the enemy, so they devised a trap, challenging Jesus with a scenario that apparently had negative consequences either way He answered.

His response dealt specifically with the fact of a resurrection and the nature of the afterlife, but His twofold evaluation of these proud “scholars” fits today’s liberal “intellectuals” perfectly. They are just as determined to defeat Biblical claims of supernatural activity, such as a six day creation, a world-wide flood, the story of Jonah, the exodus, fulfilled prophecy, the virgin birth and, of course, the resurrection.

Darwin led the way and set the stage for today’s elitists. By the time he had published his book Origin of Species attributing evolutionary progression to natural selection, he had probably become an atheist and determined to ascribe creation to natural causes. He knew something of the Scriptures, but his memoirs show that he knew pitifully little and had an obviously distorted understanding of the basics (such as the consequences of sin and the fall; thorns, thistles, suffering and death). He felt that if there was a God, He demonstrated power or had just not been involved in the affairs of this earth. Most atheistic evolutionists today follow Darwin’s intellectual footsteps.

But what about “Christian” intellectuals, theistic evolutionists, progressive creationists, or advocates of the framework hypothesis, who claim to know God but yet deny the awesome power of a six-day creation? They, just as surely, reject the clear teaching of Scripture, relegating God to the mundane task of overseeing the evolutionary process, reducing His power to something many believe time can accomplish. Peter describes this attitude in the scoffers of his day.

For they deliberately suppress this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water. Through these things the world existing at that time was destroyed when it was deluged with water.” (I Peter 3:5-6).

Jesus said Sadducees were deceived. Then, does it really matter? Jesus rebuked those who should have known better but did not. He thought it mattered. Therefore, it does!

Jesus said the problem was they just didn’t know the Scriptures. Some today think, “Well, that’s true of a lot of people and you can’t hold them accountable if they don’t know.” Jesus disagreed and rebuked, specifying not knowing the Scriptures as His reason.

Jesus taught that the underling problem of all these errors is that they don’t know the power of God. It’s a matter of faith. If God really had the power to create in six days, why would He use millions of years of death and suffering (before the fall) to do what He said He did in six days?

Since God said,…

“…I, even I, am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh…” (Genesis 6:17).

What’s the problem? Answer: Faith in the power of God!

Likewise, we see exactly the same problem with the story of Jonah, the exodus, fulfilled prophecy, the virgin birth and the resurrection. If you believe in an all-wise, all-powerful God, there is no problem. If you doubt an all-wise, all-powerful God, all kind of problems arise.

Jesus knew the hearts of the Sadducees and He identified a problem they did not see and rebuked it. He still sees hearts today and His attitude has not changed, nor will His attitude be different at the judgment.

 

 

 

March 25, 2018

Great Is Your Faithfulness – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Most have heard and sung the beautiful song by this title, written in 1925 by Thomas Chisholm. He was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky and became a Christian when he was twenty-seven. He began preaching when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year. Toward the end of his life, referring to this song, he said, “I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

That God is faithful, simply means He will keep His word. He will do what He says He will do. Once we have become His child, He promises to provide everything we need to live an effective fruitful, victorious Christian life and He is faithful to His promise and we need to be reminded.

For example, when we are tempted to sin or are tested we are promised: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:13).

He will ground us firmly in His truth and keep us from moral and spiritual harm. “…the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (II Thessalonians 3:3).

When we do sin He assures us that, ” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9).

With all our failings, when we commit ourselves to Him and meet the conditions of His will, we have the assurance that He will eventually perfect us in Christ, and He faithfully will continue this until it is done. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).

All that He has promised, He will do, even when we are unfaithful to Him, He remains faithful to us and will still keep all His promises, per His clearly stated conditions. “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (II Timothy 2:12-13).

Many pervert God’s promise of faithfulness. Even in the midst of clearly stated “if’s”, they claim it is unconditional. However, as we recoil from that error, let’s be sure to see and treasure His real assurances. God faithfully promises to faithful Christians that He “…will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:8).

Therefore, we determine to be faithful. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;” (Hebrews 10:23)

 

 

March 11, 2018

Grace Upon Grace – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (“one gracious gift after another,” NET) (John 1:16)

Most of us are more familiar with verse 14 of this is chapter, where John says,

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

From this passage, we usually focus attention on the mind-boggling idea that the eternal, “Word became flesh,” or the spectacular “glory” John saw at the transfiguration, or that Jesus brought the complete fullness of truth into a world to whom God’s mysterious plans had only been dimly revealed.

However, two verses later John emphasizes another facet of verse 14; that Jesus was “full of grace.” He reveals that, from this fullness, we receive “grace upon grace,” or, “one gracious gift after another.” The idea is that the reservoir is inexhaustible.

Unfortunately, many use the amazing grace of God as a springboard to launch demonic ideas that virtually erase the accountability of the gospel. Our Calvinistic friends confuse “inexhaustible” grace with “unconditional,” grace; a false doctrine, absolutely inconsistent with scripture.

Paul urged those at Pisidian Antioch to “continue in the grace of God,” (Acts 14:43) clearly indicating they might not.

The condition of those who did not is described in Galatians 5:4.

“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

The ultimate consequence of failing to meet God’s conditions of grace is illustrated in Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians,

“we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain(II Corinthians 6:1).

God’s ultimate judgment, which includes and excludes inexhaustible grace, will be determined, defined by His divine standard.

“on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge…” (Romans 2:16)

Judgment “according to my gospel,” in the minds of far too many, means according to the good news that God removed their sins unconditionally, even though they do not “continue in the grace of God,” having disobeyed and “fallen from grace.”

The gospel, God’s standard of judgment, necessarily involves the “truth of the gospel.” (Galatians 2:5, 14) Immorality contradicts the gospel.

“…immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel…” (I Timothy 1:10-11)

Christians rejoice in the inexhaustible grace that promises sinners, even enemies, forgiveness, reconciliation, blamelessness now, and promises of incomprehensible, eternal blessings in the world to come.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Furthermore, that inexhaustible grace enables worthless failures to be useful in the work that God planed before the foundation of the world and sent His son to this earth to accomplish.

“For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (I Corinthians 15:9-10)

“let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Still further, there is more. We need grace for times of testing and opposition as well as for serving.

“…do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. …But He gives a greater grace. …7… Resist the devil and he will flee from you.’” (James 4:4-7)

“…there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me — to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:7-9)

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” (II Corinthians 9:8-9)

Jesus promises grace for forgiveness (according to His gospel), grace to do His work, grace when tempted, grace whenever we need help, strengthening, sufficient grace for every need, “grace upon grace,” “one gracious gift after another.”

 

 

 

February 25, 2018

Seek First – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:05 am by sranderson0103

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Appropriately, this passage is one of the most familiar and most memorized verses in the New Testament. Quite a few songs have been based on this verse and have etched its words into our hearts. The passage pointedly expresses a fundamental concept about our service to God.

Familiarity sometimes causes us to look past truly important lessons. Perhaps unfamiliar renditions in different translations will help.

“But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” NET

“and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” NLT

“But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” CEV

“But let your first care be for his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you in addition.” BBE.

Let us look again, with care at what it says.

The original Greek verb translated “seek” or “pursue” indicates durative action, implying a command to establish an ongoing habit or lifestyle of “seeking” the things of the kingdom. As one commentator said, “We are commanded to put first things first on a continual basis and watch Him take care of the items of secondary interest.”

“The kingdom” was the theme of Christ’s teaching.

“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, …” (Matthew 4:23)

“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,…” (Matthew 9:35)

The Kingdom was His priority. We should make it ours. The world will ridicule efforts to live Biblically. (A good example is the new CBS show Living Biblically.) Mockery should not deter us from molding our thinking by the Word of God so that we think as He does on every issue. Spiritually minded men have always understood this.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105)

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23)

“With Your counsel You will guide me,…” (Psalms 73:24)

Jesus described the appropriate attitude of Christians.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;” (John 10:27)

The context of this chapter focuses on maintaining proper priorities in relation to…

Pride (vv. 5-8, 16-18)

Treasures on Earth (vv. 19-21)

Singleness of purpose (vv. 22-23)

Covetousness, serving two masters (v. 24)

Anxiety, concern about the future (vv. 25-32, 34)

The world tends to make these things primary. Jesus says they are not. He reminds us of what we surely know. Remember, “…your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (v. 32). Did you forget? Surely we know God knows, but we act as if He is ignorant. He really “knows” implying more than just knowledge. He knows and He cares.

If we reverse the proper order and put second thing first (like the world) we are disobedient. This is not an option. It is a command from Jesus Christ. When we refuse to obey His commands we demonstrate a lack of love for Jesus (John 14:15) we sin (I John 3:4) and sin separates us from God, (Isaiah 59:2). Those separated from God cannot go to heaven.

Not only will we miss our primary goal, the blessings of kingdom, but we will miss the promise of secondary “things” as well.

The word “added,” is a mathematical term implying more benefits in addition to what already existed. These further benefits are promised conditionally… if we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…’

Failing to meet the conditions deprives us of God’s spiritual blessings here and hereafter, with earthly blessings piled on top. Bad mistake.

Let’s make sure this passage is laid up in our heart. (Psalms 119:11)

 

 

 

February 18, 2018

Eternal – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The late Isaac Asimov, the famous atheist, author of more than 500 books, acknowledged:

“In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself – and that is what the second law is all about.”

The creator of the universe initiated this law (the Law of Entropy) and it governs the universe, which is winding down; not up.

“Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. “Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. “But You are the same,” (Psalm 102:25-27)

Everything we see (as our clothes) is wearing out. This realization tells us, it has not always been this way. Something quite different from what we observe, was responsible for the initial order of the universe, from which it is now degenerating.

Since science is based on what we observe and everything we observe is going downhill, science cannot explain that initial order. The necessary implications of observational science, point to an explanation beyond the natural processes we observe; in other words, to a super-natural explanation.

The First Law of Thermodynamics, derived from what we observe, tells us nothing can be ultimately created or destroyed. Those who are brave enough to think about these two universal laws, come face to face with the realization the “natural” world cannot account for what we observe. What is the source of all this stuff (law says not from nothing) and how did it get up, from which it is now going down? Of course, imaginations conger up fanciful solutions, but have little to do with real science.

Think about it. Think about the implications of the first law. If there ever was a time when truly nothing existed, then nothing would exist (if we are limited to observational, scientific explanations). The fact that organized stuff does exist, says something beyond the natural is responsible, something super-natural. And it says that what is responsible is beyond our space-time continuum. These observable facts point to an explanation that is supernatural and eternal.

Eternal? Can that be a reasonable explanation? Since we have never observed anything eternal, it sounds unreasonable. But, a reasonable answer requires consideration of the alternative. What would that be? Squarely, contradicted by the First Law of Thermodynamics, the devoted naturalist says, “Nothing.” “Nothing created everything.” That’s the alternative story, and they’re sticking to it. (See, A Universe From Nothing, Laurence M. Krauss) An astute critic expressed it this way. “Naturalists believe that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing but then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs and eventually people.”

I understand that the “eternal” explanation is difficult to swallow but it’s better than, “nothing.”

Inspiration (confirmed by perfectly fulfilled prophecy and abundant, competent eye-witness testimony of supernatural signs) reveals that a supernatural, eternal being is the answer.

“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” (Psalms 41:13)

“Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalms 90:2)

Understandably, the Word of this supernatural, eternal being, will endure forever.

“Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.” (Psalms 119:89-90)

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

The inspired Apostle Peter quotes Isaiah’s revelation and extends the promise to the preaching of the Apostles.

“BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (I Peter 1:25)

The eternal Word of the eternal God promises that because God is eternal, we also shall live forever.

“His descendants shall endure forever And his throne as the sun before Me.” (Psalm 89:36)

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:17)

 

 

 

February 11, 2018

Confess – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Since sin began, back in the Garden of Eden, man has been foolishly trying to conceal sin. We are ashamed. We don’t want anyone to know. When we are really ashamed we really don’t want people to know what we have done. So, the understandable reaction is to cover up. The desperation to conceal often leads to foolish conduct. “Let’s get behind this bush so God can’t see us.” We snicker, and then say to ourselves regarding our own sin, “Pretend nothing happened. Everything will be fine. No one will ever know.” Satan whispers absurd rationalizations into our ears that seem very reasonable. “After all, if this gets out, it will hurt my influence for good. I will never be able to face my church family. My life will never be the same.”

Absurd conduct often proceeds to the really bizarre. Recall that King David committed a terrible sin and did his best to cover it up (II Samuel 12). Bathsheba’s noble husband (the victim) foiled David’s desperate, almost laughable shenanigans to conceal. So, murder appeared to be the only reasonable thing to do.

It took divine wisdom forcefully expressed through the prophet Nathan to penetrate David’s calloused defenses, but imagine a more typical approach. “David, it would be wise for you to confess your sin.” “What?” “You think that makes sense?” “You have to be crazy.” (Murdering the honorable, self-sacrificing husband is obviously much smarter.) David, along with thousands who have followed since, would respond, “No! No! No! That would be stupid.”

Man says we ought to cover. God says we ought to confess. Nathan explained that man’s proposed course is very different from God’s.

“For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” (II Samuel 12:12)

No matter how it sounds or feels, this was God’s wisdom.

Foolishness of our cover up “wisdom” is exposed when we understand and face the uncomfortable reality of God’s penetrating, pervasive all-seeing eyes.

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

Nathan’s powerful confrontation forced David to see his foolishness and to acknowledge God’ wisdom.

“O God, it is You who knows my folly, And my wrongs are not hidden from You.” (Psalm 69:5)

“I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

We should learn from this and many other Old Testament examples that humility and confession of sin is required to approach our holy God. These lessons bring us to Christ who, through His inspired ambassadors bring the point home.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another…” (James 5:16)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

Consider the vivid picture of this difficult lesson, illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the “prodigal son.”

“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:17-20)

God’s wisdom is truly

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February 4, 2018

“The God of the Old Testament – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I am continually amazed by the number who pass for Bible students, who slander “the God of the Old Testament.” I refer to those who see a moral problem produced by elevating trending societal concepts of “goodness” to the status of moral law, a status that supersedes revelation from the Creator. They effectively say, “Yes, I admit God was a vindictive meanie in the Old Testament, but then He evolved into the wonderful God of love we see in the New.” This attitude demonstrates an astounding arrogance (assuming a superior sense of morality) and at the same time an amazing ignorance of the God of the Old Testament.

The following quote is not from Jesus, nor from one of His official ambassadors, the apostles. It is the law of Moses that instructs…

“‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

A professional teacher of that Mosaic law, “a lawyer” asked Jesus…

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” (Matthew 22:36-39)

The words in capital letters are quotations from the Old Testament. The first quotation was one of the most familiar and revered of all passages to the Jews:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

The second commandment which the lawyer considered great, says:

“…you shall love your neighbor as yourself;….” (Leviticus 19:18)

Jesus acknowledged that His opponents knew the Old Testament Scriptures. He said: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” (Matthew 23:2-3) This lawyer, an expert on the Law of Moses concluded regarding that law: “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40)

But wasn’t God cruel and vengeful toward the residents of Palestine when He commanded them to be “utterly destroyed” and gave their land to His favorites, the chosen Israelites? The answer is absolutely not! The view betrays a lack of appreciation of God’s holy view of sin.

“Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor.” (Habakkuk 1:13)

The sin of the residents of Palestine had grown to a fullness that the holiness God could not tolerate. Consider His own explanation.

“Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess,” (Deuteronomy 9:6)

“‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:24)

The holy God who created the universe sees things perfectly through infinitely holy eyes. It is insolent arrogance for His feeble creation to assume that they know better.

The truth is that the great underlying theme of the Old Testament is love—love for God and love for others. Jeremiah testified that God’s love is eternal, from long before and that it will never end.

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

 

 

 

January 28, 2018

Invalidating the Word of God – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” (Mark 7:13)

The “politically correct” pluralist insists that those who believe conflicting religious views must learn to coexist (easy when you don’t believe any of the views are really true). In other words, if you have no more faith in the Bible than you do in Mother Goose, then you view it any way you want to, and they do. If you insist that a concept is true, necessarily implying conflicting views are false, you are an intolerant bigot (understandable if none of the views truly true).

This view invalidates the word of God as surely as the conduct of Pharisees, rebuked by Jesus in the New Testament. The fact that He rebuked their view, necessarily implied He believed what He taught was true and their view was not true.

The Pharisees had encumbered the Word with numerous “interpretations” that enabled them to ignore the teachings they found inconvenient. But, since it’s not really, really true, then what’s the problem? The obvious problem is that Jesus believed the Word was absolutely true and they were invalidating Divine revelation.

The contrasting attitude of today’s pluralist is not because they are nicer or more generous. It is because they don’t believe in truth, unless you are talking about their pluralism, which is true and contrasting views are false and must be opposed. That’s not sweet. It is dishonest. Like Jesus, I rebuke such attitudes because I believe in truth.

Jesus taught that every word of Scripture was true and authoritative.

“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19).

In John 10:35 Jesus added “the scripture cannot be broken.”

Skeptics pose apparent difficulties, evolutionists ridicule the creation account, and the immoral try to wriggle away from its moral constraints, and we may misunderstand, but the Scripture cannot be broken! Jesus said…

“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. …the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” (John 12:48-50).

Today’s intellectuality elite pluralists are following in the example of the Pharisees rather than Christ. Jesus says they are “invalidating the word of God…”

Various translation clarify: “nullify the word of God” NET, “making void the word of God” ESV; “making the word of God of no effect,” NKJV. The paraphrase CEV says, “And you ignore God’s commands in order to follow your own teaching.”

Consistently, all translations affirm that Jesus taught these words were God’s words and their own interpretation was blameworthy.

Peter expressed exactly the same view in II Peter 3:16, referring to what the inspired apostle Paul wrote; “…the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” Here, He uses the Greek word “στρεβλόω ” defined:

“twist…of the use of tortuous devices in the course of inquiries…to distort a statement so that a false meaning results, twist, distort…” BDAG

If you express what Jesus believed about God’s word, you will face fierce, dishonest opposition. They say it is absolutely true that you must not insist on what is absolutely true. But, we should believe as Jesus did, that if the word of God says it, it is true and opposing views are not. Proponents opposing views are not generous, they nullify the word of God.

 

 

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