From:  Worth’s Scriptural Handbook of Proof Texts                      Return to Home

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.                               © 2012

 

Reproduction of this book for non-profit circulation by any electronic or print media means is hereby freely granted at no cost—provided the text is not altered in any manner. 

 

Selected sections may be left out if desired.  If accompanied by additional, supplemental material—in agreement or disagreement—it must be clearly and visibly distinguishable from the author’s original text.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3:

The Protestant “Mainstream”

 

 

 

                        025      Apostasy:  Is It Possible?

                        026      Christmas

                        027      Church Councils

                        028      Creeds

                        029      Debating (Religious)

                        030      Depravity—Total

                        031      Easter

                        032      Fasting

                        033      Is “Judging” Religious Beliefs and the Propriety of

                                    Moral Behavior Something to be Condemned?  

                        034      Jews:  Were They Responsible for Jesus’ Death?

                        035      Jews:  Are They Still God’s Special People Today?

                        036      Legalism:  Real and Imaginary 

                        037      Negative Preaching:  Is It Undesirable?

038      Phariseeism—Real and Imagined

                        039      Predestination

                        040      Religious Titles              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

# 025 #

Apostasy:

Is It Possible?

 

            The concept goes by a variety of labels: “once saved, always saved,” “the impossibility of apostasy,” “the perseverance of the saints.”

 

            1.  In discussing the matter, many people attempt to confuse the issue by talking about what is not in question.

            A.  The issue is not whether a person “will be” but whether “can be” lost.  The first implies inevitability; the second, only the possibility or danger of it occurring.

            B.  The issue is not whether God can save us; the question is what happens when we no longer meet His required standards to be saved.  Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  If we don’t meet that prerequisite, we have no promise to count on.     

            C.  The issue is not whether a believer can be eternally condemned; the question is whether a believer can revert to unbelief and be lost.  Scripture says faith can be abandoned:  Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.   13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.   14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.     

 

            2.  There are only two logical alternatives to choose between if we insist that a Christian is incapable of apostasizing.

            A.  We can contend that the Christian does not sin at all but the scriptures directly contradict that: 

John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.   8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.   9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

            B.  We can contend that the Christian’s sin will not be accounted against him regardless of how extensive it may be.  That would make attractive the very behavior that Paul condemns: 

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?   2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?   

            (Weymouth) Romans 6:1 To what conclusion, then, shall we come? Are we to persist in sinning in order that the grace extended to us may be the greater?   2 No, indeed; how shall we who have died to sin, live in it any longer?

 

            3.  Many scriptures warn us that we can fall from God’s favor due to our misconduct.

 

            A.  The apostle Paul taught that some had already done so. 

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

            (American Standard Version) Galatians 5:4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.

 

            B.  Simon the sorcerer is an example of a person who embraced the gospel but then fell away.

            Simon’s conversion:  Acts 8:9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:   10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.   11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.   12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.   13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.  

            Simon’s falling away:  Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,   19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.   20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.   21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.   22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.   23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and [in] the bond of iniquity.   24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

 

            C.  We can become worse than an unbeliever—and we all know that unbelievers are lost.  1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

 

            D.  We can shipwreck our faith.  Sunken ships sink and perish.  The parallel is clear.  1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck. 

 

            E.  We can reach the point where is no further way to remove our sin; we have pushed God’s tolerance beyond the breaking point. 

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,   27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:  29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?   

            (Weymouth) Hebrews 10: 26 For if we wilfully persist in sin after having received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains in reserve any other sacrifice for sins.   27 There remains nothing but a certain awful expectation of judgement, and the fury of a fire which before long will devour the enemies of the truth.   28 Any one who bids defiance to the Law of Moses is put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.   29 How much severer punishment, think you, will he be held to deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, has not regarded as holy that Covenant-blood with which he was set free from sin, and has insulted the Spirit from whom comes grace?

 

            F.  We can become so deeply envolved in the moral corruption offered by society that we are worse off that if we had never believed.  If unbelievers are lost, then we are worst off than those who were never saved in the first place.  Perhaps in the sense that we voluntarily laid the blessings aside while they had never obtained them to begin with?   2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.   21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.   22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

           

            G.  Prior to that final breaking point, there is the opportunity to pull them back from the disaster they are setting themselves up for.

            But they must make the decision for themselves.  We can’t do it for them.  James 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;   20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

 

 

 

 

 

# 026 #

Christmas

 

            1.  We do not know for certain what year Jesus was born in.  Most likely range of dates:  7-4  B.C.   

 

            2.  We do not know for certain what month Jesus was born in.  December is one of the most unlikely:  the sheep were still in the field (Luke 2:8).

 

            3.  We do not know for certain what day of the month Jesus was born on. 

 

            4.  We do not know for certain what passes as “fact” about the Magi/Wise Men . . .

            A.  What “Magi” were.  Astrologers?  Magicians?  Philosophers?  Some hybrid of these interests?  Being “kings” (in some sense) seems the least likely possibility.

            B.  What country/countries they came from.

            C.  How many there were.  There were three gifts (Matthew 2:11), but were these one from each or their pooled gifts?  Ancient traditions refer to either three or twelve Wise Men.

            D.  We don’t know what race the wise men were.  Making them of different races is less likely the fewer there were.

            E.  We don’t know what their names were.  The scriptures omit them entirely.

 

            5.  Contrary to widespread speculation, the star that they saw appears to have been a miraculous phenomena rather than a normal astronomical one. 

            (A)  In Matthew 2:2:  “We have seen his star in the east” (2:2); the wording indicates past tense and different location, not something currently going on, i.e., the Magi went to Jerusalem because the star had disappeared:  if it had been still observable this would not have been necessary.   

(B)  The Jewish religious leaders went to the scriptures not the heavens to explain where to look (2:3-6).  They saw nothing in the skies to suggest location.

(C)  Only after they left Jerusalem do we read that the star was again seeable (2:9):  “it went before them” argues a moveable object not an astronomical one that “moves” only over extended periods of time; “it came and stood over where the young child was”—astronomical objects simply don’t hover over a specific geographic location. 

 

            6.  The shepherds and Wise Men did not see Jesus the same night. 

            The shepherds almost certainly saw the newborn the day of birth (Luke 2:6-16):  He had been born “this day” (verse 11) and they left “with haste” to see the child.   

            The Wise Men:  Joseph and Mary left Palestine after the Magi left (Matthew 2:11-15).  Yet in Luke 2 we read that before they left the country, Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day (2:21) and the days of ritual purification were completed (2:22-24)—these were 33 in number (Leviticus 12:1-4).  Hence the Wise Men came over a month after the birth. 

 

            7.  In a bizarre act of hypocrisy, many denominational preachers perpetuate the various myths while repudiating the virgin birth that the Bible explicitly teaches. 

            Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.   19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.   20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.   21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.   22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,   23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.   24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:   25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

 

            8.  Since the Bible is the complete revelation of God’s will and since it in no way authorizes the observance of Christ’s birth, it is wrong to observe it as a religious celebration.

            2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:   17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

            Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

 

            9.  The New Testament directly condemns the observance of religious holidays not authorized by the gospel of Christ.

            Galatians 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.   11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

            (Weymouth) Galatians 4:10 You scrupulously observe days and months, special seasons, and years.   11 I am alarmed about you, and am afraid that I have perhaps bestowed labour upon you to no purpose.

 

            10.  Whatever it is right to do at any other time of the year is just as right to do on the day the world observes as Christmas however.  Joy.  Family get togethers.  Giving to loved ones.  Meals.  Such things are never wrong just because of the day they happen on. 

 

 

 

 

 

# 027 #

Church Councils

           

            One of the primary means used to rally religious bodies behind a creed or platform is through the holding of regular conventions and councils.  This effort to implement the church universal is in marked contrast to the New Testament pattern of it being organized on a local rather than regional, national, or international basis.  The only Biblical text that refers to such a gathering, is the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:  if precedent can not be found in it for the modern practice, it can’t be found anywhere in the scriptures.  Remember:  such organizational structure was well within their ability if they had deemed it desirable or proper!

 

            1.  Only two congregations were involved in the Jerusalem council, while a multitude are routinely represented at modern church meetings.

            Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.   2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.   3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.   4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and [of] the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.   5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses.   6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

 

            2.  It was not a general policy making meeting; only two basic issues were discussed:  the necessity of circumcision and Gentile obedience to the Law of Moses.. 

Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.   2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.   5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses.   6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

By ruling circumcision unneeded, an implicit judgment was made in regard to the latter matters as well.

                       

            3.  The one issue that was discussed was doctrinal and, literally, involved salvation.  Modern councils take stands on domestic social policy, foreign affairs, and a multitude of other matters that have only the most tenuous relationship to things spiritual.  They nearly always involving matters that sincere and good hearted individuals may come to dramatically different conclusions upon.

 

            4.  Apostles were actively involved in the Jerusalem Council.  Few would claim such men present in their modern councils.

            Acts 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.   4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and [of] the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.   6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.   22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; [namely], Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:   23 And they wrote [letters] by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren [send] greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

 

            5.  Because apostles were the key figures in the meeting, inspired spokesmen of God were there.  Hence God either actively (instructing them) or passively (acquiescing  in a decision He fully endorsed) assured that the right decision was made.  No church meeting today can be described in such assured terms.

            John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

            1 Corinthians 13: 8 Charity [love] never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.   9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.   10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

 

            6.  We never hear of a second council being held.  There simply is no Biblical precedent for on-going councils / conventions / convocations.

 

 

 

 

 

# 028

Creeds

 

            1.  Creeds are a manifestation of human arrogance at its worst—claiming that we can abbreviate into a few words that which God was unable (?) to do with such brevity.

            Lacking Divine authority, they substitute numbers or the leadership credentials of creedal creators.  1 Corinthians 4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

            Because of the authority claimed for them, they are used to rebuke those who stand on scripture alone.  Psalms 119:51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: [yet] have I not declined from thy law.

            Malachi 3:13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken [so much] against thee?

            Because of the authority they claim, they are used as tools to brand dissenters—even when the dissenters are right.  Psalms 119:78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: [but] I will meditate in thy precepts.  (ASV) Let the proud be put to shame; For they have overthrown me wrongfully: [But] I will meditate on thy precepts.

 

            2.  Human creeds claim the right to include that which is conjectural at best and to leave out that which is clearly stated.

            Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.     

 

            3.  They often use a non-Biblical terminology because they are presenting a summary of what they claim the scriptures teach, rather than allowing the Bible to speak for itself. 

            Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.

 

            4.  They often directly contradict what the scriptures teach, taking only the ones they “like” and not blending in others to gain a complete picture of the Divine will.

            Yes, salvation is by faith; without faith all is lost—but not by faith alone or stopping at the point of faith without it being manifested.  Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.   

 

            5.  When creeds teach that which is without Biblical backing or is in direct contradiction to it, they become mere human tradition and nothing more.

            Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

            Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.

 

            6.  Worse:  When teaching non-Biblical or anti-Biblical doctrine, they unintentionally convince multitudes that they are doing the will of God when they are actually only advocating uninspired human inventions.

            Romans 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

 

            7.  Whether saying more, less, or the same as the Bible, creeds remain needless.

            A.  If they say more than God’s will, they deny that the scriptures contain the totality of religious truth we need. 

            2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.  

            B.  If they say less than God’s will they claim the right to determine what is left out of our beliefs.

C.  If they say the same, we admit they are not needed.

           

 

 

 

 

# 029 #

Debating (Religious)

           

 

            1.  Debates are authorized by our obligation to defend the truth.

            Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

            Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

            (Weymouth) Philippians 1:27 Only let the lives you live be worthy of the Good News of the Christ, in order that, whether I come and see you or, being absent, only hear of you, I may know that you are standing fast in one spirit and with one mind, fighting shoulder to shoulder for the faith of the Good News.

 

            2.  Debates are authorized by the Bible in its illustrations of people publicly presenting and defending scriptural truth even before hostile audiences.

            Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, [and] mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.   25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.   26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto [them], and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.   27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:   28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, [and that] publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. 

            Acts 20:18 And when they were come to him, he [Paul] said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,   19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:   20 [And] how I kept back nothing that was profitable [unto you], but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,   21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  

 

            3.  Debates are authorized by the example of Jesus defending Himself and His teaching.

            Repeatedly His opponents publicly challenged Him and His doctrine; each time He publicly and successfully refuted the attacks.  Such challenges are easily found in the New Testament record and Luke 20 is a good example of receiving—and refuting public challenges—one after another:

(1)  First about the authority behind His teaching (20:1-19).

(2)  Next came a challenge about Roman taxation in the hope of having an excuse to have the Romans arrest Him (20:20-26).

(3)  Then a challenge about the possibility of bodily resurrection (20:27-44). 

 

            4.  Debating does not, however, justify maliciousness, character assassination, or any other form of unchristian conduct.

            1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

            Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

           

            5.  Debating should be confined to genuine, substantial differences and not trivial matters.

            1 Timothy 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings.

            (Weymouth) 1 Timothy 6:4 he is puffed up with pride and has no true knowledge, but is crazy over discussions and controversies about words which give rise to envy, quarrelling, revilings, ill-natured suspicions.

            2 Timothy 2:14 Of these things put [them] in remembrance, charging [them] before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, [but] to the subverting of the hearers.

            (Weymouth) 2 Timothy 2:14 Bring all this to men's remembrances, solemnly charging them in the presence of God not to waste time in wrangling about mere words, a course which is altogether unprofitable and tends only to the ruin of the hearers.

 

 

 

 

 

# 030 #

Depravity--Total

 

            Humans are often described as “sinners by nature” (= totally depraved, in theological jargon) but is that because we have learned to be obsessed by sin or that we were born that way?  The teaching is widespread that the latter is the case, but major evidence argues that it isn’t valid.

            1.  If we are born depraved, then God is directly and personally responsible for our state, since it is He who gives us our souls.

            Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.   

            Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.

            Isaiah 57:16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls [which] I have made.

            Zechariah 12:1 The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

            Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

 

            2.  If we are born fully depraved, then children are examples to be shunned because of their pure sinfulness.  Yet this is not the case because Jesus held them up as possessors of virtues to be imitated.

            Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?   2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,   3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.   4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

            3.  Since we do not inherit our parents’ sin, we can not inherit that of our ultimate parent and ancestor—Adam.

            Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.  Read the entire chapter to see this fact argued at length.

 

            4.  Our sinful and improper behavior--produced by fleshly and mental desires--are what alienates us from God, rather than it being caused by us being born that way.

            Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:   2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear. {have hid: or, have made him hide}   3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.   4 None calleth for justice, nor [any] pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.    

            Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

            Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

            If we have twisted standards of right and wrong in our mind, our behavior will manifest that lack.  James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Just as the mind shapes behavior, behavior also shapes the mind—either for better or worse.  Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.   

           

            5.  One of the most popular total depravity proof texts is Psalms 51:5.  The actual words, however, say that she was sinful at conception, not that the offspring was at birth.

            51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

 

            6.  A second popular proof is Romans 5:17-19, but if it proves inherited total depravity, it also proves universal salvation.  The parallel with Christ would require that He brought salvation to just as many people as Adam brought death.  Either that or the “inherited sin” concept was never intended to be read into the text.

            Romans 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)   18 Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life.   19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

 

 

 

 

 

# 031 #

Easter

 

 

            The issue involved:  Whether it is right for churches, without any scriptural endorsement, to establish an annual memorial of the resurrection of Christ and for individuals to observe it.

 

            1.  Our denial of the propriety of observing Easter is not intended to be a denial of the importance of the resurrection.  In contrast, many who lead Easter observances are preachers who do not believe that Jesus was physically resurrected.  (Check the opinion polls of preacher beliefs!) 

            1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?   13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:   14 And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.   15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.   16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:   17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.   18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.   19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

 

            2.  The apostle Paul condemned the principle of having special days for religious observance.

            Galatians 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.   11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

            (Weymouth) Galatians 4:10 You scrupulously observe days and months, special seasons, and years.   11 I am alarmed about you, and am afraid that I have perhaps bestowed labour upon you to no purpose.

 

            3.  There is no authority from Christ or those He inspired for such a religious festival.  Therefore, however well intended (and it is), the observance is needless and inappropriate.

            Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

 

            4.  Easter is unneeded for the death, burial, and resurrection are remembered in the Lord’s Supper.  If that is observed, you are remembering the Lord’s victory over death.

            1 Corinthians 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:   24 And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.   25 After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me.   26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

 

            5.  The New Testament stresses regular attendance.  Easter exalts spiritual laziness—as one of the “only” services you really need to attend.  (The other being Christmas.) 

            Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

 

            6.  Not so much now as in the past, Easter exalts—in practice—the display of one’s pride of possession and attire by the special clothing purchased specifically to wear on the occasion.  It easily becomes a “look at me” event rather than a “remember the Lord” one.

            James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.   22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

            (Holman) James 1:21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

            Easter has traditionally exhibited the kind of bias toward the economically prosperous that James rebuked in his own day.  James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons.   2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;   3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:   4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?



 

 

 

 

# 032 #

Fasting

 

            1.  No church is given the legislative authority to establish days or weeks as periods of partial or complete fasting for their members.  Since Divine revelation provides no such authority it is inherently wrong no matter how well intentioned.  

            Everything we do religiously is supposed to be authorized by God.  Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

            Not remaining within the confines of what has been authorized lacks the approval of God.  2 John 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

            (Bible in Basic English) 2 John 1:9 Anyone who goes on and does not keep to the teaching of Christ, has not God: he who keeps to the teaching has the Father and the Son.

 

            2.  However, when done on an individual basis, fasting is a proper—though voluntary—part of the Christian life. 

            1 Corinthians 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except [it be] with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.   6 But I speak this by permission, [and] not of commandment.  Working from a slightly different Greek text, most translations omit the fasting reference.  Since the two went so naturally together, it could be that mentioning the latter often took for granted the former?

            Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.   2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.   3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away.

            Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

 

            3.  When engaged in, fasting should be done in such a way that others will not normally recognize what we are doing.

            Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.   17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;   18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.   19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.

 

            4.  Fasting should end when it endangers our health.

            Acts 27:33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought [them] all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.   34 Wherefore I pray you to take [some] meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.   35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken [it], he began to eat.

 

            5.  During His earthly ministry, Jesus’ disciples were known for their lack of fasting when compared to the Pharisees.

            Matthew 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?   15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

 

 

 

 

 

# 033 #

Is “Judging” Religious Beliefs

and the Propriety of Moral Behavior

Something to be Condemned? 

 

           

            Some forms of “judging” the Bible clearly condemns—hypocritical judgment surely being at the top of the list:  condemning enemies for behavior we condone in friends, condemning others for behavior we would pass by if we ourselves were doing it, etc.  But does it condemn the “judging” the world so often rebukes—comparing beliefs and behavior to Scripture and saying, “Hey!  That doesn’t fit with Scripture; it contradicts it!”

 

1.  Some forms of judging that the Scriptures condemn.

 

            A.  It condemns superficial judgment. 

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

            (Weymouth) John 7:24 Do not form superficial judgements, but form the judgements that are just.

            (New Living Translation)  Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.     

 

            B.  It condemns prejudicial, preferential, and slanted judgment. 

Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: [but] in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

            (Bible in Basic English ) Do no wrong in your judging: do not give thought to the position of the poor, or honour to the position of the great; but be a judge to your neighbour in righteousness.

            Deuteronomy 1: Deuteronomy 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear [the causes] between your brethren, and judge righteously between [every] man and his brother, and the stranger [that is] with him. 17 `You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God's. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.'

            Psalms 82:2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?

            (JPS1917) Psalms 82:2 'How long will ye judge unjustly, and respect the persons of the wicked?’

 

            C.  It condemns hasty judgment. 

Acts 5:35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

            (Weymouth) “Israelites," he said, "be careful what you are about to do in dealing with these men.”

            Acts 19:36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

            (Weymouth) These facts, then, being unquestioned, it becomes you to maintain your self-control and not act recklessly.

 

            D.  It condemns hypocritical judgment:  condemning others when we are acting as badly as they are—or even worse. 

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.   2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.   3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?   4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye?   5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

            James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

            Obadiah 1:15 For the day of the LORD [is] near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 

 

 

2.  The Bible authorizes, encourages, and even demands certain types of judging.

 

            A,  We are to judge the doctrines we hear others teach.  

            1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

            1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

            2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.   2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.   3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

 

            B.  We are to judge the character of our fellow humans we come in contact with honesty—branding in our minds “wrong” as “wrong” and “evil” as “evil” when they are clearly present rather than giving excuses to overlook blatant misconduct.

            Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.   16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?   17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.   18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.   19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.   20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.   21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.   22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?   23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

            Behavior manifests inner character or its lack:  Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by [his] fruit.   34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.   35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.   36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.   37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

 

            C.  We are to judge whether those we come in contact with are saved or whether they still stand in need of teaching about God’s plan of human redemption. 

            When John the Baptist faced those particularly stubborn about being willing to change their lifestyles to make them acceptable to God—they were already going through the outward “forms” of being religious by coming to be baptized by him—he finally turned to them and vigorously rebuked their spiritual blindness: 

            Luke 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?   8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.   9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.   

            This would not have been the appropriate message for all audiences, but it was for the particular one he was dealing with.  Similarly we judge and analyze what the person we are encountering is in need of, what is the most likely kind of approach to gain a positive reaction, and select from the variety of things that could be said what would be most appropriate in the current situation.

 

            D.  Oddly enough, we must judge when to stop teaching a person or to avoid doing so in the first place.

            Jesus pointed to the situation when we know that the person is potentially dangerous:  Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

            Proverbs 9:7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked [man getteth] himself a blot.   8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.   9 Give [instruction] to a wise [man], and he will be yet wiser: teach a just [man], and he will increase in learning.

            (English Standard Version)  7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.  8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.  9  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

 

            E.  We must decide disputes when requested to do so.

            1 Corinthians 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

 

            F.  The standard of authority that we apply in such situations is not personal opinion or prevailing societal “standards” but the revealed word of God found in the scriptures.

            2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

            2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:   17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

 

3.  Those who criticize us for judging religious error as “wrong” and evil behavior as “sinful” are guilty of condemning secular and religious matters just as vigorously—and often far more vehemently—than we would.

 

            A.  In the very act of criticizing us they themselves are “judging!”

 

            B.  Secular matters from athletes and athletic teams to political parties and particular politicians are not merely “judged” stupid, evil, incompetent, lying, but epithets and obscenities are hurled that would never be used by a faithful Christian when condemning matters censured by Scripture.  Yet we are supposed to be the evil ones!

 

            C.  They do not hesitate to judge religious matters either.

            See what they say when their children convert to a religion they don’t like.

            Or marries a Mormon . . . or Jehovah Witness . . . or even starts attending regularly at any church!

 

 

 

 

 

# 034 #

Jews:

Were They Responsible for Jesus’ Death?

 

           

            Jesus was a Jew, living in a Jewish country, deeply offending the sentiments and influence of the Jewish religious leadership of His day.  Who, then, would one expect to be guilty of causing His death than Jews?  The Irish Republican Army?

            The problem lies not in this historical reality, but in how people have distorted what the Scriptures say to hold later Jews responsible for what they had no involvement in.

 

            1.  The Jews present in Jerusalem at the Passover were blamed for the crucifixion occurring. 

The actual crucifixion began at 9 A.M., their third hour of the day (Mark 15:25), meaning all the earlier events and “legal” proceedings happened at night or as the sun rose.  Because of this, most would not have heard of it till hours after sunrise.  On the other hand, there is not the slightest evidence that they ever made life difficult for the religious leadership for railroading it through when dissent was least likely to be available.  Indeed, Peter speaks as if some of them had actually been in the crowd that encouraged the death penalty (Acts 3:13, 14, below).

            (KJV) Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.    

            Acts 3:13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [him] go.   14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;   15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.        

            Cf.  1 Thessalonians 2:14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they [have] of the Jews:   15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

 

 

            2.  The instigators of the death were specifically the Jewish religious leadership, the Sanhedrin.

 

            A.  The gospels tell us they wished to act in a way that friendly or uncommitted individuals could not successfully intervene—an implicit admission that their plans flew in the face of the wishes of many.

            Matthew 26:3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,   4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill [him].   5 But they said, Not on the feast [day], lest there be an uproar among the people.

            (Weymouth) Matthew 26:3 Then the High Priests and Elders of the People assembled in the court of the palace of the High Priest Caiaphas,   4 and consulted how to get Jesus into their power by stratagem and put Him to death.   5 But they said, "Not during the Festival, lest there be a riot among the people."

           

            B.  They considered Jesus a sacrificial pawn whose death would save the nation from Roman retaliation—not to mention the Temple, thereby also preserving their own positions of religious leadership.  (Alternatively, just the latter may well be under consideration.)

            John 11:43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.   44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.   45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.  

46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.   47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.   48 If we let him thus alone, all [men] will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.   49 And one of them, [named] Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,   50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.   51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;   52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.   53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.  

If one feels generous, “our place” refers to the Temple; if one is a cynic or student of politics one thinks of their position within the Temple system.  Translations vary here, with most retaining the vaguer “our place” which could cover either or both (ASV, BBE, ESV, Holman, NASB, NIV, NKJV, Rotherham, Young).  The GW makes it specifically their leadership within the religious system, “Then the Romans will take away our position and our nation.”

A strong minority make it a specific reference to the Temple itself (CEV, ISV, NLT, TEV; the RSV opts for “our holy place.”).  Weymouth makes it a geographic reference, “will come and blot out both our city and our nation.”  

 

            C.  These were the individuals who, when He was presented before Pilate, pushed their accusations to produce the death penalty.

            Matthew 27:11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.   12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.  

            (Weymouth) Matthew 27:12 When however the High Priests and the Elders kept bringing their charges against Him, He said not a word in reply.

 

            D.  Since the Sanhedrin sent Jesus to Pilate, it follows that the hostile crowd that showed up was one that they had arranged for—supporters, dependents, etc.  They represented them rather than the general belief of the Jewish people.  (Think of the typical crowd at a partisan political rally in our age.) 

            Luke 23:23  But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

            John 19:15 But they cried out, Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

 

            E.  The crowd and Sanhedrin members willing to have the blood of Christ count against descendants are—in context—talking about what they are willing to have God do to their personal descendants if they are in the wrong—not about what they wish to happen to the entire Jewish people.  (It is hard to imagine even the most callous Sanhedrin member or supporter being that hard-hearted!) 

            Matthew 27:15 Now at [that] feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.   16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.   17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?   18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him [pointing to the fact that he recognized that this was a Sanhedrin controlled mob and not representative of the population at large].   20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.   21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.   22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? [They] all say unto him, Let him be crucified.   23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.   24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it].   25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.   26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered [him] to be crucified.

 

            F.  The apostles and early disciples knew full well the Sanhedrin lay behind the “legal” execution of Jesus and put the blame squarely on their shoulders.

            Luke 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs.   14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.   15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.   16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.   17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications [are] these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?   18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?   19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:   20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

 

            Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,   2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.   3 And they laid hands on them, and put [them] in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.   5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,   6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.   7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?   8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,   9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;   10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

 

            Acts 5:16 There came also a multitude [out] of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.   17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,   18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.   19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,   20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.   21 And when they heard [that], they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.   22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,   23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.   24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.  

25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.   26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.   27 And when they had brought them, they set [them] before the council: and the high priest asked them,   28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.   29 Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.   30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

 

            Stephen’s sermon:  Acts 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.   11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and [against] God.   12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon [him], and caught him, and brought [him] to the council,   13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:   14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.   15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

            Acts 7:1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so?    52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:   53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it].   54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth.   55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,   56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.   57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,   58 And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul

 

Finally, a text that could refer to the Sanhedrin or to Pilate—or both:  1 Corinthians 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.   

 

 

            3.  However much the Jewish religious leadership manipulated their own laws and the Roman governor to push through a night trial of their own and then a similarly rapid Roman trial, the fact remains that the Romans were the ones who provided ultimate legal “cover” for the death. 

It is much debated as to whether the Sanhedrin could exercise the death penalty or not; even if it turns out that they could, dragging the Romans into full “partnership” meant that Roman power could be invoked if flashback against the judicial murder endangered their position.

            Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:   23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:   24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

            Most translations make clearer that they used others (i.e., the Romans),  For example, (ASV) Acts 2:23 him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay.  Since crucifixion was a Roman method of death the reference to it requires that the Romans are under consideration.

            Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou [art] God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:   25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?   26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.   27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,   28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.   

            Jesus, beforehand, spoke of the Roman involvement as well:  Matthew 20:17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,   18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,   19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify [him]: and the third day he shall rise again.

 

 

            4.  The Jews of today have no more responsibility for what their ancestors in Jerusalem did to Jesus than do modern Italians for the pivotal role played by Pontius Pilate.

           

            A.  Consistency requires this.

            If “Jewish guilt” is inherited, then “Italian guilt” must be also.  To condemn modern Jews and ignore contemporary Italians would be nothing short of brazen hypocrisy. 

 

            B.  The scriptures teach that moral guilt is not passed on to future generations.

            Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

            Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

            Isaiah 3:10 Say ye to the righteous, that [it shall be] well [with him]: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.   11 Woe unto the wicked! [it shall be] ill [with him]: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

            Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

 

 

 

 

 

# 035 #

Jews:

Are They Still God’s Special People Today?

 

 

            Having rejected Jesus as Messiah, they no longer have a claim to that status.  They are on the exact same spiritual level as Gentile unbelievers—not one bit worse, but not one bit better either.  Any claim they may have to geographic Palestine, then, must be rooted in historic ties, rather than still possessing an inherent right to it. 

 

            1.  In Jerusalem, Jesus warned the Jewish leaders of first century Israel that the kingdom would be taken from them.

            Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?   43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.   44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.   45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.   46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.  The popular support for Jesus surviving such a radical claim strongly argues that his evaluation of the religious leadership “rang true” to His listeners and that they recognized that the nation could suffer for lack of full commitment to God.

 

            2.  While traveling in His roving ministry, He warned that Jews would be rejected as His people due to lack of faith.

            Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him.   10 When Jesus heard [it], he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.   11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.   12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

            3.  Peter taught that Christians—who can be Jewish or Gentile in ancestry and of any and all ethnic backgrounds—are God’s chosen people in the modern world.

            Writing to Christians, Peter insists  1 Peter 2:6  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.   7 Unto you therefore which believe [he is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,   8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.   9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:   10 Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

            (Weymouth)  1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a priesthood of kingly lineage, a holy nation, a people belonging specially to God, that you may make known the perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.   10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not found mercy, but now you have.

 

            4.  Paul also taught that Christians—who can be Jewish or Gentile in ancestry and of any and all ethnic backgrounds—are God’s chosen people in the modern world.

            Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:   7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.   8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.  

14 What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid.   15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  

22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:   23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,   24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.   26 And it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.  

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:   28 For he will finish the work, and cut [it] short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.   29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.  

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.   31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.  (Read the entire chapter when you have time for it all touches on this theme.)

 

            5.  Only that small minority of Jews who accept Jesus as Messiah are counted as part of His people today; unbelieving Jews stand not one iota above unbelieving Gentiles in being unreconciled to God.

            Romans 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin.   2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,   3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.   4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal.   5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but [rather] through their fall salvation [is come] unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.   12 Now if the fall of them [be] the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?  

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:   14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation [them which are] my flesh, and might save some of them.   15 For if the casting away of them [be] the reconciling of the world, what [shall] the receiving [of them be], but life from the dead?   16 For if the firstfruit [be] holy, the lump [is] also [holy]: and if the root [be] holy, so [are] the branches.  

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;   18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.   20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:   21 For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee.   22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.   24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural [branches], be graffed into their own olive tree?  In other words if they embrace Jesus, they will be grafted back into God’s people; if they persist in rejection, they won’t be.

 

6.  The old Jewish-Gentile division has been blasted apart in determining who is and who is not part of God’s people; now the opportunity is open to one and all.  But it hinges upon their individual decisions rather than that of their ancestors.     

            Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;   12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:    13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.   14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us];   15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;   16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.

            Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:   35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

            (Weymouth) Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak.  “I clearly see," he said, "that God makes no distinctions between one man and another;   35 but that in every nation those who fear Him and live good lives are acceptable to Him.”

 

            7.  God no longer counts physical descendency from Abraham as sufficient to make a true Jew.  Embracing of Jesus is now the prerequisite—open to all Jews and all Gentiles alike, if they voluntarily take advantage of the opportunity.

            Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:   29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.

            (Weymouth) Romans 2:28 For the true Jew is not the man who is simply a Jew outwardly, and true circumcision is not that which is outward and bodily.   29 But the true Jew is one inwardly, and true circumcision is heart-circumcision--not literal, but spiritual; and such people receive praise not from men, but from God.

            Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:   15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.   23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,   24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

 

 

 

 

 

 

# 036 #

Legalism:

Real and Imaginary

 

 

            1.  Real legalism:  Emphasizing some of God’s laws while neglecting others, even more important ones.  The Scriptures condemn such behavior.

            Proverbs 21:3 To do justice and judgment [is] more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

            1 Samuel 15: 13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed [be] thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.   14 And Samuel said, What [meaneth] then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?   15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.   16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.   17 And Samuel said, When thou [wast] little in thine own sight, [wast] thou not [made] the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?   18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. {they...: Heb. they consume them}   19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?

20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.   21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.  

22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams.   23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king. {witchcraft: Heb. divination}   24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

           

Jesus endorsed the principle:  Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

            Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over [pass by, NKJV; disregard, NASB] judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

 

            2.  Real legalism:  Those who “prove” a practice or doctrine by the clever misuse or perversion of Biblical texts.  The Scriptures condemn such behavior.

            1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law [is] good, if a man use it lawfully.

            (Holman) Now we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately.

            2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, [yet] is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

            (Weymouth) And if any one takes part in an athletic contest, he gets no prize unless he obeys the rules.

 

            The Pharisees were infamous for this kind of legalism:  They “bent” scriptures in such a manner that a direct commandment could be ignored in order to accomplish the purpose / goal they thought more important:  Mark 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.   10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:   11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, [It is] Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [he shall be free].   12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;   13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

 

            3.  Real legalism:  Binding the ritual laws of the Old Testament.  The Scriptures warn against such by teaching that the authority of the Old Testament has been removed.

            Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;   15 [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.   16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]:   17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.

            Even the Old Testament itself recognized the limitation of these aspects of the Jewish Law.  Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

            Quoted and endorsed by Jesus:  Matthew 9:10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.   11 And when the Pharisees saw [it], they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?   12 But when Jesus heard [that], he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.   13 But go ye and learn what [that] meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

            Jesus on a similar point:  Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, [which was] a lawyer, asked [him a question], tempting him, and saying,   36 Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law?   37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.   38 This is the first and great commandment.   39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.   40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

 

            3.  Where legalism is falsely charged:  to brand those who insist upon the maximum degree of faithfulness to God’s law of which a person is capable.  The Scriptures approve, endorse, and demand this type of behavior.

 

            A.  God has always expected His law to be fully obeyed, even when His law under consideration involved only one matter.

            In the Garden of Eden there was only one law given:  Don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).  The violation of that brought on to not only them but all their human descendants disease and death.  One law turned out to be important.

            When Lot, his wife, and two daughters were commanded to leave Sodom and Gomorrah only one rule was given:  don’t look back (Genesis 19:17-26); the wife did and was turned into a “pillar of salt.”  One law meant the difference between life and death.    

 

            B.  God’s law as revealed through Christ and His apostles and prophets is to be fully obeyed.

            Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.   19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:   20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

            1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.   4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.   5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

            (BBE) 1 John 2:3 And by this we may be certain that we have knowledge of him, if we keep his laws.   4 The man who says, I have knowledge of him, and does not keep his laws, is false, and there is nothing true in him:   5 But in every man who keeps his word, the love of God is made complete. By this we may be certain that we are in him.

           

            C.  Because an ordinance of God may seem to be “minor” in our judgement, is no excuse for shunning its observance.

            Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

 

 

 

 

 

# 037 #

Negative Preaching:  Is It Undesirable?

 

 

            Although “negative preaching” can be vastly overdone, of course, anything that contradicts individual preferences can be denounced as well.  In fact some get uptight emotionally when there is any bluntness or directness at all:  “Negative preaching!” is the denunciation in response.  Isn’t it fascinating how negative people can become and it’s okay—when they themselves are doing it? 

 

            1.  John the Baptist engaged in negative preaching.

            Matthew 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,   6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.   7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?   8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:   9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.   10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

            Matthew 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,   2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.   3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put [him] in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.   4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.   5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

 

            2.  Jesus engaged in negative preaching.    

            Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:   21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.   22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.   23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.   24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

            Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?   7 [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,   8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me.   9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.

            Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,   2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:   3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.   4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.   5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.

 

            3.  Peter engaged in negative preaching.

            Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:   23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain

            Acts 3:13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [him] go.   14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;   15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

 

            4.  The martyr Stephen engaged in negative preaching.

            Acts 7: 51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye.   52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:   53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it].   54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth.

 

            5.  Paul engaged in negative preaching.

            Acts 13:27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled [them] in condemning [him].   28 And though they found no cause of death [in him], yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.   29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took [him] down from the tree, and laid [him] in a sepulchre.   30 But God raised him from the dead

            Acts 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I [am] pure from the blood of all [men].   27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.   28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.   29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.   30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.   31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

           

            6.  Every faithful gospel preacher must engage in negative preaching when it is appropriate and called for.

            2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.   3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;   4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

            1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.   21 I charge [thee] before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

            Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

 

 

 

 

 

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Phariseeism

Real and Imagined

 

            When we are critical of the doctrines and practices of the various religious movements around us, we are often accused of “Phariseeism.”   The very act of daring to say anything is often regarded as proof of the accusation.  Ironically, those who level the charge are far more often guilty of the kind of Phariseeism condemned in the New Testament!

 

            1.  Just because the Pharisees believed or practiced something does not automatically prove that it was wrong:  On some subjects they were clearly in the right—or, at least, far closer to it than their foes.

 

            A.  They were right in regard to the existence of the human spirit, angels, and the physical resurrection.

            Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men [and] brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.   7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.   8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.   9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes [that were] of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

 

            B.  They were right in regard to the obligation of all to be faithful and completely observe all of God’s Law.  The condemnation was aimed at them for ignoring part of that Law.

            Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

            (Weymouth)  Alas for you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you pay the tithe on mint, dill, and cumin, while you have neglected the weightier requirements of the Law--just judgement, mercy, and faithful dealing. These things you ought to have done, and yet you ought not to have left the others undone.

            Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
           
(Weymouth) But alas for you Pharisees! for you pay tithes on your mint and rue and every kind of garden vegetable, and are indifferent to justice and the love of God. These are the things you ought to have attended to, while not neglecting the others.

 

 

            2.  Those who accuse us of Phariseeism are often guilty of the very aspects of Phariseeism that brought Jesus’ rebuke.

 

            A.  They substitute, observe, and follow—and expect others to as well—various humanly invented religious traditions in place of what is actually taught by Scripture.

            Mark 7:5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?   6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.   7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.   8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.   9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.   10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:   11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, [It is] Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [he shall be free].   12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;   13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

 

            B.  They keep people out of God’s kingdom.

            Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

            Denominational preachers do this today by trying to convince people that they can safely ignore part of God’s plan of salvation.  The most emphasis is on either

* denying the necessity of adult / believer baptism in contradiction to what Jesus and the apostles taught (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:20-21).

* or denying the need for a drastic reform of life that lays aside excess and the sexual abuse of others—the need for repentance.

 

            C.  They encourage religious pride by giving special honor and religious titles to their preachers.

            It should be carefully noted that it was Jesus Himself who linked religious pride to the embracing of such titles as well as the expectation of special social honors for their “clerical” status-- Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,   6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,   7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.   8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.   9 And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.   10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ.   11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.   12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.   13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

 

 

            3.  There are some forms of Phariseeism that even “faithful” Christians are sometimes guilty of.  In such cases they, too, need to repent and change their behavior. 

           

            A.  Knowing what God demands of us but not actually doing it.  Knowledge is intended to be the foundation of change and not a substitute for it.

            Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,   2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:   3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.   4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.  

            James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.

            John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

 

            B.  Substituting outward religious observance for purity of heart . 

            Matthew 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.   26 [Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.   27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness.   28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

 

 

 

 

 

# 039 #

Predestination

 

 

            1.  Individuals are not predestined to Heaven or Hell since the Bible pictures us as being able to choose our eternal destiny by our actions and behavior.

            Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent

            Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.   45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,   46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:   47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

           

            2.  Individual predestination to Heaven or Hell is impossible because it would make God personally responsible for our destiny rather than it being due to our own guilt produced by violating His law.  Is even an earthly judge considered just and responsible if he merely checks names at random from those appearing that day—and sends them to life imprisonment without anything having been done by them?

 

            3.  Individual predestination to Heaven and Hell is impossible for it would make God a liar and hypocrite when He claims that He wants every one to be saved.  Under predestination he doesn’t!

           

            A.  The salvation of all is God’s desire.

            1 Timothy 2:3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;   4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

            2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

 

            B.  God can not lie when He says things like that!

            Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

            Hebrews 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which [it was] impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.

 

            4.  Foreknowledge is not the same thing as predestination.

            Example:  An intelligence agency may know that a terrorist attack is coming, but does the fact that they know it mean that they predestined it to happen?  (Who would be so silly?)  If we actually answer the question “yes,” then the moral responsibility would be just as much on their back as on whoever actually carried out the plot.

 

            5.  In a sense groups are, indeed, “predestined:  The saved (in the church) to Heaven and the damned (those who reject the gospel) to Hell.  But they are predestined by the actions they themselves take (or don’t take); God doesn’t impose it upon them.

 

 

 

 

 

# 040 #

Religious Titles

 

            We live in a world of religious titles:  “Reverend,” “Right Reverend,” “Archbishiop,” “Doctor of Divinity” and a multitude of others.  Such titles are so common that it is surprising to many to discover that the Scriptures are hostile to the use of such.

 

            1.  Christ condemned the principle of using of any religious titles to make us stand out as “above” other believers.

            Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,   6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,   7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.   8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.   9 And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.   10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ.   11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.   12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.                    

            Protestants fail to grasp the full significance of this passage:  Jesus isn’t only upset with use of “father” as a religious title, but provides other titles as well—He was clearly manifesting annoyance at the whole idea rather than one term alone.

 

            2.  Jesus taught that the use of religious titles is an expression of pride.  I didn’t claim it; Jesus did in the passage just above:  After naming titles, He adds-- Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.   12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

 

            3.  “Reverend” is never used in accurate modern translations of the Bible.  Even in the King James Version it is only used once and then of God and not men.

            Psalms 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend [is] his name.

 

            4.  The use of religious titles indicates that we separate the church into two parts:  The clergy (or priesthood) and the laity.  The New Testament repudiates this by teaching the priesthood of all believers—including you, if you are a believer.

             1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

            1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.