Archives for : May2012

Is it okay to hire a *hit man*?

Imagine two women; we will call the first lady Jill and the other Wendy. Tomorrow Jill gets so upset with Wendy she wants to kill her.

Since Jill knows the Bible says it is wrong to personally murder someone (Rom. 13:9), she contacts a “hit man” to kill Wendy. Jill believes God will understand and accept her decision because the Bible never says “Thou shall not hire someone to commit murder for you.”

If the preceding paragraph sounds absolutely absurd, congratulations. Jill’s reasoning is wrong. The lack of a specific prohibition in the Bible or even the laws in society does not mean something is right (authorized).

The next time someone tries to justify some idea or practice based on the claim that “the Bible/society does not specifically prohibit it,” remember this silly example about Wendy and Jill.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Five Reasons God’s Law Of Marriage, Divorce, And Remarriage Applies To All

People approach the very sensitive subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage in several ways.  Some, ignorant of what Jesus says about it, are a law to themselves and come up with any number of “alternatives” including living together without marriage, homosexuality, adultery, and the like.  Some have become stricter than Jesus, saying that divorce for any reason is a sin.  This is making a law where God has not (Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19).    Some have become less strict than Jesus, making allowance where He has not.  One of the most common allowances is the idea this law does not apply to everyone.  Also, some have tried to make the sin of adultery something other than what context shows it to be.  Here are five reasons why God’s law of marriage, divorce, and remarriage applies to all.

(1) Jesus Goes Back To The Beginning Of Creation (19:4,8).  Jesus is not teaching something that was limited to His own time and it certainly was not an articulation of the Law of Moses (see 19:7-8).  Instead, Jesus goes back to the dawn of time to Adam and Eve in the Garden.  Jesus, in giving His command, reaches behind Moses to “the beginning.”  This shows a timelessness to the command.  God designed it a certain way, man distorted it, and Jesus dictates a new way that is universal in nature.  He points ahead by pointing back to the beginning.

(2) What God Has Joined Should Not Be Separated (19:6).  When two people have a right to be married, whether or not a preacher or religious person performs the ceremony, God is joining those two together.  Verse nine gives God’s only exception for allowing the marriage bond to be severed and only then for the one against whom fornication is committed (the “innocent party”)(see the last phrase in verse nine).  There is no qualifying phrase beyond that one exception to justify ending one marriage and forming another.

(3) Jesus’ Teaching Is Explicitly Clear (19:9).  It truly takes “expert help” to misunderstand what Jesus teaches here.  Take out the exception and here is how the “rule” reads:  “Whoever divorce his wife and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”  That could not be clearer!  The exception is also perfectly clear.

(4) The Disciples’ Reaction (19:10).  Their reaction is actually extreme.  They conclude that it is better not to get married.  Jesus does not validate such thinking, but it gives us insight in to what they understood.  Jesus’ law for marriage, divorce, and remarriage is stringent!  If “adultery” merely meant “covenant breaking,” would the disciples react so?  One would simply need to “repent” of having broken their marriage vows, and then enter another marriage.  If Jesus meant that, the disciples would hardly have reacted at all.

(5) Christ’s Final Response About Eunuchs (19:11-12).  Jesus clears up any doubt by how He ends this discussion.  He speaks of three classes of eunuchs-those born that way, those made that way by men, and those who make themselves that way “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”  Being delicate here, we understand what it means to be a “eunuch.”  That cuts to the heart of what our Lord is saying and one of the blessings accompanying the marriage relationship.  Those who divorce for reasons other than the exception Jesus gives in verse nine would have to be in that third category of person discussed in verse 12.

This is not a truth that can be delivered with cold stare, pounding fist, and judgmental heart.  It is one that more likely will be accompanied with breaking heart, blinding tears, and extreme hesitation.  Probably nothing is more unpleasant to teach, but as part of the “whole counsel” (Acts 20:27) it must be taught.  Culture cannot be the authority on this matter.  Neither can emotion.  Instead, as always, we must let Jesus be the authority (cf. Col. 1:18; 3:17; Matt. 28:18).

–Neal Pollard

*Jesus went to India and learned how to raise people from the dead*

“Russian writer Nicolas Notovitch, whose writings are popular among New Agers today, describes Luke as saying Jesus ‘was in the desert until the day of his showing unto Israel’ (Cf. Luke 1:80)” (Correcting the Cults, p. 146).  “This, Notovitch declared, proves that no one knew where the young Jesus was for about sixteen years.  He said he had found documents substantiating that Jesus went to India and learned from Indian gurus to raise people from the dead and cast out demons” (ibid).

If Mr. Notovitch had taken the time to read a little bit of the context (see Lk. 1:76), he would have known Zacharias was describing John the Baptist instead of Jesus.  The problem with many people today is that they do not read the Bible or they do not read enough of it.

–Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

GPS stands for *Global Positioning System*

Many travelers today use a “GPS” to help them reach their destination.  GPS stands for “Global Positioning System.”  According to the Garmin Company website, “The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense. GPS was originally intended for military applications, but in the 1980s, the government made the system available for civilian use.”

The Garmin Company also gives an explanation of how the GPS works: “GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day in a very precise orbit and transmit signal information to earth. GPS receivers take this information and use triangulation to calculate the user’s exact location. Essentially, the GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received. The time difference tells the GPS receiver how far away the satellite is. Now, with distance measurements from a few more satellites, the receiver can determine the user’s position and display it on the unit’s electronic map.” *

Isn’t it fascinating how satellites “in the heavens” are used to determine our location on Earth and gives guidance as to travel routes that we can use to reach particular areas!

Yet, the use of the GPS illustrates the fact that we ALL need guidance from Heaven above!  Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah exclaimed: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (10:23).

What you and I need is “God’s Positioning System”  For God knows where we are, where we need to be, and how to get there.  As we consult the divine GPS (God’s Word, Psalm 119:105), we can answer the following questions:

Where are we?  We are “in Sin.”  Due to our wrong choices, we are guilty of sin (James 1:13-15).  Due to our sins, we are lost and doomed, for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Where do we need to be?  We need to be “in Christ.”  In Christ, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).  Those “in Christ” can look forward to living eternally with God in heaven (Romans 6:23).

How do we get there?  We “get there” in and through Christ.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  One who puts his trust in Christ (Acts 16:30-31), turns from his sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), and confesses Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and is baptized (immersed) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) is placed by God “in Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).  Then, as long as one remains faithful to Christ, the promise is that one day – by the grace of God – he will enter into heaven (1 John 1:7; Revelation 2:10).

According to “God’s Positioning System” – the divine GPS, where are YOU?

Won’t YOU submit your life to Christ so that you can be found in Him and on your way to heaven? (Philippians 3:9)

— David A. Sargent

Is the kingdom the same as the church?

Is the “kingdom” the same as the “church”? The answer to this question is both “yes” and “no.” In some places “church” and “kingdom” are virtual synonyms. In other passages “church” and “kingdom” do not mean the same thing.

Jesus said His people would partake of the Lord’s Supper in the “kingdom” (Mt. 26:29) and Paul said this activity is done in the “church” (1 Cor. 11:20-22). In Mt. 16:18 Jesus spoke of the “church” and then immediately spoke of the “kingdom” (Mt. 16:19). Paul said the saved are “translated into the kingdom” (Col. 1:13) and then spoke of the “church” just a few verses later (Col. 1:18). In this same book he referred to “fellow workers in the “kingdom” (Col. 4:11) and then spoke of the “church” (Col. 4:15-16). Paul wrote to the “church” at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:1) and then said these Christians had been “called into the kingdom” (1 Thess. 2:12). The Hebrew writer spoke of the “church” (Heb. 12:23) and then said these saints had access to the kingdom (Heb. 12:28). Jesus’ blood purchased a “kingdom” (Rev. 5:9-10, ASV), but Acts 20:28 says Jesus’ blood purchased the church.

Just as there are different words in the New Testament that describe “elders” to describe different facets of an elder’s work (compare Tit. 1:5 with Tit. 1:7), so “kingdom” and “church” are sometimes used in this same way.

While many passages do use “kingdom” and “church” interchangeably, these two words are not always identical. In Mt. 8:12 when Jesus said “but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth” He clearly was not referring to the church. Satan has a “kingdom” (Mt. 12:26), but this kingdom is certainly not the church. At the end of time when Jesus invites the saved into the kingdom (Mt. 25:34) He will not be inviting people into the church. In places where “kingdom” and “church” are not interchangeable, the word “kingdom” generally has the sense of “rule.” All are “in the kingdom” in the sense that each one is accountable to God for his or her actions (i.e. God reigns or rules over all people). Only those who become Christians are “in the kingdom” in the sense of being a member of the church and thus part of the saved.

More information about the “kingdom” in the sense of the church is available at www.abiblecommentary.com/newtestamentchristianity

*Jesus Never Said Anything About Homosexuality*

W hen President Obama unexpectedly announced his support for gay marriage on May 9 it added fuel to a social fire has been simmering for years. Homosexual activists have been relentless in their pressure to legally force Americans to recognize same-sex unions.

Liberal clergy have, predictably, been quick to issue statements in support of Obama’s announcement. For example, one minister quoted in favor of gay marriage was the Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California. How does she justify a stand so clearly at variance with the Scriptures she is called to uphold?

Ms. Russell first asserts that since Jesus taught the most important commands are “Love God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he would celebrate committed, same-sex relationships. She then presents her crowning argument: “Jesus never said a single word about anything even remotely connected to homosexuality.”

Apparently someone has distributed a memo with talking points for those who are promoting homosexual unions, because I have seen this same statement repeated by a number of different writers. It stands as one of the most egregious examples of “Scripture twisting” (2 Peter 3:16) I have ever seen, since it overlooks three fundamental facts.

First, Jesus was a Jew. He lived and died under the Law of Moses, and from the beginning of his public preaching Jesus proclaimed continuity with that Law (Matthew 5:17-20). The Jewish culture in which his ministry was conducted had, for centuries, been shaped and molded by the holiness code of the Old Testament, a code that included such clear moral standards as “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable” (Leviticus 20:13; cf. 18:22). God’s prohibitions against homosexual behavior were well understood by Jesus’ audience and did not need to be repeated.

Second, while Jesus did not need to specifically address same-sex unions, he did uphold the Biblical pattern of marriage as being between a man and a woman by quoting the account of the original union between Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:24). “Haven’t you read,” asked Jesus, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-6).

The creation account cited by Jesus establishes the male-female union as divinely sanctioned, socially normative, and biologically necessary for the procreation of life (Genesis 2:27-28). I will personally believe in “gay marriage” when someone will identify for me, out of the more than 7 billion people now living on the face of the earth, just one individual who is the product of a same-sex union.

Third, Jesus himself explained that he had not, in his earthly ministry, covered every subject that should be addressed (John 16:12) but instead was sending the Holy Spirit to empower his chosen apostles to deliver his teaching in its fullness (John 16:13).

Once those apostles carried Jesus’ message out of the confines of Judaism and into the larger Gentile world, they immediately encountered a culture that was saturated with immorality, including the widespread practice of homosexuality (although not of same-sex marriage). For this reason the writings of the apostles are filled with moral instruction and urgent appeals to sexual purity, including the specific condemnation of homosexual behavior (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Those clergy who seek to justify gay marriage by asserting that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality” are either demonstrating a profound ignorance of Scripture or are more concerned with politics than truth.

-Dan Williams
El Dorado, Arkansas

Proverbs 4:13

DID YOU KNOW that some advice is offered on the layaway plan…?

You may have no need of it today, but it can be stored in your mind and reserved for some time later.  (I use advice today that I laid away years ago–advice that made little sense to me as a teenager but has wisdom I can fully appreciate today.)

Someone gave me advice on how to keep a job before I even filled out my first resume, advice on how to handle bills even before I ever had any, and advice about marriage long before I ever started dating.  (My parents told me the best way to keep my marriage healthy was to “board up the kitchen and eat out.”)

I couldn’t use much of that advice in the fourth grade, but I still listened.  And when the day came that I got a job, got my first bill, and said, “I do,” I had a storehouse of good advice to draw from.

THOUGHT: When someone gives you good advice, don’t tune it out because you don’t feel you need it right now.  Put it on layaway.  Keep it in reserve.  Who knows?  It could come in very handy some day.  (Martha Bolton)

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life” (Prov. 4:13).

–Mike Benson

Who was Karl Marx?

KARL MARX DEVOTED his entire life to writing about the demise of capitalism and the coming of communism…

He, along with Friedrich Engels, wrote one of the most well-known political treatises in all of history, the Communist Manifesto. As evidence of his keen understanding of the great power of words, Marx is credited with saying: “Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world!” Who are the twenty-six lead soldiers Marx referred to? They are the twenty six letters of the alphabet on a printing press.

THOUGHTS: All words of have power and meaning (Isa. 55:11). Jesus said we would be held accountable for even our idle words (Matt. 12:36-37), and Proverbs says that that words have the power of life and death (18:21). So the question is not whether words have power. The question is, “What power am I releasing with my words?” If you have sent froth words that hurt, take them back with an apology and replace them with words that heal. The greatest untapped source of healing in life is “pleasant words.”

You may not consider yourself a physician, but you should–as along as you are dispensing words of life. (David Jeremiah)

“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Prov. 16:24).

–Mike Benson

A dog chewed off his big toe

There was a news item the other day about a man who made a doctor’s appointment to check for diabetes. He apparently felt the need of some alcoholic-type of fortification prior to the appointment, so he imbibed. Quite heavily, it appears. So much so that he passed out and when he came to, he discovered that he was missing one of his big toes. His dog had chewed it off! As my granddaughters would say, “Eeewwwweee, yuck!”

But that’s not the end of this item, we need to look at “the rest of the story.” It turns out that he was diabetic and his injured toe was gangrenous. By chewing off the toe, the dog saved his life. I’ve read about animals chewing off their own diseased paws and I guess this instinct may have been the dog’s motivation here. But, let’s see if there’s a spiritual lesson here.

The man lost his toe BUT, in so doing, saved his temporal life. What a great parabolic illustration to Christ’s teaching about being tempted into sin. Read with me from Matt. 18:8-9 “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” (ESV)

So then, what’s more important – a toe or your physical life? What’s more important – an earthly body part or your eternal life? Jesus is simply drawing us a picture that points out the relative importance of the “earthly” versus the “eternal.” It’s a decision that we each have to make. To paraphrase the words of the old knight in the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – “Choose wisely.”

–Ron Covey

The jelly bean gospel

I once saw a business card that referred to the “jelly bean gospel.”  Using the color of four jelly beans, the “plan of salvation” on this card went something like this.

Black is for sin.  There is little room for disagreement here because sin is so ugly it cost Jesus His life on the cross (Jn. 3:16).

Red represents Jesus’ blood shed on the cross.  Jesus did die, His death was designed to justify man from sin (Rom. 5:9), so using the color of red to symbolize this act is certainly not objectionable.

Purple is for a sad heart.  Sadness is involved with become a Christian (2 Cor. 7:10), but sadness is not enough.  On the Day of Pentecost described in Acts 2, some were certainly sad (Acts 2:37), but Peter said they needed to “repent” (verse 38).  Repentance is a turning from what is wrong and embracing what is right (i.e. turning to and following God’s will).

Blue was the other key color on this card and this was said to represent the “personal faith in Jesus Christ that results in salvation.”  Or, as another has said, “Blue is the way you stand up and say, Jesus washed my sins away.”

Blue could stand for faith because faith is absolutely necessary (Heb. 11:6), but blue could also represent baptism.  There was no mention of baptism on the card I saw, but there are numerous passages in the Bible that say God requires baptism for salvation.  Jesus said we must believe AND be baptized (Mk. 16:16) to be saved.  Peter said baptism “now saves us” (1 Pet. 3:21).  Paul said baptism puts us “into Christ” (Gal. 3:27), the place where salvation is located (2 Tim. 2:10).  Sins are “washed away” (Acts 22:16) and “remitted” by being baptized (Acts 2:38).

Whether you use jelly beans or something else to teach people about Christianity, be sure to inform those you know about the need for “faith” (Jn. 8:24), “repentance” (Lk. 13:3), “confession” (1 Tim. 6:12), and being “buried with Christ in baptism” (Rom. 6:1-3) so they can have a “new life” (Rom. 6:4).

–Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

During the week employees discuss..

Why do so many want to never have to work?

Symptoms abound that show Americans don’t like their work. Each week thousands exclaim “It’s Friday!” In those two words is the promise of time away from the salt mine. During the week employees discuss dreams of retirement and how to speed up the process. Retirement, of course, means never having to go to work again.

Then there are those who play the lotteries. No one likes paying taxes, but many gladly pay a few bucks to their state government as they try to woo Lady Luck.

An article on SavingAdvice.com, however, states the case bluntly: “Don’t waste your money.” A typical state lottery, says the article, has odds of winning at 1 in 18 million. A person is six times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike, and three times more likely to die in a car crash on the way to purchase that ticket. /1 Such facts, however, don’t seem to dim the pursuit of a financial windfall.

People go to great lengths to never have to work again. Wouldn’t life be simpler if we could make peace with our jobs?

Paul believed that a new view of work is possible. He said this to Christians at Ephesus:

“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:5-7, NKJV).

Those in free societies have difficulty imagining a more difficult existence than being a slave. Talk about a bad job! At no time are you off the clock, and you can never call in sick. Yet slaves were urged to change their views of their work. Instead of focusing on the harsh master, look to the benevolent Lord to whom we willingly bound ourselves. See work as an opportunity to do service “to the Lord, and not to men.”

Paul’s exhortation to servants in Titus 2:10 adds one more dimension to this new view of work: “… that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” The way we go about our daily employment displays our view of God. A Christian has the opportunity on the job to show the good difference God can make. Our faith is not just for Sunday mornings; it shapes the attitudes we bring to the workplace.

Let us no longer view our jobs as a ball and chain that keeps us from enjoying life. It’s a new mission we’ve received. Through our work we can show the devotion we have to the Lord who will one day lead us to eternal rest (Revelation 14:13).

–Tim Hall

1/ http://tinyurl.com/39fto7

Money: You cannot take it with you

OF THE DOZENS upon dozens of funerals that I have conducted, I have never conducted one where the casket was occupied by anyone who had anything in his hand…

And none of the suits wrapped around those bodies required pockets.  “You can’t take it with you.”

Solomon forces us to face that moment we all tend to ignore — the moment of death.  He backs up three spaces and looks at the crash and says, “This is the grievous evil: Those who have clutched can quickly crash.”  Put another way, “Those who grabbed and rose to the top will ultimately release and drop to the bottom.”

Can you imagine the scene?  I envision a man who hoarded what he had and then lost it through a bad investment.  I can see another who fights and wins his way to the top, only to have the bottom drop out of his life as the stock market plunges.  And how about the individual who spends himself in a maddening pursuit of some financial goal, who drops dead of a heart attack?  It happens every day.  In Solomon’s words, he “toils for the wind.”  He departs exactly as he entered life…naked and without a thin dime to his name.  (Charles Swindoll)

“There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: riches kept for their owner to his hurt.  But those riches perish through misfortune; when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.  As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand” (Eccles. 5:13-15).

— Mike Benson

Tribulation produces perseverance

WHENEVER YOU FIND yourself going through times of testing, there is always a reason…a very good reason…

In fact, there are several reasons.  Testing times are to:

UNCOVER something:  When God allows pressures and trials, it is so that you might uncover something in your life He wants to deal with.  Hardships reveal areas of weakness and vulnerability.  God wants to strengthen us in those very areas, and better equip us not only to stand strong in the storms ourselves, but also to be a shelter for others.

RECOVER something:  God allows us to be tested so that we might recover something we’ve lost over the months and years.  Perhaps it is our delight in the Word of God, a habit of daily prayer, or the delight of regular fellowship with those of like-precious faith.  Trials may force us back to that “first love” walk with the Lord that has slipped away from us.

DISCOVER something: Even though it’s a test you may not like or enjoy, you discover that He’s your God, you’re His child, and that He loves you.  He’ll care for you and see you through.

I hear people talk about this trial and that trial, this test and that test.  People will say, “Pray for me, I’m going through a trial in my marriage (or in my job or in my finances or in my relationships at home).”  But in reality, those aren’t the things being tested at all.  What’s being tested is our faith, whether we will really trust Him to work in and through our circumstances.

That’s what’s really at stake.  When the heat’s on…when the shadows fall…when disappointment rips through my heart…am I going to trust Him?  Am I going to wait on Him, worship Him, and give my anxieties to Him?  Or am I going to turn away from Him in my doubt and discouragement?  (Ron Mehl)

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5).

–Mike Benson

$160 worth of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

Wayne Roberts forwarded an article to me about a bizarre incident that recently occurred in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Colorado State University student Ted Nischan, who has a lead foot and limited income, went to the Fort Collins municipal court to pay a speeding ticket.  What makes that newsworthy is that his form of payment was not cash, check, or credit.  It was coins!  $160 worth of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.  The court workers apparently does not accept that much money in that form of payment.  His personal bank would not convert the money without charging him, a fee that would leave him short of what he owes the government.  Court supervisor Fran Seaworth says that it would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money for a clerk to count out that much change.  It is a refreshing, if unusual, example of prudence in a world of red-tape-filled bureaucracy (Article Here).

In many areas of life, we risk bogging down in the minutia and majoring in the minor.  Men’s business meetings or even elders’ meetings which regularly, predominantly deal with finance and material matters to the neglect of what our main mission is risks doing the equivalent of counting a bucket full of change (cf. Acts 6:3-4; 20:28).  In our own personal, spiritual lives, when we are consumed with the here and now with little regard to eternal matters, are we frittering away time counting our bucket of change?  That’s what the rich farmer did (Lk. 12:15-21).  How easily we can lose sight of the important which poring over the ultimately inconsequential!

–Neal Pollard