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Monday, October 22, 2018

Luke 6:45

Luke 6:45--The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

 

Our heart is a treasure house where we store those things that control our intellect, emotions, actions, attitudes and will. What we think, believe, how we act and react is determined by that which we have stored in our hearts.   We need desperately to hear and heed the words of Solomon, "Watch over your hearts with all diligence, For from it flows the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23).

 

Keeping watch over our heart will require that we do as Paul instructs in Philippians 4:8, think on those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent and worthy of praise. It will require that we be willing to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God and not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15-17). I love Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me".

 

If we are going to successfully guard our heart then we must surrender ourselves completely to God and his will. Hear James as he tells us, Submit yourselves to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). What do you think submitting to God means? I don't know how you would answer that question but as for myself, I believe it means that I let him mold my thoughts through his word, I let his word fill my heart and let his word guide my life every step of the way. It is saying "God I surrender all to you, take me, take me now"!

 

I pray that each of us will have good treasures in our hearts so that we can in confidence say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way".

 

Charles Hicks

 

Friday, October 19, 2018

I came. I saw. I conquered

The Royal Priesthood Reigns with its Hero – King Jesus

“I came. I saw. I conquered.” Julius Caesar, 47 BC? No, Jesus Christ, 4 BC-30 AD!  Psalm 132:9-18. Jesus came calling sinners to repent and enter His kingdom. Mark 1:15. As Son of David he would sit on David’s throne. Genesis 49:8-10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 22:41-45. At the end of Jesus’ ministry, one prominent Jewish councillor even asked for Jesus’ body on the cross, and Mark said he was waiting for the kingdom. Mark 15:43. When Jesus came He saw our need, conquered our sin, was raised from death to become King, and rules  His kingdom of priests till he returns at the end of time. Exodus 19:6; Psalm 45; 110:1-7; 132:9-18; Daniel 7:21-27; Colossians 1:12-14; 1 Peter 2:5-9; 3:13-22; Revelation 1:6; 2:17; 5:10; 7:9-17; 20:6. In fact, King Jesus rules over everyone and everything in the universe. He is Lord of all. Psalm 2; 110:1-3; Matthew 11:27-12:8; 28:18; Mark 4:35-41; Acts 10:36; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; 15:25; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 1:17-18; 5:9-14; 17:14; 19:16. God’s reign is one of the great themes of the Bible, as is God’s reign through Jesus.

As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honour, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.' Daniel 7:13-14

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but  they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:6

Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. 9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. 10 For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one. 11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back:

“One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. 12 If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies

that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne. Psalm 132:8-12

Many are making huge sacrifices to get a glimpse of Prince Harry - the possible, future king of England, but why

aren’t they  interested in Jesus the Saviour of the world and the King of the universe who grants life everlasting?

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.

Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendour and majesty. In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.

Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet.

Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom.

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions

    by anointing you with the oil of joy. Psalm 45:1-7

We Christians, of course, have no need to say, “Long live the King,” because Jesus our King lives forever. His reign will last until God the Father decides to bring our world to a close, and then Jesus will hand His rulership back to His Father, and again be subject to Him.

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy." Daniel 2:44-45

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) 28 Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

In our day-to-day lives, Jesus is King when we do His will.

Our Father in heaven.

May your name be kept holy.

May your Kingdom come soon.

May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10

We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you into his Kingdom to share his glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:12.    Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5.

And as we daily do God’s will, we ensure that the kingdom we entered at our conversion, John 3:3-5; Colossians 1:12-14, will welcome us into its eternal phase in heaven at the return and judgment of Jesus. John 5:24-30; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Ephesians 5:5; Hebrews 9:27-28

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvellous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.  8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are short-sighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11

The kingdom belongs to Christ and God. Ephesians 5:5. It is not of this world, John 18:36, but is “righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17. It is the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - not because Jesus remains King eternally, but because the Kingdom (i) that began when Jesus became Lord after His resurrection, Acts 2:29-36, (ii) into which we entered as specially favoured at conversion, Colossians 1:12-14, (iii) in which we live each day as we reign with Christ, Matthew 6:10; Romans 5:17; Revelation 5:10, and (iv) will continue eternally under Father God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 15:25-28; Hebrews 12:25-28; Revelation 22:5.

The gospel of Christ is the gospel of the kingdom which we always preach, Acts 1:3,6-8; 8:12; 19:8 … because Jesus’ kingdom is now! John 3:3,5; Romans 1:14-17; 5:17,21; 14:17; Colossians 1:13-14; Hebrews 12:48. The

kingdom of Christ is Christ’s reign in our lives so that we can reign in righteousness with Him.

For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the

abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

David Hunter

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1)

 

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-26, Paul likens the Christian life to a race in which the Christian runs in earnest with his eyes fixed on a definite goal. Winning that crown of righteousness must be an all consuming desire of the runner (Philippians 3:12-13; James 1:12).  We must run as if there were blinders on our eyes so as to not let any distractions cause us to swerve to the right or left. Our race will not be an easy one.

 

I suggest to you three things that must be a part of our daily routine if we are to successfully endure to the end of the race and win the prize of the high calling of God:

 

       1.  Spend time each day talking with the Lord. It is so uplifting and comforting

            to the soul to spend some quiet moments praying to God (1 Thess. 5:17;

             Phil. 4:6; Rom. 12:12).

 

       2.  Be thankful for the peace of God that rules in your heart and every

            day remember to seek the Lord's blessing (Col. 3:15). Jesus tells us to ask

            and it will be given, seek and we will find, knock and it will be opened

            to us (Matt.7:7). We have the awesome privilege of being able to go

            boldly before the throne of grace where we will receive mercy and find

            help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).

 

       3.  Take time for spiritual nourishment each day (1 Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:11-14;

            2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Pet. 3:18). Feeding on his word, we let him be our guide

            (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This will be our means of placing every thought

             and motive under his control as we run the race (Col. 3:15-17;

            2 Cor. 10:3-5; Phil. 4:8).

 

My prayer is that all of us will be found running this Christian race every day in such a way that we can say: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me  the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, righteous Judge will award me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

 

Charles Hicks

Monday, October 15, 2018

re: https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2018/10/07/people-who-are-just-christians-dont-have-a-clue/

This is a reply to the article “People who are “Just Christians” Don’t Have a Clue” posted at https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2018/10/07/people-who-are-just-christians-dont-have-a-clue/

My reply?

1 Peter 4:14-16; 1 Corinthians 4:1-13

Even the first “pope” – Peter himself – said we suffer for the name of Christ – as Christians. Nothing about Catholics, Protestants, denominations, sects, heresies, philosophies, etc.

And the whole point of 1 Peter is to stress that we suffer for what is right, not for what is wrong. 1 Peter 2:20; 3:17; 4:19.

Setting yourself up as a human head of the church on earth is clearly wrong, since only Christ is head of the church in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Peter 3:21-22.

Claiming a foundation for the church that is other than Christ and the original apostles, is clearly wrong. Matthew 16:18-19; 18:18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11; Ephesians 2:19-22.

Dividing Christ’s church into denominations is totally against Christ’s will which urges us to be “perfected in unity.” John 17:20-23; 1 Corinthians 1:10-15; 3:1-4:7; Ephesians 4:1-6.

Christians are nourished by the word of God, and only the word of God. Matthew 15:1-14; Acts 20:20,24,27,32; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-15; 1 Timothy 3:15; 6:14,20-21; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; 3:16-17. Since the word ‘tradition’ refers to what is handed on and received, the only tradition that is handed on to be received as authoritative, by those interested in the truth, is the inspired word of the Old Testament prophets, and the inspired word of the New Testament apostles – all of which we have access to in the Scriptures we call the Bible. 2 Peter 1:16-21; 3:1-2.

Jesus once said, “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Anyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” John 18:37. This is what caused Pilate to ask: “What is truth?” John 18:38. Pilate was probably confused. He had heard the Jewish high priest’s version of the truth, and he had heard Jesus’ version of the truth.

We listen to Jesus when we hear and obey his word. Matthew 4:4; 7:13-29; Mark 4:20-25; 7:5-14; Luke 6:46; 1 Corinthians 14:37.

Salvation comes to those who obey Jesus who died to save, and who lives forever to make saving intercession. Hebrews 5:7-9; 7:23-28.

We have no other mediator between God and man. 1 Timothy 2:3-7.

--David Carr

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Is There Any Hope?

 

The English poet Alexander Pope wrote, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blest.”

 

But where does man turn when hope dries up?

 

The director of a medical clinic told of a terminally ill young man who came in for his usual treatment.  A new doctor who was on duty said to him casually and cruelly, “You know, don’t you, that you won’t live out the year?”

 

As the young man left, he stopped by the director’s desk and wept.  “That man took away my hope,” he blurted out.

 

“I guess he did,” replied the director.  “Maybe it’s time to find a new one.”

 

Commenting on this incident, Lewis Smedes wrote, “Is there a hope when hope is taken away?  Is there hope when the situation is hopeless?  That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible.  It becomes a passion for the promise.” *

 

The Apostle Peter wrote these encouraging words to some “suffering saints,” some Christians who were being persecuted for their faith in Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).  He describes their hope as a living hope because Jesus rose from the dead.

 

The basic facts of the Gospel, the Good News, are: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

 

Christ died for our sins.  He paid the price for our redemption with His own blood.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

 

He was buried in a tomb.  With the permission of Pilate, the Roman governor, the chief priests and Pharisees made the tomb secure, sealing the stone in front of the tomb, and setting a guard (see Matthew 27:62-66).

 

But on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead, the stone was rolled away, and the tomb was found empty.  By His resurrection, Christ won the victory over Satan, sin, and death.

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead means that sin, suffering, and death do not have the final word.  His resurrection guarantees us that we, too, will be raised one day (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-57).

 

That is a promise.  It is a promise that provides hope beyond the grave.  It is a living hope because Jesus is alive!

 

That living hope belongs to those who have embraced the Living Lord through their trusting obedience.

 

God has promised to save and raise to eternal life in heaven those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

 

Is there any hope?  Because of Jesus, the answer is “Yes!”

 

Won’t you submit your life to Jesus so that you can share in that hope?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

* Source: Our Daily Bread, December 19, 1996, quoted in Sermon Illustrations from www.bible.org

 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How to overcome the devil

Oh, Great, He’s Up    

1)    An evil spirit (Acts 19:15) said it “knew Jesus.”  This spirit also said it “knew Paul.”

2)    This evil spirit then said it did not “know” some Jews who claimed to cast out evil spirits.

3)    Satan and his helpers “know the names” of those who try to faithfully serve Christ.  Slide

4)    What kind of person (Christian) gets the devil’s attention?

a)     Jas. 2:19; 4:7.

5)    Acts 19 affirms Satan takes note of certain people.
What does it take to make the devil sit up and take notice of us?

6)    One answer to this question is living a life dedicated to God.
Slide 

7)    Every true Christian should be a prayer warrior.

8)    God had plenty to say about prayer, and what He said should be applied by every Christian.

9)    Imagine what Satan could think when a Christian is committed to prayer each day –

10) Slide

a)     When someone hears the word, Jesus said Satan “IMMEDIATELY” shows up (Mk. 4:15).

b)    The world often mocks the Bible, but such is not true for the devil.

11) If we are a close student of God’s word, expect the devil to know our name.

12) In Acts 17:11 we read about some Christians who were interested in the Bible.

13) These Christians “examined the Scriptures daily” to see if these things were so.

14) Satan must also be aware of some congregations.

15) The Lord knows who His people and the devil does as well.

16) Satan not only has some knowledge of “who’s who,” he uses it – Slide

a)     While the Lord was on the earth Satan had knowledge of who the apostles were.

b)    Jesus told Peter the devil wanted to “sift the apostles” (including Peter) as “wheat.”

17) Faithful Christians complicate the devil’s efforts; faithful Christians mean using more resources.

18) In Mt. 12:26, Jesus said Satan has a “kingdom.”

a)     How much is Satan willing to spend on a single Christian before he quits?

b)    When Jesus was tempted, the devil invested some significant resources.

c)     Satan was willing to wrap up more than a month’s time to tempt the Lord.

d)    Satan also showed Jesus all the “kingdoms of the world” and the glory of them (Mt. 4:8-9).

19) How much is the devil willing to offer up for us?  Does he even know our name?

20)  In 2 Cor. 2:11, Paul spoke about Satan’s “devices.”

21) Satan has a variety of tools, he knows how to use them, and he is able to plan.

22) We have information on how the devil’s plan of attack for Eve as well as Jesus -

23) If Satan has a plan of attack, it makes sense for us to also have a plan.

24) Slide

25) The information already given should be part of our plan – we need to pray, study, righteousness.

26) Our plan also needs to include an absolute trust in God.

27) Our plan to overcome the devil should include a daily reminder of how we have an enemy.

28) Peter (1 Pet. 5:8) compared him to a roaring lion walking about seeking to devour people.

29)  A good plan begins with knowing we have an opponent who never gives up wanting to destroy us.

30) Jesus (Jn. 10:28) said no force can snatch a child of God from His hands (protection).

31)   The place of safety is “abiding” in Christ (Jn. 15:4).

 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Her Bucket List

 

Observe how a family made a birthday very special for the youngest daughter of three.  Anita Presley writes:

 

A few months ago, my youngest daughter Ashleigh shared her bucket list with my other daughters, Andrea and Ali.  Birthdays have always been a time of celebration in our house, no matter the age.  This year the baby of the group turns 22, and she still gets her day of celebration – even now that the girls are adults and time is more limited.  A few weeks ago Andrea called me and told me her ideas about what to do for Ashleigh’s birthday.  Knowing that Ashleigh likes adventures, Andrea and Ali planned a day that would help cross off items from her bucket list that she had shared with them months earlier.

 

On the weekend before her birthday, Andrea drove to Montgomery from Nashville and met Ali and Ashleigh -- all on the known planned list.  What was not known to Ashleigh was that Chris and I had been invited to join in on the fun.  The girls shared a breakfast of Chick- fil-A minis while they shared with Ashleigh the details of the day.

 

Here’s a summary of the day’s activities that fulfilled some items on Ashleigh’s bucket list.

•           She learned to play tennis.  The surprise instructor was Anita, Ashleigh’s mother.

•           She learned to do a front-flip on a trampoline at Rock N Jump with coaching by the general manager and a pre-teen who could do back flips while talking on the phone.

•           She learned to hula hoop.

•           She learned to juggle with the help of some videos from YouTube.  She learned that it’s even more difficult to juggle while laughing.

•           She learned to spin a basketball on her finger.  Her coach was big sister, Andrea.

•           She learned how to do a pull-up at a local Planet Fitness.  They didn’t master the feat, but they tried!

•           She learned how to skate.  They had to travel to Wetumpka from Montgomery to find a skating rink.  After some practice, Ashleigh skated around the rink holding her sister’s hands.  Then she completed a solo skate!

 

The gift of this special day required a lot of forethought, planning, implementing, and intimate knowledge of the honoree.  It was successfully completed with a whole lot of love.

 

God has a Gift for each of us.  This Gift required a lot of forethought, planning, implementing, and intimate knowledge of the beloved, especially our greatest need: salvation from sin.  The Gift was given with boundless love.

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).

 

God will give the Gift of salvation and eternal life to those who accept His offer by placing their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  God will continue to cleanse and prepare for heaven those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

 

Because of His great love for YOU, God gave His Gift.  Won’t YOU accept the Gift on His terms?

 

-- David A. Sargent

 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hurricane Florence

Florence

There is something that a four-year-old girl and a storm that has been devastating much of the
Carolinas have in common: they share the same name. Hurricane Florence has caused tremendous
flooding; 32 people have died since the storm made landfall last Friday. Florence Wisniewski of
Chicago, Illinois is trying to help the victims of the hurricane that shares her name.

Florence's parents, Trish and Paul Wisniewski, used the effects of the hurricane as a teaching
moment for Florence her two siblings, Bud, 2, and Olive, 6 months. "We brought it to her
[attention] to show her, like, the world doesn't revolve around you, look at all of these things
happening," said Trish Wisniewski. "We asked her, 'Do you want to help them? How do you think you
should do it?'"

Florence and her family decided that even though they live a long way from the Carolinas, they would
collect supplies to help the victims of the storm. Florence and her dad created a poster that shows
images of her face along the hurricane's path on a weather map from WFLA-TV. The poster read, "Help
Flo Help Hurricane Florence Victims." They placed the poster on a box for donations and took it to
Flo's school seeking donations. A photo of 4-year-old Florence standing by her donation box was
posted on Facebook by her mom and her teacher. The photo began to be shared on additional Facebook
pages. Donations began pouring in.

"I have people I haven't talked to in 20 years having Amazon packages delivered at my house," said
Trish Wisniewski. "We're getting more [donations] than we ever thought we would get."

When asked by a television news reporter why she was collecting these supplies for people so far
away, Florence responded: "Because I think it's what to do, to help people."

Florence's compassionate help can remind us of Someone who came to our rescue when we desperately
needed it.

When we were drowning in our sins, God sent His Son Jesus to rescue us. Jesus "gave Himself for our
sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to Whom be
glory forever and ever. Amen" (Galatians 1:4-5 NIV).

God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts
16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans
10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will
continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

And why did God do that for us?

Because God loves us, wants us to be saved from sin, and to live eternally with Him in heaven.

"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might
live through Him" (1 John 4:9).

Won't YOU accept His loving offer of salvation and eternal life?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Girl, 4, named Florence helps victims of Hurricane Florence" by Katie
Kindelan via Good Morning America and posted on https://abcnews.go.com/GMA, September 19, 2018.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Right of Private Interpretation and the Gift of Infallibility

 

“The individual's own study of Scripture requires recourse to an apostolic authority that can resolve interpretive disagreements. otherwise there is no way to determine what is orthodox v. heretical Christianity, besides the individual's personal opinion/interpretation.” – Casey Chalk, Roman Catholic author of “ Don’t Protestantize the Church.”

 

To Roman Catholics, our claim to every individual’s right to privately interpret the Scriptures is disproven by the plethora of denominations with their myriad of conflicting interpretations of Scripture.

 

Our response to this is for every individual’s right and obligation to interpret and apply Scripture:

 

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:14-15

 

We make an argument by looking at Scriptures which we believe prove our point:

 

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, Ephesians 1:13-20

 

Notice here that all who become Christians have heard, understood and obeyed the word of God in becoming Christians, and Paul prays that God will give all Christians:

·      the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,

·      having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.

 

There is no suggestion here that such knowledge and enlightenment – in becoming a Christian and in growing as a Christian - comes only from inspired teachers within the church who are the only ones able to infallibly interpret the Scriptures. 2 Peter 1:20-21 has been erroneously used to deny the right of the private interpretation of the Scriptures, when in reality it is speaking about how Scripture originated, and not how it is to be interpreted by us today. “No Scripture came from one’s own interpretation” is a better rendering than “No Scripture is of private interpretation” – which is highly misleading.

 

In fact, to make this clear, look at the next Scripture from Ephesians:

 

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles — 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Ephesians 3:1-5

 

The Holy Spirit inspired men like the apostle Paul with the revelation of God’s will, which Paul says he has written briefly in this letter to the Ephesians. But Paul then says that when all Christians read what Paul has written in the letter, “you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

 

In other words, when we read the Scripture that Paul received as an inspired apostle, we can all perceive the insight

Paul received. What an apostle learned by inspiration, and then put in writing, all Christians can perceive when they

read that writing!!

 

Again, where is the Scripture that says that we today can only perceive God’s word when an inspired teacher infallibly explains it to us? Yes, we need our teachers today, but they are not inspired for infallible interpretation.

 

Then,

Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord … Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:8-10,17

 

And if we conceded that our churches did require Holy Spirit guided interpreters of Scripture as our teachers, doesn’t James imply that they cannot ever be expected to be infallible interpreters of Scripture?

 

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. James 3:1-2

 

Apollos was “mighty in the Scriptures”, but he certainly wasn’t infallible, because he didn’t understand that the

baptism of John was no longer applicable!! He needed Priscilla and Aquila to teach him the way of the Lord more accurately. Acts 18:24-26. It is noteworthy that Apollos didn’t tell Priscilla and Aquila that they didn’t have the apostolic authority to question his teaching!!

 

How can we know what is pleasing to the Lord? How can we understand what the will of the Lord is? By having an infallibly inspired teacher in our church explain it all for us? No, for we already have the only words of the infallible teacher in the Scripture itself. As Ephesians 3 and 1 (already quoted) say: we understand God’s will when we read for ourselves and God gives us enlightenment!! The enlightenment comes -not from infallible teachers in the church – but from God who gave us His infallible Scripture. As we speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4:15, and take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17, we will be equipped to live the Christian life. Acts 20:20,27,31-32; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 1 Peter 2:2.

 

Does this mean that our churches do not need preachers and teachers? Not at all, for:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:11-16

 

And, as the evangelist, Timothy, in Ephesus was instructed:

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:14-18

 

This Scripture from 2 Timothy is significant. Notice:

 

1.     The evangelist, sent to straighten things out in Ephesus, doesn’t get his ability to rightly handle Paul’s word of truth from the Holy Spirit through inspiration, but through his being a worker with persistent zeal who does his best. This implies intensely studying the Scriptures so as to get to understand them correctly. So, an inspired, infallible evangelist, mentoring the next generation evangelist, tells him to ensure he teaches God’s truth by perspiration and not by inspiration!! How can any church leader today claim he’s inspired to interpret?

 

2.     Less diligent people in the church may struggle over words, misunderstand certain truths, spread false ideas, and upset people’s faith, all of which it is the preacher’s job to help correct – not because he is an infallible interpreter of Scripture, but because his diligence has enabled him to “rightly handle the word of truth.”

 

3.     It’s all about the right interpretation of the Scripture (which takes much work) when many false interpretations abound because many are not diligent in the way they handle Scripture.

 

4.     And if Timothy finds extreme difficulties in interpreting some Scripture, where is Paul’s instruction to refer those difficulties to anapostolic authority”? There is no such instruction. Instead, Paul tells Timothy to “retain the standard of sound words that you have heard from me,” 2 Timothy 1:13, and reminds him that “all Scripture inspired of God is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16. The only authority for dealing with problems is the Scriptures!! Correcting is carried out by going to the appropriate Scripture – not to an “apostolic authority” such as Paul or Pope Peter!

 

Now to our teachers. The teacher in the church needs to equip the members to serve, and also to improve their knowledge of the Scriptures so that they can stand against false teachers, and play a part themselves in teaching:

 

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:12-14

 

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. Romans 15:14

 

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.

Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. 1 John 2:18-27

 

The anointing they received is the gospel they heard from the beginning. We can abide in Christ when we allow the teaching we have received from the beginning to remain with us. Just as we saw in 2 Timothy 1:13.

 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:1-15

 

The disciples were to heed what they had been commanded by Christ, and we are to heed the apostolic word we now have in the Bible Scriptures. John 17:14,20-21; 2 Timothy 3:14-17. The only apostolic authority we have is the apostolic word in the New Testament. The teacher teaches with authority, Titus 2:15, not because he is Holy-Spirit-inspired and infallible, but because he is a teacher of the infallible and authoritative word of God. The only inspiration the Holy Spirit has given is to the original apostles who preached and wrote the Scriptures. Galatians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; Ephesians 3:1-5; 2 Peter 1:21. The 1 Corinthians 2 passage has been interpreted by many to mean that all Christians (and not just a few infallible teachers) can understand God’s revealed truth only as the Spirit imparts understanding. However, that chapter appears to be speaking of the inspiration of the apostles which reveals the wisdom of God.

 

My brother and friend, Bob Abney, made the following point:

 

Catholic clergy tell the common man/woman that they need an ecclesiastical authority to interpret the word for them. These authorities are depending upon the common person's ability to understand that instruction. If the common person can understand that point why can they not understand what they read in Scripture??????

 

My final question to Roman Catholics is this: where do the Scriptures teach that the church has a Holy Spirit-guided,  infallible interpreter of Scripture? Yes, Roman Catholics believe it is just common sense: we have an infallible, Holy Spirit inspired Bible, and so we need infallible, Holy Spirit inspired interpreters of that Bible! But where do the Scriptures so teach it? Where is the Bible authority for such a belief? A “Thus saith the Lord”?

 

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

 

Of course, Roman Catholics are going to say: “You need an infallible interpreter of those Scriptures you’ve just quoted!!” But what if I claimed I was an infallible interpreter, and could perform miracles, as Jesus and the apostles did, to prove my authority.  John 3:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:12. How could you disprove my boast? No, such infallible explanation and exposition was a gift bestowed upon Jesus and his apostles. Mark 12:24-27; Luke 24:44-47; John 3:34; 14:24-26; 15:26-27; 16:13-15; Acts 1:8; 28:23. Rather, I study diligently to present myself to God “approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth”!

            The real question is: where does final authority lie today – in the Scriptures or in a church claiming infallible interpreters?

 

David Carr

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to understand the Bible

FORTY THINGS WE ALL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BIBLE

 

1. The word “Bible” is from the Greek word “byblos/biblos” and means “book.”  Because of its divinely inspired contents the Bible is rightfully known as “the Book.”

2. The Bible is a divine library of sixty-six books.

3. The Bible consists of two divisions—the Old Testament (consisting of 39 books) and the New Testament (consisting of 27 books).

4. The books of the Bible were written over a period of some 1600 years, from Moses (c. 1500 B.C.) to the apostle John (100 A.D.).

5. In all, some forty writers were engaged in the writing of the Bible, with eight of these (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude) being responsible for the writing of the New Testament.  The apostle Paul wrote at least thirteen of the New Testament books.

6. The Bible covers three major epochs (large time frames, sometimes referred to as dispensations) of God’s dealings with mankind: a) The Patriarchal Age in which the fathers (patriarchs) of families ruled (from Adam to Moses); b) The Jewish Age in which the Law of Moses governed the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people (from Moses to the death of Christ); c) The Christian Age in which the New Testament sets forth the will of God for all mankind (from the day of Pentecost [Acts 2] until the end of the world). Thus, the Christian Age is spoken of as “these last days” (see Hebrews 1:1-2). 

7. The Bible also covers fifteen periods (smaller time frames) of God’s dealings with mankind: from the Ante-Diluvian (Pre-Flood) period (from the creation to the world-wide flood) all the way to the Early Church period (from the establishment of the church in Acts 2 to the close of the New Testament).

8. In reading the Bible, it is important to know in which of the above epochs (dispensations) and time periods one is reading. 

9. The Old Testament consists of four major sections: a) Law (5 books: Genesis-Deuteronomy); b) History (12 books: Joshua-Esther); c) Wisdom Literature/Poetry (5 books: Job-Song of Solomon); Prophecy (17 books: Isaiah-Malachi).

10. The New Testament consists of four major sections: a) Gospels/Life of Christ (4 books: Matthew-John); b) History of the Early Church (1 book: Acts of the Apostles); c) Letters to Christians (21 books: Romans-Jude); d) Prophecy/The Ultimate Victory of God’s People (1 book: Revelation).

11. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with some small portions being written in Aramaic, a dialect related to Hebrew).  The New Testament was written in Greek.

12. From its original languages, the Bible has been translated into 2546 languages and dialects (as of 2009).  (See Once Delivered Forever Established: The Certainty of the Holy Scripture, Dr. Doug Burleson, p. 83, a book I highly recommend for all who have an interest in learning more about the authenticity and reliability of the Bible.)

13. Some of the better known English versions of the Bible are the King James (1611), the American Standard (1901), the Revised Standard (1946, N. T.; 1951, entire Bible), the New International (1973, N. T.; 1978, entire Bible), the New King James (1972, N. T.; 1982, entire Bible), the New American Standard (1963, N. T.; 1971, entire Bible), the New Revised Standard (1989), and the English Standard (2001). The Douay-Rheims Version (1508, 1609, 1610) was long held as the standard English version for members of the Roman Catholic Church, but Catholic editions of some of the above English versions are used by many Catholics. 

14. The books of the Bible were divided into chapters by Archbishop Stephen Langton, an English scholar, though Cardinal Hugo also has been given credit for doing this, both in the 13th century.

15. The chapters of the Bible books were divided into verses by a French printer by the name of Robert Estienne (Latin name, Stephanus) in 1551 for the New Testament and 1555 for the Old Testament.  (Note: Chapter and verse divisions facilitate the location of particular passages, e.g., “John 3:16,” rather than, “The Bible says in John that God so loved the world . . .”

16. Year after year, the Bible remains the world’s best-seller.  100 million Bibles are printed every year and 20 million of these are sold in the United States.

17. The Bible is comprised of “all Scripture . . . given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

18. Though men were the human instruments used by God for writing the Bible, the Scriptures exist because “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirt” (II Peter 1:21).

19. The writers of the Bible were conscious of the fact that they were writing the word of God (Exodus 17:14; II Samuel 23:2; Jeremiah 30:2; I Corinthians 2:13; I Corinthians 14:37; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Peter 3:15-16; et al.)

20. There are literally thousands of manuscripts and ancient versions that verify the accuracy of the Bible (more than 5300 Greek manuscripts for the New Testament alone), so that “The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (Sir Frederic Kenyon [1863-1952], British biblical and classical scholar, as cited by Dr. Neil Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible, Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 1986, p. 126).

21. Being the word of God, and because it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18), the Bible is absolute truth (John 17:17).

22. Jesus relied on Scripture to resist Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

23. Jesus read and quoted the Old Testament Scriptures and recognized them in their entirety as being the authoritative word of God (Matthew 5:17; John 10:35; Matthew 19:1-9; Matthew 23:34-35 [the equivalent of saying “from Genesis to Malachi”]; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 24:44-47).

24. During His personal ministry Christ referred to and gave credence to the creation of man in the image of God (Matthew 19:4-6), the flood (Matthew 24:38-39), the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 10:12; 17:28-29),  the story of Jonah and the great fish (Matthew 12:39-41), the writings of Moses (John 5:46), the writings of Isaiah (Mark 7:6-8), the writings of Daniel (Matthew 24:15), and other Old Testament prophets and events.  He did not view them as folklore, fairytales, myths, or legends.

25. Being comprised of “all Scripture . . . given by inspiration of God,” the Bible “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for

instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

26. In the Bible God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (II Peter 1:13).

27. The Bible sets forth the “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5), “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  There is no authentic revelation from God outside of the Bible.

28. The Bible sets forth commands to be obeyed (I Corinthians 14:37; John 14:15; I John 5:3), examples to be followed (I Peter 2:21; I Timothy 4:12; II Timothy 1:13), warnings to be heeded (Acts 20:31; Colossians 1:28), and promises to be enjoyed (II Peter 1:2-4).

29. The Bible is not to be tampered with by addition, subtraction, substitution, or modification (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:6-9; Psalm 119:89).

30. As the word of God, the Bible is “a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105).

31. We should love the Bible, read and study it, memorize great portions of it, laying it up in our hearts so that we will not sin against God (Psalm 119:97, 11).

32. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit with which we are able to conquer all moral and spiritual foes (Ephesians 6:17).

33. God’s word (the Bible) is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

34. The Bible is like a mirror into which one may look to see what changes he/she needs to make in order to be right with God (James 1:18).

35. God’s word is “like a fire” and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29).

36. The word of God “is able to build [us] up” spiritually (Acts 20:32).

37. It is through the word of truth (the Scriptures/Bible) that one is “brought forth” (born again) to be “a kind of firstfruits of His (God’s) creatures” (James 1:18; cf.  I Peter 1:22-23; John 3:1-5).

38. The Scriptures are to be studied and searched diligently to see if the things that are taught and believed religiously are so (Acts 17:11; cf. I Thessalonians 5:21; I John 4:1).

39. The word of God is indestructible (Matthew 24:35) and will be the standard by which all will be finally judged—not our opinions or what we have always felt, thought, believed, or been taught (John 12:48; Romans 2:16).

40. In summary, the Bible is not a self-help book designed to make its readers healthy, wealthy, happy, or successful (though within its overarching purpose there are broad principles that contribute to these matters).  It is not a book of “codes” and “prophecies” as to when the second coming of Christ will occur and the world will end. Neither is the Bible a disjointed book of disconnected and unrelated documents.  Rather, it is a book that gradually and systematically, from beginning to end, sets forth God’s grand scheme of human redemption from the time of its conception in the mind of God before the foundation of the world (Titus 1:1-3; II Timothy 1:8-11; Romans 16:25-27), through its being made known by Christ, the gospel, the church, and the New Testament (Ephesians 3:1-12; I Corinthians 2:1-13), to its ultimate fruition of the redeemed in heaven—“receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:9).

Learn more about the Bible with the FREE Bible study at https://lordletmegrow.com/index.html

 

Hugh Fulford

 

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