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Sunday, July 30, 2017

The law of the pendulum sermon illustration

Do You Believe?


Ken Davis wrote about a demonstrative speech that he delivered in a speech class when he was in college.


We were to be graded on our creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of my talk was, "The Law of the Pendulum." I spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.


I attached a 3-foot string to a child's toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. I pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where I let it go. Each time it swung back I made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When I finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved my thesis. I then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All of my classmates raised their hands, so did the teacher. He started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had just begun. Hanging from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord.).


I invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then I brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face, I once again explained the law of the pendulum he had applauded only moments before, "If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger." After that final restatement of this law, I looked him in the eye and asked, "Sir, do you believe this law is true?" There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, "Yes." I released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. I never saw a man move so fast in my life! He literally dived from the table. Deftly stepping around the still-swinging pendulum, I asked the class, "Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?"


The students unanimously answered, "NO!" *


I have some questions for you:


1.         Do you believe in God? Evidences for the existence of God abound in our universe (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20).


2.         Do you believe God? Do you trust Him? Do you believe God when He says that if you place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from your sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ (Acts 2:38) that He will wash away your sins and give you the gift of eternal life? Do you believe God’s Word when it says that if you continue to walk in the light of His Word that He will continue to cleanse you from all sin (1 John 1:7)?


3.         Will you believe God enough to obey Him? Unless your faith in God is expressed in trusting and obeying Him, then you really don’t believe God.


Believe, trust, and obey – these are the three components of saving faith.


Won’t YOU believe, trust, and obey Him? Do YOU really believe?


-- David A. Sargent


* Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp 104-106 as quoted in


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Should I attend church?


Attending worship services faithfully is really important. Many strong Christians have become weak, and many weak Christians have totally fallen away, because at some point they began to miss worship services and Bible study on a regular basis. A Christian's attendance at services has been rightfully declared by many as a thermometer indicating one's fervor for the Lord. One cannot truthfully say he is a faithful child of God if he does not attend worship services regularly. Consider now the following reasons why we must attend worship services faithfully.

The Hebrew writer penned the following passage giving us several reasons for not forsaking the assembly of the saints. "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh" (Hebrews 10:24-25). Our assembling together for worship services stimulates the brethren to love and good works, and exhorts and encourages us to greater Christian enthusiasm. It is important because of the trials, temptation and heartaches we face each week as Christians, to assemble together at each opportunity so that we might be stimulated and encouraged, and to do the same for others. It is reassuring to be around those of "like precious faith" (2 Pet. 1:1). We all need encouragement, but we must attend worship services and Bible study to receive this precious privilege.

Another reason we should attend worship services and Bible study faithfully is seen in Hebrews 10:25 - it is a command of God. Jesus said, "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Furthermore, we also need to remember, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3). The Lord informs us that we must assemble at every opportunity with the saints. If this were the only reason for attending worship regularly - it would be enough. If you really love the Lord you will keep His commandments.

Still another reason we should attend worship services regularly is that we must be a good example to others. Peter declared, "For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21). Jesus left us wonderful examples of how we should live. One of these examples is that He kept the Law of Moses perfectly, which included attending all of the different feasts and special days of the Jewish religion. We, too, learning from the example of Jesus, should regularly attend all of the worshipservices as well as all other gatherings for the purpose of study and edification. We should do this to please God, but also to set good examples for others. Paul said that we are to be "an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12). What kind of example do you think we set for the non-believer or for the weak Christian by out apathetic attendance? Not a good one I assure you.

Would one consider a car faithful if it only starts every other time? Would you consider your spouse faithful if she cheated on your marriage once a month? Of course not! Then what makes us think that we can be faithful Christians if we are not attending worship services regularly? It is vital that we are faithful in attendance - our eternal destiny is hanging in the balances. We are not condemning those who are ill at home, or having to care for a sick loved one - we speak to those who have no reason for not coming other than being deficient in concern for spiritual matters.

We love you and hope to see you at our next scheduled meeting time.

- by Tom Moore


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"Many Came to Believe in Him" - Faith in God, not Self-Righteousness


In the Old Testament, it is as clear as crystal that God wants his people to trust only in Him, and not in man or other nations. Here is just a sampling of the many such references:


I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God;

I equip you, though you do not know me, 6that people may know, from the rising of the sun

and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.

7I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity;

I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:5-7


“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4


Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 2 Chronicles 20:20


Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses,

who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong,

but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord …

… The Egyptians are man, and not God, Isaiah 31:1,3


Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,

who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, Psalm 146:3-6


It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9


Hundreds and hundreds of years later, Jesus comes into the world and says unless you believe I AM, you will die in your sins; you believe in God? Believe also in Me:


I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him. John 8:24-30


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. John 14:1-11


Can you believe that? No Jew in his right mind would ask his fellow-Jews to believe in Himself as they believed in God, yet Jesus comes to the very people whom God told to believe only in Him, and tells them that to be saved they have to believe in Him!! Look again at Psalm 143:3 above.


That is the clearest proof that Jesus is claiming to be God! Why would Jesus make such a claim? Because He is indeed God!! How astonishingly simple a proof of Jesus’ deity is this!!


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” John 10:27-33


These Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming! Yet our Jehovah’s Witness friends don’t get it, do they? They say they believe in Jehovah God, and in Jesus as God’s Son, but not in Jesus as God. But Jesus says if you don’t believe “I AM” (i.e. Jehovah), you’ll die in your sins!!!! John 8:24, as quoted earlier.

Now notice something extremely important: read John 5:17-47. Here Jesus claims the endorsement of God Himself, as well as the words of Moses, for every claim He makes about His own authority to impart life. The Jews knew Jesus was claiming equALITY WITH gOD, AND IN THESE VERSES IN jOHN 5 jESUS SHOWS SUCH CLAIMS ARE JUSTIFIED!

also See How what Jesus said in John 5:24 is put in other words in 14:1,6,9!

John 5:24, “Hear My word, believe Him who sent me, have eternal life.

John 14:1,6,9, Believe in God. Believe also in me,

I am the way, the truth and the life, you can only come to god through me.

to see me is to see the father!!”


Under the Law of Moses, God always required Israel’s faith in Him for salvation.


“You shall have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:3, helps us to see that, at the heart of the Old Testament, was the need for faith! As Abraham was justified by faith, Genesis 15:6, so Israel would be too. “The just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. In other words, in commanding them to have no other gods, Israel was being commanded to trust only in Yahweh as the one and only true and living God. 2 Chronicles 20:20; Isaiah 40:6; Jeremiah 10:10. And yet there were times when Israel trusted other nations, Deuteronomy 8:17-20; 2 Kings 17:7-12; Isaiah 31:1-7, Israel knew their God, but they didn’t always trust Him! Knowing is not believing. Today, many know about God, but relatively few actually believe in Him – trust in Him for life.


In Exodus 20:1-2, we read: And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The God who gave Israel freedom from slavery, and who then gave them the Ten Commandments and many other laws to obey, is the God who expected His people to trust Him in all things, including keeping His laws. He was their life. Deuteronomy 30:20.


In the Old Testament religion of Israel, keeping commandments was very important, Malachi 4:4, but believing in God was even more important. Keeping God’s commandments should have been seen as an expression of their faith in God for eternal life, for no one can perfectly keep every law all the time. Psalm 16:10; 21:3-7; 49:15; 73:24-26; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:1-3; Galatians 3:10-12. When they obeyed His laws, they were essentially trusting that what was in those laws was good for their souls. David knew this. Read Psalm 119 and Psalm 32. David loved God’s Law (just read Psalm 119), but he knew that forgiveness came through trusting in God! Read Psalm 32.


Let’s think about this a little more:


Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the just decrees. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Exodus 24:3-4


Isn’t there a subtle difference between saying, ““All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do,” and thinking, “All the laws God has given us we can do all by ourselves”!! Isn’t the former a promise based on faith in what God has told them and given them (King David’s attitude), but isn’t the latter an assertion of self-righteousness (like the Pharisees)?? We Christians can make the same mistake by trusting our own obedience instead of Jesus!


Jesus came into the world to remind Israel of Laws they had forgotten[i], such as Leviticus 19:9-19a, set us all free from the slavery of sin, John 8:33; Romans 6:23, give us true life, Matthew 4:4; John 10:10; Hebrews 11:6, and revive God’s Old Testament truth that righteousness is only granted on the basis of faith – not law-keeping. He Himself lived his whole life believing in His Father, always doing what pleased His Father, and trying to get Israel to believe in God and Himself as God with us!! Matthew 1:23; John 8:24-36; 14:1-6. Israel had promised God, “All the Lord has spoken we will do.” Exodus 24:3. None was exempt. Jesus as a Jew obeyed everything His Father commanded, even though He Himself was God!. John 8:24,28,58; Hebrews 10:5-7. Jesus spoke the words of His Father. John 12:44,49-50; 14:24,31; 17:8. Jesus believed the words of His Father. Jesus thus did what no other Jew had ever done – do God’s will! Hebrews 10:7,9. Jesus – the Son of God - is an example to us that even the greatest should trust God!


The Pharisees thought they were the greatest, but they trusted in themselves instead of humbly trusting in God. Luke 18:9-14.


During Jesus’ life on earth, the Law of Moses was still every bit applicable, as it had been since the days of

Moses. Matthew 5:17-19; 22:36-40. Yet Jesus asked the Jews to believe in Him as they should have believed in God!! “You believe in God. Believe also in Me.” John 14:1. As stated above, this is as strong a statement anywhere in Scripture that Jesus is claiming to be God.  Belief in Jesus, as God, brings freedom from sin, freedom from Satan’s clutches and the fear of death, Hebrews 2:14-15, the gift of eternal life, John 5:24, and also the responsibility to take seriously the righteousness God gives through Jesus by faith. Matthew 5:20; 6:1-8,33; Romans 6; 2 Corinthians 5:21.


John 8:24 doesn’t say “believe that I am He;” it says: “believe that I am.” That’s a claim to being the true God!! Just as later in John 8, Jesus says, “…before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58


Remember this? God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you … This is My name forever …!'" Exodus 3:14-15.


So when Jesus is saying, believe I AM, He is saying believe I am Jehovah. (For another proof that Jesus is Jehovah, read all of Hebrews 1, but especially 1:10, where Jesus is said to be the Lord who created the earth - a quote from Psalm 102:1,25, in which Psalm … Lord is Jehovah!! “O Lord” in Psalm 102:1 is rendered “O Jehovah” in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation, but they clearly don’t believe Hebrews 1:10 that Jesus is Jehovah!!


Though many did not in believe in Jesus, some Jews did believe in Jesus, John 7:31; 8:30-32; 10:41-42; 11:25-26.  “The just shall live by faith” … in God and therefore in Jesus!


Such faith brought eternal life, John 6:40, even while the Law of Moses was still in effect!

Matthew 5:17-19. It was faith that had always brought eternal life – not keeping the law of Moses

Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Psalm 73:24-26; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:1-5. “End” in 10:4 is “goal”!!


In Summary:

(i)     Jesus is God, for God said: “Trust Me only,” Psalm 62, yet Jesus said: “Trust me!” John 13:19-20; 14:1,6.   Therefore Jesus is God!!

Jesus confirmed it. Mark 2:1-12.

John asserted it. John 1:1-4;

Thomas believed it. John 20:24-28.

We can also believe it and receive the gift of eternal life. John 20:29-31.


(ii)     God has always justified his people through faith, whether or not the Law of Moses was in effect!


(iii)     Jesus is the final proof that God always wanted Israel’s faith instead of their legalism and self- righteousness. Luke 13:34; 18:1-14; John 5:37-47. God saves only believers in Him! Romans 10:1-13.


Israel’s fatal mistake was in always assuming that their observance of the Law of Moses – not their trust

in God -  would bring God’s forgiveness. Paul taught that very thing in his letter to the Roman Christians.

Now read Romans 9:30-33; 10:1-5. David loved God’s Law (just read Psalm 119), but he knew that

forgiveness came through trusting in God! Psalm 32. Jesus had spent his whole life trying to get Jews to understand this truth about believing in God instead of trusting self. In many respects he was only reminding them of what was already in their Law! This is all theologically explained in Romans 4:3-16 as follows:


For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;

blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.

The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring — not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.


Justification, righteousness, salvation – whatever way God puts it – has always been based on God’s promise to Abraham that in Abraham’s descendant, Jesus Christ, God would bless all nations. Salvation for everyone – whether they lived before the time of the Law, like Abraham, or during the time of the Law of Moses, like Israel, or not under the Law, like the Gentiles, has always been by faith in God’s promise to bless us in Christ.


Jesus came into the world, as God with us, to urge us to believe in Him for our eternal salvation. What is your response?




[i] The task of any Old Testament prophet could well be summed up by the phrase “stating the obvious.” The kings and people of Israel had been given the Law of Moses and knew full well what their obligations were, yet, as we all do, they routinely fell short of them, and even worked against them. The prophets were called upon by God to state the obvious to Israel, and they were usually thanked for their efforts by being murdered. Few occupations are as dangerous as the prophetic, precisely because they tell people what they already know but don’t want to hear. Nicholas Senz, On the Need to State the Obvious.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Elliott Harris

A Dangerous Baptism


In 2015, Elliott Harris developed a spinal cord bleed caused by a faulty blood vessel resulting in his paralysis.  Elliott, age 18, requires a ventilator to breathe.


So when Elliott told his parents he wanted to be baptized, they hesitated – because it was potentially dangerous to his health.


“He said, ‘Mom, it’s going to happen,’” reported Ernie Harris, Elliott’s father.


Chellie Ison explains the potential problems and the plans that were made to prevent them:


If any water were to get in Elliott’s tracheotomy, just a few drops could have dire consequences.  So his dad went to work, meeting with medical professionals to figure out a plan for the baptism that would keep his son safe.


The strategy was elaborate. Church members set up a large, inflatable pool in the auditorium that would allow Elliott to be lowered on a stretcher by a group of volunteers.  His family wrapped his tracheotomy opening with multiple layers of waterproof material and a cloth to soak up any water that might get through.


“We knew if we got him in the pool on a board, it was just one, two, three — straight down and up,” Ernie Harris said.


Paramedics were on hand for the baptism — just in case they were needed.


Elliott’s older brother, Luke, was baptized on the same day — a mere 48 hours before he left for training in the U.S. Navy.  Immediately after Luke was baptized into Christ by his father, he joined the group of men who carried Elliott into the water and quickly immersed him.


To the joy and delight of all who were present – and many others who understand its significance – Elliott’s baptism was completed without any problems.


And the angels in heaven rejoiced, too!


Michael Jones, minister for the East Point church of Christ, reflected on this historic occasion: “It was beautiful to see so many people working together to overcome the obstacles of Elliott being baptized.  Elliott wasn’t healed physically that day, but he was healed spiritually, and that is the healing that matters most.” *


Why go to the risk?  What is so significant about being baptized into Christ?  Why is it such a joyous occasion?  Why should YOU be baptized?


Because baptism places a penitent believer into Christ (Romans 6:3-4).


Outside of Christ, we are lost in our sins (cf. Ephesians 2:11-12).  But Jesus died on the cross as payment for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2).  When we place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), make the good confession (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ (Acts 2:38), our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus (Acts 22:16) and we are added to the family of God (Acts 2:41, 47).  Then, as we continue to follow Jesus in the light of His Word, His blood continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).


Elliott understood that being baptized into Christ and following Jesus are worth any risks.  What an example for you and me.


Won’t YOU trust and obey Christ?


-- David A. Sargent


* From “After Paralysis, A Spiritual Healing” by Chellie Ison in The Christian Chronicle (July 2017).  Click on this link to learn more about the Harris family and watch the video of the baptisms of Luke and Elliott.


David A. Sargent

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jerry Pokorsky, an American Catholic priest

“Many Came to Believe in Him”


Jerry Pokorsky, an American Catholic priest, recently wrote this:


The essential message of the Old Testament is the first tenet of the Decalogue:  “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3) In preparation for the Redeemer, it was necessary to purify the Chosen People of all false worship, setting them apart from every other nation.  The history of the Old Testament is a history of God’s fidelity to His people, the worship of the One God, with repeated relapses into false worship. The preaching of John the Baptist sums up the essential “Purgative Way” of the Old Testament in a single sentence: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt. 3:2, NAB). From his article, The Three Ages of the Interior Life: History and Liturgy, The Catholic Thing, July 2017.


By “purgative,” the author meant admitting and repenting of our sins. But his point: “The essential message of the Old Testament is the first tenet of the Decalogue:  “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3),” helps us to see that, at the heart of the Old Testament, was the need for faith! As Abraham was justified by faith, Genesis 15:6, so Israel would be too. Habakkuk 2:4. In other words, in commanding them to have no other gods, Israel was being commanded to trust only in Yahweh, and not merely to know there was only one God. 2 Chronicles 20:20; Isaiah 7:9. And yet there were times when Israel trusted other nations. Deuteronomy 8:17-20; 2 Kings 17:7-12; Isaiah 31:1-7.  Knowing is not believing. Today, many know about God, but relatively few actually believe in Him and His Son as the one and only God who alone forgives our sins and gives eternal life. Romans 6:23.


Before we get to Exodus 20:3, we read this: And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Exodus 20:1-2. The God who gave Israel freedom from slavery, and who then gave them the Ten Commandments, is the God who expected His people to trust Him in all things. He was their life. Deuteronomy 30:20. When Jesus came into the world as God with us to set us all free from the slavery of sin, and give us true life, Matthew 4:4; John 10:10; Hebrews 11:6. He yet lived his whole life believing in His Father and trying to get Israel to believe in Him as God with us!! John 8:24-36.


In Matthew 22:31-32, Jesus said that God spoke the words of Exodus 3:6. “I am the God of your Father, the God of Abraham …” Jesus was God, John 8:58; 20:26-28, but many Jews refused to trust Him. Mark 2:1-12; John 10:7-20,25-39. Though Jesus Himself was God, he still believed these words of Exodus 3 as from God, for he then made an application of this truth: “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Jesus is an example to us of what all of us should do: trust God!

We read what God has spoken. We then believe what He says. Then we apply what He says in obedience.

All the lord has spoken we will do. Exodus 24:3. This is what Israel promised.

Jesus spoke the words of His Father. John 12:44,49-50; 14:24,31; 17:8. Jesus believed the words of His Father.

Though many did not believe, some Jews believed in Jesus, John 7:31; 8:30-32; 10:41-42; 11:25-26.

Such faith brought eternal life. John 5:24. Yet the Law was still in effect! Matthew 5:17-19. All this is proof that: (i) Jesus is God, for God said: “Trust Me only.” Psalm 62. Jesus said: “Trust me.” John 13:19-20; 14:1,6. Therefore Jesus is God!! Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 4:4; John 1:1-4; 10:10. Jesus confirmed it. Mark 2.

(ii) God has always justified his people through faith, whether or not the Law of Moses was in effect!

(iii) Jesus is the final proof that God always wanted Israel’s faith instead of their legalism and self-righteousness. Luke 13:34; 18:1-14; John 5:37-47. God saves only believers in Him! Romans 10:8-13


In Exodus 19, we read:

So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do!" And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever."Exodus 19:7-9


To believe in Moses is to believe in God, for Moses is passing on the words of God. God is saying in effect, “believe in Moses as a faithful reporter of my words that require you to believe in Me and obey Me!”

Saying you will do all that the Lord has spoken is a statement of faith, as well as a commitment. It amounts to obedience. Faith and obedience go together. Because we believe what God commands, we agree to obey what he commands us to do, just as a child’s trust in parents is shown in obedience. If the obedience is not forthcoming, the faith is less than it should be. You see this in the New Testament letter to the Romans: through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith … for His names’ sake. Romans 1:5


That faith was at the heart of Old Testament living, is clear from these words:

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4.


This Scripture is precisely what Jesus was referring to in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Luke 18:9-14. King David also showed he was living by faith when he wrote those words in Psalm 32:1-6


Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found …


Israel’s fatal mistake was always in assuming that their observance of the Law of Moses – not their trust in God -  would bring God’s forgiveness. Paul taught the same thing in his letter to the Roman Christians. Now read Romans 9:30-33; 10:1-5. David loved God’s Law (just read Psalm 119), but he knew that forgiveness came through trusting in God! Jesus had spent his whole life trying to get Jews to understand this truth about believing in God instead of trusting self. In many respects he was only reminding them of what was already in their Law!


For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through

the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4


We can learn much from the Old Testament and Jesus about the vital importance of faith in God for eternal life.


Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Gives Sinners New Life … But When?


For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Leviticus 17:11


So is the life of the flesh in the blood? Although not confirmed by science until modern times, this statement from Leviticus 17:11 has always been true. Blood actively maintains life by providing a vital function for all cells, tissues and organs, and thus the life of the whole body. The more we find out about the astounding functional design and complexity of blood, the more marvellous it becomes to us, and the more honour and praise is due its Creator. (Andrew Hodge, Life is in the Blood,


For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;

6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” Hebrews 10:4-7

God prepared a body for His own Son to live in and die in on earth.

There was Jesus’ body. There was also Jesus’ blood which he bled when he died in that body.

Only the sinless Jesus, sacrificing Himself, could atone for the sins of the world.

The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were merely symbolic precursors of the atoning blood of Jesus.

He took upon His own body the sins of every human being who has ever lived and who will ever live.

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:22-25


When Jesus died on that cross in that body His heavenly Father had prepared for Him, Hebrews 10:5, he also shed blood in his dying. Both Jesus’ body dying, and the blood being shed in that death, were essential to the saving of man in the atonement for sins. Man would be saved from the sins he commits in his body when in that body he dies to sin. Romans 6. See full passage later.


And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Colossians 1:21-23


for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26


Because of that bloody sacrificial death, God would forgive sinful men who believed in what Jesus had done in that death.


Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28


But God could not forgive man’s sins and then allow him to continue to live with the same self. No, God would have to give forgiven sinners a new life by causing them to be born again. John 3:3,5; 1 Peter 1:3. The sinner puts off the old self, and puts on the new, created to be like God. Ephesians 4:22-24. Here’s how God does it:


What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 6:1-8.


Do you see that? Jesus gave his life so we could have a new life. God planned, that in the waters of baptism, a sinner would die and be born again with the dying and resurrected Jesus. 1 Peter 1:3; 3:18-22. Not only are we forgiven of sin, but we die to sin and are freed from sin in baptism. Because we commit sin in our body as well as our soul, our body and soul has to die in baptism. Cf. “purified your souls,” 1 Peter 1:22-25. The sinner, in faith, puts off his old life – i.e. the old, sinful-self dies – and is resurrected to live a new life with Christ, who himself died the death of atonement, condemning our sins, Romans 8:1-3, and was resurrected to make this possible for us. That’s clearly being born again! Forgiveness, the new life and the Spirit are all given in baptism. Once dead and condemned in sin; then the Spirit of new life in Christ. Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:23; 8:1-3; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:1-9; 4:21-24;  Colossians 2:11-14; 3:1-3; Titus 3:1-7. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ.” Romans 6:23. In Romans 6 context, that gift is given in baptism!!


Christ’s death for our sins makes our death to sin possible. Because the saved sinner’s body appears, from a human perspective, the same body (though God bathed it in baptism, Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22), it takes faith to see the transformation that God makes. Hear this! God gives sinners a new start in a new life in Christ, but not until the sinner is baptized in water. Yet many denominations don’t think baptism is all that important, insisting it follows salvation by faith only!!! Can you believe that? Do these people read the same Bible I read, or are they putting their church tradition ahead of God’s word? Matthew 15:1-14


let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience

and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

The heart is cleansed by Jesus’ blood (see also Hebrews 9:11-14), while at the same time, God gives the body a

wash. When does that happen? In baptism! See “wash”  in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:26-27; Titus 3:5.

God can release us from our sins by Jesus’ blood when we are baptized. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. Revelation 1:5. God can then raise us to a new life in Christ, because he has resurrected Jesus to new life after He died on that cross. That’s why Peter says, in a somewhat roundabout way, that baptism saves sinners through the resurrection of Jesus:

but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as a pledge to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. 1 Peter 3:15-22


Do you see that? Water baptism doesn’t save by washing the sinner’s body (though the body is indeed washed); it saves through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when the sinner, in preparation for that baptism, in good conscience, pledges a new life-commitment to the Lordship of Jesus his Saviour. Jesus’ Lordship is written all over this 1 Peter 3 Scripture! There is a connection between 1 Peter 3:15-22 and Romans 10:9-10, which says we are saved by our confession of faith, with no mention of baptism, just as 1 Peter 3:21 says we are saved by baptism, with no mention of faith!! My old English Revised Version, at 1 Peter 3:21, has a cross reference, in the margin, to Romans 10:10!! Confessing Jesus as Lord is committing to live for Him. That faith-commitment is then witnessed by others as real in the waters of baptism. 1 Timothy 6:12. Baptism is not merely a public demonstration of the salvation you already have by faith; it’s where your faith is seen to be real by other Christians as they watch you demonstrate in baptism that you really want God to save you by faith!


As God prepared a body for Jesus, so God has prepared a new life for sinners. But that new life is only available because of two things:

1)  Jesus sacrificing His own life for us, and

2)  The sinners whom Jesus died for, commit to live this new life, through faith in Jesus, when baptised.


That’s why Jesus said this: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16


For faith and baptism going together in salvation, also read Acts 10:33,43,47-48; 16:14-15,30-34; 18:8,27; Galatians 3:26-27 and Colossians 2:11-14.


Some four thousand years ago, God had promised Abraham that he would bless people of all nations through one of his descendants. Genesis 15:3-6; 22:15-18. That descendant, of course, is Jesus, and that blessing comes, of course, only to those who believe that God has made that promise come true through the death and resurrection of His own Son.


Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith … for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:7-9,26-29 


That is why Abraham’s faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 4:22-25


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself … For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18,21


Dear reader, if you do not yet have this new life in Christ, then I encourage you to do what God has decreed you must do to have this new life: believe in your heart that Jesus is God’s Son who died and shed His blood to save you from the hell that awaits sinners, Matthew 10:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10, determine in your heart to turn away from your present sin-stained life (i.e. repent), Luke 13:3; and be baptized into Christ so that God can forgive your sins, release you from your sins, and give you a new life with Christ through the Holy Spirit.


Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus

whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the

apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the 

name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:36-38


This essay is repetitious, just as God’s word is repetitious. Repetition helps in learning and understanding.


--David Hunter


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What does the Bible say about divorce?



By Tom Wacaster


It is not unusual for someone to write a “letter” to some imaginary character, and in that letter teach some lessons that address a vital issue of our times. Letters to imaginary characters can be encouraging; or they can express a certain sense of foreboding. There are, for example, those proverbial “dear John” letters, few of which are actually written to someone by the name of John. Just the two words, “dear John” conjure up thoughts of foreboding of a love gone wrong. One of the M*A*S*H episodes some years ago involved someone writing a letter beginning with the words, “Dear Sigmund,” perhaps an allusion to Sigmund Freud, the renowned psychiatrist. Occasionally I have come across letters beginning with, “Dear Theophilus,” all of which had to do with religious matters for the simple reason that the name Theophilus was the man to whom Luke wrote his two part history of Christ and the church.


I, too, have used this particular approach from time to time to share with my readers what I might have written to someone asking a question, or perhaps needing correction. In order to share the letter with a wider audience, while at the same time concealing the name of the individual who asked the question, I simply address the letter to ‘Theophilus.’ Whether or not Theophilus was a real person to whom Luke wrote his historical letters has been debated, and I’m not sure if the question of whether or not the man was a real person has, or ever will be settled.  The ‘Theophilus’ to whom I wrote the following letter is not real, but the  person to whom I sent the letter was a real person, with a real need, and a real question. As you read this letter keep in mind that it was written long before the Supreme Court of our land legalized homosexual marriages.  I hope you benefit from my thoughts:

Dear Theophilus,

Your question regarding a particular case involving marriage and divorce is quite interesting.  If I understand your question, then the facts in the case are these:

A man and a woman are joined in marriage, both trusting that the other is a legitimate candidate for marriage. After some time the woman learns that the man had been married previous to their marriage, and that he divorced his previous wife without scriptural authority. According to the Bible, she knows that she has no scriptural authority to be married to this man.  Consequently she divorces the man in a civil court and in the sight of God. The question now before us is this:  Does the woman have a scriptural right to remarry?

It might be good to take another look at the instructions of our Lord relative to marriage and divorce.  In Matthew 19: 9 our Lord said:  “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.”  If a man puts away his wife for any cause other than fornication, he has no scriptural authority to remarry.  That much seems clear from the passage. He has “adulterated” his marriage relationship by treating his wife with contempt, casting her aside in spite of the fact that she has maintained her integrity to the marriage vows.  If that man enters into a second marriage our Lord says he “committeth adultery.”  The present tense verb declares that when he enters into a subsequent marriage that he is now living in an adulterous relationship with his second wife.


One important aspect in our hypothetical case has to do with the fact that this man’s second wife is not aware of his previous marriage and consequent divorce and/or the fact that he had divorced his first wife for an unscriptural cause.  She has unknowingly entered into an adulterous relationship with the man.  The relationship itself is sinful.  She has no “authority” to be married to this man. While she may have civil authority to remain in this relationship, she has no Biblical authority to do so. It is my conclusion that the man and woman, while being legitimately married in a court of law, were not legitimately married in the sight of God.  In order to rectify the situation in the sight of God the woman now seeks and obtains a divorce from the man. 


At this point I want to entertain the question as to whether or not the man and woman were actually “married” in the sight of God; or were they merely living in adultery? In order to bring the question into focus, let us develop another “hypothetical” case. Let it be assumed that down the road of time that our civil courts legalize homosexual marriages [which they have now done, TW].  Let us also assume that two men join in “marriage” and live together for a number of years.  Now let us assume that one of the men is converted, renounces his homosexuality, and “divorces” his spouse. Is the man who is now seeking to live by God’s word qualified to enter into a marriage with a woman who, herself, is qualified in the sight of God to marry? Of course he is.  But why is he scripturally qualified to marry this woman?  For the simple reason that his first “marriage” was not a Biblical marriage. Now apply the principle to our case under consideration. The man and woman being considered were not Biblically authorized to be married. Their marriage, at least in the sight of God, was not legitimate.  Following her divorce she now has the right to remarry, just as the penitent homosexual, upon his conversion and separation from his partner, was qualified to “remarry.” If not, why not?

I hope this has helped you. 




I came across these a few years ago. I think you’ll get a laugh from these.  Be sure to take them in stride and not too seriously. Someone has compiled the following list of observations about married life:

*A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.  A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

* Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.  Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

* A man is a person who will pay two dollars for a one-dollar item he wants.  A woman will pay one dollar for a two-dollar item that she doesn't want.

* To be happy with a man you must understand him a lot and love him a little.  To be happy with a woman you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.

* When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping.  Men invade another country.

* A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but  he doesn't.  A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change and she does.

* A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.  A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

* There are two times when a man doesn't understand a woman - before marriage and after marriage.

* Only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy.  One is to let her think she is having her own way.  The other is to let her have it.

* Any married man should forget his mistakes - there's no use in two people remembering the same thing.

* A man has six items in his bathroom - a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, deodorant and a towel. The average number of  items in the typical woman's bathroom is 437.  A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

* A woman always has the last word in any argument.  Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

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