“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
Matthew 16:13-20

​Open up the New Testament to Matthew 16:13-20 and read what follows. This passage of scripture has been the flame of many heated arguments between denominations throughout the years. Catholics adamantly ascribe the “rock” of v. 18 to Peter, claiming this passage is the scriptural pointer to Peter as the first archbishop (pope) of the church. Protestants and Churches of Christ consistently teach the “rock” of v. 18 is none other than Christ Jesus. In this study, lean in and listen to the whispering voice of the Christ, speaking through the pen of Matthew, as He dispels all doubt with His artful allusions to the Old Testament.
​From the very first verse (13), notice the conversation is entirely about, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The question is not, “Who do men say that you, the Son of Jonah, are?” The “Son of Man” title is a direct allusion to prophecy from Daniel 7. There in Daniel 7:13-14, the Son of Man comes in the clouds, sits by the Ancient of Days, and is given dominion, glory, and an everlasting kingdom. Peter himself recognizes Jesus to be the fulfillment of the Messianic king in Acts 2:34-36. In the gospel of Matthew, the “Son of Man” title is Jesus’ favorite title for Himself, as He no doubt hints with each use of this title that Jesus is the Son of Man that Daniel prophesied about. “Son of Man” appears 82 times across all four gospels and 30 times in Matthew alone (Quarles, Charles. A Theology of Matthew. P & R Publishing, 2013, pp. 89). During a later conversation in Matthew 16, Jesus makes a second allusion to Daniel 7, as He makes reference to His coming for judgment (Mt. 16:27-28). Daniel’s picture of the Son of Man is undoubtedly a heavy influence in Matthew 16, and the backdrop for Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 16:13-20.
​Now, keep Daniel’s book of prophecy close to the mind’s eye while the “rock” of Matthew 16:18 is examined. If the traditional Catholic distinction that Peter is the rock of v. 18 is true, then this is what happens in the conversation of Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus asks, “Who is the Son of Man,” proceeds to answer a completely different question as He discusses the fact that Peter is the foundation of the church, and when it is all said and done, He has not answered the question, “Who is the Son of Man?” This is illogical. This absent-mindedness sounds like something an average Joe might do, but not the antics of the Son of Man-Jesus Christ. Instead, this more orderly flow of thought proceeds from the mind of Jesus and rhymes with logic. Jesus asks, “Who is the Son of Man?” The Son of Man naturally reminds a faithful Jew like Peter of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 7. Jesus then proceeds to answer His question by identifying the Son of Man in Daniel 7 with the stone in Daniel 2. If one is a careful reader, he will notice the theme of Daniel is the Kingdom of Heaven. He will also take note that Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 are two separate visions that compliment each other, telling the same story from a different perspective. In Daniel 2, there is a stone that strikes a great image representing the kingdoms of the earth (Daniel 2:44-45). The stone grows into a great mountain (2:35), and this represents the beginning of the kingdom of God (2:44-45). The rock in Daniel 2:34, 36, and 45 represents Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. Just as Daniel says, “You (Nebuchadnezzar) are this head of gold,” in v.38, so Jesus is the stone. To speak of the head of a kingdom is to speak of the kingdom itself. This is illustrated by Paul in Eph. 1:22-23, where Jesus is called the head of the church. The same thing said of the stone in Daniel 2:44-45 is a parallel to what is said of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13-14, and these are the prophecies directly alluded to by Jesus in Matthew 16:18.
​Perhaps the allusion to Daniel goes over the head of most people. Consider a simpler question. Is Jesus God? Yes, even Catholics believe Jesus is deity. If Jesus is talking to a group of Jewish disciples who have listened to the Old Testament in the synagogue their whole life, and Jesus says His kingdom will be built on a “rock”, what Biblical reference would come to Peter’s mind? Here is the answer. Peter would, without doubt, think of the oh-so-many references to God and the future Messiah as the Rock of Israel. There are a host of Old Testament prophets that ascribe this everlasting, solid and immovable “Rock” status to God and Messiah (i.e. Gen. 49:24; Deut. 32:15; 2 Sam. 23:3; Ps. 62:7; 78:35; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16; 44:8). Furthermore, Jesus had, on a previous occasion, compared His teachings to the foundation of a house built on a “rock” (Matt. 7:24-25). Jesus is the Rock, “the stone the builders rejected” (Ps. 188:22; Acts 4:11): the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:19-21).
​There seems to be little room for doubt. If the disciples do not immediately think of Daniel’s Son of Man prophecy, certainly Daniel’s prophecy of the stone in Daniel 2, coupled with the plethora of references to God and Messiah as the “Rock” of Israel, would reveal the answer to the question of Matthew 16:13, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The question was answered decisively for these Jews; thus, they are instructed not to reveal this new knowledge of the Christ until the time is ripe (Matthew 16:20). Read the Old and New Testaments together, and do not let faith rest on the traditions of men.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Why Paul Would Be Unpopular Today

WHY PAUL WOULD BE UNPOPULAR TODAY

BJERRY DICKINSON

There is a preacher who preaches for a megachurch in Houston, Texas who has been described as “the most popular preacher in America.” The church he preaches for televises their worship services and he is seen all over the country. The church takes in 70 million dollars a year in contributions. He has written several best selling books and for one of his latest books he was paid an advance of 13 million dollars. Based on all the foregoing I can see why he is considered to be the most popular preacher in America. If the criteria for popularity is money and the number of people who follow you he certainly qualifies as popular preacher. But, I wonder, if the Apostle Paul were alive today would he be popular? Would he even be allowed into the pulpits of most churches today? I believe Paul would be unpopular today for the following reasons.

Style. The aforementioned most popular preacher in America begins every sermon with a joke. Sometimes his listeners send him jokes and he uses them to start off his sermons. He uses very little scripture and really his sermons are just feel good talks about how to be successful and get ahead in business and life. It’s the power of positive thinking wrapped up in a fluffy feel good package. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul beginning one of his sermons with a joke? In I Corinthians 2: 1-5 Paul described his style of preaching. “I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In Romans 1:16 Paul declared that the gospel he preached was the power of God unto salvation and in Acts 20:20-27 Paul reminded the Ephesians that he had kept back nothing that was profitable for them. “I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.” That kind of preaching would not make Paul popular today! It is the kind of preaching still needed in the world and in the church today.

Sin. The Houston preacher described above never preaches on sin. In fact, in one interview he was asked why he never mentions the words sin, judgment, or hell. He answered that he has not been called to judge people but to encourage and inspire them therefore he never uses those words. When I heard that answer I knew why he is considered the most popular preacher in America! The way to build and maintain a megachurch is to never preach about sin. Paul used the words sin, judgment, and hell in his preaching, however. In II Timothy 3 Paul wrote that perilous times were coming when men would be covetous, boasters, blasphemers, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, traitors, despisers of those who are good, and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. By the way, if those times are not here already, may the Lord have mercy on us when they arrive! I think it obvious, however, that we are living in a time when it is perilous and dangerous to be a Christian and to take a stand against sin. In Galatians 5 Paul declares the works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, murder, drunkenness, etc. Are these still sins today? If so, it is the “calling” of every preacher to preach against them just like Paul did. If Paul were here today he would preach against sin and that would not make him the most popular preacher in America!

Pattern. If Paul were here today he would still preach that there is a pattern for the work and worship of the church. That would make him unpopular not only with outsiders, but with many people in churches of Christ today. The popular notion that it does not matter how we worship as long as we are zealous and sincere would be contradicted by Paul. In fact, it is contradicted by Paul in the epistles he left us. In I Corinthians 11:2 he praised the brethren for “remembering him in all things and keeping the ordinances as delivered.” When Paul praised them for remembering him, he meant they remembered and recognized his apostolic office and authority. Paul, as an inspired apostle, set down the pattern for the observance of the Lord’s Supper and he declared it should be kept as delivered. After giving a pattern for the assembly in I Corinthians 14, Paul says in verse 38, “If a man does not recognize this he is not to be recognized.” In II Thessalonians 2:15 Paul admonishes us to stand fast and hold on to the traditions we have received by the word of God. He is speaking, of course, of inspired traditions. If he were here today Paul would preach that the traditions, ordinances, and patterns revealed in the New Testament must be kept today if we are going to serve and worship the Lord acceptably. That kind of preaching would make Paul unpopular even in churches of Christ!

Baptism. If Paul were here today he would preach the same thing he preached about baptism as he preached 2000 years ago He would not be popular and in fact many would accuse him of preaching “water salvation.” In recounting his own conversion Paul declared that he was told, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” He immediately arose and was baptized, and it was after his baptism that he stopped praying and rejoiced knowing his sins  were forgiven. Paul preached that baptism puts us into Christ where all spiritual blessings reside. (Romans 6:3- 5 & Galatians 3:27) Baptism is so essential to salvation that Paul commanded 12 men he met in Ephesus to be baptized a second time because their first baptism was invalid. I wonder what would happen if Paul told all those who have been baptized thinking they were saved before baptism that their baptisms are invalid and they need to be baptized again for the right reason? I do not think that would make him the most popular preacher in America!

The point to this whole article is, of course, that Paul would be unpopular today. The reason is not because Paul’s preaching would change – it would not – it is because people have not changed. Paul was not popular in his own day because people did not want the truth, and that has not changed. Paul, undoubtedly, was not concerned about popularity but preaching the truth and so should we. I do need to say, in closing, that Paul was popular with those who loved the truth, and if I may say it this way, he was popular with the Lord. That is all that mattered to Paul, and may it be what most matters to us! 

 

What You Didn’t Know About Jesus’ Miracles

 

What You Didn’t Know About Jesus’ Miracles

There is more and more interest in supernatural phenomena, perhaps now more than ever due to premiere TV shows that capitalize on the vampire and superhero extravaganza. This new wave of monotony has added one more reason for devout souls to gorge their minds with emptiness. Nonetheless, if you like the supernatural, consider reading the Bible instead. And upon reading the Bible, consider the purpose of Jesus’ miracles wrought so frequently throughout the New Testament narratives.
What was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles? Popular opinion is this: the miracles of Jesus were recorded to testify to Jesus’ power and His deity. However, popular opinion stops there, stating this is the only purpose of Jesus’ miracles. Certainly, this was a hierarchal, if not, the primary role of the miracles recorded. No other gospel shows this truth more evidently than John’s gospel packed with jaw dropping miracles from cover to cover. The back cover of His gospel even states the details therein were recorded in order that his audience might believe in Jesus’ deity (John 20:30-31). With this being said, consider that there is another purpose to these miracles revealed by the Holy Spirit Himself: an intent that will cause you to rethink how your life looks in the eyes of God.
The Holy Spirit, writing through the hand of Matthew, records a robust series of miracles in Matthew 8 & 9. In Matthew 8, Jesus heals a leper (v. 3), a Centurion’s paralyzed servant (v. 5-13), Peter’s mother’s fever (14-15), many demon-possessed persons (v. 16), and, “All who were sick,” (v. 16). Every type of healing fathomable is either listed by name or included in the statement, “All who were sick.” What does this have to do with showing a secondary purpose of Jesus’ miracles? Read Matthew 9:6. Just before healing a lame man let down through the roof where He was preaching, Jesus proclaims this purpose to working the miracle of healing, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” The miracles evidence Jesus’ power to forgive sins when we realize what is happening spiritually at the time of forgiveness. Just as the psalmist cried out to God and was healed spiritually (Ps. 30:2), so the physical, miraculous illustration invoked by Jesus’ words, “Be cleansed,” (Matt. 8:3) gives our finite human minds a glimpse into the spiritual realm of activity that transpires upon Jesus washing away our sins. In sin, we are, “paralyzed and dreadfully tormented,” like the centurion’s servant in Matt. 8:6 graphically portrays. But again, after stating He had power to forgive sins on earth in Matt. 9:6, Jesus proclaimed to the lame man, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Consider your spiritual state at this time, now aware of how God views the sin in your life.
For further evidence that the Holy Spirit wants the Bible reader to grasp this secondary purpose to Jesus’ miracles, answer the following questions. 1) Why does Matthew quote Isaiah 53:4 in Matt. 8:17, this just after he details all the different types of healings performed by Jesus, and that without a mention to forgiveness of sins? Isaiah was referring to Messiah taking away spiritual infirmities and sicknesses in context, but the Holy Spirit applies the passage to the miraculous display of Matthew 8. The answer- Jesus healing people of physical infirmities illustrated His power to heal them of spiritual sicknesses. 2) Does Jesus’ resurrecting of Lazarus after three days in the grave (John 11) have any illustrative purpose to what Jesus was about to accomplish in John 20? 3) Does Peter and John’s healing of the lame man in Acts 3:1-10 having any illustrative purpose for the subsequent sermon about the spiritual “restoration” of Israel (i.e. Acts 3:19, 21)? More examples could be given, but these will suffice. May this study build your faith in the divine composition of God’s Holy Word given for your nourishment (Matt. 4:4).

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Obey Your Parents

“Obey Your Parents”
Proverbs 1:8

Solomon was one of the wisest men to ever walk the surface of the earth. He was blessed by God with spiritual wisdom; this same wisdom is on display in the book of Proverbs, which he authored. In the very first chapter, Solomon seeks to impart some of that God-given wisdom to his son. How interesting it is that of all the wisdom the great Solomon could have taught his son, one of the first things he mentions is the importance of heeding his parent’s instruction. For the focus of this article, a few other verses will be examined from Proverbs and elsewhere to show that God intended for children to be taught Biblical principles by their parents from the time they were old enough to understand. Believe it or not, the Creator saw to it that righteous men throughout the eras of time write down the truths that mankind should pattern their lives after. Almighty God even wrote in such detail to regard how children were to behave and carry themselves throughout the days of youth. When a man and woman are joined together in holy matrimony, the husband & wife form the foundation of the family—the man and woman leave their fathers and mothers and cleave to each other as one flesh according to Genesis 2:24. From this union, God purposed children to be raised in the loving care of righteous parents. Some children are blessed with good parents. Some children unfortunately lose a parent, or both, to death and become orphans. Some children have parents who don’t have the proper affection for their children like they ought. But in God’s natural order, children typically have two parents who love them and want the best for them.
​As far as the home is concerned, God gave commands that regarded each member of the home with certain duties and responsibilities. Paul expressly discussed the obligation of children in the home. Ephesians 6:1-3: 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. The apostle addresses both sons and daughters to teach them something divine that the Father would have them understand in order for the home and the children’s role in the home to exist correctly in His sight. From those verses, I believe there are at least three reasons why children should obey their parents.
First, a child’s obedience is necessary because it is right. This important Biblical principle and commandment has been repeated throughout the course of the scriptures and because it is steadily repeated, we can conclude that this command was part of God’s framework for life. We have proof of this because it was first mentioned in Exodus 20:12 as a portion of the 10 commandments. It’s mentioned several times in the book of Proverbs such as the first verse alluded to in this article, Proverbs 1:8; also in Proverbs 6:20, and in Proverbs 23:22. When we look at verses like verse 1 of Ephesians 6, most people disregard this because we live in a world that believes it has outsmarted God. By that, I mean people believe they are so educated that they don’t have to take direct orders from anyone or anything, for they are too intuitive to live this way! There must be a logical, scientific reason that lines up with the way society thinks at that moment in time for anyone to deem it necessary! Isn’t that the drumbeat of today’s culture? Well Christians who utilize such a thought process are walking on thin ice. Anytime God gives a direct command, as He does in Ephesians 6:1, it is to be OBEYED! And if somebody refuses to swallow their pride and do something because God said so, Solomon says such an attitude is foolish. Anytime God tells us to do something, we can be certain it is right! God does not owe anyone an explanation for any instruction he gives (Isaiah 55:8-9). “For this is right” is all the explaining needed for a child to understand that they must obey their parents.
Second, children should obey their parents because procreators are a source of wisdom! Our parents’ wisdom can help us in all aspects of life and that is why we are told to keep their teachings ever on our hearts and never depart from them (Proverbs 6:20-22). One of the biggest reasons parents are usually wise is because they have “been there and done that.” Too often, teenagers and young adults believe that our parents are dinosaurs and they really don’t know anything! In reality, they were once young adults and faced many of the same situations young folks find themselves in now. It doesn’t matter how advanced technology may become or how much we think times are changing, these things cannot deter the prevailing wisdom in experience!
​Finally, a child’s obedience to his parents is warranted so that it may be well with him (Ephesians 6:3). A rampant fad in today’s advancing society is this obsession with eating the right foods, glutton-free and exercise so that we can be well physically. We try to learn proper manners and communicate with people in a socially acceptable behavior so that it may be well with us publicly. So, we should obey our parents so that it may be well with us spiritually! Thus far, it has been suggested that our parents should be obeyed because they are a source of wisdom. When children don’t heed their parents’ wisdom, it is like a spit in the face to them. Guardians spend all the time that we live worrying about us, trying to do everything possible to give us all they can, and make sacrifices for us. When we don’t obey them, it causes tension and discord. But here in this passage, Paul wants us to see that things will be more in sync and harmonious in our lives if we will only obey God’s commands. Now in the second part of the verse, Paul says “that thou mayest live long on the earth.” Solomon stated something very similar in Proverbs 3:1-2: 1My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. In all of the King Solomon’s wisdom, he realized the importance of obeying your parents for several different reasons. He especially knew the importance of obeying them so that we might live long on the earth and that it would be well with us! We need to understand though that this does not mean that every child that disappoints and sows discord with his/her parents won’t live a long life. This also doesn’t mean that every good, obedient child will live a long life. The point is that we all can have God’s blessing if we do obey because that is what He has promised. Therefore, we must follow it.
​It is this writer’s hope and prayer that every Christian will understand the necessity of this teaching throughout God’s Word and instruct the generations to come about the pressing responsibility of obedience to parents, and for that matter, authority. The Lord will be pleased if we are successful.

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“God Gave Them Up”

 

“God Gave Them Up”

​Romans 1:22-26 says: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:”
​There is a degrading morality in the gentiles life style mentioned in Romans1:22-26. God gave them up to three things: uncleanness, vile affections and reprobate minds.
​First God gave them up to “uncleanness”. This means God gave them up to the flesh. He let the flesh gain control over them. When one is set on a course to do as they please God will give them over to what they desire, but there are consequences for doing such. Just as when Israel cried saying, “we shall have a king.” God warned them of their decision stating: You will have a king and he will be a wreck. You taxes will go up. He will take your young men and women as servants, and he will take your young men for war. When you cry out in the day of you affliction I will not deliver you. Because these gentiles wanted to live in a flesh fulfilling life style, God gave them up, and let their desires gain control.

​Second, God gave them up to vile affections. “Vile affections” are acts that dishonor. The acts Paul mentions are connected and described as homosexual acts. The point is that when one has allowed themselves to be under control of the flesh they will do what they need to fulfill their desires no matter how low they have to stoop.
​Third, God gave them up to a reprobate mind. “Reprobate mind” is a mind that is not able to discern what is good. With their downward spiral of carnal immorality complete, they finally have made it to a place where they can`t discern what is actually good from what is actually bad. All they understand is what they want and what they don’t want. There is no restriction and no bounds on what these things could be.

​These gentiles, as Paul describes, started with a simple yet fatal mistake, letting a little uncleanness take hold in their lives. We look at murders and rapists and wonder how anyone could stoop so low? We look at the crime rates in the US and the drug distribution throughout the world and wonder, how could an innocent child turn into such a horrible adult? We look around in our world at the prostitution, pornography, and child exploitation and try to see where all of these horrible and disgusting acts have come from?

​It doesn`t take us looking too long in our bible to understand all of this has resulted from man letting a little uncleanness in their lives. This is why it is imperative we discuss this topic. A little uncleanness has resulted in the world we live in today. What happens if we continue to let uncleanness in?
​God spoke of a world whose, “every imagination of their heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). This all resulted from a little uncleanness being let in.
​I want to ask two questions that will deal with uncleanness in our lives.

1 – As Christians what do we allow ourselves to get away with? How often do we take ourselves to task over the sin we commit? How often do we hold our selves accountable for what we do wrong? Too many times do we try to shift the blame on to some circumstance in our lives or shift is onto someone else?
When God saw that Adam had eaten of the tree and He questions Adam. Adam shifted the blame on two individuals, God and Eve. He says, “The woman who thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.” When God turned his attention to Eve she stated “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” (Gen. 3:12, 13)​
Shifting the blame is an old tool to help take some of the heat of guilt away. If I can blame my circumstance on my family or a stranger, then I may not feel quite as guilty. The problem with mankind is no one likes to take themselves to task. It is time that we begin to take the mirror of God`s word and hold ourselves up in it. We need to begin to hold ourselves accountable for our mistakes. It is easy to get in a rut of allowing ourselves to get away with some things. But here in lies a problem. Just as Jesus said, in Luke 16:10; “He that is faithful in little is faithful in much.” If we are unfaithful in little how long until, we become as the gentiles and sink to being unfaithful in much? How long will it be before we too are unable to discern what is good?​
2 – Parents what are you allowing in your homes?
​Parents have the utmost responsibility when it comes to children because is their job to raise their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”, (Eph. 6:4) Parents what are you allowing your children to watch on TV? What movies are you allowing you children to go see with friends? I read an article about the ratings of movies, and one that really concerns me is the PG-13 rating. This article stated – “I would not argue exactly that ratings across-the-board have gotten more lenient over time, but it seems to me that the “rules” of what goes into a PG-13 rating have crystallized, and that filmmakers now know exactly what to do to get around the rules. This has led to PG-13 ratings on films that feature brutal killings, breasts, and of course, foul language.”
​So, what are we as Christians to think about the movies we watch, and more importantly, what are we allowing the children to watch. When you watch a movie with crude images and simply tell you child “just turn you head for moment” what message are you sending that child? In the child`s mind, because I remember this myself, the child is thinking “one day I will be able to see what is not permitted for me to see today.
​Also, what social media do you give your children access to? I read an article by Brother Aaron Battey titled, “Why I Deleted My Instagram?” In this article the emphasis is placed on crude images that can be seen, and are being sent to both men and women. Now Facebook is getting requests like this. To think that these things will not have an effect on the children growing up is foolish. If what we are doing could cause problem later on for the children isn’t it better and wise to stop now, before a minor problem becomes a serious problem?

​God wants us to look at own spiritual wellness. We read in Judges 2:10 “there arose a generation that knew not God.” All it takes is a little uncleanness to result in the church to bring about a people that “know not God.” All it took for these gentiles to end up in a state of reprobate minds is to let the uncleanness in their lives unchecked.
​We should want children to cultivate a love for the truth in their hearts; a heart that loves the truth and pattern of the Lord. If we don’t teach and show how one “earnestly contends for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3); if we don’t show the example of standing for the Lord those following won’t stand. If an individual or a congregation does not stand for the truth, they are destined for destruction.

Sean Smith



​​

How We Know Jesus Doesn’t Accept VISA

How We Know Jesus Doesn’t Accept VISA:
The Cost of Discipleship Part II

​The preceding article entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship: What Bible Class Didn’t Teach You,” examined Jesus’ call to discipleship. Mark’s gospel was found to outline a radical change in those who would seek to follow Jesus in His earthly ministry. They were to deny their own selfish desires, humble themselves in submission to Christ, and take on the heart of a servant. These few paragraphs now attempt to magnify the reality of this heavy cost of discipleship.
​Jesus does not accept VISA credit card. Though an obscure statement, consider this analogy in the context of discipleship costing the individual a price. Credit cards function in such a way that the buyer can receive their reward or satisfaction now and maybe, eventually make the actual payment later. This was the very nature of the situation in Luke 9:59. In this passage, Jesus told a man, “Follow me.” The man replied, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” It is more likely that the man’s father was not quite dead yet. Rather, the man was probably telling Jesus, “My dad is 80 years old. Give me a couple years to savor this time with him, and then I will follow you.” Jesus’ response to such a seemingly innocent excuse would floor most people today. Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” Did Jesus realize how harsh He came across in this instance? Surely Luke made up this ludicrous detail about Jesus…or did he?
​Many people who would call themselves “Christian” cannot identify with the Jesus of Luke 9:59, because this cost of discipleship does not fit their, “God is all grace, and He will accept me for who I am” mentality. People want to pay Jesus with VISA so to speak: enjoy satisfaction now and maybe, eventually make the actual payment for discipleship later. However, even a cursory glance at the whole of scripture brings sudden death to this shallow mindset. The cost of discipleship has always been higher and more radical than the status quo projects.
​The following are Bible passages that highlight heavy rebuke from God’s prophets, and on Bible passage portraying the transformed life of a true disciple. Malachi spoke against the priests of his day, “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts…” (2:3). John spoke gravely against the apathetic church at Laodicea, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth,” (Rev. 3:15-16). Jesus speaking against the elite of society in His day proclaimed, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves,” (Matt. 23:15). Now, consider Peter’s admonition for a transformed life when he says, “We have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead,” (1 Peter 4:3-5).
​If Christians made God’s word a lamp for their feet and light to their path (Ps. 119:105) there would be no quibble on the matter. Jesus calls for radical surrender. This means old habits will have to be left behind, and others might speak evil of you because of this, just as Peter said. Always remember, the narrow way which leads to life is difficult and few will find it (Matt. 7:14). Choose the difficult way. Choose life.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Have I Become Your Enemy?

Have I Become Your Enemy?

At the beginning of their relationship, the apostle Paul was treated with great love and respect by the Galatians. On his first visit to Galatia, he was “received.., as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” Gal. 4:14. They loved him so much that they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him if possible Gal. 4:15. However, as time went on their attitude toward Paul changed. They treated him with coldness and suspicion because he pointed out their faults and the dangers to their souls. This is why he asked the question, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Gal. 4:16.

The duty of the gospel preacher often involves the delivery of an unpleasant message. In life all is not roses, there are thorns also. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not all sweetness and pleasantness. There is no doubt that God’s Word is full of edification, comfort, and pleasant thoughts, but it also contains prohibitions, condemnations, threats, warnings, and negative statements. The message presented by the gospel preacher must be balanced. It should be edifying and comforting, but it must also include warnings and admonitions. This is where the conflict begins.

If you haven’t noticed, truth is not very popular today. We should not be surprised to know that those who proclaim it are not very popular either. Today is similar to the time that Isaiah wrote about: Isa. 30:8-11 “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Here we have a group of people who wanted their ears tickled. Many of the inspired doctrines were a reproach to them. The dedicated messengers likewise were reproached and despised. Those who spoke the truth were treated as the enemy.

The man who preaches the truth must not waver. He must stand strong in the face of opposition always remembering his duty. Paul discusses the duty and work of the gospel preacher in his second epistle to Timothy: 2 Tim. 4:1-5 “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure af ictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

The preacher must denounce the sins of the people. John the Baptist rebuked his own countrymen. Jesus Christ spoke some of the most scathing, yet loving, words spoken, Matt. 23. The preacher of the gospel has the responsibility to present all the truth. Paul expressed that duty in Acts 20:20 “And how I kept back nothing that was pro table unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.”Acts 20:25-27 “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”

In his letter to the Ephesians Paul declared the whole council of God. All gospel preachers have that same obligation and the duty to speak the whole truth in love Eph. 4:15. One can preach all their life, never preaching any error, and still not please God in their preaching. Those who preach the truth must present the truth on a variety of biblical topics, keeping back nothing that is pro table to the audience, but declaring the whole truth.

Why must an unpopular message be delivered? The answer is found in Rom. 3:23 “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” This is the basis of preaching; like it or not, we are sinners. The purpose of preaching is to bring sinners to repentance. How can a sinner repent of a sin that God will hold him accountable for if he is never reminded of it? One cannot turn from the wrong and do right when the wrong and the right are not proclaimed. Jesus stated in Luke 6:39,”Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?”

Instead of becoming angry at Paul and considering him an enemy, the Galatians should have appreciated the fact that he corrected them. The purpose of spiritual correction is the salvation of souls: 1 Tim. 4:16 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Jam. 5: 19-20 “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

It is important that we also recognize the importance of spiritual correction. Just because a person does not know the truth does not lessen its truthfulness. It is still the truth. Our acceptance or rejection does not change the truth. When Saul of Tarsus rejected the truth of the gospel (to the extent of condoning the brutal stoning of one of its messengers: Stephen) did this lessen its truthfulness? When Paul preached the gospel to the city of Lystra and was then stoned and left for dead Acts 14:19, did their rejection lessen their responsibility to obey the message? Rejecting the message or messenger does not change the truth-it only hinders the treatment. A doctor may inform me of a serious health problem. What good would it do for me to get mad at him for delivering the message? If I want to be helped, I need to accept the doctor’s message, face the problem, and seek treatment.

The man speaking the truth is often treated as an enemy by the very people he is trying to help. It would be wonderful to expect fair treatment when it comes to proclaiming the truth, but that will not always be the case. If the Prince of Preachers could not please everyone with His preaching, neither will we. Even though that was the case, He did not stop preaching and loving His brethren. The Apostle Paul’s message was rejected by some, but he did not stop preaching it. 2 Tim. 4:14-18 “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The man who preaches the truth has the Lord on his side. Men may reject the message, but the Lord will provide a reward. When the truth is taught to us, we must not reject it, nor attack the messenger. Remember the man who teaches the truth is NOT our enemy. –

Rick Martin

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“On a Limb for Jesus”
Luke 19:1-10

The divine Word of God tells the story of a man named Zacchaeus in Luke’s gospel account, and this is the first and last time we hear mention of this chief among the publicans. We are not told much about this wealthy resident of Jericho, but what the scriptures do tell us of him speaks volumes about the things that were most precious to him. Scholars agree that Zacchaeus’s heritage was no doubt of Jewish descent because of his name and the fact that the Lord calls him a “son of Abraham.” But Zacchaeus wasn’t some common Hebrew or your basic run-of-the-mill Jew! He was the superintendent over all the tax collectors of the region west of the Jordan River! Although tax collectors in Christ’s time were known for being deceitful and greedy in their lucrative professions, the Bible tells us that Zacchaeus was not at all typical in this regard either. Here was a man who gave half of his goods to the poor in order to prove his benevolence, rather than greed! But more than that, Zacchaeus also restored anything that he had taken from others fourfold in order to compensate for any wrongdoing, keeping with the commands of the law (Exodus 22:1). These attributes teach us that this man was concerned with obedience to the law, which was uncommon with the publicans.
​Prior to the introduction of Zaccheaus in the 19th chapter, we read in Luke 17 how that Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, and he performed many miracles along that route, such as he did in Samaria and Galilee when he healed the ten lepers in a village nearby. He also spake parables and healed the blind man who cried out to him as he walked through the streets of another small village near Jericho in chapter 18. Word began to spread in advance to the city of Jericho that the famous miracle worker of Nazareth would be traveling through, and the crowds flocked to the pathways so that they might see the Christ! Keep in mind that these events occurred not too long before our Lord would be arrested, held captive, and falsely accused to the point that he was sentenced to death by crucifixion in Jerusalem, despite never breaking the law. Zacchaeus was evidently amongst this large crowd gathered that day in Jericho to see the Savior. The text tells us that Zacchaeus was a man little in stature, meaning he was short in height and frame and he would not see Jesus if he stood there amid the crowd. So he climbed into a sycamore tree near the way where Jesus would pass by and stood there on a limb waiting for the man whose popularity and fame had spread so quickly throughout all the regions of Palestine. And it would be that day when Zacchaeus would find eternal salvation in Jesus who went to abide at his house. And it all came about because the chief among the publicans climbed up onto the limb of a sycamore tree to see the Lord. The lessons we can learn from this obscure character are fundamental to finding Bible salvation.
The first lesson seems obvious—Zacchaeus sought to follow the way of Christ. Today’s world lacks a necessary desire to seek the truth! Most will accept whatever is convenient or sounds right so that it takes the place of actual effort needed to find the right way. Jeremiah prophesied that the chosen people of old would be delivered from their captivity if they would seek the ways of God once more (Jeremiah 29:12-14). In Psalm 14, David wrote of a time when God looked down from the Heavens to see if there were any who were seeking after him. Jesus once said that we should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and earthly needs and blessings would be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). This is what Zacchaeus did. He wanted to see the Lord that day, and no multitude too large would deter him from such. The Lord promised to those who seek His will that they would find it (Luke 11:9-10). But seeking the ways of the Savior cannot be completed carelessly! This is why so many are easily led by the modern trends of religion. The Hebrew writer said that the Father rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6)!
​We must also notice that Zacchaeus is an example for us to prepare our homes. The Bible tells us that Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the tree that day saying, “Today I must abide at thy house!” This passage of scripture beckons the question that some Christians do not want to consider. What if Jesus was to abide at your house on this day??? What would He find? Zacchaeus had no time to run home and rid his house of any spiritual impurities that might cause the Lord to frown on him. He didn’t have time to set the roles of his house in order with regards to his children and spouse. He would not have the chance to erase the trends of society that may have crept into his home over time. Christ would abide at his house on that day! Not the next day, not the next week, not the next month; the Savior said, “Today I must abide at thy house! But this did not seem to bother Zacchaeus. He had apparently lived in a way that pleased God, for Luke describes the publican’s disposition as joyful when he thought of the Lord abiding in his home! But not only did this rich man welcome Jesus into his home, he took the salvation offered by the Lord without delay! How many of us would receive Christ into our homes joyfully? Fact is, much of the world would be ashamed to have Jesus into their homes, and perhaps, some of his own disciples would be ashamed as well. If the Lord came to your house today, would he find the husbands expressing the love of Christ towards their wives (Ephesians 5:25)? Would the Lord find the women working towards being that loving, chaste keeper of the home that Paul instructed Titus to teach about to the congregations on the island of Crete (Titus 2:3-5)? Would the Son of God find the children obedient to the parents (Colossians 3:20)? Even more than that, would the Savior find us daily on our knees in prayer like the old prophet Daniel did (Daniel 6:10)? Or would Jesus find us searching the scriptures regularly, following the example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11)? Do you want to prevent being crowded out by the world’s distractions? To do that, you are gonna hafta to put out an effort to develop an appetite for things that are spiritual. And that starts in your mind. We must learn to create a sanctuary in our minds where meaningless distractions are discarded and spiritual thoughts abound (Philippians 4:8). Only then can we mold our homes after the divine Word and its commandments!
​Finally, Zacchaeus teaches us a lesson in preparing for the Savior’s appearing! The man called Zacchaeus teaches us many lessons that are key to our salvation, but perhaps none more direct than this one. He would not let anything stop him from seeing the Savior for the first time. That took preparation. It may have seemed like a small thing for this man to make it a point to be near the path where Jesus would walk. It may have seemed like no big deal for the chief publican to climb a tree so he could see over the crowd. But these were steps made in preparation for the Lord’s appearing. Here was a man who strove for righteousness despite knowing nothing about the Lord. Here was a man who Jesus singled out of the crowd because of his “don’t be denied” mentality to see Him. Here was a man who deserved salvation! How about us? We know the Lord will come, but the when is beyond our frailty of mind. Jesus said that we know not the day nor the hour when He will return (Matthew 25:13). We must understand how serious it is to prepare for meeting the Lord in judgment, while many allow it to pass them by. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he said that it was high time to awake out of sleep and seize salvation (Romans 13:11)! There are times in life when we do things because it is time to complete certain tasks. But when it’s high time to do something, the opportunity has past, and we are overdue to complete the task at hand. In other words, this is something we cannot put off any longer. If we procrastinate further, the window of opportunity will close and our chance at salvation will have passed us by. You may have close friends like I have who need to obey the gospel but continue to let opportunity after opportunity pass them by. That’s not what Zacchaeus did! Jesus told him to “make haste” in coming to gain salvation. He wasted no time because salvation from Jesus was valuable to him! Today Jesus says the same thing to us. “Make haste!” Salvation is available to everyone who is willing. And we ought not turn it away! We can hear the word (John 6:45), believe the Bible’s claims that Christ is God’s Son (John 3:16), repent of your sins (II Peter 3:9), confess Jesus as Lord (Matthew 10:32), and be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, upon remaining faithful to the Lord until death (Revelation 2:10), we will have prepared for the Savior’s appearing the way the scriptures teach us too.

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

The Cost of Discipleship: What Bible Class Didn’t Teach You

The Cost of Discipleship: What Bible Class Didn’t Teach You

​Waves of people identify with Christianity, whatever that means. This notion seems to hint at a surface appreciation of Christ and what He taught, or what people say He taught. Word of mouth, rather than reading of the Bible itself, lead such waves of identifying “Christians” to make statements such as, “I agree with the main principles of the Bible and its general message.” Consider the notion that Jesus defined discipleship within the gospels, particularly the gospel of Mark, and while considering, realize that word of mouth does not substitute for careful reading of God’s self-revelation. Careful reading of this revelation in the Bible has led this author to realize the heavy, radical cost of discipleship outlined by Jesus Himself.
​The premise of Mark’s gospel is discipleship. John Mark writes a brief, action packed, more do than said, gospel record of Jesus, developing in Christ’s ministry on earth, His authority to call disciples, and exactly what that call to discipleship looked like. A closer examination of scripture should reveal that Jesus was not asking for fans. This was manifested in his reply to one man’s excuse for why he could not follow Jesus, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead,” (Matt. 8:22). Perhaps this is the first inkling that Jesus does not respect someone who simply “identifies” with Him.
​A careful investigation of the middle portion of Mark’s gospel record should highlight the essence of Jesus’ call to discipleship. Several Bible scholars have noted three sections in Marks gospel, with chapter 8-10 composing the middle section. This break in the gospel account centers on three relevant discourses between Jesus and His most intimate disciples. In these discourses, Jesus predicts his death in Jerusalem three separate times. No other gospel record mentions all three predictions. Notice also, after each prediction, Jesus teaches His inner 12 an important lesson on what it means to be His disciple. Mark’s arrangement of this material in such a way is more than happenstance.
​Zone in on Jesus central message throughout the discourses of Mark 8-10. Read Mark 8:31-38, 9:30-37, and 10:32-45. The three messages taught by each discourse are as follows: self-denial, humility, and servitude. Now, consider the relationship between these three discipleship characteristics and their connection to Jesus’ triple announcement that He must soon be killed by authorities in Jerusalem. Jesus is emphasizing the core cost of discipleship: death to self, illustrated by His literal death by crucifixion. Paul reflects this language in Galatians 2:20 when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” Christ calls for a radical death to selfish desires, ambitions, and self-centered attitudes in general.
​Depicting exactly what a life that is crucified with Christ looks like requires a separate discussion, but allow this quote from Hanz Bayer to pave the way,

“Death (in reference to Jesus’ teaching in Mark 8:31-38) stands for radical surrender, a giving over of self-centered perspectives and control to God. This might, in some cases, also lead to physical death, but in all cases, it constitutes a complete loss of self-sufficiency and self-centeredness. We must note, however, that Jesus never called for death without also giving life.” (A Theology of Mark, p. 104)

Stay tuned for a complimentary article portraying this cost of discipleship in the Christian’s life. For now, take up the cross of self-denial and follow Jesus. Jesus doesn’t identify with fans. He identifies with fully committed martyrs to self. This is a salvation issue.

Aaron Battey

 

The Greatest Memorial

“The Greatest Memorial”
Acts 20:4-7

​In Acts 20, we read about the Christians of the early church coming together upon the first day of the week to break bread. The text specifies that the days of unleavened bread had concluded, but Paul and those who traveled with him gathered with others in Troas upon the first day of the week before setting sail to break bread once more. This breaking of bread was not for the feast of the Passover as were the days of unleavened bread, but pertained to a memorial that Jesus instituted on the night that he was betrayed for his followers to observe in remembrance of his sacrifice made on mankind’s behalf. When we hear the word memorial, perhaps we begin to consider some mental image that brings to mind memories about something, or in regards to someone’s life. In fact, the word memorial is defined as something designed to preserve the memory of a person or event, as a monument or a holiday. When I think of grand memorials here on earth, a certain city comes to mind which is our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. I had the privilege of touring this great city around five years ago or so, and everywhere I went throughout the municipal, a new monument or memorial would stand out to me that I had not seen. There were three memorials in particular that stood out to me. First, the John F. Kennedy memorial had a flame placed at the forefront of his grave known as the “eternal flame.” Appropriately described, this flame is never extinguished, representing how JFK’s influence will never cease to glow. Another memorial that impressed me was the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A widely heralded memorial, this mausoleum contains the remains of a soldier who was unable to be identified by name due to the bodily carnage suffered in battle. Nonetheless, this memorial represents any and every soldier who gave his life for this country’s freedom! When you stand at this memorial, there is a very solemn feeling in the air, as if you were witnessing a sacred ceremony. It’s taken so seriously that a sentinel marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process.
A changing of the guard occurs every hour on the hour for six months out of the year, and every half hour for the other six months of the year. A sentinel marches at the rear of the tomb 24/7/365 come rain, sleet or snow. I’m told that the number twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed—the 21-gun salute. It’s really a sight to behold. All of the memorials were impressive, but the one that stood out most to me was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. I had expected to see a statue of Dr. King the man but, like the other memorials, much thought had been implemented into the construction of the monument. It was not merely some statue of a man, but rather it looked as though MLK was breaking out of a mountain of rock. As it stands, there is a phrase etched across the side of the large tribute that reads “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” When I saw the memorial, I immediately thought of Dr. King’s famous speech “I Have Been to the Mountaintop,” recalling how he had helped America break away from the traditions of racism through the Civil Rights Act and other groundbreaking achievements, causing the racial barrier to crumble.
​The purpose of all these memorials was to bring many people together in one place, simultaneously, & the symbolic aspects of these landmarks caused everyone assembled to think of the various aspects of that person’s life. In like manner, the memorial Jesus left causes his disciples to come together in one place on a certain day, the first day of the week, to remember the impossible feats that Jesus Christ accomplished on our behalf. The instructions for how his memorial was to be remembered are seen in I Corinthians 11:23-26, but the larger point of this article is to help us understand that there are two major differences between man’s memorials and Christ’s memorial: (1) the Savior’s is the divine memorial of a man who fulfilled things that no memorial made by the hands of mortals could hope to accurately capture. His impact could only be remembered through an eternal institution, the picture of selflessness, rendered in simple fashion. (2) The purpose of a memorial is to commemorate someone who has ceased to exist. But Christ’s memorial symbolizes the memory of a man who was raised from the dead and lives on even today, sitting at the right hand of God’s throne (Luke 22:69). For those reasons, the institution of Christ’s tribute on the night that he was betrayed (Matthew 26:26-30) makes it the greatest memorial!

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org