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

Did Jesus Condone Situational Ethics?

 

Did Jesus Condone Situational Ethics?

​In Matthew 12:1-8, Jesus’ disciples are accused by the Pharisees of violating law when they rub heads of grain between their hands on the Sabbath day, a day of rest from work. Jesus responds by referencing an instance in 1 Samuel 21 where David did what was unlawful in a do-or-die circumstance. Many a people, including some Biblical scholars, have purported that Jesus was here consenting to situational ethics. In other words, Jesus is being credited as saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes circumstances allow grace for actions that would normally be wrong.” What does Jesus mean when He responds to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:3-8?
​There are five major truths Jesus asserts in his six-verse response. He first compares Himself to King David. This is more noteworthy than at first glance. Nathan declares a prophecy in 2 Sam. 7:12-17, stating that David would have an offspring who would sit on his throne and establish an everlasting kingdom. Many times in the gospels, men, women, and even demons decry Jesus to be the Son of David (Matthew 9:27-31; 12:22-23; 11:4-5; 15:21-28; 20:29-34; 21:9; 21:14-15; 22:41-46). Matthew starting his gospel declaring Jesus as “Son of David” is no coincidence either. In Matthew 12:3-4, Jesus further evidences being this prophesied Son of David by highlighting that He is mimicking David in action. Jesus is claiming self-fulfillment of the Messianic Son of David title.
​Second, Jesus is actually claiming that He has authority for His actions on the Sabbath, just as David had authority for his seemingly unlawful behavior. Read 1 Samuel 21:1-9. Notice that Ahimelech the priest gives David permission to eat the otherwise holy showbread as long as, “the young men have at least kept themselves from women,” (v. 4). Such an exception to the rulebook cannot be found in the Law of Moses. Where did Ahimelech get this concession? Notice 1 Samuel 22:10. Doeg retells the story’s events to King Saul, noting that Ahimelech inquired of the Lord before giving David provisions. Furthermore, 1 Samuel 21:9 notes that Ahimelech had the ephod. The ephod was a vest worn by the priest when ministering before the Lord or inquiring of the Lord (1 Sam. 2:28; 23:9-10; 30:7). The significance of the ephod’s mention in 1 Samuel 21:9 is this: Ahimelech inquired of the Lord, whether or not it was okay to make an exception to the rule in David’s dire situation. The Lord, by special revelation, gave the command that Ahimelech relayed to David. David and Ahimelech did not simply “feel compelled” to make exception like King Saul who offered an unlawful sacrifice in a similar time of dire straits (1 Samuel 13:12).
​Third, Matthew 12:5 alludes to another scripture in Numbers 28:9-10 which gave exception for priestly sacrifices on the Sabbath. Jesus’ point: there are some exceptions to law revealed in God’s word, and Jesus’ disciples have authority for rubbing head’s of grain together on the Sabbath. While the Sabbath forbade work, this was occupational work under Moses’ consideration. Read Leviticus 23 and notice each time Moses commands that no work be done on the holy days listed. Particularly note the Feast of Trumpets (v. 25). No “customary work” or “occupational work,” as properly translated, was to be performed on this Sabbath month of rest (i.e. Lev. 23:7, 21, 36). The disciples of Jesus were not breaking the Law of Moses by simply picking heads of grain (see also Deuteronomy 23:24-25).
​Fourth, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for elevating their man-made law above the laws of God. He quotes from Hosea 6:6 when He says, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Jesus quotes the same verse in Matthew 9:13. Notice the context of Hosea 6. The nation of Israel speaks in verses 1-3, and then God rebukes Israel in verses 4-10. God rebukes Israel for fake repentance and disobedience. “Mercy” is singled out as a paramount symbolization of faithfulness to God. In other words, God is saying, “I desire faithful obedience instead of your sacrifices that I didn’t even ask for!” Does this not echo 1 Samuel 15:22? Jesus quotes Hosea to the Pharisees, essentially saying, “I would that you were faithful to God’s law rather than the man-made traditions you have elevated above the law.” Josephus, in his writing of Jewish Antiquities, The Life, and Against Apion, cites Pharisaical traditions similar to the one Jesus’ disciples are accused of breaking.
​Fifth and finally, Jesus lowers the boom on the Pharisees by ascribing an identity to Himself that surely would have hastened His death had He not been in His popular home base of Galilee. He utters, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” The theologically loaded phrases “Son of Man” and “Lord” will go without comment in this study, but examine the title “Lord of the Sabbath.” Read Genesis 2:1-3. Now, sit back and smile in realization that Jesus claims to be Yahweh, the very God who sanctified the Sabbath on the 7th day of creation. Jesus is reckoning the Pharisees as fools for quibbling the subject of the Sabbath with the very God who made the Sabbath holy. Jesus is no created son of men. Jesus is the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14), the Lord of all men, and Yahweh God who created the whole earth. Let every knee bow before Jesus Christ.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“We Will Not Hide”

“We Will Not Hide”
Psalm 78:1-8

​Psalms is a wonderful book contained within God’s Word divine, endowing us with hymns of praise and glory sung by the nation of Israel in the days of old. Often written in poetic language, the psalms abound with metaphors and prophecies foreshadowing extraordinary events that greatly impacted the landscape of history. Psalm 22 comes to mind when reflecting on memorable prophecies. David so eloquently foretold of the coming suffering that the Savior would endure, explaining that anguish and distress as if you and I were experiencing it! Almost everyone could probably quote the first few verses of Psalm 23, because it is the most familiar psalm to us. But the psalms are also riddled with untold wisdom and knowledge for every person with a desire to grow in the discernment of things eternal. For example, Psalm 1 is simple in meaning, yet rich with depth and learning for the challenges of life.
​The attributes previously mentioned are visible throughout the 78th Psalm. A man by the name of Asaph, the chief singer of praises to God while David was king, composed this psalm many centuries ago. The connotation of each psalm can sometimes be heavy, presenting a formidable task to decipher the root of each verse. Remember that these words were likely set to music, so the way we read each psalm is different from how the chosen people understood it when singing these glad tidings! But fortunately for us, the opening verses of Psalm 78 can be comprehended without confusion. Obscure sayings of old passed down by their forefathers must not be hidden from the generations to come, or else a perverse generation would arise that did not know God, and heeded not his teachings. The phrase “dark sayings” in verse 2 of the psalm 78 means a hard question, proverb, or riddle. In other words, Asaph would use an oral teaching that required interpretation to convey his exhortation. Verse 4 mentions three specific things that the present generation of Israelites could not hide from the generation to come. These are the praises of the Lord, His strength, and the wonderful works that he has done. Such blessings should not be hidden, Asaph is saying, or else a rebellious generation would arise departing from the one who had delivered their ancestors from bondage. The chosen people would have to raise men and women who would be faithful to God, tending to lives guided by his instruction. Asaph’s plea is to the responsible souls who have the duty to teach those who are young about the sovereignty of Almighty God and the need to subject themselves to His will! Each person in the present world that is of a responsible age has the same obligation—to teach the coming generations about the Creator, the praises due him, His marvelous strength, and about all the wonderful works that he has done since time began. There are things of an eternal nature that we must not hide.
​We must not hide the praises of the Lord from the next generation. The psalmist tells us that a man who would be righteous praises God because praise is becoming of the righteous (Psalm 33:1). Today, folks have reduced the praises of the Lord to a form of entertainment and lip service, giving no thought as to whether their praise is admissible to the Father. We are not slack on praising ourselves, however. We want all the recognition available when we excel at some sport or put in a lot of time on a work project and it pays off! We want our children to stock up their trophy cases so people might praise them, all the while ignoring who it is that gives us our abilities. Why do you think today’s generations are denying the existence of God and letting slip the memory of his power and might? It’s because they were taught to embrace the selfish desires born within every human being instead of seeking righteousness. That trend won’t change unless we revert back to teaching the next generations to give praise unto whom praise is really due. David said that he would praise the Lord because of his marvelous works in Psalm 139. We read of two men in Acts 16 who praised God despite finding themselves in unfavorable circumstances. Paul and Silas were beaten with many stripes for preaching the gospel, yet they praised the Father anyway. And because they did, the Lord allowed the jailer to see His power and he obeyed the gospel. And so, if for no other reason, we should praise God for the simple fact that he saved us (Acts 2:47)!
​We must not hide God’s strength from the next generation. Despite what critics say about the Creator, He is omnipotent or all-powerful! That truth is evident throughout the entirety of the scriptures. This is one of the many reasons we should praise God, because of what he can do! The phrase “and his strength” in the text is derived from the Hebrew and it means forcibleness, power, or might. Think through the great miracles and events that are recorded in the scriptures! We read of a God who spoke this world into existence and blinded the eyes of men when appearing to them in His marvelous light! This is a God who once wiped out all but 8 souls from the surface of the earth with a flood! This is a God who annihilated entire cities with fire from the heavens! This is a God…whose strength must be feared!!! Think back to God’s deliverance of the people out of Egypt, how he caused the plagues to come about, how he parted the Red Sea, and caused it to collapse when the Egyptians pursued the chosen people. That’s power that cannot be matched! But more than that, think also about the miracles that were wrought in God by Jesus and his apostles in the first century? Such things as healing the blind and maimed and speaking away the sins of some lost soul further illustrate the power of God! But the Master’s strength was never on greater display than when He raised His Son from the dead as promised (Romans 1:3-4; Matthew 28:6). God’s strength in raising Christ from the dead paved the way for the gospel. The gospel is our way of escape from sin and it is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). Unfortunately for the world’s sake, the coming generations have all taken on the outlook that God is some kind of crutch, that man can pull himself up by his own bootstraps without God’s help. This seed of independence in people’s minds has had its effects on the church in one way or another. We grow impatient waiting on God, so we just try to do things ourselves, forcing the issue. When we fail, we blame the Lord for our failure, not recognizing that all strength flows from Him (Philippians 4:13). We grow very disappointed, even sometimes bitter when we can’t do something on our own, when all we need to do is ask the Father for assistance since he has the strength to cover our weaknesses! In II Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about his “thorn in the flesh.” This hindrance kept the apostle from being exalted above measure. The apostle begged the Lord three times the scriptures say, for this thorn to depart from him, yet it remained. The apostle learned that the Lord’s strength was brought to light in his weaknesses! So remember that our weaknesses are a window into God’s unfailing strength. May we teach the generations to come the necessity of fearing God’s strength!
​We must not hide the wonderful works that God has done from the generation to come. A tall task awaits anyone who would seek to explore all the wonderful works performed by our Lord. John the apostle supposed that if every work that Jesus did while on earth were written down, the world could not hold all the books (John 21:25)! With that in mind, this writer must be selective in naming at least two of the most wonderful works that God has accomplished. The first of which is Creation. Have you ever stopped and looked at the things surrounding you everyday? We take for granted the sun coming up every morning and setting every evening! We give no mind to the vast beauties that make man seem so insignificant! We’ve developed a science to explain all of these marvelous things, while each wonder points to the Creator! It’s amazing with how vast the universe is and even the world we live in, that God bends his ear to man’s call (Psalm 8:3-4). David noted that something as beautiful as the heavens above us declared the glory of God’s handiwork (Psalm 19:1-2). Paul told the Romans that the deeper things of God are revealed in creation (Romans 1:20). The point is that creation is one of the most wonderful works that God has done, and something that future generations should be taught about! But the creation that we see is only a drop in a bucket compared to the God’s most wonderful work. The second of countless wonderful works wrought by God that we would make mention of is Heaven. We only have imagery of this work through the words of the Bible, but it is certainly something that must be passed down so that everyone can know about a realm of glories untold. In Revelation 21, John describes a scene that he saw, a glorious city unlike anything he had ever seen! Verse 4 tells us that it is a place where no sorrow, no death, no crying or any more pain; and God would wipe away all tears. He went on to explain in detail some of the unbelievable glories and riches he beheld there. One thing he noted was that there was no night there. And the only one’s who entered in had their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:23-27)! The things we read about will never depict Heaven with the glory and perfection that it shines in. But just from what we can read, don’t you want to go there?
​Here’s what I know—the importance of learning about God’s will by the things we have been taught must be a priority! The generations before us bore the responsibility to teach us the things of God and we must bear the same responsibility! Like Asaph told the Israelites, we will not hide from the generations to come the praises of the Lord, His strength, and the wonderful works that he hath done.

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

TODAY’S DEFINITION OF TOLERANCE

Almost 20  years ago I wrote an article for Old Paths Advocate dealing with what I perceived to be an effort by our culture to rede ne the meaning of the word “tolerance” (“Rede ning Tolerance” OPA March 2000). I thought it might be worth revisiting that subject to see if we can determine exactly where we stand today. In Webster’s 1997 edition of its New World Dictionary, “tolerate” is de ned as, “To recognize and respect [others’ beliefs, practices, etc.] without sharing them,” and [“to bear or put up with someone or something not especially liked]” (1407). Although the word “tolerant” is not found in the NT Paul expresses the essence of the word in 1 Corinthians 13:7 when he says, “charity endures all things.” The word endurance derives from the Latin “tolerare,” meaning to endure. Because we are told not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14), and are warned that “evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor 15:33 NKJV), brethren have sometimes wished we could isolate ourselves from the world completely. However we are commanded to be the “salt of the earth ,” and the “light of the world” (Mt. 5: 13-14). We cannot ful ll those obligations to the world if we are isolated from it. There is a difference between being separate from the world and isolated from the world. Jesus was separate from the world’s rebellious attitude, sinful behavior and God-defying lifestyle, but He went among worldly people daily. He talked with them, ate with them, and opened His heart to them in an effort to save them. During my college days I had classmates and work associates whose lifestyles were clearly ungodly. I did not endorse their sinful activities and I did not participate in them. I was never tempted by these associations to forfeit my belief in God or my hope of heaven, and when I had opportunities I explained to them my faith and my hope (1 Pet. 3:15-16). I did my best to get along with all my classmates and co-workers, treating them with courtesy. Paul says, “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with ALL men (Rom. 12:18). Again, he says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto ALL men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Based upon the meaning of the word at the time, I exercised tolerance toward these people. Traditional tolerance values, respects, and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs or behavior We hate the sin, but we love the sinner-a soul created in the image of God (Gen. 2:7), worth more than the world (Mt. 16:26), and therefore in need of saving. In the past 20 years, however our culture has gradually foisted upon us a new de nition of tolerance. Today, if you do not APPROVE and ENDORSE a person’s beliefs and lifestyle, you are accused of “hating” the person and being intolerant, insensitive, and bigoted. Almost every time you hear the word “tolerance” spoken today outside the walls of the church-by school teachers, news anchors, government of cials, activists, celebrities, perhaps even your own children and grandchildren-this is the de nition that is meant. The new de nition is based upon the premise that there is no such thing as moral absolutes-moral laws that apply to everybody. One sociology textbook says, “Everything is right somewhere, and nothing is right everywhere.” According to the new de nition, anyone who believes uncompromisingly in anything and especially in absolute truth-is guilty of intolerance. The Bible makes it clear however that all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth-claims are NOT equal. God’s words are absolutely true (Ps. 119:160) and if something is not right in God’s sight it is wrong (Deut. 6:18). Naturally, our convictions about these teachings offend the proponents of the new tolerance. Consequently, Christians are viewed as the greatest sinners in our culture, committing the only serious sin left in our world-intolerance. It is the pariah sin. America is sick of intolerant people and is not going to tolerate them anymore! Since the 1990s, a primary tactic used by the new-tolerance advocates is “jamming.” It is part of a three-pronged approach devised by two Harvard-educated marketing experts named Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. Jamming is the use of name-calling to smear Christians, traditionalists, or anyone who opposes the new tolerance. They will not engage you in rational discussion if you disagree with them, they will just attack you by calling you names such as “homophobe,” “hater” and “bigot.” The tactic is used almost every day in our present culture war and has been very effective over the past 20 years. Our best defense continues to be preaching the gospel in love to ALL those in sin, and living our lives in a way that is consistent with what we preach (Rom. 1 :26-27’ 1 Cor 6:9).

Carl Johnson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

TODAY’S DEFINITION OF TOLERANCE

TODAY’S DEFINITION OF TOLERANCE

Almost 20 years ago I wrote an article for Old Paths Advocate dealing with what I perceived to be an effort by our culture to rede ne the meaning of the word “tolerance” (“Rede ning Tolerance” OPA March 2000). I thought it might be worth revisiting that subject to see if we can determine exactly where we stand today. In Webster’s 1997 edition of its New World Dictionary, “tolerate” is de ned as, “To recognize and respect [others’ beliefs, practices, etc.] without sharing them,” and [“to bear or put up with someone or something not especially liked]” (1407). Although the word “tolerant” is not found in the NT Paul expresses the essence of the word in 1 Corinthians 13:7 when he says, “charity endures all things.” The word endurance derives from the Latin “tolerare,” meaning to endure. Because we are told not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14), and are warned that “evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor 15:33 NKJV), brethren have sometimes wished we could isolate ourselves from the world completely. However we are commanded to be the “salt of the earth ,” and the “light of the world” (Mt. 5: 13-14). We cannot ful ll those obligations to the world if we are isolated from it. There is a difference between being separate from the world and isolated from the world. Jesus was separate from the world’s rebellious attitude, sinful behavior and God-defying lifestyle, but He went among worldly people daily. He talked with them, ate with them, and opened His heart to them in an effort to save them. During my college days I had classmates and work associates whose lifestyles were clearly ungodly. I did not endorse their sinful activities and I did not participate in them. I was never tempted by these associations to forfeit my belief in God or my hope of heaven, and when I had opportunities I explained to them my faith and my hope (1 Pet. 3:15-16). I did my best to get along with all my classmates and co-workers, treating them with courtesy. Paul says, “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with ALL men (Rom. 12:18). Again, he says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto ALL men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Based upon the meaning of the word at the time, I exercised tolerance toward these people. Traditional tolerance values, respects, and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs or behavior We hate the sin, but we love the sinner-a soul created in the image of God (Gen. 2:7), worth more than the world (Mt. 16:26), and therefore in need of saving. In the past 20 years, however our culture has gradually foisted upon us a new de nition of tolerance. Today, if you do not APPROVE and ENDORSE a person’s beliefs and lifestyle, you are accused of “hating” the person and being intolerant, insensitive, and bigoted. Almost every time you hear the word “tolerance” spoken today outside the walls of the church-by school teachers, news anchors, government of cials, activists, celebrities, perhaps even your own children and grandchildren-this is the de nition that is meant. The new de nition is based upon the premise that there is no such thing as moral absolutes-moral laws that apply to everybody. One sociology textbook says, “Everything is right somewhere, and nothing is right everywhere.” According to the new de nition, anyone who believes uncompromisingly in anything and especially in absolute truth-is guilty of intolerance. The Bible makes it clear however that all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth-claims are NOT equal. God’s words are absolutely true (Ps. 119:160) and if something is not right in God’s sight it is wrong (Deut. 6:18). Naturally, our convictions about these teachings offend the proponents of the new tolerance. Consequently, Christians are viewed as the greatest sinners in our culture, committing the only serious sin left in our world-intolerance. It is the pariah sin. America is sick of intolerant people and is not going to tolerate them anymore! Since the 1990s, a primary tactic used by the new-tolerance advocates is “jamming.” It is part of a three-pronged approach devised by two Harvard-educated marketing experts named Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. Jamming is the use of name-calling to smear Christians, traditionalists, or anyone who opposes the new tolerance. They will not engage you in rational discussion if you disagree with them, they will just attack you by calling you names such as “homophobe,” “hater” and “bigot.” The tactic is used almost every day in our present culture war and has been very effective over the past 20 years. Our best defense continues to be preaching the gospel in love to ALL those in sin, and living our lives in a way that is consistent with what we preach (Rom. 1 :26-27’ 1 Cor 6:9).

Carl Johnson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

In God’s Eyes

In God’s Eyes

​We are repeatedly judged by how we look, as society ceaselessly bullies those who are different than themselves, it is no wonder that many today feel inferior. However, this was not God’s plan for His creation, for man or women, this truth is shown in the light of Galatians 3:25-29, especially in verse 27 when Paul illustrates Gods point in that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. In God’s eyes there is impartiality across the human race. And while we are all created with different talents and gifts our value in God’s eyes never diminishes. Therefore I encourage both men and women to take a step back and understand “His eyes are on the ways of man, And He sees all his steps” (Job 34:21). God is always watching us, and so it’s important to take a step back from the negativity of the world and view ourselves through God’s eyes.
​When we view ourselves through God’s eyes we find that the world has lied to us in that they fill our ears with words of derision saying we are nothing special, but in God’s eyes you are precious. In fact God said of His people in Isaiah 43:4 “Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you. . .” This truth is even more unmistakable when we look at the picture Titus 3:3 paints of us saying we were: “foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another”, but even in this state God saw us, loved us, and provided a way of escape through His Son (Jn. 14:6). How then can the world tell any man or women that they are of lesser value than their neighbor? Neither skin color, nor country of origin can change your value to God, Church, or home.
​When we know this how can we view ourselves as worthless or inferior when that is not how we are made. In fact, our value to God is fully shown in that “God so loved the world (us) that He gave His only begotten Son. . .” (Jn. 3:16). Our value in God’s eyes is shown elsewhere in that God even knows the smallest details of our being (Matthew 10:30-31). Have courage that even when others fail to see your value, God has found value in you, and in seeing this value He willingly paid the price no man could pay (1Corinthians 6:20). In that He paid the price, we have value, to Church, to home, and to society. Therefore women when you doubt your worth, remember that it was because of a grandmother and a mother that the Church had a leader like Timothy (2Tim. 1:5), and men, remember it was a Samaritan man who set the example of how we should treat our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37).
​In understanding these few thoughts, the words of Eleanor Roosevelt echo out in that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. And so we are challenged to view ourselves differently than the world views us, because God views the Christian as chosen and special (1Peter 2:9). And so, I challenge myself to view myself through God’s eyes, understanding that God does not merely judge by external appearances but with a righteous judgment of who we are on the inside (Jn. 7:24).

Aaron Boone

​www.oldpathsadvocate.org