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

How To Understand the Bible for Yourself

 

How to Understand the Bible for Yourself

​Perhaps you have come across a disturbing passage in the Bible, but you don’t know how to decipher the meaning. A passage may seem to to downplay your entire belief system. Maybe the passage is disturbing simply because of the mystical language used by ancient Bible writers. How do you respond in this moment of struggle for definition of God’s word? Before anything else, remember what Paul said to Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:5-7. Paul reminded Timothy to always maintain a pure heart, a good conscience, and be sincere in his faith. Being sincere enough to admit error when presented with the truth of God’s word is foremost. Diligence and care come only a breath behind sincerity. Being diligent to study God’s word with integrity and a systematic method is paramount. Jesus did not call fishermen like James and John for their laziness, ineptness, or disregard for properly understanding His teaching. These men consistently asked Jesus questions to better understand His mission and call to discipleship (Mark, 9:10-13, 10:10 & 13:3-4). Consider consistently asking yourself systematic questions when studying any given Bible passage. The questions to follow will hopefully guide you in this effort and lead you to Truth’s doorstep.
​The questions in this article are a bare bones skeleton of what should be asked whenever seeking clarity on a Bible passage. These questions also assume the reader to be established in two principles of thought: there is such a thing as absolute truth, and the proper interpretation of a passage is that which was intended by the original author. No more will be said on these points. Now, for the feature presentation, read on.

1. The Bible is a book of literature. This literature consists of poetry, history, narrative, argumentative discourse, and figurative/prophetic texts. With this knowledge, ask the question: What type of literature is this single verse found within, and how might that affect how I interpret the verse?

2. Why is the author writing this book? Does my interpretation of this single verse agree with the author’s ultimate purpose in writing the book?

3. What is the immediate (surrounding) context of the verse I am studying? Does my interpretation of this single verse fit the immediate context?

4. Before I make personal application of what is taught in the verse, do I understand what the passage originally meant? Personal application should never be made until the verse’s original meaning is understood. Otherwise, you are dangerously near to making an application the Holy Spirit never intended to be drawn. This fallacy is at the root of many a belligerent and ignorant internet blogger.

5. Does anything within the passage allude or echo back to an Old Testament passage or teaching of Jesus (i.e. John 8:58)? If so, go back to the passage alluded to and gain a better understanding of that text. Many times, New Testament writers allude back to an Old Testament prophecy, teaching, story-line, character, or theme, making a parallel application to the audience of the New Testament.

Paul wrote God’s revelation down so that his audience could read and understand it (Eph. 3:3-4), not be confused. God’s word is not beyond our grasp, our grasp just has to reach farther than the TV remote. Now close your screen, pick up your Bible, and glean from God’s treasure chest, “things new and old,” (Matthew 13:52).
Aaron Battey

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“When the Tempter Came”

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“When the Tempter Came”
Matthew 4:3-11

This place in scripture reveals to us an amazing encounter. You may recall prior to this writing that John baptized Jesus in water, and the heavens were opened, and the voice of the Father spoke saying, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Following his baptism, verse 1 of chapter 4 tells us that Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil. The scripture does not tell us how much time passes between the Lord’s baptism and the encounter we read about in the text. Nonetheless, Matthew records for us the Savior being tempted as the next event in the life of Christ following his baptism. In this lengthy account, Matthew depicts for us a rare occurrence where Jesus faces off with the one who seeks to destroy us all. Yes, the very devil himself would have loved nothing more than to have fooled Jesus into worshiping him instead of the Heavenly Father. He tempted the Savior with 3 things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life which are noted as things of the world in I John 2:15-17. But isn’t that what Satan tempts us all with? He offers us everything that this world holds if only we will bow to him instead of bringing ourselves into submission with God.
But notice also that the tempter comes to people when they are weak. Matthew tells us that Jesus fasted forty days & forty nights and was afterward a hungered in verse 2 of the chapter listed above. And perhaps the devil believed that Jesus would be in a weak frame of mind as he was famished from his fasting. And so he goes to Jesus and seeks to lead him into sin through temptation! But Jesus would not be deceived. Rather, in his famished state, our Lord was as bold as ever, refuting the tempter’s ventures to destroy him.
Sometimes I wonder why we don’t respond the way Jesus did when the tempter comes our way. It’s safe to say that we have all fallen short when we are tempted. But does this happen because we ill equipped to combat the devil’s weapons? No, we just make up excuses to cover up for our lack of will power to resist temptation. Allow me to briefly note three tactics that a Christian may execute so to dispatch the great deceiver.
First, a Christian must deduce that temptation becomes sin only when acted upon. I have found in my own life that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between when we are being tempted and when we have sinned. Lumping the two together into a category may cause us to believe that if we’re tempted, we’ve sinned. On the contrary, James writes in his epistle that every man is tempted (James 1:13-15). This servant of God highlights three sizable points in these verses. We just noted the first, but the other two are as follows: God tempts no man (1), and sin is the result of action taken when lust is experienced (2). After all, even the Lord was tempted as seen in the encounter with Satan in the gospels and affirmed by the Hebrew writer (Hebrews 4:15). Christ of course, faced the temptation without acting on it, leaving us the greatest example. We must strive to abstain from all sin, despite the reality that we will be tempted.
Second, a Christian must resist the devil. A resistance constructed on the foundation of God’s Word is crucial to our preparation for facing the prince of darkness. Resisting the devil sounds simple enough, but applying this direct command is another story. Again, James writes, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The focus here should be on the former section of the verse. There is no better way to resist the devil than to submit to God’s will. James says that doing such will force the devil to flee from us! Imagine the pressure and power of temptation lifted from your conscience because you have wholly submitted yourself to the Father’s will! That is an amazing feat! In the 4th chapter of James’ epistle, he rebukes his reading audience about the lust in their hearts, particularly fleshly lusts. Having already explained that sin is the result of lust being conceived at the beginning of his letter, he writes about the necessity for them to draw nigh unto God, so that the Father would draw nigh unto them (James 4:8). The apostle calls for the purification of their hearts, so that they no longer think with a double mind! How is that accomplished? By submitting your mind and heart completely to God and His Word. When this is done, the devil will flee from us! Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first letter, expounding on the idea that fleeing from sin would cause Satan to flee (I Corinthians 6:18). A Christian can turn from temptation when the tempter comes by resisting the devil.
Last, a Christian should give a righteous response when the tempter approaches. There is possibly no better example of the righteous response than in the textual scriptures referenced above. With each temptation presented to our Lord, a Biblical answer is given. How many of us calmly speak divine words to turn away the tempter? Most likely, we allow the temptation offered to weigh on us instead of abruptly responding with the inspired words of the Creator! The longer you allow the temptation to exist in your presence, the less likely you will be to send it away with a righteous response. So much there is to learn from the Christ, but too often we enjoy the pleasures of sin that stem from appealing temptations, never recalling how quickly these pleasures fade away. May we all seek to structure a divine foundation to stand on while we prepare for when the tempter comes.

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“Are You Sleeping?”

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“Are You Sleeping?”

Mark 13:32-37

Some things happen in life that take us by surprise. They happen suddenly, taking place at times when we are caught off guard. But the gospel of Mark records for us in chapter 13 what Matthew recorded in chapter 24 of his gospel. Jesus and his disciples sat on the Mount of Olives one afternoon looking toward a crowded city of unsuspecting people when Jesus predicted the coming of a great and terrible day. That terrible day would arrive some 30 years later and became known as the abomination of desolation. The Lord spent the better part of Mark 13 outlining the details of the destruction that the Roman war lord Titus would wage against the holy city. The generation Christ spoke of that day on the Mount of Olives would be unaware that this destruction was fast approaching, and most did not listen to the Savior’s warnings. And many were surprised in horror as they were destroyed during the great destruction of Jerusalem.

 

But in verse 32 of the chapter, Jesus speaks of another great day that will confound us all. Jude does not describe it as a great day but the great day! The scriptures teach that no man knows the day nor the hour, not even the angels in Heaven nor Christ himself knows when he will be commanded to return in the clouds to declare time no more and the judgment upon us. Only the Father in Heaven knows when that great day will come to pass. But we must all come to realize that Christ’s return will happen in a mere moment. Paul contended to the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord would come like a thief in the night. Peter used the very same words to describe that unsuspecting hour when the eastern sky would split open with a deafening sound and the clouds be rolled back like a tapestry revealing the Son of God and his angels. In other words, it will arrive at the most unsuspecting time. Maybe you’ll be driving down the road in your car, or working away at your job. Perhaps you’ll be sitting at the dinner table with your family, or even be asleep in your bed. No matter what is going on in your life when Jesus comes in the clouds, we shall all be surprised! So with that precedent set, Jesus tells a short parable in verses 34-37 of Mark 13, to further illustrate the idea that He would come again, but the time remains unknown to us. Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” Are you like me in that your heart races with surprise when you are awakened from sleep unexpectedly? I daresay there would be no greater surprise than to be awakened out of sleep one night because the judgment has arrived. But for many today, spiritual sleep is a constant exercise for them when it comes to the important things of life. They have no real concern for the importance of preparing to meet God. Oh sure, they look to be wide-awake in their physical body, but spiritually they have yet to wake up! But if there is one thing that we cannot afford to sleep on brethren, it’s the Lord’s return! There are a few Bible examples of people that used sleep to ignore the things that were right. And those who sleep spiritually are similar to these examples.

 

There are some who sleep the sleep of Jonah, which was an unrealistic sleep because Jonah had refused to see reality. He decided he would ignore God by refusing a trip to Nineveh, and instead boarded a ship, where he went down into the hold of that ship and went to sleep. He thought that if he ignored God’s wishes, it would take him out of the circumstance he was in, but it did not. We act like Jonah sometimes and sleep on our responsibilities to God hoping he will forget about them, and let us off the hook. There are also those who sleep the sleep of the weary like Peter, James & John did in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night that Jesus was betrayed. They were worn out from the events that occurred during that final week of the Lord’s life, and could not hold up under the stress. So the scriptures teach that these men slept during the time that the Son of God needed them most. I see people today who are worn out from the never ending struggle with Satan and the weariness of always having to live right, and so they sleep on the challenges of Christianity. Then there are some who sleep the sleep of Samson, who dozed off on the knees of Delilah while she called for a Philistine man to shave off his hair, which relinquished his strength. Samson knew the dangers of the situation he was in, yet foolishly thought he could keep shaking himself from the bonds of sleep, until it was too late. I’d go as far to say that there are some here today who know the dangers of neglecting their responsibilities to God (such as seldom prayers, a lack of Bible study, never visiting the sick, or poor focus in the worship), yet they continue to sleep, while the time approaches when it will be too late to awake out of sleep! But then there are some who sleep the sleep of Eutychus, which is the sleep of the injured. This man fell out of a third story window while the apostle Paul was long preaching and presumed dead, but Paul revived the young man saying, “His life is still in him.” Some people have survived near fatal injuries. They’ve flirted with death a time or two in near death experiences only to come out alive once more, yet they continue to sleep on the gospel that they ought to obey! Then there are also those who sleep the sleep of spiritual death like some of the members at Corinth did. This is why Paul wrote in chapter 11 and verse 30: 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. These people had improperly observed the communion of the Lord’s body, and this lead to their spiritual deaths. But others sleep the sleep of discouragement, like Elijah slept over in I Kings 19. In this instance, Elijah was feeling sorry for himself because the wicked queen Jezebel all but guaranteed that she would have him killed in a 24 hour period because he had slain all those false prophets at the brook of Kishon. But later in the chapter, the Father showed his power to Elijah by tearing down mountains and creating earthquakes and fires, proving his omnipotence over any adversary that stood in the prophet’s path. Elijah needed to get up and be about his business for the Lord of hosts, for he was more powerful than the adversaries of Elijah! Many are sleeping the sleep of discouragement or pity. They are mistreated and persecuted just like Paul warned that all Christians would be to Timothy, so they just go to sleep instead of facing the trials of life.

 

But probably the most common sleep is the sleep of the sluggard. They put off salvation until tomorrow. They thought about obeying the gospel and would like to do what God teaches us to do, but they foolishly think that they can shake themselves from this sluggish state when the convenient season arrives and somehow become exactly what the Lord expects. This was certainly the case with Felix the governor when Paul defended himself against the accusation of heresy before the Roman council in Acts 24. Felix trembled at the thought of salvation from God passing him by, yet he allowed the spiritual sleep lingering in his eyes to put it off until a convenient season had arrived. We run across a lot of Felix-minded folks in our communities. Salvation sounds like a neat little deal to them, but they lack the sense of urgency needed to obey the gospel. They sleep on their separation from God by sin, waiting for a time that better suits them and their busy schedule.

 

The fact is that this life comes with countless distractions that coerce us all into slumbering on the eternal necessities of life. But friends, life is far too short and eternity is much to certain for us to sleep on Jesus who gave his life to save us! So be honest with yourself…are you sleeping?

 

Colby Culbertson

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

What Does it Mean to Be a Slave to Christ?

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What Does It Mean To Be A Slave To Christ?

If a person were to promote slavery today, that person would be relegated to a class of social outcasts. I do not uphold segregation or advocate for 19th century American slavery. In fact, I do not advocate for any type of physical, human slavery for that matter, but I do vie for the slavery that James proudly proclaimed in his epistle. James 1:1 says, “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The following discourse explains why Christians need to bring spiritual slavery back in style.
The word “bondservant” in James 1:1 comes from the Greek word “doulos.” This word carries with it the connotation of a slave. Yes, James is saying he is a slave to the “Lord Jesus.” There is no question why James calls Jesus “Lord.” Lord means master. Although submitting to the status of a slave before the Master will inevitably alter a Christian’s physical life, the change in spiritual submission to the Master is the driving force. Only when the individual spiritually cries out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled,” (Ps. 6:2-3) can the Christian please the Master. Psalm 6:2-3 does not endorse a sinner’s prayer. Too many misled individuals have uttered such a meaningless prayer only to return to their self-serving life of sin as a dog returns to wallowing in his own vomit (Proverbs 26:11). No, such an ineffectual prayer will not suffice. Psalm 6:2-3, and many other Bible authors who speak of God as Lord of their life, embody the mindset and willingness to sell all and follow Christ and His orders no matter the cost. After all, a slave has no rights, owns no property, and deserves no wage. The slave is the life and property of the master. Being such, the Lord requires honesty, obedience, diligence, trustworthiness, loyalty, and self-denial.
Jesus asks no less than utter submission, because He is God (John 10:30) and God is greatly to be feared (Ps. 89:7 & Eccl. 12:13). His own words demand a slave’s heart and mind. “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,’” (Luke 9:23). The key phrase here is, “Let him deny himself.” The question is not, “What do I want?” The question is this, “What does Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior want?”
Unlike earthly masters, the Lord Jesus does not force submission. Yes, we owe a life of slavery to Christ because He purchased our lives with His own blood (Acts 20:28 & Hebrews 9:14-15). Christians are allowed by God to live anemic lives of selfishness and vanity. They are welcome to trample through His blood as they speak idly of His holy name or substitute complacency for promiscuity. Because God is loving, He will force no one to submit to Him. Nonetheless, because He is righteous and just, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. On the day of judgment, Christ will not be your friend and companion. He will be the Judge. Is Christ the Lord of your life? If not, bring spiritual slavery to Christ back in style.

Aaron Battey

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org