Epaphras: The Bible Hero Your Daddy Never Talked About

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Epaphras: The Bible Hero Your Daddy Never Talked About

​There are not too many mailmen or schoolteachers named Epaphras today. Daddies never tell their children the bedtime story about Epaphras either. He didn’t kill a ten foot giant with one stone like David, nor did he go into a pit on a snowy day and kill a lion like Benaiah. On the contrary, he did save a destitute number of people from their sins in the city of Colossea.
​While the apostle Paul was in chains at Rome, Epaphras traveled across land and sea to inform Paul of the church at Colossea. We know this because Colossians 1:7-8 says, “Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, (8) who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.” The trip was not easy. Gas was not $1.39/gallon in Colossea at that time. Needless to say, it was an act of great faith and servitude for Epaphras to travel the approximate 1,200 miles to see his true friend and brother in Christ. In this way he was a faithful minister of the Colossian church, but by implication of the scripture he was more than a messenger boy. Just as Paul implied that he was the Corinthian brethren’s father of faith who brought them to Christ (1 Cor. 4:15), Epaphras was the father or founder of the Colossian church. After all, Paul had never seen the faces of the Colossian brethren, yet Epaphras was from Colossea, and Epaphras knew Paul very well.
​David Watson in the Denton Lectures (2000) provides sound theory as to how Epaphras came to know Paul. Paul was in Ephesus, 100 miles west of Colossea, for 3 years preaching in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). Perhaps during that time, Epaphras heard of this great gospel preacher. Certainly the reputation of Paul was like unto that of Charles Spurgeon, Walter Scott, Jonathan Edwards or other great orators of past generations. Watson conjectures that perhaps Epaphras traveled to go hear Paul preach, much like people today might drive a great distance to hear a stellar gospel preacher at a revival for the first time. And so it was that Epaphras was so effected by Paul’s preaching that no demon or angel could withhold him from being baptized into Christ. Epaphras would then take the gospel back to a sin-sick city known as Colossea and go on to baptize many lost souls into Christ. Philemon and Onesimus would be in that number as well, although space does not allow explanation for this detail.
Christ needs men and women in His blood bought body to do the humble service that Epaphras was unafraid to tackle. He not only reported of the good news at Colossea but he brought word of the false doctrines to which Paul denounced in Colossians chapter 2. Truly he was more than a faithful minister. Epaphras was a hero. Christ needs heroes. Christ needs you.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Are We Too “Intelligent” For the Truth?

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A few years ago, a friend of mine who had recently accepted a doctrinal truth was told, “Come on. You’re too smart to believe that,” as if taking the bible at face value somehow made one less intelligent. Have we become “too smart” to accept the truth in God’s word?

Before I go any further, understand that I am not saying intelligence is not useful. Intelligence is a gift from God that glorifies him when used for the right reasons. For example, fortifying our minds with the ability to defend the truth is one way to glorify God with our intellect (1 Pet. 3:15). However, when intelligence leads to doubt in God’s plan, we have become too wise to see outside our own wisdom (1 Cor. 1:18-21).
In Colossians 2:8 we are warned, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” The devil can make you so philosophical you have no concept of truth. Yet this has always been a tactic of Satan. In the very first temptation, the serpent convinced Eve that she was too smart to believe God. For those God has blessed with the ability to reason, the devil can make this strength a weakness by pitting his or her intelligence against God’s (Proverbs 3:5), while they learn and learn, yet never understand God’s will (2 Timothy 3:7).

The bible was written for all men to understand—not only for those with great ingenuity. In fact, the religious champions of scholarship in Jesus’ day were too smart to understand or have any interest in Jesus’ teachings. In Mark 4:12 we find that the reason those who did not receive Christ’s teachings was their prideful heart. They did not want to receive his teachings.

In John 6, the multitude left Jesus because they too could only see through the limited lens of human wisdom. We can only find God’s will if we have the humility to desire and find it. Let us not be too “intelligent” for the truth.

Joey Hickey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

A Call To Arms

 

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A CALL TO ARMS

I recently had the privilege to attend my first Preacher’s Study in Grapevine, Texas where many thought-provoking topics were presented and left me with a lot to ponder over.

To me, the most impactful topics that were presented were the informative and sobering topics on individuals who have impacted the Restoration Movement. Those who were spoken of over the three and a half day study include: Daniel Sommer by Clinton De France, Roy Cogdill by Ronny Wade, and W. Carl Ketcherside by Richard Bunner.

I was specifically astounded by brother Richard’s talk over brother Ketcherside. He was said to be an outstanding orator and debater, and was among those regarded as one of the most influential members of our brotherhood, especially in today’s age. His preaching career started young as most gospel preachers did in that day, and his influence and skill was highly regarded in our brotherhood, and still is.

I was appalled by the transformation brother Ketcherside had on that fateful day in Belfast, Ireland, where he made the decision to re-evaluate every doctrine he believed. He became an advocate for unity and conformity, beginning to teach that we should fellowship anyone and everyone, regardless of denominational background, sexuality, or other “discriminatory” means. He took many a member of our brotherhood with him as he traveled this path.

A casual reader of the Bible can see that this is false. Proverbs 17:15 states: “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.” Likewise, Romans 16:17-18 says: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”

It concerns me (and I hope it concerns you, as well) that such exceptional, talented, highly regarded brethren can depart from the truth so easily for, “a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

I believe this stresses the importance of not letting many of us become teachers, for we shall receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1). We should strive as teachers (if we desire to be one) to teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), and to rightly divide the word of truth so that we can show ourselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15). Anything that contradicts the word of God is false doctrine.

The story of brother Ketcherside is saddening, but somber thought to those who aspire to become gospel preachers. May our Bible study be pure in the sight of a holy God.

Derek Thompson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Why Fans of Jesus Won’t Meet Him

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Why Fans of Jesus Won’t Meet Him

​Almost every professional athlete and pop star have fan pages on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and every other social media network out there. The only requirement to be their fan typically entails the click of a “follow” or “like” button. Most public figures do not intentionally turn away anyone from following them. Instead, they promote such activity in the event that this leads to more attention and revenue. In a similar fashion, the masses today would like to do the same with Jesus Christ.
​Many Americans like the idea of Jesus. Here is the definition of “many,” in this context. In 2015 the Pew Research Center interviewed over 35,000 Americans to determine religious affiliation. An overwhelming percentage highlighted Christianity as the leading religious following among Americans, ranking number one with 70.6% of Americans putting their faith in some denomination of Christianity. However, this percentage means nothing more than this: the person answering the telephone stated their faith lay in…(insert faith name). Anybody can say they are a fan of Jesus, but unlike public figures of today, Jesus does not have a Twitter page and doesn’t let just anyone follow Him.
​Jesus said to His critics of the day, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters,” (Luke 11:23). This single statement rules out any followers of Jesus who are just along for the ride. Should John Doe say that he is a fan of Jesus, likes the idea of Jesus, states there is good to be had in Jesus’ teachings, but does not full heartedly stand next to Jesus and His cause: John Doe is actually against Jesus. There is safety in saying that John Doe is the enemy of Jesus based off the words of Messiah in Luke 11.
​The New Testament scriptures abound with sentiments that echo Jesus’ statement in Luke 11. Jesus would later say, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple,” (Luke 14:27). Jesus told the rich young ruler after acknowledging that he had observed Moses’ Ten Commandments from birth, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me. But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich,” (Luke 18:22-23). In John 6 Jesus relayed that He was equal with God by calling Himself the bread of life (v 48). In this exposition He used much figurative speech and finished the short sermon by telling His followers, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father,” (John 6:65). The writer John then explained that this saying caused many of Jesus’ disciples to turn back and cease from following Him.
​All these passages teach the same message: if a person is not 100% committed to following Jesus’ doctrine and life then they are nothing more than a fan, and a sad one at that. Unfortunately, most celebrity fans never get to meet the actual public figure they admire so greatly. So will be the dismal case on the day of judgment for those said fans of Jesus who only wish to admire Him from a distance.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

ARGUMENTATION FOR THE MESSIAHSHIP OF CHRIST (PART 2)

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ARGUMENTATION FOR THE MESSIAHSHIP OF CHRIST (PART 2)

 

The first half of the first gospel sermon in Acts 2 contains Peter defending the apostles because the Jews supposed they were drunk. The Holy Spirit had just been revealed to these people. Afterward, Peter says starting in verse 22: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know —  Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”” “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

This is a hefty passage of Scripture in which Peter quotes several prophecies regarding their fulfillment to Christ. Let us establish the arguments he makes supporting Jesus as the Christ:

Firstly, Peter argues that Jesus was not the one abandoned to Hades. The first scripture Peter quotes is his defense of Jesus is Psalm 16:8-11, which states: “I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” Peter identifies and explains this scripture as a prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for Jesus’ flesh did not suffer decay and his soul was not abandoned to Hades.

Secondly, Jesus was the individual spoken of in Psalm 110. Peter says Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, not David. David surely died; Peter says his tomb is with us to this day. But where is Jesus’? The stone is rolled away!

But the one supreme argument is this: the fulfillment of OT Prophecy. Mark 16:20 and Hebrews 2:1-4 say that miracles were a confirmation of the claims that men made. Jesus’ claims of being the promised Messiah and the Son of God were affirmed by miracles. When the prophet told the leper to dunk in the Jordan seven times and he will be cleansed, that statement was affirmed when the leper came out of the water the seventh time.

Peter thoroughly understood the concept that Jesus was the Christ that had been promised for so many years, known as “The Deliverer.” But what does this mean to the modern age of today?

We will now examine the prophetic, priestly and kingly rolls of Jesus by historical examples from Israel and show how Jesus fulfills all of these roles for the people of God in this day and time.

Firstly, the prophetic role. As discussed earlier, a prophet is defined as a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the Will of God. Moses was very much a prophet. He proclaimed the Will of God at Mt. Sinai when the Commandments were given. But how did Jesus fulfill this role? There is a passage of scripture where we find Jesus proclaiming the will of God, and it is found in Matthew 12:17-20, where Jesus fulfills the prophecy found in Isaiah 42. Jesus proclaimed the Will of God through the Gentiles, in this case. But that is not the only recorded instance that we find.

Secondly, the priestly role. A priest is someone who offers sacrifices, such as Melchezidek in Genesis 14. And it is not hard to see how Jesus fulfilled this role. He offered the sacrifice of his life. In Hebrews 9:13-14 the writer shows us how much more superior the sacrifice of Christ’s blood is compared to bulls and goats that were once used. “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Thirdly and lastly, the kingly role. A king is obviously one who rules over something, or literally defined as a person or thing regarded as the finest or most important in their sphere or group. Jesus very much was a ruler, and very much was important. But we know that the kings we think of today were earthly. Jesus’ kingdom is not. He told Pilate that in John 18:36-37. “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” The key scripture I found is Matthew 21:5, where Jesus fulfills the prophecy in Zechariah 9. The “daughter of Zion” spoken of is actually a metaphor for the relationship that God has with His people. This prophecy speaks of Jesus, and He fulfills it.

Through all of this study, we can come to the conclusion that Jesus is in fact who he claimed to be throughout his entire ministry, and how He fulfills the roles of prophet, priest, and king today for US as God’s People. He is our prophet in the sense that He teaches and proclaims the Will of God through the Word of God; He is our Priest because he offered the ultimate sacrifice of His life that we may have forgiveness of sins, and He is our King in that we submit to Him and His authority, whatever He says that will we do. This is a hefty study but this is the very foundation of Christianity. The entire Bible is the revelation of God’s love through Jesus Christ His Son, whom He sent to die for us that we may be in communion with him for eternity. What a precious gift and honor. This is the beauty of the confession, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”

Derek Thompson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

ARGUMENTATION FOR THE MESSIAHSHIP OF CHRIST (Part One)

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ARGUMENTATION FOR THE MESSIAHSHIP OF CHRIST (Part One)

By Derek Thompson

I believe that everyone would agree that a public confession of faith must be made in order to continue the process of accepting the Lord’s gift of Salvation. This confession that we make is similar to the confession that Peter made in Matthew 16:15-16, “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This certainly is an interesting statement. Peter knew that Jesus was the ‘Christ,’ that had been promised through the prophets and God. Christ is translated to mean, anointed, which can be translated as, consecrated which can be translated to set apart. If we study through the Old Testament we find that three things were anointed: Priests, Prophets, and Kings. How does this apply to Jesus? We would like to focus our study on examining what this statement really means, and what it means to confess Jesus as the Son of God and the Christ, and to demonstrate the importance of this concept.

Any reader of the Old Testament scriptures would come across certain statements that seem supernatural in nature. These are called “prophecies,” meaning, a prediction of what will happen in the future. We see a lot of prophecies throughout the Old Testament of things to come. But the groups of prophecies we wish to focus on are the prophecies concerning a Messiah, or “the promised deliverer.” There are over 300 prophecies about this Messiah in the Old Testament, but I wish to focus on the prophecies that convey to us that this Messiah would hold three offices at the same time: Prophet, Priest, and King.

First, the King: Genesis 49:10 states: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” We see the prophecy here from a dying Jacob about how the ruler’s scepter will not depart from him until Shiloh (translated in the Vulgate as “he who is to be sent”) comes, and how when that person comes then HE will have the obedience of the people (Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Psalm 110:1 “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” We will examine this prophecy a little more in depth later. But this is just the beginning. In 2 Samuel 7:12-16 is the covenant, often called the Davidic Covenant, established with David which says that a kingdom will be established, and the throne of David will be forever. “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” Now this prophecy is talking about both Christ and Solomon, since Solomon came and built the temple, and Solomon was the seed of David, but Jesus is the ULTIMATE fulfillment. Solomon did build the temple in God’s name, Solomon WAS David’s literal seed; but Jesus was from the lineage of David, Jesus established a kingdom, Jesus is sitting on the throne eternal at the right hand of God.

Second, the Priest: Psalm 110:4 prophecies that the Messiah will be a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, “The Lord has sworn, And will not relent, “You are a priest forever, According to the order of Melchizedek.”” Now, a priest was someone who interceded sacrifices on behalf of the people. This, Melchizedek was one of these (Genesis 14:18), and this prophecy states that the Messiah’s priesthood would be according to the order that this priest established.

Third, the Prophet: A prophet is defined as a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the Will of God. Isaiah 52:7 tells us: “How beautiful upon the mountains, Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” Isaiah 42:1 likewise proclaims: “”Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” These are not prophecies of current Bible characters. These are direct prophecies of one to come. The elect one will have God’s spirit, and proclaim justice to the Gentiles, and bring forth the gospel of peace and good news. In other words, all of these were fulfilled by Jesus during His time on earth. Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is the prophecy where the Messiah will be like Moses a prophet, “”The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. “This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ “The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well.” “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him”. “It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” How was this Messiah to be like Moses? It means he will do likewise if not MORE than Moses, in where He will deliver God’s chosen people, and give them new law/establish a New Covenant. In Galatians 3:16, Paul makes the point that when God prophecies something in the singular He MEANS it in the singular. The early Jews understood it this way (John 1:21 “They asked him, What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?”  And he answered, “No”; John 7:40 “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”)

Obviously there were different views about this expected Messiah from the crowds. The Pharisees were expecting a King to be the promised one, but the Sadducees believed that a Priest would be the promised one. However, the Sadducees emphasized this priestly role. It was not an either/or thing, where there was a blurred line. But the Pharisees explicitly expected JUST a King. Now let us look at a New Testament example in which the Messiahship of Jesus is established and defended.

The first Gospel Sermon on the Day of Pentecost is where we wish to examine. Peter makes notably two arguments for the messiahship of Christ in Acts 2:22-36. Lord willing, we will examine these in the second installment of this article.

Derek Thompson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

What About Him?

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What About  Him?

John 21:20-22
The apostles were not immune from jealousy and one-upmanship. This seemed especially true among Peter, James, and John. In Mark 10:37, James and John asked Jesus, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” This would disgust the other ten apostles. Jesus would take this opportunity to teach the twelve that, though the Gentile way was to be first (v. 42), discipleship involved service and sacrifice (v. 43-45). Still we find that even after Jesus’ resurrection, the message had not sunk in with Peter.

In John 21, after Jesus challenged Peter to show his dedication through action, Jesus warned Peter of the persecution—the brutal death—he would face if he would devote himself to Christ’s mission. Peter then looked at John and inquired as to whether or not John would have to suffer the same persecution, “What about this man (v. 21)?” Peter at this point was more concerned about John’s cross than his own. He insinuated, “It’s only fair if we all have the same cross to bear!” A closer look at the passage (at least indirectly) highlights Peter’s jealousy, referring to John as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” in verse 20.

Jesus, however, as he did throughout the New Testament, gave Peter an answer he was not expecting. Jesus said to him in John 21:22, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” What a powerful statement. Perhaps this passage was not only preserved, but placed at the end of John’s gospel for good reason. This was Jesus’ last teaching in John’s gospel and a perfect summation of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus says, in essence, “Do not worry about others—what they get away with, what they endure, what they do to you, how heavy their cross is–Just follow me.” He asks Peter, “Why do you care how he dies or if he dies at all?”

Jesus’ closing remarks in the book of John are “follow me.” Not all crosses are equal, yet rest assured, Jesus will not fit you for a cross you could not bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

We can become so preoccupied with others’ walk with Christ that we fail not only to examine our own failures (Matt. 7:3), but while focused on our finger-pointing, fail to follow Jesus. Let us first be introspective (Matt. 7:5), before we concern ourselves with others.

Joey Hickey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

MODEST APPAREL

modestyMODEST APPAREL

Paul writes, “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly array, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” As evidenced here, the Bible teaches Christian women (and men too) to adorn themselves in modest apparel, which simply means the Christian should wear appropriate attire; attire that professes godliness.

Peter writes a similar message in 1 Peter 3:1-4: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

As indicated in both passages, “modesty” and “modest apparel” first involves the human heart. Both writers emphasize what is within over what is without – by saying, as Paul did “not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly array, or as Peter did “…not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold or of putting on of apparel.” In those statements, the Bible is not forbidding, as some mistakenly think, the wearing of any gold or the putting on of any makeup or fixing the hair to any extent. Such positions become extreme. However, the inwardness overshadows the outwardness and our appearance reflects the heart. Paul and Peter show us not to put the emphasis on the outward man but on the inward man. How we dress, therefore, reflects either a heart of godliness and shamefacedness or a heart devoid of such an attitude. Godliness and shamefacedness create in the Lord’s people a keen sense of moral purity, holiness, and reverential fear. Broadly stated, this attitude of holiness overlays our heart and our clothes and appearance outwardly reflect this inward sense.

Shamefacedness stands in contrast to shamelessness and godliness to worldliness. Both can be seen in how we dress. The prophet Jeremiah asked, “were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not ashamed and neither could they blush” (Jeremiah 6:15). Without shamefacedness and godliness a person has no ability to blush. Paul also tells us, “…be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:1,2)

Going back to the initial readings in l Timothy and 1 Peter, notice the language used by both Paul and Peter. Paul says, “…with shamefacedness and sobriety and Peter writes, “…chaste conduct coupled with fear [reverence]” Peter continues by saying, “Whose adorning …[should be] the hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price.” Again, these words describe the inward grace, reverence, and beauty that adorn the Christian’s soul, particularly the Christian woman’s soul. The Christian woman projects this grace outwardly by…”adorning herself in modest apparel.”

From the very outset, the gospel cultivates among the Saints a spirit of godliness and holiness. Titus 2:11,12 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly righteously and godly in the present world.” Peter also says, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16) First, when we deny worldly lust and ungodliness and second, when we affirm godliness and holiness in our hearts (truly, fully, and sincerely), the gospel builds in us the divine nature of which all saints partake. (2 Peter 1:4) Again, Paul, writing in contrast to the adulterer, the fornicator, the drunkard and the like, says, “…And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11)

Conversion involves transformation – something is put off (Col. 3:8) that something else might be put on (Rom. 13:14); something dies that something else might live (Romans 6); we flee lust to follow after faith righteousness and charity with them that call on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Tim. 2:22)

Contemplate this very serious point. What mostly influences our lives and our thinking? If television, magazines, the internet and other forms of modern culture have greater sway with us than the gospel, then chances are we may lack the moral strength to be transformed from the world and are more likely conforming to it. We may be found adopting its trends, sporting its fashions, and accepting its standards. Friends, we must take the Scripture’s admonition very seriously. When Paul says, “Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord… and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17), he is not merely suggesting a way to live. He is admonishing us to avoid the evil in the world. With so much talk and so many images involving lust, sin, and immorality, do we deny the effects of the world on our hearts and minds?

With this as our premise, I want to discuss briefly the Biblical principles of our clothes and how we dress. Our clothes should: 1. Honor The Lord 2. Adequately cover our bodies 3. Distinguish our gender.

Honor The Lord: The ornament of a quiet and meek spirit is of great price in the sight of God. The Christian woman (and man) professes godliness adorning herself (or himself) in modest apparel. Do we really need to sketch a mental image of what’s appropriate and what’s not? Are our senses so dull of hearing and our consciences so seared that we fail to recognize immodesty? Paul would say, “…present your bodies as living sacrifices holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1) I have been told of people making the argument that if you were in a public place where everyone is dressed in bathing suits (like the lake or the ocean) and you stand out because you are not dressed as they are that you are immodest and “drawing attention to yourself.” In response to such a silly notion, Paul would say, “Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord …and touch not the unclean thing.” (2 Cor.6:17) and Peter would write, “wherefore they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot…” (1 Peter 4:4).

Brother Ronny Wade referred to the following passage once in a sermon a number of years ago and that reference has stuck with me through the years. He quoted Paul saying, “whose glory is their shame” (Phil. 3:19) and then made appropriate application. Just think of how men glory in shame. That statement aptly summarizes the thinking of the modern world. The more seductive, provocative, and salacious the appearance, the more celebrated, recognized and noted that look or that person becomes. The world glories in its thin bodies, its muscled abdominals, its tanned skin, and its nakedness …Again, their glory is their shame. Is the church unaffected? Hardly friends. May God’s Grace teach us and may we keep ourselves from evil.

Covers The Body: Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and their eyes “were opened.” (Genesis 3) Suddenly, they felt a strong sense of shame and with “opened eyes” saw that they were naked. Notice the correlation between their shame and their nakedness. Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves by sewing fig leaves together. I can hardly imagine that their apron of leaves looked more scant than what some are willing to go into public wearing today. God deemed them inadequately clothed and instead made them coats of skin and “clothed them.” (Gen.3:21) Scholars suggest that the clothes that God made covered them from their shoulders to below their knees. You see friend, we can have clothes on, but still be naked and expose our shame. We may not feel ashamed, but we expose our shame even still.

Distinguishes Our Gender: “Have you not read that He which made them at the beginning made them MALE and FEMALE?” (Matt. 19:4) You couldn’t tell by listening to modern thought in western civilization. Through concerted effort over the last fifty years, academia and progressive social thinking has largely removed all distinctions between men and women, especially with the help of television. Consequently, West Coast States have now opened “unisex bathrooms” for “transgender” children. Shocking? Why? Isn’t it only the natural progression within a society that has removed all specific gender identities from its conscience and mores? Moses commanded, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Duet. 22:5) This unmistakable principle of gender distinction remains in the New Testament too. For example, Paul condemned “the effeminate” (l Cor. 6:9), that is, men who act and dress as women. Now if it’s wrong for a man to dress and act like a woman, is it right for a woman to dress and act like a man?

Beloved, dress, clothes, fads, and fashions reflect a culture, its beliefs, and values. That’s true for the Kingdom of Heaven too. I pray this discussion helps someone, somewhere in the world to be more resolved and dedicated to be all that our Heavenly Father desires us to be. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7: 1)

By Douglas T. Hawkins

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Rolling the Dice: Gambling in God’s Word

 

dice

In our modern society gambling has many forms: the lottery, horse racing, bingo, casinos, and even raffles-we’ve got it all! When it comes to determining the morality of gambling, we have more defenses that confuse the issue, rather than convictions which clarify it.

The dictionary defines gambling as 1) a: to play a game for money or property, b: to bet on an uncertain outcome; 2) to stake something on a contingency.

To justify gambling, many people say things such as, “Life is a gamble… A farmer planting a crop each year is a gamble… Every time you drive a car is a gamble.” No friends. Driving a car is a risk. Making a wager on that risk is gambling! There is an inherent amount of risk in all activities, but the mere presence of risk does not make it a gamble.

When the subject of gambling is mentioned, there are those who will also reference stock market investors and suggest, “Buying stocks is gambling, but you think that’s ok.” Is investing in the stock market gambling? When one buys stocks, they are buying part of a company. Stocks are no different than any other commodity. When you buy a house, its value will fluctuate depending on the real estate market. When you buy stock, its value will fluctuate depending on the success of the company. Is there risk involved in purchasing land, stocks, gold or any other commodity? Yes. Is this gambling? No.

Gambling is different from taking a risk. When gambling thrives, someone suffers. Lost in the glitter of the multimillion dollar winner are all the millions of losers. The winner won at the expense of the loser. This is not at all the same as planting a crop every year, or investing in the stock market let’s be honest with ourselves.

Wading through all our rationalizations and defenses, what does the Bible say about gambling and money in general?

First, the Bible gives us three lessons pertaining to money and honorable methods of exchanging money. It speaks of legitimate, honorable ways in which we can transfer things of value.

First, there is the law of labor, which is earning money for the labor expended. Ephesians 4: 28 “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (NKJV)

Second, we can find the law of exchange, where a commodity like land, stocks or merchandise is exchanged for its value in money or traded for something equivalent. Proverbs 31: 16 “She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard.”

Third, the Bible teaches the law of love, where money or gifts are given in love without expectation of something in return. Luke 14: 12-14 “Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Also Luke 6: 35 “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil”

Gambling comes under none of these principles-actually it is the very opposite of them! Please consider the following five principles and think about how gambling violates them, thus violating God’s Word.

1) Gambling is the “Love of Money,” in its rawest form. 1 Timothy 6: 9-11 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”

Ron Courter writes, “A hard path awaits those who resolve to be rich because they ignore that the love of money promotes and provokes all kinds of evil. He who stretches forward to riches is faced with a constant immersion in grief. The sentiment is that there is no kind of evil to which the love of money may not lead men, when it once fairly takes hold of them.”

We need to be so careful friends. Even outside of gambling, we must constantly guard ourselves from slipping into a money loving attitude.

2) Gambling is Covetousness. It’s an excessive desire to obtain something without a legitimate exchange. It has no intention of giving something of comparable value in return. Colossians 3: 5-6 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,”

3) Gambling is Stealing by consent. This is just as dueling is murder by consent. Consent is not a gauge for rightness or wrongness. The willingness to participate in an activity does not determine whether it is right or wrong! Romans 13: 8-10 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet, ‘and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

When you take your neighbor’s money through some manner in which you neither earned it through work or trade, nor did they give it to you as a gift, you are stealing. This undoubtedly includes all forms of gambling such as office pools or raffles.

4) Gambling breaks the “Golden Rule.” It does not attempt to do something for another, but to take something from another. Mathew 7: 12 “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” How many people would continue to gamble if they were guided by this ethic?

5) Gambling breaks the Second Greatest Commandment, which is the law of loving your neighbor. Mathew 22: 37-39 “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Again, you cannot love your neighbor while you steal their money, which you did not earn. Remember when Jesus was asked in Luke 10:29, “Who is my neighbor?”

His response was illustrated in the parable of the “Good Samaritan.” This parable teaches us that anyone and everyone is our neighbor because Jesus said in verse 30 “a certain man.” If all mankind is our neighbor, than we cannot unjustly take anyone’s money without violating the law of loving our neighbor.

When gambling thrives, another suffers. Always take to heart that “legal” and “moral” is not the same thing. If gambling is wrong in principle, then neither the amount gambled nor the reason for gambling is relevant. Clearly the Bible teaches gambling is a sin because of the five principles it violates: the Love of Money, Covetousness, Stealing (even by consent), the Golden Rule, and the Second Greatest Commandment, the law of loving your neighbor as yourself.

 Shahe Gergian