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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE - Page 5 Empty Re: BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

Post  Admin on Mon 30 Mar 2020, 12:00 am

2 Corinthians 13:5
(5) Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

  2 Corinthians 10:12
(12) For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
New King James Version   Change Bible versions

We understand that we are to examine ourselves in the weeks preceding Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Sometimes, however, we miss the purpose for the examination. Consider these two scriptures in relation to self-examination:

» Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (II Corinthians 13:5)

» For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (II Corinthians 10:12)

If we are not careful in this, we can easily fall into two snares, both of which center on the self.

The most obvious one, expressed in II Corinthians 10:12, is that we will judge ourselves in light of other people. This fatal trap deceitfully provides us with self-justification for the way we are. The result is that we will not change or grow because we will be judging according to our own standards—and why change perfection? Self-examination by our own code produces self-righteousness.

The other dangerous snare occurs when our self-examination is so rigorous that we become very depressed and feel salvation is impossible. This is just as utterly self-indulgent as the other! This "woe is me" approach is a not-too-subtle blast against God's judgment and grace for calling us and making things so difficult for us!

Anyone who compares himself to others is not exhibiting faith in God. He is telling God that His Son's life means little to him. Likewise, anyone who feels so morose with guilt that he threatens not to take the Passover is not exhibiting faith in God. He is telling God that He is unable to forgive that much.

At Passover, our focus should be on the payment for sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God in His grace is willing to forgive our transgressions on the basis of Christ's death. During Unleavened Bread, the focus shifts to overcoming sin and coming out of this world through God's power, which is also part of His grace. At Passover, it is the grace of God to justify us through Christ's blood. At Unleavened Bread, it is the grace of God to sanctify us as we move toward His Kingdom and glorification.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 28 Mar 2020, 11:27 pm

Romans 5:1-2
(1) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
New King James Version   

Without a doubt, our sins separate us from God (Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 59:2; Galatians 5:19-21). Graciously, our heavenly Father desires a closer relationship with us, His elect (John 17:3, 20-21). In Leviticus 26:12, our Creator promises, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” In John 14:6, that same divine Being—in the form of Jesus Christ—testifies that He provides our ultimate path to God the Father.

In Romans 5:1-2, the apostle Paul flatly asserts that justification brings us access to His grace, the undeserved favor that He grants to His faithful, humble children through Jesus Christ (James 4:6). In Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12, Paul mentions this same access, strongly implying that such access is exclusive to our calling and not available to the world.

By declaring the repentant sinner not guilty, justification helps to remove, not only the disturbing guilt from his conscience, but also the fear of being called before God and condemned (Isaiah 57:20-21; Romans 5:9), replacing the guilt and fear with hope (Romans 5:2; Titus 3:7). Such peace enables the justified to draw even closer to God with a more confident assurance of His mercy (Hebrews 4:16; 7:19; 10:19).

— Martin G. Collins
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Post  Admin on Fri 27 Mar 2020, 11:17 pm

Exodus 20:8-11
(8) "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (9) Six days you shall labor and do all your work, (10) but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. (11) For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

New King James Version   

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them a lawfor community relationships. Did He say, "All of My commandments you must keep—except for one"?

The Sabbath is not a minor ceremonial regulation that rarely affects man's relationship with God. It is one of the major Ten Commandments, the laws that spell out God's character, defining love and sin for us. This is why James explained that the law is a package (James 2:10); if you break one law, you break them all. Once the package is broken up, it loses its effectiveness.

The fourth commandment is especially important in keeping the other nine. In Ezekiel 20, God specifies two specific commandments that Israel broke: the ones concerning idolatry and Sabbath-keeping. They are linked: If one does not keep the Sabbath, he will commit idolatry.

In one sense, these are the two key commandments around which all the others revolve. If we break the first one, we will certainly break the rest. If our god is not God, then we are off the track already. In the same way, if we break the Sabbath day, then the others will be broken. Without the Sabbath, contact with God is lost.

God has called a meeting of His Kingdom and Family to occur on that day. If we fail to attend, we are obviously absent and unable to benefit from it. God's commanding something that we do not really have to keep would not be beneficial. It would be double-dealing, like handing someone a biscuit with one hand and taking it back with the other.

People observe the practices of their religion because they matterto them. Yet, we have been told that one can be a Christian without keeping this beneficial day. Some people claim that it does not matter. If, then, we can meet the requirements of being a Christian without keeping the Sabbath, a law that does not fit the flow of this world's social, business, and religious activities, then why keep it? That would not make sense.

What has happened? They have bought into the Protestant notion that God is only trying to save people, and that His law only defines sin. Such a belief has ramifications: The law will be seen in a totally negative light, rather than God's intended positive purpose. Law not only defines sin, but also provides a guide that will produce character in us identical to the Creator's, if we live by the power of His Spirit.

Our small part in this entire wonderful purpose is not merely to say, "I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior," but it is to use our God-given free moral agency to choose the right in order to do our small part in producing godly attitude and character.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Mar 2020, 11:02 pm

2 Corinthians 12:11-13
(11) I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. (12) Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. (13) For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!
New King James Version  

The apostle Paul, despite his cautions to Timothy (see II Timothy 2:23; I Timothy 6:3-5), realized at one point that if he did not challenge the foolish challenges of his enemies (concerning his apostolic authority and methods), naïve members of the Corinthian congregation might believe them. His lengthy answer spans II Corinthians 11 and 12.

Obviously, Paul felt extremely uncomfortable about answering these allegations, as is evidenced by his self-effacing reference to himself as a fool, but he also realized that his silence would have tacitly endorsed the charges. Likewise, our Savior, when confronted about His identity and credentials, knew the timing was right to put the gainsaying Pharisees in their place (John 8:52-58).

As one minister said, "If you are going to preach a warning message, you had better be mindful of your exit strategies, or be prepared to die on that hill of battle." There certainly are times when diplomacy fails and silence is no longer appropriate. Our society is replete with foolish teachings, ideas, theories, and misconceptions—both secular and religious—and under the right circumstances, they should be confronted and shown to be false, lest they be accepted as factual.

As maturing Christians, we must learn to discern when it is proper to answer a fool according to his folly (in the manner his foolishness deserves), and when it is a bad idea to answer a fool according to his folly (lowering ourselves to his undignified level). The right exercise of God's Spirit in us, which Paul calls "the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16), provides the potential to have and use this ability.

— David F. Maas
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Post  Admin on Wed 25 Mar 2020, 1:23 pm

Ecclesiastes 8:5-8
(5) He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful;
And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment,
(6) Because for every matter there is a time and judgment,
Though the misery of man increases greatly.
(7) For he does not know what will happen;
So who can tell him when it will occur?
(8) No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit,
And no one has power in the day of death.
There is no release from that war,
And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.
New King James Version  

In these verses about dealing with those in authority over us, the focus of deference appears to shift to facing a leader with a reputation for unusual discernment and perhaps stern, unbending judgment. Is the king here the Creator God or an earthly king? Even though Solomon is, in an overall sense, providing us wisdom about how we should approach an earthly king, he never completely loses sight of God, who stands unseen behind the earthly king's power. He seems to be giving the earthly king here a great deal more than the usual level of respect.

If it is God that he writes of, then it appears to make more sense because we can learn of the real power behind the throne. We can learn to fear God more deeply and readily by observing nature and applying to our lives what we discern there of His character. If we do this, we will see some of His attributes and come to respect them more deeply.

Does not God say that He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3)? Careful and thoughtful observation of the natural world reveals the compelling, harmonious, and sometimes breathtaking beauty of the mind of our great Creator. It also at times displays His awesome and mysterious power that, almost like a machine, seemingly appears to move on inflexibly, not knowing or caring what it inflicts. Who can stop the weather from happening?

Everybody and everything gets caught up in God's movements. A blizzard, tornado, earthquake, flood, or drought seems unsympathetic about what or who is caught in its devastation. It is as if, once God's purpose is formed, nothing can turn it aside, despite human woes. These are displays of power that everyone should rightfully fear. Yet, the wise person will discern that God's purposes come to fruition slowly, so he patiently waits, having perceived that, behind all the outward appearances of harshness, there is good within it. Such a wise use of power can influence a human king.

Verse 7 appears to say that God, the great and awesome King, operates without regard for man's desire to know the future. Why is this good? Because not knowing the future with any certainty tends to keep man dependent on God. It makes faith in His love a necessity for his spiritual survival. When a person stands before a human ruler, he should keep his utter dependence on God in mind.

In verse 8, Solomon touches on death as perhaps God's ultimate power over man. When a man's time arrives, only God has the power to give him continued existence. The breath of life is in the hand of God, and if He allows this last enemy to grasp us, there is no escape. Solomon is reminding us that God's rule of His creation is not helter-skelter but operated with order and specific, individual attention to detail. No man has power to retain life beyond his appointed time. There are no grounds on which a person can procure exemption. Rebellious opposition to God will not avail us. Deference is clearly the order of the day to the Christian.

The overall point of Solomon's sobering exposition is that the Creator God must absolutely be treated with the greatest of respect and reverence. The human king, who stands in God's place before us as His agent, should also be treated with a measure of the same respect. In his office, he shares in some aspects of the Creator God's governing power. We must learn that the human ruler does not have to consult us, his subordinate, for permission to carry out whatever judgment he makes in regard to us.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 24 Mar 2020, 10:50 pm

Matthew 12:31-32
(31) “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. (32) Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
New King James Version   

This transgression is commonly called “the unpardonable sin,” something so grave that it will not be forgiven, either in the present age or in the next one, even though God is normally eager to forgive.

Blasphemy is not talked about much these days, since our culture cares little about the things of God. The word “blasphemy” comes from two roots that together mean “injurious speaking.” Granted, speaking (or writing) that causes injury is quite common these days, but blasphemy belongs in a separate category because it has God or something sacred as its target. Thus, blasphemy is “a dishonoring of God or sacred things,” whether done deliberately or not.

Jesus' words in Matthew 12 are a strong enough warning by themselves, but the parallel account in Mark 3:29 makes the consequences of this even more plain: “He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (emphasis added).

The wider context of these verses helps us to understand this stark warning, beginning in Matthew 12:22 with Christ healing a demon-possessed blind-mute. Because of the Pharisees' hard hearts, they would not accept that this had been done through the power of the Holy Spirit, so they tried to diminish this work of God by claiming it was performed by the power of Satan.

In verse 33, Jesus says to evaluate a matter based on the fruit that is produced. The Pharisees should have been able to see the supremely positive fruit that He was producing, and at the same time, He was pointing out that the fruit they were producing was rotten. In verses 34-35, their speaking evil against the power of God reflected the evil in their own hearts. While the Pharisees belittled the miracle that had just taken place, Jesus says in verse 36 that even idle or careless words must be accounted for in the Day of Judgment. Verse 37 warns that our words will either justify us or condemn us, putting the Pharisees on thin ice.

Notice, though, that He does not state directly that these Pharisees had committed the unpardonable sin. They did commit blasphemy serious enough to evoke a thunderous warning, but it appears that Jesus may have made some allowance for the Pharisees because, in His taking on the form of a bondservant (Philippians 2:7), they were confused about who He was. His true identity as the Son of God had not been revealed to them (as it had been to the disciples; Matthew 16:16-17), so He declared that they could be forgiven the blasphemous things they said about Him. He did not mean that blasphemy or other sins are no big deal, but rather that it is possible for those things to be forgiven upon repentance, in contrast to a transgression that cannot be forgiven at all.

Remember, the Pharisees triggered this warning by attributing the outworking of God to the Lord of Flies (Beelzebub). It included a rejection of God's nature, power, and activity. The conversation between Christ and Nicodemus shows that some of the Pharisees would acknowledge that Jesus was a Teacher sent by God (John 3:1-2). Yet, Matthew 12:14 states that these Pharisees were plotting against Him, so they had malicious intent.

Even so, a measure of ignorance remained. Paul says in I Corinthians 2:8 that if the rulers of the age—which would include the Pharisees—had full comprehension, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. Despite their attitudes approaching the point where they would be unable to repent, their lack of full comprehension of who they were opposing meant that repentance could still be possible once their eyes are opened. Due to their ignorance, they were not guilty of conscious rejection of the Spirit of the Most High God.

— David C. Grabbe


  Hebrews 3:12-13
(12) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; (13) but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
New King James Version   

The will is the power or faculty by which the mind makes choices and acts to carry them out. At first, against his will, a person engages in some forbidden pleasure because he wants to, but if he keeps it up, he soon finds that he has no strength to resist it. This process does not happen any more quickly than an addiction to alcohol, but in the end, he keeps sinning because he cannot help but do so! Once a thought or act becomes a habit, it is a short step to being a necessity. The old saying is true: "Sow an act and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny."

Hebrews 3:12-13 reveals a worrisome characteristic of sin: "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Sin is seductive, enticing, deceitful, and hardening.

Sin's deceitfulness is that it cannot deliver what it promises. It deludes a person into thinking he can "have it all" or "take it or leave it." It promises pleasure, contentment, fulfillment, and life, but what it delivers in those areas is fleeting, which leads to its addictive quality. The pleasure is never quite enough to produce the desired contentment and fulfillment. Sinners are forced into greater perversions until it kills them.

Sin offers rationalizations and justifications. It puts on a plausible appearance and can even seem to be virtuous, as in situation ethics. However, sin's drug-like quality always demands more because what formerly satisfied no longer will. The person in its grip gradually becomes its slave, and all along the way, his heart becomes hardened as well.

In Hebrews 3:13, hardened is translated from the Greek word for a callus. A callus forms around the break in a bone, on the palms of hands and on fingers from constant hard use, or in a person's joints, paralyzing its actions. In a moral context, it suggests "impenetrable," "insensitive," "blind," or "unteachable." A hardened attitude is not a sudden aberration but a habitual state of mind that shows itself in inflexibility of thinking and insensitivity of conscience. It can eventually make repentance impossible.

Jeremiah 9:1-5 describes people in this state, so inured, so enslaved to sin that they weary themselves pursuing and doing it:

Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. "And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me," says the LORD. "Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers. Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity."

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 23 Mar 2020, 11:56 pm

Matthew 5:9
(9) Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

New King James Version   

Most of us are not at all adept at reconciling warring parties, but that is not the kind of peacemaking Jesus is concerned about for us now. His idea of peacemaking revolves around the way we live. It was Adam and Eve's conduct that shattered the peace between man and God. Cain's conduct broke the peace between him and Abel and him and God. As it is with all of us, conduct makes or breaks the peace!

As mentioned earlier, Paul commands us, "As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18), an arduous task at times, considering human personalities. The thrust of Paul's exhortation implies that, far from being a simple task, complying with it will call upon our constant vigilance, self-control, and earnest prayer.

Though human nature guarantees that peace-breaking "offenses must come," it is part of Christian duty to ensure that our conduct produces no just cause of complaint against us (Matthew 18:7). It is first for our own peace that we do so, for it is impossible to be happy while involved in arguments and warfare. Some Christians are more competitive and contentious than others, and they need to beg God doubly for the spiritual strength to restrain their pride and anger and to calm them. Paul warns, "'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26). Though pride may be at the base of contention, rising anger within one or the other person in a dispute is frequently the first sign that the peace is about to be broken. Paul's warning is necessary because anger is so difficult to check and equally difficult to let go completely before the peace is broken, and bitter and persistent hatred soon replaces the anger.

Paul quotes the first phrase of this verse from Psalm 4:4, then modifies the second phrase to give it a more immediate and practical application. "Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord" (Psalm 4:4-5). This is exactly the course Jesus follows when taunted and vilified by those whose ire He had aroused. Notice Peter's testimony:

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. (I Peter 2:21-23)

If we follow Christ's example, the one reviling or threatening soon finds himself without an opponent. God, then, advises us to be passive in the face of contention. In the Kingdom, however, we will likely be a great deal more proactive, just as Christ is now as our High Priest. He will be even more active when He comes as King of kings to fight against the nations and establish His peace.

Since it is true that "blessed are the peacemakers," it logically follows that God curses peace-breakers, a fact all who desire to be peacemakers must keep in mind. Contention produces the curse of disunity. When Adam and Eve sinned, both unity and peace were shattered, and God sentenced them to death. Regardless of the justification, it is impossible for sin to produce either godly peace or unity. It is therefore urgent that we be diligent not merely to guard against the more obvious forms of sin but also bigotry, intemperate zeal, judging, impatience, and a quarrelsome spirit, which provide a basis for Paul's counsel in Romans 14:19.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 21 Mar 2020, 9:52 pm

Genesis 6:11-13
(11) The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. (12) So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (13) And God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

We can easily reach a conclusion about humanity by comparing the Bible's overview of mankind's pre-Flood activities with our more detailed daily news reports. Together, they suggest that we are experiencing times increasingly similar to those just before the Flood. This leads us to an unavoidable conclusion: What God did through the Flood proves that the cataclysm did not solve the problems that reside in the hearts of human beings. What is in man's heart created the necessity for humanity to witness that major disaster as part of its history. The internal stain was still there after the Flood waters drained away; the massive execution of earth's population did not erase the evil motivations of man's self-centered nature. That must be accomplished by another means.

By putting them to death, the Flood did clear the population of a vast number of troublemakers. However, only God's merciful and generous grace, as Noah and his family received, changes a person's heart and thus his or her conduct. Our hearts are changed by God initiating our calling, revealing Himself, granting repentance, giving His Spirit, and then personally working with us in a close, personal relationship. By this means, we are created in the image of God. This is the only permanent solution.

This fact should have the effect of causing us to resolve to follow through by willingly cooperating with God within the relationship created by His merciful calling. What practical, spiritual counsel will enable us to negotiate these times, which are so similar to what Noah went through?

In short, our salvation is to yield to God's guidance, as seen in Noah's story. His attitude and conduct become our practical, human example and spiritual guide. Just as he persevered in building the ark and trusting God to preserve his family through the Flood, we should put the same effort into preparing for God's Kingdom.

Genesis 7:1 provides us with a simple but meaningful instruction: “Then the LORD said to Noah, 'Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.'” Noah did not hesitate when God commanded him to do this, as his labors in building the ark were ending. This command states the qualification to meet our time's spiritual challenges. Noah faithfully lived righteously within the difficulties of the times.

The biblical record shows that God oversaw and provided safety for Noah and his family during those challenges beyond their control. He will do for us as He did for them. The Flood of our times is not one of water but an overwhelming “flood” of deception combined with threats of violence against us. It is already upon us to some small degree. As far as can be determined, nothing of this world will turn it aside. In fact, it is already named in the Bible—our Flood is called the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

— John W. Ritenbaugh

  James 1:27
(27) Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

The apostle presents Christian living as a two-pronged endeavor that we can perhaps simplify or summarize even more. The first is doing good works: visiting orphans and widows in their trouble. The second prong is to become holy or build righteous character in ourselves in cooperation with God.

We could also divide it into the practical and the spiritual sides of life. Obviously, when a person does good works, it is a practical application of what he has learned and put on as spiritual character.

Another way to look at it is to say that James divides it into the outward and the inward. Part of Christian living goes on inside an individual, and something—a work, an action—comes out of him as a result.

However we want to name this two-pronged approach, we must realize that neither of these prongs is sufficient alone, which is why James presents them together. It is "pure and undefiled religion" to have an inward and an outward aspect or a practical and a spiritual aspect.

The apostle John agrees with James in I John 3:16-19. Pure religion requires both of these elements:

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

He says that, if we do not manifest God's love by giving, helping, and caring for others, then we have not fulfilled anything. We cannot be sure that the love of God is actually in us if it is not coming out in some sort of physical work that we do, some act of love.

In this church's teaching, we tend to stress only one of these prongs. It is not that we do not talk about the other, but we tend to stress the inward, the spiritual, the holy, the righteous character part—the second prong that James shows in James 1:27. There is good, sound, solid, biblical reason for this. Basically, it is that the spiritual aspect is the more important of the two.

The inward, the spiritual, the holy, the righteous-character part of Christian living is the foundation—the wellspring, the fertile soil—out of which good works grow. One could go so far as to say that effective and truly good works cannot be done without godly character or a right relationship with God.

This means that we must have godly character before we can even begin to do good works properly! Without godliness, good works are simply common and rather empty, humanistic philanthropy.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 19 Mar 2020, 10:54 pm

Zechariah 4:11-14
(11) Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees—at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" (12) And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?" (13) Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." (14) So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."
New King James Version   

When these verses are combined with the information regarding the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11, it is clear the olive trees feeding the lampstand with oil, empowering it to give light, are the Two Witnesses feeding the entire church. If we are indeed nearing the time for God to raise up the Two Witnesses, then we should expect first one, then the other to come to the attention of the church. A spiritual unity will develop as church members voluntarily submit themselves to be fed and led by the Two Witnesses.
If we know what to look for, because we are familiar with the patterns God has revealed to us, it will put us into the position to see God regathering and reforming the church from the destructive calamity that He put it in for its good. He is actively creating whatever it takes to save His people from their sins.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 19 Mar 2020, 12:09 am

Leviticus 23:15-16
(15) 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. (16) Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

Pentecost is unique among the holy days because it is the only annual feast determined by counting. All the other festivals God commands us to keep on certain dates on the Hebrew calendar, but we must count for Pentecost. Whether we count fifty days or seven weeks or seven Sabbaths from the day of the wavesheaf offering, we must still go through the exercise of measuring the time to keep the feast properly. Why?

God does nothing without a purpose, and His purposes always include giving His people additional instruction for their ultimately eternal benefit. Counting to Pentecost is no exception. Even a cursory examination will expose several fascinating avenues of study.

First, God commands us to count. Counting is a means of calculating sequential items, events, and measurements. The Bible equates counting to numbering and measuring, and it becomes a metaphor for judging and evaluating. When we understand what the period from the wavesheaf offering to Pentecost represents, the extended meanings come into play.

Passover symbolizes our redemption from this world and the forgiveness of our sins. Unleavened Bread typifies our lifelong task of coming out of sin and putting on the new man in sincerity and truth. We begin to count on wavesheaf day, which occurs during this period, and the fifty days extend to Pentecost, a festival that prefigures the harvest of God's firstfruits. The fifty days, then, represent the period of a Christian's conversion, the time between his calling and his resurrection to eternal life.

Thus, God wants us to count, number, or measure the time of our conversion. This should bring several well-known verses to mind. For instance, Paul considers us wise if we are "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). He cautions the Romans, "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11). In both instances, he is advising Christians to measure and make use of our time carefully.

A few Old Testament verses may be even more on point. David writes in Psalm 39:4, "LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am." If we understand just how short our time is, we also realize how weak and insignificant we are next to God and eternity. It forces us to rely upon Him and strive to improve. This is the kind of attitude that God desires in us and will enhance our growth in character.

Moses, too, makes use of this imagery in Psalm 90:12: "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Properly evaluating our lifetimes builds wisdom in us, and wisdom—the godly use of knowledge and understanding—will make our behavior pleasing to God. Wisdom will help us to prioritize our time properly so we can devote ourselves to what is truly important.

Second, God has us count fifty days. What is significant about the number fifty? Fifty is the round number of years human beings live in a normal adult life (compare Numbers 1:3; Psalm 90:10). Fifty years, then, represents the period during which we live, grow, overcome, bear fruit, and prove our devotion to God through trials, tests, blessings, curses, and life's other varied experiences. Fifty years corresponds to the span of our conversion.

Biblically, the number fifty has its closest association with two things: the Tabernacle/Temple (in some of its measurements) and the Jubilee. The apostles describe God's church as a temple, and Christians are individual "living stones" within it (I Corinthians 3:9, 16-17; Ephesians 2:19-22; I Peter 2:5). The fifty days thus symbolize the time it takes to complete the work of building a habitation for God.

Every fiftieth year in ancient Israel, the Jubilee was decreed on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:8-9), which, among other things, represents unity, being at one, with God. The Jubilee was a year of liberty, when all debts were cancelled and inheritances reverted to their original families (verse 10), foreshadowing "the restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21). It was also a year of rest (Leviticus 25:11), when no crops were sown or reaped, a foretaste of God's rest (Hebrews 4:4-10). Under this type, the fiftieth day of the count, Pentecost, represents the harvest of Christians into God's Kingdom by the resurrection.

Overall, then, we count to Pentecost for two major reasons:

1. God commands it, and
2. It teaches us to realize and use carefully the ever-shrinking time we have to come "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

In His wisdom, God has us annually take stock of our procession through time so that we will devote ourselves to making the most of it. In doing so, we can gauge our progress toward God's Kingdom.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 16 Mar 2020, 10:15 pm

Matthew 5:17-20
(17) "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (18) For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (19) Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
New King James Version  

Some Bibles title this paragraph, “Jesus Fulfills the Law.”The sense in which many professing Christians use the term “fulfills” is not inspired Scripture. In this case, it does not mean “accomplishes by keeping” or “does away with,” as judged against what He taught in what immediately follows. Fulfills, in this case, means “fills to the full,” “fully exemplifies the conduct it covers,” or “expands to its fullest intent.” Consider His subsequent illustrations carefully:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:21-26)

His teaching shows Him raising the acceptable level of obedience far higher than what people ordinarily considered as satisfactory behavior. Jesus expands the scope of sin in the sixth commandment from outright murder to also include a high level of anger in certain situations! Matthew 5:27-30 shows the same pattern in this teaching on the seventh commandment:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

The same conclusion is true of this commandment and also for each of the others He expands during His Sermon on the Mount. Far from doing away with God's commandments, He raises the standards of acceptable behavior far higher.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 15 Mar 2020, 11:37 pm

2 Corinthians 7:3
(3) I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.
New King James Version   

Are the Corinthians actually inside of Paul's beating heart? Of course not. Paul is saying that the Corinthians were in union within him, that he felt in union with them. Why? Because Paul raised up the church there. Paul knew them. He had preached to them the gospel by which they were converted. He had probably counseled them for baptism, though he baptized only the household of Stephanas and a few others.

He had pastored that congregation from the very beginning and was familiar with the people as personalities. He had eaten with them in their homes. He had likely conducted some wedding ceremonies, maybe even some funerals as well. He had preached countless sermons and Bible studies to those people. He had experienced walking in the marketplace with them. Perhaps he had even experienced some persecution with them. He had sung with them, maybe cried with them. He had laid hands on them when they were sick.

Thus, Paul was in union with these Corinthians because he had experienced life with them. So whether he was in Jerusalem or in Spain—even if he had gone to Britain—wherever Paul went, he carried with him the memories of those associations and experiences. When one of their names came to mind because it was mentioned in a letter that somebody sent to him, he immediately thought of the person, and it was almost as if they were right there with them. It was probably so real that Paul said to himself, "I wish I could reach out and touch them and help them."

Are we beginning to understand how God can be, as it were, everywhere at once? We can grasp it because we carry Him wherever we are. And it does not matter where He is either; He carries us with Him wherever He is. The seed of this remarkable, intimate union has been conceived within us because God initiated it, and we responded to it.

Of course, His powers are much greater than ours, and He can focus those powers on us as an individual personality if He so desires. Even as we can be aware of what is going on inside a small, contained area, the powers of His eyes and ears, of His mind, of His creative force and energy are so great that He is aware of anything at any time regardless of distance.

However, what He is really striving for in our lives is for us to be able to be aware of His presence wherever we go, because that is what is vital to our salvation and to our lives right now and the character that is being built in us.

— John W. Ritenbaugh

 Matthew 21:19
(19) And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, 'Let no fruit grow on you ever again.' Immediately the fig tree withered away.

  Mark 11:13
(13) And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
New King James Version   

The fig tree was deceptive due to its leaves. Normally, a leafy fig tree would be pleasing, since a fig tree in leaf indicates that it has ripe fruit. However, this tree had no fruit. The first figs normally begin to appear before the leaves, but as the foliage increases, the fruit ripens. Since the leaves could be seen from “afar off,” it was misleading because it had not borne any fruit.

It is true, as Mark says, that “the time of the figs was not yet,” but that only meant that the normal time for figs had not yet come. The fig tree appeared to be producing ahead of schedule, giving the appearance of doing something it was not. The tree represents a hypocrite, who gives the appearance of being something he is not. This hypocrisy was the condition of the religious leaders of Jesus' day, and it is also the condition of many today.

The Jewish leaders professed to have what no other people had, a relationship with God, but were in reality shallow, simple, and phony; there was plenty of outward show but no real conviction. They lacked truth, righteousness, and goodwill. And though they professed a great desire for the Messiah, they rejected Christ when He came to them. Hypocrisy was their dominant characteristic when it came to spiritual matters.

The arrogant priests, scribes, and elders, along with their elaborate rituals of the Temple, were all just leaves on a fruitless tree. Their heart was still malicious within, and true devotion for God and His truth was absent. Shortly before His crucifixion, Christ repeatedly called the religious leaders “hypocrites” (Matthew 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29), saying, “All their works they do to be seen by men” (Matthew 23:5). Like the fig tree, they liked to stand in conspicuous places, and also like the fig tree, they had leaves but no fruit.

On another occasion Christ quotes Isaiah in condemnation of the Israelite religious leaders: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me'” (Matthew 15:7-8; Isaiah 29:13). Speaking to Ezekiel, God describes the hypocrisy of the Israelites then:

So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. . . . [T]hey hear your words, but they do not do them.” (Ezekiel 33:31-32)

Mainstream Christianity is in the same hypocritical condition today. Like the fig tree, many of its members are nothing but leaves waving in the breeze. Many church services are strong on show and weak on substance. The emptier a church is spiritually, the phonier their outward appearance will be.

Jesus' actions here have symbolic importance, signifying the hypocrisy of those who appear to be bearing fruit but in fact are not. The person who lives a hypocritical life will someday discover that he has deceived himself worse than he has deceived others. If we cheat others, our judgment from God may be to have others cheat us. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

— Martin G. Collins
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Post  Admin on Sun 15 Mar 2020, 1:45 am

Ephesians 6:4
(4) And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
New King James Version   

Just because he says "fathers," he does not exclude mothers. Paul simply addresses the party with the overall responsibility.

Even though it is not directly stated, we must remember that God consistently teaches that the strong are responsible to care for the weak. In this context, the parents are strong, the children are weak. However, parents must not depend upon their size and strength to demand respect, but should strive to earn it through strength of character, wisdom, and clearly expressed love.

The Greek word translated "bring them up" at first meant merely providing bodily nourishment. Through time its usage extended to include education in its entirety since bringing up children obviously is more than just feeding a child food. "Training" is more correct than the weak "nurture" used in the KJV. The Greek word means "to train or discipline by repeated and narrow exercises in a matter." It implies action more than intellectual thought and corresponds to the word "train" in Proverbs 22:6, which means "to hedge" or "narrow in." Thus God expects parents to train their children to walk the straight and narrow way rather than allowing them to wander aimlessly about on the broad way.

Paul adds in Colossians 3:21, "Fathers, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged." To some degree, all children resist their parents and what they represent and teach. How parents overcome it is Paul's concern. These verses testify that many parents strive to elicit their children's obedience and respect in the wrong manner.

The wrong way provokes embittered, fretful, defensive, listless, resentful, moody, angry, or sullen children. Paul counsels not to challenge the child's resistance with an unreasonable exercise of authority. Correction is necessary, but a parent must administer it in the right spirit, counterbalanced by lavish affection and acceptance. A twig should be bent with caution.

Firmness does not need to be harsh nor cruel. Punishment should never be revenge nor dispensed just because the parent is irritated. Severity only hardens the child and makes him more desperate. If a parent does not use his authority justly, he cannot expect a child to be respectful. It does not happen automatically.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 13 Mar 2020, 11:29 pm

Psalm 73:1-9
(1) Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as are pure in heart.
(2) But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
(3) For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (4) For there are no pangs in their death,
But their strength is firm.
(5) They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like other men.
(6) Therefore pride serves as their necklace;
Violence covers them like a garment.
(7) Their eyes bulge with abundance;
They have more than heart could wish.
(8) They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression;
They speak loftily.
(9) They set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue walks through the earth.
New King James Version  

The psalmist, Asaph, mentions pride directly, as well as boasting among men and speaking loftily, arrogantly against the very God of heaven, as evidence of the driving force of the wicked person's life. Pride and wickedness fit together like hand and glove—so much so that he describes pride as the wicked person's ornament, as if it were displayed as a necklace.

In short, pride identifies the wicked; evil people are always proud. They scoff at God's Word, speak against Him, and gossip against fellow man. What we see on the outside is evil attitude and conduct, but what is motivating from the inside is pride. The proud person offends against God by self-exaltation, and he offends others by haughty preoccupation with himself, leading him to rudeness, impatience, and gossip. And all the while, he ignores the instruction from God that would correct him.

All of this is based on a vain delusion of grandeur that, if allowed, can lead to what God prophesies in Obadiah 2-4, 18:

"Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," says the LORD. . . . "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau. For the LORD has spoken."

He pronounces this against the nation of Edom, but it could be pronounced in principle against anyone who comes to believe and act as though he is invulnerable by ignoring the reality of God and the consequences of sin.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 11 Mar 2020, 11:20 pm

 Isaiah 14:13-14

(13) For you have said in your heart:
'I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
(14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.'
 
New King James Version  
 
We can see in Satan how pride will show itself in us. Pride brings us into contention with God. It will exalt us into breaking one or more of His commandments, perhaps as a way of life. It will exalt us to deny what a scripture clearly says to defend a privately held belief (i.e., women speaking in church, hair length).
 
It will cause us to reject the leadership of the ministry, given to the church as a gift of God (cf. Jeremiah 43:1-2). It will exalt us into striving for positions of leadership in the church (study all of Numbers 16).
 
Pride will exalt us against brothers in the church fellowship so we do not really love them (i.e., gossiping about them, accusing, cutting them down [even in jest], never fellowshipping with them). It will make us contend with our brothers over scriptures that have little or nothing to do with salvation, but "winning" an argument will become very important to us so we will not lose face.
 
It is no wonder Proverbs 28:25 says, "He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered." God resists the proud, but gives grace (gifts that prosper one spiritually) to the humble.
 
The father and king of pride is an adversary. Whenever we witness contention that disrupts unity, where confusion and frustration are being produced, we can be sure that his dominant attitude is infecting the group. We need to examine ourselves to see where we may need to repent.
 
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 10 Mar 2020, 7:59 pm

Revelation 20:1-3
(1) Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (2) He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (3) and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

  Leviticus 16:21-22
(21) Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. (22) The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
New King James Version   

The releasing of the azazel into the wilderness (Leviticus 20:21-22) is commonly—but incongruously—linked with the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3). This linkage is problematic because the account in Revelation makes no mention of sins—whether mankind's or Satan's—being placed on Satan's head. Instead, the express purpose for his binding is “so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (verse 3). He is bound to cut off his influence, not to provide any sort of expiation.

In addition, since the book of Revelation is generally dated around AD 90-100, John's vision did not occur until the very end of the apostolic generation. Earlier, Jude had written to exhort the beleaguered first-century church “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3; emphasis ours throughout). “The faith” is a specific faith, indicating a well-defined body of beliefs. However, when Jude wrote his epistle, Satan's binding had not yet been foretold. It was not revealed to John until after “the faith” had already been delivered to the saints.

Similarly, Paul writes to Timothy that the “Holy Scriptures”—which, at that point, would have consisted of what is generally called the Old Testament—“are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). Even without the book of Revelation, the first generation of Christians had all they needed to understand God's plan.

The matter of how sin is atoned for is at the very core of being “wise for salvation,” and Paul's words indicate that “wisdom” was already available from 1) what had been written before, and 2) God-given faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, the apostolic generation understood salvation—including the Day of Atonement and how sins are expiated—without the revelation that Satan will be bound. The former is not dependent on the latter.

— David C. Grabbe
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Post  Admin on Mon 09 Mar 2020, 1:12 pm

Galatians 1:4
(4) who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
New King James Version   
 
We easily recognize that Christ died for our sins. But why? ". . . that He might deliver us from this present evil age."
 
The word translated "deliver" does not just mean being delivered from bondage, the way the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt. It means instead, "rescued from the power of." The meaning "delivery away from" may be implied, but that is not the primary meaning here. The power of this present evil world lies in its ability and power to make an impression upon us or make us conform to its ways.
 
Paul writes in I Corinthians 5:10, "I didn't mean that you should go out of the world, but rather that you should not fellowship with one who is a brother and who has this sin." He is not talking about leaving a place but about being rescued from the power of this world to impress its ideas, manners, ways, customs, and traditions upon us. Paul reiterates this in Romans 12:2: "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold" (Phillips). That is what we have been delivered from—not God's law, but the power of the world to squeeze us into its mold.
 
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 09 Mar 2020, 12:35 am

Exodus 20:12
(12) "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

New King James Version  

Taken to an extreme, dishonoring of parents leads to anarchy, first in the family and then in society, as the decay of this basic component spreads. Eventually, a person will expend much, if not most, of his energies just surviving, effectively destroying the development of spiritual, creative, and intellectual qualities essential to his and society's well-being.

Not honoring parents also causes immaturity. Because children do not respect their parents' advice, they grow up missing the significance of much they encounter, and so wisdom comes to them very slowly. In some cases, they may never learn wisdom. Lack of honor manifests itself in self-willed and self-indulgent people who seem to simmer just beneath the point of rebellion. Their motto in life becomes, "Just do it." So they condemn themselves to learning the lessons of life through hard experience, which may be a good teacher, but a painful one.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 07 Mar 2020, 11:12 pm

Genesis 2:4
(4) This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

This verse marks which member of the Elohim Family is the Creator God. He is Yahweh Elohim, the Lord God. The entry in Strong's for “Jehovah” (Yahweh) reads: “(the) self-Existent or Eternal: Jehovah, Jewish national name of God:—Jehovah, the Lord.” Zodhiates says of Yahweh, “The covenant name of God most prominently known in connection with His relationship with the nation of Israel.”

From the Bible, we see that Christ is the Creator God (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16) and that the Creator God is Yahweh—the God of the Old Testament. Therefore, it follows that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament.

As further confirmation, notice two verses:

» “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last.'” (Isaiah 44:6)

» “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.'” (Revelation 2:8; see also Revelation 1:11, 17; 22:13)

Yahweh of the Old Testament and Christ of the New refer to themselves as “the First and the Last” because both are the same self-existent, eternal Being.

— Pat Higgins
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Post  Admin on Fri 06 Mar 2020, 6:05 pm

Romans 5:6
6) For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
New King James Version   
 
In Romans 5:6, the apostle Paul declares that “Christ died for the ungodly.” The Greek word for “ungodly” is asebes, meaning “those without any reverence toward God.” The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, showed little reverence toward God. They were heedless when He warned them of the deadly outcome of their disobedience (Genesis 2:17; 3:3).
 
Since then, all humans have followed their example, falling from God's favor because of unbelief, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Essentially, man is unwilling or unable to recognize God's sovereignty and holiness, which causes him to fall short of being what God intends him to be.
 
The countermeasure for man's sinfulness is the perfect, sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, culminating in our opportunity for justification (Romans 4:25). The objective of justification is not merely to render a guilt-free verdict for the repentant sinner, nor does it provide a special certificate of eternal life to its recipient. Instead, it is a spiritual act—part of a spiritual process—with spiritual effects that open the way to salvation and eternal life.
 
— Martin G. Collins
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Post  Admin on Thu 05 Mar 2020, 10:11 pm

Matthew 13:22
(22) Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
New King James Version   

Here we see a picture of seed being sown in a field that is plowed but not weeded. This represents a person hearing God's Word, but then that Word is allowed to be pushed out by the cares with which he is involved.

All of us during our time in God's church have known of some who have left the church. One man decided it was more important not to pay his taxes and to fight that crusade than it was to stay in God's church. So he left, and his pursuit actually smothered him. Jesus says that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches "choke." The Greek word for choke means "to smother." When a person is smothered, oxygen begins to leave the brain, and soon one cannot function or even think.

We live in the "end of the age." At this tumultuous time, we have the accompanying pressures - and the "escapes" from those pressures - all around! This world is designed by Satan. This end time is designed to produce brain failure where God is concerned!

We had an old man in the Garden Grove church, a fine man. Every time someone would leave the church, he would ask, "Why did so-and-so leave the church?" The minister, for a while, thought that he was simply being nosy. But the old man replied, "No, I just wanted to find out why they left so I will not make the same mistake."

A very good friend, a "brother" with whom I had "sweet counsel" together for many a year, transferred back East to work in a large mine. He was promoted and continued to advance in the company. Soon thereafter, the company became more important than the church - and he left it!

Two great mental assassins prowl around in our day. The first is being heavily in debt. Sometimes that just happens and one cannot help it. The second is the entertainment industry. One causes constant worry of how one will pay the bills, and the other leads one to wrong thoughts, actions, and principles because these are constantly offered to us as entertainment.

Commentator Adam Clarke writes:

Man is anxious over worldly cares with the delusive hopes and promises of riches. This causes man to abandon the great concerns of the soul and seek in their place what he shall eat, what he shall drink, and wherewithal he shall be clothed. It is the dreadful stupidity of man thus to barter spiritual for temporal good - a heavenly inheritance for an empty portion.

This, of course, should make us think of Matthew 6:33 - "Seek first the Kingdom of God." If there is ever a Bible passage that directs us to keep our lives simple, this is it!

— John O. Reid (1930-2016)
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Post  Admin on Wed 04 Mar 2020, 3:58 pm

Leviticus 23:10-16
(10) "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. (11) He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. (12) And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD. (13) Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. (14) You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (15) 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. (16) Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.
New King James Version  

Following the basic instructions about Pentecost's location on the calendar in Leviticus 23:10-16, we find that when Israel came into Canaan, they were to count beginning with the day following a Sabbath. Without further instruction, there could be a whole year's worth of Sabbaths to choose from! However, within Leviticus 23, the annual Sabbaths are arranged chronologically beginning with Nisan (also called Abib). This, combined with information obtained from other portions of the Bible, has led all concerned to conclude that the Sabbath in question is early in the year, located near the beginning of a spring harvest, and is one of three within the Days of Unleavened Bread. The church of God and the various sects of the Jews are in agreement on this.

The count is to continue fifty days with the fiftieth day being the Day of Pentecost. As a Greek word, the name Pentecost does not appear in the Old Testament, only in the New, and it means "fiftieth." In the Old Testament, Pentecost is called "the Feast of Weeks" or "the Feast of Firstfruits."

Carefully note that God points only to a Sabbath—it must first be found—in order to begin the count. This fits nicely within God's directive in Exodus 31:13 that the Sabbath is a sign between Him and His people. Day One of the count does not begin with a Sabbath, but with the day following it. However, without first isolating which Sabbath, one cannot know which "morrow"—which day after. If one does not use the correct Sabbath, it may set Pentecost's observance as much as seven days off God's intended target.

The Sabbath in question here can be neither the First nor the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, though both are annual Sabbaths. Why? Because using either of those holy days, both of which fall on fixed dates, effectively eliminates a person's need to count! This is because, when one begins counting fifty days from a fixed date, one will always end on a fixed date.

If we begin to count with the day following Nisan 15 (the First Day of Unleavened Bread), we will always end on Sivan 6. If we commence our count on the day following Nisan 21 (the Last Day of Unleavened Bread), we will always finish on Sivan 12. If God wanted us to observe Pentecost on a fixed date, He would have told us so, even as He did with all the other festival dates in Leviticus 23.

One man suggested that counting from a fixed date is still counting. Yes, that is true. But if one does that, the count only has to be done once in all of history, and Pentecost's location is found forever. The man's suggestion is similar to interpreting that the command to eat unleavened bread during the Days of Unleavened Bread no longer applies because the Israelites did it when they first came out of Egypt! Even as unleavened bread must be eaten each year, the clear implication from Leviticus 23 is that God wants us to count to Pentecost afresh each year.

God wants us to count to Pentecost year-by-year beginning with the day following a Sabbath whose date changes from year to year. This can only be the weekly Sabbath that falls on or between the two holy days during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The starting point has been located. Even though the count does not actually begin with the Sabbath, the Sabbath's location is of primary importance, not the day after. The day after would never be located without first locating the correct Sabbath.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 03 Mar 2020, 10:05 pm

Hebrews 13:5
(5) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
New King James Version   

Consider the last phrase in this verse: "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." According to Adam Clarke, this verse is peculiarly emphatic in that this short sentence contains five negatives, making a literal translation scarcely possible. However, it would run something like this: "No, I will not leave you. No, neither will I not utterly forsake you." If we had to write that into English, it says: "I will never, never, never, never, NEVER leave you." What an exhortation! What a promise from the great God! "I will NEVER leave you!"

"Get off your duff," God is telling these people, "and get to work! Throw off your apathy. Do the things that need to be done." With all the bad things going on in the church and the world, some of us may feel "punch drunk"—having to hang on, just keep on going. However, God wants us to take the time to somehow readjust our focus. This is no time to drop the ball. We have a wonderful promise that He will never leave us. Christ is alive, and He loves us. It is His will that we be in His Kingdom. He wants to make the most of us that He possibly can.

So be patient! Guard against being emotionally drawn to insignificant things. Every single one of us has a part in this drama unfolding on earth. Men come and go, but Jesus Christ is the real Leader, and He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." He is permanent. His preeminence and leadership are forever. What is more, He is faithful in following the patterns that He has established in His Word.

Take heart! Fight the problems that arise. Do not give into the apathy that the world induces. Do not accept the easy deliverance, which the carnal mind and this world offer. God will help, as only He can. And when one's problems are over, we can say, "I didn't do it. The Lord is my Helper."

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 02 Mar 2020, 8:06 pm

Proverbs 8:13
(13) The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.

New King James Version   

In II Corinthians, Paul stresses the need for believers to separate themselves from what defiles—evil. His concluding instruction is that the fear of God is the means by which we accomplish this perfecting of holiness:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." 'I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the LORD Almighty." Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

We who believe in Christ's name, who have received Him, have been given the right—the authority—to become children of God (John 1:12). If we, as Paul instructs, separate ourselves from what is unclean, we will be His sons and daughters. Children resemble their parents, and one way that we learn to resemble God is by loving the things that He loves and hating the things that He hates. God hates those things that harm the life and liveliness of His current and future children. As we grow in His image, we should also hate what is evil. That is one way that we fear and respect Him.

The more we fear and reverence the holiness of God, the more we grasp our own flaws and defilement. This, in turn, causes us to hate the evil that we find within ourselves (Matthew 5:3-4, 6) and to despise the elements of our nature that would make us miserable or that would cause misery in others if they were allowed to continue forever.

Yet, identifying those things is impossible without allowing the light of truth to shine into our lives. That light comes through knowing God and Jesus Christ. Knowing Them helps us to develop the proper fear of God, and at the same time it helps us to begin to see, by contrast, what things in us cause harm to life and liveliness.

— David C. Grabbe
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Post  Admin on Mon 02 Mar 2020, 12:38 am

Ecclesiastes 4:5
(5) The fool folds his hands
And consumes his own flesh.

New King James Version   

Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 records Solomon's analysis of four types of workers. The first he simply labels the “skillful” worker. We might better call this person a skillful workaholic.

The second worker, described in verse 5, is at the other end of the work spectrum: He is the lazybones. As the book of Proverbs shows, Solomon has no sympathy for the lazy person. For instance, Proverbs 24:30-34 reveals a major flaw in the lazy worker's character:

I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.

As he describes it, laziness is a slow, comfortable path to self-destruction. How does this apply to our relationship with God? Laziness toward the things of God will kill us through slow, spiritual suicide! It may be comfortable to “sleep in” or to justify not doing spiritual works, but what laziness produces is not pleasant to experience.

Solomon paints a picture of complacency, and its end is unwitting self-destruction. It reveals much deeper damage than simply wasting a person's material resources, for his idleness is eating away not only at what he has, but more importantly, at what he is. It erodes his self-control and grasp of reality.

Therefore, we must discipline ourselves to work through Bible study and obedience to build our relationship with God. What are we truly losing when we neglect this? What does it take to live comfortably? In this culture, it is money. But laziness produces poverty—that is its fruit whether it concerns material or spiritual things. Paul writes, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10). Spiritually, then, we can take that to mean that he will not eat at God's table!

Comparing the first two men, Solomon shows the industrious man motivated by competition, while the lazy man is motivated by his desire for personal pleasure. In the end, both extremes are destructive vanities.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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