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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE - Page 7 Empty Re: BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

Post  Admin on Tue 28 Apr 2020, 8:34 pm

Exodus 16:23
(23) Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD has said: "Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.""
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

God has commanded that we do our heavy cooking—roasting, baking, boiling, broiling—on the day before the Sabbath. The command to do this is clear. It is interesting to think about how frequently men think that "what God says" does not really apply to them or that it does not matter. What they are doing is presuming to add or subtract from His Word.

God said that He was going to give Israel a test (Exodus 16:4). The test dealt with keeping the fourth commandment, the Sabbath. He wanted to see whether they would obey Him. He then commanded them to prepare for it, so that they could pass the test!

Does God mean what He says? He is serious enough about our keeping of the Sabbath that He added an additional commandment to make sure that we are prepared to keep it and thus pass the test. The test, then, is not whether we know about the Sabbath but how we keep it. To keep the Sabbath, we must prepare for it.

Whether or not we will live by God's Word depends upon our faith because, in reality, the test is of our faith. It tests whether we believe what God says. If we are depending only upon our eyes—our senses—we are quite limited. There are things we cannot see or hear that are very important to God. By appearance, the Sabbath is no different from any other day of the week. This means everybody is confronted by a test of faith in keeping it, and preparation is a key to keeping it properly.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 27 Apr 2020, 5:36 pm

Hebrews 10:24-25
(24) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, (25) not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

The New Testament stresses that Christians need the fellowship of others of like mind. An identifying mark of the true church is that the members have love for one another (John 13:35). Indeed, one of the criteria by which Christ will judge us is how we treat our brethren in the church (Matthew 25:31-46). How can we love and serve one another if we do not fellowship with and get to know each other?

God has given us ample instruction regarding how we should relate to other Christians. It is His purpose to teach us how to get along with each other so we can teach others about these things in the Millennium. We are to be unselfish and concerned for the needs of others (Philippians 2:4). God wants us to learn patience and forgiveness (Colossians 3:13), striving to be "kindly affectionate," humble, and self-effacing in our dealings with one another (Romans 12:10). We should be giving and hospitable to our brethren (verse 13).

The New Testament is replete with various admonitions on how we should interact with our brothers and sisters in the church. Obviously, God views our interaction with other Christians as vital to our training to become members of the God Family and qualifying for a position in His Kingdom. He wants us to develop interpersonal skills that equip us to deal with occasional differences of opinion and offenses.

Our fellowship should be a source of encouragement to one another. We should use this time to show love to our brethren and to motivate them to perform acts of kindness and service for others. All of these exhortations show a clear need for us to be part of an organization of God's people. God's Sabbath service is like a weekly training school for Christians. The spiritual food that God's true ministers prepare for us is vitally important for our spiritual growth and development. In discussing the relationship of the ministry to the church member, Paul explains that the ministry is given

for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-13)

The interaction that we have with one another when we fellowship at church services helps us to develop the fruit of God's Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul shows that the church is truly Christ's body, and like the human body, each part depends upon the other parts.

— Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
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Post  Admin on Sun 26 Apr 2020, 9:23 pm

Ephesians 4:28
(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.
New King James Version   

God's intention is clear. We are to gain property and possessions by honest work and/or inheritance from those who have the right to give them. We must come into possession of things in a way God approves.

The verb "labor" indicates exertion to the point of exhaustion. In addition, Paul admonishes us not merely to work to satisfy our personal needs and desires, but also to be able to give freely any excess to others in need. The admonition implies distributing the excess personally rather than indirectly through an agency. He adds in Acts 20:35, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Stealing is totally against the grain of God's way of life. Our God is a working, creating God (John 5:17), and we cannot be in His image if we are gaining possessions through stealing. In the spirit of God's law, a person not only steals by taking another's possessions, but also by refusing to work in order to share and give to others in need.

This commandment does not reach its fullest expression until the ninth and tenth are added to it. Stealing frequently has its genesis in a desire to have something one has no money to purchase, or the unwillingness to work patiently until one does. Deception then enters. A person will try to acquire a desired possession in such a way that others will think he procured it honorably. We can stop this sin at any point in the process, but few make any effort to restrain their lust, deceit, and itching fingers.

Robert Kahn was correct in saying, "There are a hundred ways to steal but only one way to be honest." In order not to steal, we must be scrupulously honest. What good is it if we are one-half or three-quarters honest? What if God was honest with us only part of the time? Could we trust Him? Can others really trust us if we are only partially honest? Do we lock our doors because we trust everybody? Thievery creates distrust, fear, and suspicion, destabilizing institutions and communities.

The reason we should refrain from stealing is not just to avoid sinning. This in itself is very good, but scrupulous honesty produces integrity, wholeness. Such integrity enables us to live confidently before God and man. The apostle John writes in I John 3:18-19: "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." Personal integrity is a major source of positive, confident living.

A conscience can be either a good or bad guide because it is educated by an individual's experiences. Practicing scrupulous honesty builds character and educates the conscience in the right direction so that it will send the right prompting at the right time. We cannot allow ourselves room to rationalize stealing. We must be scrupulously honest always, or our character will descend on a path of degeneracy.

There are hundreds of ways to steal, and dozens of excuses for stealing, but only one way and one reason and one law of integrity. That way is honor, that reason is a clear conscience, and that law is God's. He says, "You shall not steal." Never. In any way. From any one.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 25 Apr 2020, 9:57 pm

Exodus 20:15
(15) "You shall not steal.

New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

By itself, the command seems clear enough, but it has important ramifications to life. It affirms God's mind regarding a right Americans may take for granted because we live with this right without thinking about it very much—until someone steals from us. This commandment is God's affirmation that every human being has the right to private property and that others have no right granted by God to take that property from them without lawful permission.

In contrast, communists tell the world that owning property is theft. In other words, everything belongs to everybody! Not so by a long shot. The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness (Psalm 24:1), and He gives it to whoever He pleases. In addition, He extends the right to all men to work lawfully to pursue ownership of their own private property. Once we understand this commandment, it removes all doubt that communism, in which all property is actually owned collectively by the state, is a form of government that does not have God's approval.

In addition to affirming the right to own property, this commandment, in its spirit, also covers the principle of generosity more directly than any other, and it does this by condemning its opposite. From this commandment therefore arises the principles of the give and get ways of living life. Which will we follow in our lives?

This commandment covers much more than mere thievery. It includes deliberate and accidental damage done to another's property, as well as fraudulent retention of it through carelessness or indifference. It also delves into the questions of whether wealth was acquired fairly in business and whether people are getting a fair share of the good things of life. In addition, it poses the question: Is the rich man wealthy due to merit, or have the rules of the game been cleverly, avariciously, and unlawfully tilted in his favor so that the few privileged can continuously steal from the powerless? This latter principle is a central theme of the book of Amos, showing that abuse of this commandment is a major reason God's wrath is falling on the people of Israel.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 24 Apr 2020, 12:52 pm

Exodus 32:1-6
(1) Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." (2) And Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." (3) So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. (4) And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" (5) So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD." (6) Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

  Revelation 2:4-5
(4) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (5) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
New King James Version   Change Bible versions

In Exodus 32:1-6 is an example of what happens when a leader goes away and does not return within the expected time. It provides a clear-cut example of what was happening to the Ephesian church (Revelation 2:4-5).

Moses went up Mount Sinai; Christ went up to Mount Zion in heaven. "What has become of him?" the people asked. "We do not know what has happened to him! He is up there. He is supposed to return, but He has not returned according to our expectations."

What do the Israelites decide to do? They began looking to the world for a solution, in this case to Egypt. In the Ephesians' case, it was the world around Ephesus, the world of Asia Minor. They looked to the culture to gratify them, and they began to drift in that direction.

Moses' return was delayed longer than the people thought that he should have been gone, so their affections pulled their attention elsewhere. The same happened to the Ephesians, only it took a lot longer because of the Spirit of God in them. The people in Exodus did not have the Spirit of God, yet the people in Ephesus—in the church—did have God's Spirit, so what took place very quickly in the book of Exodus was dragged out over a much longer period in the first-century church. The Ephesian's affections were taking them back into the world, and they began to follow the world's ways once again.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 23 Apr 2020, 8:43 pm

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   

God wants us to honor our parents because the family is the basic building block of His Kingdom. God describes the Kingdom in family terms. He is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and the church is the Son's bride. We are called sons, daughters, and children of the Kingdom. We are created and being created as sons in His image. God also uses terms like "beget," "born," and "grow up."

Immediately after creating Adam and Eve and announcing He was creating them in His image (Genesis 1:26), God established the first institution: the family through marriage. The conclusion is inescapable. The family would play a major role in creating man in God's image. Regarding marriage, family, and divorce, Malachi 2:15 says:

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring! Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

The godly principles learned and the character built within the human family are, upon conversion, transferable into the spiritual family relationship in the Kingdom of God. Parents are His representatives, and we honor and revere the creative majesty and power of God when we keep this commandment. God expects whatever we learned from honoring our parents to transfer into our relationship with Him.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 22 Apr 2020, 1:24 pm

2 Corinthians 2:6-8
(6) This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, (7) so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. (8) Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

When put together with II Corinthians 2:11, Paul is saying that a godly sorrow unto repentance can actually give Satan the opportunity to turn a person's feelings about his sin into an abnormal self-pity, which will destroy that despairing person's relationship with the church and with God. He can turn such a person into a bitter cynic. The Devil is that clever.

It does not end there. In addition, he can turn the righteous indignation of those who are offended by another's sin into bitter self-righteousness if they do not forgive and forget and move on. He gets people going and coming unless they are aware that he can turn something good into a ploy to destroy a person's relationship with God and the church.

These are not the only weapons that Satan has in his arsenal. Remember, we are involved in a war, and a general will employ every kind of ploy, device, tool, or contrivance to rout the enemy. He will use decoys, infiltration, subversion, propaganda, rumors, misleading leaks of information, and sometimes a frontal attack with diversions on the flanks.

Satan is no different. However, God makes sure to warn us of his subtlety. The Devil creates distractions and illusions to deflect us from reaching our goal. He has the ability to make things that are in God's purpose unimportant (for instance, material things or vanity) seem important, while eternal, spiritual things he makes seem unimportant, unnecessary, and unrealistic.

Knowledge of what he is like would be unnecessary if he could not affect us after baptism. Despite his earlier defeat at the hand of God as well as his defeat by our David, Jesus Christ, he is still seeking to destroy God. Even when he fails at that, he still wants to destroy God's purpose of having us inherit His Kingdom.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 21 Apr 2020, 11:52 pm

Proverbs 18:9
(9) He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.

New King James Version   

Could we picture ourselves strapping on a bomb under our coats, walking into a crowded shopping mall, and blowing ourselves to smithereens along with several hundred innocent victims? Could we imagine ourselves as hostage takers, poised with a scimitar to decapitate a helpless prisoner? Could we picture ourselves cowardly donning ski masks and kidnapping women and children to use as human shields to accomplish our sinister objectives?

Most of us would loathe having to perform what these disgusting images portray, yet amazingly, we may have unwittingly brought such a judgment upon ourselves. Proverbs 18:9 reveals that the slothful or lazy man "is a brother to him who is a great destroyer." In other words, the sluggard or lackadaisical person is just as culpable in the act of destruction as one who ignites a car bomb.

The word "destroyer" in this scripture is from the Hebrew mashchiyth (Strong's #4889) whose verb, shachath (Strong's #7843), denotes "to corrupt, spoil, ruin, mar, destroy." This verb appears 150 times in the Old Testament, and mashchiyth, twelve times, including describing the angel of death, "the destroyer," that God sent to devastate Egypt's firstborn (Exodus 12:23).

Sin and evil have an active and a passive component, often referred to as "sins of commission" and "sins of omission." Interestingly, the first two of the capital sins listed in Revelation 21:8, "cowardly" and "unbelieving," are sins of omission calling for execution in the Lake of Fire. Likewise, Jesus warns in Luke 9:61 of the person who begins the conversion process but then reconsiders: "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

As much as we may think to the contrary, passivity and neglect can destroy as thoroughly as active terrorism or militant aggression.

— David F. Maas
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Post  Admin on Mon 20 Apr 2020, 6:30 pm

  Hebrews 10:26-27
(26) For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version


The first thing to note in Hebrews 10:26-27 is the word "sin." Paul is not speaking of sin in general but the specific sin of apostasy from the faith that was once known and professed. The apostasy he has in mind is not so much an act but a state brought on by many individual attitudes and sins, reproducing the original, carnal antagonism a person has toward God before conversion.


Some commentaries insist that the Authorized Version is not quite correct in translating the term in verse 26 as "willfully." These argue that the Greek word, hekousios, will not permit this translation. It appears only one other time, in I Peter 5:2, where it is translated as "willingly." The commentators insist that it should be rendered "willingly" in Hebrews 10:26.


The American Heritage College Dictionary supports their conclusion. To do something willfully is to do it purposely or deliberately. The commentators say all sin is done purposely because human nature is set up to do so, even though weakness, ignorance, or deception may be involved as well. To do a thing willingly is to be disposed, inclined, or prepared to do it. Its synonyms are "readily," "eagerly," "compliantly," "ungrudgingly," "voluntarily," and "volitionally." This sense is contained in the context because, by the time a person reaches the apostate stage in his backward slide, where he has forsaken God and His way, he has no resistance to sin.


The sinner is deliberately, even eagerly, determined to abandon Christ, to turn away from God and His way, having completely become an enemy once again. He sins with barely a second thought, if with any thought at all. He sins automatically, as there is none of God's Spirit left to constrain him. His conscience is totally defiled; he has forsaken God.


Who is in danger of committing this sin? All who have made a profession of faith in Christ but are now neglecting their salvation.


The message of Hebrews is that it does not have to be this way. If the person takes heed and stirs himself awake, if he truly seeks to overcome and grow once again, if he returns to being a living sacrifice and seeking to glorify God, if he truly denies himself and takes up his cross, if he keeps God's commandments to live life as a Christian, he will not apostatize.


He may fall back from time to time, but as long as he repents and honestly seeks God when sin occurs in his life, the sin is readily forgiven. I John 1:9 confidently proclaims, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." John 14:23 assures us that as long as we are keeping His Word, we are safe.


Hebrews 12:5-10 explains that God is faithfully working in our behalf, even chastening us if He sees fit, to get us turned around and headed again in the right direction and attitude. He does this faithfully because He does not want to lose us. Christ died for each child of God, thus each child He loves - and He loves them all - represents a substantial investment. Christ did not die in vain for anybody. In Hebrews 13:5, He charges us with the task of putting to work His promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."



— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 19 Apr 2020, 8:05 pm

Matthew 11:12
(12) And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

  Luke 16:16
(16) "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
New King James Version   Change Bible versions

Before plunging into what Jesus is saying in these verses, it is helpful to consider what He cannot be saying if Scripture is to remain unbroken (John 10:35). In the various translations and commentaries of these verses, certain prejudices influence how scholars interpret them. The New King Jamestranslators chose the phrase "everyone is pressing into it," despite the Greek just barely supporting it. Other translations at least acknowledge the forcefulness inherent within the Greek words, rendering it as "everyone strives violently to go in" (The Amplified Bible; emphasis ours throughout) or "everyone forces his way into it" (English Standard Version). These all suggest the idea that the gospel message was so popular that everyone who heard it was beating down the doors of the Kingdom, as it were. They also contain the idea that everyone could enter the Kingdom at that time.

But both of those ideas are false.

It was not possible for everyone who heard the gospel to enter the Kingdom, no matter how vigorously one might try, and that is true even now. Only those whom God draws to the Son can enter the Kingdom (John 6:44). Matthew 16:17 shows that only by an act of the Father did Peter recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. Acts 13:48 says specifically that "as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed," indicating that those who have not yet been appointed to eternal life did not (and cannot) believe.

The idea that everyone hearing the gospel of the Kingdom is pushing to get in completely overlooks the specificity of God's calling and election (Romans 8:30) and the fact that He is working with only a few during this age, the firstfruits of His spiritual harvest. A person cannot truly seek the Kingdom or its King until God changes something in his mind (John 5:39-40), and simply hearing the words of the gospel does not necessarily accomplish that.

— David C. Grabbe
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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Apr 2020, 6:01 pm

Genesis 9:12-17
(12) And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: (13) I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. (14) It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; (15) and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. (16) The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (17) And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

  Revelation 10:1
(1) I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
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The first time the Bible uses a word or concept frequently sets the stage for how God inspired the human writers to use it throughout the rest of His Word, and clouds are no exception. We find clouds first described immediately after the Flood, where they are linked to the sign of the rainbow and God's everlasting promise that He will never again flood the earth.

Today, we are far removed from the events of the Flood, so it may be difficult to grasp what it and its aftermath were like—every man, woman, and child dead, except Noah and his family. From the genealogies, we know that humanity had been on the earth about a millennia and a half, and before the Flood, people lived much longer lives and produced numerous children. Only God, and perhaps the angelic host, knows how many millions or billions of people that cataclysm destroyed.

God forcefully and deliberately ended that age. Yet, lest we think that all is hopeless and that another worldwide catastrophe could wipe out all life on the planet, God gives us this promise, repeating it several times: He will not destroy all flesh again.

Of course, we know from many verses that the destruction at the end of this age will involve fire rather than another worldwide flood. But this does not nullify God's promise. The point remains that God will not destroy all flesh by any means, whether by flood or by fire.

Genesis 9:12-17 indicates that the rainbow is the sign of that promise, but they also show that the setting and the context of that promise is the clouds. In the promise we see elements of God's faithfulness, but the backdrop is God's mercy in not destroying all of mankind.

An interesting parallel to this appears in the book of Revelation. Genesis and Revelation mirror each other in many ways; frequently, when a matter is introduced in Genesis, it is resolved or concluded in some way in Revelation. As bookends of the Bible, they contain many of the same themes. Notice what John describes in Revelation 10:1:

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on [H]is head, [H]is face was like the sun, and [H]is feet like pillars of fire.

Studying into this chapter makes plain that this Being is no mere angel, but it is in fact Jesus Christ. In the sequence of events, this chapter might be called “the beginning of the end” because it shows the mystery of God being finished and the point at which there would be no more delay in everything reaching its conclusion.

Here at the end, John's vision pictures Jesus with a rainbow, showing that He has not forgotten His promise to mankind. Even as He is about to unleash tremendous destruction on rebellious humanity, the sign of His promise not to destroy everyone is literally at the top of His head. Notice that He is also clothed with a cloud. It is covering Him, allowing only the brightness of His face and the fiery brilliance of His feet to show.

To understand the significance of this cloud, consider what a cloud is and does. By way of definition, a cloud is “a visible mass of droplets of water or frozen crystals, suspended in the atmosphere.” Sometimes clouds bring rain, which can be either a blessing or a curse depending on the circumstances, but other times they pass by without sharing a drop. Nevertheless, there is one thing a cloud will always do, if it has any size at all: It will impede light, such as the light of the sun or the moon. Since it is clothing Jesus Christ, this cloud filters some of His breathtaking glorious radiance. This covering is critical because the undimmed brightness of a God-being is lethal to mankind. Jesus Christ will be returning in glory, and that awesome glory has a terrible, lethal effect on sinful flesh.

— David C. Grabbe
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Post  Admin on Thu 16 Apr 2020, 11:27 pm

Romans 12:17-20
(17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (19) Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. (20) Therefore " If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
  Romans 13:8-10
(8) 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.

  1 Peter 3:8-9
(8) Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; (9) not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
New King James Version   Change Bible versions

Paul's counsel to the congregation in Rome (Romans 12:17-20; 13:8-10) is clearly in line with what Jesus taught. He insists that we must never allow vindictiveness, the desire to get even with someone for a suffered wrong, to drive us.

In the same vein, Peter taught that we must not repay evil with evil, insult with insult, but we must bless (I Peter 3:8-9). Why are we called to react this way? Because if we want to be in God's Kingdom, it can only happen without the spirit of murder dwelling in us, and those evil retaliations are the spirit of murder. We are not to take vengeance because God has retained that responsibility to Himself. Is that not the way it should be? Only He fully knows and understands every facet of the circumstances and can judge perfectly. By the way, Paul addresses the issue of retaliation four times in Romans 12, which begins by stating that we are to be living sacrifices and not to conform to this world's ways.

The picture should be clear. Somebody must be willing to do this if there will be peace. Jesus set the example: He, refusing to strike back, died for the entire world. Christ's non-retaliatory remedy is ultimately for everybody's benefit, but until He returns, the standards He set can be met and lived only by those who, like Jesus, have the Spirit of God, are living by faith, and are enabled to keep God's ways by God Himself.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 14 Apr 2020, 9:27 pm

Exodus 23:22-24
(22) But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. (23) For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. (24) You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.

  Exodus 23:27-33
(27) "I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. (28) And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. (29) I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. (30) Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. (31) And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. (32) You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. (33) They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."
New King James Version   

God fully intended for Israel to go to war and drive out the inhabitants of the Promised Land. God spoke this on the heels of giving the Ten Commandments and the terms of the covenant. These instructions, then, were spoken on the same occasion that God said, “Thou shalt not kill,” or to be more precise, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13, NKJV).

At first glance, it may appear that God would do all of the work: “I will cut them off”; “I will send My fear before you”; “I will cause confusion”; “I will send hornets”; “I will drive them out.” However, verse 31 also shows that God fully intended that Israel play a part: “I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.” God is not directing the Israelites to escort a friendly populace gently out of their territory. The literal translation says that Israel should cast them out. Strength of arms would be required.

God did not promise to change their nature; these carnal people would fiercely resist and defend their land and their religion. Israel would have a fight on their hands—which God fully intended. He would be leading the fight against the inhabitants, which is why Israel would prevail. However, they were still responsible for cleansing the land of the Canaanites and other peoples.

Verse 22 (“if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak”) shows that God's promises are conditional, but it is important to understand exactly what the conditions were. If Israel were obedient, God would be an enemy to their enemies. The implication is not that if Israel disobeyed they would have to go to war, but rather that, if Israel disobeyed, they would have a much harder time when they did go to war. But whether or not they were faithful, Israel was still responsible for removing the paganism and pagans from the land.

Verse 33 stipulates that the inhabitants shall not dwell in the land. This was not conditional on Israel's obedience—this was God's edict to His people so they would understand their responsibility. But if the Israelites were faithful, they would have God on their side, blessing their efforts. It is the same way with us: God gives us responsibilities, and if we are faithful to Him, He supplies the help we need to carry them out.

It was Israel's responsibility, then, to marshal an army to subjugate the people of the land. This is seen in Numbers 1, which takes place while Israel is still at Sinai about one year later. In between Exodus 23 and Numbers 1, the Israelites had transgressed with the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1-35). Yet, even after their unfaithfulness, God still says twice that He would drive out the inhabitants (Exodus 33:2; 34:11).

Therefore, Israel's unfaithfulness did not nullify God's promise. Instead, Numbers 1 records God telling Moses to take a census and determine the number of men who were able to go to war. Fourteen times in that one chapter God repeats the instruction to number the men who were able to “go to war”—even though He had just recently confirmed His promise to fight on their behalf! God would be driving out the inhabitants, but He was also preparing the Israelites to engage the enemy. Clearly, it was still God's intent that Israel do its part within the fight.

— David C. Grabbe
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Post  Admin on Mon 13 Apr 2020, 5:10 pm

1 Corinthians 5:1-2
(1) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father's wife! (2) And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

  1 Corinthians 5:6
(6) Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
New King James Version   

Did the fornicator think that his singular actions were affecting the whole congregation? Not only did he not think so, but neither did the whole congregation! None of them, it seems, understood how his sin was having a damaging effect upon them!

We, however, must begin to think in this way. We are one body, and what each part does and how he does it affects the efficiency, effectiveness, and purity of the whole. In Corinth it played a major role in puffing up, confusing, and dividing the congregation—jeopardizing the spiritual health of all!

This is so important that God includes it in the Ten Commandments! "You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the LORD you God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me" (Exodus 20:5). God warns that evil will reach out, spread and afflict unborn generations. The effects of drugs, smoking, alcohol, medicines, x-rays, and poor diets upon the unborn are well known. However, we often fail to think of the effect of example. Do we care what we pass on to our children? Remember, it will very likely increase.

But notice the other side of this principle as revealed in the same commandment: ". . . but showing mercy to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (verse 6). In His mercy God has provided that the good we do goes a long, long way—almost immeasurably farther than our evil deeds. God is sovereign over His creation, actively participating in stopping evil before it destroys us. At the same time, He is active in producing good in us toward His Kingdom.

Why does God tell us so much about the kings of Israel and Judah? One reason is that each king reflected the attitudes and conduct of the entire nation, so He can describe the whole nation in microcosm. An equally important reason is to show that the nation reflected its leadership. If the nation was led by a David, Hezekiah, or Josiah, things went well. If the leadership fell to an Ahab or Manasseh, the country degenerated quickly.

God is showing that there is a ripple effect within the nation; the moral and spiritual quality of its leadership radiates out toward the people (Proverbs 29:2). Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man." Parents need to take note of this. What kind of ripple effect is influencing your children?

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 12 Apr 2020, 12:04 am

1 Chronicles 29:10-16
(10) Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said:
"Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. (11) Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all. (12) Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all. (13) "Now therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise Your glorious name. (14) But who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?
For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You. (15) For we are aliens and pilgrims before You,
As were all our fathers;
Our days on earth are as a shadow,
And without hope. (16) "O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own.
New King James Version   

This is part of King David's final prayer of thanksgiving, a portion of his benediction preceding the building of the Temple, as he had made provision for it so that Solomon could begin construction with everything in order.

The words should be meaningful, coming to us from the heart of one we admire, of whom even God said was a man after His own heart. It schools us in how David felt about God. It touches on His greatness, power, glory, majesty, rulership, headship, and strength. How puny we are by comparison! We are nothing, aliens and pilgrims in a world that gives us no recognition. Compared to His, our days are but a shadow, and despite this, we are able to make an offering to Him because He has given us all we have.

Who is this One to whom we pray, calling Him "Father," "Lord," or "God"? Who is this One whom we refer to as our Creator, Healer, Savior, or Sustainer? Who is the One who is referred to as the Almighty Ruler, Life-giver, and Forgiver of our sins?

He is the sovereign Ruler of all that He has created. The term "sovereignty" first speaks of supremacy of authority, but with the exception of personal evil, God reveals Himself in His Word as supreme in every aspect of life. He is the Most High. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth; none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will. Thus, Psalm 115:3 asserts, "But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

Can we accept this? Is this merely a listing of grandiose titles of One who is great in His being but distant and remote in the actual operations of our lives? Do we relate to Him merely as most people in this world do, or is His greatness truly personal to us, as it was to David, because we know Him personally?

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 10 Apr 2020, 1:00 pm

Psalm 111:9-10
(9) He has sent redemption to His people;
He has commanded His covenant forever:
Holy and awesome is His name. (10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever.

New King James Version  

Forever does not always mean "without end" in biblical usage, but it does here. Sometimes forever means "as long as conditions exist." Here, we are talking about a covenant, commandments, and about righteousness that endure forever (verses 3, 8-10—and strongly implied in verses 5 and 7). In six out of ten verses, various words indicate "time without end" and reinforce "forever and ever."

The covenant that he is talking about is the New Covenant, the one that will endure forever—not the Old Covenant. In Hebrews 8, the Old Covenant is declared to be obsolete! The important point is that God's commandments are connected to the covenant that will last forever. The commandments are definitely not done away with the coming of the New Covenant. In this Psalm—likely written during the time of Ezra—God says that His commandments are not done away with the coming of a covenant that will last forever.

However, the notion in Protestantism is that, since the Old Covenant is done away with, then God's law is also done away with. So, Protestant theologians decisively deal with the Old Covenant and the law of God in one fell swoop, but it is not correct. It does neatly get God's law out of the way, revealing an attitude behind their theology.

Their teaching continues by stating that a reason it had to be done away is that God's law is too difficult to keep—that it is harsh and enslaving. They leave one with the definite impression that the reason it did not work - the fault, the flaw in the whole mix—was God! Human nature is certainly agreeable to this because it is ever willing to shift the blame elsewhere to justify its conduct.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 09 Apr 2020, 11:46 pm

2 Peter 3:8-9
(8) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
New King James Version   

Peter teaches that we do not look at time in the same way that God does. We are finite beings, bound by time, but God is not. As a result, our perspective is naturally short-sighted, while God keeps a long-range view beyond our ability to comprehend. Remember, these verses appear in the context of Christ's return, so what the Father and the Son consider to be a short time before the Kingdom is established can seem like an eternity to us—or as if He delays His coming.

The apostle also indicates Christ's longsuffering as a reason that the end has not yet come. In our opinion, He should have returned already and put a stop to all the world's wrongs. However, His longsuffering is not due to slowness or tardiness, as the carnally-minded think. Rather, His longsuffering is a gift to us, so that we do not have to perish in His judgment.

Our focus tends to be on how bad the world is getting, yet Peter subtly draws us back to our own spiritual condition. Jesus is longsuffering toward us so that we have ample time to repent, not in the sense of initial conversion, but to turn fully and have our hearts completely changed. In its fullest sense, repentance is not complete until we are finally in His image.

Even though we may be frustrated that we do not see more end-time prophecies coming to pass, Peter explains it as a blessing to us because it means that Christ will not wrap things up before we have had a full and complete opportunity to repent. We can be thankful for God's timetable, not because it means we have more time to flirt with this world, but because He is providing everything we need to follow our salvation to its conclusion, including the time.

— David C. Grabbe
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Post  Admin on Wed 08 Apr 2020, 7:22 pm

John 15:13-15
(13) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (14) You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (15) No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
New King James Version   

John 15:13-15 presents us with an interesting and exciting expansion of our place within our relationship with Christ. Redemption, at first glance, elevates us from being a slave of unrighteousness and Satan to being a slave of righteousness and Jesus Christ. Yet, here Christ elevates our calling to an almost unimaginable height—intimate friendship with Him and the Father.

In many cases, our understanding and therefore our appreciation of this falls short of what it should be. Few or none of us have known either the depths of actual, physical slavery to another individual or the heights of walking the halls of power. In ancient Rome, the friends of the Caesar had greater access to him than his governmental counselors and military advisors. History says they had access to him at all times, even into his bedchambers.

A slave would never know such a relationship. A slave never receives a reason for the work assigned him; he simply must do it because he has no other choice. However, a friend of Christ is a confidant of the One in power, who shares the knowledge of His purpose with him. Then the friend voluntarily adopts it as his own, perhaps for no other reason than the basis of their friendship.

We do not follow Christ simply because of some chance impulse. We have been specifically chosen, summoned by Him to be His friend! Here is our obligation set boldly and clearly before us: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give it you" (John 15:16). We have been specifically appointed, ordained, placed in this unique relationship that we may produce the right things in life.

At first, our obligation rests upon the fact of Jesus giving Himself as the price of our spiritual redemption from slavery and death. If we have any sense at all—any discernment of what He has rescued us from and what He has given us the opportunity to possess—our sense of gratitude should explode in zeal and motivate us to loyalty because we owe Him so much!

Our sense of obligation is further built and strengthened by the knowledge that we have been specifically summoned and appointed to share in an intimate, loving, family relationship and friendship that He sustains through His office as High Priest. If we have any sense of gratitude for His work in intervening, leading, guiding, correcting, and perfecting our character so that we produce much fruit and love one another, our sense of obligation will be further stirred to ensure that we do not let Him down in any area of life. We will always strive to glorify Him.

This motivational factor is largely dependent upon feeling—but not the sickeningly sweet sentimentality of some of this world's Christianity. This feeling is derived from a clear understanding of what has been done and continues to be done in our behalf. This deep, heartfelt, and comprehending feeling arises in the minds of people who have had firsthand experience with the suffering that sin and death bring. They know in their heart of hearts that they are guilty of rebellion against this wonderful Personality who created us, died for us, and continues to be our friend through thick and thin. They know He greatly desires that friendship to continue for all eternity because He is changing us to be like Him and be one with Him.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 07 Apr 2020, 7:33 pm

Romans 14:22-23
(22) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (23) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
New King James Version   

Paul is dealing with a clash of values within an individual. Confronting a situation in which two distinctly different moral or ethical alternatives exist can produce puzzlement and fear. Such a situation has the potential to leave a person conscience-stricken after doing what he permits himself to do.

If there were no differences between what a person is permitted to do and what he actually does, there would be no self-doubt or self-condemnation to be concerned about. However, the reality is that differences arise. This often occurs when the individual has learned a value in his past, but he is challenged by a different value in the present. This leads to a number of overlapping questions that we need to consider:

» What is the source of what we permit ourselves to do?

» Where did our values originate?

» Where did we form our values?

» Are we sure we are right even when we are not conscience-stricken? This last question is necessary because people can be absolutely wrong while sincerely thinking that they are right.

We should ask these questions of ourselves in areas such as business ethics, education, entertainment, athletics, fashion, diet, child-training, and marital relations—in other words, the entire framework of life, not just in the obvious areas of morality. Acts 18:25-26 reminds us that Christianity is a way of life, a course of conduct encompassing every aspect of life.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 06 Apr 2020, 9:22 pm

Hebrews 11:27
(27) By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
New King James Version   

This succinct statement illustrates what made the difference between those who succeeded in living by faith and entered the Promised Land and those who left Egypt but died during the pilgrimage: Those who succeeded "saw" God.

This is perhaps the simplest and clearest explanation of the nature of faith in the entire Bible. Hebrews is written to a group of people undergoing severe trials, and the author encourages and counsels them to persevere through them and remain on track for the Kingdom of God. At this point, Moses is the specific illustration of living by faith. In his relationship with God, he is described as being sustained in perseverance as if he literally saw God with His bodily eyes.

Hebrews 11:1 explains, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The author is saying that faith is the confident conviction that, like the foundation of a building, stands under and supports a life lived by faith in the invisible God. This brings up an important question: How can a person live by faith if he does not have sufficient knowledge of the sovereign greatness, closeness, and awesome grace of God? In the mercy that He has already given, God has shown enough of Himself to allow us to begin a relationship with Him. Of course, we need more to come to know Him and fear Him as He desires.

A recent Barna poll reported that over 80% of Americans believe God exists. Yet, how is their level of knowledge about Him affecting their conduct? Clearly, it is not supporting moral living to any great extent. This fact triggers the thought that the great immorality of the American people reveals that they are not very concerned about being answerable to Him. They have heard of Him but do not know Him.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 05 Apr 2020, 10:06 pm

Genesis 6:5-13
(5) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (7) So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.' (8) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (9) This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. (10) And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (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   

At this forbidding juncture, God reveals a spiritual doctrine that is supremely vital to our daily lives and ultimately to our salvation. If we do not grasp this doctrine and set its seriousness firmly in mind, it will throw off our understanding of who God's elect are, and we will greatly undervalue the degree of accountability and appreciation we owe to God for His mercy.

It is appropriate to dig into this doctrine at any time, but it is especially appropriate now because of the nature of the period we are living through. The Bible itself, combined with the daily news reports, indicates the time of Jesus' return is drawing near. Many believe that we are in the beginning stages of what has been called “the crisis at the close.” Consider how similar those pre-Flood times are to our own. As God tells the story in His Word, we are only into the sixth chapter of the first book, and the end of mankind, except for the few who would be spared, was near at hand!

This similarity brings up a critical question for all of us to consider soberly: Who was saved from the devastation of the Flood? Every person did not die in the Flood. We need to think this through because the Flood most definitely came, just as the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, as prophesied by the same unchanging God for our time, will also surely come.

The answer to the critical question is that only those God specifically spared were saved. He specifically names them. God's “grace” is the overall general reason, but the specific aspect of His grace that preserved their lives is that they were sanctified—set apart—for salvation from the Flood.

In both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the root words underlying “salvation” mean the same thing. Both terms mean “given deliverance,” implying prosperity despite impending disaster. In this specific instance, the impending disaster is the prophesied Flood. God's first step in delivering some was to sanctify those He chose, Noah and his family.

Sanctification is of major importance to those of us called into God's church, as I Thessalonians 4:3-5 points out: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like Gentiles who do not know God.” Sanctification (Greek hagiasmos) is the noun form of the verb sanctify, which means “to set apart for God's use, to make distinct from what is common.” Thus, those called into the church are set apart by God, as were Noah and his family, for His glory, for salvation from prophesied disasters, and for becoming like Him.

II Peter 2:5 carries the Flood record further: “[For God] did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing the flood on the world of the ungodly.” Noah and his family faithfully responded, doing what God sanctified them to do. Noah not only built the ark, which became the physical means of their salvation, but its construction gave them the time and opportunity to explain to the world why it needed to be built. Noah preached to mankind of God, of their sins, and of the prophesied certainty of the Flood if the people chose not to repent.

From this example, we must grasp God's intention in His sanctification of us. Noah and his family did not save themselves. Like Noah and his family, we are required to respond faithfully to what God has ordained us to do. We must understand that we are God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), and the responsibilities He assigns are part of His creation of us in His image.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 04 Apr 2020, 7:46 pm

Hebrews 1:1-2
(1) God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, (2) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
New King James Version  

We know the title given to the epistle to the Hebrews is reasonably correct, and Hebrews 1:1-2 provides the internal proof. God sent His prophets to the Hebrew Israelites, including the greatest prophet of all, Jesus Christ. There is no evidence He sent prophets to other nations with any regularity.

However, we must understand that this epistle was not written to Hebrews in general. Like the other epistles, it is directed primarily to Hebrews—Jews or Israelites—who had converted and were fellowshipping in church congregations. Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, and Matthew were all Israelites, as were others converted through them. Note that other apostles did not send their epistles to the world; they sent them to church of God congregations. Paul explains this spiritually, writing in Romans 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” The “Jews” addressed are people with God's Spirit.

The epistle to the Hebrews is inspired, and Christ's words to His church were passed around to all the congregations. This epistle was most certainly not restricted only to Hebrew Christians but was fully intended for all Christians since its instruction is vital to everyone's salvation. Yet, it went first to aid the Hebrews because of what was happening at that time both spiritually and culturally within their nation because of their faith in Jesus as Savior.

The author writes in Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” This verse indicates that the Hebrew recipients were not young in the faith. Acts 8:1 records what was happening immediately after Stephen's martyrdom: “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Hebrews 10:32 reminds the epistle's original recipients about their earlier persecutions: “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings.” We can conclude that the epistle was written to a group of Christians who were not young in the faith.

Hebrews 13:24 adds: “Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you,” giving the impression that the congregation may have been relatively large. It also suggests that the epistle probably went first to the congregation in Jerusalem (Acts 11:22) and then copies were made and sent elsewhere.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 03 Apr 2020, 10:30 pm

Isaiah 58:13-14
(13) "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
(14) Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken."

New King James Version   

Instruction in the Bible as to how to keep the Sabbath is not given in specific detail but in broad principles that cover a multitude of specifics. If we are being led by God's Spirit, we should be able to determine what is right. Maybe not the first time around, maybe not the tenth time around, but eventually, we will see that we are doing something wrong and make a change. Or, if we find out that we have been doing it right, we will probably intensify our efforts to do it better. If we are being led by it, God's Spirit will gently compel us towards the perfection of the One from whom that Spirit is emanating.

How can one call the Sabbath "a delight"? Like everything else in life, we delight in what we recognize as being valuable and in what we do well. Doing something well is fun. Doing something poorly is a burden, and we wish nobody were around to see us do it so poorly. On the other hand, if we do something well, we want to make sure that everybody watches us. This is not a wrong principle because, if we are doing something right, we will be a fitting witness for God.

God has four broad concerns here. First, "to turn your foot away." This has to do primarily with one's overall approach, with one's attitude toward the day, with respect for Sabbath time. In Exodus 3:5, where God tells Moses to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy, God is saying, "Get your dirty shoes off where I am." The same principle is involved here. We must respect the things of God, and the Sabbath is of God. Thus, we should not trample all over His holy Sabbath day.

The Sabbath must be regarded as holy. It is different; it is not common. We must hold it in deep respect—the same kind of respect contained in "the fear of God," the kind of fear that prohibits us from falling on our knees before a statue because it is idolatry, which we do not want to commit because of our reverence for God. We need to have a similar respect toward the Sabbath. This attitude should dominate during this period of time.

Consider that the Sabbath—appointed by law—unites us as a religious organization committed to God. It is "the test commandment," "the sign" that God gave between Him and His people (Exodus 31:13-17). Conversely, the Passover unites us as an organization "under obligation" to God. There is a difference between the two. First comes recognition of obligation, then commitment to obedience. This is why we have to accept the blood of Jesus Christ first. When we do that, we are put under obligation. Every year when we take the Passover, we recommit ourselves to the New Covenant because we are forcefully being made aware of our obligations to the One who died for us. The Sabbath unites us, however, as an organization committed to God, and we show our sense of obligation by our obedience to the Sabbath command.

"Your ways" is another aspect of this. A way is a path or a course leading from one place to another. It is a direction, a manner or method of doing something. It is a code of life, a lifestyle. The problem with mankind's way is its direction. It is self-centered. In this context, "ways" means the path, direction, or manner of speaking or worshipping God. The way is the means of accomplishing our worship.

Many Scriptures contain the word "way" or "path," for instance: "You will show me the path of life [or, the way of life]; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). He is saying that, because God has showed him the path and he now walks in God's way, and because he is in the presence of God and fellowshipping with Him, fullness of joy is being produced. It is a fruit of walking God's way.

A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beasts go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there. (Isaiah 35:8-9)

There is a certain path, a certain way. In this case, he calls it a highway in which those who are close to God will walk. In Isaiah 58, God says, "Take care—pay attention to your way."

Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you shall find rest for your souls." But they said, "We will not walk in it." (Jeremiah 6:16)

Do we want rest? When we are striving to obey God and are walking His way, then we have already been brought into the rest of God. It is a beginning—not the fullness, but it is a beginning! Why? It is producing the right fruit. "My peace I leave with you." "My joy I give to you." God's way will produce the right fruit, and the Sabbath is central to all these things. It is the day that God made for man (Mark 2:27). It is an expanse of time in which He says, "Today, if you will hear My voice" (Psalm 95:7).

Why is God working towards producing faith? Those with faith will submit to and commit their lives to Him. If He can build people's faith, they will believe in Christ and believe His words. They will begin to enter into God's rest. This teaching is throughout the Bible.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 02 Apr 2020, 9:49 pm

Genesis 3:1
(1) Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden"?"
New King James Version   

In this first message to mankind, Satan sows seeds of doubt as to whether God can be trusted. Satan's very first words were, "Has God indeed said. . . ?" Spoken or not, this sentiment that God is untrustworthy, and that His Word is suspect, has been a regular feature in mankind's relationship with God ever since.

The Gnostics were no exception—in fact, they are a prime example. In its most basic sense, Gnosticism is knowing, but its knowledge, while sometimes including the Word of God, does not have it as its foundation. Instead, more than what was contained in Scripture, Gnostics valued what they experienced, what elders told them, or what they learned from "angels," astrology, or chemistry (alchemy). Thus, we see elements of Gnosticism in Galatians: a mixture of "lucky days," to which they ascribed spiritual significance (part of their worship prior to conversion) and a belief, brought in by Judaizers or perhaps even an "angel" (Galatians 1:8), that justification could come by works of the law.

Judaism, though it has its roots in the Old Testament, sees God's Word through the lens of Hellenism (Greek thought) and the traditions of Jewish scholars and teachers through the centuries. The Galatian Christians gave God's Word lip service, but did not depend on it as the source of their beliefs and practices. If they had, they would not have returned to pagan "days, months, seasons, and years," nor believed that justification could ever result from good works—a concept that is read into the Old Testament, but not actually found there.

Similarly, the Colossian Christians were affected by an ascetic form of Gnosticism that included "ordinances" (KJV) or "regulations" (NKJV) that are not found in God's Word but were the commandments and doctrines of men (Colossians 2:20-23), as well as demons, the "basic principles of the world" (Colossians 2:8).

This same distrust of God's Word is readily seen in today's Catholicism and Protestantism. The Catholic Church holds that Scripture is only one of three sources from which its dogma is derived—the other two being divine revelation and the writings and traditions of previous Catholic saints. The Bible, while generally utilized as the source of doctrine, can be easily overridden by the words of a Pope or other theologian, living or dead. Once again, human words and traditions are considered more trustworthy than God's.

In some respects, Protestantism has a higher regard for Scripture. However, it, too, accepts the traditions of men in such beliefs as the Trinity, the immortality of the soul, going to heaven, observing Christmas and Easter, and venerating the first day of the week (which the Catholic Church rightly points out makes sense only if one accepts Rome's authority, for there is no scriptural authority for keeping any day holy but the Sabbaths).

Modern Gnostics who believe in "progressive revelation" have also succumbed to this first of Satan's ploys. While God does reveal things to us, the critical point is that what is revealed—if it truly comes from Him—will never contradict what He has already revealed in His Word. "God is not a man, that He should lie" (Numbers 23:19). Yet progressive revelation advocates believe that their revelations are more authoritative than the Bible, rather than complementing and harmonizing with it, making them ripe for satanic influence under the guise of God revealing something new to them. They may sincerely believe that God speaks to them, yet they simultaneously mistrust what He has already said in inspired Scripture. They tend to shy away from Bible study, concluding that they do not need it since God speaks directly to them, and if there is anything important, God will let them know.

Romans 10:17 tells us that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." But Satan knows this too and believes that, if he can undermine the trustworthiness of God and the validity of His Word, he can destroy the faith necessary for salvation. Currently, the Bible's legitimacy is undergoing an intense assault. Due to popular Gnostic writings like the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas, as well as The Da Vinci Code book and movie, many people are questioning why we have the Bible that we do and wondering if something in the ancient apocryphal writings, if it were known, would change Christianity as we know it. Rather than quibbling about this or that point of doctrine, Satan seems to be gunning for the whole package by asserting that the Word of God is subject to the whims of men and thus cannot be trusted. At every turn, faith founded in God's Word is being undermined.

— David C. Grabbe
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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Apr 2020, 7:14 pm

1 Peter 5:8-9
(8) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (9) Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

  James 4:7
(7) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

  Ephesians 6:11
(11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
New King James Version   

Satan is a formidable enemy, to be sure, but in a personal sense, he is not as directly dangerous to us as the world or our own human nature. The chances of him confronting us individually are small in comparison to the influences of our ever-present hearts and the world in which we conduct our lives. Certainly, as our Adversary, he "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8), but unlike God, he is not omniscient. While he can be only at one place at one time, he has many assistants.

We are far more likely to be confronted by one of his demon assistants than the Adversary himself, which is bad enough. However, he and his demons have constructed attitudes, institutions, systems, and entertainments into the course of this world, which they effectively use against us, even when they are absent from the scene. Most of their evil influence comes from the system.

We need to remember, though, that God has put a wall of protection around us, so demons can go only so far in their attempts to corrupt us and destroy our loyalty to God and His truth (Job 1:6-10). Their major responsibility before God at this time appears to be to provide tests for us to meet and overcome, in the same way God used Satan to test Job and to tempt Christ (Matthew 4; Luke 4). In this respect, they play a large role in helping us to recognize evil.

God gives us advice regarding them in I Peter 5:8-9: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." In essence, His advice is, "Be self-controlled, be alert, and resist him!" Peter's first term, "be sober," urges us not to let fear of him fluster us to the point that we cannot think clearly. The second term, "be vigilant," charges us to be fully awake, to set ourselves in a state of watchfulness and readiness. The third term, "resist him," is a command not to turn and run but to stand firm.

This instruction lets us know that Satan is not all-powerful. With the protections God provides, including His continuous presence and alert regard for His children, Satan can be beaten. The same Jesus who has already defeated Satan is on His throne, overseeing our well-being. His protection is not something we flaunt, but is power we can rely on.

James 4:7 adds additional advice: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Again, the charge is to resist, but it is directly coupled with submission to God. Submission is the voluntarily act of placing oneself under the authority of another to show respect and give obedience. If we submit to God, Satan will flee.

Ephesians 6:11 parallels the other two instructions. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." "Stand against" is yet another way of saying "resist him." "Stand" in the Greek indicates that one must hold fast a critical position as an army must do in warfare. However, it is not a passive term, describing something like an unmoving brick wall, but an aggressive, attacking term. In other words, we are to hold the ground we have already gained by going forward.

How, then, do we resist? How do we hold our ground by going on the offensive? We must return in thought to I Peter 5:9, where the first phrase is better translated as, "Resist him, standing firm [or solid] in the faith." Putting this into military terms, a soldier would be likely commanded, "Do not surrender! Do not give up any ground! Do not back down! Move forward with all you've got! Reinforcements are right behind you."

We have the God-backed promise that Satan will flee! Who can resist God's will? The key words here are "standing firm" and "faith." "Standing firm" or "solid" is used in the sense of "unmovable." When linked with faith in practical terms, it means we are absolutely sure or immovably convicted in the face of a strong test.

Overall, the apostles' instruction suggests that what we experience vis-à-vis Satan is common to this way of life. Their advice does not say that he will flee immediately, but flee he will. As used here, "faith" can be understood as either a personal trust in God or confidence in Christian doctrine, as either one fits the context. Ultimately, if we use our relationship with God properly, the confidence in Christian doctrine becomes trust in God Himself.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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