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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE - Page 8 Empty Re: BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

Post  Admin on Fri 07 Feb 2020, 9:49 pm

Ezekiel 33:1-7
(1) Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, (2) "Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: "When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, (3) when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, (4) then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. (5) He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. (6) But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand." (7) "So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.
New King James Version   

In His explanation of Ezekiel's role as a prophet, God informs the man that he was to be a watchman for the people. Of what use is a watchman if the enemy's advance and all the pertinent details of his attack are already known? Anciently, a watchman would stand in a high place, upon a wall or a tower, and scan the horizon for enemies. When he saw them approaching, he was responsible for shouting a warning to the unsuspecting citizens that danger was near and that they needed to prepare for the onslaught. However, he did not know exact details—only what he could discern from his vantage point.

Once war begins, the most precious commodity is precise and timely information, and it is almost never transmitted in time to those who need it most. The best scenario a leader can ask for is to know as far in advance as possible that his enemy is on the march against him, for this gives him time to make the preparations necessary to secure his people and possessions, assemble his forces, and meet the enemy on the battlefield of his choosing. An excellent watchman just might give him the advance warning he needs.

However, this presupposes a physical attack. A continued reading of Ezekiel 33 clarifies that the prophet was not warning about a physical enemy but a spiritual one. Ezekiel's job was to warn the wicked in Israel to turn "from his way" (Ezekiel 33:8-11). His job as watchman was spiritual in nature! He was to warn against sinful lifestyles, against iniquity and wickedness, and to implore them to repent and live righteously. A companion passage in Ezekiel 3:16-21 makes this plain.

In other words, his role as prophet/watchman—just as a Christian minister's job is today—was heavily weighted toward preaching and teaching God's way of righteousness. It was essentially, like the gospel of the Kingdom of God, a warning message of repentance and an exhortation to growth in faith and obedience to holiness. In this regard, the prophetic hints about future events were, as they are to us, prods to motivate change before the coming, dreadful Day of the Lord.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 07 Feb 2020, 12:25 am

2 Thessalonians 2:15
(15) Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
New King James Version   

How frequently the servants of God have had to say this! John uses almost the same words at the beginning of I John 1: "Look, our hands have handled Him. We have looked at Him with our eyes and heard Him with our ears." Who is the we? He speaks of the apostles, intimating, "Get back to what we taught you." Jude and Peter say the same thing.

These men were not confronting the same people, but they probably were confronting elements of the same philosophical system that affected the church so strongly even as early as the AD 50s and 60s. Human nature always has a strong drive to make the way of God more attractive to the senses by blending it with traditions that are not part of God's Word.

This is what is found in Exodus 32, which God included in His Word so that we would see it etched vividly. The Israelites tried to introduce the Egyptian religion they had just left into the way of God. They used the bull to represent the nature of God. No wonder God was so upset! They were trying to syncretize paganism with the truth of God, just a few chapters after He gave them the terms of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant was signed, sealed, and delivered in Exodus 24, which was a very short time chronologically - and they were already trying to twist the nature of God into something radically different.

We see elements of this in the book of Colossians. The theological term for this is, as has been already mentioned, syncretism. It means "a joining, a meshing, or a blending together," "an alloying." Is anything purer than the Word of God? How could a person think to improve it by adding something foreign?

The outstanding historical example of syncretism (at least in terms of what we call "the Christian religion") is Catholicism. It is a universal religion precisely because it has absorbed traditions of worship from cultures all over the world. Its Protestant daughters, having come from the same system, have not rid themselves of most of the sycretic beliefs, having thrown off only the governance of the Pope and several of the more blatant pagan practices.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 05 Feb 2020, 6:39 pm

Matthew 5:6
(6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

New King James Version   

Desire is an inward longing for something we do not have but feel we need. Hunger and thirst are appetites God gave humans to make us aware of a need. Hunger for God's Word and His attributes are the spiritual appetite God gives Christians to make us aware of spiritual needs. Do pagans pray to their idols and ask them for love, joy, internal peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, meekness, or self-control? They ask for other things—material things, material blessings.

God has given us faith to make us aware of spiritual needs. We are aware of our physical needs by nature, but we would never be aware of these spiritual needs unless God, by His Spirit, makes us aware. It is a loving gift from Him. He expects us to think about these needs and ask Him for them. Our very awareness of the need is a proof that God is working with us.

This adds another step to the process of answered prayer: There has to be an awareness of need followed by the desire to have what we need. The desire moves us to make it known to God, and if it is really earnest and fervent, it fixes our minds on the object of our longing, motivating our pursuit of it. In other words, desire sets the will into action.

What God really wants us to seek after, to desire, is Him, what He is.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 05 Feb 2020, 6:37 pm

Luke 24:21
(21) But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
New King James Version   

This verse is commonly misunderstood in relation to the timing of Christ's death and resurrection. Two of the disciples, traveling to Emmaus, were conversing with the resurrected Christ, though they did not know it was He (verses 13-16). They were rehearsing what had happened in Jerusalem to Jesus by the chief priests and rulers of Judea (verses 18-20).

This conversation occurred on Sunday, the same day that the women, Peter, and John had gone to the tomb only to find it empty. Yet these disciples heading to Emmaus say that it had only been three days, not four. How do we reconcile this to the overwhelming body of evidence that Christ was buried on a Wednesday afternoon and raised again on a Saturday afternoon?

The key is in the repetition of the words "all these things," "these things," and "the things" of verses 14, 18-19 and 21. "Things" is modified by the disciples' specifying in verse 20 that they were speaking of the actions that "the chief priests and our rulers" had done to Christ. The fact that is often forgotten is that their ignominious actions against Him did not end with delivering Him to Pilate for crucifixion! (See Matthew 27:62-66.)

The day after "the Day of Preparation" was Thursday, the first day of Unleavened Bread. These Jewish leaders went to Pilate on the holy day to "guarantee" that their Messiah would not rise from the dead. And with the guard in place and the tomb sealed, they felt certain nothing more would happen.

Thus, when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus say that Sunday "is the third day since these things happened," they are counting from the last despicable actions of the chief priests and Pharisees on Thursday, not Wednesday. Note that their words preclude a Friday crucifixion as well, since Sunday is only the second day from Friday.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Berean
Commentary copyright © 1992-2020 Church of the Great God
New King James Version copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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Post  Admin on Mon 03 Feb 2020, 9:16 pm

Revelation 3:15-17
(15) "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. (16) So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (17) Because you say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing"—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
New King James Version   

Sadly, this is the direction that the church is prophesied to move as the end approaches. A fairly close parallel exists between the Laodicean and Ephesian conditions. Laodiceans are essentially without a proper feeling for God and His truths, and it has reached the point where they feel as though they no longer need them.

None of this means, though, that Laodiceans are lazy people. They are rich and increased with goods, and people do not become wealthy by sitting on their duffs. Revelation 3 suggests that their strong feelings and vigor are for the wrong things, and certainly not godly things. Therefore, they are without proper convictions concerning the things of God. They are apathetic, drifting, and spiritually blind. How difficult is it for a blind person to navigate through a world loaded with obstacles of all kinds? They must step very gingerly for fear of running into things, and undoubtedly, they would run into things.

The Laodicean is not making progress toward the Kingdom of God. He has stopped and in many cases—just like the Ephesians—he is sliding backwards. He must overcome his apathy for the things of God and begin to care deeply for the things he claims to believe.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 02 Feb 2020, 12:26 pm

  Ecclesiastes 7:5-14
(5) It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
(6) For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool.
This also is vanity.
(7) Surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason,
And a bribe debases the heart.
(8) The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
(9) Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
(10) Do not say,
"Why were the former days better than these?"
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
(11) Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
And profitable to those who see the sun.
(12) For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense,
But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.
(13) Consider the work of God;
For who can make straight what He has made crooked?
(14) In the day of prosperity be joyful,
But in the day of adversity consider:
Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other,
So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.
New King James Version   


Solomon's fifth piece of wisdom in this chapter is that we must not let pride get the better of us by allowing ourselves to reject correction from a person we know has experience in a difficulty we are going through (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6). If we fail to humble ourselves in such a case, we will likely later regret passing off the correction as nothing more than arrogant interference. That can be a major misjudgment, as Proverbs 11:2 bluntly reminds us, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.”

A sixth piece of Solomonic sagacity appears in Ecclesiastes 7:8, where he reminds us not to let impatience defeat us. When a trial is resolved, we will be glad we stuck with it. Impatience is a restlessness of mind that can easily become anxiety-ridden. It rises when we want to put an irksome and perhaps dangerous task behind us. Peace departs and the quality of our involvement in the situation dwindles. We so easily become frustrated and angry when things seem stacked against us. Some trials must be endured for long periods, often the case in relationship problems. Thus, Proverbs 11:12 cautions, “He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his peace.”

A seventh nugget of sound advice: Do not look back, bemoaning one's commitment to God's way of life (Ecclesiastes 7:9-10). Solomon directly states that is not wisdom. Wisdom is to keep plowing forward as one's best defense. Jesus says in Luke 9:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” He adds in Mark 4:17 that some called ones have no root in themselves and so endure only for a while, and when tribulation and persecution arise they stumble. We must continue forward, though it is difficult at times, because it will pay off handsomely in the end.

A final item of wisdom appears in Ecclesiastes 7:13-14: We should never allow ourselves to lose sight of God. Paul promises in I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God—the same God who gives us days of prosperity—remains with us during adversity. In adversity, even though it appears dark and perhaps never-ending, He calls on us to use our faith.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 01 Feb 2020, 7:56 pm

  Matthew 5:19-20
(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 

Pharisee indicates "separatist," one who is separate from others in the world. About 200 years before Christ, the Pharisees seem to have arisen as a brotherhood with a sincere desire to resist the secularism into which Judaism had drifted. As the years went by, however, they added a great deal to God's written law and rejected counterbalancing commands also given in the Old Covenant—even such commands as those which appear in Leviticus 19, such as "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

They then compounded this rejection with a vain sense of self-righteous superiority that in many cases excluded any contact with people of another ethnicity, and they even brought violence against other Jewish people who disagreed—as the apostle Paul's pre-conversion conduct shows. Paul was "a Pharisee of the Pharisees," and he went around throwing people into prison and, indeed, he may have even consented to the martyrdom of Stephen.

All this made these "separatists" very unattractive witnesses; they were in reality an embodiment of a rejection of God's intention of what a witness should be. Our witness does not have to bring about the conversion of others to be effective, because conversion is in God's hands anyway. However, it still has to be right, and being right in this requires personal sacrifices.

Being right—in addition to keeping God's commands—means being humble, modest, kindhearted, concerned, sympathetic, empathetic, helpful, warmhearted, friendly, gracious, serving, giving, charitable, open, hospitable, cordial, thoughtful, considerate, sensitive, cooperative, and on and on. One must do all of these things, while knowing full well that there is a line of separation across which we cannot allow ourselves to wander in our relationships with those as yet uncalled.

This is quite a plateful, but these are qualities that make God's way engaging and an attractive witness. God's involvement in our lives should give us freedom, as well as security against our fears of living and being this way. When combined with the keeping of God's commandments, it will produce quite a witness and go a long way toward keeping us clean—because we will be using God's Word as He intends.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 30 Jan 2020, 4:13 pm

Romans 2:1-3
(1) Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (2) But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. (3) And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
New King James Version   

We can often see our faults more clearly in other people, yet we usually fail to apply them to ourselves. Because our reaction is so often to criticize negatively, we usually do not see that we are guilty of the same things. If we find a certain type of behavior especially irritating in others, we may have the same problem!

To illustrate this blindness to our own sins, recall David's sin, recorded for all the world to see in II Samuel 12:1-5, when God sent Nathan to show David his sin with Bathsheba. Nathan told of a case in which a rich man who owned many sheep had stolen a poor man's pet lamb and killed it to eat for dinner. King David was outraged that anyone would be so greedy and selfish, so he pronounced the death penalty on this man. Then Nathan quietly pointed out that David had done the exact same thing when he stole Uriah's wife and sent Uriah to his death.

David was a man who, when he recognized his sin, would deeply repent. So how far his heart fell at that time, we can only imagine. He must have been devastated.

What angers us about others in God's church? Consider this carefully, since in the answer may be a clue to our secret sins. "For you who judge practice the same things."

— Martin G. Collins
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Post  Admin on Wed 29 Jan 2020, 2:26 pm

Acts 7:22-23
(22) And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. (23) "Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.
New King James Version   

Forty years had passed since Exodus 1, and Moses is now 40 years old. We do not know a great many specifics about his life, but there are a few historical tidbits that can be put together. From archaeological finds as well as some written histories, we know that Egypt was the greatest land of its day, the United States of America of that time.

Moses probably lived in the palace with his mother (Pharaoh's daughter), Pharaoh, and the rest of his family, for about 35 years. We can understand from this conjecture, that Moses had access to the cream of everything in Egypt. Being part of the Royal Family, if he rode out on a chariot, the people on the street bowed. He would have had the best. If Moses traveled down the Nile by barge, it was among the finest in Egypt.

When it came to education, he probably had the finest tutors available in the land. We know for sure, from written records, that they had a great university, in its time comparable in esteem to an Oxford or a Harvard today. He would have been instructed in astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, music, and art. The movie, The Ten Commandments, depicted this well. Undoubtedly, much of what he was taught was nothing more than sheer foolishness—just as much in our modern universities also teach a lot of foolishness. Nevertheless, the overall effect of what he learned filled him with knowledge and understanding that would stand him in good stead later.

In reading between the lines of Scripture, during his 35 years in the palace, Moses never really lost contact with the people of Israel and with his real family, even though Jochebed and Amram turned him over to Pharaoh's daughter. From time to time, he would have been able to visit with them. He would, then, have had access to the language, history, and expectations of Israel. His mind, to be used later by God, was being formed by being filled with knowledge.

Stephen says that he was "mighty in words and deeds." He became a statesman, representing Egypt to foreign peoples and leaders. Ancient historians say that he was a soldier. The years passed. But despite being prepared for high office in Egypt, the memories of his early childhood and his real parents—the knowledge that they were slaves and that his kinsmen were groaning in the brickyards—never left him.

A mind was being formed during those years. Please do not forget yourself in all of this. God has been dealing with us a great deal longer than our conversion, perhaps from our earliest years.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 28 Jan 2020, 7:08 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  

In God's eyes—and in a small child's—a parent stands in the place of God Himself. In the physical sense, parents are the child's creator, provider, lawgiver, teacher, and protector—and sometimes even savior. A child's response to this relationship will greatly determine his later response to larger relationships in society. And it is ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN to affect his relationship with God. Thus, since parents represent God, it becomes their obligation to live lives worthy of that honor. Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping this commandment falls on the child, but it begins with the parents through child training and example. If parents neither provide the correct example nor teach the correct way, they can hardly expect their children to honor them.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 27 Jan 2020, 7:59 pm

  1 Peter 1:17-19
(17) And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; (18) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
New King James Version   

Redemption involves buying back something that has been taken away. Herbert Armstrong spoke metaphorically of our being kidnapped by Satan. Because the Devil has forcibly held us from the liberty God wants us to experience, we must be redeemed. We are in this humanly inescapable predicament because we have sinned in following the same manner of living as everybody else. We are released from this by means of the payment of the sinless life of Jesus Christ in a vicarious death in our place and by our repentance. Because He was sinless, our sinful imperfections can be overcome and paid for.

Would imperfection in an animal disqualify it from being offered on the altar? Yes, very much so, even if the imperfection was internal and invisible to the eye. If it had a lame leg, or if its hide was marred by scarring or was ragged and mangy in appearance, it was not acceptable. If one of its eyes had been gouged out or was infected, or if its ear had been torn by a predator, it was disqualified. If it had a disease, even an internal cancer or tumor, it was unfit, even though it might have looked reasonably healthy to casual, external observation so that only the owner knew of its imperfection.

Each of these physical flaws represents spiritual imperfections that could have been in Christ except that He was perfect in all His ways. For 33 ½ years, He never once had even a single, tiny, solitary moral or spiritual imperfection. He never did anything unethical, immoral, or unspiritual. Not one instance of any kind of carnality marred His life. Even if the thought of sin arose in Him, He quickly put it out of His mind. Always, in every instance, He used the mind of God.

Thus, sin never desecrated or blemished Him in any way, internally or externally. He did not carry around any envy, bitterness, or gall—there was nothing in Him that would disqualify Him in any way from being a fit sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins. It is astounding that anyone could live this way for even a day or two, let alone 33 ½ years!

Christ qualified in every way to be the sacrifice for our sins. Consider, however, that the literal sin offering He made at His crucifixion took only a few hours to unfold. By comparison, His efforts to qualify to be the sin offering by being a perfect burnt, meal, and peace offering required 33½ years of sinless living!

Reflecting upon what Christ accomplished is sobering to anyone of a mature mind who has attempted to duplicate even a small portion of what He did. It should certainly lead us to the deepest gratitude we can offer. Isaiah 53:9-10 gives us an insight into God's attitude toward His Son's sacrifice:

And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

Not even one time did Christ's heart rise up in an attempt to deceive or to strike out in violent anger. He was childlike in attitude yet mature in His wisdom, but it pleased God to bruise and put Him to grief as the offering for our sins.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 26 Jan 2020, 9:38 pm

Amos 2:6-8
(6) Thus says the LORD:
" For three transgressions of Israel, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for silver,
And the poor for a pair of sandals.
(7) They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor,
And pervert the way of the humble.
A man and his father go in to the same girl,
To defile My holy name.
(8) They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge,
And drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.

New King James Version  

The Israelites' immorality fell into three major areas:

1) Indifference to and oppression of the poor.
2) Covetousness displayed by placing primary importance on material possessions.
3) Unrestricted promotion of self-advantage—doing anything to anyone to get their way.

The Hebrew words for poor are very similar to our "underdog." Amos uses two different words, 'ebyôn and dal, to designate the poor (see Amos 4:1). 'Ebyôn usually designates the very poor, and dal describes the lowest social class. However, both words connote "wanting because of oppression or exploitation" and refer to the weaker members of society. To God the poor are those without the worldly resources or connections to defend themselves. As a result of their weakness, the wicked look upon the poor as fair game to exploit (Isaiah 10:1-2). Today, "poor" could refer to the small businessman or consumer at the mercy of the huge corporations, or the "little guy" under the thumb of "big" government.

One of the means of oppression was the courts, and Amos frequently shows how the poor "took it on the chin" within the "justice" system. In a lawsuit the guilty party, one of the "strong," bribed the judge, who found the innocent person—the weak—guilty (Isaiah 5:23). As so often happens today in America, the ancient Israelites shunned out-of-court settlements. They went to court even over minor matters because their chances for a larger settlement were better.

When a person was found guilty by the court, he, of course, had to pay a fine. If he did not have enough in his pocket to pay it, he could pay in produce. For example, a vintner could pay in wine. The victors then took their winnings—"the wine of the condemned"—and partied (Amos 2:8). They had turned into self-centered parasites who lived by the code, "get the other guy before he gets you." Israelites can be a mercenary, unmerciful lot of people.

Obviously, God was not happy with this system of justice, and it is even worse now. Today's "wine of the condemned" awarded to the injured party—reaching into the millions of dollars—goes mostly for exorbitant lawyer and court fees. Governments of all sizes include expected fines from lawbreakers in their budgets.

In addition, Israelites coveted real estate to the ridiculous extent that the buyer begrudged the small amount of dust the seller threw on his head to symbolize his grief over losing his ancestral properties (Amos 2:7). In a similar vein, God accuses the Jews of moving the boundaries between parcels of land (Hosea 5:10). In those days, instead of driving a stake into the ground to mark their property lines, landowners set up pillars of stones on the boundaries. God pictures the Jews kicking the boundary stones over a few feet when no one is looking. They may have justified it with, "Doesn't everybody do it?" but it was still outright theft.

Because the strong could so easily exploit the weak, land and wealth in Israel fell into fewer and fewer hands. God cries, "Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, till there is no place where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!" (Isaiah 5:8).

It is no different than today's big international combines buying up farmland and displacing farmers, who must then find jobs, usually in urban areas. How soon we have forgotten that small family farms played a large role in keeping the United States economically and socially stable for generations! America's agrarian heartland was the backbone of the nation. We need to be aware that the resulting instability will lead us down the same path of destruction as it did Israel!

"They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge" (Amos 2:8). Under the Old Covenant, a person's cloak could be taken as security for a loan, but Exodus 22:26-27 shows that it was to be returned every evening if it doubled as his blanket at night. God considers keeping a poor man's coat overnight as taking advantage of him.

Remember, our judgment from God largely depends on how we treat our fellow man (Matthew 25:33-46). Good relationships with others are vital to maintaining a good relationship with God (Matthew 5:23-24). This means we must always do the right things toward others no matter how much it hurts us (Psalm 15:4) or how they might react (Matthew 5:44-45).

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 25 Jan 2020, 7:25 pm

Matthew 16:24-25
(24) Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (25) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
New King James Version   

Like the Messiah, we must deny ourselves.

Put Satan into this picture. What is he going to do to us? Through disinformation and affecting our attitudes, he will lead us toward self-satisfaction, not self-denial, because self-satisfaction is the essence of sin. When we sin, we bring upon ourselves the death penalty.

To teach the right lesson, Jesus immediately taught—to counteract what Satan was subtly teaching through Peter—that the way to the Kingdom of God is through self-denial, not self-satisfaction. Satan will try to persuade us not to deny ourselves but to fulfill ourselves at the expense of others.

Another thing this can teach us is that great temptations can come through well-meaning friends. Peter meant well. It must have shocked him right out of his sandals when Jesus turned and said, "Get behind Me, Satan!" right in Peter's face. Jesus was probably not angry, just urgent, so that Peter would grasp what had happened.

Surely, God would not want us to face this kind of a trial, would He? Yes, it could happen if the temptation comes through well-meaning people. We are particularly vulnerable when we can be led to believe that we are not being treated as we deserve.

Satan used this major ploy against Adam and Eve: "Oh, has God said so? He's withholding from you." Such was his implication. "Why, if you do things the way you want, you can have much more. You can be god." We always want more; it is part of human nature.

Unfortunately, mankind keeps making things worse by making the same general mistakes over and over again in each generation. It will not end until each individual decides he will not do it regardless of the cost to himself. This is denying oneself. Some things in life are beyond our control, and we must leave them to God to solve.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 24 Jan 2020, 11:32 am

 Romans 11:22
(22) Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
New King James Version   

Is God fair in the way He allocates His goodness and His severity? Indeed, human nature, unable to grasp God's purposes, challenges the morality—if you will, the "political correctness"—of God's actions!

Our civilization's pundits—whether abolitionist, humanist, rightist, elitist, feminist, moralist, or whatever—would summon God before the bench to answer their questions. Their indictment of God would fill volumes. Dangerous business, that, for Paul carefully warns us that we dare not "find fault" with God (Romans 9:19). To accuse Him of being unfair or capricious in His dealings with mankind is to forget that He is not bound by the sensitivities of our times, not fettered by the Western world's humanistic self-absorption with human rights, equality, democracy.

God will not limit His field of options—in effect placing Himself in a straitjacket—to avoid offending a humanity that lacks His Spirit and is therefore wholly incapable of sharing His perspective. He is reproducing Himself! He will not constrain His activities in bringing that sublime purpose about by the "isms" of these times, or for that matter, of any historical milieu.

— Charles Whitaker
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Post  Admin on Thu 23 Jan 2020, 8:32 pm

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

(15) I have seen everything in my days of vanity:

There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness,

And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.

(16) Do not be overly righteous,

Nor be overly wise:

Why should you destroy yourself?

(17) Do not be overly wicked,

Nor be foolish:

Why should you die before your time?

(18) It is good that you grasp this,

And also not remove your hand from the other;

For he who fears God will escape them all.

New King James Version  

 
If one misjudges in the manner of the paradox described here and therefore reacts wrongly, the effect could lead to one of two possible spiritual extremes. Thus, Solomon gives his cautions.
 
Perhaps these possible alternatives can be illustrated this way: Imagine a horizontal line drawn across a blank sheet of paper. Both the beginning of the line on the left and the end of the line on the right represent extreme reactions as well as the results produced should a person make wrong choices within the trial.
 
One can react radically to the left, becoming completely liberal, by choosing simply to give up. The result would be spiritual death. The other extreme reaction would be to choose to turn sharply right, becoming righteous over much, and the bad fruit also produces spiritual death.
 
Why? Because either extreme is rebellion against God's grace. In Psalm 73, Asaph neither gave up nor attempted to become super-righteous so that God would be impressed and owe him the blessing of relieving the pressures of his suffering. He chose a path right down the middle, to trust God.
 
Turning to the right to become over-righteous is the choice we should be more concerned about. Why? Because most of the truly converted will not simply give up. They may become weary and confused, but they will not walk away from God's mercy.
 
— John W. Ritenbaugh
 
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Post  Admin on Wed 22 Jan 2020, 10:34 pm

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.
New King James Version  

Do you not know yourselves? - We have all learned many things through trial and suffering over the years, but it has not been all pain and agony. At various times, we have abounded with joy, contentment, peace, and growth as well, and we should thank God who has engineered and authored these blessings. However, beyond honestly identifying how far we have come, we also need to recognize and acknowledge the stony parts that are still in us, repenting before God with our whole hearts.

As Paul says in I Corinthians 6:19-20, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." To paraphrase, do we not realize the magnitude of our relationship with God and the obligation this puts us under to live every second as an example of God's way of life? God's people are not ordinary in any sense!

Solomon writes in Proverbs 4:23, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." The heart, the mind, is the storehouse of our character. We must spend time in meditation and in prayer asking for insight from God to reveal to us exactly who we are - inside - where normally only God can see. We must implore Him for understanding about who we really are right now in His eyes. We need this information to understand properly our relationship with Him.

This is a solemn and sobering process, but it should not be something we fear. Still, we must come to God in this process with humility and a heart ready to repent immediately of flaws that He shows us. This process is not superficial by any means, but one designed to reach to the very heart of our being.

Remember, God may be a consuming fire to His enemies (Hebrews 12:29), but to His own children, He is a boundless provider and loving Father (Ephesians 3:14-21). He is quick to forgive if we freely confess our sins to Him (I John 1:9).

— Staff
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Post  Admin on Tue 21 Jan 2020, 8:33 pm

Ephesians 5:21
(21) submitting to one another in the fear of God.

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

  1 Peter 2:13
(13) Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme,

  1 Peter 5:5
(5) Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
"God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble."
New King James Version 

Why is submitting so difficult? There are two basic reasons: education and attitudes. The one occurs because we all want to be free. Everyone wants to have more liberty than he has right now. Liberty is a major theme in the Bible, but we have a problem: We have been mis-educated.

Because of this mis-education, each of us puts a different spin on what it means to be free. Being free does not mean the same thing to every person because the same things are not equally important to everybody. Some people have placed their spin on freedom, because of their circumstances, as a need for more food. Other people want to be free to exercise their sexual passions with a great deal more liberty. Everybody puts a little bit different twist on what he or she would like to be free to do. Why? Peter writes,

. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct [conduct going nowhere] received by tradition from your fathers. . . . (I Peter 1:18)

Tradition is that cultural way, method, or outlook that is imposed on us from birth. The influences of our culture are layered on us like an onion. What layers of culture and therefore, traditions, heaped on us?

The initial layer is impressed on us by the home, the family—or the lack thereof. It begins to set our minds about what is important in life. Then there is a slightly larger segment—the neighborhood. At first, the neighborhood does not have a great deal of influence, but once we begin to expand our lives outside of the home, mother's and dad's influence slowly begin to wane. Our peers in our neighborhood begin to impress upon us a little bit broader cultural layer because we have escaped, as it were, from the home and have now gone out into the neighborhood. We keep layering it out: The city has an impact on us, the state, the region, and then the nation.

Peter said that we have been redeemed from tradition. In the United States, this thing about tradition has become crazy. One of the buzzwords of our time is multiculturalism. We have people in the United States who want to make sure that English is not the official language of the nation because they want to hang on to another culture. It used to be that, when people immigrated to our nation, they strove to conform to the American culture and tradition. They wanted to become full-fledged Americans. So what did they have to do in order to do that? They had to submit to the customs and traditions of their new homeland.

But today there is a powerful drive to get people to do just the opposite, to hold on to the customs and traditions of their former homelands. This process is helping to tear the nation apart! We are slowly being driven toward an absolute confusion of ideas because these cultures cannot agree. We have an environment ready-made for conflict—unless someone submits.

The world is the way it is because Adam and Eve took of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which indicates knowledge from many sources. This was sort of a preview of multiculturalism—knowledge from many sources without the spiritual guidance of God. We have to get God into the picture.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (II Thessalonians 2:15)

God has His traditions too! On the one hand, we have the traditions that God is teaching us through His Word, through His ministers. He has traditions to which He wants His Family to conform. But we have brought traditions with us out of the world. It sets the stage for conflict! The traditions of God and the traditions that we have from the world will not mesh! When we add to this our desire to be free, it makes an interesting mess!

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. (II Thessalonians 3:6)

The major difference is that His traditions are right and true, and they work! However, because conversion is a process, and because we do not instantly and magically know all of God's traditions, we all bring our former traditions into the church with us. Thus, the church is set up for conflict, which is a major reason why Paul wrote the book of Ephesians. It shows that for there to be unity, both Israelite and Gentile have to submit to Christ because both of their cultures and traditions are wrong!

Again, we have been mis-educated by the traditions of family, society, region, state, and nation. We carry those characteristics with us. Not every one of them is wrong, but they do set us up for conflict with God and with each other. Only the traditions of God are completely right and true and will produce the right things. When there is conflict between the traditions that we have brought in to the church and God's traditions, we have to submit to God because we are not free to do as we please. If we do as we please because we put our own particular spin on what we think liberty is, it will bring us into conflict with God—and that is not nice! It is detrimental to one's spiritual health and one's relationship with God!

The second reason we have trouble is because our attitudes are perverted.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh [notice what drives human beings: This wicked spirit is motivating the lusts of our flesh], fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

There is a spirit characterized by desire—lust—to have it our way. Mis-education combined with negative attitudes equals conflict. Human nature is a package of attitudes dominated by the desire to gratify the self. That is why there is so much conflict (see James 4:1-3).

Our desires—whether it is husband and wife in marriage, or in business, or in politics among nations—keep crashing into one another. Conflict will never end until everyone is keeping the traditions of God. That is why we are in the process of conversion. It is our responsibility to convert over to God's traditions so that we stop crashing into one another. We have to overcome this mis-education and this attitude to gratify the self.

Satan is ultimately the source of both of these. We have to recognize that we are still influenced and that we pick up on his broadcasts. It makes submitting so difficult. The adversary is still working and bringing about conflict. Anywhere Satan goes, conflict erupts. He is a master at producing it.

Liberty without guidelines (like laws, principles, doctrines, policies, or even the example of another person) to which one submits (meaning we as individuals submit through self-control or self-governing) will turn into chaos because of the desire for the power to control. The desire to control is what we would call freedom—liberty. That is why there are so many horrible divorces and re-marriages. Submission, whether accepted willingly or grudgingly, is a necessity. It is better to accept it and do it grudgingly than not to do it at all.

We have to understand, then, that there is authority. It may be God, another human being, a law, a precedent, etc., but there will be an authority. It is an unavoidable fact of life. We face it all the time. Everybody lives under authority, and everybody must submit, even if it is only to the laws of nature—there is hardly a person who will not submit to the law of gravity while standing on the edge of a thousand-foot drop. It is that simple. Thus, because we step away from the cliff and not over it, we have submitted to a law. Why? Because we want to preserve our liberty, our desire to live. We know if we break that law—if we do not submit to it—it will break us to bits at the bottom of the cliff.

Notice that this subject has a broad application. Submission does not involve only relationships with God or relationships with other people. Submission occurs in almost every area of life, even in submitting to things we would call common sense or the laws of nature. Anybody who has the mind of God will be looking for every opportunity to submit because that is, paradoxically, where true freedom lies.

Recall John 8:32, where Jesus says, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Is not His implication that one shall be free only if he submits to the truth? Knowing the truth is not enough; liberty comes to those who submit to the truth. If one is standing on the edge of a thousand-foot drop, common sense and the truth of God say that one should obey the law of gravity—unless one desires to give up his freedom to live. True liberty consists of submitting to truth. It is the liberty God wants us to have.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 20 Jan 2020, 4:43 pm

1 Corinthians 16:13-14
(13) Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. (14) Let all that you do be done with love.
New King James Version   

As Paul writes this, these were not to be momentary attitudes but continuous states. This is what is developed and produced in us by God's Spirit because of the relationship with Christ. Thus, when he says "watch," he is not speaking about an occasional absence of sleep but a determined effort at vigilance so that our spiritual liberty will not be endangered by compromise with anything in our environment.

It means not playing with temptations. He is telling us to be stable, not to be flitting from one fad and fashion to another like the people in this book were doing. He tells them, "Be like men," meaning, "Be mature, stable, responsible to duty." He wants us to understand that nothing fine and good can be built if it is treated in a casual, informal, easygoing manner.

Paul wants us to understand that being strong in God is not something inherent within us. It does not come naturally. Human nature is at war against God. It resists seeking Him. Being strong in God is derived from the relationship with Him, and this relationship must be worked on, even as a good relationship with another human being must be worked on.

Finally, he speaks of love, the love of God. This is not a syrupy affection with a lot of hugs, charm, or social graces, though it may include those things. The Bible, in fact, says that "charm is deceitful and beauty is vain." He is not saying that they are evil but that they have the power to deceive people into thinking that, because one is charming or beautiful, he is somehow converted. He is warning us that those things might be nothing more than a carnal façade.

What is love? Love is doing what is right from God's perspective. Remember, this is the same apostle who admonishes Timothy to rebuke people before all—even right before the entire congregation. If that is what it took to turn a person back to God, that was what was to be done, and it was an act of love. Love is being responsible, honest, loyal, trustworthy, faithful. Love is being zealous toward God, and it is many other things as well.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 19 Jan 2020, 1:13 pm

Matthew 8:26-27
(26) But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (27) So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

  Mark 4:39-41
(39) Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. (40) But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" (41) And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

  Luke 8:25
(25) But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"
New King James Version   Change Bible versions

Jesus' awestruck disciples receive newfound understanding of the power and glory of their Lord and Master. His power definitely impresses them, but His faithfulness, peace, and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are what truly awed them. This miracle brings them in reverence, wonder, and godly fear before Him. Christ shows that the power of the earthly elements is dwarfed by the mighty word of the Lord, and it stirs them deeply.

This reveals what the full measure of God's Spirit can accomplish through a faithful human being. Jesus explains to His disciples in Mark 11:23-24:

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be removed and be cast into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

We should understand that this promise stands firm for us too, if we ask according to the will of God (I John 5:14-15).

— Martin G. Collins
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Post  Admin on Sun 19 Jan 2020, 12:05 am

Isaiah 2:6-12
(6) For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with eastern ways;
They are soothsayers like the Philistines,
And they are pleased with the children of foreigners.
(7) Their land is also full of silver and gold,
And there is no end to their treasures;
Their land is also full of horses,
And there is no end to their chariots.
(8) Their land is also full of idols;
They worship the work of their own hands,
That which their own fingers have made.
(9) People bow down,
And each man humbles himself;
Therefore do not forgive them.
(10) Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust,
From the terror of the LORD
And the glory of His majesty.
(11) The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
(12) For the day of the LORD of hosts
Shall come upon everything proud and lofty,
Upon everything lifted up—
And it shall be brought low—

New King James Version   

The same principle appears everywhere in the Bible: Pride has its roots in a feeling of wealth or accomplishment. "Wealth" does not necessarily mean money, although that is included. Remember Hillil and his intelligence, beauty, and power. But there are other things like position, skill, natural ability, social status, knowledge, strength - even hair, clothing, a house, or an automobile. The list of things that can motivate this elevated feeling is virtually endless.

In the New Testament, pride is in the Greek, huperephanos, which means "to show oneself above." It does not imply one that others look up to, but one who stands on his own self-created pedestal. Psychologists tell us that pride is actually a mark of inner inferiority and uncertainty, and such people compensate by over-emphasizing and flaunting the qualities they think they possess that will cause others to think well of them.

This feeling of wealth or strength in a given area is highly relative because each person can set his own standard of comparison, regardless of his real accomplishments. Like the sluggard who in his conceit is wiser than seven men to render a reason (Proverbs 26:16), we are able to promote ourselves in areas that we think we are good in.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Jan 2020, 12:44 pm

 Isaiah 2:7-11
(7) Their land is also full of silver and gold,
And there is no end to their treasures;
Their land is also full of horses,
And there is no end to their chariots.
(8) Their land is also full of idols;
They worship the work of their own hands,
That which their own fingers have made.
(9) People bow down,
And each man humbles himself;
Therefore do not forgive them.
(10) Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust,
From the terror of the LORD
And the glory of His majesty.
(11) The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.

New King James Version   

Everywhere, the Bible shows the same principle: Pride has its roots in a feeling of wealth or accomplishment, which is then used to compare. We can tie this to Satan and what is written about him in Ezekiel 28, how pride arose within him because of his beauty. He had something to brag about that made him feel good. But his vanity, developing into outright pride, began to get to him. He began to feel better than the other angels, and eventually, in his own eyes, he equated himself with God. In time, he thought of himself as greater than God—a very perverted comparison.

It does not have to be intelligence or beauty or power as it was with Satan. It could be things like money, position, social position, natural ability, social status, knowledge, strength, hair, clothing, a house, furniture, automobile—the list is virtually endless. In the New Testament, the Greek is huperephania, which means "to show oneself above." It does not imply one who others look up to, but one who stands on his own self-created pedestal.

Psychologists tell us that pride is actually a mark of inner inferiority and uncertainty, and such people compensate by over-emphasizing and flaunting the qualities that they think they possess that will make others think well of them. This feeling of wealth is highly relative because each person is capable of setting his own standards of comparison, regardless of his real accomplishments.

Proverbs 26:16 speaks of the sluggard who is wiser in his own eyes than all others, who can render more answers than seven wise men can. Although he is virtually devoid of anything that anybody would consider worth bragging about, the sluggard has created his own set of standards. He thinks he already knows the answers. He has a feeling of wealth, of prosperity, of power, or of security in whatever standard he in his own conceptions has set. He is so sure that he knows the answers that he is undeterred by facts and continues then in his ignorance. He is self-sufficient.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 16 Jan 2020, 7:44 pm

Ecclesiastes 7:29
(29) Truly, this only I have found:
That God made man upright,
But they have sought out many schemes."

New King James Version  

The word “only” is inserted in his conclusion to draw attention to its importance. Righteous living is truly rare, and it has been so from the beginning, from Adam and Eve until now.

After this qualification, Solomon immediately asserts that God did not create human beings to sin but to live righteous lives. He is implying that we should stop blaming God for all of mankind's troubles—that we get ourselves into this mess we call life. God made us upright, but we all have deliberately chosen to sin.

Undoubtedly, he is reflecting on the early chapters of Genesis, where a clear pattern of deliberate, willful sin appears. Genesis 1:31 states God's evaluation of His creation: “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Will we challenge God's judgment of what He had just created? Adam and Eve had already been created at this point, and God judged what He had made as “very good.”

They were not flawed by sin, and God had not placed in them a mechanism to sin deliberately. They had not been created to live fractured, sinful lives but upright, righteous lives. In terms of sin, whatever became part of them occurred after this point. He did not entrap them. However, they were capable of sinning because God created them with minds able to learn, discern, and make choices between options. Sinning was something they opted to do.

Genesis 6:5 suggests an interesting connection between the overwhelming sinfulness of the days of Noah and Solomon's conclusion in Ecclesiastes 7:29: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The intriguing relationship is between the word “schemes,” “inventions,” or “devices,” depending on what translation is used in Ecclesiastes 7:29, and the word “intent” in Genesis 6:5. While not the same word, both derive from the same root, indicating thinking and/or planning. In both contexts, the thinking is being done with evil intent. That is, the ones doing the devising are deliberately planning evil.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 15 Jan 2020, 8:24 pm

John 1:17
(17) For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
New King James Version   

What did Jesus Christ establish to be taught in the churches? What He brought - in what we consider to be the New Testament era - is not at all contradictory or fundamentally different from what the Old Testament teaches. His message is complementary, completing the teaching of the Old Testament, rounding out and finishing God's revelation to mankind.

The word "but" in verse 17 has been inserted by the translators. In those Bibles that use the convention, it is in italics, which shows that it is a word added by the translators to clarify what they believe is the sense. Why did they choose "but"? The translators' fundamental belief is that Jesus came to change what was taught by Moses. However, if they had put together what the rest of the New Testament says, Jesus came and added to and completed what Moses and the other prophets preached. There is a better word to insert there: "and." Thus, "For the law was given through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." They are complementary, not contradictory. Perhaps the word "supplementary" would better explain it, thought what Jesus brought is both complementary and supplementary.

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). Consider a candy jar, which is filled only an inch. That represents what Moses taught, the law. But Jesus filled the rest of the candy jar full! Jesus brought the spirit of the law. He filled to the full the revelation of God.

What Moses taught in the law is the law of the Kingdom of God. It cannot be separated from the gospel of the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought because the Kingdom of God needs law to function. God's Kingdom is a real entity. It is designed to function, and it will only function through law and, of course, grace, as they work together.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 14 Jan 2020, 3:56 pm

Romans 7:14-25
(14) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (16) If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. (17) But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. (19) For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. (20) Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (21) I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. (22) For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (25) I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
New King James Version   

Paul is not confessing that he continually practiced sin in his daily life, but that the threat of practicing it was always with him. He always had to be on guard against it to keep it from breaking out. And, at times, it did indeed break out, reminding him not only of its presence, but also its strength. There is no doubt Paul was a mature Christian. Therefore, this serves as a reminder to us that, no matter how spiritually mature we become, human nature will still always be with us.

Paul died spiritually and was buried in the waters of baptism. Therefore, baptism and the receipt of a new nature by which we are to conduct life do not take human nature away. We, like him, sincerely desire to do the right thing. We believe God's Word. We love God and aspire to glorify Him. Nevertheless, because human nature is always present, we do not always follow through. Instead, human nature overpowers us; we are taken captive, as it were, and revert to following its drives instead. This can be very disturbing, piling guilt upon us and making us fearful of separation from God.

Thus, because we are similar to Paul, and despite the wretchedness we may feel, we have assurance, knowing we will be delivered from this peculiar situation, one that is somewhat akin to having a dual personality. Our deliverance is through Jesus Christ; there indeed is an end. However, unlike many Protestant groups that proclaim that we do not have to keep the law because all is done for us, we know that we must strive to walk even as Christ walked—and He never sinned. I John 2:3-6 emphatically states:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

Though we are under no condemnation, we still must yield to the Spirit of God to our utmost abilities. We are to "go on to perfection" (Hebrews 6:1), endeavoring to grow "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). Paul says, "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). Despite the difficulties involved, any failures that occur, and any feelings of guilt that arise, we are still required to strive to keep God's laws as Jesus did.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 13 Jan 2020, 1:50 pm

Jeremiah 15:10-11
(10) Woe is me, my mother,
That you have borne me,
A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!
I have neither lent for interest,
Nor have men lent to me for interest.
Every one of them curses me. (11) The LORD said:
“ Surely it will be well with your remnant;
Surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you
In the time of adversity and in the time of affliction.

New King James Version   

The intensity of rhetoric in the preceding verses, the horrific images it evokes, brings Jeremiah to experience profound depression, as verse 10 indicates. Jeremiah is not even a banker, yet people all around him condemn him!

Consider that, to this point, God has as yet done nothing more than what He told Amos He would always do: He would do nothing until he has revealed His secret to His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7). Yet, the information He has provided Jeremiah has overwhelmed him. The prophet mouths the same formula Baruch would later utter, “Woe is me.” Is there anyone on “the whole earth” who understands what Jeremiah has gone through and who appreciates the work he is doing for God? Is he, like that mariner of old, alone in the wide, wide sea?

God's response contains three elements:

1. A message of hope, assuring the prophet that he is not alone (verse 11).

2. A powerful rebuke, complete with a threat (Jeremiah 15:19).

3. A reminder of the grace He has afforded Jeremiah from the start (Jeremiah 15:20-21).

God starts out with a message of hope, promising Jeremiah that He will provide a remnant, a group of people who will survive the siege and the destruction of Judah. Jeremiah is not alone and will never be alone. By His use of the term “your remnant,” God indicates that Jeremiah will “own” this group; he will be its leader. “Surely it will be well with your remnant; surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you in the time of adversity and in the time of affliction” (verse 11).

— Charles Whitaker
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