Archive for March, 2012

Ps 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Part of the restoration process is the tearing down phase where God works to be sure we have a good foundation from which to rebuild. For that reason in my last few articles I reviewed a variety of topics in Luke which Jesus addressed before the Pharisees and His disciples, each having great significance. I have now come to the end of my recent scholastic yoyage and journalism to this place in scripture where Jesus tells us ‘If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say unto this sycamine tree, Be plucked up by the root, and be  planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”

Lord, grant us such faith.

In addition to the topics I’ve recently examined, there are equally significant others that Jesus’ shared deserving of a brief review. Such as when He asked lawyers and Pharisees which one of them would not rescue their ox or donkey if it had fallen into a ditch, even if it was on the Sabbath? Even though they couldn’t defend their own actions, they couldn’t avoid the hypocritical judgment that stirred in their hearts against Jesus when He then healed a man on the Sabbath before them.

While at the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread with them, Luke tells us that all these lawyers and Pharisees “watched” Him, meaning they insidiously and scrupulously observed Jesus looking for fault with Him. With purer judgment than theirs, Jesus openly acknowledged how all they all had taken seats of honor straightway when they came, risking shame and humiliation by possibly having their place taken from them for another more deserving. When invited to affairs such as a wedding Jesus explained, it was more prudent to take the lower place whereby they might receive respect from the host with honor as he publicly calls them up to better positions.

Luke 14:11 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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In the last article I had written about the unfaithful steward who wasted his master’s goods, I discussed the attitudes of the Pharisees that were there listening. Amazingly, instead of agreeing with Jesus that the steward’s behavior was sinful, they instead began to deride Jesus to publicly mock Him. The more I ponder their attitude towards Christ the more I am amazed at how just how hard an arrogant and religious heart can be. Not only were they failing miserably at being faithful stewards of the oracles of God which they openly boasted to be the keepers and teachers of, they failed miserably in their living by them.

Jesus said the Pharisees were “those who justified yourselves before men,” but warned them that God knows the hearts of all men. But what was it though that they had been “justifying” themselves about? These were the prominent religious leaders of the day . . . up until the Light of the world appeared unto men exposing them for what they really were. They were covetous not only of worldly things, but also of the praise and admiration of men. No wonder Jesus spoke such sharp condemning words to them that what they “highly esteemed” was an abomination in the sight of God.

If you are an America Christian who is faring well and yet yearn for, or look for the praise and approval of men, then I strongly urge you to listen to Jesus words against these religious men  –

Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

 In the Gospel of John it was recorded how many of the chief rulers actually believed on Jesus, but only two of which are mentioned in scripture and eventually came forward and stood for Jesus, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. However, many of them would not openly confess Jesus because they feared the Jews, i.e., the Pharisees –

John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

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(The following article was written by Brother Nathan Albright, a very meticulous writer whose writings have captured my attention for some time now. He covers a wide spectrum of topics from the casual update concerning “What’s happening in the life of Nathan,” to very thorough topical studies to a continue flow of book reviews. His blog is Edge Induced Cohesion.)

What’s In A Greeting?: The Epistles of Paul

Posted on February 23, 2012

What information is conveyed in a greeting? Greetings are usually fairly short, but even though short and often conventional, there are important bits of information that filter through simply because of what those conventions are. Let us examine, for example, the extant letters of Paul, to see what conventions he used and what information he conveyed. We know of the greetings for thirteen letters of his [1]. Let us compare the letters in roughly chronological order and then see what sort of connections we can draw from them.

The Greetings Of Paul

Let us turn to the thirteen books of Paul and look at their greetings in a roughly chronological order. We will look at Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 1 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Timothy. The greetings for these thirteen books are as follows:

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This is not intended to be a debate or a refutation of anything per se; it is simply an effort to share some facts about certain points of scripture that are aggressively used in debates regarding the nature of God and the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is a long post, but still one I feel worthy of the consideration of others who are prayerfully laboring through these issues. However, before getting into the topics, I would like to start by sharing a quote by John H. Leith, who compiled a book concerning Christian doctrine from the Bible days to the present entitled “Creeds of the Churches”

 “. . . the nature of man is an intelligent being. Just because of intelligence the Christian, of all men, has to learn to discern with agonizing clarity what is conceivable by him about God Himself. What cannot be thought through critically and expressed with reasonable clarity cannot demand the allegiance of man’s whole being. Understanding is necessary for man’s full commitment. Hence faith must be spoken and made intelligible. That is not to say faith must be enclosed within the limits of reason, but it does mean that faith must never require neither the closing of the mind nor the sacrifice of the integrity of the mind.”

This statement is one that has probably influenced me more than any other man’s words of wisdom, compelling me to always try my best to understand every man’s profession of faith and in turn to share mine as simply and clearly as possible. That is why before I present the following information; I would like to clarify that I am not what most Trinitarians would readily call an “Oneness” believer, at least not in the sense that they would define it. For those who do not understand what “Oneness” supposedly is according to the Trinitarian definition, it is the heretical belief where one denies the coexistence of three “persons” of the “Godhead.” Be assured, I absolutely believe we all have but one Creator and Father who sent His only begotten Son Jesus, The Christ, as a sin-offering for the sins of the world. Who having returned back to heaven has sent to His Church the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of Truth to guide them into all truth . . . if they would but follow.

There are those on the Oneness side who aggressively assert the biblical truth that there is only one God as expressed in the verse below to the point of denying any distinction between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.

Some oneness believers even go so far trying to defend and explain their position to the point of saying that when the voice from heaven came testifying that Jesus was in fact God’s Son in whom He was well pleased that Jesus was actually throwing His voice back up into heaven. I would quickly assert they “do err not knowing,” as Jesus said “the scriptures or the power of God.

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While finishing up my next article I wanted to submit this exhortation I gave one night at the Coffee House.

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We are instructed by the scriptures to be vigilant in our faith, to strive to enter the strait gate, fight the good fight, run the race, be good soldiers, finishers of the faith.

In Luke chapter 16 Jesus tells His disciples about a certain rich man who had a steward who had wasted his goods. The setting for this discourse is that He was speaking to His disciples, but not only to them, for Luke also says in verse 14 that “the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided Him.” Now Luke doesn’t share what exactly the Pharisees were saying, but the Greek word translated “deride” was only used twice in the NT, with the second place being in Luke as well when Jesus was on the cross.-

Lu 23:35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

In both places it is noteworthy that such was the response towards Jesus. There wasn’t any dignified attempt to reason or refute Jesus; it was an eruption out of the abundance of their hearts of iniquity as they spoke, a blatant display of arrogance by corrupt religious leaders against the greatest Rabbi of eternity. Their outburst of unashamed scoffing and ridicule was meant to convey their total rejection of Him. What makes this even more shameful is they were doing it in a vain attempt to justify their own selves. I am sad to say I have witnessed this type of behavior with the same motive among those professing to be Christian, leaders included.

Lu 16:15 And He said unto them, “You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

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