Saturday, July 27, 2013


Let no one despise or think less of you

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...." Eph 4:11-12

Timothy (a teenager) was to be one of the chief coworkers with Paul. Since Timothy was partly of Jewish heritage, Paul had him circumcised. But Titus (another coworker) was Gentile, and Paul refused his circumcision (Gal. 2:3). Timothy was with Paul on his second missionary journey (1 Thess 3:1-2), his third journey (1 Cor 4:17), and his Roman captivity (Phil. 2:19-22).

1. Why had Timothy not been circumcised by his parents?

"Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek." Acts 16:3

J.G.Malphurs thought that Timothy’s family became Christians at Pentecost in Acts 2.

"From this it seems that both the mother and grandmother had preceded him into the kingdom; for it is clearly of their faith in Christ, and not of their Jewish faith, that Paul here speaks. With such an example before him, it is not surprising that the young disciple should be found well attested by all the brethren who knew him. The fact that he was thus attested not only at Derbe and Lystra, within the vicinity of his residence, but also in the more distant city of Iconium, renders it probable that he was already known as a public speaker." McGarvey

2. Young, but with the authority of God.

"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." 1 Tim 4:12-16

Do not let. "Do not let anyone ignore what you say just because you are young. Use your authority, which belongs to the rank of an evangelist." Timothy was probably in his early thirties, but the first century worshipped age. Anyone under fifty years old was "just a kid." Compare John 8:57. The church leaders were probably all older than he was, and there was a real danger that they (or the false teachers especially) would look down on him. But be an example. "Your life should be good enough to set a pattern for others." 13. To the public reading. Since the printing-press had not yet been invented, books were handmade and scarce. Public reading of the Scriptures was an important part of the church meeting. 14. Do not neglect. "Do not fail to make use of the spiritual gift that you received when I laid my hands on you (2 Tim. 1:6), at the time you were publicly identified (ordained) as an evangelist of the Good News Gospel." Compare notes on Acts 13:1-3; 16:l-3.

3. Entrust the Faith to reliable people.

JESUS is the Truth. "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
John 14:6

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men (anthropos = both men and women) who will be able to teach others also." 2 Tim 2:1-2

a) As for you, my son. The Circumcision Party (Judaizers) in the province of Asia had all rejected Paul as apostle (Acts 15:1-2), therefore he will no longer be able to reason with them and oppose their false teaching. This burden must now fall on the shoulders of Timothy (and others like him). Paul is intensely anxious about how Timothy will act in the future. This does not mean that Paul expects him to fail, but he feels about this as a father whose son goes off to war. b) Take the words. Paul sees apostolic succession as a matter of teaching, not of administration. What Paul preached was the Good News of God’s act in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-21) and all that formed part of this (verse 8). In other words, it is the entire New Testament. [Timothy died about the time the last Book was written, but he had been taught everything that would be in it.] Timothy is to pick those who can be trusted and pass on this message. The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).

"To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it." WYD

Monday, July 15, 2013


Do Not Despise God’s Chastening

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne." Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

"We’re signing up for God’s Permanent New World package. So let’s show some gratitude. Let’s work for Him out of respect for who He is. Like Moses said, "Our God is a raging forest fire."

1. Jesus the Suffering Servant.

"He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:3-5

"Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Hebrews 2:14-15

2. God loves us with a tough-love.

[Tough love is an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run. The phrase was evidently coined by Bill Milliken when he wrote the book Tough Love in 1968 and has been used by numerous authors since then.]

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Romans 2:4

"You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."
Hebrews 12:4-6; the quotation is Prov. 3:11-12.

We each have ailments. But we could make a long list of those ailments we do not have.

"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities." 1 Tim 5:23

a) Have you forgotten? "You know, if you will remember, that sufferings are evidences of God’s love for you."

b) When the Lord. "Do not think sufferings just as accidental acts of blind fate (as the Gentiles do)." [Romans 8:18-23]

c) Discouraged. "This is not God’s wrath for your sin. See what Jesus said in Luke 13:1-5."

d) Because. "Instead of being expressions of His anger, punishments (chastisements) are proof of His love."

MacKnight says: "This scripture, by showing God’s Providence to be just and righteous, dispels the gloom which the misery and suffering which are part of life, may bring on us. We are here being trained and developed, by God who is our teacher. He uses the problems and suffering of life to teach us the good qualities and the character to serve Him in this world, and to enjoy the pleasures of the next. May every suffering child of God understand this and believe it."

e) That God is treating you as children. "He is giving you His blessing by causing you to grow spiritually." Who was not punished (chastised) by his father, who wanted to correct his faults and develop his character?

In the care of. "Our fathers punished us for our faults and we respected them." How much more. "Our spiritual Father uses more love and gentleness than our human fathers, and he will not give us more than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13)."

f) But God does it. "We must be holy to live with Him in Eternity." Forgiveness and holiness (sanctification) takes place in the mind of God. He has put us in a world of Time and is making us perfect (complete, mature) to come to His Eternal City.

"But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." James 1:25

"The faith that saves is a complete faith. Not just the mind believing and the tongue confessing, but the whole man trusting in the living God. Our faith grows and impacts our actions, or it dies." Wallerstedt

Thursday, July 11, 2013


If Only We Could See

      [adapted from Steve Parham, Central Church of Christ, Nashville, TN].

      Our God is a supernatural God!  The One who created it all is not bound by anything - He put the natural laws into effect.  But He can supersede them.  There is much more going on in our world than we are aware of.  The movie: "Wonderful Life," speaks of this.  This is a Bible subject.

      "George Bailey, feeling like a failure, is about to end it all by jumping off a bridge.  His guardian angel Clarence appears and shows George the "wonderful life" that he has and how he has provided for others.  Are guardian angels just in make-believe Christmas stories or do they really exist?  Wouldn't it be great to see them in action?

      In 2 Kings 6:15-17 we read the account of Elisha and his servant surrounded by an enemy army.  His servant cries out, "Alas, my master, what shall we do?"  Elijah answers: "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."  And Elisha prayed: "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see."  Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

      Jesus tells us that we have angels and that they rejoice when we come into the family of God (Luke 15:10).  If only we could see these angels and know what they are doing in our behalf.  Frank Peretti has written a number of very creative works of fiction describing this hidden work of God's servants on our behalf.  Note Hebrews 1:7,14; Matt. 18:10; Psalm 34:7; 2 Kings 2:12; Zechariah 5:9, for some things the Bible says.

      Although we will most likely never see this angelic activity, hopefully we can still hear and believe the words of Elisha when we become worried or fearful.  "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

John wrote: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."  1 John 4:4 (NKJV)  And Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NKJV)

      God's peace to you and your family.  Steve Parham



MINISTRY OF ANGELS                  R. D. Ice  1977

        "God has not placed the angels as rulers over the new world to come - the world of which we speak.  Instead, as it is said somewhere in the Scriptures (Psalm 8:4-6): 'What is man, O God, that You should think of him; mere man (the son of man), that You should care for him?  You made him for a little while lower than the angels, You crowned him with glory and honor, and made him ruler over all things.'  It says that God made man 'ruler over all things'; this clearly includes everything.  We do not, however, see man ruling over all things now.  But we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, so that through God's grace (kindness) He should die for everyone (taste death for everyone in all the world).  We see Him now crowned with glory and honor because of the death He suffered.  It was only right that God, who creates and preserves all things, should make Jesus perfect through suffering, in order to bring many sons (daughters) to share His glory.  For Jesus is the one who leads them to salvation."  [Hebrews 2:5-10]

        Ezekiel's Vision - Ezekiel 1:4-9  "I looked up and saw a windstorm coming from the north.  Lightning was flashing from a huge cloud, and the sky around it was glowing.  Where the lightning was flashing, something shone like bronze.  At the center of the storm I saw what looked like four living creatures in human form, but each of them had four faces and four wings.  Their legs were straight, and they had hoofs like those of a bull.  They shone like polished bronze.  In addition to their four faces and four wings, they each had four human hands, one under each wing.  Two wings of each creature were spread out so that the creatures formed a square, with their wing tips touching.  When they moved, they moved as a group without turning their bodies."

        Cherubim in Solomon's Temple - 1 Kings 6:23-28.

"Two winged creatures (cherubim) were made of olive wood and placed in the Most Holy Place, each one 15 feet tall.  Both were of the same size and shape.  Each had two wings, each wing 7½ feet long, so that the distance from one wing tip to the other was 15 feet.  They were placed side by side in the Most Holy Place, so that two of their outstretched wings touched each other in the middle of the room, and the other two wings touched the walls.  The two winged creatures were covered with gold."

        Angels are a separate order of creation.  Contrary to popular folklore, a human does not become an angel after death.  Note that angels existed before the death of any human being (compare Genesis 3:24; Job 38:6-7.

        In the Scriptures angels sometimes appear with bodies and in human form, and with abilities similar to the resurrected Christ (compare Genesis 18:1-8; 19:1,10; Luke 24:37-43; John 20:19). 

        In Biblical languages, angels are always masculine in gender, never female.  However, "sex" (gender) is probably not a characteristic of angels (although Genesis 6:2 seems to imply differently).  But Jesus says angels do not "marry" (Matt. 22:30).

        We note that humans have a higher "priority" in creation (compare Hebrews 2:5-9), which places angels in a supporting role.  The Scriptures speak of humans judging the angels (1 Cor. 6:3).  This ought to arouse in the church a sense of competency and dignity. 

        We see angels; helping those who are to receive salvation (Hebrews 1:14), although we are not told just how.  Jesus speaks of children having "angels in heaven" (Matt. 18:10).  McGarvey takes this to mean certain angels intrusted with the care of certain individuals.  But probably the popular doctrine of "guardian angels" goes too far. 

        God gave the Old Testament Law through angels (Gal. 3:19).  In contrast the Good News Gospel came through Christ rather than an angels (Hebrews 1:1-2).

        Angels are interested in the salvation of mankind (1 Peter 1:12).  Yet the Scriptures strongly warn us not to worship angels (Col. 2:18,23; Rev. 22:8-9). 

        Angels come with Christ to judge the earth and reap the harvest of both reward and punishment (Jude 14-15; Rev. 14:14-20). 

        The Devil and his angels were defeated at the cross  (Col. 2:15).  But they are still permitted to oppose the followers of Christ (Eph. 6:12; 1 Cor. 10:13), and Christians must "resist the Devil" (James 4:7).


1. Ministering Spirits. 

    "The angel of the LORD met Hagar at a spring in the desert on the road to Shur . . .He said, 'Go back to her and be her slave.'"  [Genesis 16:7-9]

    "The angel of God, who had been in front of the army of Israel, moved and went to the rear."  [Exodus 14:19]  This was to protect against the Egyptians.

    "God will put His angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go."  [Psalm 91:11]  The Devil quotes this during the temptation of Christ.


2. Angels announced the Birth of Christ.

    "But the angel said to them: 'Don't be afraid!  For I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.  This night in David's town your Savior was born - Christ the Lord!"  [Luke 2:10]


3. Comforted Christ in His Temptation.

    "He was there forty days, and Satan tempted Him.  Wild animals were there also, but angels came and helped Him."  [Mark 1:13]


4. Delivered Apostles from prison.

    "But that night an angel of the Lord opened the prison gates, led the apostles out, and said to them, Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new life."  [Acts 5:19]

    "Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there, and a light shone in the cell.  The angel shook Peter by the shoulder, woke him up and said, Hurry!  Getup!  And at once the chains fell off his hands."  [Acts 12:7]


5. Angels execute the vengeance of God.

    When the LORD's angel was about to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD changed His mind about punishing the people and said to the angel who was killing them, 'Stop!  That's enough!"  [2 Samuel 24:16]  Punishment was for David's taking a census against God's orders. 

    "An angel of the LORD went to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers."  [Isaiah 37:36]  The angel was defending the city of Jerusalem.


6. Rejoice over sinners who repent.

    "In the same way, I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents."  [Luke 15:10]


7. Fallen angels.

    For God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell, where they are kept chained in darkness, waiting for the Day of Judgment."  [2 Peter 2:4] 

    "Remember the angels who did not stay within the limits of their proper authority, but abandoned their own dwelling-place: God has kept them in the darkness below, bound in eternal chains for that great Day on which they will be condemned."  [Jude 6]


Angel means messenger. Spiritual beings who exist to serve God and to praise the Lord.  Higher in status than humans, they are lower in status that the exalted Jesus (Hebrews 2:6-8). Among them there are different ranks or orders, including angels and archangels.  Some rebelled against God's sovereignty; their leader is known as Satan (the devil), and they became fallen or disobedient angels.  The vast majority, however, have remained as free obedient beings, and it was they who welcomed the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:13-14) and will come with Him at His Second Coming (1 Thessalonians 4:18).  In the Old Testament, the 'angel of the Lord' is in fact God Himself speaking.  Two angels are specifically named in the Old Testament, Gabriel and Raphael.  Gabriel appeared again to announce the Incarnation of Christ.  Michael, the "prince of Israel" (Daniel 10:21; 12:1) is often referred to as an angel."  Compact Bible Dictionary

      The Jews believed there were seven angels who enter the holy presence and offer to God the prayers of His covenant people.  Compare Revelation 8:3-5.

      Angels came to Abraham in human form.  Genesis 18:1-2.

      Cherubim in the tabernacle: 1 Kings 6:23-27.


 Angels are created (Psalm 148:2,5; Col. 1:16), non-human, spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14).


 They are immortal (Luke 20:36), innumerable (Hebrews 12:22),

invisible (Numbers 22:22-31),

sexless (Matt. 22:30),

and do the will of God (Psalm 103:20).


 These angels have a ministry to believers. They guide (Genesis 24:7,21),

protect (Psalm 34:7),

and comfort (Acts 27:2,24).

There are good angels (Genesis 28:12; Psalm 91:11)

and bad angels (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6 ).

 The only angels mentioned by name are Gabriel (Daniel 8:16;9:21),

Michael (Daniel 10:13,21;12:1),

and Lucifer (Luke 10:18).

[Raphael is mentioned in the Apocrypha.]

Michael is always mentioned in the context of battle (Daniel 10:13) and Gabriel as a messenger (Hebrews 1:26).

Of course, Lucifer, who became Satan, is the one who opposes God.

 Angels were originally created for the purpose of serving and carrying out the will of God. The fallen angels rebelled and became evil angels. Satan is such an angel (Isaiah 14:12-16; Ezekiel 28:12-15).



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Long John the Pirate



[from Tiberias Cylinder. ]


    The Blue Star Lounge is in the shopping district known as the Holodeck. The name Holodeck comes from the Star Trek video series, still popular after all these years. A series of businesses in this shopping district duplicate scenes shown in the Star Trek video.


    The Blue Star was decorated in Old Earth style to look like a sailing ship in the videos. Lengths of heavy rope were draped around the walls. Chairs and tables were made of imitation wood. Light came from lanterns which appeared to be made of polished brass. Even  scents and aromas of the sea filled the air.


    The barkeeper was an android woman dressed in the style of Old Earth. She kept up a steady chatter as she polished the imitation wood bar and served the customers. She had a computer memory; therefore she knew each of the usual customers, remembered their favorite drinks, and could immediately punch the code into the synthesizer to produce the exotic drinks of a thousand Cylinder Cities and a million cultures.


    But just now the synthesizer wasn't working. Which made for unhappy customers.         


    The doorway into the Blue Star was shielded by a simple force field. No sliding door to wear out. Yet the force field kept the scents and aromas in and the odors of the masses out.


    Annie looked up to see Big Al come into the Blue Star.


    "Al Mowrer, where have you been! I can't get this blasted synthesizer to work! I have to mix drinks by hand and we don't keep anything but a few bottles back here. I've got a lot of unhappy customers!"


    "Keep your microchips cool, Annie. I'm doing the best I can. Everything needs repair and everybody wants it done yesterday.  I can't work 24 hours a day like you do."


    "Al," said a heckler, "you're just playing around.  Aren't you always screwing things up just to annoy the Captain?  I bet you screwed up the synthesizer on purpose just to annoy everyone."


    "Chauncey, get off my back! I'm likely to do something drastic to you that a microchip won't fix."


    Chauncey snickered.



    Al removed a panel at the base of the synthesizer. He took his test probe and searched among the junctions. He sent a microjolt of power into the right place. "There! It's working again!"  He replaced the panel, and stood up.


    Al punched in the code for an Earth style beer.  He picked up the container and took a big swig.  "Ah,"  he said, "this is what my Granddad used to tell me about.  Real Polish beer from Old Earth."


    "Thanks, Al," said Annie.  "I'm back in business again!"


    A figure came through the doorway, medium height, dressed in the style of the Video Pirates.  His hair stood up in spikes.  He had a patch over one eye (made of one-way plastic so he could see), a silver shirt with a leather vest, black trousers and black boots.  A cutlass swung at his side.


    "Ahoy Mateys, you're a sight for sore eyes! I been sailing the spaceways and I just docked my ship on Tiberias. I'm wild and woolly and full of fleas. I'm a ring-tailed roarer and ready for shore leave!"


    "Long John, you old fake," said Al. "You wouldn't know a sailing ship if it bit you."


    "Now Al, ain't I entitled to a little fun? I like to strut around and impress the tourists. It really blows my mind when some kid says, 'Wow! Are you a real pirate!"'


    "And your getup," said Al. "Don't those earrings hurt your ears? Those bangles on your earrings have got to be heavy. How do you stand it, going around like that?"


    Long John sighed. "Al, don't give me any trouble. I have to relax somehow. I work with the computers and everything is crisis, nothing but crisis all day long! When I turn into Long John the Pirate, everything changes. I'm free! I roam the streets and impress people. It's wonderful! I'm happy! But these blasted boots hurt my feet and you wouldn't believe how these earrings pinch and pull." He reached up to take off the earrings. "That's a relief. I read that real pirates punched holes in their ear lobes and hung bangles and things from them. I had these made up to look the real thing, but they have clamps that snap on and hold tight. They hurt my ears something fierce. It's a relief to take them off."


    "Long John, step up to the bar," said Annie. "I'll fix you something now that Al has my synthesizer running again. What'll you have?"


    "Rum, Matey! Gim'me some of that Old Earth rum. That's what real pirates drink in the videos."


    Annie punched in the code, then handed the rum to Long John.


    He took a big swig. He coughed and choked and wheezed and tried to get his breath. Al pounded him on the back. Finally he could breathe again. "My, that was good," said Long John. "When I finish this I want another!"


    "Al," said Long John, "tell me something. I hear you have taken up with those Bible thumpers."


    "Nah. But I do work with some of them and Rod invited me to one of their Bible studies. I went a time or two and may go again. They do seem to have a peace that I would like to have. What they said seemed to make a lot of sense."


    "I didn't figure you for a religious kind of person?"


    "But I'm not irreligious either. Granddad Mowrer held to the same religious views that Rod holds.  He said that this Jesus really did live and that He rose to life again.  Granddad certainly had the peace and trust to look into the future."


    "Well, I don't know.  But maybe I ought to look them up and hear what they have to say?  I'll think about it."


    "They do help one another.  That's something in their favor.  Give Rod a call."



    Long John had decided one rum was enough.  He put his earrings on, then stood up, drew his cutlass (plastic, of course), flourished it, then put it back in the sheath.  He went out the doorway and got on a floater.



Monday, July 1, 2013


The Gospel Paul Certified

   "For the darkness has turned to dawning and the dawning to noonday bright, for God's great Kingdom has come to earth, the Kingdom of truth and light!"  [from an old song]

   “The proper aim of all true doctrine is worship. Doctrine that does not begin and end in worship is not biblical at all, but is rather the product of western philosophy. The ultimate aim of all true knowledge is spirituality, in some form or another. Only when knowledge is so understood is it faithful to the intent of the Bible text itself.”  [adapted from Fee.]

   “Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."  Luke 24:44 (NKJV)

   Paul preached the Certified Gospel of Jesus Christ.

   "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."  1 Cor 15:1-2

   "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Gal 1:11-12

   We can imagine Paul saying something like this.  “The Judaizers say I preach a secondhand gospel, which I have distorted.  Let me tell you this is not true!  My gospel has no human origin!  There is nothing secondhand about my gospel!  It was Christ Himself who gave it to me." 

   Paul is probably thinking of Acts 26:14-19.  "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."  [red letters]

   Certified gospel faith places absolute faith in a good God, the God who loves us, who not only provided the salvation for us, but continues to bless us.  John wrote: "We love him, because he first loved us."  1 John 4:19

    "Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him."  Psalm 67:6-7

   Peter and Paul preached the same Gospel.

    “You built the Church on Peter and Paul (and John). They were powerful in their service to Jesus and proclaiming Your saving Word. We love the wholeheartedness of Peter. We cherish the charismatic Paul. We thank You for their struggles and the way they poured themselves out for Your Church. As Peter became protective of the heritage and Paul became more expansive with the message, keep Your Church faithful to the tension. Keep us faithful to the past as we create Your new future with the kingdom keys You have given us.”  [adapted from Colaresi]

   All the apostles were each called by Jesus.  Both Peter and Paul (and John) were first among equals.

   "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not."  Gal 1:18-20

   Paul preached on Mars Hill: "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." Acts 17:31

   Peter writes in the context of assuring Christians of the hope we have, and of the dangers which face the church.  "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;" 2 Peter 1:19 (NKJV) 

   Peter is saying: "We couldn't be more sure of what we saw and heard—God's glory, God's voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You'll do well to keep focusing on it. It's the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts."  Peter refers to the Transfiguration and the things he and the others witnessed there.   Jesus is the Eternal WORD who came in flesh & bone into our world to be the Lamb of God who takes away sin!  This  is the Good News of the Gospel of how God saves people for eternity!


For God So Loved The World!

First, a glimpse of heaven.  [Luke 9:28-31]

Jesus on the mountain - transfigured!

His clothes are dazzling WHITE!

He's locked in discussion with the Two Witnesses.

Moses (the Law), Elijah (the Prophets) -

the Two Witnesses who speak of Who He Is!

They are talking with Him about how

He will soon fulfill God's Purpose by dying.

The LAMB OF GOD who takes away SIN.



The Law of Contrarieties

R.D.Ice   May 27, 2013


      Truth really is stranger than fiction.  All these things really did happen.  In 63 years of working among the churches, this writer has come across many things.  The ‘Law of Contrarieties’ is: reacting to an idea, sometimes without thinking through implications and consequences.  "We didn't expect that to happen!"

      We each have distorted images of God. Partly because we're human and incapable of fully understanding God. Partly because of our backgrounds and experiences. And if we've had negative relationships, it's difficult not to reflect some of that onto God.

      There are people who "masquerade as Christians," and sin by being excessively superficial or overly rigid, forgetting that a true Christian is a person of joy who rests their faith on the Rock of Christ. Some think they can be Christian without Christ; others think being Christian means being in a perpetual state of mourning.  Rigid and sad. Or happy but with no idea of ​​Christian joy. These are two - in a sense opposite - "houses", in which two categories of believers live and which are both seriously flawed: they are grounded in a Christianity made of words and fail to rely on the "Rock" of the Word of Christ.  To put it simply, they have no joy. They do not feel that they rest on Jesus, with that firmness which the presence of Jesus gives. And they not only have no joy, they have no freedom either. They are the slaves of superficiality, of this life, and the slaves of rigidity, they are not free. The Holy Spirit has no place in their lives. It is the Spirit who gives us the freedom! Today, the Lord calls us to build our Christian life on Him, the Rock, the One who gives us freedom, the One who sends us the Spirit, who keeps us going with Holy Joy, on His journey of life, following His proposals. "  

      Peter spoke of “Joy unspeakable and full of glory!”   Paul said: “Rejoice evermore!”  Satan works to steal our Holy Joy away.  Notice 2 Cor. 3:17-18; Gal. 5:1; Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 1:5-6.

      “It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.”  John wrote of Jesus: “That was the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” John 1:9-10 NKJV.

      Our human nature tells us to go on cursing the darkness!  React in fear and anger!  Yet the only successful way to conquer darkness is to lift up Jesus Christ the True Light.  “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  2 Cor. 4:6.

      “Destroy and be free!”  If you really want to get rid of the mice, set fire to your house and burn it down.  You probably don’t think this a good idea.  Yet in church matters, this is sometimes how people seem to think.

      Perhaps you know of the preacher/elder/deacon who left to form a new church just down the street.  "But I wanted to do God's will.  They weren’t conservative enough.  I was in the right.  That church wasn't obeying God.  This city needs a church that does it right!"

      Paul warned against "choosing up sides" and he commanded that all stand together.  A new birth makes us brothers and sisters in the Lord's Family.  Note Colossians 3:10-11; 1 Corinthians 12:13.  And note the attitude of the older brother in Luke 15:25-32.  Yet the father loved the older brother also.

      Never were the faithful in the Seven Churches of Revelation told to withdraw to form a “true” church!  Rather, they were to “hold fast what you have until I come.”  “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  And the continual refrain: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

      Some say: “But if we are not different, and peculiar, we have nothing to preach.”  Yet Paul said: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  1 Cor. 2:2.  The ancient church spoke of the Fish <”)))><  - Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

      Someone said of old Uncle John Rogers (not his real name and he is a composite), “He is the most spiritual man I know.  He is against everything!”  He had not heard of the Law of Contrarieties, but he followed it religiously.  And he had a lot of zeal!

      Uncle John said, “I don’t remember who said it, but if the denominations go in and out the door, why, we will go in and out the window.”  “We’ve got to be different,” he said,” or we don’t have anything to preach.” 

      “What about preaching Christ?” someone asked.”  “Oh, the denominations do that.  We’ve got to tell people just how different we are, that we are the true church because we are different and peculiar.” 

      A visiting preacher said he would not preach about grace because the Baptists preach on that.  "Amen," said Uncle John.  "It's Law and don't you forget it!!  We've got to work for our salvation!"

      But some said, "What about Jesus?  'For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ' (John 1:17)."  "We only go by the Book of Acts," said Uncle John.  But the Book of Acts emphasizes JESUS and the Holy Spirit.

      When some of the young people began singing: “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit In This Place,” (page 882 in Praise For The Lord), Uncle John called the elders together and said those young people should be put out of the church to protect it.  “Why, there never was a Spirit in this place, sweet or otherwise.”

      He was against “premillenialism.”  But he didn’t stop at that.  If Christ would really come to usher in a 1000 year kingdom, Uncle John would have surely given Him a strong argument against it.  “If premillenialism is true, why, you might as well just throw the Bible out the window!”  But of course God doesn’t need our advice on what He does or does not do.

      Uncle John was so against the idea of a thousand year reign that he began following the AD 70 argument (Preterism).  He bought a book on Revelation that taught that everything had been fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD.  For a while he taught that Christ would never come again.  This world would just go on forever.  But finally he had to give that up when he saw where all this was leading.  Surely Jesus is Coming Again!

      Anything Uncle John didn’t want to have done now, he would say was “just for the first century” and write it off.  But when someone tried to tell him that “baptism was just for the first century, and only for the Jews,” he really got angry.

      Someone tried to say that the Lord’s Supper was only for the first century.  They quoted 1 Corinthians 11:20.  “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.”  “See,” they said, “you cannot eat the Lord’s Supper today.”  But Uncle John would have none of that.

      Someone said that the bread should never be broken before passing it.  “You are breaking the body of Christ.  It is only right when each person breaks off a piece.”  And for a while Uncle John argued that the bread should not be broken before it is passed.  Then another argued that since the ‘elements’ had been blessed in the morning worship, they should not be blessed again when offered at the evening service.  And for a time Uncle John offered the Lord’s Supper at the evening service without ‘blessing’ it.  But a visiting brother attacked that, and Uncle John again “blessed” the Lord’s Supper at the evening service.

      A Brother came to hold a Gospel Meeting.  The first night he preached that no one at all could be saved, except just maybe a tiny remnant.  He quoted what Jesus said about "entering in at the strait gate."  One of the young people asked, "what about Matt. 8:11 where Jesus said “many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the kingdom of heaven?” And what about the ‘great number that no man can number’ in Revelation 7?"

      The next night the brother preached on how sinful it was to have a kitchen in the church (building)."  Uncle John said, "There has been enough gospel preached here tonight to save the world!"

      A contentious young man from another congregation came to harangue Uncle John.  "You've go to trouble people." he said.  "Hell fire and brimstone!"  Then he said, "Your baptism is no good.  You didn't repent right.  I know you didn't.  You’ve got to be totally troubled first to repent."  He kept on at this and finally convinced Uncle John to be rebaptized.  "Now" he said, "you are a novice.  You can't continue to be an elder anymore."  So Uncle John stepped down.  About three months later Uncle John began to think things over.  "The Eunuch was baptized on his statement of faith in Christ.  He wanted to be right with God. I was baptized on my faith in Christ.  There was nothing at all wrong with my baptism."  And so he went back to being an elder again.

      A much older man visited from another congregation.  He went to one of the other elders and tried to convince him that the qualifications were so strict that no one could possibly be an elder (except this man of course).   The elder finally became so convinced of how unworthy he was that he resigned.  And then he left the church altogether.  When Uncle John tried to reason with him, he would not talk about it at all.

      A visiting preacher said he would use a sermon on the Holy Spirit.  "We don't want any of that Holy Spirit stuff here," Uncle John said.  "You better preach on something else."

      He was sure that the Holy Spirit was just for the first century, and that only the apostles had ever received the Holy Spirit.  For a while he began teaching that the New Testament did not really begin until Acts 2:22, that all that Peter quoted from Joel applied only to the Old Testament times.  He believed that since Jesus lived under the Law, you should ignore all that Jesus said and taught.  But Jesus said His word would judge us at the last day, John 12:48.

      Uncle John decided that the Holy Spirit was the Written Word, and that anyone could only have the Spirit as he read the Bible.  But someone asked, “What about those who cannot read, or who do not have a Bible?  Is the Holy Spirit out of reach of such a person?  And if you say we do not need the Holy Spirit because we now have the Bible, would you also say we no longer need Christ because we now have the church?”

      When he was reminded of Cornelius being baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-17), the Samaritans (Acts 8:5-8), and that Philip’s four daughters had prophesied (Acts 21:9), he began teaching like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  “The ‘holy spirit’ is just a power like electricity.  ‘It’ is not a person at all.”

      But the JWs have strange ideas about Who Jesus Is.  They teach Jesus was only a man, or perhaps an angel. He read in the JW Bible Version that John was preparing the way of Jehovah (Luke 3:4.  LORD = Jehovah) and compared this with Isaiah 42:8 (“I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another...”) and he had to change again.  Surely Jesus was Jehovah and the teaching about the Trinity was true.  Father-Son-Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).  [Campbell spoke of Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, Jehovah the Holy Spirit (in The Christian System).]

      Uncle John decided that the Holy Spirit “is just the Spirit of God.”  Someone said that was like saying “Jesus is only the Son of God.”  This is the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19-20).

      Uncle John met some Pentecostals who spoke about the Indwelling Holy Spirit and quoted Bible to prove this.  “Impossible!” he said.  “Why, the Spirit would just burn them up!  The Holy Spirit could never actually indwell anyone.  It’s just a figure of speech.”

      Then he got to thinking.  If the Spirit would just burn them up, how could Jesus be the Son of God in the flesh?  So for a period of time, he began teaching that Jesus just “wore a disguise” and was not really God in human form.  But the Bible really does teach Jesus as the Son of God who came in flesh and blood (2 John 7; 1 John 5:6), and he had to give this idea up.

      Another contentious young man said: "The King James translators were all crooks and scoundrels."  "NO!" said Uncle John.  "That can't be!  They were surely Christians since they handled aright the word of God."  One of the young people then said: "So the borders of the kingdom extend farther out than we thought.  Wasn't that what Campbell said?"

      An evangelist from somewhere in another State held a Gospel Meeting for the church.  He preached on Wednesday night that “The church must grow from the inside out.”  He said that love was even more important than faith and hope, and he quoted Paul to prove it (1 Cor. 13:13).  That was just too much.  “Why the church has gone all these years without love.  That’s just these change-agents trying to get their two cents in.”

      But of course the church has not gone without love.  Someone reminded him of what Jesus said about the greatest commandment to love God, and the second greatest about loving neighbor.  “Jesus taught about God’s love for us in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  He taught about loving neighbor in the Good Samaritan.  And Jesus taught that love is the identifier of a true disciple (John 13:34-35).”

      But Uncle John remembered a friend who said everything in the Bible is negative!  This friend could read the divorce issue into every verse of the Bible.  He would ask this friend what to do about the “love” issue.  “Forget this love thing.  They are making it too easy.  Just concentrate on duty.  The righteous are scarcely saved.”  But of course Jesus said that Christian love was the identifier by which all would know His disciples (John 13:34-35).  And John spoke of the eternal hope we have in Jesus (1 John 3:1-3; 4:2-4,13,17-18).

      Campbell said he tried to approach the Bible every morning as if he had never seen it before.  He meant he tried to read the Bible without any preconceived ideas and biases.  When we read a newspaper, we unconsciously use the laws of language and communication to understand what we read.  Perhaps it would help to read the Bible as if it were a newspaper, or a letter from God.  Paul warned of some who “strive about words to no profit” (2 Timothy 2:14).  Compare 1 Timothy 6:4.  Lipscomb wrote: “They had such a morbid fondness for questionings and disputings over untaught questions and words that it amounted to a disease.  These men deal with subtle, useless and unpractical questions, which have no bearing on ordinary life, and only tend to stir up strife and useless discussions, and make men discontented and rebellious.”

      Let us never forget what Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5:18-19.  “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  NKJV

      F.L.Rowe wrote in his book: The History of Reformatory Movements: “Forgiveness takes place in the mind of God, and not in the heart of the sinner.”  Compare Hebrews 8:7-13.  "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."  (NKJV)

      Brinsmead wrote: “It makes a lot of difference whether we think the body is a prison (of the soul) or a temple of the Holy Ghost.  1 Cor. 6:19.”

      The New Testament church had every problem we have today.  “The Church (at Corinth), torn with divisions, plagued by sex scandals, involved with lawsuits, weakened by corruption of the worship and the neglect of the poor, was one of Paul’s greatest evangelistic successes.  The corrupt urban society of Corinth was a fertile ground for Paul’s preaching.  His success in the pagan and hedonistic culture had a profound impact on the development of Christianity throughout the ages.  Paul was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit when faced with the daunting task of changing the Corinthians into the very Body of Christ.  The two letters of Paul to the Corinthians deal with issues that have been relevant throughout history and will continue to inspire the Church till the end of time.  In these letters, Paul deals with tawdry sex scandals taking place within the Christian community and also gives one of the loftiest descriptions of true Christian love ever given.” 

      And this about the Book of Revelation.  "Allow God to charge the horses across the canvas of your mind and grant you the sweep of these things.  John sees horses and storms and seas and armies; blood and fire and earthquakes; demons and angels and THE GLORY OF GOD! He was swept along by another vision, another revelation.  BUT THE END IS NOT YET!"

    "To love people, you must really see them, see the horror - but see them as God sees them.  John is saying: “I saw humanity in all of its ragged horror.  I saw the ocean of wounded, rebellious sons and daughters of Adam.  I saw them enslaved by drugs and alcohol, riddled with Aids, aborting babies out of fear and sin, their marriages in turmoil.  Nation rises against nation."

      "God allows upheaval and ferment and change in this sea of humanity.  Yet there is a KINGDOM that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:25-29).  Keep this in mind.  God is gathering a PEOPLE out of this sea of peoples, multitudes, nations, tongues.  John sees THE LAMB standing on Mount Zion.  Out of this same sea rises His church!  The Bride of Jesus - His church - safe and secure under His Wings, outfitted with the armor of God, swords, helmets.  We see them bloody but unbowed, wounded yet not defeated.  In submission to God by His Holy Spirit this sea of humanity becomes the church - the Community of Jesus!  VICTORY ALREADY BELONGS TO CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH!!!"

      Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matt 5:16.  As Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word.”

      Paul wrote to the Romans.  “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith-- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”  Romans 16:25-27 (NKJV)

      P.S.:  We feel nostalgia for the 19th Century Restoration Movement.  We certainly do “stand on the shoulders of those who lived before us.”  But a reinterpretation of the R.M. has become a “Sacred Tradition” for some.  And we Americans sometimes think the rest of the world “live in mud huts and paint themselves blue.”  But the actual Old Jerusalem Gospel will always be calling the world to the Cross & Resurrection.  JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!