STUDY OF GOD: What are our thoughts?

Lately, I’ve turned out to be very energetic about philosophy. Having as of late perused Stanley Hauerwas’ most recent book Crafted by Religious philosophy (audit to follow at the appropriate time), I felt propelled to share a couple of musings about what religious philosophy is, or if nothing else what I, from my positive novice point of view, see it be. (I rush to include that what takes after comprises exclusively of my own considerations, clueless by lexicon definitions or any other individual’s formal articulation of what philosophy is. So in the event that I say something irrational, the blame is completely mine.)

Semantically, religious philosophy is, obviously, the investigation of God. In any case, here we instantly keep running into an issue, in light of the fact that the simple word considers for some, individuals infers dusty scholastic libraries and heaps of impervious mind boggling and to some degree unique books and papers. What’s more, the study can be these things. In any case, it requires not fit the picture of monotonous work that it so frequently draws in. (With respect to myself, while I’m enthusiastic about philosophy, I have no formal religious preparing, however, I’d love to cure this one day, if time and cash allow).

I have come to consider philosophy not similarly as the investigation of God in the scholarly sense yet as pondering God. Not thinking in the manner in which that we may consider that pleasant occasion we had the previous summer, or what we may have for lunch, or how to take care of a prickly scientific issue; rather, philosophy is pondering, clear reasoning about God.

Presently, heaps of individuals consider God, yet not all reasoning about God is the religious reasoning. At the point when individuals consider God, they regularly consider God they envision him to be: maybe a gushing old man; or a cherishing father who answers each scarcest supplication; or an aloof judge. In any case, these considerations alone are only recognitions and suspicions, mental furniture with which we may have turned out to be agreeable for an assortment of reasons.

So would could it be that isolates philosophical reasoning from different sorts of reasoning about God?

Maybe I can entirety it up this way: philosophical reasoning isn’t simply pondering God, however contemplating what we consider God, why we think it, and what the ramifications of our reasoning are.

How about we take every one of these perspectives thusly.

In the first place, philosophical reasoning is considering what we consider God. That may sound somewhat inconvenient, yet I have a justifiable reason purpose behind majoring such a great amount on the verb “think”. We should recollect forgetting that with regards to religious philosophy, what we are managing isn’t cool, hard actualities or deductively approved information; what we are managing is thought, translation and assessment. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we ought to receive an “anything goes” state of mind where, since nothing can be demonstrated about God in any case, we should all ponder the issue. What it means, in addition to other things, is that religious reasoning, before it is whatever else, ought to be an activity in lowliness. With regards to the central issues about God, life, the universe and everything, we are all, to a huge degree, grabbing around oblivious. A few of us may think we have justifiable reason motivation to trust we have a superior handle on “reality” than others, in any case, we are as yet working based on confidence as opposed to truth. Religious discussion may be somewhat less disruptive and significantly more serene and profitable if a greater amount of us would remember this.

Second, religious reasoning is pondering why we contemplate God. Bunches of individuals have a wide range of thoughts regarding what God resembles and how (if by any means) he associates with the universe. Be that as it may, it’s essential to stop and consider why we have the thoughts we have about God. For what reason is this vital? Since our thoughts regarding God can be – and regularly are – the consequence of a wide range of elements that have pretty much nothing or nothing to do with clear reasoning. A significant number of our observations about God are formed by youth encounter, injury, past family and individual inclusion with sorted out religion, et cetera. This isn’t to imply that our thoughts regarding God molded by our experience probably won’t occur to be valid; yet in the event that all they are is the side-effect of our experience, they are extremely just biases spruced up as philosophy.

Moreover, it’s my conflict that numerous Christians today trust bunches of things about God without having quite a bit of a thought why they trust them. Maybe they trust them since they were brought up in a Christian home and that is the thing that they’ve generally accepted, or maybe they essentially accept what their minister or potentially other church individuals disclosed to them they needed to accept. Be that as it may, they all the time have not halted to ask themselves, “Why, particularly, do I trust this specific thing about God?”

To repeat, at that point, we have to ask ourselves for what reason we figure the manner in which we do about God. Are our philosophical musings in view of something besides individual experience or remotely forced specialist? On the off chance that asked, would we have the capacity to clarify why we contemplate God? It is safe to say that we are ready to relate the manner in which we consider God to sacred writing, the immense conventions of the congregation, and the products of religious investigation down the ages?

Third, lastly, philosophical reasoning is considering the ramifications of what we consider God. On the off chance that we are at all genuine about our philosophical reasoning, it isn’t sufficient to contemplate God: we should likewise consider how that specific idea influences different things we may consider God, ourselves and the world.

As a to some degree oversimplified illustration, you may trust that God orchestrated a helpful parking space for you when you were running late and expected to call at the store. Trusting this is a manner by which God acts on the planet has suggestions for God’s character that should be considered in light of different things that clearly occur on the planet. For instance, if God can and does free up a parking spot for you since you’re running late, for what reason did God not recuperate that youthful mother of terminal growth? What does such a clear irregularity say in regards to the sort of God you have faith in? This isn’t a simple inquiry to reply, however, it is, in any event, the sort of question that merits and should be inquired.

I’m not proposing, at that point, that we require dependably have the capacity to answer the greater part of the inquiries and irregularities that are hurled by our religious reasoning. What I am stating, be that as it may, is that as a base, we should recognize these inquiries and be set up to grapple with them. Something else, by and by, we are working in the domain not of reasoning but rather of supposition, best case scenario and dream even from a pessimistic standpoint.

In synopsis, let me repeat what I’ve just said. This is the thing that philosophical reasoning is: pondering what we consider God, why we think it, and what the ramifications of our reasoning are. I make positively no statement of regret for utilizing “think” such a significant number of times in this post. For sure, on the off chance that I have one mission on this blog, it’s to motivate individuals to stop and consider what they accept and why they trust it. For me, that is a piece of worshiping God with the greater part of our brain.

So… what do you think? Do you concur or can’t help contradicting my considerations about philosophical reasoning? Why? What do you think the religious reasoning is? I’d love to get notification from you in the remarks.

Good Friday

If you were to ask each man and woman who joined in the death watch that “Good” Friday, each could tell you of some personal connection to Jesus. There’s John the beloved disciple, with Mary, Jesus’ mother. Here are Lazarus and Mary and Martha, Jesus’ friends from Bethany. The woman taken in adultery is here, too, in shock, and dozens of others. Each has a connection to the man crucified on the center cross. Some remember a healing, others his life-giving words by the shore of Galilee. Others recall a second chance the Master extended to them. Each has a connection.

They stand in clumps, here and there on that stark hill, drawn together by the sheer terror of what is happening. Two words describe what they feel: appalled and shattered.

But off by himself, as close as he could get to the base of the cross, is a tall, gangly sixteen-year-old with thick black hair and an angular jaw that makes him appear decisive, though at heart he is a dreamer and thinker.

But now his eyes are hard and narrow, staring at the blood that is dripping from the rough-hewn crossbar above. It has made a glistening pool in the rocky surface below, and each time another drop falls and breaks the surface of the puddle, Jonathan winces.


Jonathan’s connection to Jesus goes back a full three years to Jericho and the Jordan when he was thirteen. Jonathan was a shepherd who had grown up out-of-doors, familiar with each hill and vale on the Jericho plain, for he had grazed his father’s sheep there since he had been a lad. Of all the shepherd boys, Jonathan had always been curious about God. He was always pestering the town rabbi with questions.

That same hunger to learn explained Jonathan’s presence one sultry day when John the Baptist had been preaching and baptizing at the nearby River Jordan. Whenever he could slip away and leave the sheep with his brothers, Jonathan would run down to the Jordan in long, loping strides, until he reached the crowds at the riverside.

John the Baptist

With a voice that seemed to carry for miles, the Prophet was saying, “You blind and thoughtless people! You live as if there is no tomorrow. Don’t you know that the axe is already at the root of the trees? Don’t you know that every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire? Don’t you know?”

The Prophet had a kind of desperateness about him as he would call out to the multitudes that stood hushed along the banks. “Don’t you know that the Kingdom of God is at hand, that Messiah is nearly come? Don’t live in your sins any longer! Cleanse your hearts and your ways, and be baptized! Wash away your sins and receive forgiveness from your God!”

Jonathan had been one of those who had waded into the water in response to the Prophet’s call. “Yes, Lord, cleanse my heart,” he had prayed. “Make me ready for your Kingdom.” And as Jonathan came up out of the water he had felt God’s forgiveness and newness. At thirteen he had become a son of the Law. Now he was a son of the Kingdom, too.

Behold, the Lamb of God

As he had stood, water dripping from his long hair, something strange and wonderful had occurred. Suddenly the Prophet was silent, and just stood staring. Staring at something on the riverbank. As the Prophet continued to stare, soon every eye of every person followed his gaze. John the Baptist was looking at a man walking at the river’s edge.

“Behold!” John the Baptist had said in awe. “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” And at that, the Prophet bowed his head slightly out of reverence, and as he did, so did the rest of the people.

The man had nodded almost imperceptibly to the Prophet in response, and then continued to walk along the bank. The crowds parted as he came to them and they let him through. Then he had passed on, out of sight, and it was over.

Soon the crowd was all a-buzz. “Who was that?” they asked one another.

“Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth,” said one who knew him, and soon the word spread throughout the crowd. “It is Jesus. Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth.”

The next day it was the same. Preaching, baptizing for hours throughout the morning and then the Prophet stopped again, and again his gaze fell upon the man.

“Lamb of God,” Jonathan could hear the Prophet say with hushed reverence. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Why a Lamb?

That’s it? That is Jonathan’s connection to this man on the cross? Didn’t he even hear Jesus teach or see him perform a miracle?

Actually, no. When Jesus came to Jericho a year or two later and converted that notorious tax collector Zacchaeus, Jonathan had been away in search of ungrazed fields for his flock.

So what kind of tenuous connection is this?

Not tenuous at all. Persistent, obsessive, perhaps — anything but tenuous — because the vivid image of Jesus’ face and those very strange words, “Lamb of God,” had burned indelibly into Jonathan’s heart.

What does “Lamb of God” mean? he wondered. Next chance he got, he asked the rabbi.

“What is the Lamb of God, Rabbi?”

The old man gestured for him to sit down in the shade outside the Jericho synagogue that hot afternoon. Then the old rabbi eased his tired body onto a stool next to the doorway.

The Passover Lamb

Agnus Dei, Francisco de Zurban (1598-1664)
Francisco de Zurbar�n (1598-1664), “Agnus Dei” (1635-40) ,Canvas 38 x 62 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Larger image.

“You know, Jonathan,” the white-bearded rabbi began, “that lambs are regularly sacrificed for the sins of the people.

“Then, too, your father takes his best lambs up to Jerusalem every spring for Passover. Centuries ago, boy,” he said, “when God brought us out of the land of Egypt, Pharaoh didn’t want to let our people go. You remember the ten plagues God brought on the Egyptians under Moses? The final plague was to be the death of the firstborn.

“So that first Passover which took place the night before the Great Exodus, a lamb was sacrificed for each family. Each father dipped a branch of hyssop into the blood of his family’s sacrifice, and daubed it on the doorpost and lintel of his house.”

As the rabbi continued to speak, Jonathan’s mind could visualize the slaughtered lamb. And he could see the fresh blood of the lamb that had been painted onto the doorpost. He could see it drip down the post and dribble onto the ground.

“And at evening on that Day,” the rabbi continued, “each father made very sure that each child — each son, each daughter — had been brought inside the house and accounted for. Because outside that night, the Lord struck the land of Egypt, slaying the firstborn son of every family in the entire kingdom. Every firstborn died, except for those sons of Israel whose fathers had sacrificed a lamb and painted its blood on their doorposts as a mark of faith.

” ‘When I see the blood,’ God had promised, ‘I will pass over you.’ And He did pass over us,” the rabbi concluded. “Not one firstborn Israelite met death that night when death was all around us. And by morning all Israel walked free, journeying out of the land of bondage into a new day of liberty.”

So the “Lamb of God” is a Passover lamb, thought Jonathan, as he thanked the rabbi and returned to his father’s flocks. A Passover lamb.

Lambs for the Temple

Jonathan’s father had a contract to deliver eight dozen Passover lambs to the Temple in Jerusalem a few days before Passover. Jonathan, now sixteen, and his older brother Benjamin were given the responsibility of bringing these 96 lambs to Jerusalem.

As Jonathan’s flock climbed the Jericho Road up to Jerusalem, he pondered these sheep and their wonderful and awful role in redemption. Two weeks from now, each would have been slaughtered, and its blood poured out. Had this been ancient Egypt, each lamb would have been sacrificed for a family so that the Lord might pass over them — the lamb’s life given in exchange for the lives of the family.

Jonathan looked at the white, woolly backs of these yearling lambs as they bobbed up and down on the road to Jerusalem. What a burden for an innocent sheep, to die for a family. His father’s lambs would suffice for ninety-six families, but what about the rest? Jonathan’s dark eyes were fixed on the road ahead, but his mind was a thousand miles away. Only ninety-six families. Surely there are enough lambs for the others.


But there was no time for the lazy musings of the upward path now. They had reached the summit of the hill, and beyond them was the glorious panorama of the Holy City, the gold of the Temple gleaming in the noonday sun. What a thrill!

Now down to the Kidron brook that runs along the east side of the Temple. Then the flock struggled up the steep grade to the Sheep Gate where they were inspected by a priest. And as each was found to be without blemish, each was certified as an approved sacrifice. And each of those unblemished sheep would bring Jonathan’s father a handsome price.

For the next few days Jonathan and his brother guarded the certified yearling lambs until the day of Passover. Then their task would be over and they would return to Jericho.

Francisco de Zurbar�n (1598-1664), “The Crucifixion” (1627), oil on canvas, 290 x 168 cm, Art Institute Museum, Chicago.Larger image.

Jesus, too, was in Jerusalem, Jonathan had heard. Jonathan hoped to get to see him before going home. But the sheep kept him busy and soon his few days in the Holy City were nearly over.

Then in rapid succession, Jonathan heard bits of the shocking news that flashed throughout the city. Jesus had been arrested! Now he was being tried. Now condemned to death. How could this be? How could it?

Jonathan’s duties were over now and he was free to roam the pilgrim-packed city. But there was little joy in the city this year. Tension, yes, and hatred. There was fear and anger, too, as the Romans carried out their grizzly task of crucifying the popular hero Jesus.

At the Cross

Many others had heard the news by now, and Jonathan joined the crowd that surged along the road that led to the killing ground outside the city to see if it were really true. There Jonathan finally saw him on the center cross, dying. Jesus! He looked like Jonathan remembered him, yet drained, crushed, as it were, by the weight of the world. A crown of thorns had been pressed into his scalp, and his hands and feet had been spiked to the huge cross that stood naked against the foreboding darkness.

Jonathan pushed closer. Part of him wanted to run and hide. But part of him had to see, had to see for himself. Jonathan edged his way through the press of mourners until he came to the perimeter set up by the soldiers.

Jonathan stood transfixed, tears running down his cheeks. And then he heard Jesus declare in a weak voice, yet clearly, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“What are they doing?” Jonathan wanted to shout. “What are they doing to this holy and righteous man?”

Jonathan’s eyes followed another droplet of blood as it lingered for a moment on the wooden crossbeam, and then fell onto the rocks below the cross.

Perhaps of all the onlookers that day, Jonathan alone remembered and began to understand.

“Behold,” Jonathan said out loud, but quietly so that no one could hear unless listening intently. “Behold,” said Jonathan, weeping silently, now dropping to his knees.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Associations with God

Do you recall the first occasion when you went to this congregation? Did you stroll in not knowing anyone? Did you experience obscure confronts, music, and propensities? What made you feel welcome? What brought you back?

Since you got this bulletin you undoubtedly venerated with us; likely more than once. Some of you are long-term individuals. Many have as of late worshiped and present with us. Others are looking at things.

Each of us was at one time a “guest.”

We are an assembly based upon genuine associations with God and each other – not affectation or false devotion. Since we know we are miscreants spared by elegance we try to expand that effortlessness towards others. Every individual partakes and contributes as they are capable. Individuals are included instead of onlookers – a family as opposed to a crowd of people. The worries and delights of every individual are shared by the others. Our most noteworthy composed endeavors are to serve others in Jesus’ name instead of ourselves. These are signs of the collection of Christ.

God’s call is for us to welcome individuals to participate in what God is doing in and through us. Signs, sites, uncommon occasions, and follow-up programs all have their place yet in the event that adoration, connections, and investment are recognizing characteristics of this assemblage at that point love, individual connections, and inclusion are the ways that we will develop and prove to be fruitful for the kingdom of God. Every individual from the gathering contacting their neighbors and associates is much more successful than the most exorbitant publicizing efforts. Individual contact and care by the general population of the congregation towards guests and newcomers are significantly more compelling than favor pamphlets and undesirable mail stuffed in a letter drop.

Give us a chance to keep on dedicating ourselves to contacting those God acquires our entryways on Sunday mornings. Here are a few ways you can offer assistance.

When you see somebody you don’t know present yourself. In the event that you overlooked somebody’s name inquire.

Wear your unofficial ID. We wear unofficial IDs to be useful to other individuals. You can ask for another or substitution informal ID by putting your name on the clipboard by the unofficial ID racks.

Have a go at sitting in better places so you can meet diverse individuals.

Welcome a guest or somebody you don’t know to sit with you.

Try not to ask, “Is this your first time?” Instead, simply present yourself and say that you are happy that they are here.

Make proper acquaintance with a couple of individuals you don’t know before investing energy with your great companions.

In the event that somebody needs to help – let them! On the off chance that you can’t consider anything for them to do at that point welcome them to do what you were doing.

For extra focuses, have a go at reaching somebody you as of late met amid the week as opposed to holding up until Sunday.

Holy places don’t develop unintentionally and neither do connections. I cheer that Jesus left his solaces and benefits to connect with us. I implore that we will keep on demonstrating this adoration to others.

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Faith II: Saving Faith

Faith II: Saving Faith

by Gene Taylor

The Bible teaches that there are different degrees of faith. These include faith that is:

  • Great. “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel'” (Matt. 8:10).
  • Strong. In speaking of Abraham, Romans 4:20 says, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”
  • Little. When Peter, walking on the Sea of Galilee to get to Jesus, “…saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'” (Matt. 14:30-31).
  • Weak. “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things” (Rom. 14:1).
  • Dead. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).

Faith That Saves

For a faith to be a saving faith, it must be strong enough to cause one to obey God for obedience is essential to salvation (Heb. 5:9; 2 Thes. 1:7-9). A mere conviction is not enough to save. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!” Though demons believe, no one would argue that they are saved. John 12:42 states that many of the rulers of the Jews believed in Jesus but they would not confess that belief because they did not want to be expelled from the synagogue. Would anyone aver that they were saved?

Faith must include obedience in order for it to be a saving faith. As a matter of fact, in every reference to “faith” as a means of salvation, the saving faith is an obedient faith. John 3:16 is often cited by those who say that faith is all one needs to be saved. But compare John 3:16 with John 3:36. In verse 36, the word “believe” occurs twice in the KJV but the original Greek text had two different words. The first “believe” is from the Greek word pisteuo, the latter from the Greek peitho. Pisteuo means “to be persuaded, to place confidence in, to trust” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words), while peitho is to “obey” (Vine). The latter implies the obedience that is produced by the former. More than simple belief, conviction, is necessary for salvation.

Salvation Is Not By Faith Alone

Salvation is by faith (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9) but not by “faith only.” Faith alone is dead while an obedient faith is living (Jas. 2:17, 20, 26). Faith alone is imperfect while an obedient faith is perfect (Jas. 2:22). Faith alone does not save or justify but an obedient faith saves or justifies (Jas. 2:14, 24). Faith alone characterizes the demons (Jas. 2:19-20) while an obedient faith characterized Abraham (Jas. 2:21-23; Heb. 11:8-10). Faith alone characterized many of the Jewish rulers (John 12:42-43) while an obedient faith characterized Noah (Heb. 11:7).

The only occasion in which the phrase “faith only” is used in Scripture is to show that it, by itself, justifies no one (Jas. 2:24).


A saving faith is one that is strong enough to cause the believer to obey the gospel, God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

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Faith I: The Necessity of Faith

Faith I: The Necessity of Faith

Written by my friend Gene Taylor

Faith, pistos, is conviction of the truth of anything, trust or confidence springing from that conviction. The original Greek term is “…used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e., a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ.” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 511)

The Biblical definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Since hope is desire with expectation (see Romans 8:24-25), there must be some basis or reason to expect a desire to be realized. This basis is faith. Faith is the “substance,” hupostasis, i.e., the “thing put under, substructure, foundation.” (Thayer, 645) Since the things hoped for are not seen, yet the proof or evidence, elenchos, that they exist is faith.

We are convinced of the reality of things unseen by the truth or confidence we have in God. If someone we love, respect and trust promises us something — a gift, trip, etc., though we have not seen the promised thing we desire and expect it. Why? Because of the confidence we have in the integrity and honesty of the person who promised it.

What evidence is there that there is a Paris or London, or that George Washington or Abraham Lincoln really lived? Have you seen these places or men? The fact that they are, or were, is accepted by faith. You trust those who informed you.

There is a heaven, etc., and as faithful Christians we expect to go there. The evidence? The basis for hope? God, who cannot lie (Heb. 6:18), has told us. We believe Him.

The Necessity of Faith

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

Since it is by faith that one obeys God in entering into an approved relationship with Him (Gal. 5:6) and lives a life approved by Him (Gal. 3:11), it follows that faith is necessary to please God (Heb. 11:6; John 8:24). Faith must be in one’s heart in becoming a Christian and it must be retained and even augmented throughout his life as a Christian (Rom. 5:1; 2 Cor. 5:7). There is no sin more devastating than the sin of unbelief because it eliminates every phase of usefulness before the Lord (John 3:18). Unbelief, which so easily besets a person (Heb. 12:1), keeps him from fellowship with the living God (Heb. 3:12).

Trust and confidence comes through a knowledge of God — His character, love, dependability, sovereignty, etc. — revealed in Scripture, thus faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17).


Since faith only comes by hearing the word of God, go to the Scriptures, His inspired word, to learn of Him and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son who lived and died for you. Allow the facts presented in the Bible about them to generate faith in your heart and then manifest that faith by submitting in obedience to the gospel, God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), so that you might have your sins remitted (Acts 2:38); be added to Christ’s church, the body of the saved (Acts 2:47); and have the hope of eternal life (1 Pet. 1:4).

Genesis 3:20-21

Genesis 3:20-21

By G. E. Watkins3/29/2017

At this time the woman was simply “ishah” (woman), but now she is given a name by her husband. We should consider that she was not given a name with which to remember her folly in the Garden, or a name to remind her of the sentence she was under (the pain in childbearing and the subjection to her husband), rather she was given a name corresponding to her honorable position as mother of all living. It seems to me to be a queenly name. From the beginning a man’s wife was to be cherished and not demeaned or bought and sold like cattle as was done in the ancient world and is so often done to this very day.

We turn our attention to verse 21. Notice the care given by God here and bring to mind other possible responses He might have made. Instead of abandoning them, or torturing them the God who had been insulted by disobedience was actually caring for them in their sin. He covers their shame. To do this he sheds blood. This is required to provide animal skins. Under the New Covenant when we sin God clothes us with Christ (Gal. 3:27). Christ had to die for this to be so (Romans 5:8).

Let’s also notice something on the subject of modesty. When God clothed our parents how did he do so? God made them coats or tunics. This word signifies a garment designed to cover them to below the knee. In their shame God considered this to be modest.

Preaching The “Offensive” Gospel Of Christ

Preaching The “Offensive”

Gospel Of Christ

By Mike Riley4/2/2017

In Acts 17:2-7, the scripture states the following concerning Paul:

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”

In the context of the above passages, Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica (vs. 1) preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The preaching of the Gospel always brings either a positive or negative response. Some believed and accompanied Paul and Silas (vs. 4), but others did not believe and sought to bring harm upon Paul and Silas to the extent that the brethren sent away Paul and Silas under the cover of night (vs. 10). The charge was, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (vs. 6).

When preaching the word of God the way it ought to be preached, people will be offended especially with those who reject what the word of God demands they do. With this clear fact that is shown throughout the New Testament, we wonder why some preachers are so afraid that they might “offend” someone when preaching the Gospel unto them?

We Might Run Somebody Off!

Over the years I have met several brethren who were more concerned with.”running someone off” than with converting someone to Christ. Their thinking was that it was better to have someone continually attend services than to teach something that made that person make a choice of whether or not they were going to obey the Lord. They would often comment “I sure hope that sermon doesn’t run ’em off”!

One wonders what brethren with this kind of thinking feel when they read accounts such as Paul and Silas in Thessalonica? I wonder how some that have the “offend nobody mentality” feel when they read accounts such as the reaction of the people in Ephesus at the preaching of Paul against idolatry (Acts 19:25-29)? This type of preaching caused confusion and strife among the town folk, thus God must have been upset with this, right? Wrong! The record states, “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:18-20). From this text, we can clearly see that the preaching of the word of God caused some to be “offended” to the point that they “believed, confessed, and showed their deeds” (vs. 18).

What The Preaching Of The Gospel Is About

Stephen wasn’t stoned because he tried to keep from running someone off (Acts 7:51-60). Preaching the Gospel is about telling people what they need to do to be saved (Acts 2:37-41). When you tell someone they need to be saved, you are telling them that they are lost! Some, maybe even many, will not take kindly to being told they are in need of a Savior (John 8:32-37). Nevertheless, while some may be offended, it is our work to take the word of God to them wherever they are (Acts 5:42; Acts 20:20). As we look at the examples in the New Testament and see the many reactions to the preaching of the word of God, our question should not revolve around whether or not we will “run someone off”. Our question should be, “why we are not pricking the hearts of individuals with the Gospel enough to get a reaction out of them?”


Yes, preaching God’s truth can, will, and most times offend people. When you offend someone you cause that person discomfort. What more can you ask for? Should we not want to preach that which causes someone to be uncomfortable with their lifestyle of sin? Are we not in the wrong when we allow someone to think that they are okay living the sinful life that they are living (Acts 20:26-27; Romans 6:1,15)?

The Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Those who reject the words of our Lord do so out of offense not from the teacher, but out of being offended by the Lord. God commands us to teach and preach nothing more than His word (2 Timothy 4:2). Brethren, if we become the enemy of someone because we adhered to the word of God, so be it!




By Kevin Cauley4/8/2017

On the outside of an old fruit crate sitting in my office is a label: “Liberty Brand / Grown and Packed by Escondido Lemon Assn. / Escondido – Calif. / Sunkist.” I understand that these fruit crate labels today are collectors’ items, though this one has been damaged to the degree that it wouldn’t be all that valuable. Nevertheless that label had a purpose. It identified the original contents of that crate, the grower, packer, and the brand name of the distributor.

There are some people who do not like labels. Usually these are individuals who do not want to be characterized as subscribing to a particular point of view, though they do. I had a professor in college who refused to be identified by the label of his philosophy, though, that was his philosophy. A life certainly can’t be described in one word. However, I believe that he missed the point. A label isn’t supposed to tell you everything about a person’s life. It tells you what is responsible for that person’s beliefs. My lemon crate label tells me who is responsible for the product. So also, certain labels tell us what is responsible for the beliefs and decisions made in an individual’s life. Let’s consider for a moment our lives as crates. What we have in our crates are our beliefs and decisions. What label would we put on our crate?

Some would have to put the label “hypocrite” on their crate. The outside of their crate appearing pure, but the inside being full of wickedness. This is what Jesus labeled some of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” Hypocrisy had become the characteristic that was most responsible for how these men lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

Some would have to put the label “lawless” on their crate. Seemingly there are more and more individuals in society today who behave as if there are no standards of decently and morality by which we must live. Jesus said about such individuals, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness)” ( Matthew 7:23). For these individuals, lawlessness had become the responsible characteristic by which they lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

Some, however, could put the label “honest” on their crate. Some individuals in the world, when confronted with God’s truth, have the integrity to listen and respond appropriately to God’s word. Jesus said of such individuals, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” ( Luke 8:15). For these individuals, honesty became the responsible characteristic by which they lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

Some also could put the label “faithful” on their crate. These are individuals who believe the gospel and live by it, refusing to hide their talents, and by using their abilities bring increase to the Lord’s kingdom. Jesus said of such individuals, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” ( Matthew 25:21). For these individuals, faithfulness became the responsible characteristic by which they lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

There is one label by which I wish to be recognized when my life is done: Christian. If it can be said of me that I magnified Christ, that I exemplified His words to those around me, that I honored and glorified Him in His church on a regular basis – if it can be carved upon my headstone, “He was a Christian” – then it will be enough. There are many today who take that name and denigrate it either through verbal castigation or through hypocritical living. May such never be said of us who desire that holy label.

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Bible Success

Bible Success

By Mike Riley4/10/2017

Different people in various ways define success. Success to some is the accumulation of goods. To another success may be academic achievement. And yet to another, success may be linked to the number of successful relationships in his life. Although one may enjoy success on several different levels, if he is not in a right relationship with God (Mark 16:16), he cannot truly say that he is successful in the most important endeavor of all (Mark 8:36,37). He does not enjoy Bible Success.

Joshua, the son of Nun, was a successful man. He was both the assistant and successor of Moses (cf. Joshua 1:1; Numbers 27:18-23). He was a man of faith and trust (Numbers 14:6-10; Joshua 24:15). He was a great military mind (cf. Exodus 17:13, Joshua 8,12). He was the one who would lead the people into the Promised Land allotting to each tribe its territory (Joshua 11:23). He was given a difficult task to carry out (Joshua 1:2,6) yet he did it with skill and grace. In every way, Joshua was a success.

In the first chapter of Joshua, the Lord set forth the basics or ingredients for Joshua’s success. If Joshua were to adhere to the instruction therein he would enjoy “good success” (Joshua 1:8). These same instructions will allow us to stand successfully before God as well. Joshua’s success was dependent upon:

1) Choosing Proper Role Models (Joshua 1:1-2).

Moses had been a faithful servant of God and a great prophet (Numbers 12:3; Deuteronomy 34:10). If Joshua were to be successful in the same role, he would need to mimic the strengths of Moses. This he did. At the end of the book that bears his name, he is referred to as “the servant of the Lord” (Joshua 24:29). If we will follow in the steps of our Lord (1 John 2:6), faithful men of the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:1) as well as godly elders, deacons, preacher, Bible class teachers and members we can have good success as well.

2) Knowing What It Was that He Sought To Accomplish (Joshua 1:2,6).

Joshua had a God-given goal to achieve. He would be the one who would lead the people into the land of Canaan. This was to be His focus and mission. Our focus and mission is to glorify God in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Isaiah 43:7) that we might enter spiritual Canaan (cf. Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13). This is made possible when we understand what our goal is and that it can only be accomplished through single-eyed devotion (cf. Philippians 3:13,14).

3) Trusting God No Matter The Situation (Joshua 1:3-5).

Joshua had big shoes to fill. He was assigned to do what Moses could not accomplish. How would he pull off such a feat? He would do it by trusting in the Lord to carry Him through. We too can have the same confidence that we can be pleasing to God in every situation if we will obediently trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5,6). Whatever God would have us to do is possible (Philippians 4:13). He is for us (Romans 8:31). Therefore let us trust that by His grace we can carry out our mission of faithful living (Rev. 2:10).

4) Living Courageously (Joshua 1:6,7,9).

Success in any field begins with courage. It takes courage to try new ideas, to stretch one&#39l;s self, to leave the realm of the comfortable to the realm of real growth. Joshua had a huge task in front of Him (Joshua 1:2,6). He would have to overcome the enemies of God and remain faithful to the Law of the Lord (Joshua 1:7,8). This would take courage. Courage is needed in standing up for Jesus. This courage is made possible by understanding, as Joshua did, that the Lord will not leave us nor forsake us (cf. Hebrews 13:5). He has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Therefore let us be willing to “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18) and to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

5) Knowing God’s Word and Doing It (Joshua 1:7-8).

Joshua’s success would be dependent upon observing the Law of Moses, not turning to the right hand or to the left (Joshua 1:7). The Law of God was not to depart from his mouth but rather he was to meditate in it day and night for the purpose of carrying out all of it (Joshua 1:8). Spiritual success is still dependent upon knowing God’s Word and doing it (James 1:21-23).

6) Possessing Proper Thoughts (Joshua 1:9).

Success comes when we think successful thoughts. The Lord provided Joshua with all the comfort needed (Joshua 1:5,9). Therefore, there would be nor reason for fear or dismay. Proper attitudes breed successful living. How is your attitude? Do you murmur and complain (Philippians 2:14)? Or do you rejoice in the fact that you are a child of God headed for Heaven, the Lord being with you every step of the way (Matthew 28:20)? Let us think proper thoughts that aid in our spiritual prosperity (Philippians 4:8).


All of us should desire real success, the kind of success that is based upon the fact that we are walking faithfully with our Maker. Again, this success is made possible when we incorporate the above admonitions into our character.

Three words, “CAN”, “WILL” and “NOW” help lead to spiritual accomplishments. I “CAN” live, as God wants me to live. I “WILL” live, as God wants me to live. I will live, as God wants me to “NOW”. Are you successful? If not, why not? God’s Word contains all the basics of successful living.

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Are You An Accessory to Sin?

Are You An Accessory to Sin?

By Kevin Cauley4/13/2017

Within the legal code of the various states within the U.S.A., one may be found guilty of being an accessory to a particular crime. If one supplies a murderer with a weapon knowing what the intent of the murderer is, then one will be found guilty of being an accessory to murder. If a person drives the get away car for a bank robbery, then he will be found guilty of being an accessory to the crime of robbery. There is also the crime of aiding and abetting a known felon that in essence is a crime of accessory. The law clearly makes provision to punish those who may have not committed the actual crime itself, but are involved to such a degree that the crime could not happen without their influence. Such a person is called an accessory to the crime and is held accountable and often punished for helping another do something that is wrong.

As Christians, the crimes that we are concerned about avoiding are not merely against men, but against God. Such crimes against God are referred to in the Bible as sin. Isaiah states that sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). James writes that sin when it is full-grown brings death (James 1:15). And Paul states that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Holy Spirit makes it clear through these inspired men that sin leads to eternal separation from God and that sin is, therefore, serious and deadly business. Just as being an accessory to a crime is in itself a crime, so also being an accessory to sin is in itself a sin.

How does the Bible say that we can be an accessory to sin? One of the first passages that comes to mind is 2 John 10 and 11. In this passage, John writes to a Christian woman telling her not to receive false teachers into her house. There was nothing wrong with receiving strangers into one’s house to care for them as they were traveling through town. In fact, Hebrews 13:2 states that when Christian’s practice such they are acting in a way approved by the Holy Spirit. However, when receiving a false teacher into one’s home, the situation is different. John states in verse 11 that when one does this, one is partaking of that false teacher’s evil deeds. There is a difference between doing something that is right to support that which is right and doing something that would otherwise be right to support that which is wrong. The Holy Spirit says that the latter is sin. When we give aid and comfort to false teachers, that is being an accessory to sin.

A Christian can also be an accessory to sin by approving that which is wrong. We read in 1 Corinthians 5:1 that there was fornication among the church at Corinth. The response of the members of the church at Corinth was not to condemn that which was wrong, but to be proud about it (1 Corinthians 5:2). In other words, the church at Corinth was, through their attitude of pride concerning the fornicator, approving his action of fornication. Paul wrote in verse 6 that their “glorying” was not good. It was evil and they should not have been doing this. No doubt, many of the Corinthian Christians who were “glorying” in this man’s sin were not committing that sin themselves. Yet, because they were “glorying” in it, they were committing sin themselves: the sin of approving of something that is evil. Paul states in Romans 1:32 that not only are those who practice evil worthy of death due to their sin, but those who approve of such things are equally worthy of death due to their sin of approval.

Finally, a Christian can also be an accessory to sin by providing service to that which is sinful. John writes in 1 John 2:10 “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” The one who loves will not provide an occasion of stumbling in another. The opposite is also true, the one who sets forth an occasion of stumbling before another does not love him. And, when one does not love his neighbor, he violates what Jesus calls the second command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

Providing service to that which is sinful is of itself a sin. It would be a sin to give an idol to the idolater though you yourself may not worship it. It would be a sin to provide a fornicator a prostitute, though you yourself may not commit fornication. It would be a sin to give drugs to an addict, though you yourself may not do drugs. It would be a sin to serve alcohol to a drunkard, though you yourself may not drink at all. It would be a sin to take a gambler to a slot machine, though you yourself may not gamble. At the least, a person who acted in such a way would be a hypocrite. Paul writes in Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” When we act out of a non-hypocritical love toward our fellow man, we will not encourage him to engage in sinfulness by providing the means of his sin. Instead, we will abhor what is evil. Abhorring something means that we put it as far away from us as possible. If we serve evil, we fail to abhor evil.

At the most, the person who serves those who sin, while not actually performing the evil act himself, is participating in the evil act through his influence. In the first part of the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks directly to the seven churches of Asia through John. To the church at Pergamos Jesus said, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14). Jesus had something “against” this church. They were guilty of the doctrine of Balaam. What was that doctrine? The verse says that he “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel.” Balaam’s sin was not that he worshipped idols or committed fornication, but that encouraged others to do this through his influence. The incident to which this verse is referring is found in Numbers 25:1-7. An interesting fact in this regard is that Balaam had already left the proverbial “scene of the crime.” In Numbers 24:25 we read, “Then Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place:.” Yet, although Balaam was not present during the activities of Numbers 25, we see later that he was killed with the sword because of his transgression (Numbers 31:8) and that Moses held him personally responsible for the evil that had come upon the children of Israel (Numbers 31:16). Jesus stated to the church at Pergamos that Balaam was guilty of sin purely because he used his influence for evil and that the church at Pergamos was guilty as well because they taught his doctrine. How can we say that we are pure when we use our influence for evil? Jesus directly condemns such thinking.

Let us resolve not to be an accessory to sin whether we are supporting a false teacher, approving that which is wrong, or providing service to that which is sinful. Our end will be no different than those who practice the sin itself.

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